UK Government Pumps More Air Into Subsidy Bubble

In the interview with FX Guide we talked about why this blog came into prominence: It was my observation 3 years ago that an accelerating subsidy race, not cheap labor in Asia, would dominate where VFX work would go.

One week later, the UK announces it will increase it’s subsidies from 20% to 25%:

The measures are intended to make the UK a more enticing location for filming special effects, sound and location shooting work, following fears that the industry will lose its world-leading position, and talent, to countries such as Canada, which already offer significant tax breaks.

I pointed this out last year. The idea with these subsidies is that it should create a sustainable local industry but that hasn’t been the case as various locations have to keep ratcheting up the amount paid to US studios or risk having the whole industry collapse. Also, as one UK director Edgar Wright notes, these subsidies are actually crowding out local filmmakers:

While the tax break is good for Hollywood films shooting here, it’s probably not that great for British films shooting in the UK,” he said. “Some middle-to-low budget films are going to find themselves without crew because all the American films are shooting here.

Other locations on the other hand are starting to question the policy of paying US studios to bring VFX work to their locations.

New Zealand’s Temporary Subsidies

The latest move by the UK puts further pressure on New Zealand which has had 15% subsidy for a decade. Many are asking for an increase but the government is reluctant to further speed up a race to the bottom after spending almost a billion NZ dollars over the years. The New Zealand Herald argues that any assistance from the government has always meant to be temporary:

Either way, it must be crystal clear that any such help is strictly short term. At some stage, the film industry will, like any other sector, have to survive without subsidies.

I wrote a few months ago that NZ should eliminate subsidies for foreign studios and only invest in local films. That prudent notion seems to be discussed by Kiwi filmmakers.

Australia’s Borrowed Time

A publication in Australia mentions that their industry may be on borrowed time if our campaign is successful (incorrectly reporting we need congressional legislation). Australia has also seen a need to increase the stakes in the subsidy race.  While in 2006 it gave US studios $29 million, that amount has blown up to $204 million!

This has drawn the ire of former Australian Film Commission head Kim Williams who proclaims that the film industry there is too dependent upon government assistance:

That cycle of review and change will be with you… as long as there is a dependence on regulatory obligations by broadcasters… and subsidies… for development, production, marketing and so forth. It is the norm in the rural economy …and the motor vehicle industry,” he said. “Film and television has operated in the modern era as an assisted industry.”

Canada Being “Played” By “Unaffordable” Film Subsidies

Aussie politicians aren’t the only ones questioning dependence on film subsidies for US studios. BC’s finance minister Mike de Jong is trying to level the playing field with other provinces that offer larger subsidies:

“I think we’re being played in Canada,” de Jong responded. “We’re being played one province against another. And the time has come for us to get smart and sit down as provinces and say ‘Here’s what we agree to do in Canada’.”

We’d like to see a level playing field too which is what our effort to institute a countervailing duty is all about.

USA Questions Film Subsidies

In the US, national politicians are also questioning film subsidies. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich called them a race to the bottom:

“These tax credits and tax incentives are a zero sum game,” he said in an interview last week. “They don’t create a single new job. They just move jobs around, and they rob the states of the money they need for education and infrastructure.”

Meanwhile, New York commissioned a study on tax reform and recommends cutting subsidies for film:

Many are quick to point out New York as big player in the VFX subsidy war but unfortunately that is not the case. Their program limits the amount of subsidies offered to post-production and VFX to $7 million a year. A problem? Yes, but not as substantial as UK, Canada, and others that offer an uncapped amount costing hundreds of millions a year.

Soldier On.

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192 Responses to UK Government Pumps More Air Into Subsidy Bubble

  1. Jen says:

    I keep thinking these government subsidies can’t continue, because they keep losing money (ex: Louisiana paying $7.29 in film subsidies for every dollar of revenue). Yet they keep going.

    The only thing I can figure is that any politician who dares to cut or end subsidies will be accused of killing jobs.

    • hector says:

      yes. jobs that are in fact payed by workers.

    • Andreas jablonka says:

      But they are not creating jobs. On paper yes but mist off these jobs are being filled by imported talent from other regions. Both nation and international.

    • shanep says:

      The politicians aren’t overly concerned if the subsidies are a net loss dollar-wise because they’re playing with other people’s money, not their own. They don’t have a incentive to create a profit with the program.
      Their incentive is to create a wealth transfer from taxpayers in the form of a subsidy to corporate non-producers(studios) who travel from territory to territory like pirates and make off with the loot.
      Plus it gives politicians a great “I created jobs” slogan for their next reelection campaign ad.

      • shanep says:

        The only people who will stop the program are the revenue generators: the taxpayers. They will force the politicians to make changes.
        Until then, expect these programs to continue.

      • hector says:

        The taxpayers are happy that work is created so even if you tell them the truth, they are going to tell you that you’re wrong.

    • Michael Everett says:

      Another factor which should not be underestimated is the “starstruck syndrome” — the value the American public attaches to watching movies being shot in their area, and the chance of glimpsing Brad Pitt at a Starbucks in the irrational belief that somehow some magic will rub off on them and their area. True, it’s a two-edged sword, because the same factor also contributes to ever-rising demand for product from the industry that fuels our jobs, but we still need to acknowledge it as a stubborn problem not likely to go away.

      Michael Everett
      IATSE 728

  2. DBG says:

    I never understood what’s the point of subsidies if VFX house have to relocate US VFX artist to other countries, at the end of the day Canada, UK, are paying money to US relocated VFX artist.
    At some point this bubble is going to explote

    • shanep says:

      No it’s worse than that DGB. Those countries are not paying to relocate vfx artists, the companies are. The movie studios are the ones taking the excess profit gained from the subsidy. They’re not passing it onto the vfx studios. The fx studios and artists are then running around to subsidized locales at the bidding of the studios so they can continue to work on films. That’s why these fx studios are suffering. Higher costs incurred on already razor thin margins.

      • DBG says:

        You’re absolutely right, but subsidies are created to bring money in, and here since they don’t have enough infrastructure to auto-support themselves, they bring artist from US.
        It’s like going to a bar and bringing you own beer.

  3. Michael Everett says:

    The ratcheting up of national and regional subsidies is only the first and most visible aspect of the subsidy scenario. The ratcheting up will continue until each subsidy has reached the absolute last penny the media corporations and those unions who are closely attached to them and and front for them, can squeeze out of the taxpayers.

    Then what? We’d like to hope the taxpayers of the world will wise up and we are seeing some movement in that direction, but I view it as a dim hope. Instead, I would expect subsidies will stabilize into a status quo. At that point, any attempt at lowering or removing them will be seen as a job-killer and will encounter ferocious opposition from unions, vendors, investors in permanent facilities, and the media corporations. We need only look to the growth of California’s total corporate subsidies which are estimated at $50 billion annually to see how easily they are doled out by a corrupt state legislature, how they accumulate, and how politically tough it becomes to remove them to understand the growing cancer of subsidies.

    Michael Everett
    IATSE 728

  4. morvan says:

    Hi soldiers,

    Since schadenfreude is the plat du jour round here most days, perhaps a little groundzero reality should be injected at this point.

    UK subs have been upped because the vfx industry is hurting here. Its not the land of milk and honey painted by this blog and wherever alot of work may be going, its not here. Also the desperate new subs measures are not really working.

    In the past year, both DD/Reliance ad Pixomondo in town shut down overnight with no notice or compensation. There is no WARN here. That’s it, goodbye. Few other small-mid firms have followed suit in the last two years. Others like PF and Molinaire went into bancruptcies and are limping along pretty lifeless. DNEG, Framestore and MPC have gone through several stages of mass layoffs and now are entirely cyclical hire and fire short contract firms. There is absolutely no stability and they find it increasingly difficult to recruit anything other than temps overseas as nobody native who lives here can viably support a home and life from the current industry and so started dropping out a few years back.

    To be honest, natural market forces are imploding the whole thing long before any CDS comes into play. Its seems all sides are so wrapped up in schadenfreude nowadays that the tones of some of the whooping and hollering of blog posters here is getting very insensitive.

    Anyways, my two cents.

    • Andreas jablonka says:

      What do you suggest we do to fix it?
      The uk list it’s work due to the same subsidies it started. London too can survive on merit/quality if work. Many British films lets love working in their home.
      Instead of abolishing the subsidies they cry and succeed to
      Up them. Same as Canada tried in bc. They failed with safe bc film.

      London is hurting, nz is and la is. Hence we are striving to abolish ALL subsidies to make all our lives easier.

  5. Yves says:

    If subsidies would not exist , in vfx , a major part of vfx budgets would disappear , projects numbers and size would shrink , there would be few studios going bankrupt , massive layoffs , and the wages would go down ….. That s economy 101.

    Ps ; in world trade there is no such thing as ” level playing field “….

    • Andreas jablonka says:

      I don’t see star wages declining. Though cgi is rising. We are not a theatre magnet like best Pitt. Why is that? Vfx is an invisible face.
      If the subsidies disappear the studios have to shift who makes what. It’s time they know what Vfx cost without a rebate. Maybe they can then make the math simple:
      Do make billions with avengers? Yes!
      Does it fist millions to make Vfx for avengers? Yes.
      Are we willing to pay millions to make billions? Yes.
      If say avengers vista 100mio in Vfx work and generates 1 bio in profit or gross. That’s great!
      If it would cost 150$ without rebate it still makes you a big pile. Do we think they won’t make avengers now? Of course they do!

      Now somebody will be a butt and say it will be done in Bulgaria at worldwide fx. I think avengers just tanked and only made 150$ as it like like crap. The studios will gladly pay 150 to make a billion rather than 75mio to have a flop of 150mio.

      • Yves says:

        You don t have to convince me , that the reparation of profits , in the movies business , is obscene , neither do you need to convince me of the existence of displacement of jobs, which create social detriments for LA workers …. I am well aware of that .
        But I don t do politics here, I am just telling my point of view on how world economy works ….

      • hector says:

        “You don t have to convince me” No man, we don’t.

    • Yves says:

      Oh and by the way , if you manage to establish a CVD ( which I pretty sure is impossible ) , that would just increase the cost of production for US studios , who in return would open sister companies ,north to the border , making now Canadian movies with US investments …. Your CVD would not cover imported cultural products like movies … So the only thing you will get is the displacement of jobs of an other sector; the movie production staff . Meanwhile Canada get taxes from those new Canadians companies , so a better rentability for their initial vfx subsidies.

      • Freetrade Lover says:

        Yes, Yves… you get exactly the points that are trying to make. If we look at all this from the economics then there is more speaking against CVD’s then for it. In addition to this I would as a film studio just put less VFX heavy films into production. Everyone looses. People also seem to forget that we want what they have. But there are too many from us all around the world. This doesn’t give us much leverage at the moment unless…

      • Andreas jablonka says:

        Less heavy Vfx films? Have you seen the box office? No
        Indi films! Sequels! The more Vfx the better! The lone ranger?

        The top 20 movies at the box office are all Vfx blockbusters not art pieces.

      • Dave Rand says:

        I love armchair economists, but we did not hire them, we hired legitimate, experienced, trade law experts.

        Fact: every country uses or has used tariffs to balance trade. Their intent and design is not drive away business.

        Subsidies, however, do exactly that, and an increasing amount of us have whitenesses this first hand.

        CVD’s bring back the balance. Read or re-read the feasibility study, get educated.

        http://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/legal-recommendations-on-vfx-subsidies/

      • LAskyline says:

        It won’t increase the cost of making VFX to the studios and it won’t raise the price that the VFX vendors around the world can charge. Why not? Because *they already get the lower prices even if there’s no rebate available*. This is the point that I have been making again and again but which falls on deaf ears here in LA. The refrain here is that LA only loses work to overseas locations because of the unfair advantage of subsidies in those locations. Bullshit. There are plenty of examples of the big six getting low low prices even when their movies don’t qualify for subsidies.

        The bottom line is that the big six know that competition is strong enough to maintain that price point in VFX and they will hold the vendors’ feet to the fire to get it. Hunger Games, Twilight, Iron Man 1 to 3, Man of Steel to name but a few *all* had work done that didn’t get subsidies. And not one of those shows paid more than the net subsidized rate on the portion of the work that didn’t qualify.

      • Andreas jablonka says:

        The truth remains it’s not the unsubsidized vendors in china and India we fear. They are competing fair. It’s the others that draw the work. It’s not deaf ears you just don’t have your facts straight! Tell me a single movie that was a big hit that was fine outside the us and NOT in a sunsidized location! I dare you to show me one!

      • makeitstop says:

        That’s what I too believe would happen – the studios would outmaneuver the CVDs in one swift move, the physical production side in LA would hurt as hell… as long as some stubborn folks here push through their very own agenda, no matter what (well… I believe they have exactly ZERO chance at succeeding, but that’s another topic).

        You might be able to buy a little feasibility study… but the studios have whole departments staffed with accountants and lawyers. No, it’s not fair. It’s reality.

      • LAskyline says:

        “Tell me a single movie that was a big hit that was fine outside the us and NOT in a sunsidized location! I dare you to show me one!”

        There are plenty of examples where the studios have gotten rock-bottom prices on VFX work without subsidies:

        Cloverfield was a split between Tippet (US) and Dneg (UK) with no subsidies. Godzilla is currently being worked on by MPC and Dneg – MPC’s work gets the subsidy in Canada, Dneg’s work in London does not.

        X Men:The Last Stand had a significant proportion of its effects produced in London (MPC, Cinesite and Framestore) with no subsidies.

      • Andreas jablonka says:

        Excuse me but hiw are these produced in london(!)without subsidies?

      • Andreas jablonka says:

        Excuse me but how are these produced in london(!)without subsidies?

      • LAskyline says:

        “Excuse me but how are these produced in london(!)without subsidies?”

        I guess they just work that bit harder.

      • Andreas jablonka says:

        Right. Here is where you finally loose all credibility.

    • VFX_Boom says:

      False. Hollywood is absoluteley dependant on VFX, they are past the point of no return it seems. Hollywod is run by accountants now. To suggest that VFX would dry up at all is like saying all of Hollywood will just shut its doors all at once. Not gonna happen, the accountants would disagree with this strategy and never allow that.

      Seems the vfx companies and artists hold more cards then we give ourselves credit for. But will we do anything about it?

  6. Yves says:

    @ Dave ;

    Sorry man , I am such a dummy…. Can you “educate ” me sir ???? Can you elaborate or explain the logic your behind your claims ???? Does your experts lawyers are going to pursue your case probono ? Thank you !

    • Yves says:

      And your experts lawyers are they going to hire or ask ” armchair economists ” in court ?

      • Whoa says:

        That was an example to explain the following scenario in the very next sentence;

        “A similar, but not identical, argument was rejected by Commerce in a 2001
        CVD investigation.”

        I have no problem with a completely foreign studio producing a film. If they want to do that great have at it. Vancouver, the uk, Australia, and NZ should assume themselves capable of doing so.

        He is drawing a comparison to a similar legal prexident protecting from this circumvention. If that company is owned by an American studio, or the merchandise from a subsidized location otherwise “enters the commerce of the US.” they can not import the good and profit off it without a Cvd charge that neutralizes the subsidy.

        I can repeat things too.
        A tax that only neutralizes a foreign subsidy is far closer to free trade than just letting subsidies run rampant.

      • Whoa says:

        Sorry this was posted in the wrong place.

    • Freetrade Lover says:

      Dave, so everyone who is against CVD’s is uneducated and only economists who get paid by you guys are real experts. I get that some anonymous dudes don’t have much creditability. And still these unpaid armchair economists have risen some legitimed points which so far have not been debunked….

      Subsidies are bad. But CVD’s are no cure – there just a protectionist strategy. If we leave the path of freetrade there will be some ugly blowback for all of us.

      Don’t burn money and time this way. Let’s rather find a different solution. Something that works.

      • Whoa says:

        Freetrade,
        You make no sense. You tout free trade and then decry a duty that neutralizes subsidies. A neutralized subsidy is far closer to free trade than just allowing subsidies. It only charges the cost of the imbalance.

        Then you just get indignant about daves link that seems to address the issue. If the unaddressed “good point” you are referring to is the foreign sister company idea, it is addressed in the link he sent you. It’s called “Trans-shipment” and basically amounts to fraud punishable by fines and incarceration. Even if a sister company designs the product out of country, if a us company wants to make even a penny from any us showings, it would be subject to the cvd. Even if all the money went to this foreign sister company, and then a year later some other unrelated bloated payment was made to the US studio as an “unnoficial kickback” for the subsidized rate, it is considered federal circumvention punishable by fines and incarceration. Basically if they ever want to show the movie in the US and have any foot upon US soil while doing so, they are subject to the Cvd at exactly the payment that product was subsidized.

        They can try to creatively circumvent the cvd, but Its one hell of a risk to gamble that cushy house, car, pool, family and freedom in Beverly Hills or Brentwood or where have you when at the drop of a dime, the industry most interested in sustaining the neutralizing effects of the cvds can trigger an audit.

      • Freetrade Lover says:

        @Woha, Well then since I don’t make any sense, let’s see what the study says about the 100% Canadian production idea to get around CVD’s:

        “It could be argued, in this situation, that the real subsidised product is the RIGHTS associated with the imported good rather then the import itself. These rights, as distinct from the goods, would not be “merchandise” and would therefore fall outside the scope of the CVD law”

        Read it yourself on the top of page 13.

        I repeat for one last time since people don’t seem to get it:
        Hampering the trade has nothing to do with free trade.

        Therefore CVD = Protectionism.

        Protectionism = Hurts everyone in the end.

      • Whoa says:

        That was an example to explain the following scenario in the very next sentence;

        “A similar, but not identical, argument was rejected by Commerce in a 2001
        CVD investigation.”

        I have no problem with a completely foreign studio producing a film. If they want to do that great have at it. Vancouver, the uk, Australia, and NZ should assume themselves capable of doing so.

        He is drawing a comparison to a similar legal prexident protecting from this circumvention. If that company is owned by an American studio, or the merchandise from a subsidized location otherwise “enters the commerce of the US.” they can not import the good and profit off it without a Cvd charge that neutralizes the subsidy.

        I can repeat things too.
        A tax that only neutralizes a foreign subsidy is far closer to free trade than just letting subsidies run rampant.

      • Freetrade Lover says:

        Yes and you know just as well as I that this rejection example does not fully apply on the RIGHTS issue. This would also not be illegal and not trigger an audit.

        The main beneficiary of foreign subsidies are Studios based in the USA. Sorry, what do you want to neutralize again?

      • Look at the big picture says:

        @Freetrade Lover

        You reference economics in your posts but it’s clear that you have no real economics education.

        Subsidies have well understood negative effects on international trade and can be, and often are, a form of protectionism. Countervailing duties are trade import duties whose only purpose is to mitigate the effects of those specific subsidies. They are not tarriffs and as such are not considered protectionist actions.

        This is basic economics and really isn’t debatable. Anyone who has taken even a 100 level macroeconomics course knows this.

      • Look at the big picture says:

        Edit for accuracy: macroeconomics = microeconomics.

      • shanep says:

        Big Picture, that’s right. That’s why they’re called counter-vailing duty. They’re there to counter a positive action. They neutralize(nullify) other actions.

      • shanep says:

        Freetrade lover said:
        “If we leave the path of freetrade there will be some ugly blowback for all of us.”

        What do you mean “if we leave the path of free trade”?

        When were we ever on the path? A global economy full of trade subsidies does /= free trade.

        And a CVD imposed to nullify the effects of subsidies returns all to zero.

      • Freetrade Lover says:

        Ah well. We are all clearly having a discussion about economics. It’s strange how some people always attack one another by accusing them to have no clue. Almost like this is an endorsement of own economic model. Let me try to explain you some simple facts and then you can do with it whatever you want:

        Subsidies have nothing to do with the actual trade specifically. Free Trade does not translate to fair trade nor is it perfect. But we have learned over the past 100 years that it was always painful to leave this path. CVD’s are a not uncritically accepted as a tool to make the trade more fair. The main beneficiary of foreign subsidies is the US Film Industry but not the US VFX Industry.

        What you guys demand is Fair Trade not Free Trade. Huge difference.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        > “CVD’s are a not uncritically accepted as a tool to make the trade more fair”

        The WTO has allowed the used of CVDs to nullify actionable subsidies.

        Lol Where do you come up with your stuff?!

        Sent from my iPhone

        >

      • VFX Soldier says:

        What a genius. Do you realize this is an article that has to do with dumping? This has nothing to do with our effort. You might as well start bringing up articles on farm subsidies while you’re at it.

      • Freetrade Lover says:

        From the above link:

        “The inescapable conclusion that follows from this analysis is that the antidumping law, as it currently stands, has nothing to do with maintaining a “level playing field.” Instead, antidumping’s primary function is to provide an elaborate excuse for old-fashioned protectionism.”

        I am sure you will never read that. Really too bad.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Do you actually bother reading what you post?

        if a foreign producer sells widgets for 10 at home and for 8 in the United States, its dumping margin is (10 8)/8, or 25 percent.

        This has to do with price discrimination against certain countries.

      • Freetrade Lover says:

        Oh man, that hurts

  7. Steve says:

    “The idea with these subsidies is that it should create a sustainable local industry but that hasn’t been the case”

    I think you’re mistaken. Pretty sure each of these foreign territories that use tax incentives does have a sustainable local industry: TV, commercials, promos and movies (but of course not as many or as ‘big’ as Hollywood). And they use VFX. There is already a local industry. Tax breaks are intended to generate even more jobs in addition to this.

    • hector says:

      jobs payed by taxpayers. great!

    • LosingHope says:

      Sustainable means the jobs would be there if the subsidies went away. But as we’ve seen they go “poof” once they’re lowered or removed.

      Also, sustainable with subsidies means the subsidies should pay for themselves. But the independent studies show that the govt never recoups the full amount it paid for the subsidies.

      So they are pay for work jobs funded by the taxpayers.

      • Steve says:

        “Sustainable means the jobs would be there if the subsidies went away. But as we’ve seen they go “poof” once they’re lowered or removed. ”

        You didn’t read my post properly. My point is that there is already a sustainable (non-Hollywood) industry in these tax-break countries. Those jobs do NOT go ‘poof’ if the tax breaks were to go. I’m talking TV, commercials, promos and (non-Hollywood) films.

      • Andreas jablonka says:

        Why is Auckland, nz hurting then? They did tv episodic. They clearly said the subsidies drew the shows elsewhere.

    • DBG says:

      I personally know a few Rhythm & Hue guys form LA that have been asked to move to Vancouver, and that seems to be the trend nowadays, so big studios still prefer to work with US reputable VFX house, just not in the US, let the Canadians taxpayers finance the new american movies instead

  8. $401K says:

    The studios will simply relocate some core operations to Canada and work with the VFX houses to export back into the US via NAFTA.

    One of the big reasons for studio relocations recently was because of the US dollar and insane federal reserve money printing. The US dollar will continue to lose large vaues in these circumstances. Remember when $1USD used to be $2.5CD? Its stealth inflation. But for a major corporation distributing a product (film release) worldwide, you want a stable currency and store of value. As a sound commodity backed currency like the $CAD, it lowers the cost of trade on options and futures markets. And when the inevitable dollar slide increases pace, the hollywood production studios will simply channel the international business networks through Vancouver or Toronto and the $CAD and perhaps the £GBP, although the UK maybe in as bad a situation as the US in the future. Either that or suffer huge losses and increased risks.

    Excessive money printing, debt and war financing in the US has destroyed the fundamentals of the US economy in the last 20 years. Studios have reacted by diversifying the business internationally to counter the risks. When you are dealing in $100′s of millions, you have to be on the ball in international finance or you can easily be wiped out by currency movements and the like.

    California in particular has an extremely dangerous debt situation both with municipal cities and munuicipal debts but also private citizen debts in the form of excessive mortgage debt that was largely fuelled by fraudulent lending in the last decade. Californians wanted to flip houses as a hobby for the last ten years and created a crippling debt mountain for themselves when it all collapsed. It did spread as far north as vancouver, for sure, but the vancouver debt situation is nowhere near as dangerous to Canada as the Californian and US wide debt orgy has been to the US economy.

    It’s not just a case of slashing costs by picking up cheaper labor and tax subsidies in other countries. That has incentivised the moves but they had started long before this due to these concerns about the future value of the US dollar and the likely debt and taxation burdens in the US economy going forward. Blowhards like Jablonka and Rand aren’t really going to digest or understand this kind of stuff but then again, they have no experience in international trade and management of (solvent) corporations.

    • Yves says:

      That s an interesting point of view ,( I am not sure I share fully the same conclusion regarding the weak dollar being a disadvantage for movies studios…) the politic of the Fed regarding strong inflation and therefor a weak dollar gave a clear advantage to US vfx houses and artists making them cheaper , it s only natural and logical that other countries who aren’t so manipulative ( and don t have the same flexibility since Bretton woods ) on their currency develop subsidies and state intervention policies ,in order to protect their exports ….
      There is no such thing as “level plane field”

      • VFX Soldier says:

        See here’s the problem. I appreciate the opinion but you have zero facts with how the law works. This is why we are consulting with an actual law firm that specializes in this in DC… and yes they have an economist who works with them also.

        A subsidy as defined in trade law has to be for a specific industry. The US dollar was not weakened for help a specific industry like VFX. If you feel that is true, I encourage you to get out of your chair AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Hire a lawyer, talk to politicians, mobilize the industry like I did and actually do something about it.

        Anything else is hot air. All this blabber on my blog about trade wars, and VFX ceasing to exist if the CVD goes through is laughable. Do you realize how incredible you’re making me look? Little ol me has the power to stop the whole film industry?

        Our side specifically wants to use the trade laws because it delivers leverage. What leverage do you have?

    • polyphemus says:

      I remember the US dollar being 1.50 back in the 80s to around 00 but never 2.50.

      The main reason there is so much film work in Vancouver is that the subsidy is large and uncapped.

      For how long remains to be seen, there is only so much tax payer money you can spend before things fall apart there, taxes and services are being cut in BC significantly, so when you are increasing heath care premiums, and increasing taxes to the tune of a half a billion dollars in the provincial budget in 2011, and then turn around and give 400-500 million of provincial money to Hollywood something is going to give.

      Who wants to take a bet on the cost of subsidies in BC in 2013? 1 Billion? You will see the plug pulled pretty quickly.

      The subsidies started when the exchange wasn’t in favour in Canadians getting work, that is true. However I doubt Californias financial situation is the cause of work leaving beyond CA not being able to afford competitive subsidies in response.

      As for real estate? I’d take CA real estate any day over Vancouver.

    • Studio_Spotter says:

      “The studios will simply relocate some core operations to Canada and work with the VFX houses to export back into the US via NAFTA.”

      This does not circumvent a CVD duty. This is explained in the legal brief.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Here was my post on this issue…

        http://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/circumvention-through-hollywood-accounting/

        Seems the arguments are circling around the same things:

        CVDs will end the VFX industry. Studios will commit fraud around the CVD. We need to end farm subsidies first.

      • Yves says:

        Those companies would be legimate companies, not shell companies , they would do real work , on their own . Nothing prevent US studio to open companies in different countries and finance their project there. The resulting movies rights would not be subject to any CVD , as cultural products exceptions ( right know almost all foreign movies get part financed by their government or province and they don t get subjected to any tax designed to offset it , when they enter US ) as the biggest movies exporter USA has no interest to declare a import tax on foreign movies….. Even if a CVD would apply , profit of a movie ( especially heavy vfx movies ) comes for a large part from its profits abroad ( where that CVD will no apply ) therefor getting your movies done in a subsidies location would still be way more profitable than doing it in LA

      • VFX Soldier says:

        We’ve had this debate before on the circumvention thread. No matter what they do they would be subject to an annual administrative review initiated by our law firm.

        Next time can you cite sources next time to try to make arguments on international trade law? Because this is making me laugh.

        >

      • Studio_Spotter says:

        Yves,
        If you would care to read before you comment you would see that whether it does real work or not is irrelevant. This method of circumvention by opening foreign locations to export products back and avoid a CVD charge, whether it is only transferring a product or actually creating a product in the dutiable location, is specifically punishable by fines and incarceration. They would still be subject to the CVD.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Also its worth mentioning this again: We are using the same trade laws and department the studios use to combat copyright enforcements. The government would raise a huge eyebrow if it’s revealed that the same laws they use are the same ones they openly circumvent and commit fraud against.

      • Yves says:

        You guys are right , I would not say that I am a law expert ( I think no one here is ) so I do understand that you rely on lawyers for that .
        Everyone seems to agree here that in order for the CVD on vfx to work , USA will have to apply it on foreign movies ( at least on canada uk EU NZ Australia ) because they will rely on subsidies for their creation …
        And that s where I have a serious doubt ; knowing that USA is by far the biggest exporter of movies , it would have no interest to see other countries apply taxes on their movies in response for the CVD it created … ( you guys stay cool that s just an observation )
        The other point I made is , even with a CVD in place , susidised locations would still be more attractive than USA ( since the CVD only equalize the susidised amount on US market , not the rest of the world ).
        I would be curious to learn about the NY caped system work (especially regarding it s repartition ) does anyone knows or have docs regarding that ?

      • Freetrade Lover says:

        Yves, you nailed it. I hope this Soldier guy gets this too. This whole thing he is stirring up is just a waste of energy.

      • Studio_Spotter says:

        If by “nailed it” you mean “clearly does not understand how the CVD is applied” Then yes…. Yves nailed it alright.

    • Look at the big picture says:

      @$401K

      I see crap like what you wrote posted in economics blogs all the time. Usually with a link to ZeroHedge, Shadowstats, Peter Schiff, or some other doomsday Austrian economist wannabe.

      That branch of economic theory has been seriously discredited in the last 5 years. There is no Zimbabwean hyperinflation. Gold will not match the DOW 1:1. The 10s of trillions printed by the FED have not entered the money supply and caused rampant inflation because this was a balance sheet recession.

      The US economy is not collapsing. The dollar is not collapsing. The housing market has almost completely recovered. The debt issue in California has stabilized and we’re looking at a budget surplus. Your Mad Max dystopian doomsday fetish isn’t going to happen. Sorry.

      I’m also sorry to everyone else about the off topic post but this pseudo economic crap needs to die away. You’d think after 5 years of overwhelming evidence to the contrary people would give it up.

      • Freetrade Lover says:

        Hahahaha! Sorry but this post just made me laugh and nothing else!

      • Yves says:

        I understand your point , there is no need to get overly dramatic .
        But he does have a point about the inflation : in 2002 when subsidies wasn’t a trend the CAD was 1.6 USD , today it s almost the parity . That has been a big factor in term of the competivity of Canadian vfx houses.
        You can see the same thing regarding euro ( which is in a bigger crisis than us ) compare usd

      • Freetrade Lover says:

        Just for the record, I was referring to Big Pictures post. Of course 401K points made perfect sense! Balance sheet recession? Man this guy should have a comedy show!

      • Look at the big picture says:

        @Yves

        If the charge is that the US is devaluing the USD due to “Fed money printing” comparing it the CAD isn’t a very accurate measure of that is it? A better metric would be to chart it’s value against a basket of major currencies as this chart does…

        http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/DTWEXM

        As you can see, with the exception of 2 spikes (1985 and, not surprisingly, 2003) the dollar is actually remarkably stable. The value of the USD has steadily decreased over the last 40 years no doubt but not to the extent that $401k’s rant would suggest and it’s certainly not due in any major part to any Fed QE policies of the last decade.

        @Freetrade Lover

        I’m not sure you even understand what a “balance sheet recession” is… or anything else I have written on economics to this point as I think it’s clear to all by now that you’re just a troll.

        Again, apologies to all for the OT stuff on economics.

      • Freetrade Lover says:

        @ Big Picture.
        I think your understanding about basic economics and the government’s QE programs is very confused.

        I have a hard time taking your writings seriously so I don’t even try to explain to you how wrong just about everything is that you wrote.

        You sound like just the kinda guy who is in charge or has been in charge of a VFX facility. This explains so much.

      • Yves says:

        @ look
        Nice point … But I disagree with you , for two reasons ; since a lot of countries that depends on low margin exports , have pegged their currencies , directly or not to the USD , especially the yuan and it’s important volume of trade , it s normal to not see the same impact .
        Second canada is the main contributor today of vfx subsidies , to explain partially why they might depends on subsidies to preserve their exports you need to take a specific look at their currency vs their target currency , that s why in a case of vfx , CAD vs USD seems more relevant to me .

  9. Yves says:

    @ Daniel lay :

    Please don t deform what I said :

    Weak dollar boost US export in general ( vfx work included ) I NEVER CALLED IT SUBSIDIES ,but US / Fed is the only country / central bank ,who can play that game so other countries have to rely on financial instruments , like subsidies , to compete ….. That why I say : even without subsidies you will still not have a “level plane field ” and it would not even be more fair
    It s only a matter of how much the subsidy is ….. ( and actually like it have been said by Poly USD used to be 1.5 CAD this is not far away from the 30 to 60 % subsidies we see today )

    I never said that the vfx will disappear totally …. I said and I am saying that it will shrink , and go into a period of crisis for vfx houses and artists globally .

    I appreciate your efforts to act according to your beliefs , I think it s ,in principle ,a good thing , but I don t share those beliefs so therefor I can t support those efforts .
    this is on of the place where the debate around subsidies in vfx take place , I am sorry that you consider taking part of it as ” laughable hot air “

    • VFX Soldier says:

      The VFX industry cannot continue to be an assisted industry as many policy makers are pointing out in this post.

      Do you recognize the subsidy race and cycle of displacement as a major problem in the VFX industry? What is YOUR solution to fixing the problem?

      • Yves says:

        I completely agree that the subsidies race by governments create a social problem regarding the stability of jobs for vfx artists ( at same time I would say that it create more vfx jobs ).
        Unfortunately I don t have a miracle remedy for it ….
        I think a CVD would be detriment ale for everyone .
        To me the best solution would be to convince voters to create a cap on their program … It will slow the growth of the vfx industry but not shrink it , it would create leverage for vfx houses because they would be the ones choosing which projects get the subsidies . When the cap in London or Vancouver would be reached jobs would cascade back to LA relieving the displacement of jobs and last but not least tax payers would not be bound to an undefined amount of $…
        There are probably tons of holes in that theory , and I actually engage anyone to point them …

      • VFX Soldier says:

        What leverage do you have to cap these subsidies if you don’t have a mechanism to take them away?

      • Freetrade Lover says:

        The VFX Industry does not have any leverage. Period. I would also appreciate if my words dont get misquoted. Of course CVD’s would not make VFX obsolete.

        It’s plain simple: if you guys increase the risk of making VFX films the studios will readjust and produce less of them. The studios will be fine. But most people on this blog earn their living on the big VFX films.

        The only chance you have, as I see it is to rally against all subsidies. Try to provoke a political change. Don’t waste time and money to issue laws who will distort a distorted market even more. Make time your friend. Most countries are broke. People will listen.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        This is hilarious.

        I’ve written on this issue for years and you know what contrarians said? “Stop talking and do something about it!”

        Now were doing something and now what are the contrarians saying? “Stop doing and just talk about it!”

        You know for years I’ve written about this issue and when groups in Canada (savebcfilm) tried to increase subsidies, I provoked pundits to see my side. You know what the reaction was? “Oh VFX soldier how dare you attack is and stick your nose in our countries business.”

        Enjoy the ride Haterade Lover.

        >

      • Andreas jablonka says:

        By producing less of them they would loose profit. Not going to happen.

      • Freetrade Lover says:

        Sometimes its better to do nothing then doing the wrong thing. Also I don’t consider writing about these problems is doing nothing. Educating people is quite active and definitely the right thing to do.

        So which ride should I enjoy more? Your ride or the current ride of the industry? As I see it its like making the choice between the devil and his advocate. But since I am against political trade-offs, I rather abstain. You have my sympathy I give you that. It’s just so freighting to watch you playing with fire without even realising it.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Thank you. You should start a blog about your strategy of doing nothing in the face of something you admit is wrong.

        Sent from my iPhone

        >

      • minoton says:

        Freetrade Lover,

        John Carter. Lone Ranger. After Earth. Battleship. White House Down. And on and on. The big six studios are addicted to VFX movies. They are so addicted because of The Dark Knight. The Avengers. Iron Man 3. Avatar. And on and on. It’s a gamble. They are willing to take the risk of turning out a turkey and still be able to convince Joe Box Office to fill theaters on opening weekend with a slick marketing campaign and make as much money back as they can. What they’re hoping for is the breakout box office hit. That’s what keeps them in Porches. What they aren’t going to do is stop making VFX films. Hopefully they will work smarter to make sure the VFX films they make stand a better chance of being a hit, but based on Hollywood history, I don’t see that happening. Until then, they will rely on the visual dazzle dazzle of VFX to put butts in seats to gloss over weak or not ready scripts.

  10. Yves says:

    You don t try to convince the same people in the two cases … Studios don t make laws ( well …in most of the case ) Canadian or UK Public opinions will not react positively to your cause if you attack their program directly …. But I believe you can tell them ” look ;it s your right to spend your taxes the way you want , but I doesn’t make sense that a province your size spend a billion on Hollywood. Investments ”

    Not an easy task , I agree …

    • VFX Soldier says:

      The UK, Canada, and other nations can keep their subsidies. We are using US laws to institute a duty against US studios to discipline the use of those subsidies.

      • How do you stop the other 49 with a CVD? says:

        How do you plan on stopping other US State subsidies? Once international competition goes away because of the CVD (which it won’t IMO – exchange rates and cost of living/wage differences will then drive the VFX production to other locations), don’t you see other states competing with California? You can’t counter vail another states product. Everyone picks on Canada but who has a solution for the other 49? What is ADAPT going to do about this problem in creating a cure?

        Also, just look at the Music Scoring business that unfortunately has been fleeing California too. It is not largely done in London because of subsidies, it is done in London because of skill of musicians and no royalties or union interventon. In Prague and Bratislava. the musicians in those regions work for dirt cheap and are relatively well skilled and there are no unions or royalties and NO subsidies.

        Scoring is not done in Canada, even with subsidies available, largely because of the unions and royalties.

        I want to hear a plan on how to stop the other 49 States grabbing what now goes to Canada, the UK or NZ, cause it won’t coming back to California unless this is dealt with. Is that cool cause ultimately it does stay in the USA?

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Same arguments every time:

        The reason why you don’t see a state side subsidy race is because most of those subsidies are weak for VFX. There needs to be proof of injury from the state subsidies for the VFX industry if any action needs to go forward.

        This is what makes CVDS so great: your country has access to the same tool we are using. If you feel farms subsidies or state subsidies are hurting your industry, you have my support to implement a CVD against state subsidies.

        Hell, I even pledged $1000 to the last guy who said he was going to actually try to challenge the state subsidies.

        >

  11. How do you stop the other 49 with a CVD? says:

    Why are they weak for VFX? Cause they don’t want to compete with Foreign Countries right now or its not on their radar cause they are too busy trying to lure Brad Pitt into town??? But when the international competition is eliminated for VFX work of course they will go after the work. And cause they can offer artists a lower cost of living in many cases it is going to happen. And you should check with your lawyers cause you can’t impose a duty against another US State. It’s part of the US Constitution.

    “Customs Duty is a tariff or tax imposed on goods when transported across international borders. The purpose of Customs Duty is to protect each country’s economy, residents, jobs, environment, etc., by controlling the flow of goods, especially restrictive and prohibited goods, into and out of the country.” Nothing to do with business between US States.

    I am in favor of eliminating all subsidies but CVD’s can’t stop Georgia from stealing work from California. Only the inability to amass a talented labor pool will do that. The domestic and foreign auto industry has been playing US States for years, so if anyone was going to challenge state subsidies it would have happened years ago.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Again we’ve gone over this a million times: you can use a CVD to combat state subsidies and I support you to do that. Get off your butt and do something.

      >

      • How do you stop the other 49 with a CVD? says:

        Prove it.

        The Commerce Clause of the Constitution prohibits interstate tariffs. One state can not impose a duty on another states product, only a congressional act can. The US Customs agency cannot seize interstate product.

        Also, In order to get the International Trade Organization and USCBP to act on its claim, ADAPT will also need to prove it represents 25% of ALL people who earn a living on ALL VFX manufacturing in ALL 50 states. I think the studio lawyers will bring doubt to any claim you represent 25% of this business. Good luck though.

        California VFX workers are thinking CVD’s will save or bring back their CALIFORNIA based jobs… Without competing subsidies this is very wishful thinking.

        Why not encourage VFX companies in California to set up shop in NY to take advantage of new tax free subsidies for start up businesses to remain competitive: http://startup-ny.com/, and prove to California they are fed up.

        Now that’s good advice for entrepreneurs.

  12. Thomas says:

    I am yet to see peer reviewed evidence that contradicts the claims that subsidies (in the UK) actually generate more money than they cost. In the UK it is simply a measure to increase the overall GDP. The idea that taxpayers are “paying for it” is literally untrue if more money is being generated in the UK than is being spent. The opposite would be true – taxpayers are earning from it if more money ends up in the system than is being put into it. This is regardless of how rich the studios get – and regardless of how unfair this might be globally.
    I think the debate is basically over once that fact is established and accepted – and it has been established numerous times. As with all complex economic issues there is space for debate about some of the details, amounts and repercussions but regardless I personally can’t seem to get away from the very strong impression that this is basically Americans moaning about “their” industry being “stolen” by governments that aren’t as literal in their approach to free market capitalism as the United States.

    • Ridiculous says:

      Thank you Thomas for bringing a little logic to this thread. I’m not an economist (as I doubt anyone posting here is), but I have a sneaking suspicion that all of these countries with economic advisory committees are fighting for these subsidies for a reason. If subsidies weren’t a good return on investment, surely someone by now would have figured it out and used it as political leverage against a rival party. Or perhaps there are a half-dozen countries, all in on the same conspiracy to capture the relatively small VFX industry for themselves, at their own economic peril. That makes sense.

      In other words: peer reviewed study or GTFO. Where are the PhDs who are weighing in on this? I’m tired of listening to “economists” with an art school degree.

      • minoton says:

        Scott Squires has collected a ton of links to the info you seek. I could cut and paste each one, or just send you to his informative blog and let you do the research for yourself.

        http://effectscorner.blogspot.com/2012/08/visual-effects-tax-incentives.html#.UqtK75GhsTg

      • Sprangle says:

        Please cut and paste the appropriate one that addresses Thomas’s point directly, I would like to see it but I can’t pick it out from all the noise and hypothesis on Scott’s blog. Thanks

      • minoton says:

        You should read the whole thing. You might learn something. I’ll give you the spoon but I’m not going to feed you.

      • Sprangle says:

        No, I’m sorry there’s nothing on that page that answers Thomas’s request for “peer reviewed evidence that contradicts the claims that subsidies (in the UK) actually generate more money than they cost”. Or even just a study with data by a reputable organisation. Or even anything that isn’t just an assertion or hypothesis by Scott.

        So I’m sorry you’re going to have to be the spoon that feeds me this one…

      • minoton says:

        If they generated more money than they cost, why would there be fear of a “a sovereign debt crisis like those engulfing some of our European neighbors”? If they made more money, seems like there’d be no room for question.

        http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/economics/2012/01/david-baddiel-explains-film-subsidies-axed.html

        Here, the local producers argue keeping the money locally helps the UK economy, rather than giving it to the distributors (American studios) which therefore does not help the economy.

        http://www.iptegrity.com/index.php/copyright-business/540-give-us-state-subsidies-say-uk-film-makers

        Emirical evidence, yes, but when coupled with all the studies in other areas showing how subsidies don’t make their money back, please show me then, what the UK is doing different with their tax money to the American studios that nobody else has figured out, or is trying to emulate?

      • minoton says:

        I also found this EU Commission document that I am guessing shares a lot of concerns with the UK, as well. Sections I found particularly interesting are:

        Page 5 3.2 (24 – 26)
        Page 6 3.3 (32 – 34) and (37)

        http://ec.europa.eu/competition/consultations/2011_state_aid_films/issues_paper_en.pdf

      • LAskyline says:

        “If they generated more money than they cost, why would there be fear of a “a sovereign debt crisis like those engulfing some of our European neighbors”? If they made more money, seems like there’d be no room for question.”

        The UK doesn’t have a sovereign debt crisis and is not part of the Eurozone. The “Tax Payers’ Alliance” is a right-wing lobby tied up with the UK’s Conservative Party – it does not release details of its income or where it gets it from.

        Along with killing off film subsidies the TPA also wants to shut down the National Health Service and sell it off to US healthcare providers. They also want to close the railways to build more roads. They are stridently anti-union too. They’re a bit like the Tea Party over here and have taken money from the Koch Brothers in the past.

        The fact that they are quoting David Baddiel – known chiefly in the UK for his career as a left-wing stand up comedian and his soccer super-fan status – shows how desperate the TPA is to find support for their views. I should think that Baddiel was horrified to find his words quoted by the TPA in support of their position.

    • Jackadullboy says:

      Yep, this the most sensible comment I’ve read throughout this and similar threads.

      Remember: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”

      That being the case, we need to determine which is the extraordinary claim before we can determine with whom the burden of proof lies with regard to the effects of film subsidies on the host economy.
      I would argue that the extraordinary claim being made is that a government would willingly allow a serious net economic loss to the country (by handing huge swathes of taxpayer revenue to American corporations) in favour of the opportunity to be seen in some sense to rub shoulders with the stars…

      Perfectly possible, but extraordinary… Requiring solid peer-reviewed data for support. Not claiming that such data doesn’t exist, but that’s the nub of the issue. Everything else is fluff and opinion.p

  13. Thomas says:

    I heard you say this before. And I find it very hard to believe that a study run by the department of economics at one of the most respected universities in the world is off by more than a factor ten. They are stating a twelve-fold return.

    If you think US studios should not be allowed to benefit from tax incentives abroad then please go ahead and try and get this limited by law in the United States. They will probably just go somewhere else, see Google/Apple/Microsoft and tax havens. I mean come on.

    You are seriously lacking empirical evidence that subsidies in the UK are not beneficial to the UK economy. The implication that that this is a conspiracy by the people benefiting from subsidies is equally vague and unfounded as my suggestion that studies in the US show them to be not beneficial due to the loss they are causing in the US.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Did you actually check to see who paid for that study?

      Double Negative Cinesite Framestore

      lol oxford economics is a commercial venture. You ask them what 2 plus 2 is and they will ask ” how much you want it to be?”

      Sent from my iPhone

      >

      • makeitstop says:

        Hah, you forget to mention that you and yours are also an interest group. Just with different interest than DNeg, Framestore, Cinesite.

        And correct me if I am wrong… that law firm and economist you hired are also a for-profit company?

        Therefore, this feasibility study is just another study by a for profit, and paid for by an group pursuing a specific interest. No?

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Here’s the difference:

        Our team has to convince a panel of impartial federal judges on laws that can be read and are available to all of us – US Federal Law.

        The UK Screen association gets to compile their own set of data that is not available to the public to create a contrived point of view.

        >

  14. Thomas says:

    “About Oxford Economics
    Oxford Economics is the world leader in global forecasting and quantitative analysis for business and government, and the most trusted resource for decision-makers seeking independent thinking and evidence-based research.”

    But yeah, vfx-soldier says they are wrong. If the entire argument against subsidies falls apart if subsidies actually work where they are applied … and if your argument that subsidies don’t work is based on contradicting renowned studies … then you are seriously walking on thin ice.

    • Yves says:

      The real question about subsidies is not if they are profitable as financial investments or not….. ( government are not banks , the success of their policies is judged by the social impact / infrastructures / activity it generates , ….. Otherwise get rid of schools hospital program because they would be judge as black hole )
      The real question for us ( vfx artists ) is are those subsidies good for the vfx business we leave on ( my opinion ; yes ,they generate more activity ) and are they good for our way of life ( no ,subsidies RACE created uncertainty in regards of our futur )

      • Dbg says:

        I think that as soon as governments realize that they’re being taking advantage for those subsidies, they will impose severe restrictions on them.
        I never been to Canada, yet somehow I got paid with Canadian checks from working in the US for a US company on a US project. Go figure…

      • hector says:

        chools hospital program” is not the same thing with this industry.And in Montreal they cut founds from MCGIll university and from several other places, but VFX is flourishing.

      • hector says:

        world economy is going down, and VFX is going up? Hm, something does not look good for me.

    • Look at the big picture says:

      @Thomas

      “Oxford Economics was founded in 1981 as a commercial venture with Oxford University’s business college to provide economic forecasting and modelling to UK companies and financial institutions expanding abroad.”

      1. Companies like this do not do independent economic research. This company should NOT be confused with the Oxford University Department of Economics. They are 2 separate entities.

      2. You should understand what for-profit companies like this provide. They take the data and assumptions that their clients provide them and produce economic models and analysis of that data within the confines of the client specified parameters. IOW, they don’t lie or make up results but they are completely reliant on, and obligated to use, the assumptions and parameters laid out by the organizations paying for the service. Now it’s possible, and some would say likely, that the assumptions and parameters provided to them by their clients are specifically tailored to produce a desired result.

      This is why it’s important to evaluate studies like this within the context of who is funding them.

  15. Yves says:

    Clearly that discussion went in all directions , I feel sorry for the guys who tried to had a debate regarding UK subsidies .
    So this is my last post here ….
    Originally I just wanted to engage people to think for themselves , on simple questions , far from world trade ,currencies or us laws …
    So take an impartial honest stand for 5 min , even forget that it is about vfx and ask yourself ; if I had a business , and that a new tax was raised against my client , and / or one of the main way for my client to finance my product suddenly disappear , would my activity increase or decrease ? Knowing that I made a lot of investments those last years ( that I am probably in debt for those ) and that I have very thin margin , if my activity would suddenly go down , am I more in danger of bankruptcy ? am I more likely to layoffs some of my guys or am I more likely to hire news guys ? If I am working in a field where people get fired and jobs are more rare am I more likely to accept worse workings conditions or lower wages in order to keep my job or get a job ?

    Answer are yours

    Keep it easy vfx people , at the end we are supposed to be one big family …

    • minoton says:

      Yves, suppose I gave you $20 a day, just out of the kindness of my heart. You’d be like “Great! There’s $140 a week I didn’t have before.” But then, the government says “We want that $140″ so they tax you 100% of that $140. You thus are no worse off before I started giving you $20 a day. You’re right back where you started from. That’s what a CVD would do to the studios. Any foreign government funded kickback to relocate work to that country would be neutralized. The idea is for the studios to look at the benefits of awarding work to effects facilities based on the merits of operating costs, quality of work, without a foreign government forcing the issue of where such work needs to take place. If you’re going to get top notch mo-cap work in NZ, and the project calls for that, then it might behoove you to send the work there. But there might be factors involved where it’s just better to keep the work close to home in your own back yard.

      • minoton says:

        You should pay the premium for the premium work. Not pay premium prices because you choose not to take advantage of foreign government subsidies.

  16. VFX General says:

    The thing is: looking from your side, you claim that US artists need to move to other countries to work (like Canada, UK, India, New Zealand, Australia or China), but if you get something SOLID with this (that I don’t think IMHO), the artists who was born in Canada, UK, etc, must move to USA to work, and then, some guy start another blog…;
    Also you are assuming that all the films with VFX must have only explosions and big robots (normal in the pop american culture). Film, and VFX this days, are more then just explosions and creatures. And to build that, you need to be surrounded by nice culture, museums, art, etc.. and people who really think aesthetically and not ONLY technically. For some reasons, movies more elaborated are made in UK or New Zealand, and movies more basic in the story (like per exemple “2012″ – AKA just only a big show reel of explosions) are made mainly in US. It would me nice to see the Middle Earth of LOTR filmed in the beaches of California, or James Bond having some dramatic scene with gangsters in the streets of LA…lol
    With this said, is the same that soccet shouldn’t be played in US, since is a traditional sport from Europe.And the American National team is worst then Germany Nation team?NO, they are in the same group for the world cup in 2014. lol

    Also, you say that personally you don’t think the movies made in UK, NZ, UK, etc, are not better then the ones made in US. As two exemples, to me, Miyazaki’s movies are better then most of the 3D ones made by US studios. Also, to me, King Kong or LOTR or Hobbit or Disctrict 9, are better then other movies done in US.

    Also, with your opinion, what I can figure it out by the logic, is that you (maybe) think that overseas’ artists are not better then US citizen artists (since if the movies in your opinion are not better, and if who make the movies are the artists…). If so, you are completely wrong. I know lots of digital artists who are better then US citizen digital artists, and half of them don’t need the shield of a big company to try to proof something. Running the same idea, the best modellers that ILM had (one is out already to Valve) was Gio Napkil (from Filipines, Manila) and Kris Costa (from Brazil) – They modeled the best 3D Hulk of all times (is better not to talk about who did the previous ones…).

    To me, your flag of the subsides is just a bait to hide your real utopic intensions. There’s really ALOT of money and interests involved son…, If you think you will change something, you are right. I you think you will change the world, you are wrong. And finally, if you think you will change YOUR world, you are right. You changed your world already, as I can see, you stopped doing VFX in 2010, and since then, the industry and techniques changed alot! And the sad of this is that you just went on VFX industry for 4 years. And 4 years is a short time in VFX industry. With your claim to change the world, you forgot to continue learning and doing great things, like you were doing. You blocked yourself opportunities to knew new cultures, countries, people, ways to think, projects, etc. You wanted to be retired after 4 years in the industry, and You did it! Now you just work with the paperwork. Congratulations.

    Personally I don’t think you are a trully VFX Artist, or Artist at all. You are just a person you worked in the industry for some years, but doesn’t love what he did. I think your place is to be a lawyer or something, or somekind of boring job.

    Bye.

    • minoton says:

      “The thing is: looking from your side, you claim that US artists need to move to other countries to work (like Canada, UK, India, New Zealand, Australia or China), but if you get something SOLID with this (that I don’t think IMHO), the artists who was born in Canada, UK, etc, must move to USA to work, and then, some guy start another blog…;”

      So your point is for foreign countries to subsidize (i.e., buy) American work so their citizens won’t have to move to America to work on American movies? Why don’t those governments just subsidize their own film industry? And whoever wants to work on culturally lacking American movies can choose their own path; move to America or stay at home and work on locally funded projects?

      “Also you are assuming that all the films with VFX must have only explosions and big robots (normal in the pop american culture). Film, and VFX this days, are more then just explosions and creatures. And to build that, you need to be surrounded by nice culture, museums, art, etc.. and people who really think aesthetically and not ONLY technically. For some reasons, movies more elaborated are made in UK or New Zealand, and movies more basic in the story (like per exemple “2012″ – AKA just only a big show reel of explosions) are made mainly in US. It would me nice to see the Middle Earth of LOTR filmed in the beaches of California, or James Bond having some dramatic scene with gangsters in the streets of LA…lol”

      The elitist arrogance of this paragraph is amazing. Americans must be just a bunch of dumb hicks compared to where you’re from. If our movies are so culturally empty, why do people want to work on them so bad to spend tax payer money to relocate the work to their country? And why do people want to see them so bad? The American film industry has been the dominant commercial film industry for over 100 years.

      “Also, you say that personally you don’t think the movies made in UK, NZ, UK, etc, are not better then the ones made in US. As two exemples, to me, Miyazaki’s movies are better then most of the 3D ones made by US studios. Also, to me, King Kong or LOTR or Hobbit or Disctrict 9, are better then other movies done in US.”

      Don’t get me wrong, I love films from other countries. What ever happened to Hammer films? Or the big musicals the UK did so well like ‘Oliver!’, ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’, and the Albert Finney ‘Scrooge’? As a kid, I loved watching those. Why is the UK and other locations sucking off the American film industry teat? As for James Bond . . . rewatch ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ (Las Vegas) and ‘Live and Let Die’ (NYC and Louisiana). Lol.

      “Also, with your opinion, what I can figure it out by the logic, is that you (maybe) think that overseas’ artists are not better then US citizen artists (since if the movies in your opinion are not better, and if who make the movies are the artists…). If so, you are completely wrong. I know lots of digital artists who are better then US citizen digital artists, and half of them don’t need the shield of a big company to try to proof something. Running the same idea, the best modellers that ILM had (one is out already to Valve) was Gio Napkil (from Filipines, Manila) and Kris Costa (from Brazil) – They modeled the best 3D Hulk of all times (is better not to talk about who did the previous ones…).”

      And I know lots of American digital artists that are better than non-American digital artists. I know lots of international artists that came to America to work, and I know lots of American artists who have had to leave their homes because the work was relocated due to American studios chasing foreign subsidies. The point is, kill the subsidies and let the work go to the best provider. And let the artists choose to either travel or work at home as they see fit. Not because companies coerce them to relocate chasing subsidies.

    • shanep says:

      “The thing is: looking from your side, you claim that US artists need to move to other countries to work (like Canada, UK, India, New Zealand, Australia or China), but if you get something SOLID with this (that I don’t think IMHO), the artists who was born in Canada, UK, etc, must move to USA to work, and then, some guy start another blog…;”

      I think vfx soldier has made it clear other countries could enact their own CVDs.

    • hector says:

      “Personally I don’t think you are a trully VFX Artist, or Artist at all. You are just a person you worked in the industry for some years, but doesn’t love what he did. I think your place is to be a lawyer or something, or some kind of boring job.”
      This is very rude General.
      It is not the first time when people are trying to disrespect artists just because they try to normalize this industry.
      I saw tons of “truly” dedicated artists who are not involved in anything and who are consider to be good just because they have no spinal chord.
      You know, as I know that once you are starting to fix issues in this industry, first thing that “generals” will do is that they will try to find you mistakes in your work and blame you about anything that supervisors are not able to clearly explain, so they can spread the word that you are not professionally good.
      This is part of this business, a business packed with “truly” artists and generals.
      I don;t remember when soldier said he wants to change the world, and it is great that you agree that he might change something. it is more than enough for now.
      bye

  17. Smith says:

    Dude, you are cooking the statements of their article to your own war. Not good. You are fabricating things. People will not get you in consideration if you keep doing that.They will think that you have external intentions with this war.
    In that article also says:

    “The proportion of a film’s budget that must be invested in the UK for a production to qualify for tax relief is also being reduced, from 25% to 10%.”

    AND

    “If a studio had a $100m budget they would now only have to look to spend $10m and not $25m to qualify for tax relief. The lower level will mean a big boost in the number of projects for UK plc which will benefit all digital content production here and keep talent.”

  18. simple says:

    Guys, come on.. just keep it simple, please do yourselves a favour, man up and see things as they really are: the earlier you stop using words like “artist” and “talent”, the earlier you stop hurting yourselves. Anybody who’s been in this industry for more than ten years has seen the balance between human-contribution and algorithm-contribution progressively shifting towards the second, for most of the required roles. It’s like being portrait painters at the dawn of photography, just man up and take it, things change.
    Any vfx facility is to the moviemaking process what your monitor’s manufacturer is to you: have you ever felt the need to call Eizo or Hp to thank them for making your work possible?

    Also, there’s nothing intrinsically linking USA and movies, it’s a french invention that Hollywood turned into an effective business model and as such it responds to the laws of money. It’s a boomerang California threw a long time ago and, after spinning pretty well and high, it’s now coming straight at your face, no matter how long you ask for it, it won’t change trajectory: you either move sideways, bend, or you take it on your nose.

    The most important thing: nobody is with you. USA has the worst immigration system on the planet, and as such is the last place we want the work to be. Therefore, the more jobs leave USA, the better for the rest of the world.
    Don’t expect any sympathy from people that never had the opportunity to even conceive planning a life in their home countries, just because for the first time your dream job is not nextdoor anymore.

    That’s simply it, really. Stand up for yourselves as individuals but don’t ask the world to change for you. If my job was to go to somebody who does it for cheaper, I’d first question the value of my skills: if what you do and how you do it is valuable enough, your own job won’t go to Canada for a cheaper price.

    PS: …and if it does, at least you’ll keep your language and still won’t have to skype with your family at 5am. So, no sympathy in that case either.

    Cheers guys.

    • minoton says:

      But it’s not going to Canada (or UK, NZ, Australia, et. al.) for a cheaper price. It’s being paid for by governments using tax dollars at a loss to their constituents.
      If you don’t want the work in the USA, then build your own industry. Stop admitting that you couldn’t do it on your own and had to somehow subsidize what you want from others who already did the heavy lifting. Build your own film industry. Stand up for yourselves as individuals and stop depending on America to supply you your jobs.

      • simple says:

        Hey minoton, ofcourse I understand your point.
        Still, it’s not about who’s been a good boy. It’s just business as usual: where there’s a client with money, there’s going to be somebody who will sneak between the client and the worker, either adding a middle-man service or simply taking the worker’s place with a better pricing. Applies to companies as to countries, because new money is not generated, it just moves around. That’s why it’s in the interest of everybody not falling in the law of the jungle (which USA is culturally pretty familiar with, but that’s a different chapter).
        Now, no law of the jungle means we are all friends.
        No baddies.
        Unfortunately, we have a baddie.
        Again, very simple. Why doesn’t the rest of the world collaborate in creating a fair playground? It’s not about USA, Canada, Singapore, Uk, Nz, etc. It’s always been and still is about USA and the rest of the world.
        Your immigration system is your worst enemy.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        I fail to see why the immigration system is the problem. I agree its tough getting into the USA (Im not american). no argument but why is that the culprit? The work is NOT leaving CA due to lack of talent. its leaving due to subsidies. I know great artist in the uk, nz, au and the US. So its not about us artists are better or something like this. Point being the immigration makes it hard for non citizens to get here. Why do you want to? To work on us movies, thats why. You could work on funny british movies in London without subdues. But you want american movies. I can relate I did not enjoy the German film market products. But as many CA artists are unemployed it would take a WHILE before workers would be imported in LA even if the immigration system was easy like the Canadian one.

        Work has always been done around the world. And thats fine. Its the ARTIFICAL distortion that subsidies in the last few years have caused a RUN around the globe for more rebates, not better talent, not cheaper working environments but more rebates. THATS what we are fighting. Not the right to work of anybody worldwide.

  19. simple says:

    The immigration system is not the reason why jobs are leaving USA.
    It’s the reason why the vfx soldier mission will not be endorsed by non-USA vfx professionals. Which unfortunately makes any other speculation over fair money-play pretty much irrelevant (most of which sound pretty utopistic anyway, since “but we are true artists” stopped holding up against “money is money” several marvel movies ago).

    This mission has to first gain back the credibility it had at the very beginning and that reached a clear peak after Bill Westenhofer’s oscar speech, before being dramatically smashed by subsequent Eric Roth’s VES open letter, which to non-cali vfx professionals sounded like “please help us dragging back home all vfx jobs, and lock the door behind us”. Many attempts have been done after that to regain a friendly image, including that cheesy pro-immigrants paragraph that Daniel Lay diligently stuffed in his interview with Jeff Heusser.

    And to be honest, I remember very well in the mid 2000s hearing many times about Pixar, ILM and Imageworks looking to expand abroad to painkill their US-immigration issues with hiring europeans and asians. It just makes sense they eventually picked up tax-convenient locations. Unfortunately this is a naughty way to put down the problem as it implies no door to lock behind you once the jobs are dragged back in.

    Not to mention 90% of those who put green avatars on social networks were carelessly keeping on working free overtime and most of the rep cards were probably signed during unpaid working saturdays.

    This is a destructive post, which I hate. The constructive part is, as I said two posts ago, man up and reinvent yourselves making the most of your skills, that’s what I would do in your shoes. Worse times ahead.

    Sorry guys, Europe is not with you on this, neither is Canada, and I strongly doubt NZ and Australia ever did.
    Puerto Rico is probably in.

    • minoton says:

      I can almost guarantee that any country that stands to lose their government financed advantage is not going to be for anything that takes that away from them. I would counter they will need to man up, and reinvent themselves as countries that can support their own film industries, build their own studios, create their own franchises, and bid on their own companies’ merits of value (quality for price paid) and stop relying on their governments buying their work for them.

    • shanep says:

      “Sorry guys, Europe is not with you on this, neither is Canada, and I strongly doubt NZ and Australia ever did.
      Puerto Rico is probably in.”

      You don’t seem to get it. Enacting a CVD doesn’t need you “with us”. So all your snakiness aside, your involvement isn’t necessary.

      • hector says:

        Shanep.
        Do you think China or India is with you (Canada and UK)? I know Prime Focus is training big time in India , and consider to move EVERYTHING there. So, once all the jobs will be there, and Montreal/Vancouver taxpayers will wake up and become angry, then you might join the team.

        Until then, enjoy the race to the bottom.!

  20. shanep says:

    hector, sorry but I think you misunderstand.
    I think a CVD is one possible solution, among many(including an organized workforce, standards, and a trade association).
    simple suggested the CVD doesn’t have the support of the Eurozone, NZ, Canada, UK, etc.
    My counter was it doesn’t need those nation’s support. It only needs someone with the will(vfx soldier) and people skilled in trade law to show U.S. studios in contravention of trade law.
    100% support the CVD.
    We need more citizens to stand up against corporate graft.

  21. and here we go says:

    Looks like Fox Lawyers are not too concerned with CVD’s chances.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/film/9522695/Avatar-sequels-to-be-made-in-NZ

    • vfxmafia says:

      Do you really think Katzenberg…..or any of the heads of the big six will allow Barak Obama to let ANYONE here a CVD case in his administration……if it would disrupt a billion dollar movie(s)?

      I it was over the day Dreamworks died……

  22. vfxmafia says:

    On a positive note….(which is probably rare for me) I figured I’d make a comment. (which I haven’t done for a while because I relocated to Vancouver)….

    I have to say I apologize for bashing Vancouver in my other postings. For those of you who know me and my postings…..I cared “The Flag of LA” as long as could. Vancouver is modern and actually reminds me of NYC and other parts has the high rises of Singapore.

    Vancouver is quite beautful….compared to cheesey strip malls…over fucking priced mortgages, burritto shops, fake tits, Mexican Nannies, ailing palm trees, and shitty beaches of Santa Monica. (oh and i forgot all you assholes who drive BMWs get an Audi already)…..

    Vancouver downtown reminds me of midtown manhattan 5th ave. It dwarves the Los Angeles downtown…..because LA is split Century CIty and downtown.

    I can see myself very happy up here…..its practically Seattle…LOL

    It may not have the ghost of Jim Morrison in Venice…..but he is dead…and so is Los Angeles…..(and I swear Im not trying to insult LA artists)…..its a fact…..there is 5 square block where all the shops are located up here….just like it is in London…..

    and for those of you who think the talent is up here…….???

    I see alot of X-R&H and Sony arriving every day…….not to mention talent from all over the world….man it is DEFINITELY a global community….alot of the Euro talent comes here with ton of movies under there belt..(its amazing how many productions are done in London now)…… .it is competition now….

    There doesn’t seem to be alot of Canadians in the VFX shops but Im happy to take their subsidy money (which I am now paying into in some weird way)……I will be getting FULL single fucking health coverage in 3 months….which is more than my own government would give me. (Ill give my assessment of the health care at a later date)

    ….if you not good you better get good…..so i just wanted to set the record straight for all my haters.,.,.

    I will end on a realistic note……being in Vancouver is not that bad….however…..NONE of US up here are under the illusion that the subsidies will last…..we all estimate 3 years before 5 year time requirement clause kicks in……but least we have 2-3 years of solid work and health care making the money we are used to making……beats working at Trader Joes in LA

    Oh and least i still have a spine…unlike the dreamworks people…(I’ll never forget the no shows that day)

    • hector says:

      enjoy. will not last.

      • vfxmafia says:

        I will enjoy it for the next 2-3 years…..because there is no sign of of the subsidies stopping in Vancouver, Montreal, and London….

    • minoton says:

      Congratulations on the job, but sorry you felt the need to give in to the coercion placed upon artists to relocate their lives when many of those doing the coercing would not make the move. Yes, Van is a beautiful city, but that beauty does nothing towards paying the bills and taxes. Enjoy your time in the most expensive city to live in on the North American continent. And be sure to say Hi for me to all the homeless on Granville.

      • Butthouse says:

        Why would you want someone to say hi to homeless people for you? Are you some sort of sick elitist?

      • minoton says:

        I suppose I’d be much less ‘elitist’ if suggested to ignore them? Since when is being friendly ‘elitist’?

      • Butthouse says:

        What was the point of mentioning them if not in an attempt to mock Vancouver by pointing out that they have a homeless population? Congrats, you win 100 internet bravery points. I’m sure the homeless on Granville have been wondering how you’re doing. Nothing like using the homeless as an insult while you sit in your comfortable office. Sickening.

      • minoton says:

        The point was to show the other side of the loonie of Vancouver, that it’s not all pretty glassy towers and mountains tight butts in LuluLemons. Do you work for the Vancouver Chamber of Commerce? Ashamed that I pointed out the truth? How about the drug addicts walking around the east side of downtown? Wouldn’t it be nice if they spent some of that Hollywood subsidy on helping these Vancouverites rather than Hollywood studio execs.
        As for my comfy office . . . Ha! Out of the past year and seven months, I’ve worked two. Currently unemployed, why? Because places like BC subsidized away my job. Yeah, I’ve had offers to go up there. But wondering why they don’t use the money to create a work/training program to better the lives of their own citizens . . . or invest in their own film studios, production companies, and productions. Yeah, Van is a pretty city and I could see myself vacationing there sometime once they stop their economic warfare on the American film and VFX industry. But the truth is, Vancouver has it’s social problems just like everyone else. They’re just better at pointing out the shiny things.

      • minoton says:

        What’s sickening is a government that continues to spend hundreds of millions of tax payers’ dollars as corporate welfare to wealthy American based studios while allowing it’s own citizens to sleep behind bus stops and on sidewalk heating grates and panhandling outside restaurant doorways. Maybe they should make sure those people are taken care of and are capable of leading productive lives before importing more Blenz customers.

    • Andreas jablonka says:

      My friend: part of me are happy you enjoy Vancouver. Part of me feel a little sad you now hot some slight pink glasses on. I’ll just add some points to your pro Vancouver list as I feel they are valid but need augmentation:

      - the money might be the same rate (if you got lucky) but you will end up paying about 18% more once you do your tax return. It will hurt

      - the fake tits are replaced with yoga pants and fake asses

      - the weather might work for you if you like Seattle (which you seem to do) but for many sunny LA is unbeatable.

      - it’s central downtown but also really really small. Compared to NYC? Where is the nightlife in Van? It’s a ghost town after 2pm…

      For the sake of pro arguments you have not mentioned:

      - better air, no smog
      - snowboarding
      - great food
      - working public transit

      • and here we go says:

        No offence Andreas but how much tax did you pay because it should not be 18 percent more unless you have been cheating your US taxes.

        If you now factor in Obama Care costs how does that factor with the free healthcare.

        My taxes are pretty comparable with the various tax treaties.

      • Andreas jablonka says:

        I did not anticipate that I still owe California income tax even after filing a Canadian return. This is only a case when you spent less than full year outside the us working. If you do, you can exclude your world income.

        While I do acknowledge that the free ( it’s not free you pay contributions) healthcare is a perk it’s nothing I directly take into consideration as it’s been optional so far. This will change but I found vamcouver wages to be lower, cost of living much higher.

      • vfxmafia says:

        You know what pisses me off……Barack Obama who comes to my town (LA) and does nothing for fucking 2,500 unemployed VFX workers. (and gives a speech for the US Big six studios….and how many jobs they make for US workers like me who has to leave the country to make a living.) Then has the audacity to NOT back single payer health insurance.

        What to do I get from my own government? FUcking corruption for the very compaies like Katzenburg, George Klooney, and Warner Brothers that pays his $30,000 a plate dinners.

        I pay 5% more in taxes in Canada and get unconditional health insurance up here AND get LA wages……not some half ass health insurance program that does nothing to stop the price fixing the health insurance and pharma companies provide.

        Highly skilled people are getting LA wages up here……(there is that much money floating around up here)

        Im tired of defending a country (The US) that does nothing but spend MY tax dollars on US subsidies of Big oil…the military….and banksters……

        Why are we bad mouthing Canada for spending its own tax dollars on its own people? What a fucking concept?

        The US middle class is being bled like some bull in a ring…..

        Any myths that you want confronted up here….Id be happy to authenticate them for you.. Talent…its up here……the money for the elite vfx positions…seems to be up here……

        The biggest mistake we made in the movement is NOT demand more of our own government. Instead we let Jerry fucking Brown spend all his subisdy money on fucking monsanto corporate farming. California considers itself an agricultural state….and deems VFX and FILM not a “viable industry”.

        As far as the cost of living…the apartments are just about the same….in fact i can get a fully furnished apartment up here for about the same price as an empty LA apartment. Yes the booze gets taxed here…..a bottle of wine is twice what it is in California….but i walk to work instead of spending an hour on the 10 each morning. You don’t need a car up here…..if you don’t walk you can take public transportation..(what a concept)…..
        electronics are higher……but its actually nice to not see people texting their faces off….up here….(they actually talk to you rather than bury their faces in a crack berry)….

        Vancouver is not the boogey man its made out to be…..(or at least some one has to point out some bad points)

        So here is a bigger question….when is the update for the CVD case? Is there a case or not….? I waited 6 months for it an nearly went broke……can we get a freaking tariff or not?

      • minoton says:

        “Why are we bad mouthing Canada for spending its own tax dollars on its own people? What a fucking concept?”

        “Talent…its up here……the money for the elite vfx positions…seems to be up here……”

        vfxmafia, I have agreed with a lot of your positions in the past, but look at these statements you made. They are not spending their tax dollars on their own people. They’re spending them on getting YOU up there. Yes, the talent is there, because it all comes from other countries. They are spending the Canadians tax dollars on American movies, and to get those movies made, they have to import workers from elsewhere. How is that helping the Canadian people?

        Here’s something I would like you to confirm: what is the ratio of working Canadian artists to the non-Canadian artists at the facilities up there? And I mean the Canadian artists that work at the level of the artists such as yourself that they are trying so desperately to lure up there to get the work done. Not recent grads from the VFX schools. I’m not implying that there are not talented Canadian artists. I am implying that there are not enough Canadian talented Canadian artists to fill all the positions needed to get the work done. This is NOT Canada spending its own tax dollars on it own people. It’s spending tax dollars to American studios that dictate to the VFX facilities that if artists the likes of you and me want do VFX work, we have to relocate, permanently or temporarily, to a subsidized location. You should probably change your handle to vfxmercenary, if it’s not already taken.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        “Highly skilled people are getting LA wages up here……(there is that much money floating around up here)”

        I have not heard that from ANYBODY that went up there. I had to FIGHT to get $55/hr as Artist and thats also with the shady OT after 10 hours not 8. Most people I talked to agreed that 60+ is hardly existing. Maybe you rate is too low or you are special.

        “but i walk to work instead of spending an hour on the 10 each morning. You don’t need a car up here…..if you don’t walk you can take public transportation..(what a concept)…..”
        I thought so too, wait til your there a while and want to leave the tiny Vancouver area…
        Its nice to take the train I agree but i still ende dup getting a car. State BC Car Insurance was 160$./month for a SHIT 20 yr car. talk about ripoff.

        “but its actually nice to not see people texting their faces off….up here….(they actually talk to you rather than bury their faces in a crack berry)….”
        subjective I know many feel the canadians are more introverted and less social than the CA folk, but this starting a war and not important to the topic of worker displacement really.

        “So here is a bigger question….when is the update for the CVD case? Is there a case or not….? I waited 6 months for it an nearly went broke……can we get a freaking tariff or not?”
        patience young padawan, wheels are in motion.

      • shanep says:

        vfxmafia, it does not surprise me that Obama is a corporatist. It should not surprise you.

      • tough says:

        Hey Minoton.

        There are plenty of highly skilled Canadian/PR Residents working in Canada. Sony has 3 out of 4 CG Supes and 1 Anim Supe as that Category, MPC have VFX, CG, Anim Supes, 2D Supes all Canadian or PR’s. ILM has Canadian CG Supes.

        I could go on but you would be surprised at the number of Canadian or PR’s working here and I count PR’s like greencard holders or non americans working in LA which there are many.

      • minoton says:

        tough, thanks for the update. Personally, I wouldn’t count permanent residents as they still represent somebody who was not a natural born Canadian, but went up there following the subsidized work and chose to stay. I know Sony was offering ‘title raises’ just to get folks from L.A. to go up there when they opened the location. I would like to know actual artist numbers, though, the people cranking out the shots. Those take more seats to fill than the relatively fewer supervisors. Seems I see a lot of artist job postings on the boards for Vancouver. Why don’t they just hire more BC citizens?

      • tough says:

        Yeah I would love a head count of actual locals but the same could be said in LA. How many Artists are born and bread in the State of California and how many are from other states and Countries. Because in my mind if you discount PR’s and people who have chosen this as a longterm home then we should do the same in LA and only count the locals? Not sure that is fair but in my mind gives a better metric.

      • minoton says:

        The difference in the LA scenario though, as I see it, is that the artists chose to go there (as I did, back in the day) because that’s where the work was based, not where the LA/CA government subsidized it by financially interfering in the system. Keep in mind, LA has more people than all of BC, and if you compare BC to CA (I’m guessing a province is similar to a US state?) the odds get better at filling those jobs locally, and then if you look at it from a country standpoint, you’ve got the whole US to pull people from.

        As it is now, people aren’t choosing to go to one place where the work is, they’re having to chase to work around, going to where the studios dictate by who’s giving them the biggest subsidy. Four years here, three years there, there’s no such thing as ‘permanent’ resident.

        Whether it’s through a CVD, or BC wises up, or needs more funds for a more important things, the Hollywood Handouts are going to seem frivolous and go away. And Vancouver (or Toronto, Montreal, UK, NZ . . . I don’t mean to pick on Van solely, it’s just the most prevalent destination right now) is going to be in the same boat LA is in . . . people thrown out of work, expensive cost of living bills to pay, and having to either relocate or leave family behind (maybe for the second or third time) chasing their desks, monitors, and keyboards.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Minotan, Andreas

        I guess the point I was making…..was Canadian tax dollars have a far sinister effect than effectively spending Canadian tax dollars on Canadians…..

        Canadian subsidies are closing down LA. They way the producers are looking at Vancouver….is it is practically the US…..its west coast….it barely snows and is equivelent to Seattle…..it is 3 hour commuter flight from LA….A flight from LA to Van costs $200.

        Its not that big of a deal (unless you have a mortgage) and I know guys who work up here and commute back to their wives to LA for the Weekend!!!!

        I have to say being a New Yorker…I never really liked LA…..and Vancouver IMO is a better city than LA. LA is a bitch ass city that was born in the 50s….no history and barely any culture. If it wasn’t for Hollywood and the movie industry…LA would be another sprinkler city in the middle of the desert. but being from New York (the capital of the world) …I am a bit biased….and I digress….

        Andreas…they need good compers up here…and you wont get $$ from the Chinese DD…….DD is dead……but new companies are emerging and growing….and Im seeing they are paying.

        Minotan you are right….I don’t see many Canadians working in VFX. There just isn’t enough people here….just look at Vancouver film school (all foreigners)…..

        My real point about the US subsidies vs Canadian subsidies…is I lived in the US all my life…..I’ve watched the military budget grow to $1 trillion a year…..saw them bail out the banks….I saw Bill Clinton embrace NAFTA……and that fucking criminal Alan Greenspan…..(lets not mention the war criminal Bush)…..and Obama who is about to pass NAFTA part 2.

        None of the money is being spent on me….The US needs to protect us…..either by Tariff of take some of the money that BAC or Exxon gets from off shore tax shelters ($80 billion in just subsidies alone spent on Oil, Gas, Banks, and the military).

        What is fucking worse is I PAY TAXES…..Bank of America, GE, Goldman Sachs……and Exxon all have Caman Island tax shelters that they don’t pay taxes on…….GE paid NO TAXES in 2012…

        http://www.factcheck.org/2012/04/warren-ge-pays-no-taxes/

        How can I bitch at Vancouver spending a measly $500 million on film…..when GE and others robs “American SUCKERS”….

        The US spends alot on subsidies as well (IE corporate welfare)….especially on places like FLorida and TexASS……these are “Right to work States” that basically bans Unions. TexASS and Florida….do not pay state taxes…..where to they get money from if they don’t charge for it? They get it from federal fucking welfare……..Why is my ass paying state taxes…..in California….and Tex-ASS and Florida gets free handouts from my federal tax dollar…..I pay…why don’t they?

        Canadian Subsidies are extensive….but we also need to look at how US Federal tax dollars are being spent….and its going to big corporations……

        My taxes pay for police who pepper spray free speech groups like Occupy Wallstreet and then dismantle Union union protests in Wisconsin.

        IN 1950 Unions were as high as %50 of the workforce. now after Paul Walker in Wisconson…..unions are %2.

        I also wasn’t too happy with the Union response with Obama was here…..I wish the Union issued a public statement saying there is NO reprocussions by wearing green…….and you can’t get fired for wearing a tee shirt…….I expected a little more from an organization that could have “flexed its muscles”. I wasn’t asking for an official statement from the union on the protest…but at least remind Dreamworks employees…..what their rights are protected ESPECIALLY when the president shows up…

        Im not bagging on Unions. If you strike you need a collective voice…….to bargain with and Unions are the answer for that…..but International borders and right to work states are suffocating the unions into impotence…..

        The Hypocracy is so deep in the US….its not funny. There is no one looking at for me any more……

        So minotan….I will be happy to change my call sign from VFXmafia to VFX_whore or VFX_X_patriot…..

        But I WILL be making Canadian dollars that pay into my pension fund which i manage myself (I don’t need a Union to manage my own investments)…….and now I have full coverage health care….(again I don’t need the Union). Im making out pretty well being in Vancouver netter than in LA…..My advice to you is don’t wait on a blog or union…or winds of change you need to be proactive about your career (and do what you have to do to survive)…

        Unfortunately Canada is only gonna last for another 3-5 years. The problem is VFX is my trade……and you need to go where the work is…….until the subsidies stop.

        I wish people on the blog will start talking about how much money the lawyers want to bring the CVD case to the Dept of Labor…….

        Its one thing to raise $15K for a study……its another price tag for a full lawsuit….and we need to start talking about when this CVD thing is gonna start………

      • minoton says:

        vfxmafia, all of that is well and good. The US does have a lot of wasteful spending, and government is too cozy with corporate backers and looking the other way when allowing them not to pay taxes We get the government we vote for. All of your (and my) anger on that is well directed, but honestly . . . yada yada yada. None of that has anything to do with visual effects. We can only focus on our little corner of the world. And what governments that subsidize film and VFX production do, directly affects people like you and me. It’s thrown us out of work. It’s done little to benefit the people whose taxes funded the subsidies. It’s made you feel you needed to move to another country to earn a living. In 3-5 years, what country will you be moving to? This isn’t about who has the most honorable or dishonorable governments and politicians. It’s about stopping an out of control system that is fucking up VFX artists’ lives. Making people aware of how their tax dollars are being used is just one way to stop this shit. But seeing how the UK and NZ just bent over forward for the studios, it doesn’t look like it.

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11173440

      • Andreas jablonka says:

        Long post, I’m
        Only gonna address 2 points:

        1) the cvd is being investigated and a case build by ADEPT. The paperwork takes a while and till it’s officially launched there won’t be much news. Please be patient.

        2) I understand your frustration with where you money is going. But just brvUse they are oil and darn subsidies does not mean we should just accept the Vfx subsidies. You can fight the others, on this blog we concentrate in the issues we CAN. Influence. Or rather which are our issues. I hope for your sake you won’t regret your tax return in 12 months.

      • vfxmafia says:

        * my link to GE not paying taxes may not be the best reference. The Annenberg foundation and Fact check , org is a conservative group. (I am a Bernie Sanders Independant type).

        other articles to check out on how much corporations are not paying taxes……are in the following links. Both Conservative and Democratic parties have their own agendas…….

        http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/7839-elizabeth-warren-the-woman-who-knew-too-much

        http://www.frontpagemag.com/2013/dgreenfield/how-obama-and-senate-democrats-freed-ge-from-paying-corporate-taxes/

        I think if we condemn Canadian tax spending practices….and we get “So” fired up in our discussions on this blog….we might want to point the finger at ourselves…for not getting involved in our own government’s spending…..and practices…..on the very taxes we pay in to…..

      • Love the Spinners in BC! says:

        Fake asses? WTF? Ghost town after 2pm??? Huh? Clubs on Granville are open til 3AM on the weekends and the drinking age here is 19! So if your idea is going out to party and hit on young Asian Hotties and long leg blonde beauties Vancouver is the place to be dude….

        The music and art scene is great, it gets most big acts and the local music scene is diverse. Micro brew beers are off the hook good. Skiing or Mountain biking in Whistler is a 90 minute drive (or less) on one of the most beautiful highways in the world. Fly to Hawaii or Vegas from Bellingham super cheap and the sunshine is just hours away….

        And nobody wants Vancouver to be exactly like NYC, just have some of the qualities of what makes that city great. And the 18% more on taxes is simply not true. Healthcare in Canada is also not free, it is universally guaranteed and everyone except the poor pays a monthly premium and that covers basic care. What a concept! If you want frills you or your employer pay extra for supplemental and taxes on bad behavior indulgences helps subsidize the rest.

        No place is Shangri-La so why knock anywhere that someone is happy to be alive?

      • vfxmafia says:

        Andreas,

        I will always support what Dan, Steve, Dave and yourself…as well as this blog. Subsidies do create a market distortion…..and everyone up here understands there is a clock ticking…..I myself am looking for a furnished apartment……and am keeping the suitcase near the door.

        I am dreading the taxes at the end of the year………but one good thing is….I can count on steady work (which is more than I can say in LA)……..I don’t mind the taxes so much because I receive decent Healthcare…..with US taxes….I get nothing…..

        I am also fearful that CVD case gets put together well……and presented….and Chris Dodd or Jeffery Katzenberg comes out of the shadows and has it squashed somehow behind the scenes…. (it seems the US has become that corrupt politically)

      • Andreas jablonka says:

        The good thing about the cvd is that it does NOT need lobbying. No focus groups. It’s presented and enacted. The courts are accountable not like the WTO case where a govermemt has to chose to complain and can just decide not too. Big advantage.

  23. tough says:

    welcome vfxmafia,

    Glad you are enjoying Vancouver, it is truly a great place with true multiculturism.

    With the shows I know, ILM, Sony and MPC have I see we have at least 5 years of work before the well runs dry.

    • vfxmafia says:

      as a former LA VFX artist….I don’t think the LA guys realize how much work is up here. I was shocked to see the movies up here and the quality of shots turned out. Change is a hard thing…(at least for me it was)….

      • minoton says:

        As an unemployed US effects artist, I know exactly how much work is up there: All that they can subsidize. No teeth on the nipple, please.

      • Tom Atkin says:

        Hey vfxmafia,

        Glad to see you are doing well and enjoying Vancouver. Other than winter, which is not brutal there, I think it is a wonderful place to live and work with lovely architecture except it has probably been a bit over built in the last decade..

        For me, it has a San Francisco city type feeling.

        Not seeing and accepting reality is what was and still is the most detrimental aspect of the LA/CA visual effects culture…change is a hard thing, but even harder when folks fail/failed to grasp it in the first place.

        In today’s world, especially, being last to the dance has great consequences…and, the current global vfx dance steps have been developing exponentially for over a generation.

        Hope you get some mild snow dusting for the holidays.

        Cheers,

        Tom

      • vfxmafia says:

        Tom,

        Thanks I am enjoying Vancouver. I guess I was guiltiest of all being “California Blind” myself…..

    • Butthouse says:

      MPC has a lot of shows coming up if you’re a senior who likes being paid like an intern.

      • John Crane says:

        Not really true. They are starting to pay better now. (London). Probably overwork you though!

      • Butthouse says:

        In Vancouver their offers are getting big laughs.

      • vfxmafia says:

        To Butthouse:

        Im seeing people up here getting decent offers for Veteran Compers….Veteran Animation….and Veteran Sups….and Veteran Matte painting….and Veteran Lighters…..and Veteran tool writers…..

        Modelers are fucked…..Im seeing backdoor shots coming from well known shops….and assets provided for shots. Seems like models and textures are handed over by well known shops…..so that takes pressure off of look dev. They pixel fuck animators and comp…..patient sups are prized up in Canada

      • Love the Spinners in BC! says:

        MPC is owned by Technicolor. Technicolor has always believed it sells a service, not people. It has always paid crappy in all sectors of its portfolio when it can, and kicks and screams and moans when it has to. The culture that dismisses the value of talent permeates into MPC as well….

      • HellOnHamilton says:

        I’ve heard several first hand accounts of veteran lighters being offered $25-$30/hour at MPC Van.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        I have heard similar. up to 40$/hr but still not a senior rate. all MPC.

      • polyphemus says:

        Those rates sound like “high end” typical Canadian TV animation clap-trap wages.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Maybe I should count my company lucky…because im not seeing wages that low in Van.

        How it was explained to me by an executive producer…..”I can pay you $100K in LA….or with subsidies I can pay you $200K in Vancouver…and it would still cost me less if you were in LA”…..

        obviously Im not making $200K….but if you do the math from the subsidies…there is no reason these companies can’t pay decent wages ……and still make out like bandits with the subsidies…

        My expirience with MPC Los Angeles……..was pretty fucking shady. The recruiter contacted me for a booking on a commercial in LA……she asked me what my “Flat rate” was. “Our company doesn’t pay OT. I was like ….I charge hourly and OT based on the labor laws of state of California. ….her response was….well MPC is a UK company. I didn’t push the issue……and let the spot go,….but i felt like saying your an English company doing business under the laws and practices of California……guess they haven’t learned much since King George.

        But then again I have heard some US people had great experiences in MPC London…..who the fuck knows at this point. I guess you can always count on….if they need you ….they want you…..when they dont need you ….they could care less about you.

        Im lucky i am currently working for a company that appreciates talent……(even if it is in Vancouver)

      • Andreas jablonka says:

        You do talk out of your butt a lot sorry to be rude. The subsidies are paid to the studios not the Vfx shops. They actually have less money to burn as they have to eat the cost of opening and running a satellite office.
        I hoped you understood that by now *sigh*

      • vfxmafia says:

        Also Im not seeing alot of expirienced Canadians…..up here….so my advice…..if your out of work..get up here before the UK guys get here….I know more guys getting off the plane every day…

      • minoton says:

        This would tend to substantiate my belief that the subsidies, funded by BC/Canadian taxes, are not helping many Canadians at all and just relocating jobs from elsewhere, and filling those jobs with workers from elsewhere. It would be interesting to find out and publicize, of the total subsidy amount spent in a year, how much was spent per Canadian job? This would include the salaries paid to non-Canadians as the idea behind subsidies is to bring in work to create jobs for locals, so the salaries of foreigners would just be added cost.
        I will also suggest anyone going to a subsidized location for LA wages is still getting short changed. If you’re just there temporary on a project and will be returning home, the production should be paying your housing. If you relocated there, you should be getting a higher rate, as an ‘inconvenience fee’ for having to leave home to come work for the benefit of the studios, because that’s what you’re doing. You’re sacrificing something so that the studios get their payment. Some of that money should funnel down through the facilities to you, because if you collectively didn’t go there, the work wouldn’t get done, and the studios wouldn’t get their kickbacks. You’re leverage? Filling the empty desks they need filled to get the work done up there.

      • HellOnHamilton says:

        “Also Im not seeing alot of expirienced Canadians”

        Oh man, I guess we’re not up to your standards. All of these amazing artists and leads I see at the big studios here, just not quite up to your level.

        Pull your head out of your ass.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        “Oh man, I guess we’re not up to your standards. All of these amazing artists and leads I see at the big studios here, just not quite up to your level.

        Pull your head out of your ass.”

        this is of course subjective. I will say that before the Van boom the average leel of canadian vfx was lower than the US. They just id not get the big shows. Now that Vancouver has 3-5 years experience on “hollywood” level i think this evened out. DD/Sony/ILM have brought their A-game to Vancouver. Shops like method and Image engine have stepped up their game.

        I dont want and cannot speak for other shops but I can attest to many “senior artist” who were more midlevel compared top their brothers and sisters in LA and London. 10 years experience on B movies dont hone you as much as 10 years on A Movies.
        I realize now people will bitch at me again and questioning my work skills and blabla. As stated above its subjective but I doubt many productions came to Vancouver because of the skill of the workers, they came for the subsidies.

        By now Vancouver *probably* has more experienced workers than LA as many of us had to relocate and many talented UK Artist also had to do the same.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Andreas,

        Your right ..MPC is offering Lighting sups for $50 hr…..and lighters $40….( I never would have believed it)

        They will pay for it…..in the end……..when they get shots pulled

      • vfxmafia says:

        And ILM Vancouver is paying shit too…….

        I guess I should count myself lucky to be at a Van company that has a pipeline and values talent….

        I really had no idea about they other companies up here….I can only imagine what the Chinese owned DD is paying up here…or the Indian owned R&H…..

        I have some other gossip i will privately email you about too….

      • minoton says:

        Oh, you can’t just toss that out there and not expect to share! :-) Dish!

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        if its somehow manageable to share without compromising sources I will don’t worry.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        thank you for fact checking Sir! Its sad how much they lowball artist when its the hot place to do work.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Andreas,

        I really didn’t know……

        The math doesn’t add up. The VFX companies are making bank up here…..LA wages are not out of the question when you factor in the subsidy money…….

        the vfx studios are playing russian roulette….

  24. shanep says:

    I think it’s time vfxsoldier embarked on a tour of subsidized cities. Call it the Magical Subsidy Tour. Interview politicians, city leaders, vfx artists, etc. Next stop: Vancouver.

  25. […] I’m disappointed that Mr. Webber doesn’t recognize this problem. 20% of Gravity’s VFX costs were paid by the UK taxpayers and subsidies have dominated the UK’s ability to do work there since its infancy. Framestore even had to open a satellite facility in Canada because of larger subsidies and their own CEO admits they would lose up to 75% of the work without UK government assistance for US producers. In fact the UK recently had to increase the amount they offer even further. […]

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