Dozens of employees for a Vancouver-based animation studio lost a big gig recently after a new Louis C.K. TV series was shelved because of his admissions of sexual misconduct.
Vancouver’s Bardel Entertainment was in charge of animation for ”The Cops,” a new TBS cartoon produced by and starring Louis C.K. and Albert Brooks. Fifty-three animators at the studio were put out of work when the show was cancelled after the comedian admitted to masturbating in front of, or on the phone with, five women he worked with at various points in the career.
Kelani Lim, a production manager who oversaw animation on the show, says the news came as a blow. Many people had signed on to the project because they were big fans of Louis C.K.’s work.
“I was shocked, since I hadn’t expected him to ever be accused of such things,” she said in an email. “It was really difficult to digest, and I felt awful for the women coming forward.”
Lim says she was lucky that she was able to find another project to work on about a week after production of “The Cops” was indefinitely halted.
About half of the Bardel employees who lost their jobs were placed on another show that was starting at that time, says Tina Chow, the company’s head of development. She says finding positions for the others has been relatively easy because there’s so much demand for skilled animators.
“It’s a very busy industry in Vancouver,” Chow says. “We were lucky.”
That wasn’t the case at Starburns Industries, the L.A. studio making “The Cops,” which hired Bardel to take over animation.
In July, when Francis Giglio started working at Starburns as art director for “The Cops,” he was thrilled. He had mostly worked on animated shows for children before, and was looking forward to a primetime project. Giglio and the team of about 40 people he supervised at had completed storyboards for the show’s first five or six episodes when they heard the news in early November.
The day the allegations broke, Giglio says the atmosphere in the studio was one of shock and confusion. He remembers his employees coming into his office, asking: ”What does this mean? Is the show over with? What do we do?”
Even at that point, he remembers people saying they didn’t want to work on a show starring Louis C.K. if he really did the things he was accused of. Giglio was among them. “I was fine from walking away from the project, if the allegations were true,” he says.
The next day, the comedian released a statement confirming that his accusers’ stories were accurate. Giglio says everyone just left work early, disgusted. They were told to come back into work on Monday as if it were a normal work day, but they all knew it wasn’t.
Later that night, the staff received an email that said production on the show had been halted indefinitely.
“They paid us out for the rest of the week, but that was it,” Giglio says. ”We didn’t have any severance or anything.”
Giglio has managed to find a new project, and he says he knows that makes him lucky. “As far as the rest of my staff goes, very few have been able to find employment,” he says. ”Most of them are still looking.”
In an open letter to Louis C.K. written on the side of a cardboard box he used to pack up his office, Giglio underlined just how many people were affected by the comedian’s behaviour.
“So many of us are frantically looking for a new project to jump on,” he wrote. ”Myself included as my wife stays home with our three-year-old daughter and I want to always make sure they are taken care of.”
But while he wanted Louis C.K. to think about the far-reaching consequences of his behaviour, in his letter he stressed that the job loss was worth it if it meant holding C.K. accountable.
“All of the stress and frustration that I find myself in now is nothing compared to the pain and distress you have caused those women,” the letter goes on to say. ”I will happily walk away from this project and any other project to fully support anyone that needs to come forward about sexual abuse or harassment.”
Giglio says the response to his open letter has been positive. He even heard from Rebecca Corry, one of Louis C.K.’s accusers, who told the New York Times that she didn’t report the comedian’s request to masturbate in front of her when he appeared on a TV show she worked on because she “had no interest in being the person who shut down a production.”
In a letter she sent Giglio, Corry “was apologizing for me losing my job,” he says. ”That was the whole point of my letter: no, you don’t need to apologize.
“It needs to change. We can’t be blaming the whistleblower.”
Maija Kappler, The Canadian Press