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UFL and ToughguyFilms a warning to techies

Discussion in 'Other Off Topic Forum' started by TestShoot, Dec 22, 2003.

  1. TestShoot

    TestShoot F1 World Champ

    Sep 1, 2003
    10,248
    Beverly Hills
    Full Name:
    King Koopa
    I was given this info by a well respected former employee of mine, I have a responsibility to post it as I rec'd it and not alter the content. This is his post, and techies be warned!

    Begin someone else's words:

    Many individual artists have been badly hurt by involvement with this company producing a project called "UFL: Universal Football League", which has gone under the names Animax, UFL Entertainment, Evolution Animation, and Tough Guy Films, based at one time in Salt Lake City, UT, other times in Park City, UT.

    http://www.toughguyfilms.com and http://www.playufl.com

    After 9/11, there was an economic struggle that caused a hard time for work in the computer animation industry. The main proprietors of this company, Bradley Scott Weidman and Stephen Wisely, took advantage of the situation by means of highly unscrupulous practice.



    Many of the artists moved from long distances, some from animation schools. The owners seemed charismatic at first, so agreements were made on an acceptable pay rate, with the understanding of 40-60 hour weeks. What happened upon arrival was that it was expected that the artists work full weekends and 100+ hour weeks without overtime. Being that finding work in the industry was hard at the time, this was grudgingly accepted.



    This was the first of many lies and deceptions.



    Long distance artists were put up to live in a residential building owned by the proprietor, where the company was also operated. This meant that the artists were under near constant supervision, allowing them to more easily enforce their unreasonable work policies.



    The artists were informed this was a commissioned television project, with full funding and a network attached. The artists thought they were working on a "real" pilot. Only later was it learned that this is nothing more than somebody's idea, IT IS NOT A "REAL" PROJECT, THERE IS NO REAL MONEY, THERE IS NO STUDIO, THERE IS NO DISTRIBUTOR. At one time, there were negotiations with Fox Sports and FoxBox, which broke down. They have enough money to trick employees into thinking they have more, to further their means. Nothing more. The owner, Bradley Scott Weidman, led the artists to believe he was a well connected producer with a lot of money. It was later revealed he was merely a suspected fraudulent businessman who is suspected to have only made his money through being a crooked construction contractor.



    The pay rate was maintained for four weeks as a means of lulling the artists into a false sense of security. Artists were, two weeks in, informed that there was the possibility of a pay cut, that would be temporary and made up for. Weeks later, the next check came, the pay had been slashed by nearly seventy percent of what was agreed upon, without sooner warning or even apology, merely another promise that it was temporary. Artists were informed they were still making their "agreed" rate, and would be receiving the remaining balance upon staying to the end of the project. Several artists corroborate this.



    At this point, there was a sharp increase in hours. The proprietors wanted the artists to finish a five minute animated proof of concept piece without an agreed script, pre-visualization, or storyboards. Internal disagreements about its creative direction was blamed on the artists. The production pipeline's organizational structure, while haphazard and utterly unprofessional, was the least of the problems.



    For a time, the owner, Bradley Scott Weidman, was able to asuage fears via a unique talent for charisma, deception, and manipulation. He used this approach to avoid making written agreements with artists. He was known to pretend to be a friend to the artists and convince them that the financial and business troubles were beyond his control and that he was an ally. He would feign forging an artificial bond with the artists down to the exchanging of personal details to one another. However, he possesses textbook sociopathic tendencies that would imply a psychological inability to form genuine human bonds. One anonymous artist's claim of his persona: "If putting someone on the streets meant another nickel in his pocket, he wouldn't think twice."



    The strategy was to bring in financially struggling artists in an industry going through hard times, trick them into thinking they were making enough to get back on their feet, and then, by cutting the pay below respectable levels, locking the artists into a vulnerable position of needing whatever they could get and having to accept their utterly unreasonable work demands. In essence, they set a trap that made leaving very difficult.



    For the bulk of the project, EMMY WINNING, SEASONED ANIMATION PROFESSIONALS were being paid UNDER $400 A WEEK, NO BENEFITS, NO HOLIDAYS, NO OVERTIME.



    As tensions escalated, so did psychological abuse from the two owners directed to the artists. As part of the demoralizing strategy, artists were made to feel inferior, un-talented, and that their organization was the best they could ever do. It was a classic "battered wife" strategy.



    During the last month of the project, without warning, apology, or otherwise, and following an exhausting marathon of 16-18 hour days, 7 day weeks for consecutive months, the artists were NOT paid a cent.



    When the artists learned they were expected to work for free, the owners became desperate to maintain enough control to finish the project, and, by eyewitness accounts, began making threats of PHYSICAL VIOLENCE against some of the artists. Bradley Weidman claimed strong maffia ties, and threatened to either inflict violence against certain employees, or threaten the use of a Los Angeles based maffia thug to inflict violence. Weidman's assistant, Stephen Wisely, who was known to be equally belligerent, low brow in speech and conduct, and lacking professional etiquette or knowledge in a production environment (by reports, his only prior alleged work had been in construction, despite claims to be a writer/producer), had begun making similar threats of violence.



    Another noteworthy item of budget payroll is that not a single cent came from Bradley Weidman. By reports, an outside investor was conned for most of his worth. When he withdrew his funding, Bradley Weidman opted to cease paying the artists and cause them great personal and financial harm rather than invest a time of his own, by many accounts, wealthy resources.



    By other accounts, a second, outside company: (http://www.counterpointstudios.com) controlled by the estranged investor was also manipulated into providing uncompensated or near-uncompensated services. This second company changed their locks at one point of fear and frustration with Mr. Weidman and Mr. Wisely.



    There were two end results of these several months: 1. Bradley Weidman and Stephen Wisely had an impressive animated proof of concept for a television pilot, to be used in presentation meetings with studios to sell them on the idea. 2. Many artists went home demoralized, personally shattered, and financially devastated.



    None of the above is conjecture, assumption, or anything short of documented fact as stated by many 3d animation professionals. If you are willing to accept or overlook these work conditions to have industry experience on your resume, feel free to investigate employment opportunity. However, potential artists have the right to know what happened there.
     

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