Tim Gray, writing for Variety:
It sounds like a no-brainer for a film company to focus on filmmakers. But in the past, Disney Animation was often administrative-driven, with layers of notes from executives that dictated content and bogged down the creatives.
It’s tempting to point and laugh and say “of course the creatives should be in charge!” However, “creatives” can make really bad choices too. The key here is to have good executives that can take themselves out of the process unless they’re needed. That is entirely subjective, and very difficult to promote good behavior of not doing something. “Good job, Mike, you didn’t say anything except that one thing.”
Bad executives have to weigh in on every, single thing. They see it as their role to give input. The worst outcome is a studio hierarchy full of those executives that feel the need to insert themselves. It is very easy to accumulate more of these executives if a studio feels that greater oversight improves films. It’s also very easy to have a lot of them if they each find some budget savings that makes a little more room for profit by cutting some component.
Disney sees the success of their animated features, and the money they pull in, but no one is pushing for Disney to close their Burbank animation studio in search of tax credits. A lesser movie studio might see enormous profits and try to squeeze out even more profit by slashing production costs on future animated features. This is totally different from the way other studios are running these days.
There’s an incredibly depressing documentary, The Sweatbox, that captured what making an animated movie at Disney used to be like. It was made by Trudie Styler, as a condition of her husband’s (Sting’s) contract. The rights to it are owned by Disney and they haven’t released it, for obvious reasons. Disney doesn’t seem interested in suppressing online leaks, so it’s usually on YouTube. Disney Feature Animation of today seems like it doesn’t have those problems. A total cultural shift.
Hopefully, competing animation studios will start looking at Disney’s process instead of just looking at the pictures Disney makes.