Troubling claims are emerging from the production of the new Seth Rogen-penned, R-rated animation ‘Sausage Party’, detailing alleged demands that staff work long hours without overtime or face being fired.
The ire is aimed at the film’s co-directors Greg Tiernan, founder of Vancouver-based Nitrogen Studios, and Conrad Vernon, who has worked on movies for the major DreamWorks Animation studio.
It was after the pair took part in an interview about the movie with the Cartoon Brew website that the comment section soon began filling up with testimony from disgruntled former employees on the movie.
Much was made in the interview of the budget being extremely low – it was thought to have been made for around $20 million (around £15 million), a tiny amount for a feature – and animators soon came forward to give their view on how so much was achieved with so little.
Wrote one, under the name ‘uncredited supervisor’: “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 artist 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.”
Another commenter, calling themselves ‘another uncredited animator’, 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.”
Another added: “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.”
So far, neither Nitrogen Studios, Seth Rogen nor Annapurna has commented on the allegations.
Image credits: Nitrogen Studios/Rex Features/YouTube