VES Advocates For More VFX Subsidies

The VES sent a call to action for VFX subsidies in California:

First, we call upon Governor Brown and the State Legislature to immediately expand its tax incentive program for the entertainment industry and to include a focused approach concentrated on the visual effects and post production sectors of the industry.

I disagree with this idea and I’m very disappointed.

Subsidies in the VFX industry have only added fuel to the volatility in the VFX industry.

When various companies competitively bid on work, government subsidies use taxpayer money to pay the US studios to do the work in certain locations. For example, in BC, you can get 45-60% of labor costs paid to the studio.

This leads to a huge distortion in prices and forces facilities that are based in locations where there are smaller to no subsidies to either move or actually be forced to PAY for the work.

This situation was eloquently explained by VES chairman Jeff Okun and former Matte World Digital owner Craig Barron in a recent interview with KCRW which starts around the 10 minute mark.

More subsidies don’t lead to more jobs.

BC is currently in the middle of a film subsidy war with Quebec and Ontario. BC spent $437 million last year alone and even that wasn’t enough to stop a 13-year film employment low.

It’s pretty obvious that US studios are looking to pit governments against each other in the hopes of fueling a subsidy war for their films where only they end up the winner.

California Governor Jerry Brown knows this. In a recent interview with NPR he denounced film subsidies(6:00 mark):

The other states give lavish subsides to get people to make movies and we do that to a degree but were not going to have a race to the bottom where the state is supposed to pay for every private sector job that we want to attract. That is a losing strategy that I hope other states would get off.

If you are going to write Jerry Brown, instead of asking him to subsidize film production, tell him to assess a duty on US studios that utilize price distorting subsidies. It’s a cheaper alternative than trying to provide $500 Million subsidy program.

Soldier On.

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332 Responses to VES Advocates For More VFX Subsidies

  1. Josef Bloomfield says:

    Wouldn’t a duty be under federal rather than state jurisdiction.

    Either way, assessing it on box office gross would be sweet.

    • Studio_Spotter says:

      I too like this duty idea. You want to reap the income of a CA market while outsourcing the costs? You pay for it.

      • TigersTail says:

        Sounds like a great idea.

        How about exposing and closing the loopholes of “Hollywood accounting” while we’re at it? If Studio Execs can crow how successful they were at the box office, while showing they did not make a profit, you’d sense there’s something FISHY going on, yeah?

        Seems like there’s some soft underbelly of the studios that’s exposed here …

      • Studio_Spotter says:

        *outsourcing the costs to distorted markets rather

      • Jeevfx says:

        “Around 100 people from MPC Bangalore (India) worked on Life of Pi. Out of the 120 shots”

        http://newindianexpress.com/cities/bangalore/article1478600.ece

        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

      • Studio_Spotter says:

        jeevfx, is there a point pertaining to duty fees you were making with all of that?

    • Jack Boats says:

      Subsidies may help the FX Houses and Studios first, but there’s no guarantee that will trickle down to the Artists. Unless the language is very clear, I have a hard time supporting them. If Cali is going to take the subsidies route which seems to have proven somewhat successful in other places. A better approach would be to pass legislation in Cali that encourages Studios to hire local talent by providing tax credits to the studios who do not outsource or hire non-citizens. For every local they hire they get a % of a point off the balance sheet and conversely add the same amount for any non-citizen worker hired. This rule could easily be applied to any FX Studio in any country that hires local talent. However a strong International VFX Artist Union should be formed regardless of subsidies.

      • yet_another_anon_vfxer says:

        Artists make a good amount of money. I don’t think this should be about increasing artist pay. This should be about eliminating bad conditions for artists, to point:

        * Being let go at the end of each show, and having to find a new employer every 8 months.

        * Being made to work 12 to 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, to satisfy unplanned client demands.

        * Being told “the job only exists in Canada, even though it’s for the same company and on the same show, on the same network, under the same CG supervisor, and even though the seat you’ve been sitting in will be empty. Move to Canada or you’re fired.”

        The artists I’ve met are actually paid very well, but they suffer for having given quite literally their entire adult life to vfx. Marriages suffer or end, artists live the “forever bachelor” lifestyle, important things like health get neglected, people turn to chemicals to keep their bodies running through the long hours, some positions actually go without a single full night’s sleep for months at the end of a show. None of that should be necessary.

    • VFXLady says:

      VFX Soldier, where are you?? This blog post isn’t about coming together and it’s pretty irrelevant. Can we get back to the issues as hand?

  2. VFX Los Angeles says:

    This is not the smart approach. This is a desperate approach that fuels the giveaways to the studios.

    We know incentives are bad. Get organized world wide, get with your artists, and put the subsidy fight off for another day. Rushing to give away 400 million dollars of much needed tax revenue, is probably not the solution, because it doesn’t fix the problem of the constant devaluing of VFX.

    • qualityVSquantity says:

      “because it doesn’t fix the problem of the constant devaluing of VFX.” – well said!!!

      The VES is trying to divide artists world wide with this letter. They can see how much movement we’re making just on our own! Why now? Why all of a sudden are they reacting so quickly to “help” us?

      I firmly believe that this is just a ploy to divert our efforts of unifying together, whether its a strike or union, the longer they can prolong it, the further the tentpole movies are safe and the big 6 studios remain happy.

      The last thing we need is to ask for a handout from our government in a already very profitable industry, well, not profitable/stable for the artists, but you know what I mean. I’m sure our press coverage will die instantly once they get word of this movement.

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Not so sure this is a VES ploy. Rather it is a desperate plan by desperate people who have failed.

        VES was NEVER designed to be a union or trade organization by its founders on purpose. It was modeled by choice after the ASC. It was designed to be an organization like ASC, ACE, MPSE and the other non union/guild entities.

        When Jeff Okun and Eric Roth took over everything changed. They played VES to be a global voice for visual effects touting members from 30 countries and by specifically developing VES Sections in half a dozen global markets. Never mind that they were warned by the preceding BOD that having worldwide members was okay, but having Sections would eventually produce massive conflicts of interest. They had tried and could clearly see the end game which now exists.

        VES redid the ‘credits’ again even though they were not much accepted the first time either. VES has one of the highest, if not highest G&A in the industry. ASC, ACE, MPSE and other similar entities are run for far less money and produce an equal or greater number of events and services for their members and none are unions/guilds/trade organizations In some cases they have no paid Executive Director and, if they do, the salary levels are not even close.

        What remains is not the Honorary society which was created nor a real global membership which is now just smoke and mirrors. The new VES means nothing and keeps seeking ways to be relevant while the original VES has been destroyed as a credible industry honorary society.

        It is a shame that VES has become clearly irrelevant with no credibility or honor at a very costly price.

      • Ymir says:

        Personal axe to grind with the VES? What did they ever do to you?

      • qualityVSquantity says:

        I have nothing personal with the VES. Perhaps this isn’t a ploy but it is interesting how this “Call to Action” letter is questionable, not in everyone’s interest and by far a little too late to the game, wouldn’t you agree?

        This could have gained more traction a year, maybe even two years ago yet they did nothing.

      • Ymir says:

        @qualityVSquantity, sorry, that wasn’t intended for you but for GRS. But we’ve hashed it all out further down the thread ad infinitum.

    • Get Real Soldier says:

      Correct, but the only ‘smart’ approach you will see from Eric Roth and VES is…they just extended Roth’s contract through 2018. I am sure this must be based upon his performance, and it is quite clear what that has been. So, unless VES folds between now and 2018…nothing much will change.

      Obviously, the VES BOD loves Eric Roth and his vision for the society incentives and all. Good luck, VES!

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Please, note the above comment was posted at 7:58am and Ymir’s comment was posted at 9:39am.

        This response was to a previous post.

        Oddly, however, it is not out of place as a response to Ymir either…

    • somethoughts says:

      x

  3. notinla says:

    eh? so this is just a L.A / US thing now?

  4. PolarisSoup says:

    California can’t afford to be giving anything away.

  5. Robert D says:

    “in BC, you can get 45-60% of labor costs paid to the studio. This leads to a huge distortion in prices”

    Has this distortion been quantified in any way? How much do labor credits affect the overall price of VFX shots? Do they create an overall 10% discount on VFX work? 15%? 30%? 60%?

    It would be interesting to know what the going price of VFX shots is in BC vs anywhere else in the world.

    • P-Fi says:

      Labor is by far the biggest cost of doing VFX. It’s no longer the software or computers by any means. Even the cost of office space rent doesn’t compare to the salary of 200+ artists.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if a studio doing an entire VFX film in Vancouver could shave roughly 30% off it’s budget.

      • but what is the effect on the vfx shop’s end?

      • Robert D says:

        “I wouldn’t be surprised if a studio doing an entire VFX film in Vancouver could shave roughly 30% off it’s budget.”

        But what is the *exact* number? I’m actually really interested in getting to the heart of the issue, and hearing a definitive figure, like “Buying VFX shots in Vancouver costs 30% less LA” or something of that nature.

        For such a hotly debated topic, there seems to be a curious lack of statistics, beyond “This is how much the _____ government spent in 2012″ or whatever, which doesn’t even really tell you anything, because it doesn’t say how many productions and studios they’re spending these dollars on. If a government is spending $1,000,000 on 1 studio, that’s a lot more than a government spending $10,000,000 on 20 studios.

        But back to my original question: does anyone know how much cheaper VFX is in BC than anywhere else?

  6. Charlie Don't Surf says:

    I disagree that incentives haven’t created jobs.
    They have, in fact, created many jobs in the UK, Australia, NZ, Canada and Singapore, etc.
    Now, you may say that those jobs were ‘stolen’ from California, or that they are only taxpayer-funded studio pay-offs.
    But the thousands of vfx artists in the aforementioned locations that wouldn’t otherwise be employed in the vfx industry would strongly disagree.
    You may also say, that this has merely dislocated artists and institutionalized displacement. This would be only be half-right. As there are many Canadians working in Canada, Europeans in the U.K., Australians in Australia, etc that wouldn’t otherwise have found employment in this industry.
    I actually believe the VES effort would go some way into mitigating the plight of California artists with which I sympathize.
    Rejecting California subsidies outright is doing more harm than good, in the short term.
    I am actually coming around to the idea of eliminating subsidies worldwide and supporting your efforts ( if they prove viable after being assessed by the law firm ), but this will not happen overnight. This might be an interesting interim solution. Alienating the VES, and international artists, will accomplish nothing.

    • Studio_Spotter says:

      Were they created or did they just move to another location?

    • vfxmafia says:

      Producers who take there productions to the subsidy city are carpetbaggers……

      “carpetbagger” noun (Concise Encyclopedia)

      Epithet used during the Reconstruction period (1865–77) to describe a Northerner in the South seeking private gain. The word referred to an unwelcome outsider arriving with nothing more than his belongings packed in a satchel or carpetbag. Many carpetbaggers were involved in corrupt financial schemes.

    • CG Joe says:

      Charlie is right, those outside of LA do not agree that these jobs were stolen. Were all those jobs at Animal Logic on Happy Feet back in 2001 to 2006 “stolen” from California? No. An australian director teamed up with an australian studio to do a film, who bankrolled it doesn’t matter, and the fact subsidies were in place wasn’t the only reason it was done in Sydney. California doesn’t own ever VFX job ever created.

      Did Weta steal all those jobs of Lord of the Rings? Did Cali somehow own that VFX work? Come on.

      It’s easy to simplify the subsidy issue down to stolen jobs, but that’s at best half the story.

      • vfxy says:

        Animal Logic = sweatshop + bad management

      • Studio_Spotter says:

        Of course there will be job creation as population increases and as economies expand. Creating biasses where productions set up shop with market distortions are no better.

  7. Igor says:

    That letter is a punch in the face for every supporter outside the US. I am not only disappointed, but pissed.

    • pissed_too says:

      My thoughts exactly, Igor. I didn’t protest the Oscars for this. This is not at all the message we were trying to get out. All we want is equality for EVERYONE. But this letter from the VES is only going to further the divide. I am beyond pissed at the VES right now.

      • James B says:

        The VES barely hid the fact they favored Californians over non-Californians before this anyway. They’ve now officially shown they are going to represent LA, and not artists worldwide. I know a lot of non-LA artists that will not be renewing their dues.

  8. chris says:

    “It’s pretty obvious that US studios are looking to pit governments against each other in the hopes of fueling a subsidy war for their films where only they end up the winner.”

    Sorry to tell you, but that’s called Capitalism.

    It’s the same story as why does Tiger woods get paid more in sponsorship the whole manufacturing industry that makes those goods in Indonesia.

    Even if California did do subsidies, how long before countries start to create ‘free trade zones’ as has happened all over the world. How will they compete against that?

    How long before Canada starts to feel the hurt too, from other countries where labor cost’s are even less. You can see the beginnings of that starting to play out.

    It’s becoming a zero sum game, where, rightly under capitalism, you go to where ever you can to maximize your profits.

    Don’t delude yourself that peoples in poorer countries are not doing better and better work by the day. How much subsidy do you need to compete with that?

    Don’t think that the Governor of California see’s this, it’s the same to a large degree with the manufacturing of high-tech out of silicon valley. Where’s your ipad made? Where’s a disc drive made? Etc.

    The Governor not going to pour money into vfx which he will realize is going to be a bottomless pit, and CA in general can hardly afford.

    Sorry to tell you all of this, but the real, meaningful and long term answer is not the Governor, it lays solely in your hands.

  9. LondonVFXartist says:

    This has become so california centric it’s ridiculous!
    So Eric Roth is asking for greater tax incentives in Cali. As the perceived “head of VFX shouldn’t the VES have a more thought out and rational plan of attack rather than attempting to bring cali on the same playing field (which won’t work) and if it does, you’ve alienated artists in other countries by reducing their workload bla bla, so on and so forth, vice-a-versa!

    This is a global issue that will not go by increasing incentives in one territory, its just hastening the “race to the bottom”

    VES need’s to either man up and take the reigns or move aside and let another organisation grow to tackle the issues. To be honest i’d push for Mike Seymour and the Co. to lead in this battle.

    • goodman says:

      its worrying how US centric everything seems to be going. losing suport rather than gaining it at the moment

      artist in the uk

      • LondonVFXartist says:

        I feel for the Cali artists, but essentially they want what we have and what we have ain’t much.

        Everything being said is there a more sustainable business model that vfx could use (i’m not talking about financing our own pictures) to increase our profits at our end?
        For instance say a film is used heavily in promoting a product, kind of like Nissan and Batman. The vfx studio should include a clause where they produce ALL of this type of content. Just an idea. Anything that could add work/money in the contract is a good thing.

        I’m still a relatively “new” artist to this industry so I can’t claim to know everything but I do have a sound business mind and I think we all need that going forward.

      • PolarisSoup says:

        I think its worth remembering that although this blog covers the industry as a whole its past focus has been very California/LA centric. I don’t think thats a problem, but it just so happens that things are now taking a far more international bias. If vfxSoldier wants to capitalise on this growing international support then he/she needs to focus on being more inclusive and building global support, leaving any region specific concerns to a much later date.

    • er, no... says:

      I think you were referring to Jeff Heusser, he could be in the mix I suppose. Mike Seymour? No.

      • LondonVFXartist says:

        I said Mike Seymour and I meant Mike Seymour. But yes, of course Jeff as well and John. Even Angie could have a role. Who doesn’t love Angie?

        Seriously though, in my opinion they would do a much better job than the VES. That last letter on their website just goes to prove how ridiculous they are and that they only pander to needs of people as and when. Right now it’s cali, tomorrow it could be wherever. We need something all encompassing that can cater to everyone.

        I’ve always been against unions (anyone in london who uses TFL should agree here) and in our circumstance a new business model is what is called for.

      • Annie's Boobs says:

        You are against unions because of TFL? Disruption caused by strikes is often down to very good reasons, such as safety issues. The unions do not deserve the blame. Besides, not all unions are the same nor are they perfect. But they are the only option for the average employee to exert influence.

        A new business model will never develop unless pressure is exerted to force change. Another powerless VES like organisation will be of little help.

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Hey London VFX Artist,

        Soon, many of you may be attending and/or presenting at FMX in Stuttgart, Germany.

        VES is a makes money as a participant assisting the visual effects platform, and that by itself is certainly cool. However, in light of recent events would this mean, in a sense, that “one hand is biting the other?”

        Just curious about any thoughts you may have as you are outside California.

    • Ashes says:

      It not “California-centric” if the call is to just match the tax incentives of other places. If your okay with other countries having tax incentives than it’s only fair to allow California to have them as well.

      That being said this is a bad idea and a very short term solution. Tax incentives need to go away from everywhere. They are just going to bring around the colaspe faster.

      It’s not job creation when you have to pay for jobs.

  10. vfxanonyomous says:

    I have zero confidence in VES. We need a new global organisation.

  11. Fran Mulhern says:

    You guys need a global organisation, but that’s going to be incredibly tough to organise, if not downright impossible. As I said yesterday (as StanTheMan), VFX is an industry that’s relatively easy to move overseas – so it’s always going to follow the bottom line. Unfortunately, aside from being willing to move with it, I really don’t know what the answer is. Tax breaks can create jobs, sure – and we in the UK video games industry have our own tax breaks coming in soon – but there’s also an element of a dutch auction to them (apologies to my dutch friends). It’s a really tough one, and I’ll hold my hand up and say I don’t know what the answer is (but I do know it’s not unionisation).

    • PolarisSoup says:

      I think an informal gathering (i.e. a guild) would be a good start, a website, a forum, events and gatherings. Its all very well talking about a union like BECTU, but folks have to pay £120 a year with no guarantee it will make any difference.

      The other problem with a union is that facilities will try their best to avoid having anything to do with them, as any concessions requested by the union are going to initially hit their bottom lines. At 50% union 50% non-union the facilities will look to hire none union only and run things like they do now. Granted after a few years if it gets to 95% union or 100% then the facilities won’t have a choice who they employ and they will have to renegotiate their relationships/deals with the studios (i.e. properly pass on the costs, benefits and stability, much like they should be doing now).

      • Annie's Boobs says:

        When talking about joining BECTU you should consider that you become entitled to many benefits, its not just a case of handing over a wad of cash gambling on the possibility they might help change the industry in the future.

  12. Dave Rand says:

    “You know I read a lot. Especially things that have to do with history. I find that shit fascinating.”
    Dennis Hopper as Cliff in True Romance.

    The notion of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) began with Louis B. Mayer, head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). He wanted to create an organization that would mediate labor disputes. According to William Gazecki’s documentary “Behind the Mask” (history of entertainment unions) This entity was originally used as a tool to keep the talent not already signed up with the I.A.T.S.E., the writers, actors, and directors, pacified by being lulled into thinking they had representation of their interests. This only delayed their own organization into the truly powerful entities of balance and leverage that they have today.

    The V.E.S has certainly earned it’s place in our VFX community but we can’t depend on them to solve our issues as their charter disallows direct involvement with labor management relations at a level that can make the differences we need. Talk is cheap when it comes to leverage.

    In 2007-8 we literally begged them to help us get paid the 1.3 million owed 130 VFX professionals on Journey to the Center of the Earth. We’d been lulled into a completion deal by an American Studio worth 8 billion dollars and dumped 2 weeks before Christmas.

    Note : This was in subsidized Canada.

    We exhausted every means we could to get some attention. Canadian Labor Dept, Governor General’s office of Canada, Press, even reaching to Brenden Fraser himself. Our letters that detailed all of this to the VES went unanswered, our phone calls went unanswered. Finally a board member helped me nudge them and we got a short response that said that due to their charter they could not help us and suggested that we contact the Canadian Labor Dept…..something that was clearly outlined in our letters to them –indicating that they did not even read them.

    Now VES 3.0 wants to up the payouts to the studios by putting California in the mix. Seems transparent to me that their charter allows them to help the studios they depend on just fine.

    Although the American economic justice systems seems hell bent on giving their wealthiest corporations free money and allowing their executives to withdraw even fatter bonuses than ever, I hope we do not join that conspicuous consumption as it will do little to help us by joining this race to the bottom. It will only turn our industry into a ping pong economy as we battle over who gives more money to the Americans studios so they can build even higher barriers to entry and leverage.

    I propose the VES help us let the WTO decide, that is why our nations all signed on with that international governing agency.

    I propose we ask the VES to help us get Obama’s attention to this rapid exit of jobs that is pitting artist against artist in an artificial economy.

    • Fran Mulhern says:

      What’s Obama going to do? Aside from find a way of getting California to introduce tax breaks, what CAN he do?

      Like I said elsewhere, you won’t get anywhere with the WTO. The British took the Canadians to the WTO over the video games tax breaks, and lost.

      • Dave Rand says:

        Obama has pledged to bring balance back to our job markets. He has multiple tools at hand to make that happen as president of the United States.

        The term tax incentives has little to do with taxes actually in our business.

        The US tax code is structured to create reinvestment of wealth into our nation. When used properly it’s a legitimate tool and not a handout.

        The WTO has done plenty of good. Like any political entity they are not perfect.

    • somethoughts says:

      It is not only subsidies that is the problem.
      This wheel has many spokes to it and one major one that has to be addressed is Labor Laws, not only in California, but world wide.

      The studios, TV producers, and Advertising companies (VFX should not forget TV & Commercials, it is not just about Films), are always looking for the cheapest price. Many facilities are breaking California labor laws by not following the rules and not paying overtime. The studios and other clients are enablers to this problem. It is no different than Walmart or Nike getting the products made for cheap labor costs. The “Clients” do not care how artists get paid or even if they get paid, its is not their problem. We should make it their problem. Studios and Advertisers should be held accountable for how their product gets made. They should be held responsible to only use facilities that follow the law, what a concept.

      As for the facilities, there are hundreds of artists that work at smaller shops that no one here is talking about. The shops that force people to work under “contractor” status or flats should be reported, they are a huge part of the problem. They hold it over the artist head that if they do not play by their rules they will never be hired again.
      Just because you are bright, can go out and but some cheap workstations and software that may or may not be hacked, and hire some young artists that are just trying to get into the business does not make you a VFX company. If you are not playing by the rules and breaking the law, you are to blame. You have created the race to the bottom.
      Has anybody seen any facility owners commenting on what is going on? NO. They all know that they are also part of the problem. If you can not afford to stay in business by following the laws, you should not be in business.

      This problem has been around for a long time. Back in the day, DD was a major violator of this practice. Artists were paid a flat for working 16 hour days, 7 days a week especially to get Titanic out the door.
      They also started the practice of trying to hire many foreign worker under visas. This was done because they could pay those artists substantially less than hiring American workers. There are a tremendous amount of very talented and well deserving foreign artists that wanted to get a piece of the VFX party when the industry did not really evolve yet in Europe and Asia, and they did what they can, they are not to blame as they are not now. But all the facility owners took great advantage of this, and it became something that has also driven the price of talent down. It is still happening.

      The point is that you just can not blame the subsides or the studios. The facility owners and artists have to take some responsibilities.

      Studios, do not hire companies that break labor law.
      Facilities, do not break labor laws and under cut each other by using this method.
      Artist, do not work for free, report facilities that are taking advantage of you.

    • P-Fi says:

      “I propose we ask the VES to help us get Obama’s attention to this rapid exit of jobs that is pitting artist against artist in an artificial economy.”

      While it would be nice to get President Obama’s attention I doubt that’s going to happen. He’s currently worrying about hundreds of thousands of jobs, I don’t think he’s going to focus a narrow beam on a thousand or two jobs in California that are in trouble.

      • Dave Rand says:

        Your right, it’s not like the Yankees were being sold to another country or some other valued piece of culture. I wonder if Michelle Obama would ever throw the first pitch.

  13. andrei.gheorghiu says:

    Because of :
    Tax incentives, immigrants, cheap labor, no ethics in VFX industry, recruiters, producers, VFX facilities, very bad collegues ( the one that are working for peanuts – and blame you if you want a decent salary) – - artist will have to eat the same bitter bread for years to come.
    I don’t see any sign of normality now and in the future.
    Because there is a war, YOU have to choose with whom you will fight.
    Unfortunately, at the present moment , there is no leader to gather together all the soldiers. One of the reason, can be – they don’t listen to any other opinion except the one that it’s already build in their heads.
    Mercenaries….not soldiers, should be the proper name.

    • Fran Mulhern says:

      As a recruiter (in video games), I laugh when I hear people blame the industry’s woes on us. Yes, there are some absolutely shocking recruiters. But come on – surely you don’t think recruiters are to blame here?

      • PolarisSoup says:

        It is true however that the origin of the problems with VFX do stem back to games. The long hours, endless crunching, games were pulling this stuff when the majority of VFX was still miniatures, matte paintings (the glass type) and muppets. Granted games was not as bad, games for the most part are not driven into the ground by studios bidding wars. Although even thats changes of late as many of the small players fall (either pushed out of business or bought out and shut down) to the likes of EA and the other big players.

      • andrei.gheorghiu says:

        some absolutely shocking recruiters – as you said

      • Fran Mulhern says:

        Andrei – so what? Although, I’ve noticed you also included immigrants in your rant. Given your name and, presumably, none native-American heritage, that says a lot about your logic. Seriously, grow up.

    • Dave Rand says:

      If there’s not leadership then who is the “they” you are referring to. What I’ve witnessed is a group of free thinking veterans and young vfx professionals coming together and debating all ideas in a constructive manner.

      This blog for example ..never censors anyone.

      The only way we can succeed is to promote free thought and find our collective beat. I believe we are doing this.

      Many of us have been asked to come up with one voice one opinion and those asking for that are usually wanting it to be their opinion.

      All of a have many great ideas but

      So far we can certainly agree on these points.

      1.We’ve had enough and need change.
      2.We are ready to take action collectively.

      …and that is how every revolution starts.

      • goodman says:

        but we are already seeing some breakup with the whole la vs rest of world stuff that is coming out peoples mouths

      • andrei.gheorghiu says:

        well..you’re right Dave
        I always agree with your opinions. When I use the term – they – I was referring to the those people who had enough and are fed up , but as soon as an option is on the table, instead of fallow that one, they will find ways to put it down.
        However Dave, I do believe that the VFX industry is not what it was 10 years ago. And unfortunately will never be the same. – USA and abroad.
        These are hard times and the problems are extremely complicated due to their diversity.
        But people have to start with something – Once some issues are solved, might trigger the solution for some other problems.
        Thank you for all your support

      • Dave Rand says:

        People should speak their minds. No one should be canned, turned into some pull string toy. We live in a democracy. I’m all for that.

        I’ve been shell shocked and have been on too many tours of duty…probably have some type of Post Traumatic Syndrome.

        I recognize this actually, and my need for a handler, that’s why I hang out with Ross, Soldier, and Squires. : )

        Together all of us WILL and CAN do miraculous things.

  14. lhenryfx says:

    NO on California Subsidies…..I also disagree with VES on this, California subsidies will just continue damaging the USA domestic economy. Solution: contact your legislative representatives on the local, state & federal level and make your voice heard !

  15. Jason Gottlieb says:

    First I’ll say that I’m in LA, I don’t want to leave LA again (I’ve done it twice in the past because of subsidies), and I’m NOT against work being done elsewhere. I believe that people should be allowed to work wherever they please and I think it’s great that work gets done all over the world. I also used to be against the idea of a union a few years ago but I now believe that that was out of ignorance and selfishness.

    I also find any CA vs the rest of the world comments to be disconcerting. Anyone who thinks this is a CA vs elsewhere issue is just as misinformed as anyone residing anywhere else that thinks this isn’t their problem.

    The fact is that subsidies hurt ALL vfx artists wherever they may be in the world. Even if you’re currently benefiting from a subsidy the VALUE OF YOUR WORK is being diminished more and more every day. We’re worth a lot more than we even give ourselves as a global community.

    As for North American workers’ issues I believe that we need to unionize AND have a trade association. That would help us have the definitive leadership and leverage that we need in order to force working conditions to change for the better. Why do we not deserve to have benefits that follow us, a pension plan, etc just as everyone else in our industry does? Because we enjoy our work? While I love my job I would really like to retire one day.

    Our colleagues all over the world deserve just as much! You guys will need to unionize on your own if you feel it’s necessary – although you may enjoy many benefits from your governments that the United States does not give out to it’s citizens. Consider yourselves lucky in those regards.

    Nobody ever said this was going to be easy. Anything worth doing, is worth doing right and anything worth doing is likely going to be hard. But we are not strangers to working hard. We work long hard hours all the time (when there is work). The time is now to stand together and make things right. I’ve heard everyone complain about things from the safety of being at their desk behind a computer. We all want the change so let’s stop bickering amongst ourselves and join together. Whether you like it or not it’s already started so it’s our duty to keep going just as we rise to complete work against insane deadlines. This is for your future, for your families (current and/or future), and for the next group of artists that have yet to join our ranks. Now is not the time to be selfish whether you’re currently enjoying feast or are burdened with famine. Now is the time for us all to come together and bring about significant change.

    The VES option is great for pacifying the masses and getting back to business as usual. I don’t think that’s what you want. If you were content with things the way they are you probably wouldn’t even be reading this. It’s obvious that VES is not going to be the ones to make the changes that are sorely needed. The only people who have the power and resolve to do so are us the global vfx professionals (coordinators, producers, vfx facility owners/employees, etc). We’re all suffering, but united together we can bring about great changes. Once we all realize that it is in fact us that are empowered the real changes will begin.

    • vfxy says:

      “You guys (overseas VFX) will need to unionize on your own if you feel it’s necessary” – in other words, thanks for coming to the party…. you can leave now.

      • Paul says:

        No, not in other words. Unionization has to happen at a relatively local level. Jason’s call for unionization is not an eff you to the international VFX community.

      • Jason Gottlieb says:

        As Paul said what I’m saying is that if a union happens in North America it only affects North America. Steven Kaplan has mentioned this many times… 839 only has jurisdiction in North America. I don’t know anything about unions anywhere else in the world so I can’t really comment on it. I’m certainly not going to comment on things I know nothing about. I’m really not sure how you read this as saying anything against anybody. Especially when at the top of my post it says “I also find any CA vs the rest of the world comments to be disconcerting.”

        If you read my entire post I thought I made it clear that I’m all for people living and working wherever they chose. I just want the situation to be equal and better for EVERYONE. This is an industry problem and we’re all suffering. If one geographic area unionizes it only helps that area… so each geographic area would need to do it on their own.

  16. Jenny Fulle says:

    I believe that the only long term solution is an end to all subsidies, period. However, I’m concerned that ending subsidies (or imposing Tariffs) is at best a lengthy process and worst case, not possible. How do companies (and individuals) in non-subsidized areas survive in the meantime?

    The union isn’t going to fix that problem. If there are no jobs, there’s nothing to collectively bargain for and without logged hours there are no benefits to collect.

    A Trade Organization is impossible for me to imagine as being successful. The concept works only when we all start with a level playing field and everyone participates. As an example, I don’t imagine the new companies sprouting up in Montreal are going to be jumping onto a trade organization bandwagon anytime soon.

    I am not opposed to a temporary, stop gap measure. Something to stop the bleeding while we work to address the bigger issue.

    • Ashes says:

      The only way the California incentives are a good idea is if it’s used as you say, as stop gap measure. Here’s the only way I can see it helping:

      1. California matches the tax incentives and everyone is now on an equal playing field. Companies no longer have to open expensive branches else where to chase the incentives and underbid the work. Things stabilize at existing vfx houses.

      2. Once things stabilize and actual profits margins are created, every house unionizes.

      3. We push the union to make an attempt to ban all tax incentives everywhere.

      4. A trade organization is formed.

      This all rests on the idea that once the tax incentives are created and things equalize we all push to get rid of them ASAP and not fall into the current mode of, “The tax incentives help me so I’m going to support them even if they kill our industry in the long run and violate trade laws and ethics.”

  17. Ymir says:

    We can all amass subsidies and attempt to create some sort of vfx detente, or we can eliminate the stockpiles and work together. I referenced it before in another thread on subsidies and here’s an expanded clip that will hopefully make it apparent for everybody, not just L.A./CA, but everybody what is going to happen if we don’t wise up fast:

    • Randal says:

      I hate to say it, but you can eliminate subsidies all you want, and it will not promote “working together”. It’s a competitive industry. If you’re looking at cross-boarder incentives, even without subsidies, you’ve got local taxes and currency values to consider.

      There’s just no going back to the ’90s. It’s a different industry today, and it’ll be a different industry tomorrow, and that’s just the way it is. The thing about the VES is that they begrudgingly realize this. It’s not an ideal response, but it is the appropriate one for their position.

      • Ymir says:

        Currency values are not targeted or industry specific. Taxes are just added on costs (regardless of their %) that can be removed and we’re still at a level bidding plane.

      • Randal says:

        “Currency values are not targeted or industry specific”

        They don’t have to be.

        “Taxes are just added on costs (regardless of their %) that can be removed and we’re still at a level bidding plane.”

        Ever asked a government to remove taxes? Good luck harmonizing that cross-boarders. And how would that work, anyway? In Vancouver, for example, you have municipal and provincial taxes. In London, there’s only municipal taxes as there are no provinces. How do you “level” this playing field? Force England to create provinces and tax them? That’s not very realistic.

        And then how is the US, which has employer-funded health care supposed to complete with companies in countries (like Canada, Australia) that have government-funded health care programs? They really can’t.

        How about older companies which have pension obligations compared to new ones which don’t? The list goes on and on…

        In the modern global world there is no “level” playing field in this industry, just comparative advantage, where businesses and individuals need to shift the way they work and where they work in order to thrive.

        You might not like it, but you should at least understand it.

      • Ymir says:

        By currency values being not targeted or industry specific, that means they are not manipulated for a specific industry, like film. They are not a ‘man made’ tool used for a specific purpose. Yes, they can have an effect, but they aren’t controlled for the purposes of a specific subsegment of a larger economy.

        Governments remove taxes all the time. They’re called tax credits. They’re that part of the incentive that eliminates taxes otherwise owed. If two competing areas remove all taxes they would otherwise collect from a production, it’s left with it’s entire production budget to figure out now where it’s going to get it’s most bang for the bucks.

        All those other things come in to play once the production is only dealing with it’s budget dollars. So now it can look at each company and their pros and cons. That’s where the two companies are competing on a level field, based on their own merits as companies. Not based on who’s government is sweetening the pot.

      • Randal says:

        I’d actually have to give you a D for reading comprehension.

        First, on currency spreads:

        “They are not a ‘man made’ tool used for a specific purpose”

        I don’t understand your argument here. Well, yes, they’re ‘man made’, currency values either float on the open market and determined on FOREX (ie. US dollar) or set by governments (ie. Chinese yuan).

        “Yes, they can have an effect”

        This is weird because it was actually my point. Yes, I agree with this.

        “but they aren’t controlled for the purposes of a specific subsegment of a larger economy.”

        Man, this was an awkward sentence. I’ll take this to mean ‘they aren’t controlled for the purpose of influencing a specific segment of an economy’.

        Okay, sure… but that doesn’t mean they *don’t* affect a given industry. In fact, during the ’90s, filming in Canada was heavily influenced by a much weaker Canadian vs US dollar.

        “Governments remove taxes all the time. They’re called tax credits.”

        I partially agree with this. Governments remove taxes by simply reducing rates or eliminated them, but they rarely (ever?) do this together without some kind of free trade agreement and years of negotiation. Tax credits function more as incentives rather than a harmonizing of tax rates. Also, this ignores the differences between the way jurisdictions apply taxes at various levels. In BC, for example, provincial tax is applied differently under the HST and PST… which is more harmonious with London’s VAT? What about the GST?

        “All those other things come in to play once the production is only dealing with it’s budget dollars. So now it can look at each company and their pros and cons. That’s where the two companies are competing on a level field, based on their own merits as companies. Not based on who’s government is sweetening the pot.”

        Here you completely ignored everything else I said, from health care costs to pension burdens, and it could go on and include property taxes, energy costs, VISA eligibility… the list of factors is greater than simply “taxes”. That’s part of the reason why the sole focus on tax credits on this blog is so frustrating, because it suggests that taxes are the sole factor determining where work in this industry is done.

      • Ymir says:

        What, you’re playing English teacher now? :) From my perspective, I could give you the same grade. Detente.

        It seems like we’re heading towards agreement on things, even in the end where you accuse me of ignoring you, which I did not.
        All of those other factors you mention (health care, visas, overhead costs, payroll, etc.) are costs that each company bears and how each company deals with them are individual to each company. The company that handles them best is more efficient and more competitive. There are companies that have better solutions how to operate and those that don’t. But many that don’t are shored up by subsidies. Remove the subsidies and let evolution take place.

    • skaplan839 says:

      Used that same movie to end my post on this written in November of 2011:

      http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/entertainment-tax-incentives.html

    • Get Real Soldier says:

      Have to agree with Randal that Ymir appears to see, read and absorb only that which he wishes to acknowledge in many posts. So much of what others may say including some of my comments is often completely ignored and not addressed or even ‘somewhat attacked’.

      Later, you will see that Ymir is a proud VES member just supporting his society. Kudos to Ymir for his loyalty and dedication. Everybody respects this for sure.

      Most folks are not attacking VES, but there are some confusing and complex issues impacting VES and the perception of it, its leaders and how it operates.

      The best thing about this dialogue is that it will continue to open up areas for discussion about the issues, people and entities who comprise the industry. Hopefully, the end results will benefit all those concerned.

    • vfxy says:

      those outside of LA do not agree that these jobs were stolen. Were all those jobs at Animal Logic on Happy Feet back in 2001 to 2006 “stolen” from California? No. An australian director teamed up with an australian studio to do a film, who bankrolled it doesn’t matter, and the fact subsidies were in place wasn’t the only reason it was done in Sydney. California doesn’t own ever VFX job ever created.

      Did Weta steal all those jobs of Lord of the Rings? Did Cali somehow own that VFX work? Come on.

      It’s easy to simplify the subsidy issue down to stolen jobs, but that’s at best half the story.

  18. Jay Roth says:

    While subsidies are an issue, they are more of a straw man argument than anything. I have been in VFX since 1980; I can load film, paint on glass, build miniatures, and so on. I also created a software company and a product that was used on many blockbusters throughout the 1990′s. During my long career, producers and studios have always operated they way they do now: push for the lowest price, the longest hours for the dollar, and make last minute changes expecting to get those for next to nothing. Back in that time, there were numerous shops able to do work at a variety of levels, with commercials and features offering the biggest employment option, since TV effects back then were far less practical than digital has allowed them to be today.

    I can’t tell you how many times there was extreme pressure from studios, directors, and even our own management at these companies to kill ourselves with long over time, less pay than we should have gotten for that work, no overtime, no benefits. Of course, that was true only of the non-union shops. Later in my career I was invited into the union, and worked a few union gigs. While I like the improved compensation and work conditions, it came with many restrictions (harder to move around in terms of discipline), and the politics — yikes. Of course, that was just my experience. In the end, I preferred the non-union experience creatively, but enjoyed the protection offered by the union jobs, though the politics and membership fees were distasteful to me. All during that time, though, it became clear to me that this was an unsustainable business. Sooner or later it would erode. Back in the 80′s, the gear required (cameras, moco, optical printers and so on) kept the industry localized to a few cities around the world. Digital effects, inexpensive computers, the Internet and software piracy really changed all of that, as we all know.

    What we have today is like what had in the 1980′s on steroids. The attitudes towards the worker class involved in the actual hands on part of the work are merely grunts to be abused, until your worth is proven and you move up the management chain. The clients are still often no talent, pony tailed braggarts who claim to have contributed far more than they actually have, stealing credit from the backs of the hands that built what they claim as their own, and demeaning those folks in the process. And that is how they the craftspeople are kept in line. If you are told long enough you are lucky to have a job, you might just come to believe it.

    I loved what I did back then. I love what I do today (content, not VFX for hire — never again for me.) But our love of what we do has been exploited endemically for decades. The monster has grown so large, its environment is no longer capable of sustaining it. Something is going to give, and since the VFX workers are really stuck between a rock and a hard place, they have been squeezed so much that they have few options left. VFX can only get cheaper if it is created for free, for all intents and purposes.

    Maybe a union is the answer, maybe it isn’t. Maybe a guild can do the job. I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that, historically, bureaucracies serve only themselves in the end, and the workers will still be left out in the cold. This is NOT a condition of capitalism, as has been suggested in this discussion. It IS a condition of humanity. “Give em and inch and they take a mile.”

    You want change? The power to affect that change MUST be done at your level, the individual level. The personal level. You each must prevent the abuses from continuing. Does that mean you walk away (or at least, walk out?) I am on the record with that thought. A world-wide strike until conditions are much improved. Maybe such a strike will beget an organization that can formalize things with the studios. But empowering a small group to speak for many will just empower that small group, as has always been the case throughout labor history. Good intentions are no longer enough. Results must be all that matters now.

    Remember the situation has always been like this at its root. It’s only the scope, along with the clear and undeniable greed and abuse on the part of those who stand to benefit most that has been exposed to all. Yes, it has gotten far worse than it used to be, but it’s always been this way. The fat-cat celebrities have always seen these conditions, but rarely speak of it since they, too, benefit directly, more than most quite often. But they can be shamed into taking up the cause. And a few are likely to be truly behind the cause, even now, but fearful of what speaking up would mean to them. Given them the power of numbers, and the situation changes immediately. That is the power that you all have. Strength in numbers, but to get that power, you must stand up as individuals, neighbors, friends and colleagues. Nothing will change unless you do.

    “If you love something, you must be willing to let it go…”

    • PolarisSoup says:

      Absolutely spot on Jay, originally I was going for a union myself, but after much thought I don’t think that is the answer now. The problem is that the people who work in VFX are too fragmented, to geographically separated to effectively coordinate any joint action. If like the old days the industry was just centred around LA you could easily coordinate a walk-out or picketing, lots of workers have done that before on both a local and national level.

      You are clearly right that the real power lays at the level of the individual, but that will just lead to maybe 5% of vfx professionals making a ineffective stand whilst 95% keep their heads down. It might not be a Union or a Guild but the people concerned need a focus, in a way this blog has done just that, its certainly got a lot of people thinking. What folks want to know is that if they pick up arms and make a stand that their fellow workers will do the same and back them, everyone fears that moment where you standup in a crowd and shout “thats not right” but no one stands to support you. Thats why some form of structure/organisation is needed it gives the movement as a whole confidence, determination and focus.

      • Jay Roth says:

        Thanks, Polaris, and your right, of course. The solution of this problem must be an all or nothing scenario, where everyone doing this work is in with action. That is the least likely outcome, which means that the situation will continue to deteriorate. Once someone reaches a personal saturation point, said person will leave, only to be replaced by another sucker. PR Barnum was right in that regard.

        Honestly, Hollywood is losing on several fronts, and the whole VFX debacle is more of a symptom. They fear being napstered by Netflix and Youtube, as they rightly should be. But rather than their content being presented on those outlets, why can’t it be OUR content? Many of us have the skillset to create shows, and can leverage cheap production gear, our friendships and actors looking for visibility. In the process, we can create something unique that we can actually OWN. Suddenly, the crap projects that we have worked on will pale to what we can do (with a mind to the commercial value of said work). We may never outpace Hollywood, but we can clearly better it, on so many levels… that is what I am working on, anyway. You may never see what I do (and in the past, that as a good thing, as VFX work should be invisible), as I can cater my product to micro markets and still make money. Well, that’s the plan, anyway. Startups are fun.

      • Jen says:

        @Jay Roth – But rather than their content being presented on those outlets, why can’t it be OUR content?

        It can happen. “FreddieW” has a popular YouTube channel of short films made possible with VFX.

  19. stowaway says:

    PISSED. @VFXSociety and @JeffOkun trying to harness our energy for their own gain and demanding something from the state that NO ARTIST in their right mind has asked for. Completely out of touch in in deplorable, bad taste.

    Step aside VFXSociety. You can join us, you can offer to assistance, or provide a space, but you can not represent us. You can not speak for us. And you can not drive a wedge between us.

  20. A Voice says:

    VES is hastening the race to the bottom.

  21. Tiamet says:

    I worked for a VFX studio in Hollywood that is an Indian company attracted here by subsidies. They hired a full crew of artists between 2008 and 2010 and routinely sent their L.A. artists to Mumbai to train off the street slumdogs to do our work. Given enough time they came up to speed in Mumbai with thousands of freshly trained artists working with the training that these subsidies afforded them. This company then laid off nearly all of their Hollywood artists as I was well aware they were planning to. Subsidies are just an invitation to robber barons, international gangsters and Investment groups like the Carlyle group to set off their mayhem, leech our tax dollars and gut our industry. Subsidies are bullshit! Just an open door for the worst beasts among us to do their dirty business!

  22. How do film subsidies differ from any other type of subsidy for any other type of industry.. do they represent a more cartoonish distortion of the market than we’ve ever seen before, and is this why we think we have a case? Just an honest question..

    • Jen says:

      Subsidies can help start the infrastructure required to extract wind power from a breezy bay, but you can’t relocate the wind farm and the people required to maintain it once it’s built.

      Subsidies can fund agriculture, but you can’t move the crops to another location after they are sown.

      As Tiamet wrote above, no such restrictions restrain the VFX industry. You can start a VFX company with subsidies, but there’s nothing that roots those VFX artists to a given location. As soon as another place offers better subsidies, the work moves to that place.

  23. VFX_Boom says:

    The VFX Industry does NOT need coupon discounts as a part of the overall solution. We are NOT Domino’s Pizza for christsake! This will only hurt us all (Worldwide) even further.

    I urge all VES members to write in and tell these non-contributing fools on the VES Board to STAY OUT of this!!!

  24. RH_vfx says:

    VES is a complete joke of an organization. They are a society of nothing. The only benefit of being part of the VES is you get screeners, that is it.

    They apparently know nothing of the struggles facing this industry worldwide right now.

    • The All Seeing Eye says:

      The only real purpose of the VES is to make an awards show every year. Once you understand that, you will not expect anything more from them.

      • Mad says:

        $200 for some DVDs and an wards show you have to pay for and now this.
        That’s it I’ve had enough I’m not renewing my VES membership!
        Who wants my $200? I’m sure a DVD club could do a better job than the VES.

    • Somebody says:

      I’ve known this all along and that is why my money is still in my pocket. I never saw the point and I’ve been doing VFX for more than 10 years.

  25. Studio_Spotter says:

    I think this makes it clear that the VES has lost touch with the vfx industry.

  26. Tiamet says:

    Lost touch? I think they have broken faith with the VFX industry! I am willing to bet that controlling members have been cut in on the deal and are directly profiting from our losses. Or is it more plausible that they have carefully considered the subsidy debacle and decided against the findings of “all” independent studies on the subject? Or maybe they can’t read?

  27. somethoughts says:

    It is not only subsidies that is the problem.
    This wheel has many spokes to it and one major one that has to be addressed is Labor Laws, not only in California, but world wide.

    The studios, TV producers, and Advertising companies (VFX should not forget TV & Commercials, it is not just about Films), are always looking for the cheapest price. Many facilities are breaking California labor laws by not following the rules and not paying overtime. The studios and other clients are enablers to this problem. It is no different than Walmart or Nike getting the products made for cheap labor costs. The “Clients” do not care how artists get paid or even if they get paid, its is not their problem. We should make it their problem. Studios and Advertisers should be held accountable for how their product gets made. They should be held responsible to only use facilities that follow the law, what a concept.

    As for the facilities, there are hundreds of artists that work at smaller shops that no one here is talking about. The shops that force people to work under “contractor” status or flats should be reported, they are a huge part of the problem. They hold it over the artist head that if they do not play by their rules they will never be hired again.
    Just because you are bright, can go out and but some cheap workstations and software that may or may not be hacked, and hire some young artists that are just trying to get into the business does not make you a VFX company. If you are not playing by the rules and breaking the law, you are to blame. You have created the race to the bottom.
    Has anybody seen any facility owners commenting on what is going on? NO. They all know that they are also part of the problem. If you can not afford to stay in business by following the laws, you should not be in business.

    This problem has been around for a long time. Back in the day, DD was a major violator of this practice. Artists were paid a flat for working 16 hour days, 7 days a week especially to get Titanic out the door.
    They also started the practice of trying to hire many foreign worker under visas. This was done because they could pay those artists substantially less than hiring American workers. There are a tremendous amount of very talented and well deserving foreign artists that wanted to get a piece of the VFX party when the industry did not really evolve yet in Europe and Asia, and they did what they can, they are not to blame as they are not now. But all the facility owners took great advantage of this, and it became something that has also driven the price of talent down. It is still happening.

    The point is that you just can not blame the subsides or the studios. The facility owners and artists have to take some responsibilities.

    Studios, do not hire companies that break labor law.
    Facilities, do not break labor laws and under cut each other by using this method.
    Artist, do not work for free, report facilities that are taking advantage of you.

    • The All Seeing Eye says:

      Your points are valid, but you posted this here twice. There are enough comments to go through without double posting.

    • chris says:

      I agree with most of what you say, but there is a very undemocratic process also happening….

      “Studios, do not hire companies that break labor law.”

      Oh you mean like WB and New Zealand where the laws were changed at the behest of WB. With no democratic process, with no consultation, with no referendum.

      You mean those labor laws?

      • somethoughts says:

        Chris, you are correct. We need to start somewhere. US workers need to stand up just like UK and NZ workers. But some pressure needs to be but on the buyers of the product as to not buy product that is being produced not under the law. All the work that is done on the studio lots are covered by contracts, why not post production that is done off lot? The public needs to know that the studios undercut labor.

  28. TigersTail says:

    I simply do NOT understand what Eric Roth (and/or the VES board) were thinking when this was written.

    - It requests pouring fuel onto the subsidies fire, when CA cannot/will not support it anyway (as per the Jerry Brown audio linked by VFX soldier). Seriously? They were unaware of this?
    - More seriously, it divides and alienates a significant group the VES membership just as there’s momentum of us collectively standing up for our global industry. United we stand, divided we fall? Something worth trying, yeah?

    As ineffectual as the VES has been, I understood they were trying to stay neutral and represent/mediate vfx issues on behalf of the VES membership worldwide. However, this Open Letter now establishes the VES as a lobbying organization on the behalf of the California VFX industry. (Maybe someone can say if this invalidates or runs contrary to the VES charter?)

    I would seriously welcome a VFX congress so long as it results in:
    - the resignation of Eric Roth and the VES Exec Committee
    - nomination of leadership more appropriate to our industry in it’s current crisis
    - the formation of an international VFX trade organization that can stand up to the studio cartel.

    Oh, and Eric? Congratulations on blowing what little credibility the VES had left.

    • shaner says:

      If they wanted to dash any remaining hopes of the VES having credibility, they just accomplished it with this letter.

      How short-sighted. MORE subsidies? Yeah, like CA can afford it.

      Don’t quit your day job Eric.

      Speaking of, what is his day job?

      • Ymir says:

        If we don’t like the idea of MORE subsidies, how about LESS subsidies. Because staying the course isn’t sustainable.

    • Get Real Soldier says:

      +1

      Problem with the Congress is who will attend? If VES is a point of credibility…why?

      I hope this platform provides some serious progress and momentary relief from the stress. But, how can an event thrown together with no details to take place in a few weeks have much of a chance?

      Didn’t the annual VES Production Summit held at the RITZ CARLTON for at least the past three years in October see this coming? If not, how blind can an organization be? And if they did see it (all around if they just looked)…what the heck is going on????

      And, for all those VES members outside of California…you have my deepest sympathies and understanding for your disappointment with your society. You have every right to feel abandoned.

      • Ymir says:

        “But, how can an event thrown together with no details to take place in a few weeks have much of a chance?”

        I guess you missed that there was a big event on H’wood & Vine this past Sunday?
        I’m wondering why the VES didn’t address this in it’s inception, before it became a ~3,000 international society? The problem is, if they do something, they’re criticized. If they do nothing, they’d be criticized. So now, criticizing aside, what is your solution?

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Okay, Ymir. You asked for it.

        1) VES did not address this at its inception because it was not the issue of the day. The choice at that time by its founders was to create an honorary society. The was not by accident, but by design. As such, it is legally set up as this type of non profit organization under state and federal law.The goals were to enhance the artistry of visual effects; recognize it; educate future storytellers; give back to the community; work with fellow organizations doing cool stuff; and, more. And, with all due respect to VES and its members today, the original VES did not have to work the media with pronouncements of what it would do. It got media because of what it did do… without the massive budgets VES has now just from the dues from 3000 global members.

        2) I fully understand the current and older ongoing issues in great detail about the visual effects industry back to the closing of Boss for reasons not unlike those facing some facilities today.
        VES chose not to be a trade organization or a union. It is chartered as such. Why, then, has VES continued to involve itself in issues where the extent of that participation is limited by charter/law? VES has made rather incredible statements which in many ways have been quite contradictory in nature. The announcement and support for California subsidies targeted to visual effects is not a bad idea, but it has never been the job of VES to make this statement especially in light of the fact that it spent many years developing sections in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, England and several other places. Shouldn’t all global members of VES be treated equally?

        3) The reference of the 3000 members should be put into perspective for the readers to fully see and understand the VES growth process. And, as a personal observer, I am not sure why numbers matter in an honorary organization, but it appears to be something that VES makes quite clear all the time….we are 3000 strong globally. So, one would assume that VES has grown quite a lot…right, Ymir?

        Here are the real numbers. When Eric Roth came on board with Jeff Okun rising to Chair a year or so later, VES had 900 – 1000 members. That was at least to seven year ago. In order to reach a total membership of 3000 today based on this…it would require ONLY each ‘member at that time’ to bring in another TWO MEMBERS EACH spread over SEVEN odd YEARS. So, that would be only one every 3 to 3 1/2 years for a new member brought in from the original ‘membership at that time’..and, that does not count ANY of the new 2000 members bringing in ANY other additional members during these seven years AT ALL.

        Unqualified numbers may be somewhat deceiving…

      • Ymir says:

        1.) Thank you, GRS, for elaborating for us how the VES was set up and what it was designed to do. Now, when everybody asks why the current VES can’t get involved or do certain things to address the problems facing today’s industry, it is because it was designed that way not to be able to by the founders.
        Today’s industry is faced with a lot of new challenges and the membership has been asking the VES to do something. I guess they can either do nothing, or they can try to do something within the framework with what they can with what they were given to work with. I imagine it’s like ultimate fighting with both arms and one leg tied behind you. They can be criticized for attempting to do what they are capable of, or they can be criticized for sitting back and being silent. Looks like they were willing to take the risk on the former.

        2.) I suppose the VES did what it did because under the current situation, people have asked “What is the VES going to do about it?” Well, I guess they can’t actually ‘do’ anything. I don’t really agree with the call for more subsidies. We need another subsidy like we need another nuclear armed nation. And it is contradictory to what they’ve said in the past. But guess what? What they’ve pushed for in the past hasn’t happened. People are reluctant to give up their subsidized bidding advantages. So, the VES just woke everybody up with a “if you can’t beat them, join them”. The VES is an international organization and shouldn’t favor any locale over another. But then I guess they shouldn’t leave any locale behind, either. I can’t speak for Eric, or Jeff, or whatever committee decided to go this route, but wow, it sure put a spotlight on the negative aspects of the subsidy situation, didn’t it? And if all they did was shine a spotlight on that and bring it to the attention of everybody to where we now see the possibility of the race to the bottom just that much closer, by one more contender, then I guess they did something pretty damn positive.

        3.) Yes, GRS, the VES has grown quite a bit, especially since I joined back in the spring of 2004. The budgets have grown, and it seems like they’re offering more services than when I joined. There’s even a website now where I can keep up with what’s going on and all that is now available. That wasn’t around when I joined. Personally, I think it’s pretty impressive for a group that does things predominantly by volunteers from the membership.

        I don’t agree with their action today, but I don’t agree with implying the whole organization is fucked up either. For my own personal experience, it’s a lot better organization today than when I joined.

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Ymir,

        To the best of my knowledge I laid out the facts as I recall them and, within my soul, they are pretty honest details. At no time did I state or imply “the whole organization is fucked up either”.

        Why are you so angry?

      • Ymir says:

        I’m not angry. Are you angry? You made the initial comments, I’m just offering a counter point of view. I’m just laying out the way I see things now, as a satisfied member.

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Ymir,

        You do not answer a lot of questions, so I will ask only two, again. Before I ask let me clearly state that the visual effects industry has problems. These existed to a greater or less degree when Scot Ross tried to form AVEC over twenty years ago BEFORE VES. In those twenty plus years, no one and no entity has been able to come together to unionize or make a trade organization. And, Scott Ross with VES support has been trying for the past three years to do this again.This alone, speaks volumes about the industry having the ability to come together.

        Here is the question: “As no one can seem to bring the folks together for a union or trade organization, why does VES (when legally prohibited from doing much of this) keep sticking its nose in areas where it should not be, and in some cases, legally not be there?”

        And, the answer cannot be because you are the only organization around. Would you ask a dentist to do open heart surgery because he was the closest thing to being a heart surgeon available. The answer is no, and there are laws prohibiting people from doing certain things. Maybe, VES is not what you want it to be…but, you joined it a decade ago for what it was…an honorary society.

        Second question: “Why did VES invest so much time and effort building global sections and making lots of press noise about being the global voice of visual effects, only to turn on a dime when convenient?” “Did VES even ask its members what they thought before taking such actions?”

        And for the record, VES tried this expansion during its first 10 years and saw conflicts of interest would surely arise…like NOW. As such, sections overseas were not thought to be a wise idea over time. Guess Jeff Okun and Eric Roth did not get that memo.

        And, as a member you must know. Please, elaborate.

      • Ymir says:

        GRS, I don’t speak for the VES. As a member, I can only offer my opinions, and here they seem to be counter to yours. I’m sorry that bothers you so much. You seem to have some negative past with the VES that you can’t put aside.

        As to your questions:

        1.) I believe I know what you are referring to when you accuse the VES of sticking its nose where it not should be, in some cases, legally. I’m going to assume, those that made this decision, being fully aware of the nature of what they were doing, consulted the VES lawyer(s). After going back to the bylaws, and a quick Google search, I came up with this:

        http://www.councilofnonprofits.org/nonprofit-advocacy/501h-election

        I am going to guess under these terms, they felt they could suggest this action. Should they have taken this action? Should they have sat back and watched as Rome burns? We all know California is in bad financial shape and most likely doesn’t have the money for this. And Jerry Brown has said in past interviews, he wouldn’t engage in doing this. But he could change his mind. Who knows? And coming from politics, Eric knows all this too. What I take from all this is, as an industry, we can go all in, or we can go all out. If subsidies are good some, then they should be good for all. And we come out with a stronger industry, right? To me it seems like an act that will generate no action, but hopefully open everyone’s eyes as to how their own personal situation is harming others, and the implied possibility that their own situation is tenuous and they could find themselves in the same boat as well. I don’t know if that was Eric’s or Jeff’s or whoever’s intention, but giving them the benefit of the doubt, that’s what I can come up with. A follow up question would be, if not the VES, then who?
        Would it alleviate the problem if the VES asked for matching subsidies from all states, provinces, and countries, and encouraged all it’s global sections and members to contact their political leaders as well?

        2.) Personally, I see nothing convenient about the current situation. Why would you think doing this would be convenient for the VES? The VES is not an effects facility. It’s not going to win any bids or show contracts should CA decide to match subsidies. Why did they take the time and effort to build global sections? Because they were asked to. The VES received requests from other regions, I believe starting with the UK, and the others followed suit. The sections are not started by the VES wherever they want to put one. The VES is petitioned by areas that can meet the criteria for one, and then it is voted on by the board. The VES is proud of each of the sections and why shouldn’t they make press noise announcing the new section and the growth of the society?
        If you don’t agree with the actions called for, then please offer another solution. I’ve made it pretty clear I don’t like subsidies and would like them all eliminated. My solution is to support Soldier’s effort. But these backhanded shots at the VES, Eric, and Jeff serve no positive purpose and come across as sour grapes.

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Ymir,

        I asked you, if as a VES Member, were you made aware of the current VES action in advance? Meaning, was the membership (not the officers/bod) made aware or asked to participate in this decision. I appreciate all the things you say except for the part that I am attacking VES for whatever reason.

        This is a simple question. It is a yes or no. Were you?

        The other question was seeking your response to what ‘may appear to some’ a conflict of interest between the Sections (thanks for the long rambling explanation). How do you or how does VES accept applications for sections from other locations without some arrangement or understanding relative to the current VES “Call to Arms” for additional California subsidies targeted specifically to visual effects? In other words, do you think this scenario in general terms may have been discussed, because it was/is certainly a possibility?

        I know you don’t speak for VES, but as a proud member for a decade, and I assume a bright guy/lady…can’t you see this as a serious potential conflict of interest…Sections and, unfortunately, the current path VES has chosen? As a VES member, today, outside California…what might you think about your society?

        I am very confused about the VES process and message…that’s all.

      • Ymir says:

        1.) No, the VES membership was not notified in advance.
        2.) The short answer to your rambling question is: I don’t know.

        We’re in new territory here. Maybe the VES should adjust its message to make it not California specific?
        My state has various incentives, but pose no real threat to California, say, as a New Mexico or Louisiana or New York might. So the action doesn’t bother me other than it’s a call for more subsidies. I don’t know if it will work or not. If it does, it means I don’t have to pack my rain gear when I travel to work. ;) Does it shake my opinion of the VES? No, not really. When I’m working in L.A. or S.F., I enjoy going to the various events. And this years batch of screeners have been the best yet of my years as a member.

      • Ymir says:

        P.S. GRS, I also asked you for your solutions to the situation? And if not the VES, then who?

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Thank You.

        And I wish VES great luck trying to be all that it can be for everyone who lives in California at this time.

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Craig Barron.

  29. Jen says:

    Just want to add my $0.02 — I don’t want California VFX subsidies. Not now, not ever.

    Subsidies are the problem, not the solution.

  30. annonLM says:

    Man this is really frustrating. First off the studios make money off our work and with out paying for it, plain and simple. Do the math and look at all the profits. Can anyone due basic math anymore?! Seriously the studios make literally billions off of our work and not just from box office sales. Box office sales mostly tell the studios how quick they made their money back. (Trade secret: THEY ALWAYS MAKE THERE MONEY BACK) They never get a loss on a movie, even if it is a flop. They are just concerned with how quick they make their money. Most “Blockbusters” Make all the money back the first weekend box office.
    The Simsons voice actors were able to make 8 million a year on a show (Good for them) with sinking ratings. Why? Because its not just about ratings they make a killing off of ads, products, and endorsements. and not just for the year they created the project, but literally for years to come. Our work will continue to make money for years to come. But, who is getting that money? Well it is not us. The studios pull in tons of money now, more than ever before. They just want to make a cheap product that can give back a high yield return on their investment and most importantly to them, quickly. The big studio exects care only about one thing, making their money back as quick as possible. Make no mistake, they always make a profit. They do not give a shit about the movie, only how quick their return is and how many products they can sell.
    Any worker that thinks unions are bad and” right to work” is good, stop watching fox news you idiot. Anyone that thinks that “right to work” is a good idea doesn’t know what the fuck they are talking about. “Oh but if I go union I can’t make as much money.” First off stop being a greedy little bitch, it is not just about you it is about everyone around you. Unions benefit the workers and that is why companies do not like them. It is about you and those around you it benefits everyone, that means you can work better hours live the life you want to live have job security, health. No one can force you to join a union, it is illegal to do that. Though I would recommend that you do consider it strongly. We became the top of the food chain by working together and not by being an indavidual. (This means that survival of the fittest refers to our ability to work together.) Read more, Mark Twain has some good points on why it is important. Secondly we all make money, have benefits, and security. You think the studios are going to stop making movies? Nonsense. Like I have said before, they make way too much money off them. Do the math.
    People lie and they have huge egos. If you have signed a N.D.A. there should be no more “secrets” about related to the company. I am guessing that you all have been lied to at one time or another. When it comes down to it, the lies are mainly about money and jobs. Guess what if we were paid fair in the first place, most of us would be pretty honest and pleasant to be around. Without a union you have no say, with a union you have a say. Movie business is still big business and they can pay us all what we are really worth. In the long run the quality of what we do improves and the companies still make a profit. Learn how to think critically and don’t buy into the lies. Get over yourself and wake up.

    • Mad says:

      Why don’t we just start our own employee owned movie studio? They are never going to change. Screaming and begging for more money is going to go nowhere. Remember you’ll go to jail for striking in singapore and Disney now has ILM’s 8 story sand crawler finishing this Summer. I just came back from 2 years out there. It is over bro. Get off the teat and grow some. I’ll put my money where my mouth is. Will you?

      • BPerlow says:

        Ive heard about the crazy Singapore place from a bud who went back to Weta. I do agree we need to also focus on developing ourselves as something bankable. Partly why we need good PR for ourselves. If we arent known, no one will buy or invest in us.

    • veteran says:

      well said annonLM

      that comment reflects my thoughts entirely

      • annonLM says:

        I just wish there were not so many defeatist attitudes out there. Thank you very much. We all really need to work together on this.

      • Jen says:

        @annonLM – I see three groups of VFX artists right now:

        - those who are vehemently anti-union.

        - those who are pro-union.

        - those who are pro-union, but terrified of rocking the boat.

        I’m seeing more people switch from the third group to the second. The question is, which group holds the majority opinion?

      • annonLM says:

        @Jen Being terrified to rock the boat is the whole reason having a union is probably one of the best things we can do at this time. I think we are all afraid to one degree or another. But waiting till it gets even worse than it already is is a terrible mistake. I just hope that reason will wake people up.

      • Ashes says:

        @Jen, I would disgree with your “terrified of rocking the boat” comment. Many of us that are leaning pro-union, but haven’t signed card have legitimate concerns with the added costs that a union would impose on struggling vfx houses or the fact that a union apdoesn’t offer any staff artist at a major house anything they don’t already have. The union has not addressed this other than name calling and vague statements. Implying that we are merely scared is not only disrespectful, but isn’t going to get anyone to change their position.

      • Jen says:

        @Ashes – Many of us that are leaning pro-union, but haven’t signed card have legitimate concerns with the added costs that a union would impose on struggling vfx houses

        In other words, “terrified of rocking the boat.” That’s changing, though. Artists who refused to consider joining a union last week are now asking me how to sign up for union membership.

        …or the fact that a union apdoesn’t offer any staff artist at a major house anything they don’t already have.

        I find your claim doubtful. Can you name a “major” non-union house that still offers severance pay? Imageworks once did, but now it’s gone.

        At minimum, a union offers a portable benefits package that cannot change without the consent of the majority of VFX artists. As Imageworks artists found out the hard way, non-union benefits can and will degrade whether the artists agree or not.

  31. andrei.gheorghiu says:

    “This problem has been around for a long time. Back in the day, DD was a major violator of this practice. Artists were paid a flat for working 16 hour days, 7 days a week especially to get Titanic out the door.”- by somethoughts!

    MPC has the same practice at least in Vancouver – flat rate for 10h/day, although in BC usually there is 1and a half after 8 hours, and 2 times after 10.
    But the “artists” don’t say anything about this – if you ask them , they will tell you how fantastic that work place is – frendly people and beer Friday.
    Shame!

    • Pookyjuice says:

      If you look at MPC’s books, you may find that they actually ARE paying overtime at 1 and 1/2 for those those two hours beyond 8. The employees are just getting less per hour for those initial 8 than they think. A time-worn trick in this industry.

      • markH says:

        Ditto Animal Logic – if not worse

      • M says:

        Actually MPC pays a 10 hour day and then time till 12 and then time and a half. They are breaking no rules as artists are classifies as High Tech Worker and have very different laws for that classification of worker.

      • DMC says:

        Wrong,
        Visual effects workers are not ‘High Tech Workers’ Regular BC labour laws apply. Time and half after 8, double time after 12 hours. 32 hours in a row off work per week or pay time and half on the seventh day. Minimum basic eight hours between shifts unless you work in emergency services.

      • shawn says:

        and they never tell the employees their rates are being cut to justify the ten hours work day, so the OT rate is dropped because of that.Worst thing is many people over there are willing to work for free even without OT approval.PLus they pay peanuts to the juniors.Yeah, this place is “FANTASTIC”

  32. Aton says:

    This is a classic case of NIMBY’ism. As mentioned, if California wasn’t a bankrupt state, then they too would offer better tax incentives or other subsidies to the industry to assist their locale in being competitive with other zones/regions/provinces/states offering subsidies. Make no mistake, every industry imaginable receives government subsidies in one way or another; agriculture, automotive, fossil fuel/energy, even those fucking bankers destroying global economies get subsidies in the form of bailouts. It is in the best interest of government in your economic region to assist business in being successful because it creates jobs, which in turn generates tax revenue plus good little citizens buying shit (and the wheels on the bus turn ’round and ’round).

    In BC, our province is building a liquified natural gas terminal in the North so the LNG industry to sell its product to (for the most part) Asian markets. It’s good for our economy. As British Columbians we all benefit directly or indirectly from this government investment.

    Getting back to the topic of VFX, well, film in general in BC, it really pisses me off that when we rally to Save BC Film, comments forums on news media websites and radio talk shows are filled with citizens calling us greedy pigs and why should we be subsidized? Why not? Everyone else is, they just are blind to that. Subsidies can present themselves in many forms; building a seaside terminal won’t help film, so our governments offers a labour and DAVE credits that do.

    Anyone rallying behind Rythm & Hues and complaining of unfair advantages in other cities is a fool. R&H has (had?) studios in Vancouver as well as Asia to exploit tax credits and cheap labour (in that order) to back up their LA power hub. They’re not assholes, but they were doing what needs to be done to compete in a global market. We are a creative industry, which means we are made up of artists that can be really damn creative and present some really awesome artwork, but we’re showing we’re not the business sharks that dominate Wall Street. Nothing about money is fair, so get over that Cinderella fantasy. VFX houses of all sizes need to be able to compete in this global market. Newsflash, I know for a fact VFX studios in Asia, UK, Canada, Germany have lost bids to companies in LA. Two way street. Hey guess what? McDonalds, a US company with their McCafe, are trying to steal coffee business from Tim Hortons.

    And seriously LA, you don’t see dollar stores on Rodeo Drive for a reason, it’s not economically viable. I’m not saying you would be an idiot to open a VFX studio in LA, but you have to be able to differentiate yourself in some way to create the compelling argument to attract business, regardless of size.

    The VES Open Letter is wrong. It is wrong of the executive director, of what he acknowledges is an international organization, to promote one single location to the detriment of others. Either learn to adapt to the new business model (which is the ‘merkin way, right?) or hold a telethon.

    • Jen says:

      This is a classic case of NIMBY’ism. As mentioned, if California wasn’t a bankrupt state, then they too would offer better tax incentives or other subsidies to the industry to assist their locale in being competitive with other zones/regions/provinces/states offering subsidies.

      Why would California need to subsidize its century-old film industry? Were Disney, Warner Bros, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Fox planning to leave anytime soon?

  33. BPerlow says:

    I would hope Canadian folks would rather drink a Tim Hortons than a McCafe.. We actually have a few THs in NYC. I would find subsidies more tolerable if the State/Country actually had equity in the projects. They should get points too.

    • Craig says:

      Canadians dont mind cultural domination by the US. We will declare ourselves different from the US, but cant get enough of the cultural products. Some have said Hollywood keeps Canada from making and succeeding with its own films but its easy to debunk: look at Canadian lit. In the 19th century the US had Washington Irving, Poe, Melville, and others. We had no one. Same when radio came along. We didnt do radio dramas. The subsidies would make more sense if it was being used to build a domestic film industry but it isnt. The government gives money for the US studios, and then a little money to Canadian filmmakers to make unpopular film subjects (check out what Telefilm Canada funds on its imdb page). The digital effects industry in Canada will dry up overnight when Hollywood leaves. BC is stuck in labor service and resource extraction mode.

      • Dave Rand says:

        Sorry Craig that is not an excuse. Life of Pi was written by a Canadian and you have massive amounts of talent and infrastructure. If you don’t like your old Ford, it does not mean you should steal a Ferrari.

  34. confused and bitter says:

    it’s sad to read how we are dividing up ourselfs and waving our fingers in the blaming game.

    the only thing worse than elites are false pretend elites. this is what this is. shame on everyone who thinks to deserve more than others…

  35. Has anyone written anything on exactly what effect these subsidies have on VFX? I have only seen handwringing and claims of illegality, and some attempts to show a local government why they are financially wrong, but how does any of this actually affect a VFX shop?

    The thing I see is that the Studios are supposedly getting the tax credits for the money the VFX shop pays local employees – which is the real root of the problem, another example of how the VFX shops allow the Studios to ride roughshod over them. The issue isn’t subsidies, it’s the f’ed up business practices that VFX has fallen into over the past 20 years.

    If the Studios truly forced a shop like R&H to open up in Vancouver and R&H allowed the Studios to take the tax credits for R&H employees, why isn’t that being talked about as the issue? What part of that will change if subsidies went away? Wouldn’t the Studios still push VFX around to find cheaper rates?

    • Ashes says:

      Please go back and read previous posts on this blog, everything you are saying has been talked about before.

      • I have looked, and the extent of the analysis is as I posted.

        http://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/help-bring-back-lost-vfx-work-to-the-us/

        “Many of them have been forced to open satellite facilities in other countries so their US studio clients can receive the subsidy. ”

        So the root of the problem is Studios bullying and not the subsidies themselves.

      • Ashes says:

        Read the comments on any of the blog posts. We’ve talked about it to death.

        Basically, when a vfx house bids on a film the studios will tell us, “The work has to be done in Country A so we can get our tax incentive. If you won’t do it in Country A then you won’t get our film.” That’s what’s happening.

        The only reason DD, R&H, Sony, ILM, MPC, etc have shops in other countries other than their own is because of the studios are demanding we chase after the tax incentives. If there where no tax incentives than the studios would have no interest in going to most of these other countries. They go there because the governments are handing them cash. They are literally buying jobs from studios. In some places, if you spend $10mil in labor, the studios get about $3mil back.

      • Ashes, I will point out again that the issue you describe is that the VFZ houses have to be beholden to the whims of the Studios. In this case, it’s two-fold:

        1. open up new facilities where I tell you to.
        2. Give me your accounting records so I can submit them to steal your tax credits for myself.

        Neither are directly due to subsidies, they are just more examples of how VFX has trained the Studios to treat them.

      • Ashes says:

        Let me make this really simple for you.

        The Studios wouldn’t be in most countries if it wasn’t for the tax incentives. The tax incentives countries hold out a wad of cash and say “We’ll give you this if you bring your film to us.” The Studios say, “Sure! We love free cash.” Then they bring their film to them. Get it?

        Clearly you don’t understand how the tax incentives work.

        To your first point, the studios are only telling the vfx houses to open in certain countries to get the tax incentives. If there were no tax incenitves they wouldn’t force the vfx houses to open in those countries. So, the incentives are directly responsible.

        To your second point, the studios don’t steal any tax credit from the vfx houses. They are given the credit directly from the government. It’s the studios that get offered the tax credits not the vfx houses.

        Again, read more on this before trying to debate it. Have you even read the thread on the whole SAVEBC tax credit post? This site is filled with post after post of info and ensuing debates on the tax incentives.

    • Studio_Spotter says:

      They would but fx houses and artists would not have to waste tremendous resources setting up shop and life in the next subsidized nation every few years.

      Major VFX houses need to form a trade org and agree to some standards in accepting business from studios. For instance, if fx houses want to enjoy residuals when movies do well, they should also be willing to buy some of the risk. If an fx house cut its price 10 or so million in return for some 2-5% of gross, if the movie does well, the vfx house earns profit, if the movie does poorly, the vfx house has eaten some of the loss.

      VFX houses would have an interest in the success of films and management might eventually reflect that. Perhaps artists could get some sort of bonus if a film did very well. Then you would have 1000 or more artists all interested in the movie’s box office. And when it wraps thats 1000+ people that comment on reddit, youtube, rotten tomatoes, talk to their friends, etc.

      Studios would lessen their risk, fx houses would have a chance to save some capital if a movie does well or wins an oscar etc, and it would mobilize many more people concerned about the success of their film.

  36. confused and bitter says:

    i couldn’t agree more with Robert. these are some very valid questions.

    The only one who still makes (these kind of) movies out of passion are the artists. everyone else is seeing this as a profit machine and is taking advantage of passionate artists and their drive to deliver top notch. I guess it’s just naive to expect organisations(?) like the VES to act. (admittedly I did)

    Guess the only way to deal with this is act like working professionals and not like wanna be artist:

    no OT pay? “sorry can’t do”
    crazy hours, whether paid or not? “sorry can’t do”
    last minute change? “sorry can’t do. it took us 3 months in the first place to get there. won’t be able to turn it around in 2 weeks now”

    strike is an option and arguments they will only hurt our employers are valid. but when exactly are those vendors making a stand for their artists when directors or client vfx supes can’t make up their mind or are just incompetent. or studios squeezing in another trailer/teaser/comic con/whatnot delivery?.. they just pass on the BS down to weakest part of the chain. the individuals. any director or CEO/manager in the big 8 earns enough to be not affected by this whole dilemma AT ALL (remember the dneg sportscar farce?)

    so if there is no pressure/need to change things, things won’t change. i guess work work by rule and simple common sense can be mighty weapons in our case as this industry is completely lacking it. i mean no one sues a taxi driver because he refuses to go to the airport first and then to the train station for the same fee.
    common sense I tell ya.

  37. [...] So far two petitions to promote change in the business model of the VFX industry are circulating. Both want two completely different things. On one side, the Visual Effects Society disseminated a letter calling the VFX professionals to actions and offered a sample letter that could be printed, signed, and mailed to California’s lawmakers. This petition asks for subsidies in California to match or surpass those that are already given in other states such as New York, Georgia, and Louisiana or other countries. A plan VFX Soldier has made clear he opposes. [...]

  38. M says:

    I think the reason for the VES going this route is as stated by studios the sunsidies allow them to make more films a year creating more films requiring VFX and so more work. If subsidies do end the studios money will not allow them to make so many films and there will be far less overall.

    This is not a post in support of subsidies just a reality of the issue. And the WTO can only suggest resolutions but history proves that often governements especially the USA ignore the rulings.

    • Dave Rand says:

      Actually the WTO has been very effective. There are lots of articles citing that the US and other nations ignore them but most are propaganda. Like most political entities it’s far from perfect but I believe it’s best to let them decide, and bring it to the attention of our own leaders as we are doing and British Columbia is doing.

      Subsidies are one of the tools that keep the Americans in control of film making. No one can compete so they opt to just pay the Americans for the privilege to work on their movies. This should be widespread amongst all nations. That is the only way you’ll see MORE films and more nations making them.

      • David Scottson says:

        Stop fetishizing the WTO. It’s one of the most corrupt international institutions in existence and should be abolished.

  39. VFXLady says:

    So we haven’t come to a consensus on a solution, yet. But we have identified there is a problem and we are talking to one another. This is very good. Let’s not forget what led us here, all our individual experiences culminating in this:

    Life of Pi party watching Oscars

    Winner for Best VFX

    Winner for Best Director

    We all booed with them. So we don’t agree yet on the subsidy issue, that’s ok. We don’t agree yet on the Union issue, that’s ok. But can we agree we DO need our respective VFX Houses to talk to one another? And in addition creating a VFX comittee is crucial? We need representation to stand behind.

    • Studio_Spotter says:

      Totally agree, by talking together I assume you mean come to a consensus on standards for work, like residuals, and rush job price increases. Is this not what a trade association is for? Even if just a handful of major houses agreed to it, any studio wanting a major blockbuster film would have to accept their standards or they wouldnt get a film.

      • VFXLady says:

        @Studio, yes! That’s what I mean regarding a consensus. Also, here is a beautifully written article I caught on facebook that really sums up a lot of what I believe we can get behind.

        http://www.facebook.com/notes/jenn-epstein/are-you-brave-enough-vfx/10151522092515309

      • Studio_Spotter says:

        Pretty much agree with all of trade standards there with one exception, I dont think it should matter if a movie is nominated. FX studios should standardize royalties whether or not a movie is nominated.
        FX houses profits or losses should not be subject to whatever hollywood gossip dictates nominations or awards that year. Nominations are political enough without adding another major variable in the mix.

      • VFXLady says:

        @StudioSpotter, I agree with you. It should be based on profitability and should go back into the studio.

        I read a post that also suggested artists get a “bonus” if the film they work on is nominated. BAD idea imo as it would promote the wrong type of work environment. Sure people would be rewarded for their hard work, but many times we don’t have a choice of what films to work on and it could cause unnecessary bad blood if some artists are put to work on films they know are a long shot to be nominated.

  40. downunder says:

    don’t worry folks, I’m in Australia – I don’t agree with the VES open letter – I think we need a different message – but am pissed enough to still be green. We’ll get there. Oh, and the message is getting out, and you have people’s attention believe me. The question is – where do we go from here? Cheers!

  41. jeevfx says:

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

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

    • R&H overseas!! says:

      I hope R&H goes down hard!!! How dare they create another Asian office while trying to stay in business! We need our jobs here in California, we should strike, that will teach them… oh wait.

    • :) :) :) says:

      Isn’t this exactly what everyone is fighting against???

      “R&H, he added, is turning its focus to developing or expanding studios in Canada and Southeast Asian countries, which either provide seductive tax incentives or cheap labor.”

      LOLOLOL, pack your bags, guess where you’re going!

  42. A Voice says:

    We need a clear leader, since we don’t have one to represent us, we will always be fragmented as a community on idea. Especially if we are given time to discuss it. Can we just back a person or organization and let them guide us in our plannings? I’m asking the IATSE to do it, because they are ready now. If someone else is ready to step up with a clear plan, I will back them up too.

    I’m signing my card and mailing it in this weekend.

    • Mike B. says:

      As I’ve said here before: IATSE lobbies hard for subsidies. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Either you want an end to subsidies or you want equal protection under a collective bargaining umbrella that supports them.

      • A Voice says:

        We need to be a unified voice first. But if the choice is to do nothing and expect subsidies to end, I don’t think that will happen. I rather unionized and at least see change. In the end, the union answers to its members not the other way around.

    • fair game says:

      just curious: How are you guys planning to get 100’000 signatures? There may not even be that many vfx artists around the globe.

      • Jen says:

        @fair game – I figure the petition will pick up steam after Hollywood kills off the last massive VFX shop and AVENGERS 5 uses a sock puppet for the Hulk.

      • Studio_Spotter says:

        haha not gonna happen, but its better than doing nothing. Even if someone in gov reads it, its worth it. The more noise we make the better.

  43. Khumba says:

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

    This industry is collapsing – daily.

  44. subsidies still won’t prevent the dire straits vfx companies end up in.

    it’s incentivizing the studios and praying for a “trickle down” effect that’s already proved to be nothing more than dribbles.

    alas, people don’t unionize because they’re treated well… and so the time has come.

    vfx needs to unionize like the animation companies. join iatse. get some leverage and force the studios’ hands in things like profit participation.

    you’re never going to unionize worldwide. but it’s also a fact that studios can’t do ALL their work overseas.

    overseas workflow isn’t amenable to fast feedback. time zone differences can be a pain in the ass too. stuff like that matters.

    we have some leverage as a result of that.

    seems like the moment of “now or never” is at hand. it’s either group up or get killed off one at a time.

    • annonLM says:

      Agreed. I think that it is important to show support to people that have good ideas and like-mindedness. I have noticed recently a drop in support because of stagnation and bickering. Unions benefit everybody and the simple fact is that these movies make millions and in some cases billions off of our work. They can more than afford to start paying for it.

      • lhenryfx says:

        Yes, there can be a lot of confusion as people begin to understand the issues in depth. We know from personal experience that working conditions in VFX are unhealthy & that there are shady business practices going on with foreign subsidies & fixed bids with compressed post-production schedules. Hopefully, as people begin to let go of divisive political rhetoric, they will better understand causes & conditions that have created an abusive workplace, here & abroad. Then we can get on to what choices we will make, both individually & as a group.

      • Jen says:

        @lhenryfx – Hopefully, .. [people] will better understand causes & conditions that have created an abusive workplace, here & abroad. Then we can get on to what choices we will make, both individually & as a group.

        Well-said. One thing I’d like VFX artists to start discussing is how migrating from country to country could affect their income in their old age. In the United States, for example, it takes a minimum of 10 years to qualify for Social Security and a minimum of 35 years to get the maximum possible benefit.

        If Hollywood keeps pushing VFX artists around from country to country in search of subsidies, are those VFX artists unknowingly throwing a monkey wrench into their retirement support? Or will they receive multiple tiny checks from each of the countries in which they worked on projects? How does that work out?

  45. John Matrix says:

    Jeff Okun you’re a funny guy, that’s why I am gonna kill you last.

  46. CantSayWhoIAm says:

    The smartest thing anyone can do is to diversify. Find something in addition to VFX work that builds on those skills and invest into it. A sad thing is that this is an irreversible trend. Even if the VFX artists are unionized, it wouldn’t change a thing because much larger and powerful unions in the past weren’t been able to stop the outsourcing. As long as you have people willing to work for peanuts, and you will always have those, there’s nothing to do about it. The only way is to protect the technology and know how, once that is gone it’s just a matter of time before someone can do it cheaper. That ship has sailed long time ago. Deal with it and start preparing, it’s not the end of the world.

  47. intvfxartist says:

    Randal posted a link that I’m re-posting in case ppl missed it..

    I think everyone should read about the MPAA (which is basically the studios)

    http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/opinions/the-mpaa-must-die-and-how-you-can-help-make-that-happen.php

    Goes to show how many ways this business is controlled by Hollywood’s biggest.

    Make no mistake, it’s a HUGE business making Billions.. vfx driven or other.

    It’s time artists put away their star wars t-shirts for once and replace it with a tie now and then. I say it’s enough with the starving artist little fish mentality and start acting like a one of the sharks.

  48. downundervfx says:

    RE. PRIME FOCUS exploiting employees (Reposted):

    You have to check this out.

    Linked below is contact from one of the biggest VFX studios Prime Focus and how they exploit their employees.

    Got this from one of my mates who works at Rhythm and Hues, Mumbai

    Linked Image 1: email from the recruitment agency dated 23rd July 2012
    http://s13.postimage.org/oxvcta353/roto.jpg

    Linked Image 2: Page 1 of their contract
    http://s8.postimage.org/exhzjlh45/image.jpg

    Linked Image 3: Page 2 of their contract
    http://s14.postimage.org/j1bp1b14h/image.jpg

    1) Look at image 1 it says : You are required to pay INR 5000 ($100 Approx) as a consultancy fee (for a job that going to get you $150)
    2) Look at image 2 first paragraph: you will be paid INR 7,500/Month, this is before the tax is deducted ($150 Approx)
    3) Look at Image 2 it says: Candidate needs to pay INR 30,000($600 Approx) as deposit, which is refundable only if you stay with the company for two years. Refer to Image 2 Clause C1. C2 and D

    Don’t know how they manage to do it, pay $600 upfront for $150/Month job
    $150 is probably not even rent covered.

    This is how people are exploited in India, and the reason for where our industry is now. Just wanted to share this :)

    • vfxmafia says:

      Yes..the article you sent is about Prime Focus *(the same company that failed to buy out Rythm & Hues that caused the bankruptcy)

      VFX soldier broke the story last year…..Read article here:
      http://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/prime-focus-exploiting-indian-workers/

      American workers fought and DIED for the rights you have now as a worker. People fought, protested, and died in America for 40 hour work weeks, Overtime, children workers, same wages for women and ethinicities. Do you even know why we have a labor day……????

      They made it a holiday following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike. Our own army murdered poeple fighting just to have what we take for granted every day.

      India has done the same against England when Ghandi was around. But in this case the Indian workers are being manipulated as well.

      The reason for the protests at the academy awards is to stop YOUR tax dollars going to rich studio executives in Tax subsidies is to drive down labor rights and salaries in ALL VFX workers in the world. Indian, Chinese, American, Canadian, and London workers are all being exploited. All we ask is STOP corporate welfare and these bullshit tax subsidies…..to big 6 studios.

      It not just “us” or them……R&H had 1,400 workers and one of the first to embrace Indian outsourcing. Of the 1,400 workers that wont have a job when R&H falls….700 are in Mumbai India that are getting laid off.

      Please…..STOP PITTING VFX WORKERS AGAINST EACH OTHER. It is the stinking studio executives that are the problem and the corrupt politicians of the countries that pay them off…….its plain and simple fucking corruption….

  49. vfxy says:

    anyone have a journalist as a friend?

  50. A Voice says:

    Not directly related to VFX, but as a creative pros, this can help you.

    F*ck You. Pay Me.
    http://vimeo.com/22053820

  51. vfxmafia says:

    the story is growing……

    Petition :
    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/we-petition-obama-administration-protect-and-help-vfx-and-cg-studios-and-artist-america/DYqWxtsT
    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/end-export-american-visual-effects-jobs-other-countries-who-are-offering-unfair-tax-subsidies/VMFpwNRk

    http://www.authorityfx.com/rhythm_and_blues_the_erosion_of_the_visual_effects_industry/
    http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118066644/
    http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2013/02/life-in-the-movie-business-an-inside-look-at-the-vfx-crisis/
    http://news.yahoo.com/visual-effects-protest-spreads-twitter-facebook-224908241.html
    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/visual-effects-society-calls-new-424791
    http://www.visualeffectssociety.com/call-to-action
    http://www.meyemind.com/vfxlog/archives/2013/02/the_tipping_poi.html
    http://voxelmuerto.com/2013/02/conflicting-interests-in-the-vfx-industry/
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2013/feb/26/ang-lee-visual-effects-life-of-pi
    http://www.tribecafilm.com/tribecaonline/future-of-film/Why-is-Everyone-in-Your-Feed-Turning-Their-Profile-Picture-Green.html#.UTAc61e7F96
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2013/feb/25/oscars-protest-life-of-pi
    http://www.fxguide.com/quicktakes/ves-responds-to-vfx-protest/
    http://blog.sfgate.com/thebigevent/2013/02/25/biggest-oscars-snub-a-shark-attack-on-the-vfx-industry/
    http://www.reddit.com/r/news/comments/195pwe/vfx_protest_at_oscars_hundreds_of_visual_effects/c8l8tp2
    http://www.fxguide.com/fxpodcasts/fxpodcast-245-vfx-roundtable/
    http://www.scpr.org/news/2013/02/27/36132/bankruptcy-company-involved-life-pi-visual-effects/

    http://www.deadline.com/2012/02/its-official-dreamworks-animation-unveils-china-joint-venture/
    http://focustaiwan.tw/ShowNews/WebNews_Detail.aspx?Type=aECO&ID=201302280002

  52. Hristo Velev says:

    Why don’t we establish a VFX artist association? Not a trade union, not gonna be at war with anybody. You pay $20 a month, and you get – legal help in suing when you’re not paid; relocation help when you need it; maybe better deals with medical services; information about how to defend your interests well in new situations etc. If 5K people pay into it, it could easily be funded.

    • vfxmafia says:

      problem is different health care costs…….in different countries……

      something like your described is forming……….

      In NYC a “Freelance Union” has formed…The NY freelancers union extends to print, web, and graphic designers who are in NY.

      They finally got a great health plan for all freelancers in NY. Since Unions in California (animation guild) require you to be employed…..(and most people now are PERMA-LANCE)….

      this might help ALL the freelance workers get into a group health plan……they have dues …that give you a political voice…..and a pension plan…

      On Thursday, March 14th, Freelancers Union Founder Sara Horowitz will be at NextSpace LA for a conversation with freelancers as part of The Freelancer’s Bible book tour.

      http://freelancersbiblelosangeles-eorg.eventbrite.com/

      After the event, you’re invited to stick around, as we will be hosting a small group of freelance friends and members to learn more about what’s happening in the Los Angeles freelance community.

      Freelancers Union
      Thursday, March 14, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM (PDT)
      Culver City, CA

      http://www.freelancersunion.org/

  53. vfxmafia says:

    You know why I can STAND CALIFORNIA UNIONS!!!!

    Because….Im not a director …I cant be in the fucking DGA…..
    Because ….Im not a Actor…..I cant be in the fucking SAG
    Because…Im not a Writer…..I cant be in the fucking WGA
    Because…Im not a grip…or fucking what ever…..ALL OF THEM COULDNT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THE ACADEMY PISSING ON ALL OF US THIS SUNDAY>>>>>>>>

    what if a union was…??

    Graphic Designer
    Writer
    Information Technology Professional
    Artist
    Web Design/Development
    Editor
    ????????

    Maybe we should take a cue from NY Union……????
    OVER 203,000 and growing……?

    Pension
    Group Health care
    Lawyers for lobby
    Layers for pay grievance

    (Guess what we only got 5,000 CGI workers in California) You want power? You want people to give a shit about you?

    YOU NEED A FIST THE SIZE OF 250,000

    Freelancers Union
    Thursday, March 14, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM (PDT)
    Culver City, CA

    http://www.freelancersunion.org/

    Maybe we need a New York opinion of what happend this Sunday.

    • Whoa says:

      My concern with a fist of 250k is that they would act on the broad concerns of that entire group rather than focus on the specific particulars of the vfx industry.

  54. vfxmafia says:

    Why work?

    Sara Horowitz: The self-employed worker

  55. vfxmafia says:

    “Freelancers are 1 in every 3 workers.
    Together we can build smarter solutions to broken systems. Together, we’re the future of the economy.”

    Sara Horowitz / Founder
    Freelancers Union

  56. vfxmafia says:

    Im sorry but California guilds and Unions are impotent….a freelancer’s union that encompassess 1 in every 3 workers…..can pound the 6 studios dicks in the dirt…..

    • Whoa says:

      Ok dude we get it. You like the freelancers union. Personally, I’m not looking to pound anyone’s “dick in the dirt”.

      Some changes to the business model would do wonders to the current bidding environment and I’m confident a trade or would accomplish that.

      Most of the issues with worker conditions stem from the tiny profit margins fx houses are left with via their relationship to studios. A workers union would deal directly with our fx houses. That seems indirect to the actual problem.
      It would only take some of the major fx houses to standardize their business practice and studios would have to obey. They can’t just go to another company because major blockbusters need major fx artist volume.

      The fact is the studios depend on big fx houses more than they’d ever like anyone to know. If fx houses set standards that stabilized their finances, studios have no choice but to give in because they know they’ll still make killings off successful blockbusters.

      Now if fx houses seem reluctant to adjust the business model, via trade org or other, in the wake of all of this, I would then see reason to unionize and force their hands.

      • vfxmafia says:

        sorry got a little carried away last night…

        but yes….the business model has to change…..with such a low mark up on jobs….. VFX companies and its workers cant justify the risk of a production AND maintain Hollywood quality….

        unless…..

        you get points off the back end….

      • vfxmafia says:

        i guess the point i was making…..especially to freelancers…especially to the 1,000 or so freelancers about to get laid off….is a loosely based Union on anyone who uses a computer……

        It takes into account our video game workers, web, and graphic designers…….might be quick fix for people who need health care NOW…….

        The problem with Film Unions in Los Angeles is there too small and too specific…to qualify….you have to be a grip…or a writer….or producer….to be anybody of value….

        200,000 freelancers have value. Freelancers with there own insurance company is an amazing concept!

        Its like getting the perks of a Union without all the Union BS.

        For someone who is getting laid off…its a great way to get coverage NOW……and get legal advice for their rights during the bankruptcy.

        Also how would it effect the Hollywood business model if VFX companies DIDNT have to provide health insurance for its freelancers? (and we get the best insurance possible).

        Also this “freelancers” union world also include our brothers in Video games…….

  57. vfxmafia says:

    THEY HAVE THEIR OWN INSURANCE COMPANY!

  58. vfxmafia says:

    On Thursday, March 14th, Freelancers Union Founder Sara Horowitz will be at NextSpace LA for a conversation with freelancers as part of The Freelancer’s Bible book tour.

    http://freelancersbiblelosangeles-eorg.eventbrite.com/

    I will be there to hear what she as to say……

  59. vfxmafia says:

    I would love Scott Ross, Steve Kaplan, Dave Rand, and the VFX soldier to assess the “Feelance Union”. You are a leaders ….you need to weigh in on this…..(we cant let Sunday die)

    • Dave Rand says:

      I.A.T.S.E and the I.B.E.W have a residual contract that helps fund the pension and healthcare

    • think twice says:

      Scott Ross should not be part of leadership. Although he is a good guy, he is no friend to artists. Under his control at DD artists were not paid overtime and he constantly tried to take advantage of the visa system to bring in cheaper foreign workers. That is his past and that is fact. Even though he has been very vocal to our support, he is living in his past glory days. He is not relevant within our community anymore.

  60. vfxmafia says:

    ….you want to know how we handle this from “Jersey” ……”F*ck you. Pay Me.”

    http://vimeo.com/22053820

    these are the 6 CEO’s (of the BIG SIX) extorting your jobs!!! These are the guys manipulating your governments…..these are the guys that played the “JAWS” theme at the academy awards………these are the guys making BILLIONS off of VFX workers and your movies……and saying you should work for cheaper…..these are the guys taking $$$ from your families….these are they guys who say you are “technichans” not “Artists”…….these are the guys taking your wages for THEIR bonuses…..

    1. Kevin Tsujihara CEO and head cocksucker of Warner Bros
    2. Michael Mark Lynton is the CEO of Sony Corporation of America and Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment
    3. Robert A. Iger is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company
    4. James N. Gianopulos, aka Jim Gianopulos, is a Co-Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Fox Filmed Entertainment with Tom Rothman.
    5. Stephen B. Burke is Chief Executive Officer of NBCUniversal
    6. Brad Alan Grey is the chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures

    GOOGLE HOW MUCH THEY MAKE OF YOUR BLOOD, SWEAT, AND TEARS………………welcome to the most glamerous ….unglamerous business in the world……

    Orsen Welles is proud of all of you!!!!!

    • Ashes says:

      Yes, and add Katzenberg to the list of people who make ridiculous salaries. Wonder if he’ll get that $4mil bonus after laying off 350 people:

      http://blog.bcdb.com/dwas-katzenberg-receive-150-salary-increase-5065/

      • Jen says:

        @Ashes – you just reminded me how the Local 839 financially helps artists. Union artists who banked enough hours at Dreamworks will have 12-18 months of MPIHIP health insurance coverage at no cost to them, plus they get severance pay. They also earned retirement savings even if they did not sign up for the union’s 401(k) plan.

        All these things happened to me after I was laid off from my Local 839 job in 2004. For six months’ work, I got 12 months’ insurance coverage, severance pay and a contribution to my IAP.

        Non-union VFX artists who recently got laid off, however, must pay for COBRA in order to get coverage for themselves and their families. For Rhythm & Hues, which was self-insured, even COBRA is not an option.

      • Ashes says:

        Well, I spoke with a sup over there right now and they were less than impressed with anything the union was giving the laid off artists, especially if your contract was under 6 months. So, great that worked out for you, not so much with other people.

        Also, as you mentioned, you mush accrue hours. So, if the union raises the bid costs you won’t have a job, don’t have a job, you don’t have the hours, don’t have the hours, you don’t have health insurance.

        I ask again, how is the union going to make sure that the costs will not force the vfx houses to bid higher and lose work? Until the union can answer that, many people will not support them.

  61. confused and bitter says:

    while it’s completely beyond comprehension why those studios receive any financial help and I’m all against subsidies – americans calling for the WTO is a bit too ironic for my liking really…

    and @Dave Rant: I’m a big fan of analogies but your stolen ferrari analogy just took the cake! do your colleagues a favour and stay away from any organisation or union or whatsoever representing VFX artists. please.

    whatever you guys end up doing to save your LA business I wish you good luck, but my solidarity just went elsewhere.

    • confused and bitter says:

    • vfxmafia says:

      to confused and bitter….

      I know talk of a union scares people. But in LA is a huge pool of freelancers….who dont have Health coverage…..or any clue of a pension plan…….they just bounce from 9 month contract to 9 month contract……

      a loose based union for graphic designers, IT, web, game, and VFX freelancers is not a bad idea.

      1. it would reduce the cost to businesses if freelancers came with there own coverage. (group coverage in case you dont know is hard to get in the US)..as you know we dont have socialized healthcare….we have NO healthcare

      2. This would have no effect on foreign VFX workers in other countries.

      3. also gives freelancers an option for Pension and retirement….and even legal council when companies bone a freelancer on pay….or during a bankruptcy…

      4. If a Foreign or American VFX company can’t bring a job in without 70% subsidy you don’t belong in business period.

      what is confusing? and why are you bitter?

    • Jen says:

      @confused – whatever you guys end up doing to save your LA business I wish you good luck, but my solidarity just went elsewhere.

      For now. Your concern for your fellow VFX artist will come roaring right back as Hollywood’s greed continues to destroy VFX shops around the world.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Jen…..I can assure the Greedy Hollywood types are the CEOs of the studio. The people that were there on Sunday…..had one message…..VFX unite…..we had nothing but respect for our foreign VFX artists…we are in the same boat…

        And with names like Scott Ross……and Scott Squires……who are fighting for us little guys…….who are VFX legends…you need to watch who your calling greedy hollywood types.

        I breathed a sigh of relief when Scott Ross, Soctt Squires, and Dave Rand are still galvanized and rallying the movement.

        These are the people involved now…….

        Scott Squires:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Squires

        Scott Ross:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Ross_(film_executive)

        You don’t get anymore legit than that……..if anything you can trust in them

      • Jen says:

        And with names like Scott Ross……and Scott Squires……who are fighting for us little guys…….who are VFX legends…you need to watch who your calling greedy hollywood types.

        Scott Ross and Scott Squires are not Hollywood. They’re not collecting points for Harry Potter, Close Encounters or any of the many VFX films they helped make successful.

        The studios that own the VFX blockbusters, however, continue to profit from home video sales, merchandise and theme parks for years after the initial box office. All VFX workers deserve a piece of that, including Scott Ross and Scott Squires.

    • Dave Rand says:

      I know it stings

      You viewpoint will change when it’s your car that’s being stolen or if you don’t like the analogy, it’s your job that’s being hijacked by some politician looking for votes. I wish you the best honestly— hope that when the floor drops out from under you in this artificial economy you find a soft landing…cause the guy in my office last night in tears cause his little girl just doesn’t understand why her dad has no job in America and has to move to British Colombia where he’ll see her maybe once every couple months …that guy made the car analogy look polite.

      I have nothing against artist….to be perfectly clear…but against the studios and the politicians. We and our shops are just pawns. You and I are the same. I have no beef with artists.

      We’ve simply asked the WTO to sort it out, rather than pit artist against artist…and I believe that is perfectly fair.

      VES wants to increase California’s incentives…..doubtful that will happen given our Governor’s perspective on that fallacy, but if it did happen….would that be cool, if we just steal…well I don’t have to finish that sentence….you won’t get it until it happens to you. That has been made clear to me. I did not get it either until all the jobs left and the shops went bankrupt, shops I loved, families I loved..

      May God or something else give you a soft landing.

      • vfx_sup says:

        Oh Dave fucking stop it already. You are inflaming the fires of this whole debate. And I know you and like you as a person. But first off all, the “guy in your office” isn’t being FORCED to move to BC. That’s just such rhetorical, fear mongering bullshit and I’m frankly tired of it. There are VFX jobs ALL OVER THE WORLD, including plenty of good jobs still in Los Angeles. I don’t know what this person you are talking about does, but Disney is hiring CG Artists. Other shops aren’t all packing up and leaving en masse. There are still tens of thousands of graphic and VFX jobs in games and entertainment in Los Angeles and California. Yes, there has been a slow and steady migration of jobs out of Los Angeles for 10 years now. And this is news to who? So if the subsidies go away tomorrow who cries for the Kiwi artists whose jobs are pulled out from under them and their children’s father has to leave for Los Angeles? Who cries for the BC artists and Canadian artists who didn’t steal jobs from the US. They EARNED those jobs. They created many of those jobs in this industry that you rely on (see SoftImage, Side Effects, Mainframe, NFB). Who cries for them when all the work goes back to Los Angeles? Or to India or China.

        And quite frankly, YOU had no problems taking advantage of those “illegal subsidies” when you came to Vancouver and worked at Digital Domain Vancouver last year. YOU had no trouble coming to BC and Toronto and collecting a paycheck which was funded by Canadian TAXPAYERS. So now you want to play the high and mighty card and it’s “anti BC this”, “anti BC that”. Stop it already. You’re not making the situation better, you are making it worse. And you have nothing but a very hypocritical leg to stand on. Maybe as your first act of selflessness you should be giving back all of the tens of thousands of dollars you made as an artist in Vancouver and Toronto. Maybe those of us in Canada deserve our money back from you if those subsidies were as “illegal” as you say.

        There are workers in India, London, AND Vancouver who struggle for better working conditions, respect, and a stable, fair wage. This isn’t about anyone being forced to “move to BC”. If you want to be effective in this fight you need to stop the rhetoric and stop pitting people against each other.

      • Dave Rand says:

        As I’ve stated clearly now for years, and repeatedly in the post above. I have not beef with artists. I do with a system created by politicians and studio executives and I’m very far from alone in those feelings.

        As I’ve stated clearly I believe we need to leave this in the hands of the WTO. Any analogy I’ve made was never directed at artists always directed at politicians and studios.

        I’ve been clear on that.

        AS I’ve also stated clearly I love Canadian people and help many of them get paid when American companies raped them of their wages. Companies that could easily afford to pay them.

        So please don’t turn this into something other, don’t put words in my mouth an cool your tone. I’m not fanning any flames. I’m standing behind my real name and criticizing governments and studio executives. I have every right to do that here and elsewhere.

        Don’t turn my message into something it is not.

        it is pretty dire here in LA, the exit of jobs is way out of whack especially for those who want to stay and have homes in LA. You say there’s tons of work, sorry sir you are wrong. I’m in the middle of it here. This is what happens when we let politicians create artificial economies.

        I’ll never fall silent about it as I would hope you never would as well.

        And I will not be roped into some anonymous venomous argument. So please take the chip off your shoulder.

        You can state all day long that everyone still has a choice, and it’s all just fine…but it is not and there are very few positions to accommodate those out of work here in LA. Your words are insensitive and egocentric to those here with families and homes that are simply questioning governments interfering with what should be based on talent and branding.

        Don’t turn our fair questing of these institutions into an artist vs artist battle.

      • Dave Rand says:

        …..and to be clear on where the money goes, it’s not to my pocket, or the shops. For every dollar spent on my working up there by the American company i worked for, 60 cents when directly to the American studio that hired them. So I’ve taken advantage of nothing.

      • vfx_sup says:

        Dave. Clearly I have hit a nerve, and like I said, I know you, and I like you as a person. And I never said you didn’t help people or were a bad person. However, a few points.

        #1 – If you believe the subsidies are illegal and should be left in the hands of the WTO to fight in the courts, would you not consider it hypocritical that you have no problem coming up to Canada to work and benefit from those subsidies you claim are illegal?? That’s like someone saying I find Wall St. ethics to be immoral, yet I’m perfectly happy to cash in on those same policies for my personal profit. As for the money not going into your pocket, what does that mean? So the checks you cashed from DD Vancouver didn’t go into your bank account? You didn’t personally benefit from your job there or the money you were paid? Really? Because those projects and your job at DD were ONLY there to put x number of tax subsidized dollars in Vancouver. Sure, you didn’t collect the tax rebates. But didn’t you collect the income from the job those tax rebates were there for? That’s like saying I rob banks, but I’m against bank robbery as a general policy and they’re insured anyway so who gets hurt.

        #2 – You don’t think you’re fanning flames with all of your anti-BC rhetoric?? By posting messages about fathers whose kids want to know “why daddy has to move to BC?” Really? Are you that naive? I’m not putting words in your mouth. I’m quoting you word for word. The workers in BC are fathers too. The workers in London are fathers too. The artists in India are fathers too. We ALL deal with a global industry that requires us to move and relocate. I’ve lived in 4 different countries and spent years away from my kids. When you post that the guy in your office is in tears because his “job moved to British Columbia” you insult all of us who have moved and followed this industry around the world to the detriment of our families. We ALL go through that, not just artists in LA.

        #3 – Contrary to what you say, there are THOUSANDS of VFX jobs still in Los Angeles. DWA, R&H, Disney, Sony, and DD aren’t gone. Those studios alone still employ thousands of people and as I said, Disney is still actively hiring. ILM, PDI, and Pixar employ many THOUSANDS in the Bay Area. Yes, things are still moving out of California. But the industry isn’t dead. The work isn’t gone. And there are still many, many employment opportunities.

        Look dude, I’m not here to start a flame war with you. You do a lot of good things. All I’m saying is think twice about your message and how it comes across to those of us who don’t want to live in Los Angeles. I’m not the insensitive or egocentric one here and I certainly don’t have a chip on my shoulder.

      • Dave Rand says:

        1. The decision of legality is not mine to make and I already explained where the handouts go.
        2. That was a true story, make of it what you will
        3. There are NOT thousands of jobs in LA.

        One thing I do stand for is integrity, I always have. I would never anonymously criticize anyone after telling the world I knew them. You want to make things up, call me hypocrite, may I suggest you at least have the courtesy and courage to do the same.

        Fear is our real enemy not you and not me. Stand up for what you believe in. Question authority and try not to condemn others who are merely trying to do that. Perusing these pages and anonymously trying to pick an argument because someone its questioning subsidies, speaks of fear.

        Look around you at work, you’ll find you in a melting pot of great artists from all over the globe. In Los Angles I’m the only American in the room. I love that about our business. Talent is not an easy thing to find. Everyone is working where they can find work as recruiters pull from all over the world.

        I’ve said this every way I know how. My criticism is against the American Studios and the Politicians that are in their pocket.
        Not artists, I believe we’d have a far better life and global film market if it were based on talent and branding, not political whims, and not controlled by the same 6 American Studios.

        I wish there was a MAPLEWOOD, a OZWOOD, a KIWIWOOD, an ENGLISHWOOD one day there will be and will take time.
        If we don’t start we never get there. Deciding not to work until it gets to where I think it should be …is not being a hypocrite.

        For those who want to stomp on the solidarity movement because some in that group are questioning subsidies i can only say this:

        Treat them with respect. They are no different than you.

      • a thousand jobs? says:

        As usual Dave, extremely well put.
        Dave, these pages are loaded with fear you are so right man.
        What the heck is getting into people?? I was at the protest and met you and have worked with you. You are the bravest visual effects artist I know, and the bravest person I know. …and it really fries my ass that people are letting fear get the best of them and actually disrespecting you as you put your entire career on the line and fight for them…but I guess that’s human nature.. anyway man proud to know you and just for the record.

        There are shitloads of us, like me, out of work here in LA and if R&H goes down there will be 500 more. I’ve never seen it this bad.

      • vfxmafia says:

        To “VFX_sup”…..

        i dont know who you are…..but please cut down on the whole internet “Trolling thing”…..we are bunch of professionals trying to have a discussion about our lively hood…..

        i wont get into all the ridiculous things you said in your posts.

        Please dont come on this blog and tell people that there tons of jobs in Los Angeles…..

        200 people are about to get laid off in Dreamworks…

        200 people just got laid off at R&H…..many more working with no paycheck for 5 weeks….if R&H goes bankrupt you can see another 300 in LA alone….

        200 more about to get it at DD……and if DD cant book another movie soon…alot more may get it…..

        about 500-1000 people’s jobs are up in the air…in Los Angeles
        add peoples families….maybe 3,000 people will have their world’s turned upside down…..in the coming weeks.

        I don’t know who you are…..i dont know if your on medication….i dont if your just kid who doesnt know any better……i dont know if your some bitter render wrangler who drank to many redbulls….but you need to take it down a notch…..

        Alot of people are looking at this website and forums for answers…..asking serious questions…..and having important discussions…..that impact there lives and families.

  62. andrei.gheorghiu says:

    …see? this is why you are confused and so bitter…

  63. Scott Ross says:

    Sunday will not die… Steve Kaplan, Scott Squires, Dave Rand and I are actively looking at this very complex problem and weighing alternatives.

  64. vfxmafia says:

    Thanks Scott….I talked to Dave this morning.

    BTW great interview on Bloomberg……..I fell off my chair when you made the eye doctor comment…..so true….
    (i’d work for you any day)

    in case anyone missed Scott’s interview…

    http://www.bloomberg.com/video/vfx-artists-need-more-respect-better-pay-ross-n08JeuXQRLiEL~mXVhuDkA.html

  65. MassFX says:

    Please listen to this podcast everyone. its very informative.

    http://www.fxguide.com/fxpodcasts/fxpodcast-245-vfx-roundtable/

  66. Get Real Soldier says:

    with all due respect.

    First, the Bloomberg story headline states visual effects artists need more respect and pay in that order. Both ‘may’ be true, but is there a priority?

    The story also graphically identifies to the world, Scott Ross as a visual effects artist. Perhaps, Scott started there, but he is mostly known as the General Manager of ILM, and the developer/owner/CEO of Digital Domain for which he probably made a pretty penny in the sale. He is the model of the ‘a studio (granted visual effects) executive’ who many have said are the cause of so many problems. I don’t agree with this, but Scott, VES and others have blamed the studio executives. The studios were certainly the brunt of blame in at least one or more VES documents. Yet oddly, Jeff Okun finally made reference in his letter to VES Members just 24 hours prior to the VES formal subsidy plan announcement…that ‘mayb’e the studios were not to be blamed for the industry woes. This is after beating the crap out of them for at least two years.

    For sure, Scott has a better than admirable business record in the visual effects industry. Blame it on Bloomberg, but it is quite interesting he is referred to as a visual effects artist.

    I do understand the ‘it’s better than no publicity’ concept. It just seems when the spotlight is on, the message should be as clear and accurate as possible to generate the best results for the only stakeholders who count…the artists.

    Somehow, it just seems that at the end of the day everyone is fighting over the artists Guess I just wonder how many may be truly fighting for the artists.

    You need a leader who is artist driven, professionally respected, honorable and knows what he is speaking about from experience.

    Like Craig Barron.

    • Scott Ross says:

      actually the lower third title card said “Scott Squires, digital artist” only 3 minutes before we went live…. I tried correcting the situation but alas, some producer at Bloomberg couldn’t quite grock what was happening and so I wound up as “Scott Ross, digital artist” which I tried correcting on FB as “Scott Ross, BS Artist”, which is much more to the point. I agree, this industry needs a saavy leader that understands business, art and negotiating…. and has the support and trust of the ENTIRE industry. Whoever that person is…. we need to rally behind him/her.

  67. vfxmafia says:

    we need a lot of voices right now…

    you might want listen to Scott Ross Speak on this podcast before you say some of things….in your last post…he is very artist respectful

    http://www.fxguide.com/fxpodcasts/fxpodcast-245-vfx-roundtable/

    all the guys we are talking about are the reason why i got into the business. In fact id go as so far as to say they WERE the magic in movie magic…..

    I’d love to see Craig involved….I love the fact ALL these living legends still give a shit about this business…..and the rest of us who still have 20 or + more years left to go in it…….

    I wouldn’t have been there on Sunday if wasn’t for Scott Ross and Dave Rand….

    • Get Real Soldier says:

      Well said.

      Thank you for supporting what and whom you believe in…that is honorable to your craft and yourself.

  68. confused and bitter says:

    we are all in the same boat. I’m all up for a union. I never said I’m against!!!! And the greed of hollywood studios just disgusts me. Like it does to everyone else here. I’ve been working on 3 continents and am absolutely starving to settle down. I am one of those artists having a 9 months contract here and a 10 months contract there. even if i’d stay at one place I still don’t know what I’ll be doing in 12 months from now. I don’t have a pension fund and if I get sick because I’m working my fucking arse off I won’t get paid. I’m working in this field since 14 years and it seems every show/gig/project seems to be worse than the previous one. this is not only due to greedy and unrealistic behaviour from the studios but also due to incompetent and just as greedy in-house producers and vfx-supes who are putting their egos above anything else (not saying all of them are, I’ve worked with lovely prods and supes who know exactly what they do).
    people are taking advantage of my passion for visual arts.
    I can’t even plan for a family as knowing that I’ll be gone in 12 months most likely doesn’t quite appeal to the other sex…
    this is why I’m bitter.

    @Dave: I do get it as it happened to me already. twice. interesting to hear you worked in canada….. and that leads me to the confusing part:

    I am confused because R&H was spearheading the whole outsourcing AND has taken advantage of the subsidies (yes they took advantage) and STILL goes down. yet everyone blames only the subsidies. Again, If I could make those subsidies disappear – I would do so. BUT they are just one symptom and not the diagnosis.
    You guys actually still have my solidarity as I have a big heart and am a big fan of fair play. It’s just that you guys making it harder and harder for me showing it. these vfx laden movies are produced with international money and yet all i can hear from you is “WE first!”
    you had 20 fat years and lost your technological advantage and are blaming people of stealing. this is not smart and will make it harder to motivate people to join you. it’s just oozing hypocrisy and that’s about it

    I apologize for my humoristic post but if you don’t find another timbre it’ll be harder to see the difference between the people of Southpark and you. It’ll make it a lot harder to rally people behind something which is long overdue and I really really hope will happen.
    Good luck everyone. Everywhere.

    • Dave Rand says:

      To be clear companies like R&H open in subsidized locations and gain nothing. The studios do. It’s important to know where the money actually goes. For every dollar spent on an artist working under the D.A.V.E enhanced system, sixty cents go to the American studio, not the artist, not the shop like R&H. They simply don’t get to bid if they don’t have a presence in these subsidized locations. It’s important the people understand this.

      I don’t recall ever saying “we first” or any egocentric tone at all. I’ve been calling the American Studios the film mafia, walking up and down the block collecting their protection money. I’ve been crystal clear on my critique of how six American Studios incorporated in the United States control almost all the work we do as VFX artists world wide and that subsidies are actually help keep the fences up and the newcomers out.

      I look forward to the day when every country can enjoy there own “……..WOOD” and I’ve been clear about that as well.

      This has created a system where it becomes easier to just pay the Americans than fight and create your own content. I think that is wrong. I’ve used several analogies but EVERYONE of them was pointed at politicians and studios…never at artists.

      I know how it feels to watch a community lose it’s fx business both hear in Los Angles and in Montreal where hundreds of artists went paid and I helped lead a charge to get them paid, and continued to send work up there from Los angeles and when I heard of injustices and unpaid

      I love all artists, and people of all nations. I hate seeing friends not getting paid in Montreal and have fought for them repeatedly it’s all on the press tab on my website but here is a couple links

      meteor studios
      http://playbackonline.ca/2008/07/21/meteor-20080721/
      fake studios
      http://variety.com/article/VR1118023071/

      “20 fat years and lost your technological advantage….” not sure what you mean by that. Possibly you could explain.

      • chicagoVFX says:

        @Dave Rand “For every dollar spent on an artist working under the D.A.V.E enhanced system, sixty cents go to the American studio, not the artist, not the shop like R&H. They simply don’t get to bid if they don’t have a presence in these subsidized locations. It’s important the people understand this.”

        That’s not quite how it works – R&H still gets that dollar if it’s being spent at their Vancouver facility but the American studio claims the 60% (or whatever) back. If the Vancouver facility is truly working at only 40% of the billed cost (and still solvent, unlike LA) then LA is truly screwed as there’s no way it can compete with or without subsidies.

        R&H’s Indian operation is a true example of off-shoring: LA R&H bids lower than competitors and then sends the work to Mumbai where costs are considerably lower – possibly as low as 25% of the cost of doing the work in LA. The difference between what R&H LA bid and what it cost to do the work at R&H Mumbai is their markup. The key to making this work is keeping the off-shore costs a closely-guarded secret – R&H doesn’t want the studio to know as they’ll just force them to shave it even tighter, at the same time R&H LA won’t be keen to let Mumbai know how much they’re getting from the studio as it would give the Indian workers ammunition to ask for more money.

        Ask your colleagues – do any of them really know how much it costs to do business at R&H Mumbai? And those who do know, will they tell you (like actually show you accounts rather than just toss out a number whilst you’re getting coffee)?

      • Dave Rand says:

        John Hughes opened the books in LA every friday. Only shop owner that did that. It’s also a well known fact that R&H’s crew in india is treated very well. Some of the finest artists I’ve ever worked with. They are very much behind our solidarity effort as well, I get emails daily from our fine friends there.

        Yes the labor cost less but their cost of living is dramatically lower. Bollywood is growing strong creating tons of their own content. Lots of poverty for sure in India and R&H is a major job creator and has a great reputation there.

        India’s middle class is larger than all of North America’s entire population. I’m a big fan of that countries efforts.

        Did their presence in India help R&H survive longer than most shops in LA…you bet! India is growing a large and self sustaining film culture and which has become a symbiotic relationship with Hollywood.

        Say what will but I believe we are all better off because of R&H’s relationships in India.

  69. vfxmafia says:

    Hey confused and bitter…..i hear you….very good comment

    But you London guys got it mixed up between outsourcing and Bankruptcy…..

    When they outsource………they take your job.
    When they go bankrupt……they take your job AND owe you money.

    The South Park thing is all wrong….. its more like…..
    Tony Soprano: “Wheres my f*cking money?!!”…ROLF

  70. Tiamet says:

    I may have missed something in this whole shitstorm, but I have not heard anyone mention something that has been troubling me since I first heard about it. On March 15, 2011 the Carlyle group, a UK based private investment firm bought a the controlling share in The Foundry. I was familiar with the Carlyle group because I was very interested in the Iran-Contra affair in the 80′s and was aware that the Carlyle group had been involved in some very shady military investments and had been accused by many sources of illegally manipulating international markets. The Carlyle group is a very exclusive investment group that has the reputation for being the best politically connected investment group in the world. Their payroll features people such as George Herbert Walker Bush, John Major, Lou Gerstner (former chairman of IBM), James Baker III and Fidel Ramos (former Prime Minister of the Philipines). The Bin Laden Family are known to be private investors as well as the Saudi Royal family. There are mountains of evidence stretching across half a century or more that they use their political clout to directly and illegally manipulate rule of law in favor of their investments, since they enjoy such powerful membership.
    I would be interested to see a graph of The Foundry’s stock valuation since March, 2011 as well as a graph of the number of Foundry software licenses right now compared to March, 2011.
    The first requirement for any aspiring FBI agent is an accounting degree, because the FBI know that the best way to find the perpetrator of white collar crime is to follow the money. Who is profiting the most on their investments in this situation. Of course the studios profit tremendously from the devaluation of the VFX artist but I suspect that dollar in for dollars out, in the short term at least, the Carlyle Group and the Foundry are making an immense cash grab in this whole deal.

    “The Carlyle Group’s press release for the acquisition of The Foundry indicates that The Foundry’s revenue in 2010 was £14.9 million. The Financial Times reported March 15, 2011, that The Foundry “is estimated to be worth more than £75 million,” which implies a trailing revenue multiple of at least 5.0x revenue. A revenue multiple of this magnitude is more typically associated with highly strategic acquisitions by large corporate buyers and it merits further analysis to determine how the pricing can be made to work in the context of a private equity firm’s return requirements.”

    *excerpt from: http://www.silverwoodpartners.com/investment-banker/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=2&Itemid=157

    • VFXLady says:

      sorry I posted previously, but I could not get it to work. So apologies for the repetition —

      VFX Soldier, where are you?? This blog post isn’t about coming together and it’s pretty irrelevant. Can we get back to the issues as hand?

      • Tiamet says:

        I do mean for it to be about coming together. We need to figure out why our pleas to remove illegal subsidies are being ignored by the WTO. If there are parties to this debacle that have both financial interest in turning our careers into third world jobs, and the political clout to work around the law to get it done, I feel this is germane to our interests. I only put this out there because I have heard no mention of it here and hope that it might help lawyers to force the WTO to honor this:

        Article 5 of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures stipulates “that no member should cause, through the use of subsidies, adverse effects to the interests of other signatories, i.e. injury to domestic industry of another signatory . . . . In the event that it is determined that such adverse effects exist, the subsidizing member must withdraw the subsidy or remove the adverse effects.”
        excerpt from: http://www.ftac.org/html/position-paper.html

      • Dave Rand says:

        This thread was about the V.E.S.’s plea to raise California’s subsidies to bring jobs back to California. If we got them to dump say 1/2 to a full billion what do you think the effect would be? Would you be for it as a viable alternative to leveling the playing field? Would understand as the jobs in your area shrank dramatically?

        In the short run a ton of work would most likely come back and it would be difficult for many to argue why their jobs were leaving after vehemently supporting subsidies.

        It would seem we here in California would want to line up with that in droves given it’s effect. I find it interesting that there is so much opposition to that plan, even from artists looking for work and struggling here.

        I believe it is because in the long run it would only exacerbate this artificial economy and help the six studios controlling almost all our work keep the fences up and the newcomers out. As Pete Mitchel (BC’s former film commissioner) argued with me on air that Canada could not compete given the Americans dominance achieved through lower production costs based on subsidies, a catch 22, so they really had no other choice if they wanted to work on big projects. Maybe my car analogy was perceived as crude but that is what I was pointing it at. NOT the artists although some tried to change it’s meaning.

        His hope was equity would pile up in BC and eventually they’d be self sustaining but then Quebec and Ontario upped the anti and support BC films formed to get BC to up theirs…. the equity is going to the Americans, and being one, I’m a bit ashamed of that process, and I’m not alone.

        Some may argue that it would allow the American’s to make even more work for everybody. I believe we learned from Wall Street what happens when you give too many handouts to executives…their bonuses go up…but not much else happens.

        Our Governor has used the same term now used in BC politics and started on this forum since it’s inception.

        “it’s a race to the bottom”.

        For those who want to stomp on the solidarity movement because some in that group are questioning subsidies i can only say this:

        Treat them with respect. They are no different than you !

  71. John says:

    All the visual effects jobs will end up in China. That’s the reality!!

  72. Jeevfx says:

    “Around 100 people from MPC Bangalore (India) worked on Life of Pi. Out of the 120 shots”

    http://newindianexpress.com/cities/bangalore/article1478600.ece

  73. Jeevfx says:

    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

  74. annonLM says:

    Reality is what we make it to be. We can change this on a global scale and we should NOT exclude anybody. All artists have been vastly under paid and taken advantage of. Talk to some of the veterans in the comic book or video game industry for instance. Also in case no one has noticed we are not the only ones that are being screwed. I think that our biggest problem is being screwed over by people directly in our own community.

    Defeatist comments and being a bully is not helpful to anybody. Being selfish and ignoring everyone but yourself is how we got in this mess in the first place. People are afraid to speak up and most people have no real clue what is going on in the world.

    Again simple facts, the big studios have made billions off of all our work. In fact these guys are part of wallstreet and they do the same exact things that everybody else in that environment does, screw each other over.

    The most common reason people tend to be against unionization is because of greed and selfishness. Most people spend too much time filling there heads with bad information. If you watch the common corporate news you will would think the world was going to come to an end. Even with us, we all got distracted and tinge of doubt crossed our minds when a made up story of “Hackers” causing mischief came up. In fact people started to get nervous and think that hackers are terrorists?! Seriously?!

    For one people having protests, even ones online using denial of service attacks, does not make terrorists. Wake up and use some common sense. Stop freaking yourself and everyone else out with your paranoid fantasies of hackers. Its like saying that piracy really caused The Avengers or Avatar movies to lose money. Utter nonsense. Stop buying into corporate propaganda. With the OZ movie coming out you would think that more people would pay attention to the lessons in the movie. For instance don’t pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

    Another common issue with unionization is people worrying about what other people may or may not do. I heard people complaining about hypothetical senior workers who may not do anything and can’t be fired. Oh really?! Oh no! what will we ever do if we have people taking a long break or just being lazy? Seriously?! So what? With a union you allow everyone you work with to have decent pay, pension plans, all kinds of good things. Please explain to me again how a union is a bad thing?

    Artist especially in our industry need to get up from the computer, drawing table, whatever, on a regular basis and it does actually make the work better. If you know your history there is a reason why most people only work 8 hours a day, five days a week. In fact we have over a hundred and fifty years of why it is a good thing. Its not being lazy either. Before companies started basing their work hour models after people with aspergers syndrome, managers were thought of as idiots if they made people work longer all of the time.

    Mr. Ford paid his employees a family wage and had them work less. Both of which did two things. Allowed his workers to pay things like the cars they were making and have time to enjoy the fruits of their labor. And it was a self sustaining economy and Detroit became a huge success, at least until they had a few rich greedy idiots start taking the work elsewhere. Now Detroit is a terrible place to be, a graveyard.

    So before these type of people do the same to the rest of America, stop worrying about other peoples lifestyles and focus on creating a better environment for all of us. The people on wallstreet are the real terrorists, worry about them and don’t let anything distract you from what is really important. Making dreams a reality is part of what we do best. So lets do what we do best and make dreams come true.

    • vfxmafia says:

      annonLM….great writing

      I would go farther than that as well to review the history of labor (in this case the US).

      At one point in history, the US resembled the Foxconn plants in China. People actually protested and died for such things as 40 hour work weeks, child labor, OT pay, fair and equal treatment of women and ethnicities, workman’s comp, fire safety, work place safety.

      “Labor day” was invented following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of our own U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike.

      Unfortunately the corporations back then were giant monopolies that resemble today’s big studios. Today’s corporations seek to pull back all the rights of our grandfathers and fathers fought to give us…..we can NOT waste their efforts.

      In fact the Film industry is notorious for mistreating labor to bring you the blockbusters. 50 years ago….people died on sets all the time…..on average 2-3 grips a year STILL die from fallen scissor lifts….or hanging a light 40 feet to the grid….or a light explodes…..

      How did film workers do this in the past???? …..they formed a union.

      Why do the guys on set that bring “Port-o-potties” listed before VFX workers in the film credits? cause they are union….you have a voice with a union.

      I once worked with the late great Director of Photography….Harris Savides. Harris just got back shooting in Bollywood India…and I asked him what his expirience was like. Harris had called for a 10×10 silk to bounce some light through….suddenly 5 Indian gentleman come running up in white shirts, white pants, and white shoes….

      Harris was like… whats this? The producers told him this is your 10×10 silk. In India they couldnt afford silk so they had to use human bounce boards. These poor guys had to stand infront of 10 K light…..(which is the equivelent of sticking your head inside a toaster oven)…….not kidding this is a true story……

      Studios will cut any corner to save money ….including mistreat there fellow mankind. One tool of busting Unions is to keep 50% of the workers broke (much like London, India, and BC VXF) …the other tool is to keep the other 50% making a decent income (much like US vfx workers). This way neither will form a union….one is too scared not to have a job and the other is too content to loose his job. That formula is breaking as the layoffz continue in the US and the studios play “Shopping for Subsdey’s” in different countries.

      Before Sunday’s protest (which I was apart of). I have some missgivings about Unions….especially LA unions. They are very specific….you have to work at a certain shop to belong to one. There are certain penalties to get benifits you pay into but dont receive unless you make a certain amount (SAG, DGA etc)…..There are certain penalties if your not of a certain trade…etc….

      sounds like a lot of horseshit….especially to a freelancer like myself…..who gets tossed from 6 month contract to 6 month contract…..I came to a conclusion after listening to Scott Squires, Scott Ross, and Dave Rand round table discussion…..in the following link..

      http://www.fxguide.com/fxpodcasts/fxpodcast-245-vfx-roundtable/

      The only way to make this stop is to start a Los Angeles/Canada union (TO START) ….that encompasses Video game, Comercial VFX artists, and VFX Movie artists.

      Further more we need to stop fighting VFX workers in different countrys….especially on this blog.

      Special thanks to everyone who is working behind the scenes……Sunday will not be forgotten.

      • annonLM says:

        Thank you and you are absolutely correct. Thank you for sharing such great information. We should definitely try and create a union that works for our unique needs as artists, especially the freelancers. Unfortunately there seem to be a lot of them because of our situation.

        No one seems to want to hire full time staff anymore, which is unfortunate. When you get a great group of people that work well together it can be a huge benefit to the company, they can learn and grow with each other as well as they don’t need any of the retraining that often accrues with people coming and going so often.

        I think it is important that we try to keep united as much as possible globally. Not too sure where all this is going, but I do hope that we look at this like we look at our own work, as a problem to solve. I would rather be a human being and try to find ways to fix our situation, instead of pretending to be a cockroach and hiding from it. What good is surviving if you can’t enjoy your life on this rock while you travel around in the universe?

  75. Dave Rand says:

    Animation Guild sponsors pizza feeding frenzy for R&H Overtime Workers for the three shows we are on for this beautiful Saturday.

  76. ds says:

    The comments already suggest that unionization or organization of people spread across the world will be difficult. On the other hand, the centralization of the primary work in the hands of a handful of facilities suggests a solution that may be easier to implement:

    First off, we have these quoted studio heads who are supposed to have made claims to the tune of, their job isn’t done if they don’t put a vfx studio out of business. Let’s make a list of the worst offenders: not the studio name, the actual people. This is offensive behavior, and it should rightly be punished. Let’s make an agreement amongst the handful of large vfx facilities to refuse projects in which these people are involved. Barring an outright ban, which would be extreme, an economic incentive to agreement would be to exact a tax or surcharge on projects in which they are involved. 5 million per day, paid up front, at the start of each day of work, or else a 50 percent cut of all profits on the project and an amount equivalent to the person’s yearly salary paid to every artist working on the project. No work gets done by any vfx facility until the tax is paid.

    In this way, we are no longer fighting amongst ourselves, but actually addressing the offensive behavior, and making a smart business move towards the result that we want to achieve. The studio is of course more than welcome to try to bypass the tax and get the next ‘Life of Pi’ made by kids in their bedrooms with cracked software. Let the market decide on the results.

    • vfxmafia says:

      I agree that we should be building a greivance list of documented cases…..I would say “hit list” but the might be misconstrued with username like “VFXmafia” Lol

      To VFXsoldier’s credit…he has done that with the list of stories that he broke on this very website…hopefully the group of lawyers we hired …..will follow the money….and figure out a plan of action….especailly if the studios are bending the laws…

      The prime focus ……pay to work story was broken right here…
      A new study on failing BC sudbsidies was broken right here…..
      And our Old friend John Textor (who is being investigated and targeted by a bumber of Law suits)….is being well monitorered here…..

      Sunday’s protest really turned on a giant microphone…..but what will we say with it?

      Have to say Scott Ross and the guys are on it as we speak…..

  77. Dank says:

    Leave it to the Aussies to speak the truth.

    “The government recognised the importance of the industry to jobs, and that big directors want to make films in Australia. ‘‘We can’t get them there unless we do these one-off payments, and obviously that has to be addressed.’’

    http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/more-movies-wolverine-and-disney-pave-way-20130302-2fcpf.html

    • Dave Rand says:

      There are as many potentially great directors in OZ as there is anywhere and we deserve to hear their stories. There are still no where near enough quality tales on the big screen to fit my taste.

    • vfxmafia says:

      Someone posted earlier…we need to have 2 hubs where VFX production is centralized. We need to pick them and settle this business down……

      I dont wish to sound cruel……but Austraila’s heat index is OFF the charts….just this year it broke the scale for hottest climate on the earth. Not enough attention is being brought to VFX studios over head……

      The AC bills alone will crush a VFX production down in Australia. You have to keep servers cool, people cool, and computers cool……might be slightly cooler in the Sahara dessert.

      What happend to that penguin movie at Dr.D?…..I heard all the artists got lured down to the Australian production and the office was an airplane hanger with no AC……

      I beleive shipping is very high to Australia too….

      http://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/tough-times-in-australia/

  78. [...] against them and survive at the same time is a struggle. VES, the Visual Effect Society, who has supported and called for expansion on the subsidies in the past, has released an open letter describing its role in this movement. The [...]

  79. mmmm says:

    @Dave Rand

    I think my main issue is that you continue to call it American Studios giving you the right to all the work. Yes I concede the studios are based in LA but they are financed and heavily owned by foreigners. If they all pulled there money out Hollywood would collapse in a short space.

    You talk about other countries having there own studios but lets be clear, Most American studios have international sister companies like WB UK, Fox Australia ,,.. and rely on us the non americans to make a profit. There is a reason why studios like Dreamworks are exploring China, its because if they relied on America they would be bankrupt in weeks and the Indians who own Dreamworks no this.

    You often ask about other countries having there own studios wel No what they do is create production companies who make films aka 3 Foot Six a very successful production company that works with a studio to create a film and they are not American so how can you deem a film american when the production company actually making the film is not.

    I want a fair industry where we can all survive and as much as we need the American Studios, the studios need us foriegners alot more if they are going to survive.

    • wb says:

      hey mmmmm
      it is sad that after so many comments you came out with this one.

    • Dave Rand says:

      You shooting from the hip. Put up some hard numbers that demonstrate this collapse you’ve decribed. It is light years from being balanced and folks need to realize the truth. The only collapsing has been from gov subsidie competition. Those numbers are everywhere. Glad you agree it should be balanced though.

    • vfxmafia says:

      to mmmm:

      Studios will cut any corner to save money ….including mistreat there fellow mankind. (no matter what country). One tool of busting Unions is to keep 50% of the workers broke (much like London, India, and BC VXF) …the other tool is to keep the other 50% making a decent income (much like US vfx workers). This way neither will form a union….one is too scared not to have a job and the other is too content to loose his job. That formula is breaking as the layoffz continue in the US and the studios play “Shopping for Subsdey’s” in different countries.

      Take this bullshit somewhere else about country VS. country.
      all our heads are on the chopping block……VFXunite

  80. mmmm says:

    if you notice i never mentioned subsidies as we all agree they are not good hence why i talked about a fair playing field. But you talk about about uniting and that will not happen until you drop this our work BS and yuo should create your own films bollocks.

    My point is films have become global in nature that they are written, directed , produced by many countries and has the studios have the monopoly it makes sense they will always be the ones to have there names at the bottom line.

    Again you all talk of uniting yet you continue to have mandates, pet ions about keeping all the work in the US which is the opposite of uniting.

    Anyway good luck because until you drop certain messages it is impossible to unite.

    • Dave Rand says:

      “continue to have mandates, pet ions about keeping all the work in the US which is the opposite of uniting.”

      I never said that, never even came close to implying it. In fact I’ve been clear I’m against that. There’s 6 studios incorporated in the United States that control most of the world’s box office and I, like many, would like to see that change. I invited you to disprove that dominance with hard numbers. Answering by making stuff up I’ve never said is not hard numbers.

    • VFXLady says:

      I think it’s become a common misconception if someone doesn’t support subsidies they don’t want people from outside of the US to have work. That simply isn’t true. You may not agree, but please at least take the time to understand that it’s not black and white and those who may not support subsidies aren’t nefarious, most of them are looking at the big picture. They view subsidies as unstable, short-term solutions, especially since not all subsidies are created equal. It’s not like those who have them “win” and those who don’t “lose.” The only winner is who happens to have the best subsidies at that moment. Short term.

      • Dave Rand says:

        Exactly, that is why so many of us related negatively to the VES’s plan to get Governor Brown to up California’s subsidies. Imagine if he dumped 1/2 to a full billion into the mix? I think you’d quickly see people’s enlightenment towards this artificial economy change when the effect of this move made California more “competitive” and the jobs walked away. Some may think that we’d have more projects, more jobs, but that’s exactly what Wall Street said.

      • Studio_Spotter says:

        Subsidies are like a drug, Theyre great when you’re high but they inevitably crash. And our industry destabilizes as a result. Smooth and steady is the way.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Here is a question that I would pose to the forum…….

        If a union does somehow form, can it stop the VFX studios from taking subsidies?

      • Ashes says:

        @vfxmafia, no, the union has already stated that it plans to do nothing about the subsidies. That is one of the biggest reasons many people are balking at forming a union.

      • Dave Rand says:

        Yes and I’m in favor of letting the WTO decide rather than pit artist against artist. Far from perfect but that is who all our countries signed up with to govern these questions.

  81. All we need to do is double the VFX workforce, according to James? says:

    On
    http://blog.animationmentor.com/a-vision-for-the-future-of-animation-and-vfx/

    James writes
    “… why do you think there too many artists when in reality there is too much work? It is because of the underbidding, that forces less workers to do more work, not a lack of work itself. Double the workforce, and you have allowed ALL the artists to now work and share that load… and trust me there is plenty of money. Hope this insight from someone in the industry helps!”

  82. anonymous says:

    Is it not fascinating to see artists outside of California against subsidies in California? You have a double standard here, you are against California competing with the rest of the subsidized labor force outside the US, yet you want to keep the subsidies in your countries. Do me a favor PICK ONE. You are either FOR or AGAINST subsidies. You can’t complain about California asking for subsidies if you support foreign subsidies.

    • Ashes says:

      Thank you, exactly what’s been bothering me.

      Not that I’m a huge fan of VES, but it’s amazing how a lot of people were fine with the VES not coming against subsidies, but as soon as they support subsidies for everyone, people are screaming about it. I’m, of course, not refering to people who have always taken a stance against all subsidies.

      I just wish all subsidies would just stop so we can fix our industry.

      • vfxmafia says:

        so lets recap…if forming a union wont stop international subsidies….what will? WTO agreement or a guild?

      • Dave Rand says:

        The guild is neutral here as it represents the interests of different countries vfx professionals.

        The WTO is who each of our countries decided would govern issues with subsidies.

      • Ymir says:

        Thank you Ashes and anonymous. I am not for subsidies, but it sure put a different perspective on the situation and made people say “Wait, wha . ..?”
        If everybody’s special, then nobody’s special.

      • vfxmafia says:

        K….so if its WTO thing…..how do you influence the WTO? Are unfair and detrimental trade practices……like “Film Subsidies” permitted by the WTO….?

        Is this a Federal or a State thing?

        The Studios are almost as contempt and unremorseful as AIG and Goldman Sachs. Why is it so damn hard to point out the policies and laws…and the politicans that made this happen?

        I can point at the Studio EXec’s but Id like to know what politicans and policys are to blame..to make this legal? Arent there tariff’s and trade agreements in place to stop this?

        How can studios have such World-Wide freedom to commit essentially extortion from countries who are desperate to grow their economy’s?

        “In our personal ambitions we are individualists. But in our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we all go up or else all go down as one people.”

        Franklin D. Roosevelt

      • vfxmafia says:

        Another more painful question ……….are local unions obsolete in a modern global society?

        If a corporation can cross ocean’s then so must unions…..and labor laws…..otherwise labor will continue to be manipulated and abused…….by International Corporations

      • VFX Worker says:

        To be fair, many are objecting to the VES taking a stance on subsidies because the VES is supposed to be an international honorary organisation.

        If your VES dues are contributing to Eric Roth’s salary, then it’s unsurprising you might have objections to him lobbying for your competitors, no matter how deserving their case. It’s a sad reality that we’re mostly in a zero sum game, so for CA to benefit, someone else has to lose.

        To my mind, only CA workers/companies can fight for CA specific issues. Whatever you think about subsidies, you’re never going to get turkeys to vote for Christmas.

        It’s unfortunate that subsidies are the primary issue for CA based workers, since that’s the one issue we’re never going to achieve any international consensus on. And without consensus, ultimately we all lose.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Too VFX Worker…..

        The reason why CA artists are so obsessed with subsidies is because most of the LA VFX studios will be gone by end of summer. When London pulls all of their subsidies….they will be obsessed with subsidies as well……because BC Vancouver will have pulled the rug out from them……and then Quebec will do the same to Vancouver……

        At some point this will upset the movie calender and we will be short on summer blockbusters…….maybe it will have an effect on quartely earnings…..and finally get a CEO fired. But then again hell probably use the subsidy money for his golden Parachute.

      • VFX Worker says:

        vfxmafia: I’m not criticising LA people for being obsessed with subsidies, I’m just saying that ultimately it’s a divisive rather than unifying issue.

  83. Mike B says:

    Here is something to consider: the WTO wasn’t created to preside over labor issues, it was created to rule in corporate and sovereignty disputes.

    Unless the studios that benefit from subsidies file a complaint the WTO won’t hear a challenge from a labor group.

    • vfxmafia says:

      What if the VFX companies file a complaint with the WTO?

      • Mike B. says:

        Good question. I’d be interested to know if the WTO would hear a challenge without the direct involvement of the beneficiaries. Could the VFX companies band together for this or would they be afraid of biting the hand that feeds by pissing the studios off?

      • Real says:

        Which VFX studios? Just the ones in LA? Do you think the ones in BC/Montreal/London/Wellington are going to sign up?

      • vfxmafia says:

        By alot of the posts and articles……it doesnt sound like the UK would give up its subsidies (even though the English gov is cutting them back after all the studies that showing what subsidies really are…….a bribe to the studio)….Even BC film commision is under fire for giving away Canadian tax dollars to Studio heads…..

        Right now California is not getting much of the subsidy money which is why everyone is failing……

      • chicagoVFX says:

        UK subsidies cutting back? They’re guaranteed until 2015 and they’re just about to introduce subsidies for videogames and TV – do keep up!

  84. Gene Kozicki says:

    I haven’t read through all the comments here and in all the other blogs, so forgive me if this has been covered.

    If we cannot get subsidies revoked, can we at least change the nature of them so that the subsidy money is split between the VFX facility (who is absorbing the overhead and R&D costs) and the studios (who are putting up money)? I would think that a policy such as this would encourage a more permanent prescence in whatever city/country/province/state, leading to more long-term stability.

    I realize this sounds like a “if you can’t fight ‘em, join ‘em” proposition, but I’m just trying to come up with something different to consider…..

    Gene

    • Ashes says:

      I doubt it. The main point of the subsidies to to bring a film to a specific location. The studios are the ones who do that so the governments will give them the money. That’s how the governments try and justify the subsidies. They claim they are creating jobs, not paying for them.

      • Gene Kozicki says:

        I realize that. Maybe we have to wait for the “subsidy war” to leave some jobs behind for this to get some traction…..

    • P-Fi says:

      Hey Gene,

      Sadly the Studios won’t see it that way. If they know there is a 35% subsidy, they want a 35% discount. The VFX shops don’t see a dime. The subsidy completely bypasses the VFX shop.

      Plus as is currently the case in Vancouver, they are in trouble because other places are offering a bigger subsidy. So there is only a permanent prescence until a different region offers a better subsidy. Then all the work gets uprooted to that new region. It makes for a very volatile industry.

      You’d be amazed, with a 100 million dollar budget, a movie studio would be willing to burn every bridge, ruin every relationship if they could save just ten thousand dollars by moving the movie to a different region for subsidies.

      Sure a bottom line is a bottom line but come on studios, lets be sensible and human.

      • Studio_Spotter says:

        The chance for studios to be sensible has passed. The time to unite and stipulate contract baselines has come; starting with but not limited to:

        Minimum Percentage of Residuals
        Penalties for Studios if work is delayed

      • Tiamet says:

        Human? There is no humanity in these corporate entities. There are only the usurers, the rapacious entrepreneurs, and the pernicious financiers. After looking at as many facts as I could find regarding our current crisis, I have lost hope in any positive resolution. Nothing short of terrorism could hope to have any effect on the business of corrupt politicians and private equity firms in this corporate era. The bell of third world outsourcing cannot be un-rung! The VFX artist is just the current victim of the commoditization of everything. The forces working against us are truly massive and unconquerable. Did the American automotive worker ever bounce back from the mass exodus of their industry from our shores?
        It was great while it lasted, but it’s back to school for me. The medical field looks promising…at least until robot technology replaces those careers.
        I defer to Paddy Chayefsky, who wrote this in 1976…

    • vfxmafia says:

      To Gene,

      As of now there is no way to fight the subsidy internationally. A union is local and has no power internationally. The only way to deal with Subsidies is through the WTO…..The WTO resides over international business disputes…..

      So basically The VFX shop has to file a complaint with the WTO AGAINST the Studios…..to clam the subsidies are detrimental trade policies…..

      Let me know if got this straight……..

  85. A Voice says:

    As soon as a VFX house file a complaint to WTO, they will be black listed. See how much power they hold.

    • vfxmafia says:

      so im just taking a long shot……….but there is no way to legally stop the subsidies……….unless you take it to the press and shame the politicians………why are they giving away money (unless they are getting kickbacks) only explanation

  86. 3:14 Y'ALL says:

    Pi DAY comming up, booh yeah!
    Don’t know about you peeps but I’m taking it off!

  87. blynch212 says:

    The government of CA still fails to realize where most of their tax money they budget for each year comes from. …those jobs that have moved out of CA for better returns on their money. Give the local companies a competitive edge in the market, and bring more money back to CA. – -

  88. Standard Def(ence) says:

    Here’s the thing – you will never stop the work leaving California. Ever. That is, unless you can compete in price with countries / states that do offer subsidies. Your post houses are suffering because they are trying to match these subsidies themselves, instead of with Government assistance. You will never stop my country from offering subsidies. Face that fact. Do you really expect countries that rely on these subsidies (on top of the talent there) to help bring in this work to sign on to any sort of VfxITO? Competing with foreign and interstate subsidies is the most logical method of sustaining your industry.
    I did a survey at work, which I use purely for allegorical purposes here. There were two plain grey tshirts. One was from K-Mart, and one was made by a prestigious UK brand at eight-times the price. The UK one was clearly superior in every regard, except price. 92% of the people I surveyed said they would chose the K-Mart tshirt. That is capitalism. That is greed. That is reality. Using this dubious example, you may retain 8% of the films that really can’t be done anywhere but the truly great houses in Cal, but the rest of the world will enjoy the other 92% quite happily.

    • Actually, we CAN prevent your country from offering subsidies. If the US federal government were to charge a tariff on the importation of films produced in countries offering subsidies, then we would balance out the costs AND generate revenue from the films that still choose to be produced in those countries.

      • chicagoVFX says:

        Yes – that would work wonders, given that most of the states within the Union that produce movies in one form or another offer subsidies themselves, including – yes – California!

      • Hi there pancakes.... says:

        actually ChicagoVFX, you strip down all of the subsides across the country. Besides, many states currently are bleeding out with the current sequestration. They are not getting federal funding and are having to cut programs themselves. The only way I could see subsidies being worthwhile is if the projected cost for the film is under a specific dollar amount or the type of film (eg. docu). This way states can support indie filmmakers and educational/non-fiction pieces of work.

      • chicagoVFX says:

        That doesn’t make sense – if you’re going to fight subsidies by imposing tariffs then more or less *every* film produced by Hollywood would be subject to a tariff including all of the films shot in California under the incentive program. The only films that wouldn’t be subject to this anti-subsidy tariff would be ones made in China, India, Eastern Europe etc – in other words subsidy-free locations where it’s just cheaper to do business.

  89. [...] week I criticized the VES for advocating for more subsidies in California. As I pointed out, Governor Jerry Brown believes films subsidies are a losing strategy. Other [...]

  90. Hi there pancakes.... says:

    VES is a self-serving failure. While there are extremely talented people from the bottom to the top, and i have the utmost respect for them individually, the organization does little for artists in general. Providing subsides as an answer for those in CA is a slap in the face to other artists. VES should be ashamed of even contemplating this step.

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  96. […] pointed out to the VES, California’s Governor Jerry Brown has called film subsidies a “losing strategy” and as Variety points […]

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  98. […] The latest round of politicians are simply trying to generate publicity that will garner campaign funding contributions from US studios. One obvious example is how they peddle bogus reports funded by the MPAA. Most independent reports show film subsidies yield a net loss which is also true for California’s program. Even CA Governor Jerry Brown has called film subsidies a losing strategy that is a race to the bottom. […]

  99. […] to get veto-proof super majorities to pass CA’s governor who considers film subsidies “a losing strategy.” The price for all this? $60,000. Those of you in CA hoping to lobby politicians would […]

  100. […] Last year California Governor Jerry Brown was asked about more subsidies for the film industry: […]

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