Well the Oscars were on last night and here are some points of interest.
VFX Artists Win In Non-VFX Categories
Master makeup artist Rick Baker won Best Makeup for The Wolfman. Matte painter and VFX Supervisor Robert Stromberg won for Art Direction in Alice In Wonderland. It’s also worth mentioning the number of nominations and wins for The Social Network which was directed by former VFX artist David Fincher.
Pixar Wins Despite Collusion
Pixar won best animated feature despite the ILM Pixar collusion scandal. I thought it would had more play this year but when most major media outlets are owned by the studio conglomerates it’s a bit hard to get the word out. Besides, the director proudly proclaims:
Pixar is the most awesome place on the earth to make movies
Got it? So shut up about the collusion crap because that’s what awesome companies do.
Unions Get Respect
Inception dominated with Oscar wins in technical crafts such as Visual Effects, Cinematography, and Sound. It’s worth noting that Wally Pfister and Gary Rizzo who won for cinematography and sound for Inception both took time in their speech to thank their union crews. They are both IATSE members.
Wally Pfister elaborates on his support for unions here.
I’m compelled to speak about this because as talented as Oscar winning VFX Supervisor Paul Franklin is, he is severly misinformed about unionization:
The only argument that a VFX artist could present to a studio to demand residuals would be to threaten to withdraw their labour (which won’t get you very far). The implied automatic connection between creative contribution and residuals is false – the director of photography on a movie doesn’t get residuals.
Mr Franklin could have easily been informed by his colleague Wally Pfister who was Director of Photography on all of Chris Nolans films that he and other IATSE members receive residuals from the studios in the form of health and pension benefits. This has been the norm since the 60’s.
Furthermore, Mr Franklin and others in the UK VFX industry have boasted that they no longer need film subsidies to bolster the VFX work bids for US studio VFX work. Just recently Variety reported on the strength of the UK film industry despite the coming end of the Potter franchises.
Perhaps it’s time to take the training wheels off?
VFX Gets Disrespect?
Of course no Oscar viewing is complete without snarking about the respect VFX artists get in the industry. Quite a few artists and producers on twitter were a bit tee’ed off at host James Franco when he referred to the winners of the technical Oscars as nerds. I actually thought it was funny but I think this year the Oscars gave quite a bit more respect than usual to the VFX industry.
Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law came out to introduce the nominees for VFX much later in the show than previous years. Their sketch alluded to how if it wasn’t for the incredible hard work and attention to detail of the hundreds of vfx artists, actors like Mr. Downey wouldn’t be able to become Iron Man.
If VFX Artists Want Respect, Then Demand It
You don’t get respect in Hollywood by earning it. You get respect by demanding it. Former VFX blogger VFX Law once had a great post how we in the VFX industry are like unwanted step children to the studios. They don’t want to deal with us but they need us. Todd Vaziri on Twitter pointed out that the VFX nominees generated a combined amount of $3.5 Billion.
However, we will continue to be referred to as nerds if we keep accepting our status as second class citizens because of the shitty business model adopted by the facilities. Perhaps the nerds need a George McFly moment and soldier up.