We get any number of complaints about tests that studios often require of animation job applicants. There's a job posting; artists contact the studio; said studio tells the applicant that there's a test they have to take for that storyb...
We get any number of complaints about tests that studios often require of animation job applicants. There's a job posting; artists contact the studio; said studio tells the applicant that there's a test they have to take for that storyboard/design/background job. (Choose one.)
And funny thing. The tests take three ... or four ... or five days to complete. ...
A couple of decades ago, tests were minimal to non-existent. Then, a cartoon studio looked at a prospective hire's portfolio. And if the studio liked it, the artist was hired into an entry-level position and worked her (his) way up ... or flamed out.
Simple as that.
But not so simple anymore. These days, there are packets that include design samples, script samples, semi-humorous instructions and the admonition to "Draw up X pages of script and be creative! Be inventive! And HAVE FUN!"
Sadly, it's often not fun. One veteran storyboard artist told me:
"I'm doing two or three freelance jobs, all on deadline, and a director I know calls me about a staff job. I'm always up for a full-time gig, so I say yes. And he says, 'I know you're good, but the studio insists everybody takes their storyboard test. So take the test and we'll hire you.'"
"So I get the test and start it. Only it's long. And I've got paying jobs to do. So I don't finish it. And the director calls me to ask where the test is because he needs me, and I tell him I'm busy with real work and I don't have time to complete it, I've got other deadlines. And he gets mad at me. "I want you to start a board, but I can't hire you! Because you haven't finished the test!'"
I never did get through the thing. I didn't have time, and I'm not into working for free."
Imagine. He doesn't want to work for free. How greedy and short-sighted.
The testing mania sweeping cartoon studios has gone several clicks past ludicrous. The studios engineer tests that grow progressively longer. Directors don't have time to look at long tests let alone short ones, and as a veteran boarder said to me today: "You don't need a lot of board panels to know if somebody can draw the style of your show. If somebody does thirty bad board panels, the thirty-first panel is going to turn everything around? Don't think so."
The complaints about testing got more numerous around the start of the year, so I called the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (which reps the major cartoon studios) and asked for an audience. Four months later I got one with all the studios in attendance, and I dutifully hauled in copies of studio tests to show that testing was (is) wildly out of hand. And you'll be amazed to discover that the studios are reluctant to admit that their tests are "long," even when it's screamingly obvious. To take one example: Disney's Gravity Falls test said in black-and-white: "This test should take no more than ONE WEEK."
Fairly clear, yes? A strong hint, wouldn't you say? I pointed out the sentence. The Disney people denied it meant what it said. "Oh, that means a couple of hours a day. Not forty hours."
Yeah, hm hm.
Except nowhere on the test materials does it say, "Take six or seven hours, maximum" or "Just put in a couple of hours a day." And when the packet contains 2 1/2 or 3 pages of script, that's a tipoff that the artist will ge spending a bit more than two hours a day.
I made the suggestion that since studios are requiring job seekers to draw the studio's copyrighted work, the studios are effectively hiring these folks, and should pay them. This did not go over well. The argument was put forth that actors audition for nothing, so why shouldn't board artists do the same.
(Maybe because artists are not actors? And even actors don't audition for forty goddamn hours?)
The meeting went on for the better part of an hour (the details of which I will be relating at next Tuesday's General Membership meeting.) The studios thanked me for bringing the issue to their attention