I’ve seriously lost count of the number of times this has happened but VFX Artist Dave Rand comments:
Now just two years later my same friends are being ripped off again. The confidential sum of 1 dollar is hiding the fact that most are owed 15-35 thousand dollars. This time the project left for even cheaper outsourcing and the owners bankrupted the facility after promising that bounced and missed paychecks would never happen again if they all came back to work.
While there hasn’t been any official announcement, the bankruptcy filing was from late May and according to Dave Rand, artists at Lumiere Studios, the company formerly known as Meteor which famously failed to pay VFX artists for their work on Journey To The Center Of The Earth, has yet again left VFX artists unpaid!
Of course what’s even more demoralizing is the predictable jock-like response from fellow VFX artists:
If you don’t like it then leave. I don’t work if I don’t get paid.
I agree with the idea but it’s a complete disregard of the reality of the situation:
The Montreal VFX industry is quite small and according to one worker, walking out in such a situation would only get you blacklisted.
It’s not like there’s another opportunity across town. The only other VFX job for you is probably all the way in New Zealand or the UK.
The dynamic is much different in LA, yes there are notorious employers who are known not to pay but usually an artist can reasonably avoid them by working for a better company across the street or another part of town.
Ironically, just a week ago the VES was in Montreal to discuss the state of the industry.
This latest event is just another example of why a collective bargaining agreement is needed in the VFX industry.
How do you prevent this problem without one? The studios want to do work in Montreal to collect the government subsidy money. Montreal is your home and you don’t want to move to the UK or NZ. This is the only gig in town and if you don’t play ball, you may find yourself blacklisted, not by the company, but by artists who chose to work through it and end up being bitter at you at the next facility they work at.
Having a union makes the organization a convenient “bad guy”.
“Hey guys I really wish I could work but the greedy union prevents me from working for free.”
You’d think I’m joking but there are actually people who I know that have expressed anger to me about The Animation Guild because they prevented them from working for free. According to the artist, he/she felt that had they been able to work for free, they would have been able to get that much wanted promotion from a certain Producer. It’s an insane line of reasoning to me. I’m all for competition, but not a race to the bottom.
UPDATE: Dave Rand tweets the following info:
According to Mark Adley at Price Waterhouse, the artists will be lucky to get a fraction of the money owed them.