Well well well, looks like UK-based VFX facility Framestore might be opening an office in Canada:
Framestore are interested in connecting with VFX artists and production crew across all disciplines and levels in Montreal.
We will be coming to Montreal in the coming months to meet with candidates interested in hearing more about Framestore both in the short and long term.
Why might Framestore open in Canada? My guess is it’s the subsidies. Look at this comparison of subsidies between the UK, BC, and Quebec and you can see that Canadian subsidies offer a lot more free money than the UK.
Basically the California VFX facilities have been able to catch up and beat the UK in the subsidy war by opening satellites in Vancouver. My guess is that Framestore had to up it’s game by opening in Canada also.
There has been a bit of distress expressed by some in the UK VFX industry. This comment by a cgtalk forum moderator was sent to me and made me chuckle:
In somewhat related news, a film that the London VFX shops have all been bidding on recently was almost entirely awarded to Imageworks this week, who apparently paid to get the job.
Next time Americans complain about UK tax incentives, I’m going to bring up this little titbit.
My understanding is that they literally paid to get the job (this is for All You Need Is Kill).
Apparently they’ve done it before too – a friend of mine who worked there some years back said they paid to get the Matrix sequels. Underbidding is happening all the time too. On another recent bidding war, I believe a studio eventually got awarded the work as they offered to do all the digi doubles for free. I can’t recall what project or studio it was, but it happened a month or so back.
I have no problem whatsoever with tax incentives, and this includes the Canadian incentives which have definitely taken work away from London – so even though we are losing out on this, I have no issue with governments providing incentives to encourage growth in emerging industries. I don’t think it’s unfair. However, paying to get work and severely underbidding or even offering to do things for free are outright predatory practices that are harmful to the industry as a whole.
Well, look what the poster above doesn’t understand is that much of the ability to underbid the actual price for VFX is because of the subsidies.
Let’s say you have a film that actually costs $20 million to make in California, theoretically a UK facility can utilize UK subsidies which can cover 25% of the costs and artificially underbid the price: $15 Million. That’s been the story for a good while.
However, if that California facility can coerce workers to move to Vancouver as Imageworks has been doing, they can take full advantage of the Canadian subsidies which can cover almost more than 50% of the costs! They can easily underbid the UK and turn that bid into $10 Million. BC even provides a nifty calculator for you to see.
So as you can see, everyone is underbidding each other using huge amounts of government subsidies and we as VFX professionals are all along for the ride. This is why so many international trade agreements prohibit subsidies and why I’m against all of them, even the ones in the United States. It’s a subsidy war. A race to the bottom which I’ve been warning about since the day I started this blog.
I know many love subsidies but as I always say: If you live by the subsidy you die by the subsidy.