We have aimed at illustrating a fully-rounded view of the animation industry with our
Interview Series. From freelancers to top production houses like Dreamwork's our series has encapsulated almost everything—except Steve Hulett and the Animation Guild.
Who better to illustrate the work being done in the industry, the trends and the forecasts than the professionals at the Animation Guild. Made up of successful industry veterans like President Bob Foster (with 39 years in the industry including over a decade with Disney), Steve Hulett (who also has over a decade with Disney), Bronwen Barry, Nicole Dubuc, Janette Hulett, Karen Carnegie Johnson, Cathy Jones (LinkedIn), Gordon Kent (LinkedIn), Nathan Loofbourrow and Jack Thomas—just to name a few.
The Animation Guild is a hard-fought for union, and part of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (Local 839).They are a labor organization representing animation and visual effects artists, with duties that include negotiating minimum wages and working conditions, providing pension and health benefits and advocating for members in dispute cases. They also do wage surveys, report trends, blog about trends and news and advise individual members about jobs and trends in the industry.
The guild has an impressive, but rife history. They have an exhibit in their office in
Hollywood displaying the developmental timeline of unions in the industry—dating back to 1931 with Iwerks, even before The Wagner Act was enforced, making it illegal to fire union formers.
Steve, who has an impressive record himself as the guild's Business Representative in
his 8th term, sat down to talk with us about the work being done at the guild, and what it means to animation professionals across the country:
What is your association's role in the industry?
As a labor union we represent most jobs in the L.A. animation industry. We have
contracts with most of the major studios.
What is your background in the animation industry?
I was an animation writer at different studios from 1976 to 1989. My body of work
comes mainly from Disney, but also Filmation, Warner Bros. Animation and Disney
What inspired the association's creator to create the business?
Walt Disney and the IATSE got together in the early fifties and helped to run the Screen Cartoonists Guild out of existence. We are the beneficiaries and have been around since 1952.
Is there a competitive-edge that your members/readers gain from being
members of your association/site?
Our member benefits include receiving better wages, three pension plans and a good
What do you feel it takes to become a successful animator in the industry
Hard work, the right training and an ability to network and adapt. CGI is the newest
wave that most animators have to ride. Hand-drawn animation is now only a small sub-set of the business.
Does your association do any trend forecasting on the industry? And if yes, what are your forecasts for the future?
We do wage surveys, report trends on our blog and advise individual members of jobs
and trends as we perceive them.
What are the benefits for animators of being involved with an animation
association like yours?
Fill in the blank: The future of animation is ____________.
Expanding as it’s never expanded before. It’s no longer a sleepy backwater, but a major driver in the movie business. .
What advice would you give to aspiring animators?
There’s lots of competition, so you have to own a strong work ethic and have the ability to learn and adapt. And absolutely critical is having the ability to play well with others.
Has your association focused at all on the trend of outsourcing animation
overseas , if yes, what conclusions have you come to?
We instituted strikes over run-away production in 1979 and 1982, winning the first and losing the second. We talk about outsourcing all the time; but until trade policies change, outsourcing will continue to be a fact of the industry that workers in it will have to deal with.
Check out more interviews at The Animation Career Review Interview Series.