News has emerged from the production of Seth Rogen’s R-rated animation Sausage Party that staff were ‘forced to work for free’ or face being fired.
The claims were made by the film’s animators on the Cartoon Brew website. In the article, co-directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon were interviewed about the movie in which they talked of the budget being extremely low. Animators then came forward to reveal how poorly they were treated during production.
An uncredited supervisor said:
“The production cost were kept low because Greg would demand people work overtime for free. If you wouldn’t work late for free your work would be assigned to someone who would stay late or come in on the weekend. Some artists were even threatened with termination for not staying late to hit a deadline.
“The animation department signed a petition for better treatment and paid overtime. When the letter got to [the movie’s producers] Annapurna they stepped in and saw that artist were payed and fed when overtime was needed.
“Over 30 animators left during the coarse (sic) of the production due to the stress and expectations. Most of them left before the paid overtime was implemented. This was met with animosity and was taken as a personal insult to the owners. Their names were omitted from the final credits despite working for over a year on this film.”
Greg would demand people work overtime for free. Some artists were even threatened with termination for not staying late to hit a deadline.
Another then added:
“Almost half the animation team was not credited. The team believed in this film and poured their hearts and souls into it. Despite this, more than half of it was not credited. You can see the full team on IMDB, which contains 83 people (and I am certain there are some missing). The film’s credits, however, contains 47.”
They also go on to detail ‘poor organisation’ at Nitrogen, with the all-star ‘Sausage Party’ – featuring a voice cast including James Franco, Kristen Wiig, Salma Hayek and Jonah Hill – being its first feature-length project.
“The studio had lost such a massive portion of the team by the end of the production (more than half) that they had to resort to hire recent animation graduates to finish the film,” the commenter added.
“What we currently see in the credits are the students as well as animators who have stayed until the end of the production, and a couple who have left the production. Most of the animators who are not credited have been on the show for more than a year and a half, which is most of the production time.
“These are the people who have worked hard to set the style of the show and have their work used as promotion for the film. Nitrogen has been trying hard to hide this from the producers so I doubt that Seth Rogen even knows this. I hope that this can help get the word out.”
One worker reiterated that they were ‘threatened to be fired’ if they didn’t play ball:
“Working at Nitrogen was a very tough experience for many many artists. If they weren’t satisfied with your work (often it was for reasons beyond your control, that they didn’t want to hear about) you were pulled into a room and threatened to be fired. Many left due to this sort of treatment.
“If you left the contract early you were pulled into a room, given a speech about how you might never work in the industry again because of what you have done.”
Nitrogen Studios and Seth Rogen are yet to respond to the allegations. Sausage Party hit screens in US last Friday.