A Day Without A VFX Pro?

daywithoutvfx

I don’t think I need to comment on what has occurred the last few days. You all have done something incredible. The question is: what’s next?

Scott Ross had a dream. Now VFX Law has one:

I had a dream, there was a website with a green background and countdown timer to the biggest #vfx walkout the world has ever seen#vfxunion

Some have suggested this day be 3/14: Life of Pi Day.

A day without a VFX professional. A global walk out to send a message to the studios: We didn’t appreciate how they cut off the Life of Pi VFX team.

I’m not endorsing the idea yet. I’m receptive to it. I’d like to hear people’s thoughts on this.

Soldier On.

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421 Responses to A Day Without A VFX Pro?

  1. Unik says:

    are you thinking to do it globally??

    • mike parsons says:

      Can we do it after 7pm because I’ve got a lot on…

    • Brian Pace says:

      So should R&H employees not show up so they can teach R&H a lesson about how the productions are treating them?

    • fishies says:

      I think it would have to be a global walkout to work, but I am not sure it would be so productive. INSTEAD I think the artists to write to the head of operations for the big companies, especially the ones they work/worked for and nudge them to get to the table with the other companies. I think this is the quickest way to get something accomplished successfully. We have to get them to the table, and I don’t think they are going to do that on their own, if the artists said they supported them going, wanted them to go, I think they would be more likely to be open minded. Write to whoever you work/worked for and ask them to please consider a meeting with the biggest companies.

      We have to get the major studios to not agree to fixed bids and have some sort of adherence so no one else is losing their jobs or they are taking a loss. It’s in their best interest. I’d like to see no fixed bids, penalties to the hollywood studios if they push a film date, no more subsidies anywhere, and an agreement to not take on work at a loss and have some sort of agreement for minimums. Let’s get them to the table.

  2. Jason says:

    The problem with a walk out is that we will be hurting the same people we are trying to help, the vfx houses and employers

    • Phillip Broste says:

      That is my issue with this as well.

    • Rito Vino says:

      I was thinking the same point could be made if the walkout was just a couple hours – like an extended lunch during which artists picketed outside the 6 major studios. Then everyone could go back to work to continue their support for their own companies.

      • Nathan Wilkes says:

        I don’t think that would be effective enough though, it wouldn’t get the proper attention it needs

    • Matt Pursley says:

      Agreed. Any long term solution will have to be win/win.

      Seems like the best way out is for the VFX Houses to stop asking for millions of $$ to be paid up front, and instead agree to get points. Then, if they do a good job and the movie does well, everyone makes money.

      No need for subsidies… and if their is subsidies paid, the VFX house keeps it and can use it to keep their Artists employed. And, the Production Company doesn’t have to come up with millions up front and complain about how expensive VFX is to the media…

      • ks says:

        And who is going to pay your salary. ?

      • occupyvfx says:

        Bear in mind, @Matt, that this tactic very effectively transitions the risk from the studios and the financiers to the visual effects facilities, who are ill-equipped to withstand a loss in the event that the movie performs poorly.

        This tactic can be incredibly successful, but it is extremely dangerous, and often people are left holding the bag. When an employer runs out of cash, those bag holders will be the visual effects artists themselves and their families.

        The strategy can be effective if VFX facilities agree to do the work for a reduced rate, and look at ways to reduce internal waste. That way if the movie tanks, at least the VFX house will be breaking even, and if it does well, then the house will be seriously in the money.

      • FacilityCGSup_on_"Hiatus" says:

        Matt,

        Studios and agencies are not just open to “partnership” but even as we speak are trying to push VFX companies into being “partners” on movies. This has been tried in the past and is a one way ticket to disaster for VFX facilities and artists, first, as others have pointed out, because there is no ready source of financing for a facility to pay for the work to be done, and the margins are to small and risk too high on the work to interest any investor in putting up the money. Second, and more importantly, as both a minority investor and service provider the VFX facility is in a lose-lose situation. Who gets to decide when an overage or change order has occurred ? Who gets to tell the director that their dime is up, that enough is enough and they have used up the resources allowed for? Who gets to tell the studio that the work provided is what the budget allowed for and making “enhancements” to satisfy studio heads and majority investors was not in the agreed upon scope of work ? I Finally, studios infamously are one of the only large corporate businesses that are not held to standard accounting practices and they have along and litigious history of receiving millions of dollars in gross profits that mysteriously never seem to create net profits on the books … and its a safe bet no studio will agree to give a vFX “partner” a share of gross first dollar-in profits.

      • Matt Pursley says:

        @ FacilityCGSup_on_”Hiatus”: That’s funny… I haven’t heard of many SAG Actors complaining about not getting their residual checks every month.

        Between 1.5 million and 1.6 million paper checks are processed each year by the Union’s Residuals Department.
        http://www.sagaftra.org/content/residuals-faq

        If the Studios are not being held to GAAP, then that would be a legal issue. And, the only way to get those types of issues resolved is with nice thick contracts. Something that the lawyers can use, if one of the parties decides to mess around after the fact.

        The way I see it, there are two solutions to return some “fairness” to this situation…

        The “Right Wing” solution would be… to have the VFX Companies take some initiative and put their money (or credit) where their mouth is. No risk, no return. If you want to make the big bucks, and keep a nice big space and loads of highend gear and quality artist on payroll, get some contracts (with points) and find a bank or investor that will give you the credit to get the job done, and then pay them back. I mean, after all.. that’s exactly what the Production Companies are doing. (@ks) No one is putting down hundreds of millions in cash to get these movies made. It’s all credit from some bank or investors somewhere. And, there’s only one true source of income, and that’s the box office and residuals… It’s just a matter of who gets to pay back their creditor and keep the rest in the end.

        The “Left Wing” solution would be… To try to get all the VFX Artists join a Union, and use that as pressure to force the Production Studios to share a little more of the Pi.

        But, I think the ultimate solution would require a “full spectrum” approach. And, that approach is illuded to right inside the @OccupyVFX’s message…

        “Second, when a facility creates a star character in a film, such as R+H did with Richard Parker in Life of Pi, the company should be entitled to residual income, as if that character were a SAG actor.”
        http://www.occupyvfx.org

        With big movies being sooo much VFX these days, the VFX is as important (if not more important) then the star actors. But.. not just the digital actors, also the Digital sets and simulations. Those elements can be just as of a draw as SAG actors, and often times much more so. As well as being an increasingly large chunk of the cost of making the film to begin with. And, as such, they should have the leverage to negotiate the same respect and, more importantly, the residuals. Big SAG Actors get paid in the millions and many VFX houses get paid an order of magnitude less then that…

        Emma Watson (II) Actress
        Salary
        Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) $4,000,000
        Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010) $15,000,000
        Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) $15,000,000
        http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0914612/bio

        To the point of, “Who gets to tell the director that their dime is up…”, I would say… The same person that tells the Director that enough is enough after the hundredth take of the same scene with several A-List actors on the set… the Producer(s). SAG Actors are planned and pay for a certain number of shooting days, and once those days are up… re-shoots are not (_not_) free. If you didn’t get what you wanted, or turns out you shot the wrong set, you can get the Actor to come back for more, but at an increased cost. If the VFX companies where getting the same deal as the SAG actors, then the same rules would apply. You have XX days to get these shots complete, once those days are up, you can certainly pay for more. If you don’t like those rules, talk to the Guild.

        Until the VFX Studios can unite, stand-up and demand that same deal that the SAG did back in 1933, they will continue to be the whipping boy of the Production Companies, and have to fight tooth and nail just to get the crumbs that happen to fall from the table.

        I say, given the quality, quantity, necessity and demand for their work.
        Let them unite and demand a place and the table, and…
        Let them eat cake!!

        Matt

  3. Paul says:

    It’s a good idea, though in the interest of the keeping the message clear, a united action is called for even if the Oscars had not cut Bill W.’s mic.

    And as dramatic as a website with a countdown might be, there’s no need to telegraph a date to the studios ahead of time. Twitter and this blog could get word out in a matter of hours, a day or two at most.

  4. watchoutifnotinLA says:

    Global?

    So, FB is Green with “anger/solidarity” this morning over the perceived “VFX Oscars Snubs”. I see many local types also going green for “artist solidarity”, which is cool….but, if you were online last night during Oscars and just after, MANY of the (LA) people “going green” are also screaming (loudly and louder than ever before) for “all foreign VFX tax credits to be declared Illegal and/or high US Tariffs on any VFX work done out of America on American films”. Go green to support your fellow artists, but be aware there is a faction of mob like mentality growing in LA who’s ultimate goal is to put YOU AND I out of work (they don’t mention that LA shops don’t have tax credits only because California is BROKE and can’t afford to enact them). The $100 million or so production film tax credits that California does have would no doubt be expanded if the California economy were in better shape. Would LA shops/artists “stand on principal” and say, “NO we dont’ want tax credits, they’re ILLEGAL!” if they were offered. I doubt it.

    • vfxmafia says:

      LA DOES NOT HATE CANADA! when your subsidies break..(especially in the collapse of LA VFX) no one will fund you ….and you will be at the mercy of the studios….

      as it stands now….
      If I have a $10 million dollar movie…..EXAMPLE!

      1. Canada provides a 30% tax break (based on $10 mil)
      2. that means $3 million goes to the studio
      3. $3 million does NOT go to the film
      4. $3 million does NOT go to the production company
      5. $3 million does NOT go to the VFX company
      6. the Canadian studio has to produce the VFX for $10 mil
      7. The studio and the EXECS pocket the extra $3 mILL

      now

      If I want to bring this VFX to USA?
      1. Studios force us to pay THEM $3 million
      2. We still have to produce the movie at cost $10 Mil
      3. But the studios EXTORT the $3 million penalty…AND
      make us still bring the production in at for $10 million….BUT ONLY PAY US $7 MILLION

      • vfxmafia says:

        Best clip on where the money is going….(starts at the 11 minute mark) ….KCRW Los Angeles

        http://www.kcrw.com/media-player/mediaPlayer2.html?type=audio&id=tb130225vfx_industry_in_trou

        When they screw LA workers your next!

        VFX workers are in this TOGETHER!!!!! When LA falls your subsidies will fall!!!!

      • We’ve heard of stories of studios choosing tax subsidies over a discounted price. The reason is because it is a scam. The studio can either pocket it, it is a tax write off, or some other machination that the accountants have worked out.

        Suffice it to say, simply lowering the price does not always get the work.

      • Justin says:

        While I agree, entirely… I also don’t have a single facebook friend from Vancouver (or even my American friends WORKING in Vancouver, sadly) who have changed their profile photo to green, or posted a single thing about this event, protest, or news articles..

        Seeing that lack of support in contrast to the overwhelming support from the local Los Angeles and Bay area VFX communities, is quite frankly, disgusting, so it’s understandable that people are getting fed up with the negative comments. If any VFX artist thinks subsidies are a good thing, whether you’re currently in benefit of them or not, you’re quite frankly, ignorant.

      • To-ron-to says:

        In response to Justin. I’m from Toronto and pretty much every active CG friend I have on facebook has gone green.

      • Justin says:

        In response to to-ron-to, that’s good to hear man. I guess my friends up at Scanline just feel like ignoring the situation. I think because the owners just bought a new Lamborghini that they think they’re safe or something.

      • stowaway says:

        @vfxmafia
        THANK YOU! Vancouver friends… please, please, please come to understand this.

        You might be drinking from the tap of Hollywood for a minute, but your work is not any cheaper than ours or Londons or New Zealands and the minute your government subsidy dries up (and it absolutely will) you will be either out of a job or forced to move to the next country offering the subsidy if you want to stay in the industry.

        Don’t eat your own tail, and realize that we’re all trying to point at the writing on the wall behind you – not at you.

      • Larry Gritz says:

        “I also don’t have a single facebook friend from Vancouver (or even my American friends WORKING in Vancouver, sadly)”

        I know lots who have done so, myself included.

        But I admit I do so tentatively, because of the nastiness and sense of entitlement I see in many messages here and a lack of a single coherent message I can get behind.

        I support any effort to change the business plan and relationship with film studios so that VFX facilities can have a solid business (and in turn for the artists to have stability and be treated well), and I support ending the subsidy war because it distorts winner/loser outcomes. But I can’t get behind anything that smacks of nationalism, statism, or cityism.

        If this effort appears to be primarily about keeping jobs in LA (or for that matter, California or the US), you’ve lost me.

      • aidenvfx says:

        Then why on the day of the protest would every single talking point about tax credits be about the B.C. tax credits? Why not mention the tax credits that “The Dark Knight rises” gets? Or what about “The Walking Dead”? Maybe I am wrong but doesn’t New York spend $200 million on tax credits a year? Why not that as a talking point?

        Now I agree with you that this should not be LA against any other Country. However that means that when having talking points no one country or city should be targeted.

        I would also suggest that from a Canadian’s perspective it would go over better if the main talking points were about other states and not other countries as that way it does not appear that LA or the U.S. are trying to dictate what other countries do.

    • Yes, global. We have no interest in putting anyone out of work. Most VFX people, everywhere, just want to work. What we don’t want to be is nomadic.

      California does have a production tax credit. It is not huge, but it is luring some runaway production back. We don’t see that as any great benefit either. It artificially sets the price bar for the work. It also makes areas around the world competitive without having the talent to keep it competitive.

      Your work will dry up as ours has. The only way to end this is to end the subsidies and let merit, skill, and talent garner the work. Not some kick back to the studio so it can finance its next picture.

      VFX Los Angeles supports California based visual effects, but not at the cost of other countries. If your talent pool is good, then you don’t need the tax credit/subsidies to keep working.

    • Vuks says:

      Please don’t divide us into an LA vs CANADA discussion, or subsidies vs none/ We are in the SAME boat, with or without subsidies we are both equally an endangered species. We are ONE ecosystem, what hurts one of us hurts all of us. The business model is broken, it has failed multiple times, it will continue to fail if we continue working the way we do now. If the pendulum tips over and is broken it cannot be undone, once it’s broken it’s gone forever. We should not allow that to happen!

    • MiR says:

      You might also like to know that California’s economy posted a $2 *Billion* surplus last year. Our economy isn’t in the tank. And while I can assure you, I don’t want VFX subsidies here in California, more than that, *you* really don’t want VFX subsidies in California.

    • VFXLady says:

      watchoutifnotinLA seems to post the same thing without responding to people who give valid arguments against his “Down with LA” stance?

    • Franzd says:

      You want to see the vfx industry and othe industries thrive in the US, abolish the federal income tax!
      “We could eliminate the income tax, replace it with nothing, and still fund the same level of big government we had in the late 1990s. We don’t need to “replace” the income tax at all.” -Ron Paul.

      http://www.ronpaul.com/2009-04-15/end-the-income-tax-abolish-the-irs/

    • Dave Rand says:

      WE are asking the WTO to decide Stop spreading hate please. WE are all victims together of so may schemes. WE simply want a level playing field and the studios to stop playing the film mafia role. Nothing will grow if we are all on the nipple…we just end up with 20 yr old babies that shrivel and die when weaned.

    • U for union! says:

      If California/USA moves in that direction, then I’m sure other countries will start taxing movies ‘made in USA’ at higher rates.
      Studios’s bottom line will get hit, budgets shrink, and guess who will be paid less?
      Not the talent, not the director, and not the producer…but VFX artists and other easy to replace folks.
      Face it, we are the lowest hanging fruit.

      What we need is a union to climb a few branches. As it stands the artists don’t get paid if a VFX post house goes bankrupt, nor we get any bonus if it nakes a massive profit.

      We are sharing a lot of the risk for a very restricted number of benefits.

  5. r-e-s-p-e-c-t says:

    Why not endorse it, its about RESPECT. Is it not? You get what you give.

  6. bigCheese says:

    Ok, so a single day walk-out isn’t going to hurt the studios who are (mostly) responsible for the problem here. The VFX production companies, who we work for, are going to take the hit.

    I have a better idea.
    We need to all collectively agree to not work on Ang Lee’s next film. His comments last night were provocative and wrong.
    In fact, he is probably paid too much.

    Anyway, we need a specific target.
    Ang Lee.

    Last night all our frustrations came to a head.
    Ang Lee’s the one that stuck his head out, and declared his loyalty to the other side. If we could agree to not work on his next film, it could send a powerful message.

    • Phillip Broste says:

      I would rather hear what Lee has to say in light of things as they stand before we did something like this. I truly believe that he is a decent guy who was woefully uninformed. But those excuses end after today. Let’s see how they all respond before we go picking out villains.

      • bigCheese says:

        He might be a nice guy, who’d be totally cool to have a beer with. But he was a total dick last night, and made comment on our industry in the national media, which has to potential to do some damage to our livelihood.

      • Tactics says:

        You’ve fundamentally misinterpreted what Ang Lee actually said — you don’t need further statements from him to clarify. You just need to re-read everything he says in this article: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/life-pi-director-ang-lee-422270

        I understand there may be a language barrier confusing things here, but he is in fact on your side. His use of the word “cheaper” was meant to convey that he hopes costs for research and development — as done by the VFX houses — could be cheaper so that they could make higher profit margins and continue stay in business. He goes on to say that he thinks of VFX as art and not just technology for action effects. Furthermore, in this backstage interview directly after the Oscars, he says he wants to continue using VFX in his movies — again, as art — and says it’s the wave of the future. He also explicitly mentions Rhythm & Hues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wq07r75eyZo

        If you continue wrongly attacking Ang Lee in your campaign to get global support you’re never going to get out of the starting gate. Which is a shame because I do believe this is a worthy goal and wish you the best of luck.

      • Robert D says:

        “His use of the word “cheaper” was meant to convey that he hopes costs for research and development — as done by the VFX houses — could be cheaper so that they could make higher profit margins and continue stay in business.”

        Yeah, so his idea is that he pay artists, but not RnD teams? I’m not so sure I buy that logic. How about coordinators? Wouldn’t it be cheaper if we just stopped paying them? Studio overhead might be annoying to have to pay for, but those people’s labour should be compensated as well.

    • vfx hell says:

      Agent provocateur right here.

    • Steve says:

      This is the stupidest thing I’ve read yet.

  7. It would be nice if the VFX facilities (non studio side) backed something like this as well. There has been a lot of discussion about how thin margins are and if we all end up punishing our immediate paymasters, then it becomes a little more lose lose.

    • Brian Pace says:

      It won’t work. They’re under contractual obligation to complete the work.

      Whatever message we send, it has to be at the people that need to hear it. No practical form of strike will do it. Find another direction.

  8. Andreas Jablonka says:

    The timing has to offset a tent poles release date otherwise thee is not much financial harm to the studio. Otherwise we just walk back in a week later and are asked to work double to to “make up for it”

  9. ergFX says:

    I fear this will hurt the very VFX shops that are struggling instead of the major studios that are the root of the problem. Now if we could get some shops to delay delivering final shots for a major VFX film for a week or so it might get the message across more.

    • Concerned artist and proud citizen. says:

      how is that any different? Delay a shot or take a day off? strange thought process… but I guess that’s the problem here. People won’t stfu and do it, as they do with their drone bosses. UNITY.

  10. It will only really work if you can also get all the Video Game artists, Cartoonists, Graphic Artists and Illustrators as well to join in. Complete Visual Creative Black Out or Green Out as it were.

  11. Jason says:

    I say lets protest in front of major movie theaters when VFX films come out.

  12. Remi says:

    Yeah, I don’t really see this being effective either. Studios don’t really give a damn if we don’t work one day, as long as they have their images done on time…

    • Concerned artist and proud citizen. says:

      maybe they won’t. It’s this passive aggressive ineffectiveness that is why we are here. People can act like nothing will work, simply because they do nothing. You don’t question when your boss tells you to stay 18 hours yet you and other people here are questioning taking a day off. Pathetic.

  13. Josh says:

    It’s a deep topic… and I have a wife, car loans, student loans, ect… but hey, you only live once. I’d be down for a few rough months (I’ve already made it 31 years) if it meant permanent change for the better . I just wouldn’t want to damage the vfx shops, employers or fellow artists. Definitely worth discussing.

  14. pi is 3.14159…

    so March 14 @ 1:59pm.

  15. Vuks says:

    3.14.2013 marked! The day the green machine stops.

  16. Take the nearly 500 people who showed up to Hollywood on Sunday, divide them into groups and send them to picket the entrance of the studios during business hours.

    A little shaming at WB might not hurt the cause. Someone could have a sign that says “I’m here. Not working on your movie, how will it get done?”

  17. OTnomore says:

    How about for one week every single VFX artist REFUSES TO WORK OVERTIME?

    1.) We still get paid
    2.) We won’t be breaking the core of our contracts
    3.) We will be working NORMAL hours!

    If every studio pro does this, which is during crunch time in most studios getting ready for summer tentpoles, it will send studio execs to their knees. Those who are paid OT will take a bit of a hit. Bit it will hurt the “clients” more.

    It is sad that working “normal hours” will being them to their knees.

    • pigeonchicken says:

      Agreed. This is a good idea. Another idea we’ve had in our office is to not submit renders for 4 to 8 hours. People can still go to work, and address feedback and notes, just don’t submit anything to the farm. This registers huge to the people in charge, who in turn need to answer to those above them.

    • Concerned artist and proud citizen. says:

      this is why NOTHING gets done. While all the drone artists follow orders from the man upstairs, they all of a sudden want to all be chefs in the kitchen. UNITY. ONE Voice. By offering up different solutions, there is never enough traction for ONE single solution to work thus the whole thing is dropped.

      This is a time to follow, not to be a quasi-leader.

    • This is the best solution in my opinion. Do *not* work OT, and do *not* work through lunch.

      Work as though you had a normal 40 hour week (or the standard in your country. A -normal- work week in Australia is 35 hours, for example)

    • Brian Pace says:

      You’re still just biting the hand that feeds you.

    • Larry Gritz says:

      You’re thinking too small. How about for the rest of their careers, every single VFX artist refuses to work overtime? You’ll be better off and much happier for it.

  18. Caleb says:

    1000 percent yes! I’ve been screaming for a walk out way before the Oscars fiasco. It NEEDS to happen.
    The studios are the ones that need to get the message, local theaters are a bad choice for protesting. The general public has no idea about the the issues. Not to mention the difficulty for them to grasp the perspective given the state of the overall job market in the states.

    The way I see it, you have no choice, things aren’t going to get better if you just sit in your chair.

    WALK OUT!!!

    • Agree completely, but I think this should happen in tandem with the other suggestion that’s been made to -not work OT-.

      If people do a walk out, and then just make up the hours with OT… what good has it done?

      The walkout sends the -clear- message that we won’t stand for this anymore, and followed up with no OT sets the new standard of what will be worked.

      They’re just movies. Or TV shows… or commercials. It’s not worth missing out on time with your loved ones or living your life for.

    • occupyvfx says:

      @Caleb,

      A walk out is a fantastic idea. However, there are several things that need to happen in order for it to be effective.

      1. The studios are the ones who need to get the message, absolutely. But: what message is it that we are trying to send them? In short, why are we walking out?

      2. This walkout will need to involve every one. I’m not talking about just senior artists in LA who are politically motivated. This needs to include the folks who may have just graduated from VFS and are grateful just to be working.

      3. The timing needs to correspond with the delivery of major projects. If this is to make an impact, we need to physically delay the final delivery of material to the studios. R+H has major deadlines looming, as does Digital Domain. Should we consider a different date?

      • Caleb says:

        I think the message is pretty clear at this point. This biz model doesn’t work. Subsidies don’t work, working conditions are shit, etc etc etc. People are NOT happy.
        The walk does not need to involve everyone, it just needs to be very substantial and yes, organized.
        Talk is done, why are people waiting for “others” to get together and decide for them. A message needs to be sent, then the discourse can take a more serious turn instead of waiting for a round table of people to talk it to death for months, maybe years.
        The VFX houses are at the mercy of the studios, the studios don’t care, so lets wait around while others negotiate what? Just wait long enough to finish a film, then be laid off. Seems like that’s exactly what happen at R&H. “Don’t worry, just keep working, we will sort it out.” BULLSHIT!

  19. Justin says:

    The media was late to the party, but they’re here now. I’ve been sharing countless links all day on my new green-themed facebook homepage in an attempt to keep that ball rolling. Finally, I’m seeing comments from people outside of our little bubble, asking, “what’s wrong?”

    A strike, or walkout, or whatever you want to call it, ironically hurts us more, because as you know, we won’t be getting paid for that day we’re missing, because, well.. freelance offers no benefits.

    Chances are good we’d work Sunday, as well as Saturday, to make that work up, too. Because, you know.. there’s always that fake deadline looming to get us all to work harder than normal.

    Honestly, I believe that raising awareness, and showing how pathetic the Avengers crew, Ang Lee, and the Oscars as a whole were last night, is a damn good start to a problem that has had nearly no nod of acknowledgement from anyone that could help it until then. They dropped the ball. Without that, I seriously doubt the media would have picked up on it. The energy to show the public the true story without live, HD video clearly illustrating it would have been more trouble than it’s worth.

    Box office draw is why Actors and Directors make substantially more than the others who work on films. They are talented artists, much like ourselves, and they deserve recognition for their art; but so do we. I’ve personally not gotten credits on at least two movies.. waiting to see on the other three… Why is that search for recognition any less honorable of a pursuit than any other profession? Why do we get shunned for being “whiners” when the clear facts remain: We’re now the reason people go to the movies; or at least the good ones: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/world/

    We’re all in it together. Actors in almost every large grossing box office movie need us just as we need them. I’ve see those cyberscans of Robert Downey Jr… They definitely needed a lot of clean-up… Not bottom-dollar cleanup, either.

    I marched. That green tape is stuck to my computer monitor. We did what we set out to do on some scale, and for that I am proud.

  20. In 1876 Mark Twain (a river boat pilot before he became a famous writer) made the best case for unionization I have ever read:

    http://www.classicreader.com/book/2886/16/

    I wish every Visual Effects Artist would read that chapter and take a lesson.

  21. jpanim8r says:

    Doing something sounds good.
    March 14 @ 1:59pm sounds good.
    What it is yet? up in the air…

  22. Kevin says:

    here’s the idea I’ve heard kicking around:

    a 40 hour strike
    after 8 hours, everyone goes home. Monday through Friday. No one works weekends.

    what i’d like to see:
    1 – all outstanding pay owed RH employees paid in full. A good start.

    2 – vendors and artists get paid what they are worth. 0-6% margins don’t cut it. studios and conglomerates can afford it, even if they don’t like it.

    3 – no subsidies, and full disclosure of what it’s cost states and countries so far

    4 – no indentured servitude, which sounds like a neglected issue in India, China, etc.

    5 – transferable benefits, retirement, and pension.

    • A_FilmGuy says:

      1 – R&H is working on it. They’re currently constrained by the rules & dates set by the bankruptcy court, but they’re working on it. They’ve got some more proceedings happening in March in regards to that.

      Money has come in to R&H from Fox & Universal as well as Legendary. The funds are on their way, but courts are slow. I know it’s difficult times, but folks just need to try to be a little patient as the Chapter 11 proceedings flow through the system.

      • S says:

        Understood that they are working on it, but my work was been totally marginalized by the fact that the people still there have been paid since we all got the ax. They were paid to keep them in the building and keep the projects moving forward. Apparently they got my work and my fellow laid off artists work for free. I am sorry, but that is bullshit.

  23. VFX_reckoning says:

    Personally I think the VFX shops, owners, producers, etc. all need to be on board for a walk out. Not just one or two companies (they’ll just be singled out and won’t get work again) but needs to be many…without a collective groups of businesses, it’s just going to hurt the individual artists. Maybe pushing for a union or trade org. would be the better route?

    • Studio_Spotter says:

      You’re right. A handful of VFX shops need to form a trade association. This way they can standardize some aspects of the business model. If studio’s don’t want to follow the standards, they dont get a movie.

      • tonyb says:

        absolutely. i think we should walk out on 3/14. we rally the troops and inform management of our intention. for one day. if all goes well, and we ALL walk out, we threaten to walk out again in the future. and this time indefinitely, until our demands are met.

        1) the movie studios have to publicly acknowledge the problem exists.

        2) an agreed upon business structure that will allow vfx houses all over the world to make a profit.

        3) transferrable benefits and wage minimums.

        all these would be agreed upon globally and defined specifically by region.

  24. AniMatters says:

    Such a move is only going to make life worse for the VFX artists and the VFX studios as-well! BY this, the studio Exec’s in Hollywood will consider VFX laden fims as a “risk factor” and will reduce the number of FX films in future. The talent pool for VFX in the current market is HUUUGE and any shortage in demand is going to affect the VFX studios directly and this will finally end up with more and more studios going bankrupt because of lack of work and more and more VFX artists will go jobless!
    My question is that, why is Digital Domain or R & H sitting behind closed doors and not coming out in the open to clarify what went wrong and who’s fault it is, so that we can focus our energy in the right direction of protest. As far as Life of Pi is concerned, the Studios have paid R & H what was promised, and in spite of that if R & H went bankrupt, then how is the studio execs or Ang Lee to be blamed??? ..Its high time R & H clarifies what went wrong and convince us that it was not a management failure, but the fault of the studio execs or Ang Lee for their current state!!.. till that happens we will all be wearing fancy colors and shooting arrows blindfolded, not knowing whom to shoot or where to shoot…and people around will be watching all this “fun” (well I was sarcastic is calling it fun)!!

    • Vuks says:

      Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. You cannot stop VFX that are in the current pipeline, studios have money invested, release dates set,pictures GREEN LIT. Striking NOW before they can pull VFX gives us leverage. Wait and it will be too late. BTW, how is the writers guild doing after their second strike? Oh right, getting paid residuals.

    • Jen says:

      Such a move is only going to make life worse for the VFX artists and the VFX studios as-well!

      No, we could…use…a little worse.

      • AniMatters says:

        feel free to then, if that’s what u want. I broke my left leg so let me break my right leg too to balance the grudge..LOL!..nice.

    • A_FilmGuy says:

      R&H can’t publicly comment while they’re in Chapter 11 and while they are courting buyers/investors. Hopefully once they get through all that, they’ll be able to talk more freely.

      Basically from what I understand is that R&H had two main problems that triggered this (via Variety http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118066108/ ):

      “R&H’s financial downward financial spiral began in 2011 when Universal cancelled part of the vfx contract on “Snow White and the Huntsman” after staffing and R&D were under way. (Daily Variety, Feb. 5, 2013) Company sought an equity investor but their first deal fell through when the Digital Domain bankruptcy frightened off the potential partner.”

      • AniMatters says:

        I too heard this story, but if this is true that R & H lost because somebody pulled out their project after the staffing was done then its R &H’s management that should be blamed for starting on a project without taking any advances..
        Lastly as per my knowledge, chapter 11 doesn’t allow one to make public announcements on the ongoing financial negotiations and the matters of the court proceedings with regards to the filing of chapter11, ..BUT, the company head or any company rep has got every right to put forward his/her views in any public domain on what went wrong and what the current state of affairs are.

      • Robert D says:

        Didn’t R&H act as an equity investor in Percy Jackson 2? I always thought they were on the hook for the cost of that production as well.

  25. How about we all fill in our IATSE union card that day? That’s really the only way things are going to get better. That way when I have to move to Canada to chase subsidies I’ll at least know I’ll be getting a job worth having.

  26. I just want to say we must get what we deserve

  27. chris says:

    You missed one chance already that being standing outside the oscars, hassling actors getting out of their cars, ie getting noticed. so a few get arrested so what, more publicity.

    Doing it on H & V was to put it mildly, a waste, it allowed people to ignore you and they did.

    You think Hathaway did the ‘crotch shot’ for fun, no it’s called media attention, the only bad press is – no press.

    If you walk out, and I think you should, for god sake do what the French do and ‘act up’.

    Ever seen a kid ‘act up’, what do you see, it gets attention!

    So don’t just stay at home, block streets on mass, and do it hit and run style. Stay ahead of the game, instead of behind it.

    Don’t play fair, that’s what they are expecting you to do, that way they can ignore you.

    And if 400 people block Universal entrance, and then scatter, only to hit WB and then another studio, then H blvd.

    And what exactly are the cops going to do? I don’t think they have a truck that takes 400 people.

    If you don’t do something now, this cause is lost forever, and it’ll end up like something like this… someone, somewhere, bemoaning not just the loss of jobs, the loss of an industry, history, that no-one no longer reads, nor cares about, as everyone has moved on, and probably overseas.

    I hope you understand, that Right now, believe it or not, you have the power, and you have to let people know this, that you wont take this laying down.

    Or you can have a little “green sticky” on the company’s monitor, for all the good that’ll do.

    The choice, like the future, is yours – decide.

    • VFX_reckoning says:

      Are you sitting at home making Molotov cocktails right now, lol.

      • Ean Carr says:

        Haha. That made my day. Thanks

      • chris says:

        No, but then again I not making snide remarks either.

        And as long as people do that, as long as one artist fights with another, who do you think really wins.

        The saying goes divide and conquer, and pal that’s what that comments does.

        It adds nothing to the conversation, nothing to the debate of how to resolve this, nothing to the idea of how people can have any kind of family life, while doing a job they enjoy.

        In fact I would go further that what you said, I’d go further than what VFXSoldier says…

        People wont care about a one day strike, they get the work the next day, if it was a week long, then it would hurt.

        And if you seen how long the writers strikes have gone on for, you’d know, that at the end of the day, that causes change.

        But, If you’re only interested in posting inane comments the you can kiss your future goodbye.

      • VFX_reckoning says:

        Trust me, I’m all to well aware of what it’s going to take. But I like your fire, son!

      • chris says:

        a) I’m not your son.

        b) I’m the one with the mba, I don’t like what’s being done. I never have. But hey, I have a job to do too.

        c) I respect people. Artists too.

        d) I know where this is going, and importantly where it’s going to end up.

        e) If you dont do something, and get real media coverage, real attention, you’ll lose.

        f) If I were you all, I’d make Molotov and do what ever else it takes. What exactly have you got to lose?

        g) If you not prepared to break rules, and screw the other side, trust me, they will screw you. That’s the game. It’s the game of your very lives.

        h) As unless all as one are prepared to act and see it though what ever it takes, ever note of derision will be used against you.

        I) if you cant or wont do that honestly, the best choice is to look for a new career. Like so many are now currently forced to do.

        j) Your like the hero in many a film you all work on. But you haven’t learned that the hero must overcome obstacles, vast and daunting, to get to the resolution. If not, the movie, like your careers – is dead in the water.

    • Jackadullboy says:

      I’d have to say I agree with this. Any strike action would have to happen quickly and hurt the studios by delaying production by weeks. All this talk of a one-day or forty-hour walkout or no-overtime week is all very touchy-freely, but i fear we’ll be sat back at our desks with our tail between our legs once it all blows over….

      • tonyb says:

        we should walk out on 3/14. we rally the troops and inform management of our intention. for one day. if all goes well, and we ALL walk out, we threaten to walk out again in the future. and this time indefinitely, until our demands are met.

        1) the movie studios have to publicly acknowledge the problem exists.

        2) an agreed upon business structure that will allow vfx houses all over the world to make a profit.

        3) transferrable benefits and wage minimums.

        all these would be agreed upon globally and defined specifically by region.

  28. VFXLady says:

    The walk out would be a show of solidarity to the Film Studios.So is there a way to do this without hurting the VFX companies we work for?

    • Let the fucking companies band together -with- the workers? It shouldn’t be a situation where the companies are wringing their hands apologetically to the studios for their disobedient workers wresting control from them, they should step up to the plate and show solidarity too. They’re getting screwed, they’re going bankrupt. They need to walk out -with- the employees.

  29. James Hill says:

    I AM IN!
    Please Start the CountDown Clock ASAP!

  30. There needs to be a face to speak with and a list of EXACT demands before a strike is started. One day is not going to do s!@t. It has to be a week at least! The facilities need to be a part of this as well so they can be ready to make the demands needed to get the workers back. Also, it cant be publicized too far in advance so the studios dont have time to “batten down the hatches”.

  31. queenbee says:

    how offensive. People don’t just “chase subsidies to Canada”. Many, many, many people and families are from here and many have chosen to live here.

    • You’ll understand why it’s not offensive when you are chasing subsidies somewhere else. I’ve worked so many places where everyone thinks their comfortable job will never go away. All these Canadians coming in with this straw man arguments, putting words in people’s mouth’s is idiotic. No one is trying to insult Canada. People in LA are trying to wake you up because you’re next on the chopping block. Why not try learning from LA’s mistakes and fill out a freaking Union card? I’d happily move to BC for a job that is steady, but the reality is you’ll be gone soon too.

      • Studios don’t give a shit about any of the artists, writers or even stars! They ONLY care about $$$$$$! They will go to where ever of who ever gives them $$’s! The ONLY way to stop this is to insist that trade organization laws are fair and enforced. Don’t expect cooperation from ANY studio. This takes work but will be worth the effort. Think people, any of these suggestions about slowing or stopping work does not bring the results you want.

    • Ymir says:

      Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson is backing the industry and aims to introduce a resolution at the next city council meeting that will call for “a national approach that would see a level playing field across Canada in the film and TV industry.”

      I find this rather offensive. How about a level playing field across the industry as a whole? Eliminate the subsidies altogether.

  32. Joe Lee says:

    I will walk out that day and of so will everyone I have talked to at work today here in NZ! Begin the countdown

  33. VFX Producer for 20 yrs says:

    Imagine throwing a large boulder up a hill to get it off your back, only to see it roll back down on top of you.
    You take a day off, or do not render or whatever you choose to do, your shot misses a dailies or a client review.
    Client: “What happened to shot XYZ?”
    Producer: “The artist was out.”
    Client: “We better f’ing see that shot tomorrow or (random threat; pull the work, not pay, never come back, etc)
    You come in the next day, only now you have one day less to do the same work you are responsible for in the first place – or you get replaced.
    The studios feel nothing, the client’s feel nothing, you stress your producer for nothing and you still need to stay employed.

    I am sorry I do not have the solution, but one day is not enough – and in everyone’s eyes, you are replaceable.

    If all of the facilities in all the world stopped accepting to be ground down on price, that is the only way the studios will ever learn that they need to pay a fair price.

    Where all of this ire collapses is the fact that the studios do not consider it art – and the run-of-the-mill audience member doesn’t care either. So what if the textures slide or the Tiger doesn’t look real … It would still make money. Oscars only matter to the people winning them.

    • Vuks says:

      it would still make LESS money. There I fixed it for you.

      • VFX Producer for 20 yrs says:

        We all would like to think the audience cares (and therefore “less money”). Bad VFX does not stop the success of a movie that audiences find entertaining. My apologies to all of the artists who worked on it, but Skyfall had some of the worst VFX of the year by far (the scorpion? the melting face? the embarrassingly bad Daniel Craig face replacements?), yet it is still one of the highest grossing films of the year. No one ever tells their friends to not see a good movie because of bad vfx.

      • Dave Rand says:

        WE are not replaceable. It’s called Talent for a reason. I’m the only American in my room in LA for a reason…..the same one TALENT. There’s just not enough truly competent artist both left and right brained to do this work.

        There is however no shortage of yes men producers that can with very very long tongues.

      • VFX Producer for 20 yrs says:

        Dave, the reason you are the last American in your room (where I assume there used to be many more talented Americans) is because that is lowest financial structure you can get away with in VFX now. _One_ talented artist overseeing the work of juniors or lesser skilled. And when even that is too much money, the work will go to the cheaper option … and yes the quality suffer, but that just means they will work those new artists harder until they get as close to what the filmmakers think is good enough. Or they run out of time. There are plenty of Directors who would keep going forever.
        And as far as “long-tongued-yes-men” producers go, most of us try to protect our crews and budgets as much as we can. But at the end of the day, we have to decide if we need to stand our ground or keep the doors open. Which would you rather?

      • mclovin media says:

        Dave you are very talented sir.

        I say you aren’t replaceable either. As long as you dont allow yourself to be…which clearly you’ve been a survivor. Don’t put up with the bullshit. You are like a doctor. You have to read the equivalent of medical journals for your industry. Training on-going…saw on your resume….even though you’ve done big movies…you are STILL hitting the tuts. That’s hard work and persistance coupled with talent.

        I think you do deserve some respect friend. You got mine.

  34. VFX_reckoning says:

    Thank you VFX producer, people seem to be having trouble understanding that…has to be the VFX shops

  35. Oz says:

    I think it is a really good idea to walk out ,but I think we will also need to combine it with refusing to work weekends and crazy overtime from that date
    It’s time to put the heat on and i think that might be a solution too

    • VFXLady says:

      I agree Oz! In general I think it’s time people stop working crazy OT. I’ve been telling my coworkers this for years! But they play scared, they continue to stay insane hours AND get paid much less to do so. I guess if you’re willing to be taken advantage of, then you’ll be taken advantage of. I’ve always wanted them to stop buying into the whole idea that they are easily replaceable and start valuing their time more.

  36. Steve says:

    I think it’s quite surprising to hear you call for for international unity on this. Since this blog has decreed that its target is foreign tax breaks, it has basically dedicated itself to taking jobs away from overseas and bringing them back to LA.

    You can’t on one hand be saying “screw you overseas VFX companies – you don’t deserve your jobs.” and then on the other ” By the way, I want you to show your solidarity with me now.”

    What happens after this ‘global walkout’?

    Back to the anti-subsidies message and overseas VFX workers don’t deserve their jobs.

    • vfx hell says:

      see, this is the essence of our “Prisoner’s Dilemma”, a situation in which entities (vfx artists around the world) could gain important benefits from cooperating, or suffer from the failure to do so. However, they find it difficult or expensive, not necessarily impossible, to coordinate their activities to achieve cooperation, because if they only asses their own situation it appears more rational to not cooperate, when in fact cooperating would yield the best result for everyone.

      • David Aldred says:

        The Prisoner’s Dilemma, but with the guards (Ang Lee being one of them) acting as the third player – or dealer, and actually benefitting (in the short-term at least) from the prisoners’ fear and trepidation. Very sad. The trouble is, even when the prisoners know the dilemma, they are unlikely to play the game to their mutual advantage.

      • PolarisSoup says:

        Tax breaks and regional incentives is a big concern but its not the place to start, as has been pointed out you can’t expect universal support for the cause on the back of trying to take down the local economies of places like Wellington, London and Vancouver.

    • You can’t on one hand be saying “screw you overseas VFX companies – you don’t deserve your jobs.” and then on the other ” By the way, I want you to show your solidarity with me now.”

      Nice straw-man argument buddy. Sorry, but no one is saying this but you. You’re putting words in people’s mouths to promote your own agenda. VFX soldier is against subsidies because they are bad for everyone including yourself — which you will learn soon enough I’m sure, when BC realizes what a waste of money they are. When it comes to film subsidies, there’s always a bigger and better one just around the corner.

      • Steve says:

        We all know this blog has decided to target overseas/regional tax incentives. A Kickstarter campaign was launched, is fully funded and as VFXsoldier has stated he has people looking into finding ways to end foreign tax breaks right now. So effectively he is actively taking steps to take jobs away from certain overseas territories (yes, I’m sure it’s all for our own good in the end. LOL).

        And the whole VFXsoldier vs BC thing wasn’t exactly great ad for global VFX solidarity either, was it?

        It is the position of this blog that right now many overseas VFX workers are undeservedly taking jobs away from LA.

        So yes, a call for global unity coming from this blog does send out a somewhat conflicting message. Sorry if that’s an inconvenient thing to point out.

      • vfxy says:

        i won’t say where I am, but I want my government to invest in building talent and an industry HERE (in my own country). whatever it takes, sorry

      • Ymir says:

        Steve, I think you’re starting to see that your job is based on not you doing your job at the same high standards as the rest of the industry, but because you’re government is buying your job for you. And this is where your, and others’, anger is coming from. It’s not LA vs. BC or LA vs. the world (I’m not even in LA). It’s people calling for everyone to play fair by the same rules. I’ve read comments from BC people that California should thus match subsidies. There’s a saying: If everybody is special, then nobody is special. If everybody has subsidies, then no one has an advantage. So why not just eliminate all subsidies, put peoples’ tax dollars to better use, and stop financing studio execs’ golden parachutes and bonuses?

      • rtagore says:

        Agree, it’s been the main purpose for this blog to eiliminate/bring jobs back to LA, and also many posts, including Dave, saying :”the talent is here in LA” or something like that, and how talent cannot be taught, it’s bred, etc and now, the whole world are to support you guys? this is really for everyone’s good? globally?
        I bet if the company that get shut down is in Bulgaria, or China,(subsidy or not) no one would care. Everything is great when LA doing great, doesn’t matter about other countries, but when LA not doing so good, the whole world need to unite and stop this disaster. What a joke..

      • rtagore says:

        By agree, I mean, what Steve said

      • Brent says:

        Agreed this sounds like entitlement.

  37. James Hill says:

    @vfxhungryneck
    Sure I understand 1 day off won’t mean anything or do s!@t. But the most important thing we can do right now is UNIFY and do something all together! Taking off 1 full day is the simplest, easiest downright most basic thing for all – just call in sick, how easy is that?!. together around the world will be a truly awe-inspiring symbol of solidarity, and sure it won’t achieve anything in real terms but it will be invaluable in building up our confidence in ourselves- all other issues aside for a moment (tax breaks, unpaid OT etc), they are incredibly important but our number 1 priority is to just believe in our selves- Lets just for once put all our differences aside and forget about ang lee or whatever for 1 second and just stand together for once in our careers. We don’t need a “formal message” or any “list of demands” for this simple act, lets just do this 1 day for starters to prove it to ourselves- we owe it to each other – Vfx solidarity, is tangible

  38. Joe Lee says:

    @VFX Producer for 20 yrs

    “I am sorry I do not have the solution, but one day is not enough – and in everyone’s eyes, you are replaceable.”

    You worry too much about being replaced buddy. I am positive there are right now 100x more mad as hell vfx artists willing to take the day off than pussies worried about being “replaced”. Cmon what are we waiting for already?! Lets do this thing

    • VFX Producer for 20 yrs says:

      There is a difference between “willing to take the day off” and making a statement. One day does nothing. This is the same as not buying gas for a day to “show the oil companies.”
      Everyone will buy gas the next day, just as you will all have to work on the vfx the next day.
      I am not discounting your passion and I am not calling anyone a “pussy”. WE ALL need to find a way to express this message that actually achieves the goal. Leroy Jenkins ruined the whole game for his team – let’s not do that.
      I have seen attempts at having a “blue-flu” day before. The very next day, the studio I worked for took down the names of all of the artists that did and they were systematically phased out.

  39. I agree with all the comments opposing a 1-day walk-out, it hurts us, hurts the VFX companies we all hope will stay in business, and it doesn’t affect the studios for a millisecond. It would be like all the ants in your back yard going on strike one day- you’d never notice the effects of it.

    The interesting thing about all of this (awesome) uproar, is that there are several differing opinions as to what we even want:

    1) A union- to protect the artists
    2) An end to foreign subsidies- to keep VFX co’s in business
    3) A change to the way Studios award work, to promote fair pricing and expectations- to keep VFX co’s in business and artists lives more sane

    I support #2 and #3. I would support #1 if I was not completely convinced that it would drive our jobs overseas (at least in terms of any unionization attempt I have seen on the table so far).

    We are doing something quite interesting and weird right now- the workers are rising up to HELP their companies. It’s like a reverse union. We are not oppressed by our employers; we suffer the hand-me-down misery that our employers got from the Networks and Studios and Agencies. We want to help them help us.

    I think that is the key here, it’s not artists vs VFX co’s vs Studios, it’s VFX artists and co’s that need to work together to find a solution. I suggest we stop all the half-assed unionization attempts (for now, once the industry is strong we’d have a leg to stand on to form or join a union and demand some freaking changes) and start some town-hall meetings with VFX company management. Owners, CEOs, CFOs, COOs, Producers, Managers- they have needs, we have numbers. The true solutions to our problems will arise from identifying our mutual needs and goals, and finding a way to work towards them.

    While the VES refuses to become a union for artists, they might actually be the appropriate organization to help organize such a movement- it’s not a union, it’s a giant industry-wide conversation on how we can all work together and survive.

    Imagine this: 3/14/13: not a single VFX company underbids work in order to land it; they all submit bids that accurately represent the cost of the work requested, and they caveat the hell out of it with assumptions that lock the Studio/Director into a rational schedule with limited revisions and firm deadlines.

    That would be an amazing protest.

    • VFXLady says:

      ‘We are doing something quite interesting and weird right now- the workers are rising up to HELP their companies. It’s like a reverse union. We are not oppressed by our employers; we suffer the hand-me-down misery that our employers got from the Networks and Studios and Agencies. We want to help them help us.” Yes! And we want to help them too. I think many people have loyalty to the company they work for. Sometimes it’s a hard decision, do we fight for our companies or for ourselves as a group independent of our companies. For me, I’m not willing to give up on my company yet. They are fighting too. How do the artist and VFX companies fight together??

      • I don’t know, but we all need to figure it out ASAP.

        Together.

        VFX Solidarity must be about artists and companies, not just one or the other,

      • VFXLady says:

        I agree Andrew! VFX companies have been fighting for years and they are losing (DD, R&H, Cafe FX, Asylum etc) but they have different leverage than the artist. Now the artist is changing up the game and ready to unite and join to fray. How do we get the most benefit by combining the two?

    • Jen says:

      I would support #1 if I was not completely convinced that it would drive our jobs overseas (at least in terms of any unionization attempt I have seen on the table so far).

      Our jobs are already leaving, whether we do something or not.

      As I understand it, Montreal’s offering VFX artists for 60%-off. An artist who makes $2000/week in Los Angeles can (theoretically) make $2000/week up in Montreal — but Montreal will pay for 60% of that artist’s wages. So Hollywood gets $2000/week quality for $800/week.

      Vancouver, in contrast, only offers a 35%- to 40% discount on VFX artists. Better than Los Angeles, which offers no discount on VFX artists, but not as attractive as the Montreal discount.

      This is why Buf opened a branch in Montreal and sent artists there. This is why Sony told its crew to move to Vancouver or lose their jobs (no link, just what I’ve heard). Companies are trying to deliver the same quality that Hollywood expects, but on Canada’s dime.

      • VFX_nomadNoMore says:

        I chose to be laid off instead of move to Vancouver for Sony. It basically went this way “We’d love to have you work on ___ after Spider-man, but we need you to move to Vancouver or else we can’t keep you on.”

    • Vfx friend says:

      Andy, the VES won’t help. Jeff Okun is the head of production for Prana Studios. This company is based in India where artists make very little money. The business model is simple. Cheap labor/cheap shots. Jeff represents India not the USA.

      • Ymir says:

        First off, Jeff is not the VES. He is the chairman of the board of directors, which is comprised of 30 individual voting board members. Above Jeff is the executive director, Eric Roth. Where the VES is concerned, it represents all ~3,000 int’l members, not just India, not just the US.

    • VFX Producer for 20 yrs says:

      3/14/13 – no job awards. Studios demand re-bid or they will go elsewhere.
      3/15/13 – race to the bottom continues.

    • tonyb says:

      we should walk out on 3/14. we rally the troops and inform management of our intention. for one day. if all goes well, and we ALL walk out, we threaten to walk out again in the future. and this time indefinitely, until our demands are met.

      1) the movie studios have to publicly acknowledge the problem exists.

      2) an agreed upon business structure that will allow vfx houses all over the world to make a profit.

      3) transferrable benefits and wage minimums.

      all these would be agreed upon globally and defined specifically by region.

  40. David Aldred says:

    I think that’s a good idea; industrial action is always going to be frightening when the workers don’t have a well-toothed union to back them up. That’s what BECTU should be doing. Alternatively, in order for Ang Lee to need fewer vfx in the future, everybody could just club together and buy him a real adult tiger.

  41. WALK OUT DAY - START DA CLOCK! says:

    Yeah I agree man! Talking round the studio and there are way more folks ready to do this thang. Forget the losers that lack that balls, let em go to work that day whining that “one person can’t make a difference” boo hoo – F@ing Losers!, they’ll be few and far between anyways- hey vfx soldier, when you going to START the countdown clock?

  42. LA Artists are still here says:

    I hate to say something about this, but Rhythm and Hues is currently looking for buyers…. First buyer was spooked by DD’s bankrupcy, and I have great concern new buyers/investers will leave, if a walkout is being done… John mentioned prob will take 30-60 days for new owner to completely take over…. Can we do it after Rhythm is sold?

  43. VFXLady says:

    It has been a long few day, and I think it will be an interesting rest of the week. A friend of mine who asked what was going on after seeing all the green boxes on facebook sent me this poem. Famous Dylan Thomes words we’ve read many times, but she was so right to send it now and from outside our industry. It is nice to know we have support.

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieve it on its way,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father, there on the sad height,
    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

  44. WhoControlsWho says:

    If you want to make a difference, you will need to bite the hand that feeds you.

    However you look at it, the VFX studio management decides how the VFX studio runs. They make the deals, they pay the bills. They decide how to treat their employees. They do. Not the movie studio, not the director, not the artists (but they could).

    You want to make a difference? You strike against your VFX studio’s management. You FORCE THEM to STAND UP for YOU. You help them grow a backbone.

    There is no limit to how far VFX pros can be pushed if they never push back.

    Collectively you need to stop thinking about respect. You are PROFESSIONALS who provide a high quality product, and should be treated as such. What you want is not respect, it is POWER. There is only one way to gain power, and that is to show you know how to use the power you have. Once you do, respect will come. Remember, no one is given anything, not when it comes to money. You want it, you take it.

    So get together. Unite over the cause of being paid fairly, working balanced hours, and being provided stability. You need to find support with the unions that exist. You need to do this worldwide.

    Otherwise, stop complaining and keep doing what they tell you to.

    • PolarisSoup says:

      The problem is that unless the big facilities coordinate their actions globally the studios will do just like they are doing with R&H and move the work to another shop. The issue is that these facilities are competing for market share, MPC London for example would like nothing more than DNeg or Framestore to go bust, more work would be available, increased availability of local talent, wages would be pushed lower.

    • Jackadullboy says:

      I’m afraid it’s up to the artists. Relying on vfx houses to do what’s necessary is a mistake. They’ve shown themselves to only too keen to precipitate their own downfall.. Not the the behavior of a rational entity..

      To ignore this is simply to pass the buck. When it all ends in disappointment, we get to blame the vfx houses for their inaction Awesome!

      • StanTheMan says:

        What PolarisSoup said.

        It’s a knowledge industry, so extremely “flexible” when it comes to shipping work overseas.

        This idea of unionisation or collective action will only work if you get enough people in enough territories to take action at the same time – and you won’t. The LA VFX community could go on strike now and never work again. And you know what? It wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference. It’d be a pain for studios in the short term, but they’d just ship the work to Canada or overseas – all you’d do is drive work away. Without EFFECTIVE co-ordination, your action would simply be a bonus for artists in other parts of the world.

      • PolarisSoup says:

        To be “vfx professional” driven the movement will need to create a manifesto, a bill of rights that everyone can rally behind. You have seen the chaos here, everyone needs to pull in the same direction and work towards a unified goal. Its a good start getting folks fired up and ready to do something, but unless folks are organised behind concrete goals its going to end up as a wishy-washy here today gone tomorrow student protest.

    • wb says:

      I think so as well…
      But I am afraid there’s too many chicken in this industry…

  45. StanTheMan says:

    It’s interesting, we’ve had this problem in the UK for a number of years now, with the tax breaks Canada (especially Quebec) has offered video games studios – those tax breaks have decimated the French video games industry, and had a terrible effect on other regions, including the UK. The result? A race to the bottom, where companies who don’t need the money play one region off against another to see where they can get the best deal. Quebec – good luck trying to cancel your tax breaks for video games. The minute you suggest it, you’ll have Ubisoft et al making noises about moving elsewhere, and leaving tens of thousands of taxpayers out of work – and what government is going to allow that? I heard someone complaining that there’s a difference between tax breaks/credits and subsidies. Let’s call them what they are – they’re both the same thing, both financial assistance, however you structure it. It’s taxpayer money, or the loss of taxpayer money, to fund the creation of profit and IP for (usually) foreign corporations.

    I really don’t know what the solution is. No country offering any assistance would be the obvious answer, but it’s not realistic – and you also can’t really blame other territories for trying to build up their own industries. And, like it or not, you can’t blame VFX people in those territories for not joining in any action you organise – they’re doing alright right now, thank you very much. Sure, it might be them a few years down the line, but people don’t think like that. It’s a sad, sad situation, but it is what it is.

  46. PolarisSoup says:

    Well put StanTheMan, this has been going on for over a hundred years in most advanced economies. In the 1950s most things were manufactured / sourced locally (or at least within the country in question) It was a closed loop, american companies, making american products, paying wages to american families that purchased american products.

    Globalisation has turned all this on its head, I think a lot of people are now realising that especially in the US and Europe that something is badly wrong. It happened with cars, textiles, manufacturing and now with tech jobs like IT and VFX, at some point someone is going to realise that if you take away jobs from a country people in that country have less to send on consumer goods, food, homes, etc. Its a vicious circle that just grinds the country and the vast majority of people in it down to the same piss-poor level.

  47. StanTheMan says:

    Well, the idea is that those advanced countries can always find something else that gives people jobs, but that’s not the case. Each successive technological advance employs less and less people – so it’s good for those who do pick up jobs, but for the rest they struggle. So where 40,000 worked in the shipyards, then 10,000 worked in the car factory, then 4,000 at the computer factory, now only 400 work in the R&D lab and the manufacturing is sent east.

    We don’t like to admit it, but the simple fact is we’re living in a time where wealth is shifting from west to east, made easier by the fact that so many jobs are skilled, rather than simply manual or semi-skilled. It sucks for the west, but in absolute terms our importance is declining dramatically – in 20 years the east won’t be so concerned with selling to us, as selling to each other and Latin America. So who cares if a bunch of VFX artists in LA strike? **** them, just send the work to Bangalore. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be good enough.

    And yes, that’s sardonic – I’m just making a point.

    • PolarisSoup says:

      Sad but very true. At least the high-end technical nature of VFX has slowed this trend somewhat, but over time even the technological prowess of companies like ILM will be eroded by Eastern rivals.

      • a better analogy would be that technology will be able to create a 10,000 HP engine that can fit into a Yugo. But you’d still be driving a Yugo.
        it isn’t just technical prowess. the advancements made at ILM aren’t made to compete in some sort of VFX arms race with other houses, but to create better tools for the artists to translate their vision to the screen. a laser chisel is just like a regular chisel, but having that tool doesn’t let to create something like Michelangelo’s David.

      • PolarisSoup says:

        The problem is unless some facet of the process is “technical” (i.e. hard to replicate externally) its all too easy to pull in 1500 farm workers in China to do the work. Almost every aspect of VFX will become run of the mill over the next 15 years, the only hope for the US/UK is to concentrate on the advanced stuff, make that your USP because it will take India/China 30 odd years to master things to that level.

  48. Gabriel Saldarriaga says:

    Cool little video I made to support the #vfxprotest cause. https://vimeo.com/60545199

  49. vfxhb says:

    I work in London…
    I’m against subsidies but not against overseas jobs. Not because I want to protect UK (I’m not from UK or US or Canada) but because I think a CG artist should be able to choose where he/she wants to live and raise a family. Luckily we’re not all introvert geeks without a social life, who just want to work on the movie of their dreams even for free. Maybe most of us are like that in the beginning but sooner or later we hopefully realize there’s more to life than amazing half-sexond shots that took weeks of unpaid overtime to complete…

    What I don’t want is the VFX house I work for to ask me to choose between Vancouver or stay home, because I want to live my life where I want, close to the people I love.

    But I have to disagree about the strike. Unless you’re able to organise it in a global scale ( very unlikely, because people are scared, or too young to realize what’s the really important. Many people are so introvert and frail they won’t even want to bother, as long as they’ll be able to spend their nights with the latest Maya beta all is good in their world)

    Also, there’s so much isolation between coordinators, managers and TDs/artists. In many places coordinators start as runners an all they do is to push you to OT telling you anim dept is gonna publish in the afternoon while it actually happens at 18:30, and them you have to import the fucking animation, test everything is fine and you mange to leave at 9:00 if you’re lucky.

    I think the matter is more delicate than it looks. As suggested before, I think the best thing anybody can do is to STOP WORKING OVERTIME, especially when it’s not paid! Fuck the passion for working on your favourite super hero’s flick and think about your life. Team leads should encourage the junior TDs not to worry to much if they leave on time.

    I think that’s something anybody can do and wouldn’t hurt the VFX companies.

    I probably missed so many points but it’s such a deep topic…

    • red says:

      Full agreement. No more unpaid overtime would actually solve a lot of problems. It would ripple through to budgets and schedules. It’s not unreasonable. During principal photography even background artists can expect to be compensated for broken lunches and extended hours!

  50. Downing tools for one day WON’T WORK!!

    That’s one of the things that is so wrong with the industry at the moment.

    For the past few years, on pretty much every project i have worked on, there have been WEEKS where i have had no work to do. “Client still hasn’t turned over the plates yet.” “Client was in Hawaii this weekend, so there’s no notes yet” “Stop working on that, the Client decided they’re going to re-cut the scene you’ve been working on for 6 weeks” etc etc

    Not doing overtime WONT’T WORK. In fact, not doing overtime will probably mean that things get done quicker and to a higher standard! We all know that working more than 8 hours a day makes you less productive anyway.
    And please point out to me one person that works at the weekend, who puts a full shift in and isn’t hungover and sitting watching youtube.

    We also need to get away from this idea that film vfx can only be done in California by Americans.

  51. Steve says:

    It’s not about the money. It’s about sending a message.

    Thank you Mr. Ledger.

    A one day strike doesn’t have to impact the studio wallets by a single cent, it just has to show them that the industry is capable of cohesive and coordinated action and that it’s not happy.

    Think of it as showing someone your big scary dog with it’s big scary teeth. It’s on a chain, secured to the wall. It’s not biting anyone right now.

    But you can let it off the chain if you want to.

  52. PolarisSoup says:

    Personally I think that maybe some kind of union or trade body would be a good start. If its setup in a way where it is allowed to grow without intimidating the facilities or the studios (i.e. in the background) it can then start a more active roll when it has the mass to be taken seriously. This would allow people to initially join anonymously without having to disclose their affiliation or risk being black-listed as well as through a small annual subscription allow the union to start amassing funds for a war chest.

  53. Dave Rand says:

    Great Idea, genius really. Round Table with Ross and Squires coming soon. First of many.

    • Get Real Soldier says:

      Been there, done that…ask Scott about his success for the past several years forming a trade organization or his various platforms around the world trying to sell it.

      There are no takers, but more round tables will certainly make everyone feel better. Maybe all can agree to have Scott get this going…again, but who will supply the THREE MILLION he needs to get it up and running?

      And, why would the vfx facilities and studios cooperate with Scott now as they have not done so to date.

      These are questions which should be quickly and in detail explored and presented by Scott and his supporters to the vfx community as it decides what’s next.

  54. adrian says:

    Perhaps an occupy style protest is in order at 1:59pm on 3.14. Occupy a symbolic location in London, LA, SF, Vanoucer, New Zealand.

    You don’t need everyone to participate, just enough to get news media coverage in every locale.

    We’d never be able to hurt them with a one day action anyway, what we want is media attention and to keep the momentum going from the oscars.

    It’s even close enough to lunch time that if we all walk out for an hour our bosses cant really give us crap.

    Can’t speak for the climate in outside of London but I work at a big studio around here and i think there would be enough support.

    • VFXodus says:

      You know what will guarantee that this will never happen outside of LA? Talk of ending subsidies. I hate subsidies, but from a strategy point of view, we need to hold off on the “Canada is stealing out jobs” signs.

  55. Focus,focus,focus! Your next huge march should be on your political leaders office. They are the ones who can pressure those in power to enforce the fair trade laws that are being broken and thus the unfair subsidies! Many of you are unemployed and you should be on a picket line daily. Select a leader, select the politician you think can do the most and picket daily. The leader will schedule your hours ( working or not) everyone must take shifts and picket until your feet fall off. That will ensure L.A. Jobs! The next step will be to get the VFX houses on board as that will ensure their health too. Only after that can you address overtime pay, working conditions, union etc. Go to the head of the snake! Just sayin!

  56. @@> says:

    My thoughts are that there should be an open letter to facilities to ask them to come to the table to collectively bargain a deal before striking. Put a deadline on it, maybe 30 days. I think you need to give facilities, no matter how remote, a chance to step up. Then the VFX workers are looked upon as by being generous giving the facilities one last chance. It also allows this movement to put to paper specifics that we can all stand behind and have a solid and consistent message. I am no longer in LA due to being shuffled to an incentive location but I want to thank my brothers and sisters for rallying together this past weekend.

    @@>

  57. rpdoormat says:

    A strike? I don’t think this would be effective. It would go against our employers as well, for which we are trying to improve the situation for in first place. Lobbying and raising press and media awareness would be a good starting point as I see it. Bit by bit. Baby steps.

  58. VFX GUI says:

    Two points. With regards to subsidies, this is why studios like them:

    The % rebate is directly fundable to their productions in that they can take this promise to pay directly to a bank who will loan them the money up front before production even starts. This has the effect of allowing them a direct cash in hand discount before the first frame of film is even shot. Because of this upfront influx of cash studios actually make more of these kinds of movies. Take away the subsidy, and while it’ll make life easier on LA houses and artists, it will also mean less dollars overall to fund these types of pictures meaning less work overall globally, since there’s still a finite number of available dollars at any given time.

    So like it or not, subsidies are probably here to stay. As an LA based artist I don’t like them, but I can see and understand why they’re popular from the studio and country jurisdictional side. That they make sense from the studio side is obvious. That they make sense from the governments offering them and workers benefiting from them over the long term isn’t nearly so clear.

    Second point, with regards to the walkout, or strike, or whatever it’s to be called on Pi day, at least from where I’m looking, that date happens to also be around the same time that many houses will be wrapping up or will have wrapped up their big summer tent pole movies, so there’ll be a lot of artists out wandering the streets of LA anyway. If the goal of the walkout is to stop work, that may not be entirely effective since a lot of shows will have wrapped already, but on the other hand a lot of artists will likely be available for some sort of organized protest.

  59. sigh says:

    Not going to work. I can tell you that right now. Figure out another more productive solution.

    • Jackadullboy says:

      All of this discussion always brings me back to the same core questions. In the longer run, will these huge sociopathic corporations ( in our case the Studios), which by their very nature have no interest in the individual wellbeing of their human constituents, except where it translates into “motivation to generate more wealth for said corporation”, continue to dominate, or are their days numbered?

      Also, I wonder, what is the real extent to which particular disciplines within vfx can effectively be farmed out to the east.. To what extent do sensitivity to cultural differences determine the likelihood of outsourcing for a given discipline. Where do we fall on the technician-artist scale, and what are the timescales on which this ceases to be a limiting factor to outsourcing?

      In the end, whether it takes the form of subsidies or otherwise, all things being equal, the corporations will seek out cheaper labour for a given product.. Not rocket science of course.

  60. BF+LC says:

    Governments are responsible for subsidies not the VFX Houses or even the Studios. Make your voices heard to your State/Provincial/Federal governments to end subsidies.

    Organise into a formal Trade association to promote a single unified message. Real change comes from legislation.

  61. BPerlow says:

    Thoughts on mobilization. I think a one day strike may not have enough teeth. At the same point, if there is one it needs to get media attention, and it cant be pre-planned too long in advance. If striking, we need to talk to those who have been SUCCESSFUL at it. Not the Occupiers. We need someone to be the leader of it. I think Dave Rand, Scott Ross and Scott Squires would be good ones(Im sure we can all nominate someone). The Occupy movement got muddled and misconstrued by the press. Take the lessons from the 80s AIDS movement. They had a clear message and demands. They also worked the media well. As much as the media can suck, you have to work them, and have a good sound bite. I think waiting to put all media into a event like this would be a mistake.

    We need to keep promoting whats going on and what we do. Most of the general public has no idea who Modeled the “Life of Pi” Tiger, Rigged it, Vis Dev’d it, and Composited it. We are the unknown backroom folk, and that needs to stop. We are as important, if not more so, than the actors in many shots. So getting the public to “know” us and what we go through is important. Many of our ranks are great photographers and film-makers in their own right.

    Lets start doing mini-films about us. Lets get some of the laid off R and H folks some screen time. Lets show their work and what they did. Show their families. Lets get to the Harry Knowles, and other major sites of entertainment news and convince them to put links or the vids on their sites. Convince them to give us free or reduced rate banners(yes we may need to fund some of this). We need this to get Viral. We need the people to like us and empathize with us. Otherwise we might as well be the ” computers that do the work”.

    I think joining the IATSE can backfire for us, if we don’t watch them. They have had a sordid history, and many times have not done anything for their constituents. I would prefer a GUILD of our own creation that would cover Global efforts.

    As much as I dislike Subsidies, they will go on as the next country/state tries to outdo their neighbor. Eventually the taxpayers get wind of it, and it stops/lessens. Id rather see the subsidies go to paying the artists/workers for cashflow purposes than going to the studios.
    The subsidy issue to me is separate issue to handle, and has to be discussed in a separate way, but it does WAY affect the bidding process.

    At the end of the day, we want to be part of the bidding process(Cost-plus not Fixed!), and we want to be treated better(not worked to death), and paid our proper wages. As much as some of you want the FX shops to be involved, most won’t and will dissuade you. At the end of the day the R and H owners and executives will get paid. They pay themselves handsomely, and wont change that. Do not think for one second that they wont try to replace any one of you with a kid out of school if they think they can get the same productivity. You may have “loyalty” to them, but they don’t to you.

    Right now whatever larger to medium shops that survive this period, will get to work on the tentpole films. The big studios are pretty much only making those while buying-distributing others. It would be great to get solidarity from the shop owners, but they are competing against each other for the same 4-5 major Studios. It really has to come from us. It may come to pass soon, that these Studios may have to get internal departments. ILM and Sony eventually will not take outside Studio work. They basically sent the work out to shops back in the day to avoid union workers. We have to look out for ourselves first. Shops come and go, but we all end up working with each other again somewhere. At least when that happens, we should still see proper pay , benefits, and working conditions.

    My next post will deal with taking charge of our own destinies and not relying on shops Re: royalties!

    regards

    Brandon Perlow

    http://www.newparadigmstudios.com

  62. First Unionize, Second End Subsidies says:

    The thought behind walking out for a day, or even striking is a good one. However, for lasting impact, we must first form a VFX union. Who wants a “Piece of Pi”? Guess what, you can get it. In the form of residuals that get applied to healthcare and pension. It works. Second, end all subsidies. These distort the market in nasty ways, and create VFX and animation ghost towns after the subsidies end. Sony Imageworks New Mexico? Digital Domain Florida? Do you really think that British Colombia can keep putting $437 million in the pockets of movie studio executives while education funding to school kids gets cut? I appreciate the motivation behind walking out on our jobs. But signing your rep cards with IATSE will have a lasting impact.

  63. Steven says:

    Boycott the studios biggest profit films coming out in the Summer include Thor 2 Iron Man 3 and Avengers 2

    • VFX Union will have a lasting impact says:

      I appreciate the thought behind boycotting movies. So we get our friends and families to not watch these movies, and the studios sell a few thousand less movie tickets. To the studio executives, this impact is less than a mosquito bite, if they even feel it at all.

      No one is going to stand up for us, except us. Green profile pictures on Facebook is a good start. I have one too. But to make our voices heard in a lasting way, we must form a union. That way, we can collectively bargain for residuals. It works. Other unions have done it. Why not us?

  64. Dave Rand says:

    1 Day is a great start. It won’t kill our employers and the cost to us for a day’s pay is worth the message it will send into our futures. Each step, every inch, is only additive.

    We should find a cool spot in LA to spend the day together.

    Ideas?

  65. Dave Rand says:

    To be clear WE are asking the WTO to sort out the subsidy issues.
    WE have not intention of harming any artist on the planet.

    Personally I rather not have my future or may family’s future dependent on a single politician’s whim to throw a switch or not throw a switch.

    A level playing field based on Talent and Branding. However that is obtained is fine with me.

    The 6 studios that control all our content need to get some competition. This won’t happen if everyone stays on their nipple.
    Till some politician decides their area has had enough.

    Any change will take time. What does not take any time is for your VFX community to be wiped out overnight by a political whim.

  66. NOW is the time says:

    What we need is a real leader and a real strike. We need everyone in the industry to grow a pair and make personal sacrifices to better our situation. Most I know are already trying to get out anyway. Make a point or it will be too late. Now is the time but we must act together, not bicker over little points. One day is not enough. We need to hit them where it hurts. We need most if not all the studios on board standing together. This is not you against your boss, this is you standing with your studio to survive. Without numbers we have nothing. Stand up, have your say, get EVERYONE involved.

  67. Ethan says:

    I do not support a walk out without a clearly defined purpose. I do support unionization. It wouldn’t make sense for all vfx workers to walk out. Sometimes I work on films and sometimes I work on commercials. Right now I am working on a commercial, I get paid overtime, and my producer keeps an eye on the budget in a lawful manner. If I walked out it would only stress out the producer, delay progress on the commercial from (relatively) reasonable clients and not really send any message. If everyone that wants to walk out instead fills a rep card from vfxunion.com then we can become truly unified.

    A union can force vfx studios to pay ot where it is lawfully due, reign in abusive behavior, and put pressure on vfx studios to pressure Hollywood studios to use a better bidding system. A union could force a vfx producer on the vfx house side to stand up to unrealistic demands. (because they wouldn’t be able to put the squeeze on the vfx workers to fit in the budget)

    A union will not force your jobs overseas, if its going to go because of cheaper labor, subsidies, and unreasonable working conditions it will go, union or no. A union is not the answer to all of our problems but it is a start. If you fill out a rep card, get your friends to fill out rep cards and you get a majority the union will contact your studio to begin working on a contract. If the studio refuses, then you have your walk out. Give your vfx studio a chance.

    At the least, take a moment to go to vfxunion.com

    • James B says:

      You said it all in your first sentence: “I do not support a walk out without a clearly defined purpose. I do support unionization.” – That is one message everyone can get behind. Lets leave the subsidies talk out of it (for now), as thats where a lot of the disagreements are stemming from.

      • Ymir says:

        Yes, let’s talk about chasing subsidies later because they pose no threat to anyone’s job now.

        http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118065702/

      • Reality says:

        How is a union something everyone can get behind in such a global industry? Not to sound overly defeatist, but I have yet to hear a single well-defined plan for how to establish and populate a global VFX union, and advocating for one without any sort of a plan inevitably steers the tone of the discussion into “L.A.-vs.-the-world” territory.

        The subsidies are the biggest problem, followed closely by the questionable business ethics of the studios.

      • vfxy says:

        pft. this is “L.A.-vs.-the-world”. you think LA give a stuff about us? no, they’re pissed because they think it should all go on in LA

      • Ymir says:

        vfxy, it’s not about L.A.-vs.-the-world. It’s about work not leaving any area dueto protection money paid by a government to mafia-esque studio. It’s about everybody standing on their own two feel without the crutch of kickbacks.

    • tonyb says:

      we should walk out on 3/14. we rally the troops and inform management of our intention. for one day. if all goes well, and we ALL walk out, we threaten to walk out again in the future. and this time indefinitely, until our demands are met.

      1) the movie studios have to publicly acknowledge the problem exists.

      2) an agreed upon business structure that will allow vfx houses all over the world to make a profit.

      3) transferrable benefits and wage minimums.

      all these would be agreed upon globally and defined specifically by region.

  68. A Voice says:

    I really think we need a representative first. Lets say the Studios want to talk, who do they talk too? There’s no clear person to represent all of us. So the first step is to form a union, the next is to have our representative bring our issues up to the studios. Depending on how it goes, we take action collectively. The Protest did wonders to bring us together, but now we need a clear plan to move forward, otherwise, we won’t get anywhere. I agree that we should make

    3/14/2013 “sign your union card” day.

    It’s easier, anonymous, and gives us a single body to speak. Right now it is just a lot of noise without 1 person to speak for all of us.

    • RH_vfx says:

      I think everyone signing a union card on the 14th of March is an EXCELLENT idea.

      With a union we have a unified voice and can bring a clear objective and message to the table. I support this.

      • Reality says:

        Please explain how a union will solve any of the problems that currently exist in the industry, and how you would convince workers in the U.K, India, et al to join.

      • RH_vfx says:

        How would this solve any of the problems in the industry?

        A union wouldn’t solve ALL of the problems in this industry, that’s ridiculous. But, like I said, with a union we have a unified voice and can bring a clear objective and message to the table.

        How would we convince the rest of the world to join? I don’t think there’s any way that will happen. Because people are incredibly scared.

        Maybe a union is the wrong approach. But we need some sort of united organization that brings an OBJECTIVE and a MESSAGE that everyone can (relatively) agree to.

  69. Now I'm really angry says:

    A one day walkout, if it happened in NZ, Canada, US and UK, would work.

    Why?

    One simple reason.

    It would demonstrate that the vfx community is united and can be mobilized. That is all that’s needed.

    • vfxy says:

      no, this is a LA movement. I WANT my country to support the arts industry here. I WANT them to promote it with my taxpayer money. whatever it takes. This is a matter of support us – oh, but then we’ll piss all over you.

  70. VFX_reckoning says:

    Sorry, but you’re wrong. Things can easily be adjusted for a ‘one-day’ walkout. Most VFX shots are scheduled with a cushion for final delivery, sometimes even by a week or more. Those shots will just be scheduled around and you’ll pick it up when you go to work the following day. One-day means nothing.

    I understand the point of a united vfx industry, but unless that can be united in such a way to actually HURT the studio budget, it does no good. That means a weeks losses, without any other vfx shop to transfer shots to.

    • Now I'm really angry says:

      That’s not the point. I’m not saying a one day strike alone will hurt the studios. Obviously not, it would take one much longer. But right now, it’s not even clear that people could mobilise and unite to do it for even to one day.

      It’s not about this particular strike hurting studios. It’s about this particular strike *demonstrating* that vfx workers *can* hurt studios. That would be a game changer.

  71. Reality says:

    I think one of the first and most important things that needs to happen is to get away from this idea that a union is the way to solve this problem.

    VFX is in no position to unionize, because whether you like it or not, our jobs are portable. There is absolutely no reason anyone in any other country would want to join a union, especially because, by and large, they already have access to things like healthcare. The more the cry for a union gets lumped in with the subsidy discussion, the more this whole thing takes on an “L.A.-first-and-f**k-the-rest” vibe.

    I work in L.A, and would be far more scared for my job security if a union were actually formed here.

    • Caleb says:

      We will see, cause things aint staying the same. You can’t stop the train at this point, so get ready. BTW, you’re wrong.

      • Reality says:

        Can you provide any logical reason for why I’m wrong that doesn’t involve preaching at me?

        “BTW,” I’m not the only one who believes this.

      • Benefits of VFX Union says:

        1. Portable healthcare. Healthcare isn’t tied to any one vfx studio. If you lose your job, you still get full health benefits for up to 12 months. If the vfx studio you are working for goes under, you still get healthcare (and pension) because its part of the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plan. http://www.mpiphp.org/
        2. Collective bargaining for residuals. Good luck asking for residuals as individuals. As a VFX Union we can ask for residuals to go towards healthcare and pension. Other unions do this, and it works.
        3. OT pay (see what Ethan wrote above)

      • Reality says:

        I think you misunderstand me; my argument is not that a union would not be beneficial, but that establishing one that is not completely US-centric, garners international support from both artists *and* VFX shops, and doesn’t end up backfiring on U.S. artists is not trivial. This is me speaking as an artist in L.A.

        Portable healthcare is primarily a concern for U.S. workers, because we are blessed with the most costly and broken healthcare system in the world. Forgive me if I’m overlooking something or speaking too ignorantly, but workers in Canada or England probably don’t need them (please don’t derail this into a conversation about whether either of those systems is “broken”).

        Standards for OT are definitely something everyone can get behind, but a union is not a requirement for that.

    • StanTheMan says:

      Exactly. It’s a knowledge industry, and easy to move elsewhere. It sucks ass, but it is what it is. And yes, I’ve noticed Caleb’s anger too. Not sure what it rely adds tbh.

      • Caleb says:

        Don’t misunderstand my curtness with anger. If there is anger it is more with the community than with the biz models. The community has let this happen to a degree. Now we have this oddly globalized part of the movie business and everyone outside of California is panicking. Every other discipline in film is unionized, none of them have the issues we have. None of the anti union arguments hold water in a historical perspective. Mr. Stan The Man, if you feel my participation doesn’t add anything, then please don’t read it. Those that know me, maybe you do, know that I don’t sugar coat things nor do I hold back. I have no need to, no desire to. But I’m sure with a name like Stan The Man, you understand that. What I say on public forums I will say to your face, no anger applied, and you’ll know its me in both places.

        So, “it sucks ass, but it is what it is.” Thats a great reason to do nothing.

        Here is one for you, “Why wipe your ass when you’re only going to shit again?”

  72. MikeJ says:

    Are we fighting against countries and they subsidies if so…. WTF are we doing? this problem seems extremely complex with no clear solution.

    I keep reading, hoping to see the solution…. but how a walk out help us? I DONT GET IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! please explain. I am sure i am not only one

    • stowaway says:

      We’re not fighting against countries. I think the bottom line is that we want our employers (the big 8 vfx studios) to stand up, united, against the unreasonable demands of their clients (the big 6 movie studios). Since we are creating more than half of what you see on the screen in every big blockbuster movie, it’s time vfx studios and artists start calling the shots, not the big 6.

      A unified walk-out would accomplish two things:

      1) It would halt production on any tentpole film in production – putting big studios in a position where they’d have to listen or risk missing release dates and losing tons of money.

      2) If the leaders big 8 won’t get together on their own to agree on some standards, this will force them to do it to appease the artists.

  73. Michael says:

    Am I being asked to believe that the owners of R&H actually don’t have money? I find it hard to swallow that the studio is going bankrupt only because of the major studio. Now I know there is much more going on regarding tax incentives, low balling, etc. But the artists being screwed are being screwed by their studio first and foremost, just take a look at what Meteor Studios did to their crew. The owners of R&H need to sell their homes and possessions and pay their people if I am to truly believe all of this is from higher up the ladder.

  74. Michael says:

    A walkout may bring national or global attention to the matter. But a one day walkout or picket line is not the best way of raising attention to our plight. We need to educate the consumer. The public that plunks down $16 bucks for a theatre ticket is the source you need to inform. They need to know that the long list of names that come once the film has finished are not being paid for their work. That only the actors and producers are reaping amounts of money that are nauseating. An informed “Joe Public”, the very same who are losing their homes and struggling to pay the bills, will show the support necessary to make change in our industry.
    At least that’s my dream.

    • BPerlow says:

      Michael, thats what I said in my long post. We need to win the hearts and minds of the general public.

      • VFX_reckoning says:

        Why would they give a shit? Most of the public are star-fuckers, that’s why the celebrity status quo is the status quo and in part, why actors receive millions upon millions of dollars

      • VFX_Reckoning is right says:

        Good luck winning the hearts and minds of the general public to our cause. Better to contact and pressure lawmakers. The general public isn’t going to stand up for our cause. We have to do that, by going union.

  75. To-ron-to says:

    I do think this plan hurts vfx facilities more than it does the studios.

    I’d rather see people stay away from the movie theatres for a weekend during a perceived big opening week for a movie. Perhaps a movie where the crew was overworked and the budget didn’t reflect the complexity of the project. Obviously we can’t keep the masses fully away. But Im sure vfx and digital pros are a big part of the audience, and they have family and friends they could try to get on board. And its not like you’d have to say “never see ____”. Just don’t go see it one weekend.

  76. vfxgirl says:

    VFX soldier… this has all started with you. it just took years in the making for an overnight event. i remember when me and friends started talking about this after alicehell and what happened to cafefx.. fast forward 3 years+ later…. amazing. for the first time… with so many super smart, active people… we WILL make a difference. its happening now. im so lucky im wokring at an amazing place right where our VFX sups support and contribute to the cause and turned green… and it makes me feel like change IS possible.

    my 2 cents: i feel we ought to boycott the Academy and/or protest … inas much as they involuntarily contributed to our cause by disrespecting us.
    also… boycott / blacklist actors (sam jackson anyone??? ) and maybe Ang Lee for tying to drown us out. those who saw what happened, even not in the industry, are fully supporting us. this is HUGE.

  77. VFXodus says:

    can we please SOP TALKING ABOUT SUBSIDIES AND DIVIDE OUR VFX COMMUNITY before any movement has even started? Deal with the PRACTICAL matters first: OT, working conditions, recognition, supporting the unpaid RH workers. THIS we can all agree one. The subsidies are a huge other issue that needs to be dealt with later, once we actually have leverage. Talking about subsidies now only enhances the LA-centric foreigner hating stereotype of many here. Here in vancouver, any time someone mentions going against subsidies, there is a collective eyeroll and no one takes you seriously. Lets tackle the achievable first, and THEN tackle the subsidy issue once we actually have some leverage.

    • Dave Rand says:

      We are asking the WTO to decide what is best for everyone, as all nations signed the agreement. It is not meant to divide anyone. The agreement was signed to keep us fruitful, monopoly free, balanced, and united.

      Since subsidies have played a MAJOR roll in our issues, yes they need to be talked about and put in the correct context.

      Perhaps we should refrain from turning it into an artist vs artist issue by framing it that way when it is not at all anyone’s intent.

      It’s an issue between artists on one side and the politicians and the 6 American Studios that use them to keep out any competition and keep their lock on content and distribution while we run around the planet in a weakened state.

      If you want the Americans to continue to control everything you do in film then say nothing about the tools they use to make it so. Just ask Wellington NZ, Florida, Michigan, Los Angeles, New Mexico, and Now BC…. what that control feels like.

      WE are not migratory mellon pickers at the whim of American studios executives and politicians. Each nation deserves their own film markets free from artificial economies and based on talent and branding.

      Only then can we settle down, buy homes, raise families, and have the stability to be creative and have a life.

      • VFXodus says:

        I actually agree with everything you said. But it is bad strategy in the beginning of a movement to use an issue that we all know will guarantee division among ourselves. This subsidy issue should come later when we have leverage (hopefully). NOW is not the time. NOW is when we need to unite (even if it is holding off on an issue). I do regret saying we shouldn’t discuss it, since discussion is always a good thing. But if we want to focus on ACTION, we need to be aware of the timing. In order to stop further aliening non-Californians, the subsidy issue should not be the sole thing discussed (at this time), but rather the RH situation, no OT, the schedule. Those are actually achievable with UNITY.

      • Ymir says:

        I think the biggest way to UNIFY all artists is to put them all on the same level playing field.

  78. StanTheMan says:

    Re going to the WTO to block subsidies, the UK tried that with Canada’s video games tax breaks. The conclusion from the WTO was that they were lawful. Go figure.

  79. BPerlow says:

    VFX_reckoning, if the public knows who we are they will love us too. We dont have a PR like the “stars” do, and thats part of the reason they get “millions”. Thats why we need to start a PR. Otherwise the press(who are owned by parent companies of studios) will call us petulant whiners when we take any action. I do think the public will back us if we can get to them.

  80. BPerlow says:

    On a Union(IATSE), I would prefer a Guild that we create that can negotiate with FX shops AND the Film Studios. It can be world wide and focus on the major issues. With IATSE we would just be negotiating with the Big FX shops, as many freelancers dont work for them and not be covered. We still wouldnt have the leverage we want from the Film Studios. We want something that protects us, whenever a FX house prices themselves out of business. Having something that could protect freelancers and staffers would be better.

  81. A VFX Guy says:

    WHAT MUST BE DONE, HERE & NOW? A few things…. A proposed letter of action.

    1 – All VFX Artists must get together and form a VFX Guild. This is not a Union, but a coalition. All artist must be card carrying members to work at any VFX House that does even one frame or any piece of R&D on a film or TV show. We will open chapters across the world.

    2 – A sit down must be had with the artist and VFX House owners, to determine a course of action to save both individuals and VFX Houses in this new world economy. We must work together, we have a mutual interest in our existence. I propose 5 VFX artist with 15+ years experience be elected by the VFX guild to represent the community to the VFX Houses and report back to the VFX Arists community.

    3 – VFX subsidies must be stopped and Houses that posture themselves so studios will use them for the subsidies must be boycotted by artists as unfair and ethnically wrong. This violates NAFTA as well and many other fundamental principles in regard to a healthy free market and must have regulation. It has created a VFX bubble in many locals that will pop. VFX Houses that rely on these subsidies will be determined to be ‘Rouge Houses’. Any film or TV show that is connected to a ‘Rouge House’ in any way, must be bard from North American Theatrical or Television release. As well as Oscar Contention, and Netflix or RedBox distribution.

    4- Eight hour days must be mandated, and OT (overtime) mandatory when used. In addition, all pay cycle weeks must must start on Monday, not Saturday to avoid OT. Standard day rates for artists must be instituted and regulated by the VFX Guild in cooperation with the VFX Houses. Facilities must be properly maintained, and sweat shops closed. Its just a movie folks, we don’t need to die for it.

    5 – Studios must acknowledge and adhere to these rules. VFX Houses must acknowledge and adhere to these rules. Most importantly, ARTISTS must acknowledged and adhere to these rules, our future depends on it. Students eager to do free work, must be educated by the veterans who have been doing it a while, so they know when they are being used.

    6 – James Cameron, George Lucas, Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg, Christopher Knoland need to start standing up for us, or they should be blackballed by the VFX Artist Guild. We should refuse to work on their movies if they don’t make sure we are given better treatment.

    7 – VFX artists must realize there work is valuable and it does make a difference. We are making the studios filthy rich and we deserve better treatment.

    Respect VFX!

    • VFXodus says:

      Item 3: you just lost any VFX artist not working in California. Subsidies are for later when we actually gain leverage. Subsidies are a major issue but now is not the time, especially when trying to unite globally.

      • A VFX Guy says:

        What would you recommend then? Its a problem we all need help fixing, and will require all of our collective input.

      • chicagoVFX says:

        I think you lost a lot – most? – of us at item 1, “All artist (sic) must be card carrying members to work at any VFX House…”

      • VFX Producer for 20 yrs says:

        Actually, subsidies rose out of the need to find financial alternatives to LA costs. It was just accepted by the clients/studios that the quality would suffer (at the time).

        But now, by removing subsidies, the studios would have to award based on quality and capacity again. And I would have to think that there are enough clients that have formed relationships with enough global facilities, and the quality has improved to such a point, that even without the subsidies they would return again and again.

        If you do not believe this point, then you admit the only reason that “hollywood” comes to you now, even after all the time this has been going on, is because of the price and not your talent.

        It is time for everyone to stand on their merits and not their ability to cost less.

      • VFXodus says:

        VFX Guy, you are saying we need global collective input to get rid of jobs for non-Californians? That is an oxymoron, and I saw this with respect.

        I agree that subsidies in the long run are horrible. But NOW is not the time. It is the very beginning stages we are in, and already I see people leaving the movement solely due to the LA-centric attitude. We need to focus on what is actually achievable. One step at a time.

      • Ymir says:

        Subsidies are a major factor of the equation of what’s wrong with the current visual effects business model. They need to be addressed along with everything else at the same time as they are all intertwined. I find it more divisive that there are those who wish to trivialize their contribution to the problem by back burnering them (out of sight, out of mind) or find other ways to delay addressing them. A level playing field is a unified playing field. We all need to start at the same starting line.

      • VFXodus says:

        Ymir, I understand your very valid points, but I’m coming from a strategy point of view. And what is realistic. It’s not putting it on the backburner at all. It’s strategy (the first thing is to not alienate non-Californians).

      • Ymir says:

        If non-Californians truly believe in unity, equality, and fairness, they won’t feel alienated about discussions of subsidies. In fact, they would actively support the effort of ending subsidies so that we are all unified in our message of fixing our problems. Otherwise, it seems like nothing more than a ‘how can we keep them going as long as possible’ campaign. The more they are discussed, the more likely the situation will be remedied.
        I don’t like seeing anyone getting a job by any other advantage than they were the best for the job.
        At the very top of this blog, it says “End VFX Subsidies”. That has been the message here for a long time. If you do not want to talk about subsidies, you might be in the wrong place.

      • VFXodus says:

        I am very tired of repeating myself: in order to unite, do not alienate. It’s very simple. It’s very logical. I am actually anti-subsidy, but from purely a strategic point of view, you are shooting yourselves in the foot before the race. The talk of subsides can come LATER when when we actually have LEVERAGE. If this site does not evolve to actually include realistic strategies, then perhaps it is no longer fit to be a voice for real change.

        And why would any non-Californian in their right minds support an effort whose aim is to end the very thing that employs them? I guess unity means “Let’s unite to have LA flourish again so we can all pick up our lives and families to move there.”

        The title is indeed “End the subsidies” for quite some time. Perhaps its time to evolve to be more inclusive of the globe. If you don’t evolve, well you know what happened to the dinosaurs.

      • overit says:

        sure thing, Ymir. See ya

      • Ymir says:

        Wow, so look at what the VES is released:

        http://www.visualeffectssociety.com/call-to-action

        Either nobody has subsidies, or everybody has subsidies.
        Level playing field.

      • Ymir says:

        Looks like in this case evolving is just hurrying the race to the bottom.
        Again, I don’t live in California, so if this campaign works, my travel costs are less. I don’t support subsidies by anyone, but I guess there’s a misery loves company in action.

  82. Smel-la_VFX says:

    I met Samuel L Jackson at Wholefoods, I asked him if I could take a picture with him as I was a big fan, he started laughing at my face and walked to his car. After that, I thought he was an arrogant asshole and sunday’s happenings just confirmed me he really is a big dick.

  83. BPerlow says:

    whats ironic, is his daughter went to Cal Arts for animation.

  84. BPerlow says:

    A Vfxguy, I have to agree with VFXodus. Subsidies are really a politcal issue that one deals with their governments. Thats separate from this. A unified Global VFX GUILD would be much better. Studios wouldnt be able to outsource work to a country that engages in sweat-shop practices as the workers would refuse. A Guild would in essence go closer to creating a level playing field. A Guild will be great for Video Game professionals and freelancers working in Non-Feature FX houses as well.

  85. jwilcott says:

    Yeah I love this idea. I’m in. I’ll spend Pi day at the Zoo. Check out some tigers.

  86. Now I'm really angry says:

    Soldier – have you or anyone else investigated following this issue up with the Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Competition?

    http://www.ftc.gov/bc/index.shtml

    • Studio_Spotter says:

      I could be wrong but is that Bureau regarding domestic business practice? If so it would worth investigating how it might add pressure on state subsidies.

  87. xegar says:

    What if every VFX company watermarked their deliveries to their respective productions with this green square until a shot is finalled . That would show solidarity and studios couldn’t ignore it and it’s relatively harmless. or put it next to the frame counter on quicktimes . if you don’t want to put it on a delivered shot.
    Seeing a bunch of green squares pop up through your test screenings would highlight just how many shots get touched by VFX.

  88. vfxhobo says:

    The only way a walk out could possibly work, is if it were coordinated to directly affect major fx houses already in productions with show specific pipelines already entrenched. The artists would then have to be willing and able to bear the brunt of a multi-week, and maybe even multi-month strike. The only way change is affected is if we are willing to endure pain. The 1936–1937 Flint Sit-Down Strike that gave birth to the UAW is a good example. A day here, a few hours there, refusing to work OT… All just very legal and justified grounds to get you fired, and replaced. Meaningful change requires meaningful action.

  89. FacilityCGSup_on_"HIatus" says:

    Hey Fellow Artists,

    I just re-read Jeff Okun’s letter on the VES website and I have a thought I know will be unpopular. Let me first say that I was one of the first 100 or so members of the VES … that I love having an organization that has focused on best practices and open sharing of ideas and a proper acknowledgement of achievement. I am in awe of, and am grateful for, the tremendous amount of volunteer work that have gone into the VES. But after re-reading the letter, and (quoting Jeff) considering the 3 full years that our only real industry association spent being aware of these issues, the fact we in the vES have had ready access to all all the relevant people, studio executives, facility owners and managers and artists/employees and have basically all been guilty of standing by wand watching this train wreck happen.

    Maybe we need more than a walkout on our employers, maybe we also need to admit to ourselves that, as much fun as it is to have an “honorary” society, maybe in these times we need more than an organ for self congratulation. I understand that the “by-laws” forbid the VES form being effective o involved in any of these issues but maybe the first thing we need to do is to change that, or step away from the VES for a time. In commercials, the A.I.C.P. managed to step into an even more cutthroat and competitive business and standardize bidding praxtices, negotiate with IATSE and SAG and other unions on behalf of small independent companies and mediate on business practices with Agencies and Clients, as WELL as honor the best work with awards and curate events around creativity and best practices. Ditto for the architects with the A.I.A. who provide members large and small with standardized RFP, Bid and Contractual assistance, set standards and practices of dealing with clients as well as honor innovation. ideas and work with awards.

    Part of the leverage these organizations have is that the awards are coveted by clients as well as providers. The awards provide access and opportunity to work with the client side to gain agreement on business practices and standards. By having only an “honorary” society we lose that opportunity. All the studio folks come to our awards show and our VES leadership is obligated to throw those opportunities for future dialogue away. It also takes a huge amount of volunteerism, and energy and effort to run any organization. That energy (and financial resources) are in limited supply particularly in hard times.

    Maybe all of us who have served on VES committees, who are active in the organization need to step up and say we also need to consider letting the VES know that we all ether need to consider changing the by-laws to make the VES a trade organization (yes Scott Ross I know you have been talking around this issue respectfully for years) or we need to also “walk out” on the VES and make sure our limited energies and resources, and the awards and acknowledgements the studio clients do value, are not wasted on an organization that is only capable of self congratulation to a shrinking industry in crisis.

    Dave, VFX soldier, fellow artists, let me know what you think !

    • S says:

      I agree with you 100%. As a current VES member, I think the VES is a bit misguided. The whole “Pat each other on the back” mentality is growing old and I am not the only VES member that thinks this. This a group of our peers and mentors and right now the majority of the memberships are artists like you and me. We have different priorities that the members of the board do not have. The VES is an organization that is currently formed and has the right connections to move us forward. The VES should become our guild and we should change these stupid bylaws.

      Since Jeff’s email I have been thinking about writing him personally regarding my viewpoints. The VES is at a time where it needs to evolve or it will eventually dissolve. The younger generation is the future of the VES and we want it to be more than what it is now. Let’s do something about it now.

      • Ymir says:

        The VES is what it is, and isn’t what it isn’t. I know a lot of people would like it to morph into something they want because it would give them an instant membership of the organization they would like to create. Re-read the bylaws. It can’t happen. For the VES would have to dissolve and go through a series of actions laid out in the by-laws of how to disburse assets, funds, etc. And then you would be where you are now, starting a union/guild/trade association from the ground up and you’ve killed off anything you already have.

        Look, if you don’t want to be in the VES, nobody’s forcing you. If you don’t feel you’re getting your dues’ worth, don’t re-up. It’s really that simple. But the only way the organization is going to even come close to meet your needs is to be involved and participate. Run for the board of directors. Find out what else is going on. Yes, fire off an email to Jeff. Fire off one to Eric. They welcome all comments and input.

      • Vfx friend says:

        Ymir where do you get your zen insiights? You sound like a parrot who”s spent some time lottering behind the tenured Chair. Yes , it is what it is and it isnt what it isnt. It is an organisation led by self promoters repping companies overseas and it isn’t a collective that really wants to level the playing field by promoting the interests of fair trade.

  90. Reposting RepCard's post from a different thread says:

    Sign a rep card on Pi Day!

    On March 14th (Pi Day, 3.14) fill out and send in a union rep card. Get a co-worker to do the same. Pass out as many rep cards to co-workers as you can.

    It’s a useful and positive Union action without a strike or walkout.

    They can be sent to either IATSE’s west coast office or the TAG office.

    http://animationguild.org/repcard/

    -Mailing Address-
    1105 N Hollywood Way
    Burbank, CA 91505
    attention Steve Kaplan

  91. [...] el 4 de marzo llamada “Life of Pi Day”, pero no se ha concretado el plan a cabalidad y VFX Soldier no ha endorsado la idea aún. Como ya informamos VES se ha unido a la causa y se ha comprometido a [...]

  92. People please. A walk out day is NOT the solution. As many have said, doing a walk out day will ONLY affect the VFX houses, and not the studios. A better solution is for us to put together a town hall meeting for us to gather and discuss our issues in an intelligent and thoughful way. Then we can start to mobilize and hopefully FINALLY form a Union, which will then put pressure on the VFX houses to form a trade organization to blunt the studios subsidies problem..

    • stowaway says:

      I think I agree – we all have regular walk-out days at the big 8. They’re called Holidays. A single day would be completely ineffective.

      I think you’re right, we need to form a NEW union around the issues we’re actually concerned about, not join the seemingly impotent and out-of-touch VFX-IATSE who’s only focus seems to be issues that (working at one of the big 8) seem trivial or non-existent.

      • S says:

        I don’t know about you, but I rarely get a holiday. I am always stuck at work when all my friends in other industries are at home. Would be nice to have a 3 day weekend.

      • stowaway says:

        @S, sorry to hear that! I’m on the front end, so maybe I’m just not as in touch with this aspect of things?

        I work at a “big 8″ facility and I get most holidays and 2 weeks or so at the end of the year. I’ve not once been encouraged to work unpaid overtime (in fact it’s highly discouraged), have 401K, and pretty decent benefits.

        Occasionally I have to work one, but I feel like I get at least every other Holiday, and I’m paid double when I have to work one.

      • S says:

        Oh believe me, I don’t work those unpaid. Although technically I am unpaid because of the RH mess. I have worked at most of the big players and it is rare to not work a holiday. Only ones we get off these days are Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years and July 4. Too many times am I asked to come in on Memorial Day, Labor Day, MLK day, Presidents Day and those are “company holidays”.

        I wish the producers would just schedule this stuff accordingly and quit expecting us to give up our lives for them. There is no need for the to constantly factor OT into the production equation. Stop making us do a 6 month project in 2 months. Stop constantly having us come in on Saturdays. I did Saturdays for 6 months straight before. The madness has to stop and it will only stop with us.

    • queenbee says:

      that “subsidy problem” keep a lot of good folk employed

      • VFX_reckoning says:

        Just be patient. This doesn’t mean everyone outside of the states are going to lose their jobs. If the stability of the industry comes from the UK, Californians, including myself will move there. If it comes from the U.S. then you can move here. Stability is the most important thing right now.

      • meinvan says:

        @VFX_reckoning – sadly its not quite that simple for non US artist to move to LA, or the US in general, in particular LA. US immigration laws are some of the worst in the world, and if you are one of the lucky people getting a work visa, you are sponsored by a company. What does that mean again; if you are fired you have two weeks to find a new company to take over sponsorship and keep you employed (in a stff position), if you want a pay raise – you have no leverage as you cant just leave the company – w.o leaving the country. And not even mentioned in all of this is the horrendous amounts of money you have to pay for everything visa related….i could go on, but i think you get the point.

  93. vfxscrub says:

    I will just leave this here. Don’t know if it warrants it’s own post but it’s another good step i feel.

  94. confused and bitter says:

    can someone fill me in please? didn’t R&H greatly benefit from tax incentives in Canada?.. didn’t they ship hundreds of jobs to India where labor rights are not exactly written in bold type? If you guys condense this down to “blame the subsidies” than this movement will quickly lose it’s momentum. It’ll be LA vs the rest….

    • Ymir says:

      No, they did not benefit. The studios benefitted. R&H (and others) only had to go through the expense of opening up new offices, outfitting and staffing them, to do the work for the same money.

    • S says:

      Yes I am in LA and I do not want this to be about LA vs the rest of the world. The subsidies is just one part of the issue. I fully support equal working conditions and opportunities for artists in other countries.

      But let’s look at RH. They clearly were the leaders in opening facilities world wide to cut their costs. I believe they may have been the first studio to open a division in India. Yet they are still bankrupt. Other studios are hurting as well. Pixomundo is just another example.

      The film studios are not giving money to the fx vendors to open these doors in foreign countries. The money comes from within. Now you have more people to keep employed in multiple countries. It is very hard to get that amount of work to keep everyone busy and employed. This effects the studios long term and the artists in all locations. It just exacerbates the freelance mentality of kicking people to the curb when your project is done. Doesn’t matter whether you are in Canada, UK, or US.

      And now Framestore is opening in Montreal after just letting a bunch of people go in the UK. The business model is a mess. This will eventually hurt Framestore as well and cause them to import artist to Montreal and then let them go when money and projects no longer go away.

      Granted this is part of the subsidy thing, but look at how it effects the companies and the artists.

      • confused and bitter says:

        thanks S.
        i wouldn’t want it to become california vs the rest and I’m all up for equal working conditions. that goes without saying. what bugs me though is that some of those comments here clearly state that all they want is the jobs to come back to LA they lost (amongst other reason) due to bloated companies and questionable management. it has a weird undertone hearing americans wanting the world to change for their own good.
        of course I want better working conditions and i guess the key word is sustainability for everyone.

        I want things to change (like everyone else) and the only way to achieve that would be to unionize in a literal sense. this won’t be achieved if you hear people chanting “california ueber alles” (yes, I am exaggerating here).

      • S says:

        When I worked in Vancouver last year, I was surprised to see that most of my coworkers were not from Canada. They were from UK, France and Germany. I barely knew any Canadians at all.

        I asked the Londoners, why they were here and their response was that there were no more jobs in UK and that is partially because they can’t compete with the Canadian tax incentives.

        This is just the tipping of the iceberg though. I got to see what is was like working abroad and then I found out some companies were again breaking their own labor laws just to survive. Not paying proper wages and skirting overtime. They didn’t see a dime of those tax breaks. It just skips over them and goes to Hollywood. That is not right.

  95. Greg Epstein says:

    can we get off the union talk and focus on what LA has to do to keep VFX in LA. A union is not the answer. VFX should have formed one 15-20 years ago and that ship has sailed. When the DIgital era started the companies were paying everybody so much money and every artist was jumping from one studio to the next and getting paid more money. The artists all felt the gravy train would never stop or was only looking to the next job because they new they could make more money. Colleges started to put out artist and the industry start to get people who had a degree in VFX. Now the creates a supply and demand. More supply then demand scenario. That is when the people who were jumping from job to job started to complain that they needed a union because the students getting out of college had some chops, not practical experience but understood what needed to be done and were accelerating faster then the old dude who was sitting on their laurels and not bettering themselves(cry union)

    Half the people on this thread are wasting there energy trying to get a union together. all that is going to do is push the studios the other way and run even further from LA.

    Bottom line is the almighty $$.

    Give the studios a discount and they will come back. Get Los Angeles to give some tax incentive and most of it will come back. Studios are running a business. give them a reason to come back. We all do it when we go buy something online. we go to the website that gives us the product the cheapest.
    Currently that is Vancouver, 6-7 years ago it was London. Lets point the finger in the direction of Los Angeles’ Mayor or the Governor to do something to get the the whole film business back.

    There current incentive plan has some hurdles and hoops to jump through, it is ridiculous.We do not need to offer as much as all the other places. Remember why the film business moved here in the first place.
    Our weather is amazing!!! we can shoot almost 48-50 weeks a year out doors.

    Lets give the studios something to chomp on that is appetizing and they will come back!!!

    • overit says:

      LA vs the world… oh yeah. we’re all in this together….not

    • Goodman B says:

      Good luck getting the community behind that. Wrong mesage

    • A union is completely useless if ... says:

      Greg, you’re right. A union is completely useless if …
      1. You don’t care about healthcare
      2. You don’t want residuals
      3. You don’t mind working infinite OT for free

      In other words, a union is completely useless to a perfectly healthy student out of college who loves to work for free, or better yet, free pizza.

      And then, you start a family, have to deal with high blood pressure, need some medical care, have to pay the hospital when your kids are born, and working infinite OT for free doesn’t seem to pay the mounting bills.

      You seem to misunderstand the purpose of a union. A union isn’t there to protect the “old dude who was sitting on their laurels and not bettering themselves (cry union)”. A union is there to provide portable healthcare, that lasts for up to 12 months after you lose your job or the vfx house you are working for goes bankrupt. A union is there to bargain for residuals on your behalf, and put them into your pension. A union is there to make sure you get compensated fairly for OT.

      Furthermore, your proposal to escalate the subsidy war is going in the wrong direction, in my opinion.

      • Reality says:

        How do you sell the idea of joining an international union to someone working in a country where access to healthcare is implied just by living there?

        You’re looking at this from a very U.S.-centric perspective, which is exactly why many non-U.S.-based artists are eyeing the events and emotions of the past week or so with so much skepticism.

      • Jen says:

        @Reality – How do you sell the idea of joining an international union to someone working in a country where access to healthcare is implied just by living there?

        OK. If artists worldwide don’t care about benefits, how about a share of the immense profits that they generate? How about a quarterly check where each artist receives a share of residuals?

      • Reality says:

        See, that and base standards on working hours, allowable OT, etc. are the kinds of things that are likely to readily translate internationally, but I have yet to hear *anyone anywhere* propose any kind of a union arrangement that isn’t completely U.S.-centric (i.e. centered around portable pension, and health benefits).

      • Greg Epstein says:

        Hey union is completely useless if

        what company are you working for with no OT, that is illegal in California.

        Who has received residuals in the digital era. Should have been started 20 years ago.

        Get VES to get off their butts and do something about healthcare instead of saying we looked into it but it is expensive so you have Obama care. NIce!!! there are over 5000 members in VES if they could get a group plan it has to be cheaper then someone paying on their own.

        It is a business and you have to do something to lure the studios back. Unionizing is definitely not the answer

    • stowaway says:

      Not a huge fan of this tone, in fact I kind of hate it. I don’t think this is a message most pro’s can get behind.

      I want VFX studios in other countries to thrive as much as I want the ones here to thrive. I have many friends and colleagues in London, BC, etc. I just want a level playing field and a fair market.

      The big-eight stand up against the big 6 and their demands for subsidies, agree on a maximum amount that will be done abroad, and work is awarded based on merit and the actual cost of its production. What we need is a trade union, not a cheerleading squad.

    • Jen says:

      Give the studios a discount and they will come back. Get Los Angeles to give some tax incentive and most of it will come back.

      Why? Montreal’s already offering 60%-off VFX artists. Are we supposed to offer 70%-off VFX artists? Why would taxpayers agree to that?

      • Escalating the subsidy war ... says:

        Jen has a very good point. Escalating the subsidy war is not the answer. While 70% subsidies would be appealing to Hollywood studio executives, public funding of the film business would likely mean reducing funding for public schools and increased taxes. Just look at recent history.

    • VFXLady says:

      Los Angeles cannot give out tax incentives. How is LA supposed to compete with 60% tax breaks in BC or Louisianna? If they tried the California tax payers would take to the streets with pitchforks! Unlike other areas, the average LA resident isn’t impressed by the glamour of Hollywood, In fact, they sort of resent it. CA has never looked at Hollywood as a commodity, for better or worse. And in the end, why should CA provide incentives for VFX? It’s a step backwards and only perpetuates the problem.

      Thinking we need to fight for LA is the wrong way to look at it. We need to stand up for stability! Like I said in an earlier message, most artists who work in LA are NOT from LA and many are from overseas. They want to make art and have a family, it doesn’t have to be in LA. If the work is stable in Vancouver then folks can actually make a life there. But it’s subsidy driven. What if it wasn’t? What if none of us had to worry about our job being gone at the whim of politicians? Wouldn’t that benefit everyone in the long run?

  96. vfx_gal says:

    To start – I freelance at one of the big 8 in LA and it’s an honor and a privilege. That being said, there isn’t much we as artists can do to stop anything the studios do, but collectively, we do have some level of say in what our direct employers – vfx houses do. We should be putting the pressure on our bosses to stand up and do something – whether it be by sitting down with the other houses and start serious conversations about a trade organization or by unionizing and listing our demands that way. I’m not partial to the union idea, myself, but everyone is in agreement that SOMETHING has to be done and I would go along with it if that if it meant progress. And for those who worry about hurting our vfx houses, I’m with you. I, too, have great loyalty to the hand that feeds me, but please do not forget the fact that our employers can only extend their loyalty to us so long as it is profitable to do so. Otherwise, they fall and more people are out of work. If nothing happens, we’ll all watch it go down in slow-motion… or not so slow-motion in the light of recent news.

  97. Brian Davis says:

    Yeah, a walkout is a bad idea at this phase. We need to see where the VFX houses stand on this issue. I suspect that many of them will support us. Once the workers realize their employers won’t be mad if they organize, then we can move forward without people being afraid they will lose their jobs. There would be nothing worse than scheduling a walkout, and 50% of the artists don’t participate. The Academy Awards protest was on a Sunday, and we had only a fraction of the LA vfx artists there. If all the artists at DWA or Disney showed up, there would have been thousands of people, not hundreds. I saw only 10-20 DWA people there, out of the hundreds of artists. Many people are supportive, but not active. They talk about support around the water cooler, but they don’t feel comfortable walking out or picketing. It’s a lot easier for people to sign a pettition, or join an organization. Not everyone is willing to walk out on their employer. Especially if it’s their only source of income for their families, or if their employer treats them well. The hardest people to sell on this, are the people who are still employed. If someone has been at ILM or Dreamworks or Sony for 10 years, and are very successful, they aren’t going to want to rock the boat. You need to at least *try* to get the vfx facilities on board first.

    I honestly think the best course of action is to get the facilities to support the artists forming an international trade guild. Get those facilities to agree to only hire artists in good standing with that organization. Even if a couple smaller companies refuse, it will still put pressure on their artists. Knowing if they choose to work at one of the “non-guild” houses, they may have problems getting work at a big guild house later. This is what we need to establish before we try to tackle anything else. Getting *everyone* signed up. Membership cards, membership rolls, etc. Once we get that in place, then we can function as a whole. Then we can tackle issues like subsidies, pay, benefits, residuals, strikes, etc. First we need to get our employers to back us, and then get everyone on board. For every person online posting about this stuff, there are a great number of artists who are not yet involved, not convinced, and not really very actively involved yet. People in Canada and India probably aren’t convinced it will be a good thing for them. So we need to start small, so it doesn’t scare anyone away. Ideally we focus on things like pay minimums, OT standards, and stuff like that first. Things everyone would support. Having people paid peanuts doesn’t help them, and it doesn’t help you.

  98. Robert says:

    Instead of a walkout, what about a work-to-rule? You do your work hours and then you go home. Let the work get done without any overtime, or stress , or any such bullshit. Or let it not get done without any overtime, or stress, or any such bullshit.

    If you’re worried about losing your job (call me chicken, but the times I do have a job, that’s something I constantly worry about) it’s not something you can get sacked for, and it absolutely will have repercussions. Work 9-5, go home, see your family.

    Personally, and like many people here, I don’t think just outright declaring war will make things any better.

    On the issue of subsidies, I don’t have any solution there. I think there actually is enough work to go around even without them. Even with the eastern VFX houses, and the Canadas and however many newbie students appearing on the scene. There are more VFX films, there is more extensive and complicated VFX to be done, and we’re all working ourselves to the bone to get it done in less time with less people. The work is there, but nobody’s being paid to do it.

    As VFXSI has pointed out, I think the VFX houses need to talk. We all work together anyway, so it should be feasible. The heads need a solution that ensures the sustainability of the industry. If that involves throwing subsidies out the window, that’s what we do. If it means allowing subsidies but doing something else we haven’t thought out, we do that. An actual solution cannot be decided on a message board, so I don’t think this is the place to make these decisions that will affect everyone. But we can call for discussions to happen. For finding solutions.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents, if worth so much.
    Carry on.

  99. vfxhobo says:

    One thing to keep in mind for those of you being paid legally through W2’s is that your employer has the right to require OT work for proper compensation. It’s only those being paid 1099, flat rate, or some such other illegal practice, that will have a leg to stand on. If you are being paid legally, then you cannot refuse OT without good cause, or unless you are not getting the correct amount of hours off between shifts. Just something to bear in mind.

    • Robert says:

      I don’t know about the US, but shouldn’t there be a legal limit as to how much overtime they can request from you?

      • vfxhobo says:

        I believe that as long as the OT pay scale is being observed, and your health is not in jeopardy, it is not legal for an employee to refuse to work OT. Caveat: If you’ve been working 16-20 hour days, day after day, you can’t possibly get enough sleep, which is why, here in CA, you are legally allowed at least 8 hours between shifts so you can sleep.

  100. vfx_sup says:

    As someone who has been in the industry for 10+ years I’ve seen a lot of changes over that time. Some good, some bad. I’ve watched vfx jobs spread out across the globe to India, China, New Zealand, etc. I’ll try to keep this succinct because the thread is very long already.

    Anyone who positions this discussion/protest/conversation as a rallying cry against global economic policy and subsidies should join one of the “Occupy” movements instead and let us deal with the real, practical issues facing our industry. Look, the genie is out of the bottle. It’s a global industry, like it or not. The industry evolved in a way that work was spread around the globe for a ton of socio economic reasons. Whether it’s “fair” or not, you aren’t going to change the world and create some kind of magical “level” playing field where everyone competes equally, with the same tax breaks, working conditions, or policies. Sorry kids, that’s not the world we live in and it’s never going to be. And Dave, you can talk about the WTO until you are blue in the face and start lawsuits and spend the rest of your life chasing what may be a very noble and ambitious dream to solve the worlds problems. Let me know how that goes. In the meantime, we (collective) can do some specific and tangible things to make our industry better.

    As many have said, we need a union/trade guild/representation of some kind with TEETH. It HAS to be global, and it has to consist of a majority of artists to have any leverage with the studios. I think that’s achievable. Artists around the world working on films at the Big 8 VFX shops could unite around this. And like any craft in the film business once that union/trade guild has the members and the leverage they can improve our conditions. THEN we can set standards for bidding to protect the vfx houses from undercutting each other. We can set standards for OT and base pay scales. We can demand certain working conditions and treatment. Walking out on your job for a day now without that is pointless. You might as well just pick a day at random and not come in. It will have the same long term effect.

    All it takes is for artists around the world to be angry enough, to be motivated enough, and to recognize that as a group WE have the power to control the primary ingredients that drive the Hollywood money machine. If we can leverage that power we are unstoppable. If we spend that time bickering about subsidies and eating each other then the Studios win. We remain divided and easily conquered.

    Please. Think about it. Stop arguing about whether the work is in Los Angeles, China, or Vancouver. You are doing exactly what the Studios want, which is pitting yourselves against each other instead of uniting against them to get your fair share of what every other trade craft in the industry already has. This isn’t about subsidies. This isn’t about moving the work back to Los Angeles. It’s about leveraging your power as artists GLOBALLY. Any other “solution” is doomed to fail.

  101. chris says:

    I’ve read every comment, i read snide remarks, inane comments, complete disagreements on all topics, and sometimes lack of business sense.

    Sure you might “feel” better because you have a green icon, but that don’t pay the rent.

    Until you actually BAND TOGETHER with at least, (or only) ONE common goal that you all will stand by, through thick or thin, you don’t have a hope of permanently effecting change.

    You ain’t there yet, not after reading these comments, not by a long chalk. Sorry to write that, but someone has to say it, and you are running out of time.

    Remember …a year ago – vfx Oscar winner “Hugo”
    Remember …Matte World Digital?
    Remember …Pixomodo?

    • VFXLady says:

      Rome wasn’t built in a day. ;) I have to disagree that we can’t discuss and debate. Inane comments and all. They should all be heard. This is how we whittle it down to the most important points.

      Reading through all the comments has made me rethink a walkout, and I find I agree that the VFX houses themselves need to start talking to one another. Our sups, our CFOs, need to sit down and talk. Scott Ross is trying to do this for years, maybe now his next dream can become a reality.

      • stowaway says:

        “I have to disagree that we can’t discuss and debate. Inane comments and all. They should all be heard. This is how we whittle it down to the most important points.”

        Couldn’t have said it better.

    • chris says:

      I dont have a problem with you discussing it. Far from it. But a WHOLE year as passed, which is why I mentioned “Hugo”.

      What I’m saying is, what I’m asking is, where is the plan?

      Because without one, and one soon, it’ll be next year, and then you all will still be no better off, in fact worse off.

      Time, unfortunately, waits for no man, and neither will further changes in this industry.

  102. Andrei Savu says:

    Global is important but one day will not have any practical effect. I think if the VFX in studios and countries that are affected by subsidies, long hours and low pay should do it for longer than 1 day. If everyone sees the difference between the top VFX not being made vs the outsourced work considered high end but treated and cheap labor then you may have the true colors rise to the surface.

  103. nane says:

    Rome is gone. None of the existing organisations has much potential. How could it be done and who could build this ?

    • VFX Producer for 20 yrs says:

      R&H was formed by John Hughes, Pauline T’so and Keith Goldfarb – after they had all come from the failed Robert Abel & Associates.

      Seems like history needs to repeat itself with the best and brightest from R&H now …

  104. VFX_UK says:

    vfx_sup makes complete sense.

    A walkout is not the answer, this needs to be started by the artists and driven by the VFX houses.

    Fixed bids and underbidding each other in order to survive is what puts everyone at risk. This has to stop and can only stop if the houses pulls together, and do something to protect themselves. Of course it’s a competitive market but there needs to be some control on how low things should go.

    Bill Westenhofer said back stage that you can do anything in VFX now, the industry and tech has reached a point where the artistry is coming through. The playing field is levelling out, the skills and artistic talent is spread far and wide across the globe, so this has to involve everyone.

    Having parity amongst VFX houses would be an even better incentive to push this artistry even more. Wouldn’t it be a better world if bids were based on the creative quality rather than what is the cheapest deal. There was a time when this was the case and we need to get back there.

    This industry needs to regain it’s integrity across the globe but it can only be done through the VFX houses talking to each other, even if it’s just to set a new bidding standard that protects everyone. So we can healthily compete, but against quality not cost.

    Its reached a ridiculous state, where VFX houses are forced to make economical decisions that place themselves and their team in jeopardy. But we’ve been bullied into al this and we’ve let it happen.

    Collectively there is a possibility to take control of this we just need the balls to do it.

  105. Nick says:

    A simple step that is do-able now is to STOP WORKING UNPAID OVERTIME. If you are working for free that is your problem. If you are making $35/hr negotiated on a 40/hr work week and work 60 hrs you are actually working for $23/hr. I’ve read a lot of accounts where people worked 70 hrs/week for 6 weeks with no OT. STOP IT NOW! We’ve all done the occasional crunch with no OT and that’s your decision and choice. If it means getting the project out the door to help your smaller vfx house then cool. But if you are consistently working for free over long periods of time for a major studio then CUT IT OUT TODAY.

  106. Scott Ross says:

    VFX law needs to think this one through a bit better. Work stoppage for one day will harm the VFX facility but will not impact the motion picture studio one iota. The VFX facility doesn’t need to be harmed further than it already is.

    • wb says:

      Scott
      Seems like the VFX facilities are not very close to artists these days.
      I don’t remember of any VFX house to stand up and come with solutions for the actual situation inside VFX.

      • VFX_reckoning says:

        That’s very true, everyplace I’ve worked, there as been a firm line between “I’m upper management” and “You’re just an artist” The HR side and the producers love to keep those boundaries for some reason.

    • vfx oldster says:

      Actually, if you look at vfxlaw’s tweets after that one above, he is actually calling for a strike, not just a one-day walkoff. I think initially people assumed he meant one day, thus the title of this blog post.

      • chris says:

        VFX_reckoning, of course they like to keep those boundaries in place.

        The mindset is very simple,( it’s not a personal attack, it’s the reality of what is specifically happening.) the boundaries are kept in place,
        a) as to delineate whom gets the better treatment
        b) whom is seen as expendable.
        c) and when that expandability is discussed

        One can discuss it without having to regard them as people. Nor regard the consequences of one’s actions, with any emotional entanglement.

        As the real issue is, for the upper management, where do we move on to. That alone dominates the discussions.

  107. VFXLady says:

    Ok guys, sorry if this is rudimentary, but if we want the VFX Studios to start talking here’s how we might help. (Please correct any mistakes!)

    The “Big 6″ Film Studios:
    Paramount, Warner Bros, Columbia, Walt Disney/Touchstone, Universal, and 20th Century Fox.

    The “Big 8″ VFX Houses:
    ILM, Weta, Sony, Rhythm & Hues, Digital Domain, MPC, Framestore, and DNeg

    Obviously getting ILM or Sony to the table will be more difficult since they are owned by Film Studios. (Disney owns ILM and Columbia is owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment) But for those of us that work at a “Big 6″, what do you think about helping Scott Ross out and start urging our sups and CFOs to talk to one another? Write them, let them know how we feel. Support the talks. I think it can be done in a creative and friendly way, showing solidarity and support.

    • VFXLady says:

      Pardon, for those of us who work at a “Big 8″ meaning one of the VFX Houses listed.

      • vfx_gal says:

        I love where the article’s thread is going. Opening dialogue on a trade organization to protect ALL of us is a great way to go. How can we get that campaign started?

  108. Step1 says:

    The first step is quite simple. Start with an “Expression of Interest”

    Web-page. A big green button. One question: Are you interested in VFX workforce issues?

    If yes, click the button, register your interest with an email (confidentiality assured)

    That way:

    1. we know how many people we have thinking about these issues,
    2. we don’t create a LA vs the World distinction (we’re all VFX!),
    3. It’s not tying anyone to anything yet,
    4. You have a way of keeping in touch as the stance and message is refined (as is happening on these pages) – and defined.

    Simples.

  109. vfx oldster says:

    VES is calling for its California members to lobby the governor and state legislature for incentives. Says California needs to take this action now, until such time as all tax incentives are a thing of the past.

    • qualityVSquantity says:

      Yes I received this letter from VES. Once again they’re not listening to us and I believe they’re doing what’s in their best interest. A “strike” or “one day” walkout?! No way, lets fight subsidies with subsidies and pit the artists against each other. Country vs country, they’ll never unify if the LA artist start desperately writing to their governor.

      I cannot believe the VES proposed this. I think we can all agree, that for the sake of our industry, they should be writing a letter to the big 6 studios! Not the government for more subsidies! It’s like encouraging bad behavior with more bad behavior. That society has a bigger agenda and I hope you all realize this…

      And for the record, I work in LA. I’ve worked in various locations around the world. I am thinking of US artists all around the world. This is OUR problem… And until WE start thinking of each other, nothing will be resolved.

      • vfx oldster says:

        I agree. I was a bit surprised by it too, but I guess I understand the sentiment. One issue is that what if most of the California shops go out of business before the legality of incentives can be successfully challenged. The other issue is that many international members would be alienated by a VES call to end all subsidies, so this is the most politically neutral thing they could think of. (Although I don’t think those international members would be very happy if California does join the subsidies race.) It would be nice if the threat of California subsidies could be used to try to get all the locations to agree to limit them.

      • vfx oldster says:

        From looking at all the twitter activity, turns out it was definitely not politically neutral. International members are expressing anger about VES using their dues to advocate for CA subsidies to “steal my job.” Very interesting. Maybe it would be easier to get everyone on board with eliminating all the incentives instead?

      • Ashes says:

        @vfx oldster, I’ve heard the “steal our jobs” thing as well. Interesting that when they have tax incentives it’s to help their industry, when California wants to enact those same incentives it’s stealing their jobs.

        You have it exactly right, get rid of all the incentives, it’s bad for everyone.

      • Ymir says:

        ^^^^^THIS!^^^^^

        Thank you, vfx oldster, from another vfx oldster.

      • speak freely says:

        It is a business and you need to make money, The VES is listening to what the big 6 studios want. TAX INCENTIVES Not some wimpy letter that says please keep work in LA and feel sorry for us. but understand it is going to cost more.

    • stowaway says:

      I have two words for the VES letter: F*CK. THAT.

    • Kevin says:

      VFX facilities doing their own films is that those films is fine. Those films need distribution and marketing, which is done by the studios.

      I’m hopeful that Netflix and Amazon will joint HBO as studios that hire top notch VFX vendors and increase the demand.

  110. bombaysunshine says:

    I am a Senior Supervisor at a large facility. Our management tries hard to pay fairly, treat our employees with respect and not break labor laws. But as the saying goes, shit rolls downhill. The Studios grind us down on bids, and regularly refuse to work with us if bids are above a 5% profit margin. They know they are doing it and they don’t care. There are 10 houses lined up to take the work for every house that fails, all at the same bargain basement rates. In fact our day rate has dropped 20% in the last 3 years.

    The studios ONLY care about the bottom line, and they usually don’t really care if the vfx look crappy. Its the production team and our Artists that care about that, not the studio. We are constantly told by the studio “we don’t have a budget for this film, but we will make it up to you on the next one” Of course, That day never comes. We are also told constantly – just price the shots so that we hit xxx bottom line – you can re-bid once the plates come in. Hah. What a joke. Just try submitting a change order… it’s anal rape with no lube.

    These houses going out of business, it’s mostly a combination of bad timing, bad management, and bad bidding.

    This post is mostly for the whiners about “illegal subsidies” – good luck to getting rid of tax credits – what a laugh. THAT ain’t gonna happen, so suck it up and get with the program called reality.

    The rants I have read on here and other sites the last few days… the people waving the US flag and pounding their chests need to get over themselves. They sound like idiots. If you can’t deal with it, move to Marin County and grow pot instead.

    The studios couldn’t give a rat’s ass about your US flag…They are the mega mega corps, run by accountants. Those assholes get good seats at all the award shows and got congratulated (and envied) by all their cronies on Sunday night. They get to ogle some actress’s boobs. THAT’S what they care about – getting their picture taken next to Ang Lee and Ang Lee’s Oscar…not “fair payment for product” They are laughing all the way to the bank.

    As for the earlier comment about forcing US production to use US vfx houses? Uhhh. Way to fold up the thin trickle of US production still happening… duh! If you think runaway production is an issue now, wait til you try enforcing that kind of mandate.

    The only chance you have of saving your jobs for awhile is unionization of LA, Vancouver and London NOW. Not in 2 years. But in 2 months… THAT will cause the Studios to sit up and take notice. And start budgeting their shows properly. Cause they wont have anywhere else to go.

    Yet.

    Vancouver’s tax credits (WHICH ARE NOT A SUBSIDY) won’t last forever.. The government in BC is grumbling lately. But I can guarantee you Vancouver only has another 5 years left anyway.

    I hate to break it to you but we are NOT our grandparents – most of us won’t get the luxury of having 1 career in our life time anymore. In the realities of today’s global economy, constant financial and environmental upheavals, and evolving technology, it’s more likely that you will have 3 different careers in your lifetime. We live in an accelerating world, and if you are smart, you will keep your head out of the sand, and be watching out for those changes.

    You don’t want to move to Vancouver? Then go back to school. Cause, I hate to break it to you – LA is pretty much done… Over. Finito. There are a few houses with deep pockets that can survive because of their reputation and level of artistry. But even they have all opened shops in Vancouver.

    SPI, ILM, DD, MPC, R&H, and on and on…they went up there 2-3 years ago thinking they would send 20% of their shots and now they are sending at least 50%. In another two years, they will be sending 100% if the tax credit holds out.

    And when the work does leave Vancouver? It won’t be going back to LA – that’s the last place it will go.

    All those roto and junior artists in India and China – guess what guys? They are getting MUCH better…. they will be doing world class work in a few more years and taking 50-75% of the work in the entire industry. Slave labor wages, pirated software, and a complete disregard for your hurt feelings will make sure of that…

    The writing is on the wall, and if you are smart, you will be socking your pennies away for a rainy day in Vancouver.

    OR… you will be learning to speak Hindi…

    Namaste People!

    • vfx_sup says:

      As a Supervisor at one of the “Big 8″ I can say that your post is one of the most direct and honest I’ve read on here. It’s harsh, and to the point, but for the most part very, very reflective of the current state of the Industry. I don’t know that I 100% agree that it’s “Vancouver or Bust”, and I don’t want to flame the Canada vs LA mentality because that’s a bit simple-minded. But everything you said cuts to the point and has more than a kernel of truth to it. Substitute Vancouver for Weta for London for Sydney, and it’s all the same scenario.

      The work is not going back to LA, and the subsidies around the world aren’t going away. California doesn’t have the political stomach or the public support to fund the VFX industry. Keep up that pointless dialogue and you might as well go back to school to change careers because you just don’t understand where this industry is or where it’s going. And please understand, I’m not saying that is a good thing or passing judgement. That’s just the way it is. I was born and grew up in California. And I worked there about 10% of my total career when I was first starting out. This is a global industry now, and if you’re fighting for the work to stay in California you don’t realize you already lost that fight about 5 years ago.

      Read bombays post again if you really want to know the truth of what’s going on in our industry. That’s it in a nutshell people. That’s what we’re up against. Unionize now, get representation, or it’s over. The work will all be in India/China within 5 years with the exception of skeleton crews of supervisors. And honestly, even if we Unionize I’m not convinced the majority of the work won’t go there anyway. We’re fighting a war when the first 5 years of the battle have already been lost because we didn’t show up to fight.

    • Tyler Durden says:

      The best comment here all day. I do think you underestimate how much Unionizing the big studios could slow the flow of work to Asia though. With a Union backing you, you are free to refuse to train a person to do your job. I have friends who have worked in India and China recently and the stories they tell me… they are not as far along as you think. They take jobs they can’t do. Fail to deliver Transformers 5 and see if Transformers 6 heads to your way. And not be a jerk, but frankly, because of cultural differences, many people are not eager to work with the goof balls in India or a fascist dictatorship in China — neither of which has any respect for I.P. or copyright.

    • VFX_Reckoning says:

      If that’s it in a nut shell, then it’s our only chance. Unionize. Now!

    • VFXLady says:

      I respect what you are saying and maybe you’re right. But to say junior artists in India, China or ANYwhere for that matter with be doing 50-75% of the work in a few years, I just don’t buy it. Unless 50-75% of the work doesn’t involve proprietary software and highly advanced pipelines. (AKA the upcoming Hulk films, Avengers, Iron Man, 20,000 Leagues, Transformers 4)

      Any maybe (probably) the Studio Execs could care less about quality, but they do care about awards, no? Benjamin Button, Hugo, Life of Pi, these were marquee projects at their respective VFX houses and had pipelines created around them.

      “OR… you will be learning to speak Hindi…” I have to say this feels like more of the same scare tactics that we have been hearing since the inception of VFX, I’ve been hearing it since art school! If talented artists are “that” replaceable and quality had such little value, these artist would have been replaced long ago, and we would never have had a Life of Pi.

      I respect your candor, and you give a lot to think about. Maybe Unions are the answer. But I just hope all this “you’re a super replaceable artist” talk doesn’t continue to cause artists to act scared and jump at each other like some have been doing here. My job, no MY job! Let’s make it OUR job and OUR industry.

    • vfxguy says:

      Nice to hear someone that actually knows what they’re talking about around here for a change.

    • VFX GUI says:

      Awesome. To the point and right on the money.

  111. stranger says:

    VES panics over being out of buissnes as well.
    Might check with them at version 10.0 maybe 2.0 is useless.
    They never were a global voice and wont be.

    • confused and bitter says:

      what exactly are they doing anyways? (besides some shoulder patting and receiving those membership fees)

      • Anthony says:

        At a rough guess – mismanaging one of the last major opportunities for us to organise and transform into a proper profession (like IT did a while ago)? Ah, yes, they also appear to be awfully effective at fragmenting the current support base and annoying everyone outside of California.

        If this call for increased subsidies gets any traction, we’re going to look like a bunch of lobbyists hunting for dollars instead of a group of professionals trying to find a way to manage our industry, and that’s going to work against us. Badly.

        Hell, if you wanted to pre-emptively flame out anything we could achieve, I couldn’t really think of a more effective wedge to be honest. I don’t think VES are trying to do that, but FFS… subsidies. Really? Like, really??

    • Get Real Soldier says:

      + 1

  112. VFX_Boom says:

    I heard Rhythm and Hues just lost their soda machine privileges due to the whole Bankruptcy issue. Maybe NOW some of them will take action, sign a rep card, or who knows!!!!

  113. Time to Act says:

    When VFX sups are saying its time to unionize, then the time to unionize was 5 years ago. Fill out the damn cards and get them in the mail already. Games almost over, sign up and play or go home.

  114. stranger says:

    Sp what actually happens if you do? You tell your employer and they have to be nicer to you the next day?

  115. Sarah says:

    While some artists may think it’s only harming our company and yourselves (you have renders to kick off or worlds to paint) I implore you to think of the big message this would send to both the clients and those of you that are mismanaged to the point of exhaustion.

    I work in production in vfx and see the fuckery we are delivered from clients day in and out. Its the cost time quality pyramid that we all know and love: they want as much bang for their dollar as possible with the best quality. Yet having fixed bids in addition to underbidding from competitive studios and client notes means that project budget are next to impossible to manage from going into the red. I think having a 1 day or even 1 afternoon walk-off is a great idea. Show production in the big 6 have client calls everyday and if just for one day the clients have nothing to see it will send a message, but only if artists fron the big 6 pledge to participate and major studios like MPC , Weta and ILM start taking a stand for the artists and discussing this whole Oscar fiasco vocally.

  116. Scott Ross says:

    The problem with a walk out is that you will only be harming the VFX facility. The client, the Motion Picture studio won’t feel any inconvenience whatsoever. The delivery date on your project will not move, the studio will only demand that your employer, the VFX facility make you and your fellow employees work even more hours to ensure the delivery date. Do not shoot yourself in the foot.

  117. Scott Ross says:

    I have no horse in this race.

    I do not own a VFX facility, I am not a VFX supervisor worried about pissing off clients and being blackballed. I am not (as much as I have tried) a movie producer. I am not a studio executive (thank god). I am not a VES member. I belong to no Union.

    I am an individual that has spent the better part of my entire life managing large VFX companies. Contrary to what some might say, I do understand the current situation. In fact, given my unique position I believe that I see the situation very clearly. Given my actions, I believe that the rank and file see that I do.

    I implore you…. do not have a walk out. Not yet. Let a committee be formed to come up with a strategic plan.

    The passion is there. The problems are evident. The storm is brewing.

    But…. let’s make sure that we do not act out of pure passion. Let’s be strategic.

    Let’s win the war….. not the battle.

    • VFXLady says:

      Thank you Scott! This committee you speak of, who should be involved? Do we nominate and vote or are we talking about VFX upper tier folks like the “Big 8″ CFOs, CEOs etc.

      • Scott Ross says:

        no…. I believe it should be a small group of say 7… at most. An animator, a compositor, a software person, A CEO type, a producer, a VFX supervisor and me. I ‘d be more than happy to put that committee together and to chair it. VFX folks could be nominated and voted on line.
        just a thought.

    • confused and bitter says:

      I think Scott is right (although it was refreshing reading Sarahs previous post and i kinda agree with her)…. BUT as long this is a california centric ‘movement’ no one (from the outside) will join in – and hey, do you really expect us to? therefore any leverage will evaporate

      yes and tbh, what the VES does is just bloody pathetic. shame on you. I will cancel my membership

    • Caleb says:

      I totally understand your point Scott, and at any other time I would agree, but I think the time for more waiting while others “sort things out” is LONG over. I too have no real dog in this fight, I’ve already pissed people off. I too believe I see the situation clearly. From my perspective this is all 10+ years long over due. I was a trouble maker when I spoke about organizing or the community lacking the spine to do anything. Seems I may be wrong, I hope I am wrong. A strategic walk out is necessary to move this along. A walk out moves from “talk” and babble to, “We are serious and the time is now for everyone to get their shit together.”

      What is gained by waiting for some round table, and who knows how long that will take? NOW is the only time.

      Focused passion is good

      Lets win the battle AND the war.

  118. Mike B. says:

    You can’t demand an elimination of subsidies and unionize with IATSE. Those causes are at cross purposes.

    IA is pro incentives and lobbies hard for them. If you are all under the International’s umbrella, they won’t allow a single department to go counter to their message. Those of you that think you can have it both ways, must think IA will allow you to cherry pick the things you want to take from the union, while discarding the policies you don’t agree with.

  119. Vuks says:

    It’s amazing what a good nights sleep and thinking a bit more about this proposal can do to your decision making. At first I was ready to jump on board and support ANY action we put forward, but you know what, this is honestly a terrible idea. We need a better strategy, we need to show the studios we are not a bunch of reactive clowns but a well organized group of individuals who’s solidarity is tougher then the man of steel himself. Thank you reason for overriding passion for once…

  120. DivideAndConquer says:

    Something to consider and debate:

    If we target the studios as a group, they’ll respond as a group. And they’ll outlast us.

    When studios deal with vendors, they rely on the fact that vendors will compete with each other. That they’ll undercut each other. That they’ll stand aside while another vendor gets a raw deal, because vendors can’t afford to jeopardize their cash flow.

    Suppose we give them a taste of that medicine. Suppose we don’t act against all the studios; instead we pick just one. Everyone at the major VFX houses who is attached to that one studio’s projects stops working on them, indefinitely. We all know which studio has been the biggest antagonist recently — which studio has threatened to pull future work from an entire nation if they dared to release documents detailing past deals that were struck. And we all know it is shopping around some projects right now that it pulled from our friends. We could refuse to take on those projects. Employees at each vendor could draft a notice signed by a sizable majority of workers in the shop, informing heads of their companies that the workers are unwilling to contribute to those projects and so they should not be bid. Work could stop on the projects from that studio that you’re involved in at the moment. Not for one day. Indefinitely. The targeted studio will realize that its investment is suddenly a very risky one, whereas before it was a sure thing. Does anything spook investors more than unexpected risk?

    The other studios wouldn’t be likely to help the target, because they would fear putting their own investments in jeopardy. They’ll let the targeted studio take the heat. They’ll continue to pay the vendors for their projects that are still moving forward, keeping the vendors afloat. But they’ll know they are just as susceptible to the same tactic. Target our efforts, one studio at a time, and they’ll soon all understand that the workers hold the keys to the success of these investments. That we can turn a slam-dunk into a catastrophe unless they meet the standards of business conduct that we dictate. Perhaps then we’d have the leverage we need to do away with the current bidding system and switch to a business model that can generate substantial profit.

    But… if people walk away, there have to be conditions for their return to work. Reasonable, achievable ones that begin the process of change but don’t attempt to revolutionize the industry in one swoop. What would those conditions be? And with whom would the affected studio talk? Who are the representatives? Without the answers to those questions, a strike of any kind is meaningless.

    • Dank says:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divide_and_rule

      is gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into chunks that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. The concept refers to a strategy that breaks up existing power structures and prevents smaller power groups from linking up.

    • Dank says:

      Great idea

    • VFXLady says:

      I’ll just say it in case others may not know. Divide is talking about Warner Brothers.

    • VFX Producer for 20 yrs says:

      This would be a BRILLIANT tactic!!
      Unfortunately …

      a) Facilities around the world are starving for work right now. So “the studio that shall not be named” will have no problem finding someone to break ranks. And they wouldn’t have to go far. They are already in bed with a facility whose mandate is “we never say no” – their name rhymes with Slime Pocus.

      b) The VFX bidding model would still be broken with all of the other studios whilst you are excluding the one. So when/if the time came to renegotiate the model with them, why would they agree to something that does not exist with anyone else you deal with as a client?

      Unless it is an industry wide strike, demanding the same reasonable model of all studios, this change will never happen. As you noted in your first line, the studios are a group – it is the VFX community that is currently divided and conquered.

  121. Oz says:

    The sure thing is that we need to act not just talk and change the colour of our profile pictures, The blockbuster season is approaching fast so it will be a nice time to attract the general attention and apply real pressure on the studios.
    In the meantime It’s a good individual step to ask for a representation card ( I just ordered mine from the IATSE)

  122. A Voice says:

    Hey guys,

    We are not high school or college kids trying to ruin Hollywood by terrorizing studio shops for 1 day. We are professionals and we need to act like one. That begins with a functional organized unit. A lot of people say that unionizing won’t do much, but I have to say that it is all we have left! The alternative is to sit on the side and watch everything crumble around us. We should at least try! Some are asking, what about the international folks? I think it needs to start in LA first (the location where we can deal with the big studios directly). Then, when it gain momentum, we can start spreading the union effort internationally. I would love for it to start with support for Vancouver and London immediately, but we need to start small first and grow fast (internationally). We are having a problem just starting due to all the fears, but I think we are at a point were everyone had enough and the point of no return is fast approaching (FU Academy and VES for not doing enough to fix this industry).

    There’s only 1 solution for us to unionize quickly and that is the IATSE. Unless there is a better alternative, I think we should all join this group.

    If we are going to do something on “3.14”, it should be signing your rep card and mailing it in. Also get all your co-workers to sign it and mail it in together. It won’t take much effort and it will make a big impact. This will send someone to talk for all of us and if it doesn’t go well, then you can have your 1 or multiple day strike. Strike should only be used as a last resort. If you strike without organization, that is like trying fight a war without any strategic planning.

  123. Josef Bloomfield says:

    Whenever I talk to anyone outside the industry, they are astonished that we haven’t unionized yet. I don’t care for subsidies personally but I think they are somewhat tangential to getting us organized and trying to stop some of the crap that trickles down to us.

    Whether you are in Mumbai, Vancouver, London or LA, getting paid on time and fully for the work you’ve done at the rate you’ve agreed to is a basic right. Its mind boggling that in our industry we can push projects through bankrupt companies. The big 6 can write off the loans that fund us during bankruptcy, save on a month’s wages of stiffed workers, and still get a movie out that’s a box office hit but nets negative.

    So here’s a thought or two.

    Organizing needs unity and critical mass at each facility to succeed. Walkouts are divisive, a whole day’s pay is an issue for people living check by check ,and risks getting people singled out unless we have say, 200 per facility walking.

    Signing union cards is great first step but we need to build solidarity from the ground up on some common issues to successfully get through the process. If we want an effective union we need to be united and stay that way. Joining a union is not a groupon deal for negotiator.

    My suggestion. Let’s walk a few steps before we run a marathon together.

    If you are in California, you are entitled to two 15 minutes breaks and a lunch break. Use them. If you are not in California look for an equivalent opportunity to work to rule.

    Take your next afternoon break at 3:14 en masse. Quit out of your software package. Kill your renders for 15 minutes. Fill out your TPS report if you can’t bear to leave your desk. Otherwise stretch, grab a cigarette, a coffee or tea with your neighbors. Its a consistent time to talk about the issues affecting us. At some point someone representing us will need to talk to management with a coherent list of grievances. Some might fly, some might be rejected, or all of them will be rejected. But unless we build up that buy in, we can’t expect a union to negotiate effectively.

    If the 3:14 break works, add a morning and lunch break. If it doesn’t, regroup, and try something else.

  124. vfxmafia says:

    We could barely get them to walk in a circle for 5 minutes at Hollywood and Vine……..not only to get them to take a long lunch would would be unrealistic…not only strike
    for a day……..

    Come march 1rst……close to 1,000 people will be laid off between…..Dreamworks, DD, and R&H not to mention the people laid off in January……at Method and Pixo….

    so how the fuck do you expect 1,000 laid off fuckers to strike if they have no fucking jobs?

    THE VFX 10 COMMANDMENTS

    1. a one day strike…will do no good!
    2. A world Union is not gonna happen!
    3. THE BEST we can have is a WTO bargain that stops subsidies!
    4. WHAT IS GOING ON WITH LAWYERS we hired? Have they followed the money?
    5. We must not fight our fellow VFX workers…no matter what stinking country they come from!
    There is talent (even in Canada!) We are all artists trying to feed ourselves and our families!
    6. Our true enemies are the people that bought Barack Obama a $40,000 a plate dinner for the election and were
    rewarded from Washington with tax subsidies…..Mike Ovitz and Rahman Emmanuel’s cock brother…and the other studio vampire CEOS…
    7. I still think we should take a play book from Tony Kaye…..when Tony found out that Ed Norton
    was secretly cutting in more footage of himself with permission from the studio on American History X.
    Tony took out a full page ad in Variety…….”Ed Norton what the Fuck are doing in my edit room?”
    Imediately Hollwood was a drift in gossip…..We MUST take that letter from the comper….and publicly shame Ang Lee…..

    a one day strike solves nothing…..why?

    8. of the 300 people I know on linked-in…3 showed up at the protest…..after i sent a heartfelt letter to be at Hollywood and Vine.
    Truth is 90% of VFX co-workers are FUCKING PUSSY’S. Its 500-1000 of us who are standing up….for the rest.
    9. Part of the reason……we get treated like we do…is because people do not stand up for themselves. If they dont fight now
    they will deserve what they get….
    10. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY…..Im leaving the Movie VFX industry….and headed back to games…(where they pay royalties)….Im older and have retirement portfolio….my advice to the rest of you……

    ask yourselves….if producers are nothing more than carpet baggers taking Government welfare….and IT IS GOVERNMENT EXTORTION that
    is causing this……strikes are nothing unless you point the finger beyond greedy producers and dim witted directors like Ang….the REAL thieves are the CEOs of the big 6 studios…….who are taking YOUR Money like the bailout $$$… they are no better than the cocksucking Banksters like Goldman Sachs, AIG, Shitty Bank, and Bank of America. Why are the studios getting rich off our tax dollar and our worker rights…….paying us less….and often not paying us at all????!!!!

    Why can’t these fuckers make a movie without a hand out from every other stinking government….??? This is not true film making. If you have to take subsidies for your film…..maybe your ideas suck………Stanley Kubrick shits on all of you posers….

    whats the next move? My bet is a DOUBLE PAGE SPREAD IN VARIETY …..reprinting Phillip Broste letter to Ang Lee…..(Phillip your letter is far more Ballsy than a one day strike) I tip my hat to you……your a better man then me….

  125. nobody says:

    I’m green in this biz, read many post here but I just wanna ask, can’t You pple make movies without those fucking studios? get together, make movie and share profit between everyone, play movie in internet, not for free of course, plan to put there ads, etc

    • vfxmafia says:

      To answer your question …No. Movies consist of production $ (to make the movie)….but there is also Distibution (the money to put it in the theaters)……this is where marketing buys come in and advertising…its a vast web that is global at this point…just to get your movie into theater chains costs money….the internet is a waste land of pirated creativity….(and yes im oversimplfing things to make my point)

  126. Tyler Durden says:

    Let’s do this:

    Everyone fill out a Union IATSE Union card on or by 3-14.

    You will get this:

    -SCREEN CREDIT for every movie you work on.
    -OT paid at 1.5x for every hour after 40 (or 8 hr day + Saturday).
    -OT paid at 2x for every hour after 50 (or 10 hr day + Sunday).
    -Portable health insurance for Americans (Canada, Europe, NZ, your government provides this, making you more competitive against America in winning bids… So it kind of works out)
    -A pension plan funded by residuals
    -Some fucking respect.

    Off the top of my head these are some of the companies we will need to target:

    Sony Imageworks (BC and LA)
    R&H (BC and LA)
    Double Negative (UK)
    Method (LA and BC)
    Prime Focus (everywhere)
    Blue Sky (we’ll fail here, but we can try)
    MPC (everywhere)
    Animal Logic (AU)
    WETA (NZ)
    ILM (SF and Singapore)
    Hydraulx (LA?)
    Pixar Canada
    Digital Domain (LA and BC)
    Pixomodondo
    Luma Pictures
    Mirada
    Scanline
    Stereo D

    Let’s dude this shit. If we could get half of these companies we will be well on our way. That will be more than enough to change the entire business of VFX. Plus, once this many people discover the benefits of being in the union they’ll never want to go back.

    I know that’s how I felt.

    • speak freely says:

      15 years to late my friend, should have started this a little earlier
      remember the old saying:

      money talks and bull…. walks

      you want to be competitive, that Jerry Maguire quote

      “SHOW ME THE MONEY”

      it is a global economy, start competing in one

    • VFX GUI says:

      I hate to rain on your parade but honestly, the unions don’t want you. Sure, IATSE would love to collect your dues, but the individual locals could give a rats ass about our plight. All they care about is preserving the jobs of their present members and that means keeping you out.

      20 years ago IATSE tried to organize CG. It was a miserable failure. I know, I was there. I was one of their trial members. The reason was very simple and is the one Achilles Heel of the whole organized labor movement. No one who presently works in the any of the various locals wants to see and avalanche of new members coming into their ranks and further diluting the job pool. That’s why they all lobbied, and when I say they I mean the individual locals, lobbied the head of IA 20 years ago to sweep us under the rug and out of their jurisdictions. They don’t want us. There’s far too many of us and the last thing any of them want is tens of thousands of new entrants competing with them for work. It ain’t gonna happen.

      CG is a big headache for them. They haven’t a damn clue how to classify us, how to organize us, or how to sell us to their own locals, thus the reason we’re sitting around with our thumbs in our asses wondering how we all got in this situation. The animation guild is the only entity to step up and embrace us, but even they seem unable to make anything happen, and I suspect its again an issue of exactly what it is we go and how to classify us according to our discipline. Does a compositor for example belong in the animation guild, or a modeler, or a lighter, or someone doing 3d tracking or roto? Makes sense I guess if you’re an animator. Where do supervisors fall in all this. In the IA, they’re called Art Directors and Production Designers, and they have their own respective locals in the IA, and guess what, they don’t want us.

      A trade organization or some such entity is probably the only real entity that can address our concerns. The union isn’t going to do squat for us. If they could and were willing, it would have happened already, and long ago.

      • A Voice says:

        It needs to be a combination of both Union and Trade organization. However, the union exist now, and it is the best way to get this ball rolling. Joining the IA is the only hope and it is a start. Its better than sitting on your butt doing nothing. Vancouver and London will needs unions too, but it will need to be governed within their country. After this, it will also make it easier to collaborate on a global scale once all three has been established.

  127. [...] the band of artists are calling for a possible world wide walk out of VFX professionals on March 14—known as “Life of Pi [...]

  128. [...] the band of artists are calling for a possible world wide walk out of VFX professionals on March 14—known as “Life of Pi [...]

  129. One Day Walk Out ain’t gonna provide much results, there needs to be more effective measures done at longer periods of time, which allows the studios to bleed and feel the pain of being dragged with the tentpole movies not being done by anyone around the globe.

  130. Paul says:

    Good luck everyone ! we need the support of your studios !

  131. A VFX Guy says:

    So when will we all meet up and discuss this? I’m getting tired of listening to all the trolls, and it would be nice to see some faces.

  132. Drew says:

    Getting a little tired of some of the pessimism I see here. Its not all doom and gloom for getting a coalition going. We create some of the most complex and amazing digital work the world have ever seen. Created on multiple contents, by hundreds of highly skilled workers, working together in unison, via phone, email, video conference and the like, under extreme stress, and tyrannical deadlines. We work together all the time. Yet many of these same people don’t think we can organize ourselves? Waaaaaay to much pessimism… We all are computer literate, Facebook savy, we all have smart phones, we just need a leader, and organizer we can all get behind. And we will show up, and make this union, or trade group, or whatever it is happen.

  133. VFX_Reckoning says:

    I think VFX facilities need to start producing their own films. (If Hydraulx can do it, so can other shops). Then we share vfx shots on tentpoles and refuse to work on any big-6 films. VFX facilities could provide the competition the big-6 studios so desperately need and could probably come to dominate the box office.

  134. VFX_Reckoning says:

    …I guess a distribution deal would be an issue though…

  135. Kevin says:

    So voice talent on DW films is paid based on performance of the movie.

    Should VFX lobby for a “cost + performance” model?

  136. MassFX says:

    Animation union leader what quoted in this article below.

    Who knows, If people start to contact him, we might start to see things happen. Since its obvious none of the VFX community knows what the hell they are doing. We are artist, what the do we know about unions or trade orgs, its all hearsay and bullshit if you ask me. Its like listening to scared chickens running around the barn yard from many of these post. Have some guts guys.

    His email – skaplan@animationguild.org

    Article

    http://www.ibtimes.com/visual-effects-artists-fear-vengeance-if-they-voice-support-unionization-759573

  137. Milton says:

    Fair enough…
    “Let’s do this:

    Everyone fill out a Union IATSE Union card on or by 3-14.

    You will get this:

    -SCREEN CREDIT for every movie you work on.
    -OT paid at 1.5x for every hour after 40 (or 8 hr day + Saturday).
    -OT paid at 2x for every hour after 50 (or 10 hr day + Sunday).
    -Portable health insurance for Americans (Canada, Europe, NZ, your government provides this, making you more competitive against America in winning bids… So it kind of works out)
    -A pension plan funded by residuals
    -Some fucking respect.”

    • contessa12 says:

      Is it true that if you are part of a union you cannot accept a non union job? If so, EVERYONE MUST be on board. Why isn’t someone planning a meeting at some large venue for all to show up and have a union presentation, a few speakers etc. In this way you’ll be able to gauge the passion of participation. This WILL NOT work if you the artist submerses in the intent by joining a union for the good of all. This won’t be easy but it’s necessary. Find out from the union if other unions will walk off the job too in solidarity. (watch Norma Rae the movie to get a good idea what it takes). Don’t worry about China, just working with them will NOT be easy. They are communists and ruthless, and they will screw the studios 6 ways to Sunday, maybe not out of the gate, but they will.

  138. miiike says:

    A walkout is not a good idea. the artists will be the ones who suffer. many are starting a new job now, and it will put them in a bad situation to choose between their job, and a bogus show of solidarity. and it won’t phase the studios at all.

    if you want an effective statement. Get artists from across the world, and facilities across the world to sign a pledge to refuse to work on a single frame that samuel l jackson appears in. If you can pull that off, that is a sign. that he f$cked with the wrong m$therF$ckers. If it could happen, if he could be banned from VFX shots for real – think what that would do to his career. I think he would get recast fast. And then only find work for scale in little independent films. Unless they had a scene where he has to drive in a car or something. then he is screwed.

    so, start that petition. I refuse to work on a frame that has samuel l jackson in it until he apologizes for his assholey behavior during hte academy awards.

    • Scott Ross says:

      miiike…. that is frickin funny….. if you need a new career please consider comedy. Brilliant!

      • miiike says:

        Scott, i would love to. do you know anyone in LA hiring for comedy? As far as i can tell, all the really hilarious jobs have gone overseas to where the subsidies are much funnier.

        In any event, we should at least start a meme where we flood the internet with classic Samuel L Jackson scenes altered to where he gets interrupted or some other comeuppance from a visual effect. Come on VFX community – use your creativity and technical prowess to ridicule Jackson en masse!

  139. Jeevfx says:

    Rhythm & Hues Taiwan studio to open by late March: manager

    http://focustaiwan.tw/ShowNews/WebNews_Detail.aspx?Type=aECO&ID=201302280002

    • Kevin says:

      This fires me up. I can’t believe John Hughes was holding up his green square and Oscar while opening a studio in Ang Lee’s backyard.

      • A Voice says:

        Calm down this deal was on the way before they filed for bankruptcy.

      • miiike says:

        this only helps the people who were recently laid off to have a chance to recoup some of their money. You get fired up over a lot of things you don’t seem to really understand

  140. vfxhobo says:

    R&H opening a facility in Taiwan should not be shocking to anyone. They’ve been opening offshore facilities for a long time. R&H India was controversial when they opened up for paint and roto on Scooby Doo, (if I’m remembering that right) and they, like all the other big houses have been trying to play the game that they’ve seemingly been forced into. More than likely they feel like they’ve gone down this road now and can’t really turn back. Hopefully they see that it’s a dead end road and it was a losing strategy all along. Either way, we as artists MUST come together and organize. We MUST get the attention of the studios we work for and demand they start talking with one and other in order to end the studios bullying the entire VFX industry. Many folks here keep saying that it’s not a US vs. the world issue. That it’s not “stealing” work just because it’s subsidized.They say that they have a right to work as well. They say that subsidies help them. Ending subsidies will hurt their ability to be employed…Well, I’ve been doing this work now since ’99. My first gig that was supposed to last 18 months, was shipped to Canada via broken contract with Sony, and a heavily subsidized studio. The day it was supposed to start production and everyone was ready to go! Hundreds of artists were put out of work in the blink of an eye thanks to a STOLEN RUNAWAY PRODUCTION. So, you’ll pardon me, Canada, if I feel like you’ve continually stolen jobs and now I’d like your mechanism for stealing them taken away, so that I can have my job back. You’ll pardon me if Id like you to win your employment based on your individual business’ ability to compete in quality, and price without the help of your taxpayers. Why should your taxpayers contribute any of their money to propping up a workforce that NO ONE NEEDS IN ORDER TO SURVIVE, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THOSE THAT DO THE WORK? IT’S NON-ESSENTIAL! ENTERTAINMENT IS NOT NECESSARY FOR SURVIVAL!! So end subsidies for everyone at the table. Bring your A game! If you do better work and can do it cheaper maintaining a standard of living that benefits everyone then by all means you deserve the award of the job. If the only thing you have going for you is that your government is willing to prop you up, then you don’t deserve the work! I for don’t believe that to be the case. The talent pool is deep world wide. So everyone should be able to swim in the damn thing without government life preservers! I would like everyone who is of a like mind to tell the VES that if they insist on sticking with their charter that says they can’t get involved with labor issues, that they should seriously just stop releasing these statements, and pretending to speak for the community. Just go back to handing out awards and being all honorary. If the leadership of the VES seriously looked at the vast majority of artists expressed sentiments and arrived at the idea that we as a community thought it was a good idea to demand subsidies from California for our industry… Thank GOD they can’t get involved in labor issues according to their charter, because they sure as hell aren’t paying attention, and should never be publicly representing our interests. Way to go VES! Way to use your ability to get a public statement out there to drop a MASSIVE WEDGE in the middle of an already delicate and tangled situation. I have never felt so sure that Scott Ross has had the right of it all along.

    • MassFX says:

      I nominate Scott Ross to set up a meeting for all vfx people to attend, hopeful soon. A empty theater or auditorium perhaps, and have a calm collective meeting about how to move forward. I will be there, and so will my fellow artist where I’m working now. We are all on board.

  141. Grant says:

    You know I want fair wages and what not but the last thing we need is another union

  142. Matt Moses says:

    If a large percentage of the global vfx workforce got up and left their desks during Mar-May crunch time, you would be putting well over $2 billion+ worth of gross profits at risk. This would put a huge bullseye on every vfx studio head from the lawyers of the financiers of these vehicles.

    The shows would not get done.
    The movie’s would not make their release dates for the year.

    The vfx studios are in contract to complete these vehicles.
    They would rightly be sued out of existence, perhaps putting some individuals directly at risk of personal bankruptcy.

    As for the artists who walked… ONLY a consolidated stance proving they were misclassified an an independent contractor (of which 98% of vfx studios are in some part guilty) could (possibly?) relieve the actual artists also being liable to pay damages back to the financiers for not finishing their work. Add to that that your vfx studio will being suing you, the “independent contractor”, for leaving the work unfinished (Think $10,000+ per un-finalized shot). You would have to prove you were actually an employee, not a contractor (has not happened yet) to pass the burden back to your vfx studio. Even then, with BILLIONS of $ at stake, you could be liable for sabotage/vandalism or willful neglect.

    Walking off the job will get the attention of people that invested 100’s of millions of dollars, but you would not benefit. They have you all under-leveraged.

    The fact is VFX workers for tentpole VFX laden films are 90% responsible for creating the product that brings in $billions. The VFX artists could completely shut down the machine, and at the same time put and end to the vfx industry as we know it. Maybe the industry as we know it NEEDS to be eliminated .. to make way for an industry with a viable business model?

    Either way, I think we are nearing the end of “business as usual” in vfx. Prep your resumes. Transition your skills. The circus has left town.

    • andrei.gheorghiu says:

      very nice Moses. I do believe that the mess is so big, that even if you try to fix here or there – it is impossible.
      And on top of this, the quality of the this big amount of VFX movies ( garbage), is on the fast food side.
      I still don’t get how this guy won an Oscar for that movie.
      But as you said, the circus has left the town….very nice Moses.
      There are no clowns anymore…

  143. Blacklight says:

    I wonder what all the producers, executives, directors and their assorted hangers-on think about the upheaval going on in VFX.

  144. andrei.gheorghiu says:

    …they don’t say anything, as you can see.
    They don’t like the current situation, neither. But they have no other path to fallow. They don’t know how to do same huge amount of money using other “techniques”.
    Seems like nobody has any clear direction where to go. The war is declared but nothing is set up so far….

  145. [...] is even talk of a massive walk-out for all VFX workers on March 14 (aka 3/14 or Pi Day). Social networks have also been flooded with images and videos showing what [...]

  146. John says:

    You are walking out right into the hands of China. Studio execs will replace you quicker if you threaten them.

  147. Jeevfx says:

    Rhythm and Hues Hyderabad office:

    Everybody who has seen Life of Pi , knows that if it weren’t for the visual effects, there would be nothing in the film. “The initial part with the tiger in the zoo and the last bit where Richard Parker and Pi are dying, those scenes were extensively made here,” says Varun. The visuals of the island with the meerkats were also done in the Hyderabad studios. “There was special team dedicated to the island and one for the meerkats,” adds Varun.

    http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-metroplus/pouring-life-into-richard-parker/article4467680.ece

  148. rahul says:

    yeah gd idea go ahead we will with u

  149. CAN_WE_SURVIVE says:

    saw this didn’t even make the news :(

    80 people?

    Today…triggerfish cape town – films Zambezia, Khumba – all staff – pink slip.

    https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!topic/xsi_list/7DbnTm5I_fc

    This industry is collapsing – daily. Wake up.

  150. Paulo says:

    thank you for your work and passion vfxsoldier ! we have to continue and fight business man because us, we are legion against injustice

  151. contessa12 says:

    Where is the plan going forward? Who, VFX soldier? When is someone going to take the bull by the horns to find out whose on board and if we will now support each other. Maybe a delegation to meet with the suits to hammer out a plan? What? Where? When?

  152. [...] serials? Keep an eye on the VFX Soldier site for the latest in this epic struggle and be sure to download the green screen square and add it as your Facebook and Twitter profile avatar to show solidarity [...]

  153. mclovin media says:

    i wonder…some people could sue technically for sabotaging a project deliberately. I hate to be devil’s advocate. I want ya’ll to strike. But at the same time I don’t want anyone getting hurt further as a result.

    I could see something going to court where a lead artist is sued for the overages of a job perhaps. Having to bring in someone new who takes 3x as long.

    Beware of the legal ramifications of “screwing anyone over”. ThHey could screw you back.

  154. [...] some VFX artists have suggested a walk out later this week on 3/14 (“Pi” day) to show support for creating a [...]

  155. [...] Now, some VFX artists have suggested a walk out later this week on 3/14 (“Pi” day) to show support for creating a union. [...]

  156. […] some VFX artists have suggested a walk out later this week on 3/14 (“Pi” day) to show support for creating a […]

  157. new software says:

    Very good article. I definitely love this website.
    Thanks!

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