Casualties Of The VFX Subsidy Trade War: Imageworks Albuquerque

A short movie introduced 2 years ago documenting Imageworkers who moved to Albuquerque

Today revealed the unsurprising and humbling announcement that Sony Pictures Imageworks would be closing their New Mexico facility. A few people have mentioned that this was something I’ve been writing about for years but let’s be clear: This sucks.

The video above shows various people of different walks of life who just want to make an affordable and decent living. I don’t care where vfx professionals want to live as long as THEY choose to live there I’m all for it.

However the reality is this move was all about subsidies that the big studios wanted to take advantage of. The media will try to pin this on New Mexico capping the film subsidy program but let’s be clear, Imageworks opened the Vancouver facility way before there was any talk of caps.

In 2007, the intention was to send all the work to New Mexico while having a small office in Culver City. Now 5 years later, the irony is Culver City is at almost maximum capacity with the now former executives trying to recruit workers to go to other facilities in subsidized Texas and Florida.

Of course the focus of current Imageworks leadership is to send the work to Vancouver but “fool me once shame on you fool me twice shame on me”. At least New Mexico was marketable for its lower cost of living. That’s not the case for Vancouver which has arguably the most expensive real estate in the world and a general higher cost of living.

The good news for VFX professionals is that there are other Vancouver shops to jump to but this might be bad news for the facilities. Many are moving there to supply US studios with access to huge subsidies while they swallow huge costs to lure the talent there. With Rhythm, Sony, DD, Pixar, ILM, and others trying to hire a relatively smaller talent pool you can expect costs to rise rapidly.

The events of today are undeniable. They play into the narrative that I’ve written about for almost the last 2 years.

VFX Is Moving To Expensive Locations, Not Cheaper Locations

The common outsourcing argument is that the work is all going to emerging markets like India and China where the cost of living is cheap effectively making labor cheaper.

Everyone seems to forget that in 2007 Imageworks also opened a facility in India. After 5 years you would figure all the work would be there now. Give it more time you say? How about Rhythm which has had it’s Mumbai facility for 11 years? Still a huge amount of talent resides in California and the facilities are trying to coerce them to move to more expensive regions like Vancouver.

California Is Resilient And Powered By Agglomeration

Consider how remarkable this is. Every state, province, and country is trying to bribe studios into sending VFX work to their location and while California’s VFX industry has been injured, it soldiers on without subsidy. The reason for this is we have a huge talent base that makes this state their home. From start to finish you can create animation, games, commercials, and visual effects and be confident the job will get done with quality. The only thing causing attrition are the bribes. End the bribes and the industry will return to growth.

VFX Is Not A Commodity

The argument by the studio executives is that VFX is a commodity. They argue VFX is all the same and the only thing that matters is price. If that were the case why are they so dependent on getting the facilities in California to open up shop in other regions? The reason why is because there is an incredible resource that resides at the facilities: Talent. Talent is not a commodity. If it was there would be no need to pay them well and try to lure them into moving to these locations. Fellow vfx professionals, look in the mirror and repeat: “I am talented. I am not a commodity. The studios are full of fucking shit.”

“You Live By The Subsidy, You Die By The Subsidy”

The quote above is one I use regularly on this blog. Subsidies are a lot like drugs, if you can’t stop someone from using them, they will eventually become dependent on them and overdose. As locations overdose and fall into a coma trying to give money away to US studios, subsidy hungry productions will concentrate themselves on the largest subsidizers like Vancouver.

I believe with so many facilities coming into full production, the government will find the cost of the subsidy exploding and forced to cap the amount available. Eventually another player will come into a game making a better offer and soon the studios will demand the work go there, hollowing out the previous location.

Just today FilmWorks LA Manager Adrian MacDonald released a post on how the state of Louisiana had to increase it’s subsidy program to keep pace with the other competitors. The cost? $800 million. The tax revenue? $106 million and that doesn’t include 2011. Adrian MacDonald estimates that in 2011 alone Louisiana is scheduled to spend $420 million! Why aren’t facilities going there?


Opening an office in Baton Rouge fits perfectly with our overall company vision,” said Kuther, the Pixomondo founder and CEO. “Louisiana offers a very generous production tax credit that we can pass on to our clients to bolster our project load as well as our growing teams in Los Angeles, London and Germany – not to mention China and Canada.

Don’t Trust But Verify

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. I don’t expect readers to trust me, I expect them to verify me. That should be the same for anyone you deal with. If someone tells you that “it’s all moving to…” ask them what the basis is for that. It’s most likely it because of a subsidy and it won’t last.

Soldier On.

89 Responses to Casualties Of The VFX Subsidy Trade War: Imageworks Albuquerque

  1. Robert Nederhorst says:

    Fantastic post. I agree so wholeheartedly with all of your points here sir. If people use cheaper locations that’s one thing. If they use “free money” it’s bull crap. Plain and simple. I’ll happily sign my name to that 🙂


    • Well “free money” does translate into ‘cheaper locations’ at the bottom line… From that standpoint, Vancouver is more attractive than Shanghai, as an example.

      I love my craft, but I have the business part of it.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Could you provide me an example showing how subsidized imageworks Vancouver is cheaper than unsubsdized India?

        Could you show how this is cheaper for Imageworks?

      • Raphael Protti says:

        No I can’t provide a concrete example, as I don’t have access to their books, but why else would they pick a country providing subsidies over one that is presumably cheaper?

        Having worked at Sony and knowing that within their top management is a man with no production experience whatsoever, but whose previous experience was in management consulting (read, cutting costs and bottom line improvement), I am making the perhaps shallow assumption that cost is the primary driver. At least in Sony’s case.

        Additionally, studios may have finally found in Vancouver a talent pool and geographical location that is more palatable as well… There’s no denying that.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        OR perhaps they tried to send it all to India and it couldn’t get done? For the studios Canada is the next logical choice… Only because of a subsidy. If your business model is based off of a free lunch, you’re heading for trouble.

      • Raphael Protti says:

        Another consideration, India and China are still in rapid growth, with rising costs and rapidly changing climates. It may be easier to forecast conditions, expenses, etc, in the mid to long term with stable Canada.

        My initial reply was perhaps stating the obvious, that subsidies affect the bottom line significantly. As they are a known variable in business planning, they carry their own attraction over unknown promises of cheaper costs that can only be realized through a successful production.

        In response to Robert’s post, I meant to say that the subsidies to translate in cheaper locations, not necessarily the cheapest. But seeing the trend, Vancouver may be the happy medium studios want.

  2. Dave Rand says:

    I am in agreement with Soldier on these points and appreciate this coverage.

    Vancouver has a great reputation for paying artists on time, and i’ve not heard of any improper treatment that is any worse than in the US. I had the worst experiences of my career working in Canada but not in Vancouver. Vancouver was overall a great experience for me while I worked at DD. I truly hope to see some private Canadian money step up to the plate and take advantage of all the infrastructure created by money and labor from the USA. More adding less subtracting…that’s why we all signed trade agreements…..

    There are a couple points to consider though.

    1. In Canada you’ll be considered and unsecured creditor. If practices that occurred in Montreal and Toronto spike up in an answer to the increase in competition or a change the subsidy program, or the Canadian dollar’s value, be prepared to take the fall for that. You’ll share the risk but not the rewards of the business, a sad Canadian fact. If those laws have changed or are not present in Vancouver I’d love if someone could write about those details.

    2. Most likely the American and Canadian Dollar relationship will go back to historical trends meaning if your paying bills in the USA your canadian paycheck will be shrinking.

    3. Consult a tax professional that is registered in the US and Canada before making any income tax assumptions. I personally ended up paying more and had considerable time spent filing the extra return. I waited 6 months for my first rebate an they sent me half with no explanation and have yet been able to tell me why a year later.

    It is certainly a beautiful city with wonderful people. Expensive, yes, but if fair trade and employee protection evolved it could be a wonderful addition to the family.. however there’s a massive imbalance occurring now.

  3. Kent says:

    Can they sustain those levels with the influx of facilities ?

    I’ve been trying to find the BC budget for 2012—including their estimate for film credits. But I am guessing it doesn’t take into consideration the explosion of VFX companies showing up on their doorstep.

  4. Tommy says:

    That video was.. Well.. Sad.. Sad. Sad. Sad.

  5. skaplan839 says:

    Its just a matter of time before all incentives go this way. Vancouver residents are paying Hollywood to do VFX work in Vancouver by way of taxes. Thinking about the folks who moved to Albuquerque and planted roots that will be difficult to impossible to pull makes me sad and angry. Thinking about the mushroom cloud that will result from Vancouver’s entertainment incentive going way really frightens me. When that goes away .. there will be lots of fallout.

  6. jona says:

    Large facilities have ZERO loyalty to anyone. Let alone the people who up root and move to fill those seats. I wish we could decapitate them with many smaller facilities that can out do and underbid them as well.

    I do have a question though… How would unions prevent this kind of thing?

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Unions can’t prevent businesses from making bad business decisions.

      It’s clear that the facilities get none of these subsidies yet still have to flip the costs of moving while still maintaining a competitive bid.

      The only way to stop this is to either go to the WTO, ask poor California for subsidies, or let the market play this out as we are seeing.

      As long as vfx artists are able to be leveraged into moving this practice will continue.

      • David Rand says:

        You are right, unions can’t prevent bad business decisions and it is all about leverage

        Steve Huellet from the Animation Guild used that word repeatedly in a conversation with me a while back, It reminded me of the time my Uncle laughed at me as I tried to pull nails out of a board with my bare hands as a child.

        The American studios have plenty of it and I admire how they accumulated so much. Truly a great feet. So powerful they can tell their vendors and the vendors employees where to live, when to move, and how high to “move”.

        Corporate America now runs not only our government but our neighbors governments as well. That’s leverage! They can even tell unions when to organize and when to sit on their hands.

        When I think about entering a business relationship, even as a low level VFX artist, with this wall of organization and I think about entering this business relationship without any leverage at all, it reminds me of when I was pulling nails out of boards with my bare hands and my uncle handing me a hammer.

        We are the golden egg and our potential apparent to anyone with even modest vision. You’d think existing organizations would recognize this and be scrambling to prove they are worthy of representing us and add our leverage to theirs. I know the organizers want to, I know they are all hard passionate workers, but we are being used by the bigger player’s as a bargaining chip. It only goes to show how important we really are. That will soon change. The powers that be will try to scramble us some more before it does, but it will change, the pressure is building, and soon you’ll see some good old fashioned American competition.

        When we have one voice we’ll have a better chance of being heard by any political organization with the ability to effect change and a better shot at defining our own future and a have a say in the product we have become the most valuable component of.

  7. Ron Thornton says:

    The sad thing about this is that the decision by Sony to close the ABQ facility is more motivated by ego and politics than business sense. The facility was in the black financially. It’s a shame as there are a lot of guys there who, like me, love living in New Mexico.

    Watching now as a very high percentage of TV Pilots are shooting seemingly anywhere BUT California. Connecticut, Philadelphia, New York, Georgia, Louisiana, Vancouver, Toronto…. It’s crazy. This is really becoming a Nomadic business.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      What is the source that it “was in the black”? Is there data available?

      Regardless the point of these subsidies is that it is really not Imageworks choice: it is the studio clients.

      While new Mexico offered a generous subsidy of 25% the studios have shifted their interest to Vancouver for what can be 30-50% subsidy.

      This is about maximizing the amount of free money the studio gets. It does not care about facilities being in the black or artists who are happy to live in new Mexico.

      • bob says:

        Knowing some on the inside, spi spa is turning profit. Of course it is really on the backs f the artists. seniors make $35 an hour at spi BC. Sure its 92k a year but it is basked on a 50HR straight pay work week. Which makes time and a Ulf roughly time and a quarter.
        In London you get a day rate no OT. The movement is far more complex then subsidies. Even if they fail in BC or London studios still make more profit then they would in CA by stepping around labor laws.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        That’s not reliable information. Are you disputing that fact that the main reason facilities are going there is so their clients can take advantage of subsidies?

      • VFX Soldier says:

        I think this supports the argument Ive made:

        “We offer the company 25 percent film incentives, while Vancouver is going to offer them 46 percent. It just makes sense for them.” … “We just couldn’t compete with the offer that Vancouver was giving them,” he said. “We tried to offer different things to them but just couldn’t keep them.”

      • bob says:

        If you really care to understand what is happening your going to have to get out if press releases and into the trenches.

      • Marcus says:

        35 an hour as a senior artist to move to expensive Vancouver, including the costs associated with the move itself? And no long-term contracts.
        Is this in fact a regular rate? That seems ridiculous and beyond the pain threshold for a lot of technical folks like me to jump ship and switch industries.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        But you can ski there and don’t need a car!

  8. Ron Thornton says:

    Normally you would be right… but in this case I’m afraid you are mistaken.
    Actually Imageworks DID benefit as they would claim the rebate on any and all expenses in NM. The state did a special deal with them. The money never went to a studio,
    The “In the black” source is from inside Imageworks.

    • jona says:

      Ron.. I was going to venture a guess that they did in fact make money while they were there. Can you elaborate on the ego, politics part of the story? I mean.. without TMI.

      Also.. does anyone know how many people we’re talking about here?

      • Ron Thornton says:

        About 40 artists. It was a regime change thing after the departure of Tim Sarnoff.

  9. vfxguy says:

    By all accounts seems like my vfx career deserve a proper burial .

  10. bob says:

    Nike does this all the time to avoid labor costs and laws. They open a factory build up the area then walk away once labor costs rise or demands for workers rights become issue. I doubt Sony Corp cares at all. They will just put it in BC and then wherever is next. They can rent everything they need anywhere they want and getting around CA labor laws are part of the decision as well.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Um this isn’t about labor laws. It’s about subsidies.

      • bob says:

        Its about profit, if you can llegally work someone more hours for less your gonna. In BC OT starts at 50. In China doesn’t exist do the math.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Every facilities that has opened in Vancouver has made it abundantly clear. Read the countless articles in Variety and the Hollywood Reporter:

        They are all moving to Vancouver so the studios can take advantage of the most generous subsidies in the industry.

        Can you provide me with a source that shows a facility moved there because of the lax OT laws?

  11. Talent says:

    Good luck with getting talents to baton rouge.

  12. vfxguy says:

    hmm I wonder what creative pitch HR pixomondo will have to entice artist to relocate to baton rouge.

    pretty sure they’ll be able to find artist. Like I said before you can start a studio in Libya and find artist packing there suitcase to work.

  13. Ballscock McFartington says:

    The location of Ballscock isn’t important. His message is!

  14. Ballscock McFartington says:

    I’m Joe Harkins.

  15. […] about for almost the last 2 years.VFX Is Moving To Expensive Locations, Not Cheaper Locationsvia Casualties Of The VFX Subsidy Trade War: Imageworks Albuquerque « VFX Soldier. This story written by Randall Hand Randall Hand is a visualization scientist working for a federal […]

  16. dave says:

    I’ll take my more expensive London VFX life in return for 28 days off, and almost non stop 40 hour weeks. That’s the main problem FOR ME, with working in the United States. Your life kind of sucks because you are worked to death, and you don’t get any time off.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Thanks for the opinion but that wasn’t really the point of this post.

      As I said before I’m all for people wanting to work wherever they want. However that isn’t what dictates where the work goes.

      It’s all about the subsidies: Vancouver, New Mexico, UK, Singapore, NZ, and Austrailia.

      The main reason and many time the only reason the work is done there is so studios can take advantage of a free money being handed out.

      Once that is gone, the work is gone. If you’re in the UK I strongly suggest you read my recent post on Europe.

  17. David Rand says:

    To create a Mexican Standoff, Obama is offering a bundle to move all the Canadian hockey teams, starting with the Canucks, to North Dakota. ….IMAX, Molson and Maple Syrup may be next.

  18. Kat says:

    Iatse 891 VFX in vancouver is a joke operation – DON’T DO ANYTHING WITH THEM. They screwed us on BSG, they have been humping the bunk ever since. They just want to card you and won’t help you when the shit hits the fan.
    Unions suck, don’t believe the hype!

    • Dusty Kelly says:

      The majority of the artists and technicians on BSG who strongly supported a union for VFX continue to support the union. Because of this support the AMPTP recognized Local 891 as the bargaining representative for VFX artists and technicians. Prior, those employed directly by production had no benefits. Now they have benefits including contributions for their retirement. The IATSE 891 VFX department members have now worked in other jurisdictions and been covered with contributions flowing back to their respective plans. In the recently ratified collective agreement safety language and the employee family assistance plan was added. IATSE 891 VFX members were part of the negotiating committee. The union has and continues to file grievances in instances where production is not complying with the terms of the collective agreement on behalf of the members. The union continues to advocate for all of the members including the VFX department. Your comments are an insult to the women and men who continue to grow and build their department at Local 891.

    • J says:

      Kat, it looks like you’re determined to avoid union work and union protections in the future.

      Because you will be going it alone for most of your career, I sincerely hope you’re saving at least 20% of your income for retirement. I also hope you consult the Bogleheads Wiki as you handle your own retirement.

      Good luck, Kat.

  19. Pssst says:

    So who thinks the government throwing money at knowledge communities to aid growth is a good idea?

    the globalization side of this revolution is integrating more and more of these empowered people into ecosystems, where they can innovate and manufacture more products and services that make people’s lives more healthy, educated, entertained, productive and comfortable.
    The best of these ecosystems will be cities and towns that combine a university, an educated populace, a dynamic business community and the fastest broadband connections on earth. These will be the job factories of the future. The countries that thrive will be those that build more of these towns that make possible “high-performance knowledge exchange and generation,” explains Blair Levin, who runs the Aspen Institute’s Gig.U project, a consortium of 37 university communities working to promote private investment in next-generation ecosystems.

  20. Dennis says:

    New Mexico ‘incentive(s)”…Could be a tiny bit different in its ability to host Hollywood. Things to remember are that out of all the places these studios have relocated none have been as close to L.A . None have had climates and a culture as similar as Southern California. One might also recall New Mexico had done work with Dreamworks in rendering shots on their states Super computer. The state invested millions into state of the art computer Animation facilities for its Universities. I can imagine that in all these locations people will inevitably root themselves into their new homes no matter how far off they are…In NM as in the video above you can see it wasnt a hard choice. The question to me is now who will stay and who will continue to work here? Is it possible for talent that gets relocated to start new ventures and succeed? I think so. It goes right down to us vs. them….Now isnt the time to give up and call defeat. Where ever you go you will find an army of people who will be willing to join you in battle should you lend the hand to teach. Only then will we be victorious. Is not over by a long shot.

  21. Dennis says:

    if the Big one ever strikes we’ll even have a Beach…And who knows? New Mexico has ski areas…We already have just about everything as far as Cali life…I think the money incentives sealed the deal but you’d be hard pressed to find a place as cheap and awesome to live as here…Which is the hardest thing for VFX soldier to fathom I bet…That despite all the money that gets thrown around things like environment and location play a huge role…As you can tell ffrom the video a night life plays a big role in whether or not someone who has the choice will move…And if in fact the artists…The trenches started liking where they were and the rest of the folks in other states didnt like where they are…Well maybe those in L.A decided we were too profitable. Maybe in fact NM has been the greatest threat to Hollywood out of any of the locations. If you go by the attitudes of some in L.A you’d be able to pick out that NM has a special stench to some of these Executives…The idea their show is taken away…And backdoor politics….Our past Gov. was a real “player” and knew how to pull strings…Something our new Governor knows very little about.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      I’m amused by your passion, I really am. But let’s be really clear: this has nothing to do with how nice abq is.

      It’s simple math: 46% subsidy in Canada is greater than 25% subsidy. Your state could not afford to quench the greed of studio executives and they were right not to give anymore money.

  22. chris says:

    I wish I could say I didn’t see it coming with Imageworks in Albuquerque, but time and time again, VFX houses prove they are like animals that can’t afford to stray too far from specific established food sources, and we all know where those food sources are no matter where you stand on the subsidy debate.
    …What’s extra sad is, I know of a smaller vfx house that operated in Albuquerque with the casually stated intention of eventually getting bought out by Sony. I politely nod when I hear these things, but I really have no idea what these people are thinking. 😦

  23. ripity rip rapper says:

    Vancouver seems to have a lot of money? Wonder where their getting it? Me thinks the green movement here in the states (if you know what I mean) might hurt the B.C. economy enough for them to not have the extra cash they have to throw at Incentives? Connect the dots…Fa-La-La-La!

  24. Paul says:

    Sorry but…not only did they find enough [useful] idiots to move from Culver City to Albuquerque no less they even find yet another usage for them in the form of depressed salesmen trying their best at selling a desertic area…but hopefully there’s a WholeFoods!

    Why so many agreed to that is appalling, were they threatened with termination? or offered better wages?…who would Sony have hired had they all said no? well probably no one of their caliber and the Albuquerque office project would have been boxed and shelved.

    • Ymir says:

      Paul, I have to take issue with your statements. I’m one of those “idiots”, though I didn’t move from Culver to ABQ, but I do enjoy working here if for no other reason than it’s not in the trash laden cesspool known as Los Angeles. ABQ has always been staffed by primarily senior level artists who are smart enough to know they can work on the same projects and be paid well while living in a lower cost, lower taxed location other than L.A./CA and are all being highly recruited. So who’s the idiot now?

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Are you living in Vancouver or culver city now?

      • Ymir says:


      • VFX Soldier says:

        What I meant was after the abq studio closes, will you be moving to Vancouver or LA?

      • Ymir says:

        I live where it’s affordable ‘between projects’. I won’t be going to Vancouver, if that’s what you’re trying to find out.

      • Paul says:

        Sorry I should have removed the brackets. Useful idiot are pretty much no matter what you do to them people that will find good things to say about you impose on them. Sony is opening an office on the moon…what a view of the earth you guys will have!
        Pixomondo is hiring in Baton Rouge…at least you’ll be able to create CG hurricanes that are true to life now!

  25. Anonymous says:

    It should be noted that the film was made 2.5 years ago and by one year after that, HALF of the people in the video have already left Albuquerque due to layoffs and projects ending. About HALF were never given the choice to go to Culver City: it was Albuquerque or else. Most were new people who wanted to get a foothold in the VFX industry. A lot of former Sony Albuquerque employees knew it wasn’t long term and did not want to settle in a lifeless city: they just needed projects on their resumes and reels and move onwards to CA/BC.

  26. Muren says:

    It should be noted that Imageworks is the VFX industries biggest whore of a corporation. First to come and first to go. Yeah, Albuquerqee didnt have the Dave and Busters nightlife alot of the new employees wanted. Seems being an artist isnt really easy when you dont have corporate-box culture like most of California does…seesh.

  27. kimchiman says:

    I was one of the useful idiots too (and even had a brief appearance in the documentary!) but didn’t move there from Culver City: rather I did the reverse and started Sony in ABQ, moved to Sony Culver City and now ended up in Sony Vancouver. So I guess I am the ultimate useful idiot. I am single so I was “lucky” I guess it have been able to travel. The names of the projects was the main draw for me, plus I grew to enjoy experiencing living in different places. I know eventually I’d like to settle down but in the meantime I will take whatever cool projects I can get.

    Albuquerque wasn’t for me (as many of my colleagues in ABQ can attest to). However it’s really just trashy to start the name calling.

    So yes, I was and continue to be a useful idiot on my climb to the top. I’d rather be employed in rainy Vancouver, than to be unemployed in the LA sun.

    • Paul says:

      Should be noted that I’m using “useful idiot” the exrpession, of course none of you are idiots.

      My point is / was that when you are happy in one place and your boss tells you to move thousands of miles just to pay you less you should not be happy and bow down but fight back…a bit…somehow…right?!

    • Ashes says:

      @kimchiman, you’re missing the point, you even said “I know eventually I’d like to settle down but in the meantime I will take whatever cool projects I can get.”

      Well, guess what, you’ll have no job when you are ready to settle. Why? Because when you are ready to settle down, there will someone just like you are right now willing to up root and move for a job.

  28. The Taint Whisperer says:

    So far the ruling theme here at VFX Soldier is that there are some ultimate douche bag 1 percent-ers running all of VFX. Imageworks surly takes the cake in this whoring of their workforce.So!!! lets make some waves finally! Im asking for the kind of actions that will actually force the change these assholes have forced on us. Nothings will be solved overnight but if the needed “soldiers” can realize how vastly important movies have been to us a species I think the required actions would be pertinent. Just imagine…No memes. Just imagine a world without Starwars. Thats whats happening. So…I ask our brothers in arms to take note. Our legion is failing and we must shore up the proper support if in fact this battle comes down to the end of our artform…Which it is. With a bit of luck and time and the necessary reasonings we will see to it that these coke sniffing assholes who have run our wonderful artform into ruins will pay the price.

  29. Tom H. says:

    Y’all better start learning some Spanish because once Guadalajara’s “Ciudad Creativa Digital” project comes into fruition, many VFX shops are going to be lured by even lower subsidies.

  30. Craig Kilbourn says:

    Yea…Just what everyone wants! To live, work and dodge bullets in Mexico! Theres a perfect example of a studio that needs local talent and if it cant find them it will have to relocate people simply because of the language barriers and geographical location. First it should be noted that if they want to do business with the rest of the modern world English is the language to learn. Secondly and I cant stress how Mexico is a jigsaw puzzel of gang run territories and who knows? Maye the studios will have long-term backing coming from those folks? I mean…A constant industry with no signs of downturn?…Might just work.

  31. noneuvyobizzness says:

    That has fail written all over it. Mexico anyone? They say the have Pixar, Dreamworks, etc all lined up? So did NM. Build your own studios and quite thinking that these giants will make your life any better. Cant build your own with what you have? Then you shouldnt be thinking you’ll be successful by coaxing larger studios to move to your home. BUILD your own goddamn VFX facilities. Start from scratch and do like Disney did….sort of. This truly is the march to the bottom.

    • jona says:

      Agreed on that. It isn’t impossible. Change the paradigm. Find new methods of presenting teams to productions and start disassociating ourselves from the mega giants while offering a new class of service that they can not offer because of their size. History is full of examples. Why not?

  32. vfxinsider says:

    This may have been stated elsewhere, but another byproduct of the incentives… it’s harder for a vfx company to get started. The studios and producers want you to take the incentive amount out of your bid, up front, but the company does not see that amount back until either a broker buys it or you get the actual refund. Now, how many vfx business do you know that operate at a 25% (NM amount) profit? Not many. So you must effectively get the money from somewhere (loans?) to cover the difference while the production is happening and the people are being paid. It makes it (nearly) impossible to organically grow a vfx business on the back of projects.
    And, you must spend the full 100% in order to see the full 25% (that you already reduced your bid by) back, so there is no opportunity for you to save money during production and increase profits without also reducing the amount you as a company will get back thereby reducing those profits.

  33. […] then Imageworks New Mexico closed as its clients changed their focus onto larger subsidies in Vancouver.  The Department of […]

  34. […] really VFX related but I couldn’t help but notice the parallels to what happened with Imageworks New Mexico: A small regional government offering reasonably generous subsidies only to be left at the alter […]

  35. […] all supposed to go to India where labor costs are the lowest. Then it was all supposed to go to New Mexico where the cost of living was low and the government offered a 25% film […]

  36. […] narrative has been playing out on an almost quarterly basis. In March we saw the closure of Imageworks New Mexico as Vancouver offered a more generous rebate. Many of the Culver City employees are facing layoffs […]

  37. […] thing causing attrition are the bribes. End the bribes and the industry will return to growth.…s-albuquerque/ Has any other state made better marijuana then California? Or better craft beers? The list goes […]

  38. […] just like Sony New Mexico we see this: “A lot of people left higher paying jobs that were contracts to come out here […]

  39. […] I have no problem with people who volunteer to move to Vancouver or where ever they want in the world. What I have an issue with is companies that coerce their employees to take upon tremendous costs of displacement so US Studios can obtain a government bribe, only to be left out once another government offers a larger deal. We saw this happen last year with Imageworks New Mexico. […]

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  44. […] and just as lucrative as ever. This doesn’t seem to be a casualty of the subsidy race like Imageworks Albuquerque (another satellite facility with around a hundred employees let go, by the […]

  45. […] is committed to staying there you should talk to the people who were sold the same bag of goods at Sony New Mexico. If you think Sony will stay there because the costs of labor are lower regardless of subsidies, […]

  46. Everything is very open with a really clear description of the challenges.
    It was truly informative. Your site is useful. Many thanks
    for sharing!

  47. […] one state did offer a 25% subsidy with little to no restrictions for VFX: New Mexico. Looks like we’ve all been […]

  48. Hey there, You’ve done a fantastic job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally recommend to my friends.
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  49. […] Casualties Of The #VFX Subsidy Trade War: Imageworks Albuquerque […]

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