Red Earth VFX Scorched?

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.

Soldier On.


9 Responses to Red Earth VFX Scorched?

  1. Kert Gartner says:

    Brutal, just Brutal. I’m wondering, is anyone keeping a list of all the names and dates that these VFX companies have been closing?

  2. Anon says:

    Please get the facts right in your sources

    You might want to state that the Singapore 50% rebate is for filming in Singapore. Not for setting up a vfx shop

  3. T says:

    I’m just curious if you have heard of any specific companies losing work to Michigan? We’ve had the tax incentive for awhile and it does not seem to be doing anything for the local post houses. I know a lot of movies have come and filmed in Michigan but all the post work goes somewhere else. We’ve lost a lot of jobs and some shops in the Detroit area from the automotive market downturn. We’ve actually lost a lot of big jobs/accounts to London that we’ve always had.

    I’ve heard some post places opening up but have not heard if they are actually getting business directly related from the incentives and pulling work from California or other places.

    Would be curious to know if the Michigan Tax Incentives are actually doing anything for the local VFX industry.

  4. zs says:

    Hi VFXSoldier,

    I`m a Singaporean animation student studying in Singapore. I`m inclined to agree with Anon about what the rebate is about.

    I`m not exactly sure what the government is doing to woo studios to set up in Singapore, as I`m still studying and not privvy to such information, but I do know that the Singapore Film Commission does give out funding grants to film makers who apply for it. The grant/rebate`s selection criteria is quite stringent and they are quite miserly with doling out the cash.

    What I do know[or what I think is happening] is that the government is shelling out cash to build up the facilities and infrastructure to make it easier and more enticing for studios to set up satellite studios here.

  5. […] proclaiming the death of VFX in California just the other day? Yet vfx companies like Red Earth VFX in New Mexico was recently shuttered. It will be interesting to what Imageworks will […]

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