Shenanigans In Florida

A few months ago I posted about a roto job on craigslist that paid $8 an hour. Well Paul Zadie tweeted another fine improvement to the scheme. Not only does this job pay $8 an hour, it now requires that you work for free for 2 weeks!

I’ve actually been amused by some of the shenanigans going on in Florida.

Ringling College intends to start it’s own production facility to help students get a “hands-on learning experience” on working for free perhaps?

You’ve probably also heard about the Florida AI student who graduated with a ton of student loan debt from it’s games industry program and ended up becoming a stripper.

Just this week Universal introduced a law basically written by them to the Florida legislature that gives them taxpayer money in the form of subsidies.

Last year Wyndcrest, which owns Digital Domain was able to leverage around $70 million in taxpayer money from the Florida legislature and local governments by moving a 3D conversion company to Florida and intending to open up a school:

Many digital animation jobs are moving overseas, and Textor said his company and other Hollywood studios could work with the school to train and hire young, moderately paid workers.

(Young and moderately paid is usually a red flag for “work for free” but that’s just me.)

The drawings for the school are quite nice and the comments from citizens in Florida are enthusiastic.

Perhaps they were a little too enthusiastic. The Palm Beach Post realized that many of those comments were coming from the same ip address inside of cityhall!:

It seems like there are a lot of Lois Frankel and Digital Domain fans in cyberspace these days, but it turns out most of the positive love is coming from a City of West Palm Beach government IP address and two other IP addresses.

What I find interesting were the shenanigans behind the deal. For example, the Florida legislature was basically threatened that if they didn’t give them taxpayer money, they would go to Vancouver:

Ambler feared an investigation of Textor’s project would take too long and possibly risk losing the visual effects company, which Textor was threatening to move to Vancouver, Canada.

So the Florida legislature agreed to a deal to prevent Digital Domain from going to Vancouver. So what happened right after the deal was made?

Last week, Digital Domain announced that, even with the green light for Wyndcrest, it would open another studio in Vancouver.

The lighting quick ability for companies like Wyndcrest to leverage the government into giving them millions brought concerns by some in the legislature to investigate. In fact one lawmaker questioned giving money to these VFX companies given that they lose money:

The documents also showed several years of losses for Digital Domain, including $20 million in 2007, the first year under Textor’s direction.

and what was the reaction by Digital Domain owner John Textor?

He dismisses Domino’s criticism as sour grapes and says SEC documents reflected “paper losses,” not cash.

It makes sense. Afterall, it’s hard to maintain a profit when you’re busy helping run a baseball stadium.

Soldier On.

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7 Responses to Shenanigans In Florida

  1. vfxworker says:

    good old chicken and egg…whose fault is it? the 3d-companies’ for trying to wring every last cent out of states for subsidies; or the politicians’ for letting the studios fool them like that!? don’t they look at other states histories with those kinda problems?

  2. FlaBoy says:

    Yeah that is the tip of the iceberg to Fla Shenanigans. I heard a couple of months ago DD Fl. was hiring for about 40-50 Stereo conversion jobs and something like 4,000 students from the state’s schools showed up. Any company can shop around to the CG,VFX,Game schools here and find tons potential employees, but many are desperate to work.
    I am not even sure how many CG schools are here anymore? I do not know where Fla ranks with the number of schools but maybe only after LA for total numbers I think.
    Fla also has production work, but there is also stuff that like many places the work comes and goes. Film and TV are probably the least amount of CG work in the state. It is a constant flux. Arhitecture, Medical(might still be small), Military, Corporate, and Interactive Training are all probably bigger than the Film, TV, and Game work here in Fla.

    I would love to be wrong about that, but I do not see it.
    I bet there is more Shenanigans if you dig a little deeper.

  3. imthere says:

    The best part about this is ad is not accurate in what they are offering. The training period is actually 80 hours so it could take up to 3 weeks if you are not going full time. Also the training they say they are giving you is showing you how to use mocha for about 15 mins then being assigned a shot from the movie and being told to go roto it and if you have any questions ask me. Basically you are doing their work for free for 80 hours.

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