CA Legislative Support For ADAPT Legal Efforts

August 7, 2014

When the blog is quiet it usually means I’m busy working with people on the legal effort. There was some remarkable news that broke this week in Variety:

To take the fight to the government, in this case, U.S. trade authorities, Daniel Lay — author of the popular VFX Soldier blog —  and others have formed the Assn. of Digital Artists, Professionals and Technicians (Adapt). Their plight has drawn the attention of Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Calif.), who aims to add language to pending tax-incentives legislation. The wording would urge the federal government to impose sanctions, including tariffs, as a way to combat “unfair and illegal competition” from other countries that have hijacked visual effects, music scoring and other post-production work.

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ADAPT Membership/Fundraiser Drive Begins

August 6, 2014

ADAPT’s website is now ready to accept memberships and donations. We’re still working on some details but the site is ready to accept your support:


I want to thank everyone for their patience and those who helped put the organization together. We are now an officially registered non-profit trade organization. We wanted to allow flexibility on how you can help the organization. Anyone or any organization or any company anywhere in the world can donate or join ADAPT as long as you have an interest in improving the conditions of the VFX industry. Most importantly, donors and members will be strictly confidential to the public. We will not disclose who our supporters are.

You can become a member of ADAPT where you can enroll in recurring monthly or yearly memberships that automatically deduct funding from the submitted account.

If you are interested in making a one-time donation of any amount you can visit our donation page.

We chose this route to fund the effort because sites like indiegogo charge almost 7% for each donation. Secondly, sites like kickstarter have a time limitation to it.

The funding we receive will mostly be used to fund our current legal effort to end VFX subsidies. You can read our FAQ to get a good overview of what we are doing. We are working on having a Q&A at Siggraph in Vancouver next week.

For almost the last four years I’ve written this blog in the hopes of influencing action in the VFX industry. This has been the culmination of that work and I hope you’ll join me. There are a lot of problems in the industry and ADAPT hopes to become a stakeholder in solving those problems. We look at the anti-subsidy duty effort as the tip of the spear to help become a catalyst for change.

It is time for actionable solutions and it’s looking like we are one of the only groups taking direct action. If we get enough supporters we can move forward.

Soldier On.

London Calling

August 1, 2014

Lots of news coming out about ADAPT next week and I’ve been burning the midnight oil. However I do have a note that may interest some of you in London.

A NYC based documentary filmmaker is currently filming a project about the changing business of Hollywood filmmaking.  She recently interviewed me about the international subsidy race and will be in London to film in August.  She’s looking to interview people who can address the impact of the film incentives in London.  She’s particularly interested in speaking with people who counter my views.  Anyone interested in being part of this documentary should email her at:

MadhouseMuse (at) Gmail (dot) com

Soldier On.

ADAPT Membership/Fundraiser Drive Starting Soon

July 22, 2014

I haven’t had time to post on some recent VFX news since I’ve been focused on getting ready to launch the ADAPT membership and fundraiser drive. We are officially a non-profit organization now and are setting up our site to allow supporters to join or donate to our organization to help fund our legal effort to end VFX subsidies.

Before we do launch we want to do a little user testing. I feel pretty comfortable for tester coming from the US. However if you are a potential donor or member coming from New Zealand, Europe, and Canada, email me: vfxsoldier at gmail dot com.

I’d like to try to get one or two users from each region to test the site.

Soldier On.

UK Film Subsidies Cost $3.4 Billion

June 25, 2014

Lots of VFX news today. I’ll wait for more details to come out and let the dust settle before I comment. In other news, it’s pretty rare to get international governments to provide oversight of their subsidy programs and disclose their costs. The UK has been a particular tough nut to crack.

Recently the UK House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts did a critical report on subsidies paid through tax expenditures. Interestingly, the costs of the film subsidy offered in the UK is singled out for it’s runaway costs which have been $USD $3.4 billion over a decade:

The data published by HMRC did not compare the actual costs of tax reliefs with
forecast costs. When a revised form of film tax relief was introduced in 1997, officials had
forecast it would cost £30 million in the first three years. However, its costs rose
significantly, and reached nearly £700 million by 2005–06. It took ten years, at a total cost
of over £2 billion, before HM Treasury and HMRC amended the relief to bring down the
costs. A significant proportion of the costs incurred in film tax relief had not fulfilled the
purpose of the relief, or the intention of Parliament. HMRC told us that it had taken a
series of steps, from 1997 to 2007, in which it had put in place various restrictions for the
relief, and that it had introduced each restriction after considering the policy perspective.
However, it had not been Parliament’s intention that the excessive cost of film tax relief
should have been allowed to continue for so long.

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Ubisoft CEO Unsure Of Montreal Studio’s Future After Subsidy Cuts

June 19, 2014

A few weeks ago I pondered if cuts in Quebec subsidies would trigger a migration for games and VFX studios in Montreal. IGN reports that Ubisoft’s CEO is seriously analyzing the cuts and :

Quebec is cutting back on $500 million in subsidiary bonuses, La Press reported, which will cost Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Quebec large quantities of government-funded production dollars. Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat told IGN, “I think we need to analyze with this means for us. Then once the analysis is done, we’ll be able to decide what the next stage is for us.”

I laughed out loud at the term “subsidiary bonuses”. Let’s be clear, these are government subsidies where the taxpayers are paying 37.5% to 60% of people’s salaries who work in the games and film industry. In the long run this is completely unsustainable and Mr. Mallat’s stunning admission is a great example of that:

“I think what Quebec has become over the years in terms of video game development, it’s not a hotbed,” Mallat said. “So obviously this tax program was here to help build that environment. So we see this program as an important reason for the growth of the sector in Quebec.”

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Mill Exec: If You Don’t Like Long Hours Then Get Out

June 12, 2014

UK VFX execs are on a roll this week:

Speaking during the Unreality Checked panel of the VFX Summit, The Mill chief creative officer Pat Joseph said that although the nature of the work – particularly commercials – called for long hours, “the pay is fairly good and the work is absolutely fantastic”.

Joseph said: “You will always have disgruntled people who feel they have to work long hours, but quite honestly, they should get out of it. We don’t make up the schedules and the budgets for the projects. We live within a commercial environment.”

Pretty irresponsible statement but not surprising information coming from that group. BECTU conducted a survey for VFX artists that should be concerning for employers:

  • 77 per cent of people knew someone who had recently left the industry over workloads, overtime and poor working conditions;
  • 81 per cent of people had felt pressured or bullied into working overtime for free on films;
  • 83 per cent of people said it was difficult, or very difficult, to raise a family whilst working in VFX

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