Eric Alba tweeted some bad news over the weekend that VFX Supervisor Ronald Thornton announced that Albuquerque based Red Earth VFX will be closing. If this is true I’m truly sorry for the staff affected by the news.
However, the event comes at a time that further shows how misinformed the trades and media are by reporting that the problems the VFX industry face are unique to California because of the lack of competitive government subsidies offered by booming vfx markets such as the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, New Mexico, and Florida.
Red Earth VFX was based in New Mexico where the state government offers a film subsidy that covers 25% of producer expenses in the state.
Now I’m not privy to the reason why Red Earth VFX may have closed but an argument could be made that New Mexico’s film industry is under attack by much larger subsidies offered in other states and countries that producers are flocking to. Canada and Michigan offers much larger film subsidies of around 30-35%.
What loyalty should producers have to New Mexico when other governments a few thousand miles away are offering more free money?
The new governor and politicians in New Mexico have started to recognize this and legislation was introduce to reduce the subsidy. The legislation failed in committee.
With companies like Pixar, Digital Domain, and Sony Imageworks flocking to Vancouver to take advantage of these more lucrative subsidies, you would figure the appetite for their US Studio clients would be satisfied. However with Double Negative, ILM, and another facility rumored to open shop in Singapore which may be offering a 50% subsidy, the picture for these subsidy-dependent VFX markets becomes increasingly clear:
You live by the subsidy, you die by the subsidy.