This article from The Age a couple of weeks ago reminded many of us former employees of Leigh O'Brien, CEO of Ettamogah Entertainment that for many, the saga is still not over.
For a number of us union members, last Christmas heralded a double celebration as we received cheques for 80% of our entitlements some fourteen months after being unlawfully "stood down" from our jobs. This constituted a payment of 90% of our entitlements to solicitors acting on our behalf less 10% in legal fees.
But it wasn't without a protracted and frustrating fight. After months of unsuccessfully seeking a resolution through Fair Work following being "stood down" in October 2009 so that the company could sort out story and production issues on its second animated series "Li'l Larikkins", the MEAA took the matter to court with Mr O'Brien agreeing in July 2010 to pay all outstanding entitlements. A premature cheer of celebration rang out from the union. Premature because the stalling that had delayed progress previously continued until a payment of 90% of our entitlements was made in September '10 with the remainder to follow a couple of weeks later. Well, that never happened. Other creditors were lining up and on November 16 the company was placed under external administration. Paperwork sent out to creditors by administrators Hall Chadwick detailed amongst other things a debt of over $6 million, curiously $3 million of which Mr O'Brien claimed he owed himself. Additionally the day beforehand, the company changed its name because of an apparent "breach of licence agreement" despite operating for 11 years and owning the rights to Ken Maynard's cartoons.
In December, the union in light of the amount of creditors chasing unpaid debt conceded that the remaining 10% would not be forthcoming and proceeded to disperse funds held in trust by the solicitors.
On February 2, 2011 following the granting of an extension to prove that the company was indeed financial, creditors met at a hearing with administrators Hall Chadwick and voted to have the company wound up and placed into liquidation.
With the saga now well and truly over for me and given that several episodes of both series have aired on TV thereby nullifying any NDA, and given that there is effectively no company to threaten legal action I thought it about time to share some of the artwork I created during my time there.
I was originally hired back in March of 2008 as a storyboard artist for their new series "Wakkaville" and in my first few weeks, prior to starting any storyboards was asked to create some character artwork.