ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.3 - JUNE 1999
Who's The Real Artist?
Thank you, Mr. Bevilacqua, for the interesting and thought-provoking article, "Celebrity Voice Actors: The New Sound of Animation," (Bevilacqua, 4.1) on the casting of celebrities in voice roles. I have wondered how the trend toward casting "big names" was affecting the actors who do all or most of their work behind the microphone. Personally, I think the perception that some people seem to have, i.e., that voice actors are not "real actors," is demeaning and narrow-minded.
It reminds me of the feeling we commercial artists sometimes experience, after a long day at the drafting table or computer, when someone strolls in, looks over your shoulder and says something like: "That's pretty good. But I know a real artist* who..." etc., etc.
* A "real artist" apparently being one who paints only in oils on canvas, lives in a shabby garret, and is temperamentally unstable. And who, for added credibility, might even slice off an ear?
Independent or Not?
I have read the discussion between John Schnall and Steven Dovas in "The Vague Rumor of Independence in New York Animation," (Dovas and Schnall, 4.2), and was intrigued by the topics going back and forth. I then read the article "Striking A Compromise: Studio Supported Independent Films" (Furniss, 4.2) on studios supporting their artists' individual projects, and to me, anyway, the distinction became clear...and has been made more so by the present job situation in LA with animation work. Commercial studios, as run by some persons ascribing to "the suits" mentality, really only have profit on their minds, and short term profit at that. Witness the fact that for a time (in the late '70s or up to the beginning of the '80s, as I remember, and dates may be off, all the facts remain true), Disney was going to shut down its animation facilities altogether. The other majors had already done so, for the most part. To me, this was and is a clear definition of a commercial studio: an entity whose focus is profit above other considerations, and when instant profit is out of the picture, then that studio will either change to a product that is profitable, or go out of business. I am not saying that profit is bad; folks gotta eat, pay bills, corporate perks, executive salaries, etc. What I am saying is an overriding concern on profits, to the exclusion of all other factors that go into making a finished film (film, not "product"), guarantees a decline in quality; inattention to changes/advances in the field; inability and/or unwillingness to change; and the eventual, and sometimes rapid, demise of said enterprise. In my humble opinion, those that will still be animating after this "boom time" is over will probably be the "independent" animators. I hope I don't sound too pessimistic, but having dealt with corporate types for a while, I think it's a pretty safe bet when the "Animation Boom" is over and done with, the corporate interest will slacken and the suits will depart. It's cyclical in nature; but a question in my mind: Will the animation community (the men and women that actually produce the work) survive until the next boom? That's what I'm not sure of.
Thank you for your time.
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