VFX Artist Alan Faucher Memorial Fund

From his family:

Alan Faucher was a well-respected visual effects artist whose career spanned three decades and whose creativity was widely acknowledged by his professional community. His filmography includes visual effects work on numerous acclaimed feature films such as Star Trek: Nemesis; Brother Where Art Thou?; Independence Day; Batman Forever and many other Hollywood blockbusters. Among his many achievements, Alan and his visual effects colleagues were nominated for the 2012 Visual Effect Awards for work on the Oscar-winning film Hugo. In May of 2013, Alan was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and began a grueling treatment regime which included chemotherapy, blood transfusions hospital stays, a bone marrow transplant as well as enduring long periods of medical isolation. Alan maintained his good spirits, courage, and humor. Despite his steadfast determination, Alan succumbed to his cancer on January 9, 2014. The purpose of this memorial fund is to help pay down the enormous medical expenses incurred during Alan’s treatment and to help his family get back on their feet again financially. Your support would be a blessing! If you prefer, donations can also be made at any Bank of America to the Alan Faucher Memorial Fund. Again, thank you!

You can donate here.

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27 Responses to VFX Artist Alan Faucher Memorial Fund

  1. vfxmafia says:

    For those of you who know me….you know that I struggle from a severe medical condition. Working a 10 hour day is a struggle to keep not to mention a 15 hour day could potentially put me in the hospital. (or worse)

    As I get older and my condition worsens I take meds and do special exercises and special diets…and monitor my blood 6 times a year….I do everything I can NOT to be replaced by someone younger or get fired for refusing to work long hours…..

    My doctor tells me my industry is killing me…….

    I actually wonder if Dan would be writing a post about me one day like Alan’s …..I am starting to realize that as a VFX artist I am a modern day coal miner……a coal miner whose profession that I thought was done by a desperate uneducated worker ….here I am educated at one of the finest universities…..20 years experience….decently paid…..yet I willingly walk into a dark cave every day like a common coal miner……

    A few years back there was a class action lawsuit against EA…..a man’s wife sued EA because her husband was forced to work massive OT and not be paid for it…..the quote she used in the lawsuit was “Porn workers have more rights than my husband who works in vfx”. Later that year Rockstar games found a 30 year old kid face down in the lavatory….who after ingesting too much red bull and pizza…and long hours……had a stroke…..

    I know another friend who had a stroke at Blizzard. Another came back from WETA and had gained 40 lbs’…and needed time off to recover the mandatory 60 hour work weeks…that bleed into 6 day weeks…..the health stories go on and on…I don’t know if the film business contributed to Alan’s premature death………

    But its is perfect moment to reflect on our own lives…..take time to understand what you have and what Alan’s family once had……

    In the end we make movies…but it is a means to an end….and job in an industry. I high recommend you watch this documentary by Haskell Wexler ASC about health and well being in film industry. It is applicable to all of us who know we are coal miners with PCs………..

    Whether it is heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or stroke….you chance of any of these is %50 more likely when you work a 10 hour day as opposed to a 40 hour work week. Everyone should be conscious of how the industry taxes our health…..out families….and our personal lives……

    watch out for the catered meals…..make sure to get sleep if you can……go home and make sure your wife doesn’t divorce you…..and be mindful that you are only human.

    my best goes out to Alan’s family. My advice….from all my mounting medical bills that i have. Don’t pay the hospital. They can’t take the house….and pension…..

    • Peter Greenaway says:

      A coal miner has a life outside his job. Once he’s done his 88h shift, then he’s back home.
      And has a pension plan.
      I asked one day one of my colleague: well, when this is going to stop? What is our goal, and where this is going to end?.
      He said: “Don’t know dude. I will work until my death”
      I think this attitude is widely spread among coal miner vfx workers.
      Today, if you don’t find a job in vfx, you are blessed. Life will push you to find something else to do, or maybe you go back to school and try to get rid of this “cancer” named vfx.

      • Qwerty says:

        Stop being entitled, work on your demo reel. Move up the ladder, stop being lazy, don’t step on anybody’s toes. Keep at it and hopefully you’ll get better pay and benefits.

      • Peter Greenaway says:

        Thanks Querty

        Would be nice if you can keep this, and future advises for yourself.

    • Rob says:

      Apparently, long hours can even make one dumb!

      http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/169/5/596.full

      But about your own story: If you have a fine university education, couldn’t you just switch to something else? I know it’s not quite as simple as some idiots who say “If you don’t like it then get out” make it out to be but still.
      At any rate, I’m sorry to hear that you’re one of those most dramatically affected by the conditions.

      • Peter Greenaway says:

        There is one above, who’s invite us to work harder.

      • Rob says:

        I saw that. And I was wondering whether I should bother to chime in. But like I pointed out in another comment for another article here recently, I really don’t want to spend too much time debating people like that.
        I don’t mind debates with people regardless of how reprehensible I may find their views, as long as they are able to engage in civilized discussion and demonstrate at least a spark of reason. I see no spark there.
        So I merely planned to watch whether somebody else would reply. Having read your reply just now, I have to say – good for you that you can be so calm in the face of that.

      • Peter Greenaway says:

        thanks Rob.

        This is nothing compared with what I’ve been through during my last 7 years of “glamorous” career in Vfx.
        Was just missing the advice: “you don’t like it, then leave the industry. Do something else.”
        it is funny how people which deserve to quit, are still in vfx and will still be.
        Well, this is it. You have to get used with “smart” and “Kind” people.
        All of them are looking to help you, isn’t it?

      • vfxmafia says:

        bottom line Rob….long hours kill people or make them very sick after a certain number of years……

        whether you want to be in the profession or you just have to go to work everyday for a J-O-B…..makes no difference….whether you work those hours “willingly” or “unwillingly”…

        you profession (no matter what it is)…..shouldn’t kill you…..or be physically damaging to your body, personal life, or well being.

      • Rob says:

        Interesting. Because most people I’ve met have been complaining about the working conditions as well. And not one who told me to quit if I don’t like it.
        In fact, those people are usually complaining more than I do. Because they are the ones who have been working lots of long hours for years. While I only do them if they are paid and even then only a certain amount.
        Although I would like to note that the advice “just don’t do unpaid overtime” will get you fired in London. At least at one big studio. And I don’t think I’ll try that approach with the others. It’s just not a pleasant environment when key people expect you to do long hours and are pissed off if you don’t.

        @ vfxmafia
        I know, it shouldn’t be as it is. But it still is. And so one has to decide whether it’s worth staying and fighting. It seems to me that it’s not in your case. And I am currently looking at alternatives and contemplating leaving the only thing that I feel I am really good at and that I also really want to do behind myself.

      • vfxmafia says:

        @ Rob

        If i could find something else that paid as well…..I would be doing it. What I am saying is one you have to be conscious of the hours…..and the dangers that lie with in them……whats worse is its part of the business model now. And now they are shipping work to countries with different labor laws….better management of shows and better pipelines should bring shorter hours….

        Change starts with important discussions like this on forums….When you see systemic OT and constant ramp up and ramp down……where is that coming from? It is always a trick to find the shop that has constant work…..

      • Rob says:

        What forums? It seems like VFXTalk has vanished. And at least based on past discussions I followed, it seems there are mostly VFX jocks at CGsociety. Anything else that I’m not aware of?

      • vfxmafia says:

        @ Rob..

        Scott Squires has a great blog….and there are always a place here at soldiers blog….(and what ever links you might find here)…

      • Rob says:

        Ah yes but those aren’t forums and not suitable for ongoing discussions about whatever issues the members decide to raise. Instead, often just little windows of 48 hours when people hear about an article and read each others comments and then that’s it.

    • vfxinvan says:

      Mafia, from what I have read on here you are in Vancouver now. I can tell you from personal experience that there are many, many places in town you can work an 8 hour day and still have a regular life in vfx. This isn’t London, or Weta, where OT is a way of life, and everyone is still at work past 10PM. I’m not saying this is the case with you, but so many people in our industry self-inflict this kind of sacrifice on themselves and then blame it on the industry. I’ve worked around the world in vfx and you can absolutely work at places (even Weta) where you put in an 8 hour day and go home. And there is no reason you can’t do that in Vancouver if you choose to. Can I ask where or why you are feeling like you are pressured to work crazy hours, and if you’re being paid for them properly? Because bringing these issues to light is the only way that we can affect change.

      • vfxmafia says:

        @ VFXinvan

        My current hours fluctuate….like most Sutdios…..and you have to manage your health and let producers be aware of it…..

        But I have been in VFX and the film busniess for over 20 years. And at some point every company does massive OT. What i have known about the film business and Video game business…..all I see is OT. Maybe commercials…..you can get around it….

        but any company doing movies…..will work OT…thats just fact. If you would like to continue the discussion further…please list these Vancouver companies that work a guaranteed 8 hour day….

      • vfxinvan says:

        Well, if you are saying that you are looking for a place that never works OT then of course that’s not realistic. Due to increasingly competitive bidding and margins, films are continously pushing more and more work towards the end of a films production. So I wasn’t implying that you can work somewhere and never work OT. What I can say from many years of experience, and being in Vancouver for a long time, is that the vast majority of studios manage OT fairly well. Especially compared to places like London. What that means is that 1) Most importantly, you are paid for every hour you work over 8 hours. 2) OT is reserved for the end of shows and only used when it’s needed.

        If you want specifics, ILM (both SFO and Vancouver) manages OT very carefully. It is never wasted or used just to keep people busy. You need to get it approved, and for the most part anything past 50 hours is an extreme rarity, possibly only done at the end of a crazy show. The norm is to work a 40-45 hour week. I would say Sony and DD can tend to get a little busier toward the end of shows and work longer hours, but they still pay for every hour after 8, and other than crunch time (which can be the last 2-3 months of a show) they’re not going to be demanding that you work more than 8 hour days as a regular thing. R&H (although currently a skeleton crew) is also not known for working crazy OT. On the more marginal side, MPC and Image Engine pay OT, but do implement the 50 hour “flex week” where they can ask you to work a 10 hour day instead of 8. And they are both known for artists being pressured to work a bit longer hours than other Vancouver shops. I don’t know a lot about hours and conditions at Method, Prime Focus, or the other mid-tier houses in Vancouver so I can’t speak for those. But I’ve listed most of the big ones above, and compared to cities like London where free OT is the norm and artists are at their desks past 10PM every night you really don’t have to put up with that in Vancouver. If you are then you’re not at the right place.

      • vfxmafia says:

        VFXinvan..

        Thanks for the breakdown of shops…really appreciate the insight.

        My point about the OT is that over longterm periods…it is harmful to ones person. You have to make sure at a certain age (it was about 37 for me)……you have to work out 3-4 times a week and stay away from catered meals…..and be mindful of driving home at weird hours….

        Always remember to to take at least 5 minute breaks every 3 hours……and don’t eat meals past 7 PM….other wise you turn into one of those people you see on shows……..who don’t realize they gained 30 lbs on a show….

        Again…a 40 hour work week was determined medically by Henry Ford….he had a bunch of doctors do tests on workers…and found out after 40 hours….workers get less productive as well as putting themselves at risk for degenerative diseases…

        again thanks for the info on Van shops…..

      • AnotherVanner says:

        vfxinvan has a pretty good breakdown. I can concur that ILM and Sony are good. MPC and Image Engine do some shifty 8-10 crap. Avoid MPC entirely. Only apply to Image Engine if you can get them to agree to 8 hour days. (Your specialty/dept can help/hurt this.) Method is a mixed bag: Depends on the project and the co-ordinator. I wont name names, but a tip: If they have kids, they will understand the need for some flexibility in work schedule. Avoid Rainmaker, Nerdcorps. Zoic is a mixed bag. TV is hell, features apparently isn’t as bad.

        I have to disagree with him vfxinvan re:London, UK. Yes, evening OT isnt paid. In practice that means most (non-bonus) seniors just dont do it. It’s a different culture in the UK: 20 days vacation a years plus 12(13?) stat holidays. I’ve never in my vfx life had it so good. DNEG/Framestore/Mill are good. MPC is not. Cinesite I’ve heard mixed – Ask around.

      • Rob says:

        In case somebody else stumbles across this like I just did:
        For one thing, 20+12/13 vacation days is simply wrong. It’s 20+8.

        And you’ve never had it this good? In BC, it seems that 2 weeks of vacation are mandatory. At least after one year of employment. Still, if I’m reading this correctly ( http://www.bclaws.ca/Recon/document/ID/freeside/00_96113_01#section57 ), you have to receive vacation pay even if you’re not employed for that long.
        Which is what at least I got when I was employed in Toronto.
        So that’s 10+10.

        I recommend calculating what you are left with after taxes, living costs, etc. and break it down using the amount of actual working days per country.
        In my scenario, it resulted in £81/day (BC) vs. £54/day (London).
        That’s 50% more in BC.
        8 days vacation per year on the other hand, that’s like 3.5%.
        You can take a whole lot of unpaid vacation in BC until that difference is gone.
        Oh and – that’s not even taking into account any unpaid OT.

  2. vfxmafia says:

    Another story i forgot to mention is the famous story of Joe Letteri.

    There is a an old wives tale that on Kong or Avartar what ever hit movie it was …….the great visionary leader from WETA Joe Letteri had a stroke one day. He curled up in his office in the fetal position for 10 hours and ….as the rumor has it…..fought through the stroke…..and went back to fucking work….

    thats how it was told to me……at least….

    One can only wonder if working long hours contributed to Eileen Moran’s cancer as well…..

    again my best thoughts and wishes to Alan’s family…

  3. jonavark says:

    Oh shit. We were good friends in the Early 90’s. Damn. So sorry to hear this. Thank you for the post. We’ll certainly help.

  4. crick2x9 says:

    My grandmother died of breast cancer a few years ago. My grandfather ended up simply not paying the hospital. That was it. End of story. He kept receiving bills but he just ignored them. Besides, the hospital gets paid regardless. They have insurance for this type of stuff. The debt just gets sold eventually to a collections agency who buys the debt for pennies on the dollar. They can’t really come after the assets of the surviving members of the family, so I would just concentrate in what is important: the family.

  5. Rufus3d says:

    In case anyone missed it
    “Who needs Sleep” by DP Haskell Wexler

  6. Former Pirate says:

    I am saddened to hear this. Alan was a good and talented man. He will be missed.

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