|DreamWorks - big layoffs|
A DreamWorks insider I spoke to recently (and a long-standing employee since the early days of the studio) said that "fresh blood" was needed. The studio's roll of hits had faltered, with recent films like Turbo (about a speedy snail) failing to find an audience at the box office.
But look closely at our industry and ask yourself - how many people do you know have been in their current job for more than a few years? Only Pixar, star of the animation box office, has had the long-term financial success to retain its staff on anything like permanent contracts.
For competitor studios (even the bog ones), most projects involve crewing up at the start and then laying off at the end, with employees moving to other places to find work elsewhere. Animation is a essentially a freelance business, and job security is rarely more than an illusion.
|Pixar. Job Security comes with box-office success|
So what should an animator or digital artist do to maintain a sense of personal security? The answer is to learn new skills all the time, and stay employable. Even when you have a job, you are essentially on probation.
During my 30 years in the animation industry I have seen that my colleagues who have survived and thrived have all been individuals who adapted to new technology and learned new skills. Some 2D Animators learned to storyboard, or became character designers. Digital artists learned new parts of the pipeline, took on freelance work, or even opened up their own mini studios.
The artists laid off by DreamWorks will have a future. They are all talented individuals who can and will find work elsewhere in the industry. Or maybe they will spot a gap in the market that Jeffrey Katzenberg has missed, and start up their own studio?
If so, maybe I'll be sending in my own CV.