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Nitrogen Studios (Sausage Party) made animators work unpaid OT, blacklisted others

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Branduil

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Sep 20, 2006
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Cartoon Brew released an interview with the directors of Sausage Party the other day, and the comments have been swamped with animators talking about the horrible treatment they received from the people running Nitrogen Studios:

http://www.cartoonbrew.com/feature-film/sausage-party-directors-conrad-vernon-greg-tiernan-making-2016s-outlandish-animated-film-142425.html#comment-2835100326

Uncredited Supervisor said:
The production cost were kept low because Greg would demand people work overtime for free. If you wouldn't work late for free your work would be assigned to someone who would stay late or come in on the weekend. Some artist were even threatened with termination for not staying late to hit a deadline.

The animation department signed a petition for better treatment and paid overtime. When the letter got to Annapurna they stepped in and saw that artist were payed and fed when overtime was needed.

Over 30 animators left during the coarse of the production due to the stress and expectations. Most of them left before the paid overtime was implemented. This was met with animosity and was taken as a personal insult to the owners. Their names were omitted from the final credits despite working for over a year on this film.
Another Uncredited Supervisor said:
Almost half the animation team was not credited. The team believed in this film and poured their hearts and souls into it. Despite this, more than half of it was not credited. You can see the full team on IMDB, which contains 83 people (and I am certain there are some missing). The film's credits, however, contains 47.

This was Nitrogen Studio's first animated feature and no pipeline had been set up. It was an extremely rocky production. The studio management had little knowledge on how to proceed and the film could not have been made without the hard work of experienced artists. The production went over a year of what was originally projected due to poor organization. The team had to fight for fair compensation and a lot of the artists needed to quit due to unfair practices and poor management. The studio had lost such a massive portion of the team by the end of the production (more than half) that they had to resort to hire recent animation graduates to finish the film. What we currently see in the credits are the students as well as animators who have stayed until the end of the production, and a couple who have left the production. Most of the animators who are not credited have been on the show for more than a year and a half, which is most of the production time. These are the people who have worked hard to set the style of the show and have their work used as promotion for the film. Nitrogen has been trying hard to hide this from the producers so I doubt that Seth Rogen even knows this. I hope that this can help get the word out.
Another Uncredited Animator said:
I hope the plight of the uncredited artists get the attention it deserves. Greg and Conrad are getting their spot in the limelight while the hard work of the artists who helped them get there is not being given credit. It is very unfair and inappropriate of them. It seems like studio owners can do anything they want with living, breathing human beings and get away with it that easy.

Working at Nitrogen was a very tough experience for many many artists. If they weren't satisfied with your work ( often it was for reasons beyond your control, that they didn't want to hear about) you were pulled into a room and threatened to be fired. Many left due to this sort of treatment.

If you left the contract early you were pulled into a room, given a speech about how you might never work in the industry again because of what you have done.

During the production itself artists were treated more like children then adults and the professionals that they are. Little regard was given to maintain respectful collaboration, and many were treated in a harsh, draconian manner.

Most of the shots in the trailers were done by artists who did not receive a credit. You're welcome.

Please hear the artists out, many sacrificed a lot of time and effort to make this movie the success that it is, and they deserve to be heard.
This kind of behavior by a service studio like Nitrogen should not go unnoticed.
There's many more comments along these lines. Absolutely shameful and I hope some bigger sites will start reporting on this.
 

Animator

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Yup I can verify these stories are true. I didn't get credited at the end because I left for another studio even though I worked on a good %20 of the final movie.
 

Mariolee

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Yup I can verify these stories are true.
Not sure if joke by username or if username based on real life job. This is rough stuff in any case. Care to shed anymore insight? I have already heard dozens and dozens of stories of animators getting shafted, but mostly from television.

Edit: Oh saw your edit. Dang man, that is awful.
 

Symphonia

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Mar 20, 2013
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If you left the contract early you were pulled into a room, given a speech about how you might never work in the industry again because of what you have done.
Who the fuck do these studios think they are, making threats like that? Absolute scummy cunts, the lot of them.
 
Nov 10, 2005
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Yeesh. Well, glad I haven't seen it yet. Will wait until it's on Netflix (or at least until proper compensation and credit is given to all people who are owed it).
 

Branduil

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Yup I can verify these stories are true. I didn't get credited at the end because I left for another studio even though I worked on a good %20 of the final movie.
Wow that sucks. The other comments make it sound like the producers didn't know so hopefully this becomes a big story and things will get changed for the home release credits at least. Not that that will fix the unpaid OT part.
 

Animator

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Some other fun moments from my year at Nitrogen

edit: will clean up and post later since this is being quoted a lot.
 

Shaanyboi

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Sounds pretty fucking typical of the animation industry.

Alot of these studios low-ball the budgets as much as they can versus other studios, and overtime simply doesn't comply with that kind of restriction to the budget. Not to say there isn't talent at these studios, of course there is. But people outsource to Canada because it's cheap. One project I worked on, almost everyone had to work overtime daily. Eventually the producer was fired, new guy came in and said "We're going to start paying you guys overtime, don't worry!" We ran out of money within a month because almost everyone was working late anyway. The studio never paid overtime again.
 

Crocodile

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I didn't have much interest in seeing this anyway but now whatever I had is now zero. This is pretty gross. These animators got robbed of their time/money/work :(
 

Kimawolf

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Yup I can verify these stories are true. I didn't get credited at the end because I left for another studio even though I worked on a good %20 of the final movie.
Didn't know they could do that, sounds like it should be illegal. So if you are uncredited, then you cant even use it in your portfolio/resume?
 
Nov 10, 2005
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I wonder if the story can gain enough traction that it winds up hurting Sausage Party's second week and forcing the company to do serious damage control.
 

zoukka

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lol of course not

people generally don't give a fuck about labor issues
Yeah that's the side effect of hard capitalism.

In contrast, here in Finland people love nothing more than to bitch about them having to work 1 minute more than what was agreed upon. The side effect of socialism.
 

duckroll

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Didn't know they could do that, sounds like it should be illegal. So if you are uncredited, then you cant even use it in your portfolio/resume?
Not illegal, common bully tactic in the industry, you can still put anything you want in your portfolio and resume, you just don't get credit for it in the actual product. We know about such practices in the videogame industry too. Konami has a corporate rule where they will not credit employees for a game if they leave the company before the game ships. That's why Suikoden 3 has no director credit. Lol. That's even worse!
 

daviyoung

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Oct 20, 2010
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Didn't know they could do that, sounds like it should be illegal. So if you are uncredited, then you cant even use it in your portfolio/resume?
I don't think that's right. Only if he didn't sign a contract and the credits is the only proof he worked on the project.
 

Exotoro

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Didnt want to see this to begin with but thats really awful; nothing will be likely done to recompesate either unless somebody sues, right?
 

Monocle

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Some other fun moments from my year at Nitrogen

-They fired the CG Supervisor mid production (one of many supervisors who got fired during the show) because he would say "we can't do this in budget" to Greg and Conrad's ideas. Which by the way both were the worst directors I worked with and had zero direction or vision. Their idea of directing was "lets throw shit at a wall until one sticks" so you would waste a ton of work until it gets approved and sometimes that would get unapproved in the future because they were in a bad mood.

-There was always this weird rivalry between the directors. Mostly with Greg because while Conrad was a co-director on a bunch of DW movies all Greg has under his name is the Thomas the Train episodes nitrogen did and he felt like he had to prove he is the top dog. He would get SUPER mad when he walks into dailies and finds animators talking to Conrad before he is in the room. He actually fired an animation supervisor over this.

-They put a lot of the ex nitrogen people whose only qualification was working at nitrogen before in supervisor positions. These people had no clue how to make an animated movie. At the end Annapurna had to bring in their own VFX supervisor and producer to get the movie done because they realized Nitrogen was never going to deliver otherwise.

-In my 10+ years in this industry I never worked at a studio where so many people quit/walked out and got fired during one project.


There are many more but I hope the original story gains traction and they get bad press over this.
WTF, I hope all of this gets publicized in a major way.
 
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