Over the past few days, news of harsh working conditions at Nitrogen Studios who completed the film Sausage Party has been shared in the press. The reports claim that the animation crew who worked at Nitrogen Studios were not paid any overtime for the excessive hours they worked to complete the project. Making this worse, there are reports that the crew reached out to the production company detailing egregious and unfair conditions that were levied against them by the studio. Nitrogen representatives have been quoted as saying they take these accusations seriously, but believe they are without merit and the studio adhered to all overtime laws and regulations.
The best way for the artists at Nitrogen to keep this abuse from happening again is to stand together and create an agreement that outlines how they are treated at the studio. The animation artists in Vancouver have incredible amounts of leverage afforded them by their skills, and the fact that the entertainment industry heavily relies on those skills and the incentives provided by the province in which they work. Their counterparts in Los Angeles have such an agreement that requires animation studios to not only pay overtime, but detail other studio working conditions that have become the industry standard over the decades that agreement has been in place. When those Los Angeles artists work at non-union studios that try to cut corners in similar ways, they have stood together to get their overtime and benefits.
This is the same leverage afforded all visual effects artists and technicians, and what can change the industry for everyone. Visual Effects has become an important money-generating sector of the entertainment industry. Producers *NEED* this work to be done, and that need translates into leverage the working people in visual effects can use to establish better workplace standards for themselves. Not only would it create a better working environment, those standards would be adopted by the other studios in order to compete in the marketplace.
The IATSE stands ready to help animation artists in the United States and Canada to achieve these agreements. We have been supporting artists and technicians in the entertainment industry for almost 130 years, and we are eager to bring our experience to the table to assist non-union animation and visual effects artists across the USA and Canada. Feel free to contact us to get the conditions you deserve.