Welcome to a VFX world with no rules:
Previous posts on this issue:
The “Paying To Work For Free” VFX Business Model
Questions And Reactions: Paying To Work For Free
LA Times Report On Digital Domain Institute
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I would have left much earlier if someone took advantage of me that way. Good luck. I guess your pay rate can only go up! What kind of worker do you get for free? When deadline looms and you are crushing their souls… what kind of person stays on that job to the end… for nothing? It should not be long before this Textor guy gets into legal trouble.
Just slapping the nails in the coffin. Why isn’t this guy being investigated by the labor department?
This is getting crazy that he would say “I would have worked for free”, in reality, you are paying to work. I goto school, pay upwards of 30K per year, and work for free. WTF is he thinking…. Seriously though. WTF.
Can someone slap this guy in the face?
A slap wouldn’t be good enough.
In 1930 a small band of actors gathered in a living room and formed The Screen Actors Guild. They were told it was too late. They were told they’d never be recognized or change anything. They were told there jobs would soon be gone to those who played by the rules.
Pocahontas in space made over 2 billion ….imagine the cost of just one summer without visual fx.
Can’t sell tickets to a bunch of people starring at balls on sticks running around in a green room.
–And you can’t under ANY circumstance teach someone to be talented.
1933 ….Six actors [Berton Churchill, Grant Mitchell, Ralph Morgan (all three members of Actors’ Equity Council), Charles Miller (Actors’ Equity’s West Coast representative, Kenneth Thomson and his wife Alden Gay) meet in the Thomsons’ Hollywood hills home to discuss formation of self-governing organization of film actors-membership would be open to all , as opposed to the “by invitation only” membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
That cracked me up
Textor is a pinhead. He’s Les Grossman of the digital media.
How can a supposed CEO so flat out utter those words.
each time I listen to that it fuel so much angry.
what kinda of ass backward loop holes does the state of Florida have. My God.
this industry needs a serious enema.
sorry but listening to that just brings out the worst.
and that my friend, is your epiphany.
There’s so much that’s shady and downright sad about this deal.
And… wait, what? They have a baseball stadium?
And let’s not forget…
“Where lawmakers made up the money is hit or miss. Local hospitals will lose millions with slimmed-down payments for taking in Medicaid patients, but money for tourism advertising doubled and economic development programs went up 13 percent.”
Like, who needs hospitals?
Man, the saddest thing ever is the comments on some of these articles…
“Textor is a technology visionary that is trying to help Florida. It will happen here or somewhere else. Pretty solid odds. I would rather have the jobs in Florida.”
“I say oh, let’s do this. Lord knows, we need anything that is remotely positive now. Our unemployment is well above the national average. This helps in any way.”
Sad. Really sad.
Mr. Textor, if you’re reading this, please listen. We’re not wrong about this. You think you’re helping, but you’re really, really not. I see you have an economics degree – use it. This is just simply a bad decision. If you really want to help, let these people be and let us do what we do.
Mr. Textor is not out to help anyone other than himself. Help himself to some easy government money that is.
We’re all out to help ourselves, egotistically, and that’s ok! But at what cost? Apparently for Mr Textor at any cost! or no cost at all for that matter…
Please make this thread a flagship or something.
Course VFX 3414: How to ruin an industry.
This first in a sequence of 3 courses teaches you complex techniques leading up to the complete corruption of your moral compass. All empathy and understanding if your industry, and those who helped create it, will be forgotten. Students will be taught how to persuade politicians and investors while disregarding the future of their chosen profession. Instructor John Textor will demonstrate how we can effectively deflate all passion to acquire money.
UN – FUCKING – BELIEVABLE…
I thought the video was an April’s Fools joke.
This is an outrage… I can’t even believe how this can be real… You would guess that something like this would be illegal, wouldn’t you…?
We have to do something about this, and not only because this is the industry we work on, this is morally wrong no matter what kind of job you do. We can’t just sit here and do nothing when shit like this happens.
This is how we used to “roll”:
I may be wrong or hyperbolizing to a degree (or in fact mimicking what someone else has said before in other sections on this matter) in how I see this but it really appears to be a new form of tax funded* indentured servitude.
I know a lot of this has been stated before but this model is setting up not only the industry as a whole but the individual students for failure. They will be unwittingly driving down the compensation for their desired field while racking up massive amounts of debt most of which will be paid for up front by our tax dollars via student loans (not to mention the other tax breaks that DD is receiving in this deal).
The possible implications of this model for labor that DD is pursuing is truly terrifying on so many levels.
I wonder if the students realize that they are cannibalizing the very industry they’re trying to break into?
I think someone should tell them.
You mean do these “useful idiots” realize that they’re idiots…being used…usefully?! Nah having your name in the credits is enough to fulfill your life and pay the bills.
I cannot understand how the entire paid staff of DD doesn’t walk out of the building and refuse to return until he’s replace. That man has no soul. Next thing, they’ll be hiring child labor so long as they can hold a crayon.
Hell… as long as the children are in America, and the labor isn’t going to big bad china or india….
easy to say it.there are decent hard working people at DD who has a family to feed .
Hilter also had people working for him that had kids to feed,
Every vfx shop in the world should play this over their speakers, right now, while TD’s are cranking away, compositors watching stereo comps drag under the weight of 167 layers, while sims are crashing, while roto dept’s eyeballs fall out…
can we all agree to put a foot down and walk out like the writers did?? like many of us know, no one will go see a movie with greenscreens, we are needed to make any film work so we have more power then we know, we just need to have the guts to take that step together.
Has anybody reported this to the Department of Labor before this video gets taken down? Please pass this to any DD employees that you know. This is against DOL laws. http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.htm
California DD laws regarding unpaid interns is the same http://www.wsgr.com/WSGR/Display.aspx?SectionName=publications/PDFSearch/wsgralert_unpaid_internships.htm
This could be a class action lawsuit brought by the employees as well as a Dept of Labor offense.
California Labor Laws, but I’m not sure about Florida or BC Labor laws.
Also, there will be no lawsuits, till’ they actually do it. You need to prove damages for that.
Honestly I think this has to do more with the shareholders since the company went public.
John Textor is pandering to them, looking for price spike so he can sell his shares, option out and get the hell out of dodge before things get real ugly.
You can’t sustain a company on a student workforce no matter how many Ringling Students you have in your sweatshop.
This strategy will drive down the wages of all the artists and engineers. As the senior guys jump ship looking for greener pastures, in a few years DD will be left with nothing but a junior workforce. Driving down the quality of their productions.
Then the stock drops as they fail to pick up new contracts, All that stock they gave you when you signed on will be worth nothing.
But John will be on his Yacht laughing his way all the way to the Caymans.
Everyone’s gotta eat.
A lot of people have speculated that DD will never actually make a movie there. Anyone who knows anything can see it’s gonna be a train wreck. They’re milking Florida for everything they can, and when the time comes for Rome to burn they’ll be long gone. The securities and exchange commission should be watching these guys very closely…
this whole student work for free, pay for a degree that won’t get you a job and you will not receive credits on films fiasco is indeed unbelievable. But one must look at the underlying reasons as well…
Visual Effects Facilities are unable to make money because they underbid each other for the pleasure of working in the film industry whilst the Motion Picture Studios make record bank on the backs of the VFX facility and its workers. If the VFX facilities were not in this untenable situation, I believe many of the current ills of our industry would be relieved. Subsidy chasing, tax incentive hoarding, third world work forces and now students… Some might say it’s because of the greed of CEO’s and shareholders, and in some cases it may be…but, VFX facilities are trying to fix their “heroin problem” with “methadone “.
I doubt it… after all, it’s not the artists of VFX facilities that do the bidding. Or… since I actually don’t know who does, I should say “I bet they don’t”. But considering that studios have management staff and those usually aren’t artists as well, I bet that those do the bidding and to them, it’s probably just a numbers game. I very much doubt that they would care more about pleasing their employees by winning a bid than their superiors (which would indeed be the CEOs and shareholders). If it really was more about the employees, they would let bids that are too low go. Unless of course the company is in bad shape. But again, I would bet that the reason for that race to the bottom is not that companies so desperately need the cash but that the owners want to maximize their profits. Of course in the long run, you do that by preserving your value and not bidding very low. But anybody who follows any business news knows that “long term” is mostly simply not part of the vocabulary of big businesses today. You usually only get that at small companies.
@edwardh…ALL VFX COMPANIES ARE IN BAD SHAPE…. almost every VFX facility loses money and the ones that don’t barely make money for a year or two, then they lose money. Management/Owners of most VFX companies would love to maximize profits, in fact they would love to have profits. Believe me, it’s not a numbers game ( to most ) it is survival.
The problem is, the vast majority of vfx executives and producers have never been artists. The reality is, it is artists that do the work that needs to be done. If the effects facility doesn’t win the bid, the executives DON’T HAVE JOBS. That’s what it comes down to. Artists will always have jobs . . . someplace, because the effects work has to be done. But without winning bids, there is no need for producers and executives. Shots can be done without administration, they can’t be done without artists.
I work for DD as an artist. I must be among the minority but personally I just don’t see the problem with this. I think it’s a great idea actually. If you think that students are going to be taking away the jobs or pay of senior employees then you’re sadly mistaken.
Then I would argue that you are failing to see the big picture. The effects may not be immediate, but I guarantee that you will eventually feel it.
Yep. You know how it goes.
“We’re pulling this shot from you. Johnny here works for free. We don’t you work for free? Sorry.” I’m exagerating – but that’s only a slight variant of a fairly common management ploy.
Sounds fantastic. You’ll be asked to support the new artists, and at the same time be under more stress to get your own shot done on time.
Really? Well thankfully, DD will be able to land more projects because they can bid lower than the other studios, forcing the other studios to either lower their bids with free workers…OR outsource all together. So I guess you’re right. They won’t be taking jobs. They’ll help eliminate them.
Give me a break. The sky is not falling. You know why I’m not worried about this? Because it’s not going to work. First of all.. do you really think that course schedules and production schedules are going to magically sync up so that 30% of the work can be done by kids with no experience in a timely, production paced manner? Get real. Do you really think that the work done by these students will be passable in production? No. Real artists will have to re-do 75-90% of it. I guarantee you this venture will not save money on production. Sure it’ll create income from student tuition, but it’s not going to save a penny on production costs. Hell, It might even be more expensive.
So sit back, take a chill pill, and watch this fail.
Right, screw the prospective students… yay DD for getting millions of TAXPAYER money for this undertaking… and great for the senior guys who’ll get gracious overtime approvals to fix work nights and weekends. At least until they pull the plug on Florida.
No my friend, this is messed up no matter how you toss it.
You can say that cos you are not paying to work there. And about if the students will be able to work in par according to the production standards, you are totally wrong mate. My friends who have graduated from the Vancouver Film School have already started their work in MPC vancouver. And i tell you what, don’t throw that bullcrap about students not being able to do their work in production quality. There is a reason that we have a Supervisor. It is their duty to carry out the inspections. He will make sure that the work you do is good enough to be passed on. The only difference is Senior artist and Junior. Even if a person is a junior artist, their work is production quality. And as per the students go, WHY the hell should a student pay to work your work just cos lazy asses like you couldnt get it done in time and whine to your sups asking for more free hands. I’ll just take it that you dont really understand or you dont really care just cos you are already working for a studio thats killing the future of this industry.
Let me translate that for you brainwashed DD artist.
Textor is the Hitler of our time. Not only is he robbing the students that MAY work in his factories, he will also be robbing the taxpayers once those student loans default because they can’t get work with their JUNK diplomas. At least Hitler had the decency to KILL the people he has exploiting and end their suffering by murdering them in concentration camps. Textor is worse then Hitler.
Your posts are a classic examples of Godwin’s law. Yes, what Textor is doing is bad for the VFX buisness, especially the artists. But comparing anyone in the VFX business to someone who initiated genocide and caused the deaths of literally millions of people is laughable at best and beyond disgusting at worst.
If you think Textor is worse than Hitler, maybe you should take a trip to places like Auschwitz and Treblinka, because it’s pretty clear you have no clue what you are talking about.
Dude you should really STFU with your Hitler song, I mean really.
Maybe you don’t see the problem yet but it will impact you eventually when you have to train these new kids to do your job.
“imagine what this does for our studio”
Oh I’m imagining… and I’ve seen it before when artists have avoided studios like the plague or at least couldn’t wait to move on to another one for one reason or another.
I imagine all this great publicity lately will do quite a bit for DD… not sure whether it’ll be for their benefit though.
Did you really earn $16 million last year, while your company lost $140 million? I guess it takes a special talent to make a feudal labor policy look appealing.
Textor The Magician coming to a theater near you! oh yeah in 3D too.
This is appalling. Leave it to DD to come up with this. We formed laws in the 1800’s to protect kids from being used in this way.
And, what does it say about a studio’s right to manage sub-contractors. In the name of ‘having a credit’???????
John is a big cock sucker. People like him is going to ruin this industry. He is not just lying but also trying to divert the situation. Its not about working for free, but rather the students are paying to work for them, rather it should be the opposite. How can people get this low. Is it because not many common people dont really know about our industry or are people like john thinks they are the real players in this. Well Textor you can have my middle finger in a platter, useless bloosy con shit.
Yeah… this whole thing must actually look okay to the general public. You have so called high-tech jobs in an industry that has a LOT of glamor to the taxpayers who footed the bill, as well as their representatives.
In reality you have kids who pay close to 100.000 for an arts undergrad degree, very few competitive job options with that, and DD being the only game in town that gives great hopes (but small actual chance) to command the kind of salary they require within the next 5 years. It’ll run its course, lots of money will be made, there is a chance that our salaries and working conditions will be further negatively affected, and then DD Florida will be downsized or closed. DD wins. F the rest.
Military and medical simulations are awesome fields (and one of my backup plans), but they will still be carried out primarily by computer scientists with strong backgrounds in either AI or computer graphics. Not juniors and seniors from film school.
Time to stop trying to screw the next generation worse than the last.
You might want to rethink that whole military simulation thing. Textor is in to that too. Check out #3. http://seekingalpha.com/article/457011-5-futuristic-picks-to-exploit-the-value-investing-bubble
The outrage over students paying to work is completely justified, but it’s distracting people from noticing Textor is opening facilities all over while claiming to keep the work stateside.
There’s a huge opportunity here for the heads of other studios to stand up and say/do something if they feel this isn’t right.
I know there are many who don’t care if they work with DD in the future, but Digital Domain is becoming the big bad wolf of the vfx world and most smaller studios are afraid of being crushed by them.
If they don’t stand up to this now, though, they’ll be hurt later by the inevitable DD underbidding…
Everyone’s so afraid to step on toes since they want contracts and partnerships down the line – in the future all the work that could have been outsourced to other companies will be taken care of by students in Florida.
ILM is just as bad. There’s a culture here in which working overtime is expected – and not working overtime leads to dismissal. It’s unspoken though. (We aren’t even allowed to use linked-in!?) Textor was just stupid enough to say it with his outside voice…
I don’t know of any of the big studios in which working overtime is NOT expected and required (contrary to CA law). There comes a time on EVERY show when we’re on 10s with Saturdays, then 12s whenever production deems it necessary and Sundays when they’re really in a pinch. I suppose you could say no once, maybe twice, during a production due to prior plans but any more than that and I don’t expect you’ll work there long. Why do people always talk about OT as though it’s not a given requirement on EVERY show?
Sorry, a bit off topic but it’s odd to me that anyone calls out one facility when it’s the culture of the entire industry.
ILM…isn’t this the company whose owner has a net worth of 3.2 Billion? Geez I could buy me many chocolate croissants with that kind of cash.
Bullshit. I’ve been at ILM for 26 years. Nobody gets dismissed for declining overtime. There are frequently cases where some circumstance forces a show into overtime, but no show plans on it. We schedule shows for normal working hours, five days a week. Overtime, besides being hard on the artists, hard on their families and relationships, is just bad business. It’s paying more and getting less. Exhausted people are less productive.
Who says you can’t use Linkedin? Go ahead.
I think you need a union organizer and a little courage to walk out from your job at a preselected date and let them scurry to meet deadlines! If you artists let this issue go much further you will all be out of a job. A top rate union organizer will have the writers, the actors and any other union associated with films not cross the picket lines shut all work for awhile and quite possibly you can you can retain your jobs the industry and not contstantly be worry about your future.
Anyone who ever belonged to a union made sacrifices for job security. This just can’t be one fx studio, it has to be EVERYONE
On board. Forget the kids, they are mothers art enough to see past their first screen credits. Let the union organizer deal with them.
This is the road the industry will take because we are too afraid to do anything more than complain in blogs under the veil of anonymity. Its understandable, this industry is very small. Anyone who gets their face associated with something like this, and suddenly we are the bad guy.
This will continue to happen until everyone of us, as a collective, stand up and walk away from the desks together.
Not so as far as using your real name. I and many others have been for years. No one has blacklisted me but I have blacklisted some companies at my own personal level. Jobs are easy to find….talented artists….not so easy to find.
HEY UNION ORGANIZERS
THERE’S NEVER NEVER NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO BE ALL OVER THIS
GET ALL OVER THIS OPPORTUNITY
WAVE THIS IN PEOPLE’S FACES UNTIL THEY SIGN JUST TO SHUT YOU UP
YOU MAY NEVER GET ANOTHER CHANCE LIKE THIS
Contact Steve Hulett at the animation guild. You can do it anonymously.
I’ve been in the union for 6 years. I don’t regret it at all. My union jobs still required long hours and 6 days a week the last few months of production, but at least I got paid for my time.
Great health benefits. At your 15 year mark, you get health coverage for life.
Saved $$$ in my 401K. At my 5 year mark I was partially vested. I’m going to be getting a monthly pension. Also, when I retire I get a lump sum payment that the studios contributed to.
Union benefits are portable and you carry them with you from studio to studio. The problem is, only Disney and Dreamworks and a few others are union.
Most everyone else in film production is union. Why aren’t we?
Also contact steve kaplan of TAG at email@example.com
We actually have two immediate choices as far as existing unions. I believe you will soon be seeing one of them begin to prove they are worthy of the adding the future of entertainment, games, education, design, and communication to their ranks.
If you have the coice between 2 unions, I would go with the most established union. There’s more strength in numbers and more places to work at when you change jobs. Good luck. Glad you are thinking union. We all should have done that 12 years ago when we were really in demand. Better late than never :)
Seeing as the vast majority of seats are not union looks like that is no where near established….yet.
Here’s what I don’t understand….if the majority (all?) of artists in the vfx industry are working overtime….
Are you being PAID for overtime? Or is everything structured so that it’s all salary and you get one flat rate/sum regardless of hrs worked?
If overtime pay is happening, why is there a “shortage” of jobs? Can’t the extra expense of paying overtime just be transferred over to having “extra” workers and balance the amount of time worked?
4 people working 60hrs/week = 240hrs
6 people working 40hrs/week = 240hrs
Forgive my ignorance on vfx industry/business inner-workings, I was just wondering…
Well, I am not sure it’s the OT that’s quite the issue for most of us, since we are getting paid OT. Most large companies are doing well in this respect.
In a much more ideal situation, managements/supervisors of a company was supposed to be the group between the production work force and the client. In a well-planned, well-managed production, most work force here can be extremely efficient and with minimal OT required. The talent pool in SoCal are just incredible if you can look at them as your best asset. So often client dictates last minute change, or that they refuse to final shots until they see the entire sequence finished before approving, or the indecisiveness, or simply just politics from all side that caused everything to be delayed to the point where there’s no choice but to put everyone on OT, or worse, adding more people AND doing lots of OT. I think this is where it irked so many of us: at the end of the production, we are being thrown out like garbage. Then next cycle continues, only worse then before. And each time we all successfully rushed through a project, the next round is often worse. Sometimes, some production will tell you that you MUST finish this complex task by tomorrow morning and you cannot do OT today. Perhaps the phrase “race to the bottom” is quite accurate. And eventually, we’re all tired of this cycle and a certain ridiculousness. If we can’t land on the next project quick enough, we either live on our savings or unemployment insurance, unable to afford any health insurance, no retirement saving benefits. This may be okay for single folks who are in the 20s are starting out and are strong, but it gets much harder for older folks with family dependents. It’s also not because these people are incompetent whatsoever that their situations are difficult.
Getting credit in a movie may seemed fun at first, especially with your friends and families. But you soon realize most time in the end credit visual effects are ranked below even the security guards and the cleaners. By the time your team’s name appeared on the screen, you realize you’re just about the last person sitting there, and you can’t help but to wonder: What’s the point of all that craziness? What did I got in return?
^^ What he (or she) said ^^
It all boils down to production not being able to manage the client. The client (or the vfx facility) throws money at the problem but the artists are the ones that pay the price.
“But you soon realize most time in the end credit visual effects are ranked below even the security guards and the cleaners.”
ain’t that the truth. Honeywagons rank above VFX artists. You work for a year on something.. the pooper scoopers are around for 6 weeks.
@justmytwocents…. no one is able to “handle” the client because there are only 6 clients and they control ALL the work… and unless there is a Trade Association to deal with the client directly, no VFX facility has the necessary pushback capabilities… i.e. they are scared to death… And not only does the artist pay the price in workhours and grief but the VFX facility actually PAYS the price in $$$$…
and yes jonavark, VFX credits are after the caterers, the greenspeople and EVERYone else…but as I always said…. first you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the credits!
“unless there is a Trade Association to deal with the client directly, no VFX facility has the necessary pushback capabilities”
It’s not surprising someone with a background in management is pushing for more power for VFX studios management. These are the same VFX studios who have lead the industry to the point it’s at now. But this time, they’ll really use the muscle, that artists give them, to wring out improvements for the same artists underneath them. Artists should look at how things have been going the last decade or so. Give them more money and power, and now they’ll make sure the artists get their fair share and are treated properly, even though their track record has been going steadily down hill for years? This sounds a lot like trickle-down economics to me. I thought it was BS when Reagan touted it in the 80’s and I still think it’s BS today. Something to keep in mind, this “trade organization” could very well be comprised of people just like John Textor, CEO’s and MBA’s with probably not 3 creative film credits between the lot of them.
The film studios treat other workers in the film business better than VFX artists for one major reason, the other workers are mostly unionized. If artists can credibly threaten to walk out of all the major VFX studios in North America due to a production or VFX house, once again, instituting bad labor practices, the film studios will take note. If those 911 calls go unanswered, and they’re trying to send 300+ shots to mom and pop shops and studios in Asia, they will most definitely notice. I’ve signed up with The Animation Guild, and if you’re a VFX artist I really encourage you to think about doing so as well.
@KM… agreed, the management of VFX studios have not addressed the issues of our industry very well at all. I would say that one of the main reasons the industry is in this mess is because VFX management has not stood up to the clients .
And, you have some other very good points as well….
Taxes, management load, more liability I would guess. Maybe it cost more to have more employees than paying OT etc…time it takes to find additional qualified people for sure.
I’d rather have one contractor to paint my living room in 5h than 5 doing the job in 1h but that just me…and me would actually do the job himself! At the cost of back pain of course.
There will only be change if we unite. It has to come from the bottom up — the top is not going to change these difficult conditions that non-union artists suffer. Change must be forced and the only leverage is unity among organized VFX artists. We need to do something for ourselves as well as for young people who are more easily exploited and less likely to understand what is at stake.
This topic & these perspectives are very interesting to me. I’ve been freelancing as a Flame artist for 15 years and have been a member of IATSE/Art Directors Guild for about 10. It’s baffling why I get all the protections and benefits of a good union while I’m working at one of the big studios, but when I work right up the street somewhere else, doing the same thing, it’s not even an option. My non-union clients are a mix of employee pay & 1099. Neither arrangement comes close to the studio deals through the union. I used to be very skeptical of unions in theory and only reticently joined in order to work on the lots — but it turned out to be one of the best things I ever did. Great health insurance, 401k, strict rules on OT, downtime, minimums, etc., even an employer-funded Flex Fund that reimburses all my health costs, including premiums and copays, gas & parking to go to the doctor, etc.
Not living as much in the film vfx world, maybe I just don’t understand the situation — but *why* hasn’t a union already been formed, and what is standing in the way? I mean this is Southern California — even hotel housecleaners have a union — and I hazard to say that they’re generally more easily replaceable than experienced vfx artists.
Perhaps it’s simply that the vfx industry is relatively new, and new industries do take time to gestate and grow out of the awkward phase and mature into organized, responsible entities. Maybe we’re seeing the seeds of that now. But the gaming industry is about 15 years older than vfx (I took a little part in that as well), and I’m not aware of unions there either.
Or is it something else?
Visual Fx is the future of not only fun and games but advanced storytelling and communication of thought and design..essentially becoming the way we communicate as a species. With that comes unimmaginable power, profit, and the desire to control. Those are the forces that are at play now.
You would think that the two unions most poised to lead us would be falling all over themselves to gather us up. Makes you wonder why “drives” are announced then nothing happens.
Soon we’ll be told it was because we didn’t care, or that like a fine wine it needs to age properly…but like any dam, they will evenually lose there hold and break the weakened sweetheart deals of the shortsighted and narrow minded.
The reason that Sony Pictures Imageworks didn’t go union in 2004. The following is from a 2009 Animation Guild post …
“For those of you just tuning in, Sony ImageWorks was voted on a union contract five years ago. The permanent employees, then blessed with profit-sharing, a lush 401(k), dandy health coverage, and they decided if they voted in favor of the union package (Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health benefits, wage minimums, overtime requirements) some of the benefits they liked would go away.
Well, they voted against the deal, and all the spiffy benefits departed anyway. Funny how that happens. (President Kevin Koch and I talked to a number of SPI employees about this unfortunate possibility at the time. I remember telling a couple of skeptical animators: “The company could take all this stuff back at any time. There’s no guarantees.” I don’t think I swayed anybody. Then.)
Now, of course, some SPI survivors have their regrets. So do I. I wish the IATSE and TAG had run the organizing campaign better, I wish we’d answered questions better, I wish we’d countered some of the hostility from the permanent staff more gracefully. Wouldn’t have changed the electoral result, I don’t think, but the final tally wouldn’t have been quite as lopsided.”
The time to organize is now. Better working conditions aren’t given by those in charge, it has to be fought for by those who aren’t.
I was there..bottom line, the union couldn’t really beat anything Sony offered at the time. It’s all fine and good to say ‘I told you so’ now..but for the most part, none of the artists had any reason not to trust the executives at the time. Folks were fortunate to have steady work, some of the same healthcare options offered by the union, matching 401k, profit sharing. Why leave? The union needed to entice Imageworks employees, and they didn’t.
Today, the executives are very different. There is no loyalty to the artists and the only supervisors that remain are chronic yes men. So many good people have left and it’s a hire and fire facility chasing an easy buck. Benefits have fallen by the wayside and there’s no profit sharing. So suddenly, the union has more to offer! But how do you get a bunch of part timers to sign union cards? That’s the challenge. If artist A is in for 5 months to work on a project, why should they feel strongly enough to sign the cards? They wont’ benefit from it. They’ll be gone in no time looking for another gig. The supervisors are on a short leash. It’s a serious challenge. But with the amount of ghost hours and low artist morale, you’d think the timing was perfect to make a move.
I think you’re missing the bigger picture here: “portability”. Yes said Artist A may only work for five months BUT with a VFX union all shops where he or she works would have the SAME rules. Their hours would be counted finally! Imagine that every single hour you put in actually accounts for something, a pension, benefits and collective bargaining. By having your benefits follow you from studio to studio it would make it a lot more realistic to continue working in an industry that is plagued by gaps and production cycles. We need more Jeffrey Katzenbergs and less John Textors.
A serious appeal to people’s concern for the greater good of the industry would easily find traction. Just do it. Don’t make people work for it, just ask yes or no. Don’t waste time with endless debate. Don’t let people be apathetic. Just yes or no.
This is not just bad for vfx, it’s bad for everyone, what happens to the 99% of students who can’t get work in VFX with their useless DD junk diploma, wait til those loans start to default while those same students start to collect unemployment. I’m so mad I want to composite a knife stabbing Textor in the face!
vic·tim noun \ˈvik-təm\ 1: describes a person attempting a business relationship by surrendering escalating leverage to the other party.
It almost seems like this is payback for all the illegal downloads students have acquired over the years…. The studios have finally found a way to fight back by hitting their wallets in exchange for a junk diploma. You downloaded our movies for free now you will pay us back for the “privilege” of working on our films that you steal from us.
To be honest, I’m disappointed in what was said but he the truth is that he is employing hundreds of people and that’s more than can be said about some people with the $$. As someone who moved to PSL from L.A., have enjoyed the experience with DD, and give him props for trying to build business here in Florida. Regardless of the video, he’s employing people, has always been a really nice guy to us and we are grateful to be a part of DD PSL….kudos to him for creating the jobs that he has and for those in the future.
The argument is not with any legitimate jobs provided. Slavery stimulated the world economy to, yet it did not make it right. At least the slave trade provided free room and board…the fine negros of the south were never asked to pay for the privilege of planting or picking cotton even though it could be argued that they were learning a trade as well. A bit ironic that this is happening in the South in the year 2012, even more so that people have the ignorance to defend it, even by deflection or association.
I think perhaps a better analogy is Walmart. Sure they come into rural areas and give them access to cheap crap from china and minimum wage part time jobs with no benefits, but the cost to local businesses and governments over the long term is huge. Just because you’re ‘creating jobs’ where there weren’t any before doesn’t make that a net gain. A greater good needs to be considered, whether you’re incentivizing and enabling destructive behavior and allowing people to make short term gains even though they lose in the long term. But I think we all know that the jobs speech is what these guys tell themselves so they can sleep at night. Textor’s “doctors and soldiers” mantra sounds like someone trying to preserve whatever shred of a soul they have left. You wanna help doctors? Fix health care. You wanna help soldiers? Bring them home. You wanna help Florida? Elect some sensible politicians that can do math. None of these things will make you any richer, but doing genuine good should be its own reward. And if you just want to make some money and don’t give a shit about anything else, then respect us, the people you’re screwing, enough to be honest about it. /rant
Alright folks, enough with Hitler and slaves. Keep some perspective and context here.
You only discredit your argument by calling on those worn out desperate tropes.
I’ll stand by my context and perspective you can stand by yours. I also put my real name behind my words every time. I have no desparation or fear and feel my analogy is accurate credited and valid. Not sure who brought up Hitler though, I’d agree with you on that one, plopping that name down would surely be a sign of despation and would validate my argument of deflection and ignorance. Can you point us to that post possibly?
This is an important issue, but it’s not Nazi Germany, and it’s not antebellum slavery. Stick with the context and your quite valid argument will have more weight.
Sorry I’ll stick with the slavery analogy, it’s context is important, as it’s a bottom that we are pointing at by heading backwards in workers rights. Obviously it’s not meant to be taken literally, but it’s a valid analogy on many levels. Thanks for the link to the Hitler blurb, that we can be in agreement on.
Thanks S. for your private email and yes you’re correct I may need to specify that no one is doing anything against their will. I thought that would be obvious…but formally taking that out of the comparison may help some see what I’m driving at more clearly as removing that jumpable conclusion makes sense and adds some varnish to my opinion that may be needed for some to see my thoughts more clearly.
IT IS NOT FREE LABOR. Yes, this was done in caps on purpose. Students are paying tuition to learn, which means they are paying to work on films. This is the complete opposite of any normal workforce in any industry. So if a kid pays enough tuition, no matter how bad they are, they are assured a roto job at DD? This is the first time I’ve ever heard the fat kid on the dodge ball court buying his way into a team. That’s like asking Chinese kids to pay to work in an Apple factory just so they can say to their friends they built the latest iGadget. Really? Pathetic perversion of the industry, Textor. I guess you are taking after Jobs in doing whatever it takes to succeed financially regardless of what you do to the industry and its people. Sleep tight and don’t let karma boot you in the ass like it did Jobs.
Repeated… THIS IS NOT FREE LABOR AS STUDENTS ARE PAYING TO WORK.
[…] that I didn’t respond to his latest post. Sorry I couldn’t respond but I was a little busy. However, as you can see his post is getting a lot of […]
[…] DD CEO John Textor: “Free Labour is Much Better Than Cheap Labour” […]
DD contacts me about once every month. It happened last week. I told them because of their current plans in Florida, I’m not interested in working with them. Period.
Textor’s comments aside (which were meant to squeeze money out of uninformed rich old people, and not as some cackling neo-conservative emperor palpatine-like mission statement to screw over the VFX industry), this whole ‘get students to work for dirt cheap/free on our productions’ thing has been going on for quite some time over in Singapore for Lucasfilm. See http://www.lasjedi.com – why not direct a bit of rage at old George while you guys are at it?
I don’t think it’s a comparable situation. the Singapore internship program is a traditional internship program and is labeled as such. It’s short in duration (up to 12 weeks), represents a minuscule portion of the total labor pool, and all positions are paid.
Interns are generally not ready or able to do production work, so this program serves as an education for both the artist to see if they have the aptitude and desire to pursue this kind of work, and it serves Lucasfilm to identify promising talent to hire at the conclusion of the program. It’s not a scheme to get production work done for cheap/free.
I’m a DD student … 0 vfx shops in Palm Beach County (thats just south of Pt St Lucie) Not too many choices if you want to get in… I’m now in week 5 and love the classes.. I’m learning so much and I hope that this will give me the edge I need to obtain a job with DD once the classes are over. I understand the issues that most of you have ….but here in Florida we do not have the luxury of going to another shop… when there is one shop in the state you play by their rules… I’m a grown man not a kid the choices I made and the financial burden this has put on my family to pay for the school is rough but they are all my choice… I look forward to the chance to work at DD.. Right now I work two full time jobs and edit a tv show on the weekend on top of all that I go to the DDI classes at night and on Saturday…. Its easy to sit and complain about how unfair life is and how work sucks or how your bosses mistreated you… For those who think like this … you have a simple choice …quit , don’t apply to them, don’t support their movies or find a new career… Being a grown up is hard… and if you have kids then you know the choices you make are sometimes not easy but if you love your family you will do anything it takes to make a better life for them… if it means starting all over in a new career like I am trying to do … then you will do just about anything to make it happen… I wish you all the best …
So then here’s a question for you… why are you pinning the hopes of your family’s future on a career in an industry that is trying to replace an experienced work force with free student labor? You think that you’re benefiting now as a student but someday, if/when you do make it into the labor force, what makes you think you will be well paid when there’s another student behind you willing to do it for free? And that’s the point of the ire you’re reading on here.
I went back to school to learn Computer Animation when I was 31. I am paying off student loans like you will have to do someday. And after 7 years in the business, I’m getting out of it because I don’t see a future in it. What will you do if DD decides to leave Pt St. Lucie? These skills are not easily ported to other industries so you’re really putting all of your eggs into a very small basket. I wish you all the best but you really should think about the short sightedness of this business model.
Thank you for the well wishing.. and I do feel bad for all the folks on here that are hurt by this.. its good sometimes to vent…. But I do not live in fear… I have my faith.. I believe the best in everyone and everything … I think that if a senior or even junior artist is scared that they are going to lose their job to a person just starting out like me… then they have bigger issues to work out then just keeping a job. The business model for the economy is broken… I want to work for a business that will try or do anything to stay relevant and stay in business .. some people don’t like change… for good or bad … and those that want to see DD fail will in the end only hurt themselves … the less shops that can stay open gives more power to the film companies… if you want to change things you can’t work against a shop you gotta work with them … come together and talk… not on boards but face to face.. You have to believe the best in people ..
Jay, I wish the best for you… many of us ARE quitting or transitioning at least into positions where we have more control over our destiny. I think you will find that the vfx business is not for adults however.
Jay, you say this:
“and I do feel bad for all the folks on here that are hurt by this..”
The point that we’re trying to make is that with a business model such as this, YOU will be the one hurt by it someday.
You also say:
“I want to work for a business that will try or do anything to stay relevant and stay in business.”
I’m sorry to tell you the honest truth, but this eventually means moving all the work to other countries. It’s been happening for years and has reached a tipping point with the amount of shops that are only offering positions in Vancouver. It’s not about living in fear, it’s about living in reality with your eyes wide open.
I would agree with another poster who said that if you want a job with more opportunities for the future and would even potentially allow you to work at DD in a few years, learn programming.
Hey Jay, I know how you feel. I was starry-eyed and enthusiastic about the visual effects industry. I still am. I’ve worked in this industry for twelve years, and I haven’t been able to find work for a year.
You work two jobs and you attend classes on Saturdays. Clearly, you have an outstanding work ethic and I respect that. How many hours a week are you working? 60? 70? Probably a lot, with two jobs plus school, and a family. How sustainable is that for you over the long term? How’s your relationship with your spouse? Your kids? How does your spouse feel about never seeing you?
I have no problem working long hours. But I do have a problem with an industry that throws me away after 12 years to replace me with a free worker such as yourself. My experience has no value. If anything, I’m a liability: after 12 years, I require more than entry-level wages. I have a family and a mortgage, and I can’t chase the work from continent to continent. And let’s face it: I can’t work the hours that a single, childless 23 year old can work. Not because I’m lazy, but because I have a life.
And you can call me a wimp and tell yourself that I don’t have the salt to make it in this industry all you want. But you would be wrong. I am GREAT at my job, and I’ve been great for years. I’m just not valued.
I’ll tell you what: you can have my place in the industry. I’m done.
“I’m learning so much and I hope that this will give me the edge I need to obtain a job with DD once the classes are over.”
Sadly, you won’t get this job, since DD will just use the next student willing to pay them to do the labor instead.
It’s so true. If youre looking to get into vfx to make more money, this is not a best way. Go study engineering or computer programming. This jobs at least pay well, in VFX you will have constant worry about futura and the wages are not that high after all. And competition is hudge, this became so popular it’s just plain razy to get into this business, at least money-wise
Sounds like the PR department wrote that post…
I agree. That post sounds made-to-order by a DD person with an agenda to counter the facts being posted here. If this poster has a family and wants to stay in Florida then it means paying off the 100,000 education with very limited opportunities. In a class of CG students less than 50% really have the artistic or technical talent to last in the business, in my opinion. If one cares about feeding the family a much better idea would be investing in a 100,000 rental property (easy to find in real estate ravaged Florida) and getting income that way. The other possibility is that the state is the one really paying the bills via grants etc. DDI seems to be all about taking tax money as a business model.
two different schools that DDI has to offer …. one is through FSU the 3 year diploma (which has not started yet) and the other is Essential Skills… Im in the essential skills classes … and can afford to pay the monthly payments on my own… Were learning how to use nuke and how to roto… they also have a matte painting class going on and next semester will have digital compositing and green screen work.. I look at these classes as a necessary stepping stone into DD since I have not worked in Nuke.
You’re learning how to use Nuke and you’re learning how to roto. Are you learning *how to make movies*? Are you learning actual filmmaking? Do you know what you’re doing and why, or are you just learning vocational technical skills to do the bare minimum of the job?
The people who will always be in demand are the people who know why a shot looks good and why a shot doesn’t. Not someone who just takes orders from the supervisor. The more desirable person is the one who doesn’t need to take the orders from the supervisor because they already know what’s working and what’s not working in the shot. Learning the buttons, learning the software is easy. You don’t need DD or any big name Hollywood effects facility for that. What you need to learn is the full spectrum of filmmaking, not just the one tiny aspect that DDI is feeding you to be cheap, paying, labor for them. What they’re offering is not an education. What they’re offering is hopes and dreams to get a paying workforce. You’re being used.
I disagree that his post sounded fake. Going to filmschool myself as youngster and fighting my way to get a job in my “dream industry” i can relate. I think there is a reasoning to his post but its also missing what we all know after working in this industry that its not cotton candy, the work 70 hour weeks keep happening and his familiy wont see him much. I can agree this industry is for teens and not family people. Im 31, worked in it for 8 years after battling getting in for what seems ages, Im nearly ready to leave and fear that students will be disappointing, they will not join our case and unite, not even speaking of unionize just unite to gain leverage.
Mr. Textor has offered to speak to people in LA and will be having a meeting with DD employees tomorrow. We will see what answers he might have.
If you work at DD and would care to ask him questions but dont really know what to ask, email me privately.
Maybe someone can throw a rotten egg at him tomorrow during the meeting. Of course it wont happen because we are such subservient, scared little monkeys.
ps. this industry is for teens and not family people ?? really ?
Didn’t you know? VFX is for babies now, not just teens! Afterall, John Textor was CEO of “Baby Universe”.
Many small Internet companies born in the late 1990s flopped before getting back on their feet, but online retailer Baby Universe survived and is now up and running with an IPO that raised about $16.5 million.
Selling mainly products for babies and toddlers, the Fort Lauderdale-based company was nursed through the Internet bubble burst by Wyndcrest Partners, a Hobe Sound-based venture capital firm headed by John Textor, who doubles as chairman and CEO of Baby Universe.
If you need to go to school to learn how to roto or comp or even 3d model you a loser! You go to school to learn math, programming, photography, painting, arts etc…you really are a bunch of tools to pay to learn shit that can be learn just by watching free tutorials on the laptop that’s on your left and redoing it on the pc that’s in front of you. Losers!
Oh yeah I forgot…you’re also being chinified and indianified and you like it douchebags! You do deserve $2/h without lunch!
I wouldn’t go so far as to call someone trying to learn the craft in any way they can a loser, but I too am skeptical of the concept of paying (a pretty good sum) to learn how to roto & learn Nuke. I agree, it’s the concepts and fundamentals of visual storytelling/filmmaking and understanding how the eye and camera render reality.
Paying to learn how to roto (on a company’s revenue-earning film)? I learned Flame on my own with no previous vfx/graphics experience, and back in the day where there effectively was no manual. But I had a background in art, photography, editing, shooting, directing, etc. You can learn any tool if you have the fundamental understandings.
Paying a hefty sum to learn Nuke? — well, Nuke is a good program, but it’s just a program, and one that eventually will be replaced by another, as happened with Shake, After Effects, etc. etc. By the time these students earn their ‘degree’ and are competent enough to get a paying job, Nuke will likely no longer be the tool du jour — so they’d better have more transcendent strengths than knowing the buttons on one program…
Good luck to all, though.
I think they know they are paying for contact/networking/placement after graduation. like escape studios in the uk the students get to know instructors and that gets them on top of the resume pile. i do think a well sounded education in fine arts is a good idea to not become a button pusher, if this or any whole degree is worth it is debatable.
In my opinion, in this line of work, degrees are BS. I’ve worked around the world freelancing on Flame and no client has ever once asked me if I went to college, or to junior college, or to high school, or grammar school. They invariably did ask for my reel though.
You could be a dropout incestuous axe murderer, and as long as you can make pretty pictures, you’ll have as much work as you want.
YO Creative FX dudes. I agree with most of your comments. If you haven’t done so already create something viral! With your FX skills and experience there is no body of artists more equipped to create something fun, witty, and smart to show this guy how wrong he is! Hit ’em back with what you do best! The masses will support the working people of America.
[…] DD CEO John Textor: “Free Labor Is Much Better Than Cheap Labor” […]
This guy is simply trying to create sustainability in an industry full of children. For the most part they are self indulgent, Whiney entitlement laden children who leave each week with a decent pay check and never have to front up to completion guarantors, investors or stock holders. I can say this cause I ran a studio for 10 years. I would never ever hire employees again. I will however work with talented people who want to do their best, who strive for excellence, no matter what skill level. Personally I applaud this guy. Stop whinging, Let the most talented rise to the top and let darwinian law prevail.
Yes. We’ve set this industry up as a meat grinder. Let the best freshest meat be ground!! Anyone who think they can work less than 70 hours a week for $10 an hour, or have a family should crawl off and die. That’s just weakness.
Its not about weakness its about commercial realities. Like it or loathe it. If you want to do what you love then you have to accept the state of the industry otherwise you can pack meat at night and get double time and a half.
The fact is there ARE 500 new kids a month that will be happy to get that 70 hours for $10 and while ever they are available the wheels will keep turning. Why? cause the budgets aren’t getting bigger. Every new tent pole feature has to out do the last until you get a box office failure like John Carter. Then studios pull in the reigns, realise that audiences aren’t paying to see houdini’s latest flip solvers and start funding smaller budget films. Less risk, bigger return. A sign of the times.
So the inevitable response is that VFX houses will undercut further, squeeze harder. As I said that’s not weakness that is reality. Lose the entitlement mentality. A job is a privilege not a right.
Western Europeans and Americans are about to suffer a profound shock. For the past 30 years governments have explained that, while they can no longer protect jobs through traditional forms of state intervention such as subsidies and tariffs, they can expand and reform education to maximise opportunity. If enough people buckle down to acquiring higher-level skills and qualifications, Europeans and Americans will continue to enjoy rising living standards. If they work hard enough, each generation can still do better than its parents. All that is required is to bring schools up to scratch and persuade universities to teach “marketable” skills.
But the financial meltdown of 2008 and the subsequent squeeze on incomes is slowly revealing an awful truth.
It’s all about The Demo Reel.
Without a great reel, you’ll never get any paying job.
Nothing, nada, zip. Never.
A demo reel, credit list and knowing people who will recommend you and your work is what you need. NOTHING ELSE. You do not need 3D school and you certainly do not need a class to roto. Please don’t waste your money.
What is also required: a great eye and a love and knowledge of filmmaking. Take classes or teach yourself from books of art and composition and color and animation principals and cinematography. That’s what you need.
Oh, and if you are not naturally comfortable with people, invest in a book such as “How to Win Friends and Influence People” or one of a million other books on the topic. Being liked and respected is critical to continue working.
Anyone who is going to the DD school is just getting in debt for nothing. Over the years I’ve been asked countless times, by never-employed computer graphics graduates for advice on how to get in the industry. Most of these people had graduated from school without a completed, ready for prime-time demo reel. They were working at unrelated jobs, but still hoping for a break.
And if, over the last decade, there was no room in the industry to absorb 1000’s of students, how could anyone possibly think that in 2012 there would be any demand at all – for freshly-graduated roto or comp artists!? That a connection at a DD school could possibly be the start of a good, solid career?
Sorry, but that is the cold, hard, brutal reality.
btw, not working anymore. The pain of working so many overtime hours just became too much. What was fun in my 30’s became just too backbreaking when I hit 50. I’m also tired of only seeing the sun at lunch. Time to start living life before I hit the grave.
Oh, I forgot, one more thing that you need…
Keep your passport current.
[…] Put simply, many visual effects workers are working impossible hours for low pay and no access to health schemes or pensions. The problem’s not industry-wide – this article in the LA Times suggests that some of the big players like ILM and Sony Imageworks are pretty responsible employers, although recently Digital Domain have come under fire for a scheme under which interns desperate for that all-important first screen credit actually pay to work for the company. […]
[…] you’ll understand what made the Digital Domain story so big: It sort of validated my issue that these kinds of practices were becoming a part of the […]
[…] in SoFL seems to have noticed (or maybe they just don’t think it’s important) that in a speech to investors last November, Textor bragged about how his animation school, Digital Domain Institute, was going to provide […]
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[…] hell paved with good intentions. If you’re a reader of my blog you’ve known about the Digital Domain Institute fiasco where Florida State University tried a similar student program that … in their […]
[…] to Digital Domain to work on VFX projects. You went so far as to famously coin the phrase “free labor is better than cheap labor” as way to sell the idea that not only would you be able to utilize the free work of paying […]
[…] Digital Domain CEO John Textor: “Free (student) Labor Is Much Better Than Cheap Labor” […]
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DD CEO John Textor: Free Labor Is Much Better Than Cheap Labor | VFX Soldier
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