Netflix In-House Animation Department is Falling Apart

Yesterday it was reported that Netflix’s Director of Creative Leadership and Development for Original Animation Phil Rynda, along with several of his staff, were let go as of this week. Several creators have said the Kids & Family division at Netflix Animation has changed from how it use to be.

Those in the animation industry considered Netflix to be the go-to for creating original animated content. Now it’s been confirmed that not only is Netflix shrinking their kids animation department, but also cancelling shows that were highly anticipated, such as Bones, Redwall, and season two of City of Ghosts.

Artwork from the popular book series Redwall

Netflix is now being accused of using “staged data” when giving proof of why a show should be cancelled. When creatives behind the show send the data back asking further questions and explanations, Netflix will provide different sets of data that would reinforce their reasoning. Creators within Netflix have described this as “manipulative”.

A Twitter user asked the writer of TheWrap piece to clarify what he meant by “staged data”:

Once thought of as a stable place for creativity within the animation division at Netflix, many are now leaving the company to go work at other more established places. Such examples are Elizabeth Ito (City of Ghosts, only one season) moving on to Apple TV+. Dominic Bisignano, who was the executive producer for Centaurworld (2 seasons), went to Cartoon Network. Many other animators including Craig McCracken (Kid Cosmic, three seasons) and Jorge Gutierrez (Maya and the Three, which came out in 2021 with one season) have left the studio, returning to the more established companies such as Disney, Nickelodeon, and Amazon.

City of Ghosts

It seems that Netflix is also far more eager to market animation that’s been made by other companies, leaving many of the in-house creatives to do the marketing themselves without much support from Netflix. Currently Netflix is in full swing promoting season two of Boss Baby and the latest animes coming out like Vampire in the Garden and Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045.

It does not help Netflix when they do not sell any merchandise from their in-house animated content at all on their shop website. If they did, it would probably help them quite a bit.

Twitter user @AnimationProdUnionNOW shares anonymous stories from within the animation industry. They shared a screenshot from one person who told of their experiences from behind the scenes at Netflix.

-Big Layoffs and canceling shows after just one or two seasons
-not greenlighting anything internally, it appears. They plan on outsourcing a lot of shows. They just laid off a team (story, vis dev, etc) with plans to outsource it to a vendor that will do all of that
-Rancid culture that rapidly declined after 2018 where they seemed to be greenlighting EVERYTHING, hiring artists and trying to keep them from show to show
-sure they have a lot of animation ON netflix. But that doesn’t mean netflix made the shows. They just keep purchasing distribution rights and claiming credit 

At least with animation, Netflix seems to be going back to how they used to do things, which is to simply hold rights to host the videos for streaming.

Source: Yahoo! Entertainment

Sarah Leone

An independent artist who loves to mix things up between traditional and digital art. She has a love for all things anime, animation, and manga. Oh, and cats. Can't forget the cats.

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