Questions And Reactions: Paying To Work For Free

High School Students Express Excitement Over Digital Domain Institute

“I think tomorrow’s post on my blog is going to make some jaws drop.”

That’s what I said on twitter when I was sent the audio for my post on Paying To Work For Free. There’s been a huge reaction:

Cartoon Brew:

As animation education programs proliferate around the United States and competition intensifies for a finite number of jobs, studios find themselves in a position to exploit young artists more aggressively than ever before.

The Animation Guild:

Calls in to the Florida Department of Education haven’t been returned yet. One can guess there are loopholes that are being exploited there as well. The FLSA documents seems to claim that in order for DDI to be compliant, all they have to do is pay their students minimum wage and overtime. Is that enough?

Canadian Animation Resources:

It’s making people angry, and we’re going to talk some more about it after you’ve read the piece.

Surprisingly my post made it on CGTalk also. I couldn’t help but agree and laugh at the same time at one of the moderators comments:

If this is true, it’s disgusting. It’s outright exploitation but the saddest thing of all is that kids will be queuing up to apply. If you’re good enough to be working on a feature, you’re good enough to be getting paid. Paying someone in addition to earning them money is morally indefensible.

Kinda funny to me because in reaction to a similar scheme occurring in India that I posted about a year ago the same moderator preferred we see less posts about this issue:

Newsflash: this happens all over the world.

And it happens not only because of unscrupulous companies, but also because of people who allow themselves to be exploited. There have been so many threads on this exact same subject here before – do we really need another one?

Um yeah I think we need quite a few more of these if you ask me.

Speaking of which there are a few things I came across:

Can A Trade Organization Stop This?

As you know I’m for the formation of both a labor union to represent VFX professionals AND a trade organization to represent VFX facilities. However many feel a VFX trade organization should be the only entity since healthier VFX facilities will lead to better labor practices.

Well at the beginning of the audio I heard a name that rang a bell: Ed Ulbrich. His name came up when I was doing some research for an unrelated post on AICP Digital: A trade organization for commercial producers which Digital Domain is a part of.

Mr. Ulbrich is the President of Digital Domain’s Commercials division and also helped form AICP Digital which one of it’s goals is to help give advice to improve labor practices. Given this information it would seem the AICP would have recommended against creating a school to get free labor.

I’m not surprised or offended that the AICP isn’t involved in preventing this. The members are in it to advance the facilities they are a part of. The same thing can be said of the VES.

It’s great to see those organizations put out memos that advise on labor practices, but lets get serious folks, not much is going to get done by these organizations that are largely run by VFX facility producers. They aren’t our enemies, and they aren’t going to be our allies in many cases either.

Can The Law Stop This?

I commend Steve Kaplan and The Animation Guild for contacting the Florida Department of Labor on this but let’s be clear: The Florida government isn’t really going to do anything about this.

Why? Well many legislators who helped win Digital Domain millions of dollars in subsidy money also receive campaign contributions from the company. Go to this website where you can search political donations. Do a search on Digital Domain, Wyndcrest (the entity that owns DD), and John Textor. What you’ll find is that many who awarded the subsidy money to DD received up to a total of $70,000 in campaign contributions in the last year. There is probably more if I took more time to search around.

This is the problem with subsidies, they allow companies to raid taxpayer funds and get around laws by giving generous kickbacks to the legislators. Do you really think politicians fell for Mr. Textor’s excuse that if he didn’t get subsidies and paid free labor that he would be forced to go to India and China?

It was just a cop out. Even after the agreement was made DD opened a facility in India and China. What’s funny was I found an older article where DD made the same argument to the state of Florida demanding subsidies or else they would have to open a facility in Vancouver instead. Campaign contributions were made, laws were changed, money was given and bam: the next week DD still goes forward with the opening of the Vancouver facility:

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

“If we hadn’t interceded, Florida would have lost this transformative industry. We’ll worry about fixing the existing mechanisms later,” Ambler said.

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

But the subsidies are good! They help create jobs! No, they just allow companies to take advantage of government officials. First they come for your taxpayer money, then they come after your laws. Similar thing happened in New Zealand:

US Studio Warner Bros. Leverages New Zealand

US Studios Leverage New Zealand Again

Soldier On.

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56 Responses to Questions And Reactions: Paying To Work For Free

  1. vfxguy says:

    So going by the Animation Guild post you linked to (and assuming DD doesn’t have a loophole), the students will have to be paid minimum wage and overtime for the 150 hours they are required to do as part of their 3-year course.

    If they get paid, what’s the problem?

    • Bill says:

      So if you pay your employer to go to work (more than the equivalent of minimum wage) and you get paid minimum wage in return- you’d be happy with that?

      Plus let’s not forget that this is a highly skilled job we’re all doing in the VFX industry and deserve to be receiving way more than minimum wage.

      • Ashes says:

        They have zero experience, they are students, minimum wage is fair. Why should they get a salary that someone with a few years experience would get?

        If they get minimum wage, then I have no problem with the program. Although it’s not unheard of for college internship programs to not pay in return for credit.

        Also, DD didn’t open an Indian facility, they are working with Reliance. It’s a partnernship with a finite contract. Once that contract is up, they could stop working with them. There’s no facility in China yet either. They are teaming up with Galloping Horse to create one. All of this is public record that you can find at sec.gov with their filing.

      • Bill says:

        Do you not think that having anyone in the industry getting paid minimum wage- even in the outset- will affect your wage towards the top?

        Why is it ok to exploit students?

        Would you be happy if they opened facilities in China and India and paid them a US minimum wage?

      • Ashes says:

        There are already people getting paid minimum wage in the industry. I do think someone with zero professional experience should get less then someone with 1 or 2 years. The impact at the top is not huge. No one I know with over 10 years experience is having a problem at the major studios with their pay.

        Students have no experience. I don’t consider them having to start at the bottom exploiting them. A short internship with credit is fair. Now, anything over 3 months IS exploiting them. I’ll see if that happens before throwing around accusations.

        As for China and India, some of those places are getting less then the minimum wage in the US. So, I’d be happy if they had to pay that as a salary.

        I am also concerned with tax incentives since they are basically governments paying to work on films.

      • vfxguy says:

        It stipulates on the course program that they are required to do a minimum of 150 hours intern work. That’s less than four weeks assuming 8-hour days.

        Even if you’re unpaid that’s hardly a return to slavery is it?

      • JTJR says:

        You deserve to be paid what the market will bear for your skills.

        Free-market, that is.

        The government subsidies distort the market and benefit everyone but the workers in the end. Propaganda news pieces like this are pretty typical fluff designed to promore government-corporate plundering.

      • Ashes says:

        Right, and a student with zero production experience is not worth much to a major studio, thus they are willing to take them on if they cost nothing.

        As I said before, under 3 months, not a problem, more than 3 months then it becomes a problem.

      • Anon:) says:

        Just so you know… I have worked with interns that make double the amount of minimum wage. That is still considered a low rate. It seems fair to me that an entry level artist should make more than someone working in fast food. If you think minimum wage is fair, does that mean the money and years of training mean nothing? I would assume that you do not need a lot of training to work at Mcdonalds. We do not get interns off the “street.” Plus, what does this say about artists that have many years of experience? We are an industry with very skilled workers. Ten years of experience at Mcdonalds does not = ten years in vfx, or does it? If you (as a vfx artist) think an entry worker should be paid the bare minimum, then what will these companies think about us? What are we worth to them?

    • Marcus says:

      Problem is that the head-honcho specifically said that 30% of the facility will be staffed by unpaid interns which will produce shots. In theory, every part of that statement is against the law.

      In practice, this whole thing will probably be somewhere in the middle – a situation where student interns will have to be paid at least minimum wage, but certainly won’t be able to be productive on shots for major films. While much of our work IS button-pushing, it wasn’t when we started… routine makes even a pilot’s job into a simple task. But then shit really hits the fan when things get stressful.

      DD will make real good money off of the education component, but stands to lose some money on the production end. In a perfect world for DD – since they are in a fairly isolated system in Florida – the few productive student interns will be hired full-time at way below market rate while the government keeps on subsidizing the educational and/or production end.

      In the real world, however, I fully expect this to run its course on the backs of these students and everyone at the Florida facility… either once the work output needs to be fixed offsite because of a lack of talent – or the deck of cards collapsing on the government end, with lobbying work not being able to overcome fiscal reality.

      At the very least, I wished they had bundled the DD-experience with a proper BSc from FSU instead of a filmmaking degree that won’t help you *as* much in both a VFX career as well as other career paths. But I suppose that would not be in DD’s best short-term interest.

  2. Ymir says:

    “This is the problem with subsidies, they allow companies to raid taxpayer funds and get around laws by giving generous kickbacks to the legislators.”

    The same thing could be said about unions. If the Supreme Court doesn’t scrap the president’s health care bill, who do you think is paying for it? Taxpayers. Who won’t be contributing? Unions, because unions have been given waivers. Why? Because unions donate to politicians and political parties, namely one political party.
    Paying to work . . . how is that different from being a member of union? Can’t work at a union signatory company unless you are a dues paying member. Only difference is, the company doesn’t get the cash, another organization does, who may contribute a portion of paid dues to support a politician that members might not support individually.

    • Ashes says:

      Actually, I think a better analogy would be the tax incentives that various governments pay. Hey are using tax money from people to buy a studio’s business.

      Unions have fees and dues and are voluntary to join or create. Healthcare is completely different. US tax payers already pay for everyone’s healthcare, remember ERs can’t turn away people. Universal healthcare will actually lower the cost of health insurance, you can opt out if you are on another plan, and it allows coverage for people who can’t get. However, that’s a different discussion.

      • Ymir says:

        Yes, it wasn’t my intention to hijack the thread, but to merely point out with the analogy that everybody has skin in the political favors game.
        Unions are voluntary to join, but if all facilities go union, then if you want to work, then it’s not really ‘voluntary’ afterall. You are, in fact, paying to work.

      • Marcus says:

        Yeah, those 0.4% of my salary going towards my TAG union dues is really something to get upset about… and they’re not even involved in politics to a measurable degree.

        If someone is really concerned about a larger VFX union playing the political game for its members gain, you can always go Financial Core.

        Those larger national political issues and ideological line-in-the-sand talking points just seem silly to me in discussions about our small, battered industry which faces crushing leverage from studios and facilties.

    • vfxPeon says:

      i think the obvious difference is that you are not paying to work for the union. with digital domain you are paying to work for them.

      you pay union dues to support the administrative costs of the entity that represents YOUR interests, not the interests of your employer.

    • JTJR says:

      Unions are not inherently bad at all. The problem is that they can often become monsters in and of themselves. I think you might be thinking of public-sector unions who negotiate with the government that sets their wages and benefits. There is a definite conflict of interest there.

      However, I don’t think this issue is about that. A union might be a good thing in this case, but the $64,000 question is whether unionizing will scare off even more work out of the US.

      No matter how you dice it, the government using tax payer money to force cheap and subsidized labor into our industry is just plain wrong.

      • Dave Rand says:

        The multi million dollar question is wether the new “set” and the new “production” are now the agglomerate industry of VFX. The money saved by being “on set” is apparent and you can’t be on set through face time or skype or Cisco video conference. Both the major entertainment unions that could cover us cover all of the USA and Canada. The UK, New Zealand, and Austrailia has their own organized labor capacity. Outsourcing to the rest is inevitable but there are limits…those limits will be met no matter what we do stateside. Again entering a business relationship and surrendering all the leverage to the other party is a fools game. Don’t the the age old arguments that have never held water and are usually generated by the side with all the leverage prevent you from doing what NOT personal… just business. Hollywood has grown just fine and even better that it could have with unions being there since the 30’s. The reason you make the paycheck you do is because you work in a highly unionized industry. You’re actually funding everyone else’s pension, retirement, protection, leverage, with your efforts as 5% of the projects you work on go on to fund that leverage, and those pension and health plans. So if you want to remain on the outside of that forever you’ll see the ground slipping away from you far faster than if you made an effort to put the fear aside and be a proper business person.

  3. Maddy says:

    I think this is an extremely slippery slope and it makes me worry! I’m not long in the industry. I graduated school in August and I’m currently a roto artist working towards becoming a Compositor. But I obviously have put my time in as a roto artists before that opportunity can arise. Now, what would happen if every studio did this? They’d never need roto artists! Why pay anyone to do an entry level job when you can have students pay to do it. It’s useless to the students too! Why keep them on if they can just take the next students in their place that are paying to do the job? And then it could get crazier! Who’s to say more experienced artists aren’t replaced by a bunch of students who can work together to create a similar level of work? Sure it’d take more of them, but they’re not only unpaid, they’re paying to do it.

    Why anyone is okay with this idea astounds me! How will anyone get a start in the industry with idiotic ideas like this?

  4. If you’re in a union you’re not paying to work. You’re paying to belong to the union. You’re paying them to help negotiate fair base working conditions and wages. You’re paying them to monitor and deal with the companies. And the pay you spend yearly on a union is a drop in the bucket compared to what you make.

    You as a member vote on who represents you in the union and you vote on key issues (such as strikes). it’s not the union heads that randomly choose to do things. Do you and the other workers have much say in what your company does?

    So exactly how would people have much say in the government (besides main elections) and be able to compete with the funds from deep pockets (companies, etc)? Currently the unions are one of the few groups able to counter the various companies that want to steam role over the average person to squeeze out extra pennies. There’s a reason why right to work states have more unemployment and lower wages.

    Healthcare in the US is a mess but has nothing to do with the unions. Because it’s created as a profit center for every one involved and because there is heath care insurance that is also a profit center as well. And none of these groups are regulated. They may raise their rates as much as they like. Want more profit? Simply bump the rates. My daughter contacted the Calif. insurance commission because she once again got a double digit percent increase in premiums. The fact is they’ve done this every single year. The commission said they regulate car insurance and other issues but have no control over health care insurance.

    Someone I know had to go to ER and spend the night. Some blood tests, Cat Scan and overnight observance. No surgery. No special requirements. $20,000 for 1 night one night in a regular hospital room. All doctor charges are extra since the hospital and doctors all charge independently. 4 years ago that would have covered 3 days in ECU.

    In 10-20 years the cost for health care insurance will be more than most people make in the US. How is that going to work? How do all other developed countries manage to at least have some basic care coverage? In most cases better care for less money. How can it cost me $50 here to buy pills with insurance and cost me $7 in England to buy the same pills without insurance. Some people are making a lot of money on the backs of everyday people.

    • Ashes says:

      Well said Scott!

    • Ymir says:

      If I can’t work at Disney unless I’m a member of the union, then yes, I am paying to be able to work there.
      Right to work states do not have more unemployment, as far as I have been able to find. According to Politifact:

      http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/feb/28/bill-oreilly/bill-oreilly-says-unemployment-lower-right-work-st/

      I never claimed healthcare insurance cost problems were due to the unions. I only stated that union money buys political favors as does corporate money. Maybe it would be better than to look for ‘free stuff’ from the government, to find a way to bring don the costs to affordable levels so insurance would cost less and it wouldn’t be such a big personal financial hit when not on an employer plan. But then, this is drifting off topic again.

      • Ashes says:

        They might not have more unemployment, but their benefits are usually pretty bad. Unemployment numbers are usually not a good litmus test for the job market in an area. You could have less then 4% unemployed in an area, but the 96% that have jobs might be working for minimum wage with no benefits.

      • Paul says:

        Supposing you accept a position at Disney, having previously not been a member of TAG, your total dues and initiation in the first year would total about 4% of your first years salary: 2 weeks / 80 hours of scale wages + about $450 in dues (4 quarters, about $110 per quarter).

        In that time, you’ll receive health benefits that would cost at least $6000 (more if you have covered family). In addition you’ll receive an amount equal to roughly 5-6% of your salary in the IAP, one form of pension that vests after 400 hours worked. And that’s just the first year. Every subsequent year you’ll receive those same health and pension benefits, but only be paying $450 a year in dues.

        So yeah, you are paying to work for Disney vis-a-vis having to join the Union. But you receive everything you’ve paid and a whole lot more in just the first year.

        I’m guessing politifact and Mr. Splotchy (a.k.a. Bill O’Reilly) don’t cover those particular facts.

      • Ashes says:

        Also, Disney and Dreamworks have been known to give nonunion artist a bonus that covers the cost of joining the union.

      • Dave Rand says:

        When I joined the staff of Image Movers the signing bonus more than covered the initiation fee for Local 839. The dues where then minimal $415 spread out over a year considering I got Health and other benefits that are actually still in place for that price along with the security of considerable leverage on my side of the business relationship I considered it more than fair. Also a whole year and a half later and only having worked a ear and a half for that union shop I still have not had to pay a dime from my continuing health care. Most importantly as a union member with IATSE or IBEW the projects you work on pay a residual of 5% to the union that contributes to your health care and pension and other benefits. That’s right 5%…so think about it. All those other names in the credits above yours and your friends are getting the benefit of your labor, and we are the largest contributors to the bottom line. Moreover, If you go from one union shop to another all of this follows you. After 15 yrs you have lifetime healthcare….not a bad deal at all….especially since you will take that ride as an entity that is a hell of a lot more difficult to fuck with….. Steve Kaplan or Bob Oedy please correct me if I’m wrong about the exact figures.

      • It should also be pointed out that if a vfx company becomes union while you’re working there, the IA has said that they would wave the initiation fees.

        Not sure why people complain about having to pay dues. I pay into a few things from VES, Academy and others because I’m a professional in the business. I don’t have to do any of that but I think it’s worth it. If you had an agent they charge 10% of what you earn. So for the amount of union dues you have a health plan in place that moves with you when you move from union company to union company. You need to put in so many hours every 6 months to continue contributing to health care but you won’t have to re-qualify every time you change from company to company (union companies). You also have pension and other benefits. If you’ve bought those yourself out of pocket or aren’t working staff at a company that includes all of that, then you’ll see how cost effective the union is.

  5. overit says:

    Seems to me that the local and national media needs to be aware of this?

  6. Paul says:

    Some people have zero problem stripping nude and sleep with a producer just to get a small part, so it is surprising that people would work for free for a few months in the VFX industry?!

    Ever heard of human nature?

    • overit says:

      What you, and others are missing is this behavior hurts the entire industry. This is BAD for everyone!! When the young kid sleeps under his desk and works OT without pay, someone should speak up! It may help him in the short term, but it hurts the entire field in the long run.

    • Anon says:

      Well here’s the human nature of your standard VFX producer. After bids on projects lower significantly because DD doesn’t have to pay a portion of it’s work force, producer at Studio A, who is under pressure to land a project, underbids deliberately. Once the project lands, they won’t have enough money or time to get the show done. So what do they do? Ask the client for more money?? Nope. Never saw that where I worked. Studios want to give big shot directors the impossible and never ever push back for fear of burning a future bridge. Instead, they will answer the budget issue by hiring students to do the work, then when the quality level isn’t there, intense pressure begins to seep in the show and good ole ghost hours rule the roost. It stinks and as someone who worked under these conditions, I can say that I have a ton of resentment towards anyone who promotes this kind of activity and I hate (!) ghosting hours on a shot.

      • Anon says:

        Oh…one more thing. Guess what the clients remember once the film is released and a portion of the work sucks?…. Budget? or Quality? It’s quality folks. So although you *think* you’re establishing a long term relationship by being dishonest with the client (not being truthful about how long something takes or how much it will cost)..or dishonest with yourself (these students can get us the work we need AND be high quality)…then you will actually burn that bridge down the road. That’s why VFX as it stands right now is so infuriating. Producers aren’t thinking long term. They are thinking about themselves. Just like this guy at DD is doing.

  7. [...] So, you have to think about the sacrifice and if it is worth what you are giving up and sacrificing to get there.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this the last few months, but it isn’t until just recently that the VFX Soldier has been talking about it, and I think his opinions about the topic are much more to the core of “can one do this their entire life and live a semblance of a normal life,” bit are worthwhile thoughts you should read about here. [...]

  8. VFX_BS says:

    Whats going to happen when DDI moves to Canada unexpectedly during these students 3rd year?

  9. vfxguy says:

    looks like another studio is joining the race.

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/image-engine-vancouver-facility-306419

    image engine doing a similar setup as DD Florida

    fantastic

    • Maddy says:

      I think you’ve misread that article.I work for Image Engine. That building is where most of the rotoscope and match moving employees are going. It’s creating PAID jobs for entry level workers so they’re not outsourcing for roto and match moving. This is the complete polar opposite of what DD is doing!

  10. Scott Ross says:

    and so?… when is this going to stop? At what point will there be enough anger? When will there be a movement formed? Will the VFX industry get motivated beyond blogs? Will funds be raised? Will a Guild or a Trade Association be formed? Will unfair labor practices be litigated? Will tax incentives and subsidies be addressed? Will illegal public corporate manipulations for the profiteering of individual shareholders be investigated? Where is the VES on this?

    How long does this have to go on before action is taken?

    The swim to the bottom started over a decade ago.

    “You’d better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone. for the times they are…..”

    Blog on…
    Slog on…….
    Drown on….

  11. vfxguy says:

    I feel moving forward will be hard since we have internal conflict with each other. Americans wanting there jobs to stay in the US etc.

    It needs to unify all artist who face these problems not to mention all the different loop holes that are available between different states and the rest of the world for that matter.

    the writing was on the wall years ago and its seem only now some are taking notice.

    There is no platform to begin with from what I see.
    It may take someone of great influence to fight for our defense.

  12. Scott Ross says:

    The former mayor of West Palm Beach (2003-2011).. Lois Frankel (D) will be running for Congress in 2012….

    Her contributors have been:
    Digital Domain Productions $10,500
    Wyndcrest Holdings (DD’s parent company) $10,000
    PBC Partners (major stakeholder of DDMG) $5,000
    John Textor $5,000

    just some info…

    • Scott Ross says:

      just read this:

      Textor is so worried about losing jobs to China that he (DD) is opening a studio in Beijing… and Abu Dhabi.
      DDMG’s 10k was just published….

      John Textor received in 2011 base comp of $791,372, bonus comp of $407,000, awarded stock options of $8,351,210 and other comp of $6,525,461 or a total comp of $16,075,044.

      DDMG had revenues in 2011 of $95,611,000… and an operating loss of ($75,109,000)…

      • John Textor says:

        Scott – are you kidding? I thought we got along…wow. Try a lesson in accounting. Out of the money stock options are not compensation to anyone other than accountants that calculate theoretical dilution. Wake me up when that compensation is cash. If you are pissed about something, just call me. Very strange. Even with China and Abu Dhabi, we are still adding jobs in this country…what have you been doing to help?

      • I have more money than God, and I’m laughing at you two in a pissing match about DD.

        This is the internet. Remember, for the love of god that everything’s eternal online.

        To give you two an out, anyone can make an account and not verify that it’s really who they say they are. Take it offline.

  13. [...] Domain founder and fomer ILM General Manager recently posted this comment on my blog: Textor is so worried about losing jobs to China that he (DD) is opening a studio in Beijing… and [...]

  14. sfried37 says:

    Go to Pbcap.net where you will find a lot of facts about Digital Domain.

    I listened to their investor conference, and was amazed how Digital was able to spin a $25 million operating loss into an $8 million profit. One analyst actually congratulated them.

    Basically, they were able to pick up income by converting debt into stock. However, since the debt was converted into stock of a lesser value it created a non cash profit.

    Just like the comments Textor made (or someone who claims to be him), these are not cash, the cash was received prior to this and has been spent.

    These kind of accounting adjustments result is paper profits. Been there before, it is not fun!

    The market was not fooled as the stock has remained in the mid 5’s

  15. [...] “Paying To Work For Free” VFX Business Model Questions And Reactions: Paying To Work For Free LA Times Report On Digital [...]

  16. makofoto says:

    When we were doing the exceptional Camera Assistant Training Program during the ’80’s (there were also a few VFX trainees) that the Camera Local and Producers Guild sponsored (in response to the Fed’s demanding diversity in the local) we got minimum wage for 8 hours per day, but of course we worked whatever the hours were for the crew, ie. typically 12. There was some overtime pay in the beginning that was quickly used up. We never complained because we knew what a great opportunity we had … getting into what was essentially a Fathers and Sons union. I was fortunate to have extra support from my parents. It was tough for those on their own. I had to drop out of Brooks Institute of Photography to enter the program, but did so with the full blessing of my instructors, who realized this was a life changing opportunity. Even though I never did graduated … I did take two around the year worth of classes … I was asked back to give talks.

  17. Why stop at forming a school? I’m changing the status of my boutique VFX company to be a religion.

  18. Chatterbrew says:

    John is a really nice guy. I think his intentions are good and he’s creating jobs. Those people who are working there right now need those jobs and thank goodness they have them. Thank goodness there ARE jobs…

    Happy at Tradition Studios – Love PSL and really glad we relocated to work with DD here.

    just saying…

    • Maddy says:

      This is one of the most depressing comments on this page. You do realise that this “nice guy” you’re talking about would rather have paying students do your work than you, right? If he gets students that can do your work, you’re out! In fact, he keeps going this route and he could well kill our whole industry in N. America at least. If this situation was a movie, this guy would not be considered a hero, he’d be considered the villain!

      • Chatterbrew says:

        I know what I heard in the video but I refuse to believe that he could or would do that to the entire staff. Anyways, a student isn’t going to be able to do what the seasoned vets will do and I’m sure he knows this. I’ve met him many times and refuse to think that he’s a villain. He’s done a lot of good in this community and has employed lots of people. I’m crossing my fingers and toes that if it is true, he will have a change of heart and soon.

      • Maddy says:

        Whether it’s intentional or not, he is the villain. Having 30% of the work force as paying students means that DD can now offer much lower bids. Then how do other studios compete? They reduce wages or do the same thing as DD. Then what happens? Wages go down as there’s more people than there are jobs. At least 30% of the whole workforce will be students! They won’t need to look so hard for people in the business, so why offer higher wages?

        Whatever Textor’s intentions, he’s still the bad guy.

        Also, I’ve only been in the industry for 7 months and yet through talking to others, I already know that loyalty means jack!! If it’s not in writing, then it means nothing. If the big wigs can save money, no matter how great and loyal you’ve been to the company, they’ll can you!

        I think a lot of people underestimate students too. Every school gets their gems that have done a ton of self learning and just need help molding to industry standards. There’s a lot of geniuses going into this field. Yes, VFX veterans should be irreplaceable, but get 3 of these geniuses who’ll have the time to work on the same project (remember there’s no overtime problems for students) and maybe they can cut down on some expensive VFX veterans. I honestly do not think anyone can fully consider themselves safe!

        Also for anyone thinking this way, at least remember that you were once a junior yourself. How would you feel if you were one of us juniors right now and heard of something like this happening? Is there no ‘Band of Brothers’ in VFX?

      • Textor is looking at this as a business. That’s his first and foremost concern. If this creates jobs, great but that’s not his real focus.

        What he said is he’s hoping to fill up to 30% of the people working there with students. So 30% of the professionals who would have worked there and gotten paid will not be employed.
        And what do those students do once they graduate if DD is already full and already slashed their potential employees by 30%?

        And yes, the students will be unlikely to do what experienced pros can do but the problem is Textor has to selling this concept to his investors and to whatever government groups there are in Florida. And he has to sell this to all potential students. All of which has been on public record.

        And in most cases when a state does these types of things they may create jobs in that location but that hasn’t really created jobs. It’s just moved them, in this case from California, to Florida. So in the process of creating ‘jobs’ he’s likely made someone else either unemployed or simply moved them to Florida. If people are moving from out of state that’s not directly creating jobs for the people in Florida.

        Even in the movies the villain thinks they’re the hero. In this case he thinks he solved all the problems but hasn’t considered the future or the repercussions of this arrangement. If he used experienced pros from DD to teach classes that would be fine but once they start filling working positions and tells investors they can lower costs by using paying labor, then it becomes too much to bear.

      • Maddy says:

        Exactly Scott! If they were training people up to potentially work at DD, using DD professionals, there’d be no problem. It’d actually be good! But the moment where paying students are filling jobs that are normally paid, it’s ridiculous!

        And to keep to numbers required to justify grants, it means a LOT of students. They’re all being sold a dream and it’s unlikely there’ll be the work for them after graduation at DD. And if this idea does spread, there’s not going to be any work period!

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