A Message To The Employees Of DreamWorks Animation: Win The Crowd

You’re probably coming into work and wondering what the fuss is with all this green stuff. First off, this isn’t to make DreamWorks look bad. I’ve showered praise on how DreamWorks treats it’s workers and as a former Animation Guild member, I’m a converted evangelist for what they offer the VFX community. You all deserve the praise and recognition by President Obama.

However beyond the walls of DreamWorks there are some bad things happening. No matter how good things are at Dreamworks, we all know that employment tends to be project based and if and when you get laid off you usually pick up work at Disney, Sony, Digital Domain, and Rhythm & Hues. That’s no longer the case as VFX production has been virtually destroyed in that region.

I predicted this tidal wave 3 years ago and spent days and nights writing about this issue. The main culprit for the collapse of the VFX industry in the US are massive international subsidies offered in countries like Canada. Essentially they are paying US studios to move work there making it completely unsustainable to do any work here. If you get laid off you will likely have to move out of the country. Even if you are lucky to stay, there is less demand for work leaving you with less leverage to negotiate wages.

I flew to Washington DC to meet with law firms that specialize in international trade law to devise a resolution. This past summer we released the results of the study and intend to execute it. You can read about it here. Basically we can discipline these international subsidies by instituting a duty that offsets the effects of these subsidies. I’m not saying this will bring everything back but it will allow the US to compete on a level playing field. You might be suprised to learn that this could benefit DreamWorks Animation. Many of the animated films you compete with are heavily subsidized.

This brings me to why I need your help. I’d be a fool to think that you should ask President Obama to support my effort. While his support would be great, I don’t need it. I need your support. You see I don’t need Congress, or the President or any politician to institute this countervailing duty.

This law already exists and all our law firm needs to do is go to the International Trade Court and demonstrate:

  1. Subsidies are injuring the VFX industry.
  2. We have the support of the majority of the domestic VFX industry.

If we prove those two things the resulting countervailing duty tax is mandatory. The investigation only takes a year and we could turn things around quickly.

By simply wearing a green shirt during the Presidents speech you will garner media attention for this cause that will propel it into the spotlight to help us get the support we need. We’ve already yielded a lot of media attention already. An image of the President arriving to a sea of green would be a game changer. Many of your former colleagues will be outside doing the same. If you were on the outside wouldn’t you want your colleagues to do the same?

Stand with us in front of our President. Help us win the crowd. Help us give the VFX world something they’ve never seen before.

Soldier On.

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34 Responses to A Message To The Employees Of DreamWorks Animation: Win The Crowd

  1. SH says:

    Soldier this is a wonderful thing you are doing for the industry:) I have been following the last several posts, however; have seen no link to a specific green shirt. Are we to buy any type of ‘greenscreen’ colored shirt …..or are their shirts available to buy? If there are then disregard this message, but if you don’t it might a way to generate some revenue for your cause. I realize it is a little too late for Obama’s visit but it would be nice to have a t-shirt available to buy with some type of logo on it.

  2. facts says:

    Is it not ironic that you used a film clip where all the vfx were done outside of LA?

    • VFX Soldier says:

      The point was about the message the scene inspires.

      However to address your point, if on a level playing field the UK or India or whoever offers the best quality for the best price, more power to them.

      Right now that’s not the case. As amazing as the work on Gravity by Framestore, their own CEO admits 75% of the work relies on subsidies used to distort the market.

      >

  3. LAskyline says:

    “As amazing as the work on Gravity by Framestore, their own CEO admits 75% of the work relies on subsidies used to distort the market. ”

    You do know that he was actually sitting next to the UK Gov minister in charge of the incentives when he said that, don’t you? What else do you think he was going to say “no thank you, don’t want the money”?

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Are you implying that the UK would be fine without subsidies? Their completely dependent on them and you know that.

      >

      • LAskyline says:

        Not at all. The UK incentives are doing exactly what successive govs there have intended which is why they keep renewing them. FYI, regardless of independent studies, the UK Gov’s Treasury dept. considers the current incentive to work out at a 7x multiplier. However, you have to take the pronouncements of CEOs with a pinch of salt – the point is that VFX’s problems in LA run deeper than just incentives. The same is true for all production in LA – get in a room with any LA producer and you’ll hear the same thing again and again about how they’re sick of being gouged in California. Again, take it with a pinch of salt, but there’s no smoke without fire.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        You really believe that for every 1 dollar you give to the studios they return 7 dollars in taxes to the government?

        That’s a better return on investment that google or apple. Most of these roi on film subsidies are bogus and created by the mpaa. Most independent studies show subsidies lose money.

        >

      • kyoseki says:

        If UK government subsidies were doing such a great job, why did Framestore open a Montreal office and then staff it with guys from London?

        How do you think those guys will react when the the subsidies end and they’re asked to go back to mandatory unpaid overtime in London again?

      • LAskyline says:

        Framestore is a business with shareholders and like all such organisations they need to keep growing. Framestore is doing very well in London. They’re also doing very well in LA and NYC. And now they’re going to do very well in Montreal – They even have an outpost in Iceland. They’re taking advantage of the opportunities wherever they see them. That’s what businesses do.

        DD and R&H also took advantage of the opportunities that exist. They just didn’t do a very good job of it. ILM, on the other hand, are aggresively pursuing opportunities wherever they find them and appear to be making a success of it.

      • kyoseki says:

        Framestore is privately owned and you’re missing the point.

        The point is that even with UK subsidies, the jobs are going elsewhere, which scuppers the whole argument that subsidies build industries.

        I’m not blaming Framestore for opening a Montreal office, I’m blaming Montreal for having a subsidy program so lucrative that foreign companies create temporary studios and import foreign workers to fill any jobs that get created. Jobs that will go away IMMEDIATELY as soon as the subsidies end, because otherwise Montreal is far too expensive to do work in.

        This is not creating jobs, this is just renting them.

      • LAskyline says:

        Framestore has a board of directors who are the shareholders. The value of their company is determined by the growth of their business. They have been very successful in doing exactly that in the 27 years that the company has been around for.

        Answer this: why are companies with UK headquarters – the Mill, MPC, Framestore – all making such big inroads into the LA commercials market? Why is it that when I talk with commercials directors here in LA they all want to do their work with the UK companies on the West Side?

      • kyoseki says:

        What, exactly, are you arguing here?

        What do commercials in LA have to do with production subsidies in Canada?

  4. LAskyline says:

    I’m just telling you what they themselves believe. Every successive UK gov since 1997 has renewed – and expanded – the incentive scheme, and now that the EU just rolled over big time on film subsidies they’re going for broke. Isn’t it just a bit naive to this it’s just down to politicians wanting to hang out with movie stars?

  5. […] a widely read blog by an anonymous visual effects artist, posted this morning that the effort is not “to make DreamWorks look bad.” In fact, he praises DreamWorks […]

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  7. Blacklight says:

    “The investigation only takes a year and we could turn things around quickly.”

    sooooooo this business with the subsidies should be taken care of just in time for the 2015 implosion of the film industry.

  8. Doing Research says:

    This is how China circumvents the CVD issue. It’s called a VAT “Rebate” Tax given to its companies who export.

    “China spends almost $100 billion per year now subsidizing exports in this facially WTO-legal way. Free trade utopians in DC will have their worldview shattered by examining the tactics of state-managed capitalism by China and others.”

    “According to the GATT/WTO trade agreements, a country with a value added tax (VAT) such as China can legally rebate to its exporters the VAT taxes they pay on exports. The assumption here is that China’s tax rebates will be offset by import VAT taxes in other countries. Unfortunately for US manufacturers, the US does not have an import VAT tax and has near 0% tariffs. As a result, Chinese exporters can more easily undersell their American competitors in the US market. They need not pay the payroll, business and other US taxes paid by US producers, while the taxes Chinese companies paid the Chinese government are refunded to them when they export to the US.”

    Full article here:

    http://www.tradereform.org/2011/07/cpa-white-paper-how-chinas-vat-massively-subsidizes-exports/

    Germany does the same:

    http://www.tradereform.org/2010/07/germany-is-doing-well/

    http://www.wnd.com/2007/02/39999/

    So all these governments have to do is reward the local companies for creating a product they successfully export instead of rewarding the US company who imports from them to get around the CVD.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Absolutely incorrect. This article has nothing to do with CVDs. It has to do with VAT tax refunds. In fact the article seems to endorse CVD tariffs as a means to level the playing field.

      Also consider your source: he’s a research intern at University Indiana. Smart guy but not even a lawyer and not an expert in international trade law like our legal team:

      Check out David Yocis, Andrew Kentz, Nathaniel Rickard, Adam Gordon, Kevin O’ Connor.:

      http://www.pkrllp.com/professionals.htm

      I have to commend you for one thing: this is the first time someone actually tried to make a legal argument against our CVD effort. Everyone else in the opposition has either lashed out or tried to deny subsidies have anything to do with VFX job loss.

      >

  9. Steven Broadus says:

    You’re a shill for the unions.

    Disgusting, and just as dangerous to film production as runaways and subsidies.

  10. kego says:

    I didn’t see any green.

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  12. lhenryfx says:

    Date: Mon, 25 Nov 2013 08:09:19 +0000 To: lhenry_fx@hotmail.com

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    A Message To The Employees Of DreamWorks Animation: Win The Crowd | VFX Soldier

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