Insights for Non Artists:
Greg Weisman Followup - Freelance Versus Staff
exclusive Digital Media FX column is a followup to a three part
interview that Shannon Muir conducted with Greg Weisman. To view
the series in order, first read Part
Two, and Part
Three. The followup below could be considered as "Part
Previously, I had an opportunity to interview Greg Weisman about
the many roles he's played in over twelve years in animation.
Greg began his career in Disney's executive ranks, and then moved
over to produce on the staff of Gargoyles for Disney. Over the
years, he's segued into the world of freelance writing and producing.
His freelance writing credits include Roughnecks: The Starship
Troopers Chronicles, Men In Black, Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot
and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. Additionally, he served as
freelance producer on the first season of Max Steel, which he
also helped initially develop.
me for more distinction between freelance and staff positions,
so I thought it might be good to expand on the discussion regarding
freelance story editors from Part
Three of my original interview. Though, as it turned
out, Greg shared some insight on freelance producing as well.
In my original
interview, Greg talked about how freelance story-editing "is
tough... and not lucrative." Turnaround time is less, and
since these jobs are generally at lesser rates than staff, it's
more work. When asked to go into more detail, Greg said, "there's
no doubt that the faster you have to work, and the more you have
to do in a certain time, there becomes a point where... I mean,
look, anyone can turn out a really great work once, on a ridiculously
intense deadline, and you can do it twice, and if you're really
good you can do it three times. But at some point exhaustion begins
to take over and it becomes tough. The whole money/time equation...
quantity/quality equation begins to play in, and that makes freelance
being where the show's actually being produced, "you're not
engaged in... daily dialogue" with the rest of the team making
the show happen because you aren't at the main offices. Greg adds,
"almost without exception you're working out of your home,
or home office or whatever... you're divorced from the process.
Now Max Steel, I produced freelance. Story freelance isn't great,
but it's OK. I mean, in theory you're in communication with your
producers, with your voice director, with your actors, with your
writers. Hopefully you can have some contact with the storyboard
artists or directors or something like that... it's not ideal,
but it's not impossible. Producing Max Steel as a freelancer from
my office here in Beverly Hills when the show was being done at
Sony, I found that pretty impossible."
he was working with good people on the show, so communication
wasn't the problem. As to his on-site producer, Bob Richardson,
Greg says he "was very cooperative. We got along great, it
wasn't like there was conflict... between him and I." The
big issue to Greg was the fact he wasn't close to the studio,
which "made things intolerably difficult. Just not being
on site, not really being involved in the production of the show
despite my title and my responsibility. That was really tough."
As Greg pointed
out in my original interview, freelancing does allow freedom to
pursue other avenues at the same time and not tie you down to
one project. However, "if you start doing too many things
on too fast a deadline, quality's going to suffer ultimately.
But, you know, if you're doing a story-editing job... and you
can do one other thing, that's great. The fact is, usually if
you're in the midst of the show, it becomes fairly all-consuming."
Yet, if one does have flexibility, it gives the freelance story-editor
more control over personal deadlines. Though Greg says about himself,
"I'm a deadline writer. It's hard for me to get things done
without a deadline."
if you have a choice between staff and freelance? "If your
alternatives are staff and freelance, I say get out and staff.
If your alternatives are between freelance and not doing it, and
I think these days more and more often -- with the possible exception
of Disney -- there are more and more freelance story editors because,
obviously, companies can save a lot of money by hiring their story
editors freelance and not bringing them on staff."
you again for your time and all the insight you've contributed
to the world of animation.
is known in the animation industry for her work as a production
coordinator for Nickelodeon's Invader Zim. She also served as
a Production Coordinator for Extreme Ghostbusters and a Production
Assistant for Jumanji: The Animated Series. Muir is an accomplished
writer and often participates on panels or as a guest speaker
at conventions like Comic Con International.
to Los Angeles in 1996 from Cheney, WA (population approximately
8,000), knowing she wanted to be part of the animation business.
Since then, she's never strayed far from making that dream reality,
whether it be actively working on a production or writing articles
about the industry.
You can email
Shannon Muir at email@example.com.
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