A Proposal On VFX Subsidies

I’d like to make a proposal to VFX facility owners and professionals being adversely affected by subsidies in our industry. As you may know I’ve dedicated many posts to the issue and many international trade law experts and also the President of the United States have argued that subsidies violate international law. While I feel it was hastily put together, many found Joe Harkin’s online petition quite popular.

However there is a way to address this issue directly without political lobbying from a labor or trade organization. I would like to attain the services of a law firm to draft a challenge to the US Trade Representative. The goal is to bring an end to subsidies which artificialize the price of VFX.

Before I decide to engage in this action I’d like to discuss with readers who are interested as I have some legitimate questions and statements:

Anonymity

All donors will be kept secret unless they explicitly choose to donate publicly.

Subsidies Only

This is not an attempt to advocate for a labor or trade organization. I will welcome funding from facility executives and working professionals.

Gathering Funding

I need an efficient way of collecting funding. Kickstarter is good but I believe they only allow funding for creative projects. I was also thinking about opening an account for individuals to send funding.

Costs

The firm will need to be paid for it’s services. I haven’t checked the costs yet but  let’s consider the costs of other possibilities:

Some VES members have been unhappy that the charter doesn’t allow for them to do something about subsidies. I’d like to make a proposal that those individuals suspend their membership for 1 year and dedicate the funding from their dues to this endeavor.

There is also the costs of doing nothing. Many VFX professionals are being coerced into moving to locations like Vancouver because of government subsidies. Take a moment to calculate the costs of uprooting and moving, the extra taxes, the higher costs of living. A lot of money right? Probably thousands of dollars? Well perhaps dedicating half or a quarter of the funding to this endeavor would help prevent that circumstance from occurring.

The costs for facility owners to do nothing is huge. They don’t receive subsidy money yet have to invest in the infrastructure, overhead, and labor mobility costs for key talent. Add that up, it costs a lot of money to chase work around the world.

Many have been interested in Scott Ross’s trade organization. He has asked for  funding around $3 million dollars? Yet there has been no indication that the trade organization will do something to combat subsidies. I can guarantee you this proposal will be far less.

I’ll try to nail down the amount of money this will cost but my guess is if we all pitch in and generate funding in the six figures we should be in the ball park of  putting together an effective challenge that will be taken seriously. When you compare it to the other costs I listed above, it’s a relatively small investment with a huge return: The end of artificial pricing in the VFX industry.

Checks And Balances

Obviously this can come off as a Nigerian email scam. How can I legitimize this to ensure that this is a trustworthy action?

Integrity

I will need to protect the integrity of this case and therefore will need to keep important details from getting out. So I can’t guarantee that donors will be in the loop at all times. There are some that are heavily against us doing this and I need to protect information if this goes forward.

Refunds

If at any time I feel that this case may fail (which it may) any leftover funding will be returned to donors in the percentage that it was given.

So comment below or email me: vfxsoldier at gmail. Let me know what you think.

Soldier On.

91 Responses to A Proposal On VFX Subsidies

  1. rfk says:

    There’s nothing preventing VES *members* from supporting this effort.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      True, my point is for about the same costs of membership I can try something they can’t do.

    • Dave Rand says:

      The VES is a great organization in so many ways. I do have to say that in 2008 I thought I could approached them for help on the 1.3 million owed the fx artists on Journey to the Center of the Earth, my initial 3 emails went unanswered. It was actually Sari Gennis, the artist highlighted in the times article, that gave me Jeff’s private email. He responded, mentioning the charter disallowing them from helping us and suggested I contact the labor dept but my letter had clearly stated that we had contacted them already and realized we’d have to fight this on many fronts.

      According to the documentary “Behind the Masks” The Academy (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) was often mistaken as a union back in the 20’s and 30’s and that the producers actually took advantage of that in efforts to pacify the talent into being lax about organizing. It’s important to realize that even VES 2.0 is “effectively” just a membership drive and don’t let it confuse you with an entity that can actually get involved on a serious level. Look I’m not disrespecting them in any way and I’m very appreciative of all their efforts and help in providing forums for others to act. Although it’s taken some time and is still not in place, they’ve even offered to host some information on one of the unions on their website….but Soldier has a point here and maybe it’s time for their board to fish or cut bait. At least stop sending mixed messages or letters about how proactive they are and consider the confusion that can create for the artists as to their true options. I know Jeff clearly states their limitations but one has to admit the messages are mixed.

      Maybe I (we) just need to be enlightened as to why the charter be changed? Will the sky fall?

      • jonavark says:

        A “great organization” that doesn’t even respond to your email about a debt of 1.3 million to VFX artists? REALLY?

        As far as I can tell their a feckless.. worthless group of elites who do very little.. save for an awards show here and there.

        Seriously.

      • jonavark says:

        “they’re”

      • Pssst says:

        I never seen such an example of self-congratulatory, vacuous Californian narcissism in all my life
        http://www.visualeffectssociety.com/video/2011-annual-members-meeting-part-5-7

      • check again says:

        Pssst…Your rush to judgement is misinformed, if you listen to what Mark Stetson he says it makes alot of sense, you might learn something as he makes some valuable points. He is rightly being acknowledged for his significant contribution to the vfx industry. Or is it you simply don’t care for awards ceremonies ?

      • silent majority says:

        VES is the 1% of the VFX industry that gets the 99% to pay dues and for awards ($150 to attend) that aren’t even recognized outside of the VFX industry. And I know vfx artist that frantically chase to be “somebody’ in the vfx award to become a 1%-er (Cough: supervisor) to the point of pissing on or selling out laborers. Hence no solidarity in VFX … just a bunch of 99%-ers trying to acted like1%-ers and ending up being ninety-nine 1%-ers!

        Cinematographers also have an honorary society:
        http://www.theasc.com/
        but guess what, they also have a guild: the local 600:
        https://www.cameraguild.com/Home.aspx

        They also have their own magazine:
        http://www.icgmagazine.com/wordpress/category/cover/
        You should thumb thru it sometime. Thats what we could and should have if we weren’t such a bunch of cowboys thinking every gig is like rounding up a posse.

        btw, many of the old vfx optical guys who operated printers and mo-co cameramen were under the 600!

        Hey its not like I’m against the VES as a concept.. its part of how the biz works, but it should have a guild too otherwise its like having the dessert first and no nutritious meals… it becomes fat and will suffer from malnutrition. And guess what: VFX now has the equivalent of diabetes!

        Now in other news: Avenger’s breaks a Billion in tickets while Ohio and New Mexico see nothing from the $30.5 million that they sunk into the film.

        http://www.stop-runaway-production.com/2012/05/16/new-mexico-ohio-paid-30-5-million-in-cah-to-finance-the-avengers/

        Did the production create a vancouver-like industry in either state? I doubt it… Its more of the sort of entitlement that business has that it thinks the state should pay them because they are jOb cReAtOrs: that mythical creature that births jobs and thinks it should be treated with some sort of Godly reverence because they forgot that they are SUPPOSED TO PAY PEOPLE FOR THEIR TIME. As evident in this post -Textor world.

        A note to the “elected leaders” in Ohio and new mexico… that sort of post-strip-club empty feeling that you’re getting right about now? …. thinking that the whore-that-is-Hollywood really liked you but it was really the money they were after? They don’t return your calls, the number they gave you is a disconnected number… yeah it happens to all of us at some point. Difference is we wise up eventually. You apparently don’t.

        To the VFX artist who are dismissed as wizards, as if the hard work that we do and sacrifice is just some sort of shake from our Mickey Mouse sorcerer’s apprentice wand? let me tell you how hollywood works. they will keep taking from you until you demand what you want… and you know what.. they will give it to you…same way they gave it to actors, feature animators, directors, cinematographers, grips, soundmen.. all across the spectrum of production… and post… and they did it by having one voice in a union or guild. Cowboy time is over vfx artist.. Smarten up.

  2. Craig says:

    Not a bad idea. I’d love to see the market-distorting subsidies go away. Not likely you can do this and remain anonymous.

  3. Robert Nederhorst says:

    This is a great idea soldier.

  4. London Bridge says:

    As someone who just got badly burned after taking a VFX job in London, I’m totally on board with this.

    • Craig says:

      It is absolutely a form of government subsidy. But then again, China is a one-party country that controls almost every aspect of their citizens lives. They are used to the government controlling industry like that.

    • Pssst says:

      http://www.globalpost.com/special-reports/worked-over-the-global-decline-labor-rights

      SO, sorry if it sounds like I’ve been trying to point out the obvious by providing evidence of american corporations relationship with the developing world “for years”, but doesn’t it strike you as kind of futile to create a national industry union to mount a campaign against international subsidies when entire governments and multi-national corporations have a massive financial stake in the outcome and existing unionized employees of American studios that are being investigated for unethical trade practices do nothing?

      The inquiry reflects stepped-up scrutiny from the SEC and Justice Department into potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a 1970s law that bars U.S. companies and individuals from paying bribes to officials of foreign governments.
      http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/24/sec-movies-idUSL2E8FOL0D20120424

  5. vfxNomadNoMore says:

    Two years ago I was against the idea of a union thinking that it was up to the artist to learn to negotiate their own way for their personal benefit. After working an average of about 60-65 hours a week in the last two years and seeing so much work moving all over the world for no good reason I have changed my mind. I now see how bad it is – it’s one thing to be single and nomadic, but if you want to have a family and SEE them this cannot work. We shouldn’t have to choose between a career that we love and the rest of our lives.

    I also agree with the person above that you may not be able to do this and stay anonymous.😐

    • Craig says:

      Why shouldn’t you have to choose between the career you love and rest of your lives?

      Do you believe that you have the right to do a job you love indefinitely just because you love it? Can’t a hard-working kid in India love VFX?

      I agree that it sucks to have to choose, but I’d like to know your reasoning for why you deserve protection. People constantly have to make life decisions like this. Mothers choose between working and raising kids. People choose between a slick and demanding job in Manhatten and a nice peaceful life in the country with fresh air and a community.

      Most of us are dismayed about a changing industry, but you can’t stop change. I’m sure there were lots of travel agents who loved their jobs, too, before the Internet came about.

      This post is about ending subsidies, which I’m for. A union may indeed work, and I think it would be awesome if it did. However, I’m unconvinced of the outcome of a union. I personally think it will push a lot of work overseas, but I could be wrong.

      • LMP says:

        Craig, you are wrong.

      • Craig says:

        @LMP
        How do you know?

      • Kionel says:

        Craig —

        There is a world of difference between a family opting to move to the county from the city and an artist being completely absent from his loved ones for months at a time because the work demands that he live elsewhere. The former is a lifestyle change; the latter is a move made out of desperation.

        Additionally, the “Travel Agent” comparison is not analogous, either. Travel Agents became redundant when technology replaced them. The reason VFX Artists are being moved off-shore is because a production company can make more of a profit off of pennies-on-the-dollar labor as opposed to paying living wages to local workers. Again, the former is technological advancement taking its toll; the latter is exploitation, plain and simple.

        Unions may not be perfect — at all — but they’re a damned sight better than the Dickensian nightmare that many VFX workers find themselves in these days.

        Just my two cents.

  6. Anon says:

    Great idea and I’d love to see it come true. I am completely on board as well.

  7. VFX QC says:

    I currently benefit from the subsidies at my job… Not that I support them, but It can be argued that I have a job because of them.
    How do you convince someone like me to fight the subsidies, and what would happen to my job if they went away?

    • VFX Soldier says:

      I could actually use your help. Being based in the US the law doesnt allow us to go after subsidies in the states. I would encourage those based outside the US to challenge the subsidies state-side.

      Even though you indirectly benefit from subsides, the dont last. There is always another govt willing to offer more and eventually it becomes what we are seeing: a race to the bottom.

      If you are based in Europe you might be interested in this. The EU is proposing a cap to the subsidies that limit members to only 10%: https://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/europe-proposes-film-subsidy-cap/

    • VFX'er hanging in there says:

      How about for the sake of a “LEVEL” playing field….

  8. Ned Wilson says:

    Soldier, all I’ve got is one question. Is there a Paypal “Donate” button somehwere on your site where we can donate money to the cause? This is exactly the type of direct action that we need.

    If you are concerned with maintaining anonymity, I fully support this, especially given all you of done for our industry. So, in the event that there needs to be a named plaintiff or a point person, I will happily volunteer.

    • Dave Rand says:

      so would I. Paypal, however, is run by some folks with strong political views and have held up money for other causes like Wiki leaks. In one case they completely halted a young stop motion animators business I was helping him with by holding up over 30k in order money after his videos went viral and he simply wanted to sell the DVD. He could not afford to make the copies and got a bad rep online, squashing his business at a crucial stage. …I canceled my account over it. Here’s their disclaimer

      “Actions by PayPal – Holds. We have updated our disclosures in Section 10 relating to your liability and the actions we may take. A User’s rights, responsibilities and liability under this section have not changed except for the addition of your acknowledgment that our decision to take certain actions such as holds and reserves is based on confidential criteria, and your agreement that we have no obligation to disclose the details of our risk management or security procedures.”

  9. Andreas Jablonka says:

    On board as well. PayPal donate would solve he trust problem I agree.

  10. LMP says:

    I hope people in general start looking beyond the tip of their noses and thinking on themselves. If we don’t unite for a cause as one force, nothing will get better!

  11. RonT says:

    It’s worth a try… as for sure the price of VFX is being falsely held down by the Subsidies. I wonder though what kind of political pressure will be applied by Unions etc in places like Vancouver, and the UK… You can bet they have pretty deep pockets. Also if something like this would go through for VFX.. Wouldn’t that set a precedent for overall production subsidies to go away?

    I’m just thinking of the International S**t storm that might start?

    And on another note… It would make places that are naturally cheaper (without subsidies) like PRC and India even more desirable to “Race for the bottom” producers and studios? Places like R&H who have a LOT of investment in Overseas… (Well they all do to some extent… Just a thought)

    • VFX Soldier says:

      We already are in the middle of an international shitstorm: a subsidy war. Challenging the subsidies would help end the subsidy war.

      As for cheap labor markets: even with the generous amount of subsidies labor in china and India is cheaper. Even with that prospect the studios have chosen to go for subsidies instead.

  12. Just a few quick thoughts (I’ll have to re-read it again) – I believe Kickstarter allows covering a lot of things. Even people with health issues and other issues from what I recall seeing so it may not be as locked into creative coverage.

    Some lawyers are willing to provide a 1 hr free session to start the ball rolling. There are also some possible pro-bono type of lawyers or lawyers affiliated with various groups.

    it will be critical to get a lawyer well versed in the specific area of the law. Lawyers general are willing to take on anything even if they have no knowledge of experience in this area. And the results are usually disastrous.

    In any case I’d suggest phase one is simply an exploratory review of what can be done (ie. any chance this could actually work), what are the legal pros/cons, what are the costs to do this and the time required. You may not be able to get all of that from a meeting but I would hope they’d be able to give you an idea of the validity and their thoughts on likely hood of it actually working. Is there backdoor to allow this whole thing to be bypassed (by governments) even if you managed to make it happen.

    It would seem the union would be one of those groups that would benefit from this. If so, why haven’t they done it? Would the union be willing to fund this? Might be worth a conversation. They probably have lawyers on retainers.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      The union suffers from the same problem the trade organization and ves suffer from: because they are a mixed body that has members in subsidized locations, they can’t take a position on the issue.

      I’m looking at law firms that specialize in international trade law and I intend to get a run down as far as caveats, limitations and costs. If people are interested in this then we have to go with a big strong law firm… Or go home.

      • bigCheese says:

        I’m fully on board with this.
        However, it’s worth asking, but how much change do you think is truely possible?
        There are many industries in a similar boat, and too many bad actors in this game. I personally don’t think a challenge drafted by a single lawyer to a global trade org will have much traction…

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Actually any individual can file a complaint and the ustr must respond in 30-45 as to whether or not to initiate and investigation.

        Google around and you’ll find lots of disputes being settled ranging from solar panels to flavored cigarettes.

        There a ton of change that can be generated from this: the end of artificial vfx pricing by subsidies and the personal investment is quite small compared to forming a trade org or paying to move to Vancouver or the uk.

  13. jonavark says:

    Soldier.

    At some point someone with a name and a face will have to step forward to spend that money and answer questions about where it went. Might as well make that part of the structure. A representative for the anonymous entities that actually takes the steps and publicly promotes whatever agenda exists. No gettin’ around that I am afraid.

    It’s easy to incorporate paypal,credit card services or other methods into a site and just crank out a donations page for it. WP probably has some of that already. Don’t limit income potential based on payment methods. Use them all.

    At some point the donations can be taxed if you aren’t set up as a non-profit. So consider that problem. And evade it babay!

    Also.. it appears you are apparently suggesting that donations be made to support plans that only you might be knowledgeable of.
    Please elaborate on your reasons for secrecy with respect to the task of attacking subsidies.

    Hmm. .not sure how that’s gonna work. I mean. I think a lot of folks have faith in you to a degree but.. just sayin’

    Now.. if you sold something and used the income to pay for your own efforts that might be different.

    I think most people would like to have direct involvement with the knowledge that the people at the front of this are doing the right things.

    On the other hand, as we can see with other efforts, too many cooks will just stagnate the entire effort.

    The main thing about this that I like is that you aren’t willing to wait around until you have $3 million dollars. If you never start you never get anywhere.

    I have a huge gig coming in next week for 9 months or so. Count me in once I see method and structure.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Let’s say I open up the details to all donors. How would you stop a group that is legitimately against this effort from joining in and dismantling the effort?

      I would love to have someone else do this but high ranking professionals who are legitimately for this don’t want to be at odds with execs who make the decisions to get the subsidy for the studios.

      My anonymity is just an effective tool for me and others to help change that status quo and it seems to be working.

      You don’t see this conversation happening anywhere else but here.

      • jonavark says:

        I am not sure how they could join and dismantle anything. You will have to educate me as to how they might do that. I will have to trust your judgement on that. But at some point details of your progress and tactics will be publicly evident anyway. Agree?

        But you are asking for blind donations which, in itself, will hamper funding efforts. I know it’s a catch 22. I am just bringing it up to see if we can all contemplate a solution.

  14. jonavark says:

    re: kickstarter: isn’t it a timed campaign ? I say.. use them all. Kickstarter, paypal, credit cards. etc. You will probably start a separate account for this income anyway . so just connect any online accounts to that and allow as many payment sources as you can.

  15. […] Soldier – A Proposal on VFX Subsidies – an important discussion on the future of the VFX […]

  16. william s speare says:

    lawyer… jimmy goodman might be looking for a job… lets keep VES out of the discussion.. we can move on with out them.. gets old discussing what VES should and shouldnt do… has anyone ever asked scott how he came up his 3 million number… speaking of china.. isnt DD working with a chinese government owned company..

  17. Soldier,

    You can launch a funding drive through Indiegogo — http://www.indiegogo.com/

  18. Ghost3d says:

    I think you’re idea is great, but the focus is too narrow. Even with an lawyer working for us, Washington is not going to care about 3,000 VFX jobs in California.

    It needs to piggy back onto something bigger like the whole film industry. I’m not even sure if that’s big enough. Since when is Washington sympathetic to Hollywood.

    • Ned Wilson says:

      Ghost3d,

      Washington is occasionally sympathetic to Hollywood. I’ll reference the draconian pieces of legislation “SOPA” and “PIPA” that the MPAA tried to shove through congress earlier in the year. However, they are only oblidged to help out and support monied special interests who make large campaign contributions, like the studios.

      You do have a valid point though. Safety in numbers. I would really like IATSE to weigh in on this. IATSE has reserves of cash and lawyers on retainer. In addition, outsourcing of production jobs affects all areas of IATSE’s membership, not just animators. I would say visual effects artists, but we aren’t organized. YET.🙂

      I remember attending an IATSE organizational meeting on the beach near DD about two years ago. It was hosted by Jimmy Goodman. Jimmy said that the union’s legal team and lobbying efforts were being focused on fighting piracy at that time. Jimmy and the IATSE leadership believed that piracy is the biggest threat to our jobs.

      I would need to see some statistics on this to make a better argument. However, I do know that global ticket sales have seen a 25% increase from 2006 to 2010. I found a rather well researched piece discussing the MPAA’s attempt to combat piracy here:

      http://legalpiracy.wordpress.com/2011/02/26/the-terrible-plight-of-the-film-industry/

      In contrast to this increase in global box office, in the state of California, we have seen a loss of 36,000 jobs and $2.4 billion in wages over the decade of 2000 – 2010. Here is an LAtimes blog which highlights some of the key points:

      http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2010/07/film-and-tv-flight-cost-california-36000-jobs-study-says.html

      I am sure that all of you are familiar with this site here, but it is a very informative blog on runaway production:

      http://www.stop-runaway-production.com/

      So, in concluding this rather long and rambling post, I would like to point out to IATSE that runaway production, NOT piracy, is the biggest threat to our jobs and consequently to their membership. That should be the primary focus of their lobbying efforts and legal team.

      If we can get IATSE on board, it would turn the hushed whisper of visual effects artists and their plight into the dull roar of the several hundred thousand strong of IATSE’s membership as a whole. Perhaps then, Washington might be inclined to listen.

      -n

    • Pssst says:

      Listen to what? Washington already know’s ‘those jobs aren’t coming back’ and many wealthy ‘developed’ countries without any other option are using tax payer money to prop up their knowledge worker jobs during the race to the bottom. It looked like politicians were patting each other on the back when they announced the new (WTO legal) film deals with China.
      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-17/dreamworks-to-own-45-stake-in-entertainment-venture-with-chinese-groups.html

      We need to face the fact that as globalization runs it’s course, workers of industrialized VFX, like others before them, are a commodity and the corporate owners and share holders of the studios won’t blink an eyelid before selling out their local workers for increased profit. It’s been a global trend across many industries over the last 30 years. Short term growth and ‘corporate liberty’ regardless of long term social cost- increased profit for the elite as they export jobs, a shrinking local middle class and increased inequality.
      Apple’s Jobs to Obama: “jobs aren’t coming back” to U.S.
      http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20120123/ARTICLE/301239999

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Sorry but you’re wrong. Here’s why: workers have gone to the us trade representative and HAVE been successful.

        Chinese manufacturers are building factories in the united states because of WTO laws:

        http://money.cnn.com/2012/04/24/smallbusiness/china-us-manufacturing/index.htm

      • Pssst says:

        Wow – so you’re suggesting that hollywood films with work done on them at Chinawood should have an import tariff applied?

      • Rock Solid says:

        nafta has simular rules on tax incentives as WTO in regard to luring work via tax incentives.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Got a source or link ?

      • VFX Soldier says:

        No. Your accusation was that the ustr wouldn’t care about the interest of workers and that they would try to send all work in china.

        The link above shows that you’re not only wrong but that the ustr has helped enforce WTO agreements such as anti dumping rules which has returned many manufacturing jobs to the us manufacturing belt.

        However since youre so confident that my job will go to china and India I’d like to ask:

        What year do you think my job will be gone? What year do you believe that the vfx industry in california will be so decimated that I’ll be unable to find a job. You seem pretty confident that my career will be over so let’s hear it.

      • Pssst says:

        http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/the-pay-off-rise-of-the-fluoro-leaves-white-collar-workers-feeling-blue/story-e6frg6nf-1226345234732

        That’s a good question and as we know many corporate investors are making judgement calls on that now – what is the right mix? How can they switch to the developing world growth market and will growth ever return to the aging, indebted western economies?
        http://columbiabusinesstimes.com/3527/2009/02/20/action-filmmakers-open-studios-in-columbia/

        If you post your position and the company you work for I’ll make an educated guess about the date. What continues to be debated here is, how passionate are VFX workers about their jobs? As corporate management tries more desperate business models to become more globally competitive and sustainable, working conditions will continue to deteriorate in the west and more people will start asking the same questions – can I support my family on lowering industry wages? Will I ever see my family with all this free overtime I’m working?
        The short answer, is that your job will probably go OS as soon as you sign a mortgage, unless the wealthy Californian government starts paying more subsidies.

        “The dole in Britain is higher than wages in China.”
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b018cbkm

      • VFX Soldier says:

        You keep saying all vfx jobs will be gone. You tell me the year that my job will be gone and I’ll dedicate a special post to challenge you.

      • jonavark says:

        “Wealthy Californian Government”

        wow.

      • Pssst says:

        It’s hard to say when your job will be ‘gone’ when I don’t know what you’re job is. Maybe you are so cozy with management they will keep you around as an outsource supervisor?
        The implication of course is that the jobs won’t go overnight, it will just become obvious that no one will be able to afford to do them without being subsidized. Who knows, maybe after being trained up by americans, oriental dreamworks will outsource to the USA to get some more western ‘input’ into ‘their’ productions.
        Is california wealthy enough to pay subsidies? Maybe not, as it’s been brought to the point of bankruptcy by the last generation’s greed while being managed by a cartoon hollywood ‘actor’.
        http://www.asylum.com/2009/08/25/governator-keeps-conan-sword-close-at-han/

      • VFX Soldier says:

        You seemed so confident about our jobs going away that I thought about challenging you:

        You predict the year my job will go overseas. If you’re right, I’ll give you $5000 and reveal my identity. If you are wrong, you pay me $5000.

        Mano y Mano.

      • Rock Solid says:

        You would have to tell us what your job is and where you work for us to have even a clue. I have friends who used to be fought over who are sitting at home and haven’t worked in 4-5 months. People with 20 years experience who where 5 months ago CG supervisors at ILM who didn’t want to move to Singapore with his wife and New child.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Well certainly if their jobs are gone then a vfx peon like me should have my job sent away soon. I think this is more fodder for the commenter pssst who has routinely commented on my blog about jobs leaving California.

        So are you game pssst?

      • Ymir says:

        Interesting that visual effects work on Ra.One, one of the biggest effects movies in India, was farmed back to the U.S.A.
        http://www.bollywood.com/raone-have-2d-and-3d-release

      • Pssst says:

        It’s obviously a loaded contest because I don’t know what your definition of a ‘job’ is. Some people think a VFX job is making coffee for their supervisor while they conduct dailies on Cinesync™, others think it’s doing stereo conversion in their parent’s basement. Maybe you think writing a blog that gives hope to Californian ‘VFX soldiers’ is an ‘industry job’.
        It’s all kind of pointless because as much you and all the ‘passionate’ artists want to clutch to ‘talent’ as a defense against globalization, the changes to society are all around us. We live in unprecedented times where the values of corporations, governments and workers throughout the developed world will be tested. VFX is just the new ‘desktop publishing’, knowledge work that’s been commodified and turned into a product that can be produced anywhere.
        The days of sitting in a cubicle in a VFX warehouse factory without subsidization are over, and the bigger and more subsidized the corporate companies get, the less ‘independent’ jobs there’ll be, so internal competition, management politics and working conditions will just get worse.
        Follow the trail to where the growth is to see where your future lies.
        The computer (ICT) revolution shatters communism and capitalism
        http://www.europesworld.org/NewEnglish/Home_old/CommunityPosts/tabid/809/PostID/1058/language/en-US/Default.aspx

      • VFX Soldier says:

        For all that talk of instilling fear that my job would go to India or china you simply can’t step up to the challenge. You keep saying vfx will be gone gone gone.

        All I’m asking for is name me the year you think my job and the rest of the us vfx industry will be gone and you can’t do it.

        Why? Even you don’t believe what you post. You simply just want to start flame wars so you provoke them by saying we are all going to lose our jobs to china and India.

        You used to go around by blog claiming that you fly a private jet with studio execs and you can’t afford to step up to my bet?

        http://www.tinyurl.com/vfxcloudboy

      • Pssst says:

        It’s clear that jobs don’t ‘go’, they just become economically unviable, but I’m pretty sure you’ll continue to work in VFX while your friends get a higher paying job at Walmart.
        I know you wish everything was the way it was, hollywood had a monopoly on distribution and the technology of making movies, the best and brightest from around the would move to where the money was and get a job in the american dream factory in the hope of one day being anointed by the Oscar Academy. It’s not surprising that people in hollywood would want this scheme to go on forever.
        Luckily for the rest of us the imperial dominance of inane american media is coming to an end.
        http://www.wreckamovie.com

      • fizz says:

        It’s nonsense to say that all VFX jobs will go to India/China/wherever. But it is inevitable that the current balance will continue to shift – the pressure to manage costs will continue to drive labor-intensive tasks like matchmove, roto and lower-level modelling etc to cheaper locations. The real question is what will the situation look like in 5 or 10 years? Will the expensive Western VFX centers just be left with a rump of specialists working for a few well-heeled clients who can afford to keep a facility in their backyard? I hope not – the ever-expanding demand for VFX should mean that there would still be enough high-end creative jobs in the west for everyone. But if you have your heart set on being a matchmove professional for the rest of your career you’re probably onto a losing game.

      • jonavark says:

        “You used to go around by blog claiming that you fly a private jet with studio execs and you can’t afford to step up to my bet? ”

        LOL! Is that true? You mean “Cut and Pssst” is a BS artist? No really?

        Is it really advantageous to have him commenting here? Seriously?

  19. vfxguy says:

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions…

  20. mash says:

    There’s a much simpler way of getting rid of subsidies.
    Find out where the money is going and let the tax payers know. Did that money get spent locally or did it go into a Hollywood producers pocket? Knowing Hollywood accounting practices with this much money sloshing around there has to be some dirty hands somewhere.
    Off chance but once people find out they funded transformers #8 versus getting a new hospital they might vote the subsidies away.
    Or some one might go to jail ala Louisiana.
    Just a thought and it’s faster than the court systems.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      You could do that but my guess is it’s going to cost you more money. You’d probably have to pay for ads showing how the money was misspent. You’d also have to get the films to open up the books to show where that money was spent. That’ll never happen unless you end up in court which is what you wanted to avoid.

      Again this is relatively small investment that draws a straight line from A to B. Any other route, including apathy, is much more costly.

    • Craig says:

      It would be great if it were that simple. But you’ve got to remember that the politicians already got away with it once. It’s politics. All they have to do is convince the TV and newspapers to run stories about how the subsidies are “investments” in high tech jobs for their local communities. Hey, even get Dan Marino to show up. Public money should be spent on public projects, not on freebees for corporations. Many people forget that this kind of public-private partnerships was a key element of nazi germany. When you have big corporations and government doing favors for each other, they hold all the power and the non-elite lose.

  21. Rock Solid says:

    Don’t forget to look into NAFTA violations as well as WTO violations.

  22. Dave Rand says:

    After they move all the VFX jobs to India and China. Will the other digital and transmittable jobs move? Will the editing be next? Then the sound mixing and foley, how about color grading? Hell, they speak English in India and know the alphabet so the writing should all go as well right?

    I wonder if all their unions are prepared for the mass exodus. Or, is it possible that they are only going to pick on us?

    I’ve heard the Hollywood sign is actually a giant handle sunk so deep into the hills that with enough freight helicopters all of Hollywood can be plucked out and flown off to the far east.

    Or will it be realized that the best and most profitable films have one direction and one director who focus and lives in the same breathing space as the creative team focusing and directing every morsel of it from front to back? Will it be realized that especially VFX the most profitable portion of the production demands that kind of focus? Will it be realize that it’s the new set and you can’t direct a movie from and iPhone or even the best video conference equipment.. every time you distance the director from the production you waste money and creativity. There is a point where the low wages and tax incentives can’t cover that loss and it’s a shallow trade at best.

  23. Scott Ross says:

    FYI….

    my estimated budget for an International Trade Association was a back of the napkin $1.2 million a year for 3 years.

    It included a staff of 4, outside legal counsel, ads, Travel, a “commercial” per year, office space, computers, security, postage, internet, telephone, PR firm, insurance and utilities.

  24. Toasty says:

    “After they move all the VFX jobs to India and China” I personally don’t have any problem with structural incentives, because there’s always a price to pay. Only someone who’d never worked in either country would suppose that 30% cheaper will actually be 30% cheaper when all is said and done. The problem is in developed countries (okay, and states) who’ve got their governments to buy them a VFX industry. Does anyone seriously think that the Vancouver VFX business wouldn’t dry up and blow away inside a week without those subsidies?

  25. Toasty says:

    Question: has anyone or facility to your knowledge submitted a written complaint to NAFTA? I suspect that it would be useful to have a letter from a producer stating that work has been awarded to a foreign company to take advantage of subsidies.

    I wonder also whether “territories of the Parties” can mean “territories within the Parties”; whether a company in California can complain under NAFTA about subsidies in another US state?

  26. Gary Watts says:

    Are your union earned tax dollars supporting tax incentives going to the non union sector?

    Are union leaders enjoying a very large paycheck from dues paying members while supporting corporate greed? Such union leaders are only undermining the very fiber of the union foundation, and that is “promoting unionism and the right of every union member an opportunity to fairly seek employment with union wages and conditions”.

    I am truly amazed that any union leader would any support tax incentives for the non union sector while not supporting or having the basic understanding of how such actions without a “Project Labor Agreement” would not benefit its own membership, now or in the future.

    So many of our union leaders don’t even grasp that we are the 99% and we demand the basic rights and concepts of a union to be upheld.

    Are our leaders so naive that they believe that when management says this is good for you and your membership?

    Are our leaders so naive that they do not see a win, win situation right in front of them? While I do not personally support tax incentives, I would entertain a “Project Labor Agreement” for one.

    Please write, fax, call and email your legislators and tell them: “Project Labor Agreement” or No Tax Incentives

    What is your opinion?

    In Solidarity
    Gary Watts I.B.T. Local 399

  27. Hi soldier, I just notified the VES of my intention to use my dues to support your effort instead of another year of membership with them.

  28. […] compelled in asking for support to help combat these subsidies. As you know a few months ago I made a proposal to readers. I can say I have met with law firms that specialize in international trade law. We’ll be […]

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