Casualties Of The Subsidy Trade War: Imageworks Culver City

June 5, 2014

So it finally happened. Sony Pictures Imageworks is moving all of its work to Vancouver signaling an end of an era:

Variety: Sony Imageworks Moving HQ to Vancouver
The Hollywood Reporter: Sony’s VFX House Imageworks Moving Headquarters to Vancouver
LA Times: Effects firm Sony Pictures Imageworks leaving L.A. area for Canada
Deadline: Sony Imageworks’ Flight To Vancouver Latest Blow In VFX Subsidies Battle
The Globe and Mail: Sony Pictures Imageworks to move HQ to Vancouver
Cartoon Brew: Sony Pictures Animation Will No Longer Animate Its Films in the US

The only reason for this move is because BC taxpayers are paying 60% of resident salaries. That’s a ridiculously unsustainable amount and if you think Sony is committed to staying there you should talk to the people who were sold the same bag of goods at Sony New Mexico. If you think Sony will stay there because the costs of labor are lower regardless of subsidies, talk to the people at Sony India. Kim Kardashian has had a better track record on commitment than Sony.

Subsidies create a permanent cycle of displacement that puts a significant burden and barrier on VFX professionals and their families. This affects everyone from the bottom to the top.

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The Serkis Is Back In Town

May 28, 2014


Photo by AnimationMerc

Well it’s looking to be that time of the year again where Andy Serkis tries to make another failed run at garnering an Oscar nomination for motion capture performances in VFX films. The Brew nails it:

In an interview that Serkis did recently, he made one of his most preposterous statements yet: that he ‘authors’ his performances entirely himself, without the creative input of any other artist. According to Serkis, the only thing that the digital artists at Weta do is paint ‘digital makeup’ over his immaculate acting.

While the performances of Gollum and Caesar are great, it’s important to know they are the creation of a team of VFX craftspeople who painstakingly iterate and perfect every detail on the screen along with Andy Serkis. Unfortunately, in order for Mr. Serkis to garner an Oscar nomination, he and his publicists have engaged in a campaign of “VFX plagiarism” to discredit those artists for their work so he can convince the Academy that Caesar’s performance in Planet of the Apes was completely his. It’s absolutely unprofessional and a totally intentional lie.

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VFX Soldier At UCSB Conference On VFX Labor

May 27, 2014

I just arrived back to the US from my trip to China. (Which was pretty crazy if you saw my tweet about the plane almost crashing.) During my trip I was saddened to hear about another school shooting this time at UC Santa Barbara. I just was at UCSB three weeks ago along with Steve Kaplan and Mariana Acuña-Acosta to attend a conference on VFX labor. I posted the video of it above.

The Carsey-Wolf Center at UCSB has been doing some great research on the VFX industry by Michael Curtin and Kevin Sanson and we were incredibly thankful to the academics and students in attendance who have been following this blog and ADAPT’s efforts. As a UC alumni, I think I speak for the rest of the VFX community in offering our support to the UCSB family and condolences to those affected by the recent shooting.

Soldier On.

VFX Soldier In China!

May 8, 2014

I’ll be in China for two weeks. If you’re a reader of the blog and would like to grab a cup of tea let me know. Here is a list of cities and dates of where I’ll be at.

  • Beijing: Sunday May 11 – Tuesday May 13
  • Xian: Wednesday May 14 – Thursday May 15
  • Guilin: Friday May 16 – Sunday May 18
  • Shanghai: Monday May 19 – Wednesday May 21
  • Zhangjiajie: Thursday May 22 – Friday May 23
  • Shanghai: Saturday May 24th

You can email me at VFXSoldier at gmail dot com.

Soldier On.

Animation Guild Membership Explodes

May 8, 2014

Two years ago I wrote a post observing a huge milestone: Membership for the Animation Guild hit an all-time high with 2700 active members. They’ve kept track of these numbers for 25 years and this week the guild announced a new record: There are now 3,354 members.

Opponents over the years argued that unions were expensive and with cheap labor in Asia, membership would fall as more and more VFX work at cost sensitive studios like Disney and DreamWorks would be shipped away.

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What’s Going On With ADAPT?

May 6, 2014

Quite a number of people have been wanting to know what’s the latest concerning our efforts to levy anti-subsidy duties on subsidized VFX.

The March in March demonstration was incredibly successful as it continues to yield media interests. I will say that literally every week there has been some media outlet interested in speaking with us. I will post links on my blog as they are released. The media reports help spread word about the legal effort.

Speaking of legal effort, the law firm we are working with, Picard Kentz & Rowe, has been continuing their work on the case. I can’t divulge any details but I can tell you things are going along as planned. The recent decisions concerning the dental case have been a huge win for our effort. The timing couldn’t have been better.

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CA Gubernatorial Candidates Against Film Subsidies

April 29, 2014

Leading Republican candidate for California Governor Neel Kashkari made his opinion known about whether CA taxpayers should subsidize the film industry:

“I don’t like the idea of Hollywood leaving California, but I know that other states are subsidizing movies now, up to 30 percent of the cost of a movie, which is silly economic policy,” Kashkari told The Sacramento Bee’s Editorial Board.

Kashkari said he would focus on improving the state’s overall economy and that, “If other states or other countries are going to do silly things, then let them do silly things.”

Last year California Governor Jerry Brown was asked about more subsidies for the film industry:

The other states give lavish subsides to get people to make movies and we do that to a degree but were not going to have a race to the bottom where the state is supposed to pay for every private sector job that we want to attract. That is a losing strategy that I hope other states would get off.

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