The Sockpuppet Producer?

I know a lot of my readers in Vancouver were turned off to my latest piece questioning the legality of their subsidies. Well let me make this one up to ya. Read this okay?

Many of my Vancouver readers probably have heard about some shenanigans IATSE organizer Dusty Kelly ran into when she tried to attend an informal VES event that invited anyone interested in the VFX community. She was basically notified by a VES coordinator that she was not welcomed to the event. VES chair Jeff Okun chimed in on the comments section basically saying “hey we are Switzerland folks!” I’m dissapointed of course and sometimes wonder if the VES should stand for Visual Effects Switzerland instead.

Anyways, on to what I really want to talk about. I want to make something abundantly clear, I fully support and protect the anonymity of the people who come on my blog. However I can’t protect people who pretend they are someone else and deceive my readers. I want to inform Vancouver artists of a peculiar discovery I made while reading the comments section of the IATSE 891 blog.

A commenter on my blog who goes by the name RealityCheck went on 891’s blog to admit he/she was the “VFX production professional” Dusty was conversating with at the VES event. If you read the comments section of one of my posts, this “professional” wasn’t too professional. In fact, he/she was downright unethical.

You see I suspect RealityCheck engaged in an internet sockpuppet argument by  pretending to pose as a VFX artist against unionization as two different people “RealityCheck”, “Voice of Reason”, on this post and RealityCheck and anonymous on this post.

I dont think someone who refers to VFX artists as “pencil necked geeks” is a vfx artist looking out for our best interests. I’m not surprised that it turns out this person was actually a production “professional”.

This shouldn’t be a condemnation of anyone else who works in production but i’m calling a foul and once again it counts. Sometimes things aren’t what they seem. You gotta dig deep to get the facts.

Soldier On.


17 Responses to The Sockpuppet Producer?

  1. realitycheck says:

    With respect, you’re degenerating into “”Aint it cool fanboy flaming” sir. You’re more informative (though somewhat one sided) when you stay on the issues point.

    Is this because you have no real logic (your responses leaning toward shoot from the hip emotionalism) to counter points I have raised in your position?

    “pencil necked geeks” (and worse) are terms I’ve heard artists call each other often. Enlighten me. Is the term to be treated with the same delicacy as the “certain derogatory racial words” that only members of that racial group are “allowed” to use but someone outside that group is condemned for using it? I can’t use Maya/Houdini like a pro so if I use the term PNG, it’s meant as the nastiest of insults? Are you really that sensitive?

    While some of my arguments border on contrarian given the general belief of the readers of your blog, not being ‘an artist’ (or a “producer” for that matter) doesn’t mean I’m barred from raising issues, both positive and negative about and that pertain to artists. I consider acting as “devil’s advocate” to what appears to be (IMO) a fairly militant stance leads to discussion that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. A blog by nature is a singular point of view. At it’s best, it offers a point of view that has little voice otherwise. At it’s worst, it’s an angry person anonymously sniping from a dark room, to paraphrase/mash up Mr. Sorkin. By posting it though, you open it up to contrary opinions (hell you have a “comments” section). And contrary opinions without emotional rancor is where compromise starts from. And honestly, nothing of any complexity (including the film biz) can function without compromise.

    Sorry if my postings angered you and my using different names (sometimes on purpose, sometime accidently) offended your sensibilities. That said, saying ‘you’re not an artist (and I never claimed to be), you can’t make that argument’ sounds a bit hollow.

    Tell you what, since I don’t work in California that often, and I’m guessing you’ve never worked in Canada, you stop posting on Canadian issues (other than saying variations of you don’t like VFX work going to Canada) and I’ll do the same on “California issues” (though your stance on tax breaks is really a Global issue, but I digress). Is that a reasonable compromise or am I just angering you more (because that’s not my intention)?

  2. realitycheck says:

    PS If I change my posting name to “Pencil Necked Geek” and ONLY post as that, would you be offended?

  3. n says:


    Just stop playing around with different identities in a grownup conversation on the Internet. When you post, post as realitycheck.

  4. Lived It says:

    I haven’t read the other posts by ‘realitycheck,’ but reading this one, I’m certain that he or she is completely full of it. What a whiny, self-serving load. It’s not at all surprising that the writer is so willing to be deceptive about who they are.

  5. Gene Warren Jr. says:

    errol says:

    I have no problem stating that the Canadian subsidies, the ones that target foreign productions, mostly originating in the United States are illegal. The Canadian Parliament, in 1998 passed legislation that was specifically designed to transfer (steal) jobs from the United States. International trade agreements that the U.S. and Canada are both signatories too, prohibit one country harming another with unfair trade practices.

    I am the half owner of a visual effects company and my partner is Canadian, with a green card and family in Vancouver. Years ago we could easily have opened an office in Vancouver to take advantage of the subsidies (kickbacks). We didn’t, because we did not want to participate in the accelerating race to the bottom. Notice I called the subsidies kickbacks, it’s because that is what they are. If my partner and I kicked back money at the end of an effects job, we could go to jail. In 1998 Canada pioneered film subsidies , now over 25 countries and some 44 U.S. states have kickbacks in place. The new business model for Hollywood now includes how much taxpayer money can be extorted from a location for the privilege of hosting a movie. More to come on future post.

  6. Mike says:

    I can’t understand why you’re being attacked so much. I think it’s a matter of boredom and self-importance: people just don’t have much going on. Your posts are very well researched. I was a bit turned off at first just by the idea of “vfx soldier” and the hype you were getting on the web, but I’ve revised my opinion. Hopefully, we can work together to organize a vfx union.

  7. anon says:

    Re:Canadian tax credits.

    It’s not fair. It’s not right, it’s not productive.

    But it’s the only Game in town.

    And it’s what we are seeing in many aspects of many industries. subsidies and incentives are what has kept the agricultural sectors alive for the last 30 years. This same method is being used to play a game of “whip saw” between two emerging markets. L.A. and Vancouver. If you want to fix this problem examine similar markets that are/have been manipulated and “played” and see what they did?

    unfortunately the movers and the shakers of VFX have been institutionalized to seek profit in an environment of “bidding wars” And un-willing to think in terms of reform.

    start thinking in terms of re-form, take the Canadian, British and US border out of the equitation and think in terms of an international workforce. bottom up change.


  8. […] generation VFX facility owner Gene Warren Jr. of Fantasy II Film Effects: I have no problem stating that the Canadian subsidies, the ones that […]

  9. Skitten says:

    I don’t want to get into the internet name-calling, but @realitycheck brings up one point close to my heart; there’s more people affected here than just the ‘artists’.

    When I joined a shop that was union at the time I couldn’t even join the union because my job was ‘tech’; there are ‘tech’ job and ‘art’ jobs, and the union only represented the ‘art’ jobs, even though we were all in the same boat as employees of the company.

    And even the facility producers are employees, and just as screwed if the place goes under. They may see the actual figures but they’re probably making less money than many artists.

    I just want to point out that this is not just about animators and TDs, not just about people in California, so let’s not fight amougst ourselves.

  10. “It’s not fair. It’s not right, it’s not productive.”

    “But it’s the only Game in town.”

    I suggest anon tells that to the Egyptian people. Yes, the beneficiaries of corporate welfare are powerful and will fight hard to keep feeding at the public trough. Until the rules are changed. I am one of the executive directors of the Film and Television Action Committee and we filed a 301 petition with the U.S. trade representative a few years back. The petition was turned down by the trade rep and I think it was because too many folks in the industry sat on their backsides. Too many people were afraid to go against what the studios, wall street and the banksters wanted. We actually had a slight majority of support of the organized workers and small vendors, not only in Hollywood but around the country. But a slight majority was not enough. The power of the MPAA won that round. The petition that FTAC filed should be picked up, dusted off, updated and re-filed. If most Egyptians decided to stay home after day 17 Mubarak would still be in power. There is no guarantee of ultimate democratic success in Egypt nor are there any guarantees we can stop the collapse of the film making infrastructure in the U.S., but I guarantee it will get much worse if we don’t try. Dare to struggle, dare to win.

    • Winston Smith says:


      Why not reboot the FTAC 301 petition as an online/internet movement? As you say, retool and update it, but then set it up online so that people can sign the petition before it is filed. I have no idea how many individual members belong to the MPAA, but I’d wager that the number of affected vfx artists far outnumbers them.

      You mention that the FTAC 301 petition was turned-down by the trade rep. I have read and posted links to the official USTR statement and it is quite terse and short on detail. Do you or anyone you know have any further substantial and documented analysis of why the USTR turned-down the petition at that time? I would think that would be crucial before any attempt to re-file.

      Thank you for posting,


      • VFX Soldier says:

        I’ve emailed Mr. Warren Jr. on this and want to write a post in this issue. I had no idea he was a part of the executive board of the FTAC.

        I too want to know the exact reasons behind the failure of the petition. It should be re-filed. To think that simple majorities are what drive the petition is hard to believe.

      • Winston Smith says:

        “To think that simple majorities are what drive the petition is hard to believe.”

        True enough Soldier. But sometimes a vocal and visible minority is able to stir the majority to action. As Mr. Warren mentions, witness Eqypt. Or Tunisia. Or the Soviet Union. Or the Philippines. Or Poland. Or the Civil Rights Movement. Or India. History says that NOTHING is impossible.

        I would suggest that FTAC file a Freedom of Information Act request for any transcripts, internal memos, etc. concerning the USTR decision in that case. I think it’s time to shed some light on what should be an open public process. Time to name names.

  11. Hear, hear, Winston. If there were more people like you early on maybe we would have won. One of FTAC’s board members did try and get an official response from the trade rep beyond the vapid public statement that was released to the press. Don’t quote me on this, but as I recall he was told that the Freedom of Information Act did not apply to internal memos generated by the U.S. trade rep. Where is Wiki-leaks when you need them? I’m hoping to have another FTAC member elaborate. The idea of an on-line petition is intriguing. Can you say Face Book and viral? Just a thought.

    A front page article in the business section of the L.A. Times today reads, “Ax poised over farm subsidies”. In the body of the piece, subsidy cuts “… to the wealthiest U.S. farmers” are being proposed. Maybe the climate is shifting to the
    point where a feisty and very vocal movement could defeat the MPAA in round two. But, before anyone goes off half-cocked I suggest we continue this debate and historical review of the last 12 years for a few more weeks and then plan a face to face meeting of those of us who are serious about taking on this struggle.

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