Animators for Seth Rogen’s raunchy R-rated animated comedy Sausage Party have accused the film’s production company, Nitrogen Studios, of using “unfair pressure tactics” to force staff to work overtime for free and of leaving half of their names out of the film’s credits.
A letter from 30 Nitrogen Studios animators obtained by the Hollywood Reporter alleged that the production company used “unfair pressure tactics … against the team: intimidating staff into working past official studio hours, disciplinary measures utilizing fear tactics that demotivate and cause distress (such as threatening to terminate employment), implying that other departments are working overtime ‘voluntarily’ as a reason to deny compensation.”
“These issues are breaking people’s ability to focus on animation and are making for an unrewarding and frustrating work environment,” the letter accused.
Nitrogen Studios, a Vancouver-based digital animation company, hired digital animators and managed the film’s computer graphics animation and its pre- and post-production.
“These statements are without merit,” the film’s director, Greg Tiernan told THR of the letter. “Our production adhered to all overtime regulations and our contractual obligations to our artists. Any time that any concern was brought up, it was handled appropriately.”
On the eve of the film’s world premiere, animators who claimed to work for Nitrogen Studios blasted Sausage Party co-directors Tiernan and Conrad Vernon in the comments section of a Cartoon Brew article that had profiled the pair.
“I could say that working on this crazy project was a hell of a ride. However, I will not be working with Nitrogen studios again not even on Sausage party 2,” one animator wrote.
“My contract ended before the end of the project,” the animator wrote, adding that their name was not included in the film’s credits at the end of the movie.
“I went with my friends to see it on screen and what a surprise it was to see that I did not get any credit for my work,” the animator wrote. “I realized it wasn’t only me, every member of the crew that didn’t get to the finish line wasn’t credited.”
Several animators also complained about their name being left out of the movie credits.
“I loved the Sausage Party and really want more films like it to get made,” an anonymous animator said. “I too worked for it and did not get credit.”
According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), 83 people are listed under the animation crew for the film, but only 47 reportedly had their names appear in the end credits.
In the Cartoon Brew profile, Tiernan, Nitrogen’s chief creative officer, had said the team behind the film “knew damn well that we could deliver a movie that looks like a $150 million dollar movie for a fraction of the cost.”
The Annapurna Pictures-produced film has been criticized for its heavy reliance on humor based on racial and sexist stereotypes. But despite some acrimony from social media users, Sausage Party hauled in an impressive $34 million in its opening weekend.
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