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The Animation Industry Stands Up And Says #PayAnimationWriters

The whole entertainment industry has recently been caught up in controversy over pay. The largest entertainment union in North America IATSE (The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada) was threatening an industry-wide strike over contract renewal negotiation. The sticking point was streaming. Existing deals predated the boom in streaming video, and Studios and Streamers were using loopholes to pay both performers and crew less than they would be obligated for in traditional media. Most famously this led Scarlett Johanssen to sue Disney over breach of contract by releasing Black Widow on Disney Plus Premier Access. ScarJo and the Mouse kissed and made up and IATSE narrowly voted to accept a new contract (although many members disagreed) and crisis was averted- for now. The animation industry is however currently having a controversy of its own.

During the height of the pandemic, production was shut down on live-action production for months upon end. Animation production was uniquely positioned to be able to continue largely as normal. With the exception of stop-motion, which requires animators to be on a physical set, essentially every part of animation, from development, to writing, animating and voice recording can be done remotely. As a result, animation production was stepped up. The thing is- animation writers are paid considerably less than their live-action equivalents. Currently, animation writers on average earn 41 to 52 cents for every dollar live-action writers make per week.

There is absolutely no valid reason for this. Writing for animation is no different than writing for live-action. It requires the same skills and is the same level of work. Animation film and television is consistently some of the most popular stuff out there. For example, in 2019 (the last 'normal' year before Covid) three of the top five grossing films at the US domestic box office were animated.  The only reason they have been getting away with it all this time is that animation is still looked down upon by some as a lesser art. Enough is enough.

The Animation Guild- which is part of IATSE- is campaigning on behalf of the animation writers. The hashtag #PayAnimationWriters is trending on social media and the guild is determined to stand up to get them their due. Animation essentially kept the industry afloat last year, but even if that wasn't the case, animation writers deserve parity with their non-animation counterparts.

As the COVID-19 pandemic shut down global live-action production, the animation industry kept working. Sets closed, but we animation writers didn’t put our pencils down. We are a valuable part of the entertainment industry; we do the same job as our live-action writer counterparts, and it’s about time that our pay reflected that.

The Animation Guild/IATSE 839 is going into negotiations this year determined to increase animation writer minimums and educate the industry on challenges faced by animation writers. We’re not asking for special treatment, but we deserve to be given the same respect as our live-action counterparts, because at the end of the day, we’re all doing the same job.

If you want to help out, you can spread the word by sharing this across social media using the hashtag. You can also follow The Animation Guild Writers on Twitter and let big media companies know that it's  (well overdue) time animation writers were treated as equals to any other screenwriter.

Animation For Adults stands with Animation Writers.