VFX IATSE 891 invited VFX artist advocate Dave Rand to speak to artists in the Vancouver area. For those of you who don’t know who he is. Check out FXGuide’s profile on him. You can listen to the podcast here.
I found myself agreeing with a lot of what Dave Rand has to say about the industry. He worked in many different industries before getting into VFX. One of them was the construction industry.
He explained that construction companies usually bid for work the same way VFX facilities do, but they usually have a blueprint for the work that needs to be done. When no blueprint exists, construction companies usually switch to a cost-plus model instead.
He also expressed support for unionization while also quelling down much of the fear associated with work going away.
However, what provoked the most thought for me was how Dave implied that his ability to stand up for what was right had much to do with the fact he didn’t have a family. He expressed discontent when ImageMovers closed as it was a facility he could finally settle down and have a family.
Here’s a talented artist who has worked in the industry for over 15 years and still can’t settle down to have a family. Not everything is gloom and doom of course. One very talented artist emailed me to contend:
I don’t see this industry as a march to the bottom, I think it’s getting better. Almost all companies pay legally now! woot! lol…
but overall things will get better, and have been getting better. Just the worst companies are now just ok. Don’t you think things have gotten better in the past 5 years? Pipelines have improved our lives by a TON. OT in the past 5 years has become very manageable.
This was my response:
It’s important to remember that our point of view is relative and the industry is huge. While you and I maybe doing well, I talk to artists who have worked at smaller facilities that illegally misclassify, dont offer benefits, dont pay OT, and dont pay at all in some cases. For the larger facilities, many of the workers are project based and move around alot. As relatively young person that ain’t bad. You can move quickly and have your income rise fast.
Do you have a wife and family? I find it very difficult to be able to have a family or home and continue moving from job to job. Health insurance is expensive for families and I hear these kinds of stories:
An artist worked literally for 14 facilities – has no health insurance at all and not being able to get a check for payment is the norm.
Another artist caught an illness in between gigs – had no health insurance and it costed him $15,000.
An older artist was in between gigs, didnt have insurance, and thought he had cancer. He contemplated suicide.
This shouldn’t be happening in this industry. This is why I’m for unionization. You and I love VFX and we should all be able to get our fair share of portable benefits as we work at different facilities.