The Animation Guild’s 2014 wage survey is in (read it here), and it shows salaries for animators holding fairly steady this year compared with last year. But the reported median weekly pay for some jobs — most notably staff TV writers, feature storyboard artists, and staff story editors — is down from salaries reported five years ago. The median weekly pay reported by feature animation directors is up compared with 2013 and 24% higher than in 2010. Meanwhile, overall employment at the guild, IATSE Local 839, is at an all-time high. About a third of the guild’s 3,200 members took part in this year’s survey, up from 26% last year.
The sample size in some categories is significantly lower than in others and might skew the median weekly pay rates, which are based on a 40-hour week. So it’s hard to tell whether staff TV writers took a hit or just didn’t generate a big enough sample, or whether feature directors’ wages truly jumped almost 25%. The sample includes members working both union and non-union animation jobs in Los Angeles; about 4% of the respondents were lower-paid non-union animators, which also drags down median rates.
Still, guild business rep Steve Hulett said the local releases the survey “because it’s important for animators in L.A. to know where the wage rates are so they can negotiate intelligently with producers, because too often they get lowballed, and the more information they have, the more effective they will be negotiating their wages with employers.”
The survey does show that minimum rates for animation writers covered by the guild are lower than the minimums in the WGA’s animation contract. Jurisdiction over animation writing has been a source of friction between the two guilds for years.