Amy Pascal Has Abhorrent Response to Artists’ Grueling Experiences on ‘Across the Spider-Verse’
Amy Pascal had a shockingly cold response to allegations of grueling working conditions for animators and other artists on the set of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. The film has been deemed one of the biggest and best films of 2023 and is an animation marvel to behold. It boasts six distinct animation styles, dozens of uniquely designed Spider-Man variants, and a breathtaking interpretation of comic book art. However, with the ongoing issue of VFX artists and animators being mistreated in Hollywood, one can’t help but wonder what the cost of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was for the over 1,000 artists who spent over four years making the film.
Studios like Marvel, Universal Pictures, and Pixar have been coming under fire in recent years for their treatment of VFX artists and animators. Artists and animators have come forward with allegations of an industry rampant with bullying, underpayment, extreme workloads, and outrageous deadlines. In shocking allegations against Marvel and Universal Pictures, VFX artists detailed 64-hour work weeks, sleeping under desks, and having breakdowns while trying to meet impossible deadlines. Additionally, there’s a growing problem of directors and producers seemingly being unfamiliar with the VFX and animation processes. So they instill these unreasonable deadlines and might think nothing of changing their minds on a whim and making artists start the process over again.
Unfortunately, a new report from Vulture alleges that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse artists also suffered from poor working conditions. Perhaps even more troubling than the allegations from workers, though, have been Sony’s offhand responses to them.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse artists’ allegations explained
Four crew members detailed to Vulture the difficult working conditions in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. All of them pinpointed director Phil Lord’s management style and demands as one of the major problems on set. One thing that Lord did that allegedly is not common in the industry is making changes to fully rendered animation. There are many stages to the animation process, and most major revisions can be made during the writing and storyboarding stages. This isn’t only time effective, it’s also cost-effective to get these edits done early. However, Lord would wait until rendering, which is the final stage in the long grueling animation process, and then would begin demanding changes. This resulted in work being suddenly thrown out and the process starting over again, sometimes as many as five times.
Of course, constantly having to go back and change final renderings, sometimes after they were already approved, meant a huge buildup of work and a lack of time to finish it. To make it worst, Lord allegedly spent the first few months of production going back and forth in layout. Animators couldn’t even begin their work for the first half year because of his alleged indecisiveness, which resulted in a huge time crunch towards the end of production. One animator detailed 11-hour workdays seven days a week. 100 animators reportedly quit during production due to how frustrating the work environment was. Others may have wanted to leave but couldn’t. The constant changes up to the very end of production meant that there was a chance artists who left might find their work scrapped in the final cut and have nothing to show for however much time they spent working on set.
Amy Pascal slammed for abhorrent response to allegations
Several Sony executives gave statements to Vulture regarding the situation. These executives refuted the claims against Miller’s alleged micromanaging and interference and insisted the process of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was typical in the animation industry. However, one statement from Pascal didn’t sit well with many readers. She stated, “One of the things about animation that makes it such a wonderful thing to work on is that you get to keep going until the story is right. If the story isn’t right, you have to keep going until it is. I guess, Welcome to making a movie.”
It is a shockingly callous and dismissive response to the allegations of the artists. After all, Sony executives didn’t deny that the process was extremely grueling and frustrating. Instead of acknowledging the need for change in the industry so that what workers experienced on Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse isn’t the norm in Hollywood, the executives’ sentiments were that workers had to suck it up and deal with it. To say that being underpaid, overworked, and undervalued is just the process of “making a movie” summarizes everything that is wrong with the animation and VFX industries and why changes aren’t being made. Social media users quickly took to Twitter to slam Pascal for her ignorant and dismissive response to genuinely concerning worker allegations.
Pascal’s response was also unnecessary as the animators and artists on Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse likely understand better than anyone (definitely better than her!) the demands and struggles of the industry. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have made it to such a huge project in the first place. They’re not asking for a leisurely work environment—they’re asking for an environment that grants them basic rights and is sustainable for the work they must do. Their concerns should be taken seriously, considering Hollywood’s success is built on these workers, but execs like Pascal only seem to want complacency and to mislead workers into thinking that mistreatment is actually just a standard aspect of the movie-making business.
(via Vulture, featured image: Sony)
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