An Overview: What This Book Is All About
5. Working on spec: - free, that is - may seem necessary under some circumstances, but respect for your work goes down as your willingness to work for nothing goes up. There should always be compensation in there somewhere, minimally retention of the rights to your adaptation.
6. Stay out of debt: Keep your life-style within bounds; your overhead low. After the first years of suspicion about my working in a communist country, many old colleagues began asking me, "How can I get to do what you're doing?" In my book, "For The Love of Prague," I wrote that I ended up in Prague only by the merest chance. After being here awhile, I realized that somehow I had stumbled onto a good thing. So my answer to the above question came to be, "Get yourself into a place or position where you don't have to make a lot of money. How financially rich you are is measured not by how much money you earn or have, but by how much you owe…. and of course, true work satisfaction."
I found myself in an extraordinary position. I was living in the international outlands, the low-rent-plain-pipe-rack-district, as it were. I was paying $30 per month rent for this great apartment in the historical heart of Prague. My wife was a producer at the Czech animation studio, making peanuts by American standards, but enough to pay the rent, groceries, and other basics. I was directing Weston Woods films for modest up-front money, compared to what I would surely be getting in the States, but I was happy, making one polished jewel children's film after another - something I'd always dreamed of in America, but could never afford to do. And I was able to save money and stay totally out of debt! OK, this was a one-in-a-million situation. You're not likely to match my luck in this regard. But think about the principle, and about the future.
Many will also think that my long isolation took me out of the cutting edge. I did miss working with the latest technology; I am intensely interested in it. But in this world you can't have everything, and the material I was working on took precedence for me. Technoperfect, chrome-plated crap wasn't on a par with perhaps less glossy productions of real content.
I know that for many, the real fun is to go for the big bucks, live it up to the hilt, and engage in the dance of death with the IRS and the banks. A quote from special effect genius Douglas Trumbull in the summary section of this book, underlines what I am saying. No one can have everything, and many will go for the fun and frolic of the short term. Personally, I agree with Trumbull; it ain't worth it.
7. Pilots: Many producers will want you to make the pilot for a series cheaper, with the promise that the actual production episodes will pay you more. The problem with this idea is that pilots are the most difficult episodes, with all of the basic story problems and characters to be worked out. Pilots should rate a higher budget, not only for those reasons, but also because a pilot film, sadly, is all too often the only film to be produced!
Those are only 7 special guidelines and goals. Some of my other outlandish notions are spread throughout the book. I will be glad to hear of any pitfall preventives any of you have worked out, or any comments on mine. Hey, we are all trying to make our mark, do high-quality creative work, and improve our art and craft; brothers and sisters in animation, trying to beat the odds.