A popular Manila-based animation studio was recently embroiled in controversy after a Filipino animator claimed that he was fired for asking for fair compensation.
Top Draw Animation, which recently worked on Netflix’s “Carmen Sandiego,” was accused of exploitation by Facebook user Raf Dla in a viral social media post.
In his post, Raf Dla, identified by the Daily Dot as Raf de las Alas from Quezon City, alleged that Top Draw fired him after “asking for proper compensation” following his work for the series’ second season.
“I really put up with a lot of crap so I could work on this show,” Raf wrote.
“Long story short, Top Draw paid me below minimum wage and used an ‘extended training’ as an excuse to get work out of me. Then, they fired me with no warning for asking for proper compensation and calling it ‘disrupting the positive atmosphere of our company.”
“Mind you, the only person I ever made my grievances known to was the prod-manager/corporate bootlicker. I never made a scene in spite of all they did, because I really wanted to work on this show,” he added.
“I really liked animating it, it’s something I was passionate about, but I couldn’t ignore the wrongs they were doing either.”
Raf’s work was mostly on episodes of “Carmen Sandiego,” an animated action-adventure series which features the voices of Gina Rodriguez and Finn Wolfhard.
Aside from the Netflix show, Top Draw has also produced works for notable titles such as “My Little Pony: The Movie,” “The Tom and Jerry Show,” “Little Astro Boy” and “Transformers: Rescue Bots,” among others.
While many expressed their support for Raf, his story was contradicted by someone who claimed that she encountered Raf during her on-the-job training. According to the person identified only by her handle Keeshan, Raf’s works usually failed to meet the standards of the supervisors. The post alleged that Raf was given several chances to improve his work but he appeared to have no passion in his work.
Regardless of the details that led to Raf’s dismissal or his alleged exploitation, the post triggered calls for the animation industry overhaul on social media.
On Twitter, a thread was created to compile accounts of the local animators and artists in the industry, particularly experiences from Top Draw itself.
Animator in Philippines for Netflix’s Carmen San Diego gets fired for asking for better pay
Reminder that animators in the Philippines are badly treated and severely underpayed pic.twitter.com/C9TGjNu65e
— NegiKitsu (@NegiKitsu) September 20, 2019
Founded by Wayne and Stella Dearing in 1999, Top Draw, a Filipino animation company, was acquired by American firm Grom Social in 2016.
Top Draw released a statement on its Facebook page acknowledging that Dla was an intern and not an employee in the company. In the post, the studio accused him of displaying “poor” behavior during his stay.
“The individual received the benefits of expensive expert trainers, superior curriculum and state of the art equipment over the training period but proved to be uncooperative and refused to follow instructions,” the statement said.
“Despite extending the training period at company expense, the individual continued to display a poor attitude. The company chose not to pursue the legal recourse available to it within the training agreement and, despite investing heavily in the individual, made the rare decision to end training without a subsequent offer of employment.”
While the post went on proclaiming its reputation for “providing building skills to talented Filipino artists” in its two decades of operations, it failed to address Dla’s claims about being paid below minimum wage for his work.
Featured Image via Instagram / theofficialcarmensandiego