End VFX Subsidies

You can find out information about The Campaign To End VFX Subsidies here.

Stage One – The Feasibility Study – Funding Complete!

Funding link:

http://www.indiegogo.com/EndVfxSubsidies

tinyurl.com/EndVfxSubsidies

Flyer for print and distribution:

tinyurl.com/VfxFlyer

Post:

http://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/campaign-to-end-vfx-subsidies-begins/

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GDo9oXNb-UNEgXVFWAb6e2afwqWjfRIGDFEBfOIZ1o0/edit

55 Responses to End VFX Subsidies

  1. [...] it looks like VFX Soldier has started the campaign to reign in [...]

    • JeffH68 says:

      So Rhythm & Hues we under because of all these horrible actions that move the work to other countries.

      How do I feel bad for them when they opened R&H India and R&H Taiwan?

      • noIMspartacus says:

        er… what’s that they’re so fond of saying stateside…? oh yeah… “What goes round….”

  2. Andreas Jablonka says:

    pledged $150, lets get this out to as many people as possible!

  3. edwardh says:

    What worries me about this is the fact that most of that video is about subsidies abroad. In combination with the fact that the US is well-known (well… at least among people who pay attention to these things) for extreme hypocrisy when it comes to protectionism, it sounds a lot like the target is to kill off feature VFX studios abroad and get all the work back to California (or at least the US).
    I really hope that is not how this will play out…

    • Paul says:

      I can’t speak for Soldier nor anyone else who supports the end of subsidies for the VFX industry. However my feeling is that US-based VFX artists would like to see is not the death of non-US based VFX studios.

      Due to subsidies, a significant amount of talent and facility bandwidth has developed in areas like Vancouver, London, Australia, and New Zealand. Were the subsides to go away in these areas — with no comparable subsidies in existence elsewhere — VFX work would not dry up. The big 6 US studios would still require more capacity than any one geographic area can provide.

      In fact you might find a greater stability set in, as London shops could no longer be artificially undercut by a decision in Canada or Singapore (or Louisiana) to provide kickbacks.

      • vfx4all says:

        You are correct, ending subsidies in Vancouver, London and Australia and NZ, would not result in the vfx work dry up. It would move to Dubai, Turkey, Germany, Beijing, etc.

    • yet_another_anon_vfxer says:

      This is what US VFX artists are seeing, that we think needs to change.

      * US artists are being told by the VFX house, “We want you working on the film, but only if you will do it in Vancouver. Either relocate or we’ll get someone else.”

      * US artist positions no longer have an entry level. Almost all entry positions that would lead to a “real” artist role are farmed out. Students who are $80,000 (or worse) in debt with student loans are finding themselves in retail positions or making coffee, struggling to avoid defaulting on those loans while working on the side to try and develop shot-work level skills on their own.

      * Productions based in Los Angeles are passing on Los Angeles VFX houses, because the subsidy is so attractive they are willing to pass on what would otherwise be a better choice in vfx houses, to get that free money.

      * Taxpayers in subsidized locations are paying subsidies for seats filled by laborers imported from Los Angeles.

      I don’t want film industry in subsidized locations to stop. I want it to compete fairly on the grounds of the product and experience it can offer, and not by bleeding the local taxpayers to bribe companies to that location.

      • Bogardus Blik says:

        The Current VES response is to lobby the state of California to increase subsidies. If you are a VES member who is not from California or the US, like me, it makes you seriously reconsider your future membership dues.
        Apart from this, it obviously all comes down to the cost/time/quality triangle for the studios. So they will go where they can get good (enough VFX), on time and cheaply. That will inevitably take work away from California. Subsidies will make it happen quicker (if they are somewhere else) or slow it down a bit (if they are offered by California) but it will happen. Some studios will survive in California, but eventually some globalisation chickens are going to come home to roost.

      • noIMspartacus says:

        I think ‘Bogardus Blik’ dropped a nutshell… especially the last sentence…

  4. away from home says:

    I’ve been abroad for years, wasted thousands of dollars on moving expenses, and I just want to go home to live and work in the States. Here’s hoping this and a little money will help. Thank you for all your effort, VFX Soldier.

  5. Bojan says:

    I am total newbie in this, at the moment i am at animation school for it. How long this VFX thing is no stable? And why VFX studios don’t keep artist to work for them?

  6. Actually I understand the reasons behind this. But have you ever thought about artists working in vancouver or in europe who might loose there jobs cause companies will go back to california ? Or maybe even worse, companies will outsource even more to asian countries.

    You are talking about “all professional VFX artists” but if you are honest please lets say “all professional US VFX artists”.

    If you end subsidies the logical step is to move on to a location which is cheaper without subsidies. And as I allready mentioned, guess where this will be.

    • Studio_Spotter says:

      For artists in Vancouver and any other place with heavy subsidies, the clock is ticking. When those subsidies dry up, studios will move to the next region offering subsidies and so on. Vancouver isn’t the first place studios have moved to and it won’t be the last.
      If subsidies are reigned in, the logical step would be to pay people what you must in order to make a decent looking film. If they want to pay pennies on the dollar for people who can’t make fx look real in a timely manner, I say go for it and good luck at the box office.
      If talented people are capable of working for less, fine, let that decide who works on fx. But it shouldn’t be decided by the next government deciding to tilt the playing field in their favor with tax payer money. Globally, subsidies can go on forever. Locally, they WILL end.

      • Peter Carr says:

        BC’s film industry does not rely on subsidies.. Why misinform?. There is a huge difference between a Subsidy and a Tax Credit.
        It almost seems as if your movement preaches unemployment and take pleasure in seeing an industry that has taken 30 years to build and considered one of the best in the world to fail? How do you answer that you your followers?

      • atlas says:

        Not sure why California artist should care about your job any more then you cared about theirs when you bought it. London, Canada, New Zealand etc, all could be making their own tent pole vfx films. Yet they choose to buy American jobs from Hollywood instead, cause well hell it is the easy way. Why are they so incapable of creating their own vfx film industry? And why are American artists suppose to support that and roll over by giving their job away?

      • pixelpirate says:

        @at atlas
        The reason why you as a Californian artist should care about our jobs in other countries other than the U.S. is because this industry has been international for many years. You missed globalization! You also don’t get the fact that either everyone supports a common cause or it’s not going to happen at all. California can’t pull this off alone! Hell, a lot of U.S. companies even belong to Chinese or Indian corporations. Wake up!

  7. Studio_Spotter says:

    What happened?
    The page is locked.

  8. VFX Soldier no comment on my posting ?

  9. This movement is something that’s long overdue and is paramount to building VFX Unions (I personally think Digital and Practical Effects should eventually be in the same unions as to avoid being pitted against each other) The thing is international anti-poaching laws, using subsidies, already exist it’s simply a matter of having the VFX industry speak up about the fact that these laws aren’t being enforced in our industry. Frankly the companies taking the subsidies are doing so knowing the shaky legal ground they are on maybe those companies should be sued for damages by students that have already spent time and money to be educated to work in an industries that decided to wallow in shameful illegal activity once it is proven.

  10. Pier Auto says:

    Boy Atlas the saying ‘ignorance is bliss’ sure does apply to your comment to me. Your threat is not Canada with it’s mear 30 million people. Your big threat is China. Instead of attacking individuals who just want to put food on their table why not go after the American production companies signing co-production & joint production ventures in China. And with that said they, the prod. companies that once employed you, are the same ones who can to Canada 30 years ago and set up shop because our dollar at the time was weaker and thus created our industry So how can you blame Canada for taking away your jobs when it was the United States that caused your own demise

    • To-ron-to says:

      I work at a company in Canada who has a joint venture starting with China soon, and people are unsure if they’ll have a job or not… so couldn’t agree more with you about the work probably headed for China.

      But to me, subsidies aren’t a huge problem. Especially in Canada. Work has been coming up here for a while because our dollar was cheaper. When it was 60 whatever cents compared to the US dollar. So this is nothing new. Subsides made it so that the work would keep coming here after our dollar became on par with the US. After subsides, what is your next plan? To tell countries they can’t have cheaper currencies? Or cheaper costs of living? I usually like a lot of the stuff that comes from this page, but you are putting your energy and money into a bit of a sink hole. Its a temporary solution. The real problem lies in service work and it’s a broken and terrible business model.

      Though I do agree a big problem with subsidies is that they skew the real cost of the work.

      • Daniele Colajacomo says:

        I totally agree. I’ve been trying to find out WHY ending subsidies in the West will bring work back to California instead of more to China/India. I got NO answer.

        How can people support ending subsidies without knowing WHY studios would suddenly raise their budgets just so they can work in LA is beyond me, and yet I see everyone jumping on the bandwagon….

        Races to the bottom eventually gobble up everyone. Right now they’ve gobbled up the vfx studios, but they WILL gobble up the movie studios themselves. As their accountants tell them to farm work to India and China, the movie studios will have to move slowly but surely.

        Just wait another few years. Ending subsidies will make that faster…

  11. GaryT says:

    tax credits in canada or australia or new york city for that matter are not subsidies. most tax credits target shooting rather than post. some ethical guidelines regardless of location would be good. most reputable vfx houses are at the mercy of the same forces the u.s. faces. punitive contracts with no recourse and shrinking margins affect all independent companies. if this becomes a u.s. versus the world discussion it will isolate u.s. vfx houses from their natural allies and speed the deterioration of conditions. find common ground between reputable global vfx suppliers and there is a chance things will improve. I started my career as an animator in 1984, just as the bulk of animation work moved offshore. There are definite echoes of that time now in vfx. Some of this work will go regardless of subsidies. the core creative work will never leave Los Angeles or London.

  12. PrincessNau says:

    Why do I get a strong feeling that VFX soldier is all about subsidies? This shitty situation in general is an excuse for him to get rid of the subsidy issue that he really hates and a lot of LA artists really hate.

    I live in Canada and started my career here. I am in no way agreeing with subsidies. Canadian artists are not stupid, we understand it is not a sustainable business model. We do this job for the same reasons you do, we love our jobs and hopefully we can do it as long as we can.

    Trade association is the first priority, make sure our VFX houses are covered, then union and subsidy. When the subsidy goes, we know we will take a hit and we are willing to take that chance for the whole industry’s health. We will get jobs by doing great work and we are happy with that out come.

    VFX soldier is dead beating on the subsidy issue rather than taking care of the more important issues, in my opinion they are trade organization and union.

  13. What this industry needs is an union in every big company thats all…

  14. Matt says:

    it’s really sad to see artists bickering about subsidies when it doesn’t address the real issue. this isn’t an american problem, it’s global! studios don’t want to pay the actual costs for their visual effects and they are willing to go anywhere on the planet to pay as little as humanly possible. if we get rid of the tax credits in north america the studios will just go over seas. the real issue is that vfx houses are willing to work at a loss to keep projects coming in and even worse, when they bid on these projects they are counting on the artists working ungodly hours for no pay to keep the budget so low. it is a completely absurd business model and it clearly isn’t working.

    at a certain point saying no and going home is the only thing left to do.

  15. mr3dbojangles@yahoo.com says:

    Sorry but I have to agree with PrincessNau. I think that vfxsoldier has done an amazing job creating awareness of the issues we face but I do think this focus on subsidies is just wrong. As was said above in the post the US is one of the worst at subsidising industries it favours (agriculture) and destroying economies worldwide as a result. As a VFX pro who used to work in London and move to LA I feel I can see both sides. When in London (in the early days) we felt like the underdogs struggling to compete with the giant highly paid American studios. We cheered when we won the VFX Oscar for Gladiator, it felt like our hard work and talent was vindicated. This discussion of subsidies and outsourcing too easily smacks of US imperialism, US centric and sometimes at times sadly outright racism (not from you though!). The US chose to have it’s crappy health care system, having benefits that travel with you is a problem unique to the US. That kind of issue is irrelevant worldwide. We need to focus on the issue that can bring the global community together and not divide us. Continuing this campaign against subsidies will just drive the global community apart at least at this time. Stop fighting each other and start standing up to the studios. Governments internationally can be dealt with later.

  16. greginos says:

    In my opinion, the problem isn’t just in the US, I’m in France and we have the same obligations to cut VFX budget because it’s “too expensive”.
    But if the US force the major to invest only inside its territory, lot of production will lost funds from the american market.
    I think the problem isn’t the country where the VFX are made, but the price the studios give to this VFX.

    If 90% of the VFX studios around the world agreed to pay every HOUR of work a certain amount, and not to go under this limit, the Big 6 will be obliged to reevaluate its budget for VFX.

    • pixelpirate says:

      exactly!

    • Mark Piland says:

      The problem isn’t the VFX studios not agreeing the pay the wages to their employees, it’s the movie studios paying the VFX studios so that they CAN pay their employees. They have to keep undercutting each other to even stay competitive because the movie studios will keep going to whoever will do it cheaper or whatever will save them the most amount of cost.

      If other countries were able to run movie studios as large as the ones in America, this might not be such a big problem, but unfortunately that’s not the case right now.

      • bombaysunshine says:

        I agree completely with your post Mark.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Yet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        OR… you will be learning to speak Hindi…

        Namaste People!

  17. mr3dbojangles@yahoo.com says:

    greginos exactly

  18. Peter Carr says:

    RE-POST FROM IATSE 891 VFX-FEB.26/13

    Dear VFX Soldier:

    I will be out at the Art Galley in Vancouver today joining VFX artists who are rallying in support of bringing awareness to the working conditions for VFX artists.

    But I have to question your recent post. So this protest is all about film subsidies in British Columbia? I thought it was about rising up in solidarity for workers who are given no dignity or respect and are left without a pension and a paycheque, no health plan no support services for themselves and their families, working on product that generates billions of box-office dollars for the Studios (Warner Bros., Sony, etc) worldwide?

    Abolishing film subsidies or even the leveling of the subsidy playing field will not result in shorter work days, overtime pay, health and retirement benefits.

    Your film subsidy talking points are exaggerated and grossly oversimplify a complex issue. You continue to disproportionally target British Columbia thereby stirring up cross border animosity. Not everyone wants to work in Southern California. Its a global business.

    – US domestic box office is routinely outstripped by foreign box office numbers.

    – The $437 million dollar figure is not what it seems. Production companies have up to 30 months to claim a tax credit. At which time they may be claimed at anytime during that period. This budget figure is a guestimate based on what was booked, not claimed, and projected claims. I suggest you call the Finance Ministry for the analysis of the figures. Its not black and white, which is why it doesn’t fit nicely into a soundbite.

    – VFX workers are not at a 60% subsidy rate. Labour performed by nonresident VFX artists is not eligible. If you live in Toronto or LA and come to Vancouver to work on a project your salary is not tax creditable.

    – A WTO challenge will do nothing about tax incentives stateside

    – A WTO challenge will take years in the courts and untold dollars lining the pockets of lawyers all for an unforeseeable outcome, a risky gambit.

    – Columbia Tristar is owned by a giant Japanese corporation.

    But I digress.

    What is doable today tomorrow and next month is taking control of what you want your job to look like. Do you want healthcare, do you want overtime pay, do you want an indexed raise, do you want a credit? The WTO will not give you these. Only you can take action and organize yourselves to demand through collective bargaining what every other motion picture production worker, artist, technician, craftsperson has, a collective agreement.

    Have fun today but bear in mind the public cares more about you as a person getting screwed out of healthcare and proper pay and the expensive movie tickets than tax credits in Louisiana, New York, London, Australia and yes British Columbia.

    Together We Are Stronger

  19. Peter Carr says:

    RE-POST FROM IATSE 891 VFX

    Dear VFX Soldier:

    I will be out at the Art Galley in Vancouver today joining VFX artists who are rallying in support of bringing awareness to the working conditions for VFX artists.

    But I have to question your recent post. So this protest is all about film subsidies in British Columbia? I thought it was about rising up in solidarity for workers who are given no dignity or respect and are left without a pension and a paycheque, no health plan no support services for themselves and their families, working on product that generates billions of box-office dollars for the Studios (Warner Bros., Sony, etc) worldwide?

    Abolishing film subsidies or even the leveling of the subsidy playing field will not result in shorter work days, overtime pay, health and retirement benefits.

    Your film subsidy talking points are exaggerated and grossly oversimplify a complex issue. You continue to disproportionally target British Columbia thereby stirring up cross border animosity. Not everyone wants to work in Southern California. Its a global business.

    – US domestic box office is routinely outstripped by foreign box office numbers.

    – The $437 million dollar figure is not what it seems. Production companies have up to 30 months to claim a tax credit. At which time they may be claimed at anytime during that period. This budget figure is a guestimate based on what was booked, not claimed, and projected claims. I suggest you call the Finance Ministry for the analysis of the figures. Its not black and white, which is why it doesn’t fit nicely into a soundbite.

    – VFX workers are not at a 60% subsidy rate. Labour performed by nonresident VFX artists is not eligible. If you live in Toronto or LA and come to Vancouver to work on a project your salary is not tax creditable.

    – A WTO challenge will do nothing about tax incentives stateside

    – A WTO challenge will take years in the courts and untold dollars lining the pockets of lawyers all for an unforeseeable outcome, a risky gambit.

    – Columbia Tristar is owned by a giant Japanese corporation.

    But I digress.

    What is doable today tomorrow and next month is taking control of what you want your job to look like. Do you want healthcare, do you want overtime pay, do you want an indexed raise, do you want a credit? The WTO will not give you these. Only you can take action and organize yourselves to demand through collective bargaining what every other motion picture production worker, artist, technician, craftsperson has, a collective agreement.

    Have fun today but bear in mind the public cares more about you as a person getting screwed out of healthcare and proper pay and the expensive movie tickets than tax credits in Louisiana, New York, London, Australia and yes British Columbia.

    Together We Are Stronger

  20. I second this.

    Scott Squires Tweet: Maybe someone should start a http://filmsubsidies.org with links & info for taxpayers & politicians.

    It’s brilliant!

    Who’s on this?

  21. [...] and industries in countries (or regions) that would otherwise lose them to cheaper competition. Those against, argue that they entice companies to slide from country to country and region to region as [...]

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  23. Coley says:

    To those who claim that subsidies are fair: You are probably in a city where a subsidy is working in your favor. But as soon as that city gets passed up for the next city that is offering an even better incentive… you’re work is going to go bye-bye. Look at L.A. as “patient-zero”. You are infected, you just aren’t symptomatic yet. So, you might not want to live in Southern California, but you will have to move. To wherever the next most enticing incentive is. Hope you didn’t buy a house, or get a dog, or have kids in school. Because if you move, you will either have to leave that all behind and be a “long-distance parent”, or uproot your whole family. Too young for a family? You won’t be forever.

  24. bombaysunshine says:

    I don’t think that subsidies are fair – but I do think they are the reality of living in this world with a focus on economic globalization. For anyone to get into ANY career in this brave new world, and think that they won’t have to change jobs or locations is just being naive. Vancouver is rocking now – in another 5 years, it will be Singapore, or Prague, or….

    If you are smart, you are learning mandarin in your spare time, and not making decisions with the thought that you are going to be sitting in the same desk in 5 years. If you don’t have this flexibility in your attitude, you should be looking for a new field.

    It is a well documented fact that most of people under the age of 40 will have complete career changes at least 3 times in their life.

    Kids can adjust, dogs can move, houses can be rented. If you can’t deal with it seriously, get out because you will be miserable.

  25. […] of market-distorting subsidies. One law firm stood out and in December I asked many readers to donate funding for a feasibility study in which the firm would recommend a path to mitigate the effect of these subsidies in the visual […]

  26. nicholas says:

    Can anybody tell me how much subsidies each country provides?

  27. […] a huge proponent in the instability and inefficiency of VFX jobs, but people are mobilizing. VFX Soldier is running a campaign to help end these subsidies. VFX workers are speaking out, and the figureheads of the industry are […]

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