There were a lot of reasons behind the birth of this blog. Some of it had to do with the general business of vfx and some of it had to do with the general issues workers go through.
I would even admit that some of the reasons were personal and I’d like to tell you one of the many stories that led to the creation of this blog.
The One That I Let Get Away
A few months ago, I was in the middle of a project taking a lunch break at a local eatery waiting for a sandwich. Earlier, on the way in I noticed a young woman casually glance at me.
She was beautiful and in the corner of my eye I could see her try to get a little closer to me to see if she could engage my curiosity even more.
Instead of waiting, she decided to take the initiative and jumped in front of me to grab a menu. Without even looking at it she stared at me and asked:
“Hi there. Do you know what’s good here?”
With my eyes fixed firmly on the cash register, I swiftly pointed to my far right and said:
“The sandwiches over there are good.”
She seemed confused for a second and I finalized things by stepping forward and grabbing my sandwich to leave. As I walked out of the restaurant a part of me reveled in my terminator-like quickness at shooting her down.
What the hell was I thinking?
A beautiful woman who didn’t know anything about me was genuinely interested in me and even took the initiative. Situations that good only happen in movies and I shot her down immediately.
I started back-tracking in wonder how I came to be this way. What if that woman was the person I was supposed to marry and have children with?
Can VFX Artists Have Families?
The problem was even if we were perfect for each other I felt my career in VFX would hinder our ability to make things work. You all know the story: How could I make any personal commitments to spend my life with someone when my next job could be in the UK, NZ, or Canada.
Who am I to ask that she commit to me and give up her career to globetrot with me when she wants to settle down and have children. Even if my next job was in town, how can we firmly plant ourselves somewhere to raise a family?
I know what you are thinking. Look, everyone goes through that and you just have to go forward and do it. You only live once.
However, for many of my colleagues who are married or have children, they are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to finding work. Some of them are underwater in their mortgages and forced to leave their family to work overseas.
What gets to me is the initial enjoyment I had for a moment of preventing any of that happening when the young woman approached me. I worked so hard to get into VFX to making a living out of it.
What was I living for?
I couldn’t confidently maintain a relationship with anyone or have a family. I couldn’t own a home or even have furniture for my place. My friends jokingly say I live like the Unabomber.
What I was realizing is that I was losing my humanity and becoming a total sociopath. I was taking pleasure in denying my compassion for others.
What Have We Become?
Unfortunately this situation isn’t unique. A few weeks later I talked to a worker about a story I heard of a woman who won a lawsuit against LucasFilm for allegedly being fired after she revealed she was pregnant.
While I expressed my support for the pregnant woman, my co-worker immediately expressed disgust. He felt LucasFilm was right in firing the woman even though it’s against the law. LucasFilm denies that they fired her for being pregnant but the jury felt differently. The discussion went on about federal maternity leave law and he felt that should be done away with too.
I’d like to think these are all unique incidents but then I listen to the fxguide’s podcast with Lee Stranahan and found myself agreeing about the depressed feeling he had for the humanity of artists when we allow ourselves to denigrate our craft and deny ourselves the most important things we should live for.
Seriously, read some of the comments on cgtalk and Lee’s website and ask yourself if this isn’t a race to the bottom:
In short, nobody owes me anything, and if the industry picks up and moves to China tomorrow, then oh well. Good for them. I’m not entitled to this line of work, and I’m not entitled to it being awesome. If it’s not what I want, or I feel cheated, then I have the freedom to walk.
I don’t consider what I do at work to be art at all. Not by a long shot… There is a world of difference between wanting to be treated fairly as an employee, and having an over-inflated opinion about your contribution to the projects you’re working on. When my name comes up in the credits of a film, it’s one of hundreds. Accepting that I am not all special and deserve special treatment and glory and royalties is simply not the same thing as being “brainwashed”. It’s about being realistic. As a couple of people in this thread said, if you want glory and royalties and all that stuff, go make your own films.
See, here’s the problem. You (thats you, as in most cg people) are a worker, youre not an artist. Artists in the traditional sense create *their* own artistic vision. If youre creating someone else’s ideas, in the style they dictate, on the subject they choose within the timeframe they specify, youre not creating art, youre essentially an illustrator. You’re the modern day equivalent of an inbetweener. You take someone else’s lead and you do the donkey work creating all the textures, model assets, rigs, animation sequences.
as for the older folks..bagging grocery’s at whole foods is more respectable than working in CG after age 35. you want your children knowing you work with people half your age who think that michael bay films are cool and california rolls are exotic? get out while you can.
What I’m trying to say is we need to start thinking about being humane again. This industry can bring the best out of us and also the worst at times. I know I’ve fallen for it and look back in regret.