By Michael Messina
The trailer for the newly-released film “Sausage Party” depicts the comical horrors of animated hot dogs, fruits, vegetables and other grocery staples encountering the brutal reality of what happens to food when in makes its way to the kitchen. After reports that the animators working on the film were forced to work unpaid overtime, it’s not hard to imagine those artists were channeling a bit of their own disgust.
Multiple outlets have revealed that animators took to the Internet to voice their frustration with the Canadian Nitrogen Studios. The animators, who were not part of a union, quickly found out what the consequences were in such a demanding industry. As Deadline reports:
A local animation website is full of anonymous complaints about the working conditions on ‘Sausage Party,’ which overperformed in its domestic debut this past weekend. “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,” said someone who identified himself as an uncredited supervisor on the film. “Some artists were even threatened with termination for not staying late to hit a deadline.”
Some of the animators say they were even denied a credit in the film. Of course Nitrogen denies all of this. But again, this is why unions exist – to prevent conflict and iron out complaints if they do arise, from either side. In the end, producer Annapurna Pictures stepped in and made things right, but as the LA Times reports, the problem reaches back to the employees here in the U.S.:
One L.A.-based animator who has worked on projects for Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation but did not want to be identified because of fear of professional repercussions said the controversy over “Sausage Party” hit home for him.
Outsourcing, he said, has weakened the union in L.A. and made the animators who are still here increasingly timid.
“Artists feel like if we stand up for ourselves, the jobs will go elsewhere,” he said. “As I’ve gotten older and settled down, I have more to lose. There’s just not a lot of other options.”
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