A while ago I posted a thank you to Michael Bay for his campaigning effort to recognize the VFX professionals that worked on his latest Transformers film.
This week Cartoonbrew posted a video of a CNN interview with DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. You should watch the whole thing but this quote was the most important and future leaders should take note:
The thing that I have learned, and I only wish that I knew it twenty-five or thirty years ago, which is to honor and celebrate, recognize and reward your employees and their work—is a fantastic business strategy. If they love their work, they love coming to work, they will strive to do great work and you’ll succeed.
The timing of this couldn’t have been better. It comes on the heels of my post on a business strategy by Digital Domain to have 30% of their work done for free by having students pay for the privilege to work on films.
Just like Mr. Bay, Mr. Katzenberg certainly has had his share of flaws and disagreements but if you ask most Dreamworks Animation employees they will certainly tell you that he is true to his cause of valuing his workers and loving what he does. Employees routinely mention that he is always at work and in reviews. He also creates an environment that supports artistic and technical creativity as well as general employee welfare. Oh, and did I forget to mention that 800 of them are union members of the Animation Guild?
I went around reading various comments in reaction to my DD post and one of the most common defenses of their strategy was “Well I worked an unpaid internship so I don’t see anything wrong with this.” I’m amused how we condone something wrong just because we went through it once also.
What appalls me the most though is how easily we allow ourselves and our craft to be denigrated. Could you imagine the uproar if a VFX professional said something like “honoring, celebrating, recognizing, and rewarding your employees and their work is a fantastic business strategy.”
Instead we get examples like this from David Stripinis who now calls himself “Ex VFX Labor Advocate”:
Anyone still fighting for VFX labor issues remind me of people who hang a Confederate flag. Still fighting a war lost long ago – 4:53 PM – 21 Mar 12
Sometimes I wonder if Mr Katzenberg values what we do more than some of us do. Thank You Jeffrey Katzenberg.