Production Studios, do the Math. Put your Crew First.

April 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Rachel's Thoughts

Dear people in charge of production studios,
You need to take care of your crew first.  I can’t believe it needs to be said.
If you have to choose between your crew or your client, you must choose your crew.
A healthy and content crew will take care of your client for you.  They will care.  They’ll have pride in their work and want people to be happy with it.  Like a child who respects their parent, they will want to do you proud.
A broken employee who feels that no one in charge cares about their well being will give up.  If they know the client is more important to you than them, they know that you will throw them under the bus the first time you have to decide who to keep on your good side.  That is a recipe for burning bridges.
A client will always want more for less. ALWAYS. A client without limits will never stop demanding more from your crew.  But that’s your fault.  You set the limits (or didn’t).
Choosing your client at the expense of your crew will break your crew.
If you believe people are tools to be used, broken and thrown away, then by all means, choose the client.  But do it knowing that is exactly what you’re choosing -to hurt and use up good people for an extra dollar or a little prestige.
Even if money is your bottom line, I suggest you do the math.
Take care of crew = client cared for by a happy crew. You end up with a client AND a loyal crew.
Take care of client at expense of crew = loss of a crew and hundreds of burned bridges and a business you can’t sustain with constant crew turnover and a client who keeps demanding more for less.
And even if all you care about is networking and impressive connections… you have no idea who the talented minds who work for you will go on to become.  In this industry your employee on one project may be your boss on the next.  …or your client.
Loving and caring for people, no matter what their status, isn’t just a pretty idea with distant, philosophical rewards. It actually has practical value.

I wish this didn’t need to be preached like some radical new idea.  But this is a serious problem for my industry (and any corporation, really) and it doesn’t need to be.  This just makes sense.
Clients need limits (duh), just like children with access to cookies need limits.
And nothing should be built on the backs of broken people.  THEY are your talent.  Without them your business would not exist.
Treat them as though you know it.  Be a good boss.  An infinite amount of office pizza parties cannot make up for choosing clients at the expense of your crew.
(Some things that contribute to “choosing a client over crew” include: unreasonable deadlines, unreasonable quotas, under staffing your crew, paying your crew too little, unlimited revisions for the client – essentially, all of the things that you want to offer to win a client, but that your crew will suffer for.)  When you write a contract for a job, always consider who will be staying evenings and weekends in order to fulfill the promises you’re making.
If you have a business with employees and your mantra is “the client is number 1”, then you’re on the wrong track. There’s no arguing it. You are either setting yourself up for eventual failure, or you’re consciously choosing to build your own personal success on the backs of broken spirits.  Which, to me, equals a much greater failure.  That’s my math.
If this is what you’ve been doing and you haven’t realized the direct and consistent consequences (the hard working people it’s hurting), then don’t fret.  I’m not calling you a villain of a boss.  Just start making it right.  Care for your crew in a real way – as if they’re real people with real problems.  Your brother, your mother, your child.  We can’t blame someone for something they didn’t know.  Just start now.
Sincerely,
Every employee.

Dear World,

May 6, 2012 by  
Filed under News

Dear World Wide Web,

It’s been far too long since I’ve paid any attention to my website.

It’s been a long time of settling in to new work, new direction, and a new city.  I’m still feeling a bit of a creative lull since all of the upheaval of the last chapter, but I’m counting on it being the creative equivalent of a long, REM nap — the kind you wake up from, feeling like Jello and thinking, “Wow, I must have reeeeally needed that.”  (And a creative lull for me means that I’m only working on one project at a time, not 7.)

I’ve rented out my cozy Hamilton home and moved to the capital of this great country, Ottawa Ontario, Canada.  For the last six months I’ve been an Animation Supervisor for one of the very best kids’ shows on television today (Sure, I’m a little biased, but ratings don’t lie either!)
Wild Kratts is the animated series by Chris and Martin Kratt -“The Kratt Brothers”- who are more widely known for their success in creating, “Zoboomafoo”, “Kratt’s Creatures” and “Be The Creature”.  Their in-house presence in the studio really brings a great life to the work place, along with an amazing and wise-beyond-his-years director, Simon Paquette, and so many other open and caring crew members.  It’s a creative environment you don’t often come across in the work place — the the sort of personality that SHOULD be present in every art studio.  I’ve always said that the personality of leadership trickles down through any organization, and this place happens to be caring, wise, quick to laugh, and slow to anger.  That says a lot to me about the individuals.

On another note, we have studio pets:
Meet two of the three lobby Turtles, Tortuga and Tortilla:

I’m still working on getting together my new street performance project, Faunus, which, while becoming more and more realistic looking and coming together as a character, still has a long way to go in functional reverse-stilt construction.  I’ve had to pass that job on to a real stilt-maker.  While that gets dreamed up better, a fellow Animation Supervisor in the cubical next to mine, artist, Jason Hall, is working on real Warrior Princess armour for Faunus.  She is going to be a strong matriarch of wherever it is she comes from.

On the Franken Toy front, I’ve temporarily pulled the plug on them.  I have some serious carpal tunnel syndrom and complex tendinitis (also the reason I’ve switched gears in street performance, from chalk art to Faunus).  And although the toys have been my best viral works of art to date, I can’t justify the strain they put on me and on my chances of healing.
I may get back into them when I’m not already doing so much with my arms, but until then they’ll just be a lovely bunch of photographs for people to blog about.  And maybe the occasional personal gift.

That said, it is official that the Kratt Brothers love Franken Toys:

So much so that Chris (seen above with a gifted Wild Kratts Franken Creature) bought Robo Reggie for one of his sons.

So… I suppose that’s all I’ve got to post for today.  I’ve finally gotten another great job, I’ve managed to keep my house and my two cats, and in one month I’ll be moving into a cute, little apartment right in the heart of down town Ottawa where I look forward to being able to paint again.  I`ve still got goals and plans, but I refuse to have expectations.  Six months ago I did not see myself here.  But being here now – it`s a good thing.

PS: I`ve also started taking roller derby lessons with the Capital City Derby Dolls.  So don`t mess with me.  I`ll crap you up good!