Disney TV: Round II

Here I am...

Q:What's happening?

A: As far as I know now, Friday will be my last day working for Disney TV. The past ten weeks have been like trying to learn how to ride a bucking bronco, but more like in a Rodeo Clown kind of way...

Ten weeks ago, one day after moving into Pasadena, I started my job on Phineas and Ferb at Disney TV. I was nervous, but basically had to hit the ground running. I was not yet "on staff," and aware that if in three weeks, I wasn't the employee they expected, I could be dismissed. My first task was to write an episode with a partner. In this case, writing meant roughing out storyboards following the general guidelines of an outline we were given. The first three weeks were hard for me- I'd never worked on a TV storyboarding job in house, I'd definitely never worked off an outline (I've always been on scripted movies or TV shows), this show was hand drawn and I've been working on tablet, and at a much bigger size for the past six months. I put all those thoughts aside, and dived in, face first. Then, to add to the madness, my partner and I were pushed up in the schedule by about a week... I believe, due to someone else who had fallen behind schedule. When it was crunch time, me and my partner were burning the night oil working on our boards. I felt a lot of pressure to do well on the pitch, since I hadn't heard whether I would get to stay at Disney yet, and it was close to the end of my first three week trial.

Yes, "first."

Right before my first big pitch, I found out they liked me enough to put on another three week trial period. I would be writing another episode with a different partner. This was both partner and office number two. I continued to barrel my way through this, and worked hard to make my boards simple, funny, and easy to read. I also was trying my best to be efficient, despite the more experienced people around me consistently admitting that this was one of the hardest, most demanding shows they've ever worked on.

The final week of this second trial period, of course, fell at the same time as a big network pitch. I found out I would be entering into trial period, III. By this point I had been told that I wasn't meeting their original expectations. And those expectations were to fill the shoes of a person who had left the crew, who was able to completely pull together the storyboards for the outlines he was given, making them not only work, but that kept people laughing, to the extreme, for the entire pitch. This person also had probably at least 10 years of experience more than I did, had worked on Spongebob as one of the main writers and board artists, and WON AN EMMY?! Although I was flattered they believed in me enough to think I could immediately live up to this expectation- I felt like there was no way I would've succeeded without a magical elf coming and giving me magical hands and brain power. My future assignments were changing every day that week. The day before the pitch, I was told I was going to be cleaning up my boards for the next three weeks. The day of the pitch I was told I was going to be writing again, with my previous partner. Then, the Friday after the pitch I was told that on Monday, I would be sent over to Emperor's New School to help them out for two weeks, and then return to Phineas and Ferb for my final week. Emperor's New School meant a different cast of characters to learn to draw, a completely different show format to get used to, a different crew, and a different building. No big deal, change is easy, right? Also, I should note that this was on a Cake Day. I've had other ridiculously frustrating things happen on a Cake Day.

I ended up staying at Emperor's New School for three weeks, and this week was back on Phineus and Ferb, doing clean up.

And at his point I really don't know how to end this...

I drew these illustrations to help show how I felt-

I had all these aspirations to talk about the industry, and how studios could be better, and make more quality TV shows and movies, and how executives and artists are always gonna be at odds... But I'm too tired to say everything that's been running through my head as I've been trying to make it through the past 10 weeks and not completely burn out.

It's been hard to not feel like a little bit of a failure.

I was really bummed at the end of it all. No matter whose fault it really is, it's hard to be thrown back and forth between shows and jobs. I felt as if my self esteem got punched in the gut... now it's sitting on the playground pavement, winded and angry.

When things were at their craziest in this whole debacle, I kept having to remind myself of something that Natasha, a really ditsy Russian contestant on America's Next Top Model said to Brittney, a fellow contestant who was equally dumb. Brittney was throwing a tantrum about a taxi driver who had caused her to lose a challenge. Her face was puffy, she was cursing, and smoking, and causing a scene- and Natasha, trying to calm her down, says,

"I just want to tell you that some people have war in their countries."

Thank you Natasha, thank you.


Blogger Tony Mora said...

I don't understand these "trials" you have to go through. Either they hire you or they don't. Just seems mean to string you along.

10:12 AM, May 24, 2007  
Blogger Sean said...

Wow, sounds like quite a headache. And I agree with Tony, they shouldn't string people along like that.

10:40 AM, May 24, 2007  
Blogger Inhae Lee said...

Elizabeth, let's smile and nod for their rough management yet don't forget to drink tequilla, while pocking bunch of voodoo dolls at home.

12:52 PM, May 24, 2007  
Blogger kevin said...

there's a lot of wisdom to be gained from watching top model. i like the drawing of the guy in his costume going to work with the angry executive boxes!

sorry things have been so crummy at work... let's do something fun tonight.

1:42 PM, May 24, 2007  
Anonymous Dr. Webb said...

some countries have war...others have America's Next Top Model. God Bless it!!! Rock On!!

3:20 PM, May 24, 2007  
Blogger Josh Parpan said...

Sorry to hear it Elizabeth, I saw your boards and they were great!
Disney seems to have a long history of pissing off it's best artist..

10:51 PM, May 24, 2007  
Blogger leolietje said...

I felt sorry for you but didn't know wat to say:


the best of luck!

4:49 AM, May 25, 2007  
Blogger Brian B said...

You have a right to be upset about this. There's nothing wrong with aspiring towards something and caring passionately if you're not reaching where you want to be. You work hard, care about good storytelling.

I think the thing is tv, studios, executives - they'll always be there to try to punch you out. I know you wanted to do things the right way, add some quality to the industry that's sorely lacking it. There's so much talent out there too, but nothing's allowed to change or to scare executives. They simply try to replace and redo.

I think it's sound like a smack in the face. You have all these aspirations and goals. You get here with something to give. And the executives already have expectations. Like trying to stick a storyteller on stage as a stand up. There's just so little breathing room.

Anyway, I don't know where exactly I'm going with this one. Just that things have been static and grating for such a long time. Just understand that for something that's been like that for so long, with so much real talent surrounding it, there must be a reason. It's not going to be easy to change. And you can either try to do your best imitation to fall in line and have them tell you what a success you are, or you can stick with the values you believe and know that there is an audience out there as frustrated as you that they're not letting any of it through. Keep pushing.

9:52 AM, May 28, 2007  
Blogger IZA said...

Wow, that's INSANE! Hope evberything works out for you, and don't get too down onn yourself. Your work is Great, and having to deal with all those things, and changes, and pressure, and "trial" periods are harsh stuff. Keep making fun stuffs!!!

12:10 AM, May 29, 2007  
Anonymous lizriz said...

As someone who has also found comfort in the words of America's Next Top Model contestants (in my case, Jaslene), I just wanted to jump on and say that it sounds to me like you took on a big challenge, and got up every day and worked your butt off. So I say, GO YOU! I'm sure you learned a ton, and you will bring all that experience and knowledge to your next challenge. Hang in there!

I also say that the real secret to success in this town is simply not to leave. Live to fight another day!

2:41 PM, May 30, 2007  
Blogger Okapi Figment William said...

These drawings remind me of Missy Kuliks Drawings.

7:34 PM, June 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That show was so horribly designed and infuriating to work on, it became my final straw in the animation biz. You might just chalk it up to a bump in the road. Know that you're BETTER than it, and that you have much better things to look forward to.

Disney is known for running people through the wringer as it is, but this show is so poorly managed, it's amazing anyone stays around for it.

9:21 PM, August 13, 2007  
Blogger swampym said...


1:41 PM, August 21, 2007  

Post a Comment

<< Home