Director Peter Berg: All The Money Is Going To ILM

KCRW’s Kim Masters interviewed Battleship director Peter Berg on why his $200+ million film isn’t doing so well. During his explanation he mentions how expensive tentpole films are.

And the reason for this expense? Visual Effects! Check out the audio around 14:00:

Berg: $200 million dollars is the going rate for these films. That’s what they cost.

Masters: if not 3 ($300 million).

Berg: Yeah I mean thats a reasonable number.

Masters: Shocking though it is, yes.

Berg: But the money is all going to… the business to be in is ILM. That’s whose making all the money..

Masters: The effects houses.

Berg: Yeah in particualr ILM. I mean and they do great work but its what these films cost because you’ve got these giant visual effects components and they dictate the prices on them.

So all you VFX facilities take note!

Soldier On.

39 Responses to Director Peter Berg: All The Money Is Going To ILM

  1. hostile VFX says:

    side bar to this article…… in South Africa the vfx industry is really bad. Freelanced a job got paid(a small fraction of what the whole ad costs) done most of the work as it was a 4man job 3others being board members nephews and son… day later got billed for using the company equipment…..which they forgot to take out of my payment. My response was a middle finger and “take me to court if you believe you’re right”…. the balls i grew was from coming to this site. Never heard back from the company. Dont give a shit what they do to me… rather die standing than to be someone’s bitch!

  2. vfxguy says:

    Sheesh. Maybe he should have tried actually making a movie instead of just buying an hour of showreel material from ILM. Battleship was the worst example in recent memory of trying to make up for a complete lack of story with a load of flashy vfx. Lazy film-making like that gives us all a bad name.

  3. Dave Rand says:

    This is yet another example of how disconnected directors have become from the visual effects process. If directors actually directed the visual effects instead of being spoon fed their dailies from the VFX black box by a redundant hierarchy the visual effects artist we’d stop getting to version 300 before the director even sees our work. It’s all a matter of taste and we should be answering to one source not a ladder of sources. VFX shops should be working on billable hours like the set as we’ve become the set. Everyone would save time and money from that focus. Maybe shops would stop paying for the movie…….nothing has changed a bit since this was written : http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117965871?refCatId=1009

    • vfxguy says:

      How would this work? Would the director sit in on comp dailies? Do lighting rounds? Review camera tracks?

      • Dave Rand says:

        Is watching paint dry better than watching money burn? If the VFX shops got paid the same way the rest of the set got paid..you know billable hours, and actually making a profit every project, guess where the director would be? I’ve run shows this way and at enormous savings to all parties. If I were directing a big Budget VFX film. Yeah I’d want to be in the same breathing space as the artists…EVERY day. I’d want to see everything because this is where the meat of my movie is happening and I don’t need a creative hierarchy leaving anything from my view because all those artists rowing my boat have a bounty of creative brainpower and I’d want to see everything they have to show.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        This is already happening at the animation facilities. The director is at major dailies everyday. The studio production I watching the process as it goes. Not saying this always happens but there are times when a vfx facility will refrain from showing a shot until the very end when revisions can’t be made OR the director just never really bothered to go to dailies. This either lowers quality OR ends up being a very costly revision.

      • Dave Rand says:

        Even if you just approach this direction you begin to get focus, save thousands of man hours doing the wrong thing. Stop getting your artists to version 300 where they want to stab their eyes out and you lose the most valuable software in the industry…there creative minds. Once you see this in action you’ll agree..I’ve not me one person who has and thought it was a waist of anyone’s time or money.

      • Dave Rand says:

        sorry for the auto spell i’m in a bit of a rush

      • vfxguy says:

        I’m not saying it wouldn’t be better this way, I’m saying that with a 4-month post schedule it ain’t ever gonna happen.

  4. jonavark says:

    Is ILM the only company in the business? No. Are they expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? In the case of Battleship, no it was a waste of money. In fact, there are many features that spent a ton of money at ILM thinking that would be some sort of guarantee of success and they failed at the B.O. No story.. no glory.

  5. edwardh says:

    People from our business should really ask them to do a report where they break down those costs. To see who it would REALLY be nice to be. And how many percent the actual people creating the effects get… and what average salary that translates to for artists.

    Not just for public awareness but I bet the majority of artists don’t even know.

  6. El Zappo says:

    Worst part is, I wonder if he really believes that. I wonder if that’s what the producers told him. I wonder when I’ll get my diamond-fed rocket boots.

  7. jimmurphy says:

    ILM is a large world class facility.

    The problem is with a large facility comes a large amount of overhead, as there’s a lot more people involved in the process, many of which are pretty well paid.

    This is the reason that a lot of the big facilities are now doing the majority of their work in places like Singapore. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the current postings on the job boards.

    • minimish says:

      Well Jim are you speaking from first hand experience?

      In respect to people being well paid, how does one determine how much to pay an artist.

      I have worked at various facilities around the globe and ILM is comparable in rates to even smaller facilities who bid on work that is sometimes clearly out of their league.

      Artists at ILM are paid according to ability and years of experience.. not because they have walked out of film school and can roto a green screen.

      The reason larger facilities around the globe (not just ILM) have chosen to move limited work offshore (speaking from experience) is due to studios forcing VFX budgets down that require a high level of technically and artistic ability, and still maintain a quality that the audience have become accustomed to.

      You will never hear a good director blaming VFX for lack of profits at the box office.

      • Paul says:

        In fairness to Peter Berg, he points the finger at VFX for the high cost of the film. Battleship not making a profit ? A bad release schedule according to Berg, a not-so-great film according to the movie-going public.

    • BeenThereDoneThat says:

      Oh yes, Singapore ILM where they pay you even less than they do in London and the cost of living is equally high. I gave them a big fat pass, didn’t care it was Star Trek or ILM. I kinda have this funny thing about being able to pay my bills and feed myself.
      Made me wonder what they pay a junior artist or a mid level artist if a senior with over 10 years experience was offered total insult rubbish for pay.
      No thank you.

  8. scoodlypooping says:

    Because people on overhead always get paid VERY well….😛

  9. Scott Squires says:

    People * time = money
    People * overtime = more money
    Changes = priceless

  10. Van Vliet says:

    Putting very expensive jewelry on a pig doesn’t make it not a pig. It just makes it an expensive pig.

  11. vfxdude says:

    That quote shows a lot about how much Pete knows about his own movie-balances…next to nothing. It’d would be funny if it wasn’t so ridicilous.

    Sent from golden throne at ILM

  12. william s speare says:

    here goes the finger pointing.. we should spread it around… so would someone please stand up and say the movie suck.. in story development.. in the acting..vfx concept..etc etc etc.. i see no one has the balls to admit.. king is very naked… since it wont happen..we keep getting the same fcking blame game.. dont know mr. berg.. but he sounds just like bruce willis from the late 90s…

  13. Paul says:

    That’s not even it’s job to know all that and even care about it! He’s hired to direct that’s it. Execs deal with that.

  14. Steve Hulett says:

    Said long ago: Success has a thousand fathers/mothers. Failure is an orphan.

  15. Maddy says:

    I think what I’ve found the most shocking about Battleship is that there’s a lot of ILM promotion going on with the fx vids but the videos are actually showing a lot of work that people at Image Engine were responsible for. It’s a bit of a loss to Image Engine when ILM is getting credit for shots they didn’t do while Image Engine is ignored😦. Guess that’s the downfall for not being a main studio, though.

    I could tell just from the trailer that it was another Transformers though; lots of cool effects but with a crappy/non existent story and therefore not worth the time or money to go see it. Glad I didn’t bother.

  16. Maddy says:

    Someone ask, what the top VFX artist got paid compared to the Director? Then after that ask what was better; the film, or the effects? At that point you’ll truly see where the money was wasted.

    • vfxguy says:

      ILM got paid many, many times what the director got paid.

      • Maddy says:

        That’s not what I said though. The director obviously got paid more than any effects artist and yet every effects artist did a better job.

      • vfxguy says:

        I know what you were saying. Shit movie or not, it’s ridiculous to compare the contribution of the director to one of hundreds of vfx artists.

      • Maddy says:

        Why? I know it’ll never be the same amount, that’s not what Im trying to sugest, what I’m trying to point out is that artists made a hell of a lot less than the director did, but what was better, the story/direction, or the effects? Who actually earned their money?

  17. Scott Ross says:

    Peter Berg received a salary… I bet he made more money (profit) on that film than ILM did.

  18. Indy48 says:

    And how much was spent on quality acting like Rhianna? Did anyone really think a movie from a boring kids board game is an amazing story prompt? Don’t blame ILM as its still the vfx studio and that always delivers amazing shots.

  19. […] VFX Soldier – Peter Berg: All the money is going to ILM […]

  20. Dick Buttman says:

    Some back-of-the-envelope math suggests that 200 million bucks could pay 500 artists a cushy six figures a year over a two-year period and still leave a sizable portion for other costs. I don’t know how ILM’s expenses break down, but I’d be willing to bet money that most artists don’t receive that kind of cash.

    • Mitch Gates says:

      200 million was the budget for the MOVIE…not the vfx (which probably clocked in @ less than 50 million). Also, ILM was not the sole vfx vendor. Scanline, Double Negative, Image Engine, The Embassy, Prologue and others contributed work. You are looking at well over 1000 people if you include artists, support staff, producers, sysadmin, etc.

  21. AspenXtreme says:

    It’s Peter Berg

  22. […] Finally Digital Domain CEO John Textor, who has bankrolled $100,000 towards the trade organization has placed focus on key filmmakers to help with the woes in the VFX industry. If reality is any indication, it seems many filmmakers are a part of the problem. Just a few weeks ago director Peter Berg claimed that “all the money is going to ILM.” […]

  23. […] Peter Berg, Director of BATTLESHIP, was interviewed on a podcast recently. […]

  24. […] VFX Artists have made themselves the victim.  The VFX industry is in the position it is in because they let it happen.  They did not stand up for themselves and place a value on their trade.  I think its has something to do with having something to prove.  That yes, when we are in the 11th hour, that we will be the ones to pull through and save the day.  And the studios like to say that “You are going to be our savior!  You guys really pulled through.  We couldn’t have done this without you.”  It’s hard to say, under that shower of accolades, “I know you’re in a bind, but that’s gonna take more time, and hence, more money, and we aren’t going to do it otherwise.” — because we want them to be return customers.  It’s like an abusive marriage.  And BTW, those thanks go away once the film is a success, but it’s not forgotten if it’s a failure. […]

  25. […] VFX Industry has made itself the victim.  The VFX community is in the position it is in because they let it happen.  They did not stand up for themselves and place a value on their trade.  I think its has something to do with having something to prove.  That yes, when we are in the 11th hour, that we will be the ones to pull through and save the day.  And the studios like to say that “You are going to be our savior!  You guys really pulled through.  We couldn’t have done this without you.”  It’s hard to say, under that shower of accolades, “I know you’re in a bind, but that’s gonna take more time, and hence, more money, and we aren’t going to do it otherwise.” — because we want them to be return customers.  It’s like an abusive marriage.  And BTW, those thanks go away once the film is a success, but it’s not forgotten if it’s a failure. […]

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