Big Shot Meeting

Yes, I know it's tough being a top level executive. All the pressure. All the responsibility. It's enough to make you want to turn in that company car, stock options and all the other executive perks, right?

However, there are a few things you can consider this year. For a start you can stop being an arrogant, smug, self-important jerk. You can admit your staff really does most of the "heavy lifting" you take credit for. You can make those pointless meetings you call just a little bit shorter and you can cut back on your pontificating.

Of course, we know that's not going to happen in 2013 or any other year, is it? Not that I really care. You see, I no longer have a dog in this race and I've managed to step off the speeding locomotive and out of the corporate rat race. I honestly don't care what you do because none of it really concerns me. I've been around long enough to know the games you play and the clever ways you justify your own personal incompetence. That's cool. I'll cut you a little slack in that area. We all have to survive, right?

As I said, I'm done with corporate and studio politics but I keep a watchful eye on both. And, rest assured I'm gonna call you on it. Don't like it? I suppose you can always call me in and fire me. But, wait! That's not gonna happen because my career ended some years ago. The only reason I'm still around is simply to keep jabbing at you with my sharp stick.

So to wrap things up, executive big shots, let's consider what we don't want to do in 2013. The answer is simple. Don't do what you did last year.


No Cartoons in Scottsdale Arizona


Okay, let's see how I can make this post animation related. I know! My old animation pal, Don Bluth once produced a feature animated cartoon here. Of course, it wasn't Scottsdale, but Phoenix is right down the road. What do you think? Is that cartoony enough?

After my arrival in Phoenix, I immediately grabbed a cab to Scottsdale and my favorite breakfast spot. Conveniently enough, the restuarant is called, "The Breakfast Club" and I recommend it to anyone visiting Scottsdale. After breakfast, I ventured over to the mall to take a quick look around. Two days after Christmas, the shoppers were out in force. I suppose there's not much else to do in Scottsdale. I quickly grew tired of shopping so I found a comfy chair and began going over some script pages.

Anyway, back to animation. A few years ago there was animation here in Arizona. If I remember correctly, the show was entitled, "Titan EI" or "Titan AE," or something like that. Anyway, I was working at Disney at the time the film opened and we hoped it would do well. Animation was going through a rough patch in those days and we wanted every animated offering to be a hit. Sadly, such was not the case and the Arizona animation facility was eventually shut down.

I've heard word that Don Bluth may still be here in Arizona although he hasn't produced a film since that sad time back in the late nineties. It's a shame, really. I'd love the idea animation could provide an option for employment here in Arizona. It's only an hour away from California so it's not even that bad a commute. In many ways it would be like working for Pixar Animation Studios, and I did a weekly commute while working on "Monsters, Inc" back in the nineties.

Animation continues to be a tough business to crack and those who succeed are few. However, it would be nice to have a few scrappy young upstarts competing with the lumbering dinosaurs now ruling the cartoon business. It's always been my contention that the best work is always being done by those who are, "hungry." It seems to be a fact of life that once success is achieved the studio is never the same. This goes for ANY studio, and no matter how much their leaders scream that they haven't changed. The reality is, they have. It happens to all of us. Welcome to the cartoon business, boys and girls. Even in Arizona.



It's that odd time of the year when everything shuts down. At least in our business it does. Nothing ever gets done in December because executives and studio bosses refuse to make decisions or studio staffers have taken time off for the holidays. One thing is for sure. Absolutely nothing is going to get done until after the new year.

This was always a killer  for us when we ran our own studio some years ago. I remember scrambling to get decisions made before the month of November came to an end. We knew if we hadn't nailed things done before the month was done - then we were done. Once we entered December everything was shelved until next year and we would spend the next few weeks sitting and staring at the calendar.

Life was a little easier when I returned to the studios and the month of December ceased being a problem. As usual, most everyone took time off and didn't return until the holidays were over. I never took time off during December because I preferred to continue working. With the absence of many of the studio staffers there was a pleasant calm around the studio and I was able to get a lot of work accomplished. Better yet, the bosses had all taken off and that meant there would be no executives hanging around making bone-headed decisions.

Of course, people always thought I was nuts because I continued to work. While most seemed eager to escaped their jobs, I was enjoying mine. I confess I miss going to the studio each day and while others are enjoying their time off I actually miss my daily grind. Of course it gets worse. I'll even have a script with me tomorrow and I'll be making notes during my flight. Yes, I even enjoy working on airplanes.

Some poor staffers won't have vacation time and they'll be back at work sooner than expected. Sorry about that, but there is an upside. Their bosses will surely be taking lots of time off, so they'll be away for a few weeks. And, that's a good thing after all. Just think how well things will work at the office while the bosses are away.


Animated Life 2013

This is a photograph of my studio work space as I completed my book's final few chapters. It's difficult to believe but this is what I was working on late last year. It was December 2011 and I was busily wrapping up my new book, Animated Life. Actually, I had spent a good part of the year editing my manuscript for delivery to my publisher by December. Luckily, I was able to make my deadline and I breathed a sigh of relief when that task was completed. I'll admit I had never tackled a manuscript this size before and I was glad the job was finally done.

I didn't know it, but my job was hardly done. I still had to make my way through a protracted legal process in order to secure the rights to particular images used in the book. That meant my manuscript would be under the microscope as well. Hardly a problem, I thought. There was nothing controversal in my manuscript. It was pretty much a "love letter" to a company that had provided decades of fun and satisfaction for this particular artist and I was eager to extoll the virtues of the company that had employed me for so many happy years.

You would have thought I had written much worse because the approval process dragged on not for weeks - but months and appeared to need the approval of everyone from the CEO to the guys who cut the studio lawn. I shouldn't be surprised, really. With each passing year it seems our lives are more and more encumbered with legalities. I will say I've learned my lesson, and the next book I write will not require approval from anyone except myself.

Animated Life is now on track to be published in early 2013. At least that's what my publisher tells me. I look forward to it and sure hope I'll have a hard copy in my hands soon. Who would have thought that the task of writing a book would be the easiest part.

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