Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem director Jeff Rowe explained how he and executive producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg allowed the animators to balance their hard work with their home lives.
How did TMNT’s director keep his animators happy?
In an interview with Insider, Rowe spoke about the healthy collaboration he had with the TMNT animators to prevent burnout during production. Rowe credits the push for a healthy working environment to Rogen and Goldberg for their friendly approach to moviemaking through their production company, Point Gray.
“That was the thing that was really important to us on this film, and I learned it from Seth and Evan because in getting to know Seth, I’m like, ‘He has a really good work-life balance and everyone at Point Gray does,'” Rowe said.
He continued, “And I asked him about that and he is like, ‘Well, we’re like when you’re doing live action, sometimes you’re on a set for 40 days in a row and it is exhausting and tiring. And we want to make sure that our people have time away from that and that it doesn’t become their entire lives.'”
The TMNT film’s work-life balance approach sharply contrasts with the issues that have plagued Marvel Studios for the past few years. Recently, Marvel’s VFX crew voted to unionize following complaints made public about toxic working conditions and meeting unreasonable deadlines. Additionally, a group of animators who worked on Sony’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse voiced their displeasure about being overworked to meet the perfectionist demands of producer Phil Lord, resulting in a mass exodus of over 100 artists.
Rowe explained the need for his animation team to work as little as “three days a week” and limit their travel to work from home rather than in a studio. More importantly, he preferred enduring most of the stress of moviemaking while allowing his team to work at a reasonable pace. “We’d be like, ‘Great, let’s figure that out, and let’s accommodate that because that’s your process and that’s what leads you to make your best art,’ And we would often do that with most of the team and just try to make sure everyone always felt supported,” Rowe said. I never want the team to be suffering more than I am. And I also hopefully am suffering more than the team because I’m the captain and I’m paid to absorb that, and they’re not. It’s important to preserve that. People just do better work when they’re rested and have home lives.”
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is now playing in theaters.