Hollywood is no stranger to grueling work hours, particularly in the animation and visual effects industry. However, with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem," actor and producer Seth Rogen took a stand for the well-being and work-life balance of the animation team.
Jeff Rowe, the director of the Paramount-animated film, shed light on discussions he had with producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Both Rogen and Goldberg are the pillars of the Point Gray production company, the team that produced the feature.
Rowe emphasized that the ethos of Point Gray resonated with him, stating, “From my interactions with Seth, it was evident that he maintained an admirable work-life balance, and that was a sentiment echoed throughout Point Gray”.
Rogen's perspective is rooted in his vast experience. He equated the exhaustive nature of live-action filming, sometimes spanning 40 continuous days, to the potential rigors animators might face. For Rogen, it was paramount that his crew not be consumed by their work to the point that it usurped their entire lives.
Rowe Prioritizes Ethical Production
Rowe took this philosophy to heart. For "Mutant Mayhem," he championed an ethical production process. Many animators on the project worked a three-day week, with several even operating remotely from Scotland.
Rowe explained the flexible approach, saying, “We constantly endeavored to mold our work environment around our animator's preferred processes. Ultimately, when individuals feel supported and respected, they produce their finest work”.
This human-centric approach starkly contrasts recent reports from the animation and VFX industry. For instance, some Marvel VFX artists have decried what they describe as toxic work atmospheres with burdensome deadlines. Animators working on both the Disney+ series "She-Hulk" and the movie "Ant-Man: Quantumania" have voiced concerns about inequitable pay and last-minute revisions.
Disturbingly, an alleged exodus of roughly 100 animators from Sony’s “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” was reported, with professionals claiming they were subjected to over 11-hour workdays every day of the week.
Rogen, who has taken a definitive stance with "Mutant Mayhem," also remarked on his reluctance to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The seasoned writer explained his trepidation, “Evan [Goldberg] and I have honed our craft over two decades.
Though we admire many aspects of Marvel, our main concern is adapting to their existing infrastructure. With 'Mutant Mayhem,' we had the privilege of setting the production tone, establishing a system that prioritizes both the art and the artists."