And We’re Back!

The Campaign to End VFX Subsidies is back online. We’re 80% funded! Let’s wrap this thing up!:

Huge thanks to everyone’s patience on this and the support from everyone (even commenters who were against the campaign were in support of it continuing).

I still don’t know exactly why the campaign was frozen by Indiegogo on Saturday night but I wasn’t able to get in contact with them until Monday. They needed me to verify some internal details which the law firm and I were able to quickly verify. It just took a while to get Indiegogo to respond. Regardless we’re thankful that they have cleared the campaign to continue.

I did add the following note to the campaign clarifying who the client will be:

We have resolved Indiegogo issues and the Campaign to End VFX Subsidies is now back on-line. In response to their diligence, we have clarified that the law firm is preparing a feasibility study with VFX Soldier as its client so that it receives direction from one client and does not have independent attorney-client relationships with each contributor to the campaign. Once the feasibility study is completed by the firm, that work product will be transmitted to the client, VFX Soldier. If and when, as a result of the feasibility study, VFX Soldier and the law firm determine that there is legal action that is worth pursuing, those parties will reevaluate the representation, redefine its scope, and, potentially, after consultation with any appropriate additional parties, redefine who the law firm’s client is for the next stage.

It’s also great news to hear that blogger VFX Law is back online again. If you remember they started a blog a few years ago as a VFX professional working on becoming a lawyer. One of their latest posts gives their opinion on the campaign. Welcome back VFX Law!

Soldier On.

79 Responses to And We’re Back!

  1. Barry B. Sandrew, Ph.D. says:

    Love what you’re doing for the industry. I’ve been trying to create an economic zone with incentives in San Diego to keep jobs in SoCal. I follow you religiously but I’m confused over your objection to subsidies. I can understand that subsidies encourage our gypsy lifestyle but if we can create a stable environment in SoCal via competitive subsidies, wouldn’t that be a step in the right direction? My friend, Scott Squires for whom I have a great deal of respect is in your camp. I just want to better understand the issues and if my efforts might exacerbate the problem rather than help.

    Thanks, I appreciate all your effort.


    Barry B. Sandrew, Ph.D. Founder & CCO/CTO Legend3D 3721 Valley Centre Drive San Diego, CA 92130 Mobile: 760-497-1922 Email: Blog: ________________________________

    • I’m curious about this as well however I don’t believe the state of California has any real incentive. To them, the industry, for the most part, is already here. The state is constantly telling us they need money.

    • Dave Rand says:

      I’d encourage you or anyone looking for more information and opinions to enter “World Trade Organization” and “Film Subsidies” in the search field to the right. You’ll find lots of posts from Mr Squires and Soldier their that give the details you seek.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Hi Barry,

      Thanks for being a support and chiming in. Big thanks to you for actively recruiting talent that was let go after DD Florida was closed.

      My issue with subsidies in the VFX and film industry is that they just add a huge amount of volatility rather than stability. When producers are looking to do their next project, the first thing they do it check which location is offering the largest subsidy and coerce a company to open a satellite there. As of right now it seems Vancouver is the place but it looks like Ontario and Australia are ramping up with their subsidies.

      Soon there will be a race to get to the next place and people will end up having pack up and move their families with not much to offer as far as moving costs and a ton of different labor laws.

      While I commend you for wanting to help bring stability to talent based here with subsidies I think it would only be short term.

      First the subsidy would have to be very competitive. With BC and Ontario offering subsidies that could cover 50% of the costs, we’re talking about something very costly.

      Lee Stranahan once offered an idea I was receptive to: “The Plus One Subsidy.” Where California will offer studios to match any other location’s subsidy plus 1%. The reason I would support something like that is because it ends the race to the bottom. Again, this is incredibly costly and I doubt the state or any government for that matter would support something like that.

      There is a cost effective solution that is controversial: Have California charge a countervailing “duty” to producers for the amount of subsidies they receive from other governments. So if a producer received $5 million in subsidies, they would be expected to pay that amount in extra fees. Would this have a chance of passing in California? I wish but I doubt it. However it would be cost effective, and end the subsidy race.

      • bil says:

        That duty idea is not crazy as then you would not need to then protect your subsides in other states where some are as high as 40 percent for production costs. But I fear then they would move the accounting to the studio foreign company as usually it is the studio local to the subsidy that makes the claim and not the California office.

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        Wait. So what you are saying is you aren’t against subsidies at all because they ‘distort the market’ and harm ‘free trade’ but because Califonia’s subsidies aren’t competitive enough? given that you clearly state that you would support Lee Stranhan’s proposal of where California will offer studios to match any other location’s subsidy plus 1%…
        So the race to the bottom only bothers you when it’s in California?
        You say you care about the plight of the displaced U.S. workers.
        Fair enough.
        What about the plight of the thousands of workers in subsidized locations who would be displaced by these hyphotetical Cali subsidies?

      • globalConspiracyRus says:

        @CharlieDon’tSurf – it’ll never happen. Cali is selling off the State parks and can’t even afford to fix the streets in LA, any subsidies will stay hypotheical.

      • Studio_Spotter says:

        I think the idea is to negate the motivation behind offering foreign subsidies in the first place to steal more CA industry.. I think the +1 idea would not work because other nations could just pretend to offer 90% knowing theyd never have to pay it because CA would be forced to offer 91%.

    • Steve M says:

      I don’t understand why subsidies for Ontario or Vancouver are such a bad deal. I’d much rather work in Canada than the States. There’s much less crime, no crazy gun culture and they have a great public transit system. If subsidies mean that we can live in Toronto or Vancouver, then I want more of them, not less!

      • Clicking Bandido says:

        You can work wherever you want… Until another city offers a better deal to the studios and then you have to move. Again.

        This is not about not wanting to work in Canada (which is a beautiful country btw), it’s about putting a stop to the race to the bottom you are so willingly running towards.

      • Steve M says:

        Race to the bottom of what? If Vancouver or Toronto is “the bottom”, I’m glad to be here. The thing about the tone of this thing is that there seems to be a lot of mass hysteria about nothing.

      • Clicking Bandit says:

        What makes you think it will stop in Canada? What when the next city offers a better incentive and the people in Canada have to move to lower wages in an equally expensive city? And who’s to say it will stop there?

      • Steve M says:

        You mean what if something that isn’t happening happens? I can’t say I’m not too worried about it. After all, what happens if an astroid hits the planet and wipes out North America? It could happen, and maybe we’re in a race to the bottom to see which continent is the next to wiped out from interstellar astroid attack. Should we start a campaign to end astroids? And who’s to say it will stop with astroids? What if a comet hits us?

      • Clicking Bandit says:

        Zuts alors!

        I’m sure vfx jobs are safe though. It will last forever. You’re right, maybe we should just give in and chase the incentives, because asteroids might hit us. Let me just sell the house and move the family so we can start over. Allons-y!

        All sarcasm aside, I guess we will have to agree to disagree. You see this campaign as a threat to the global vfx industry and as LA artists being greedy and wanting their jobs back. I see it as a fight to fix /one/ of the many problems vfx artists have to deal with that prevents artists from taking root, having families, AND which leads to imaginary shrinking vfx budgets and the stretching of the job market (because incentives don’t create jobs. They just move them around the globe.)

        Asteroids and comets are quite nasty though. We should take that cause up next time.

  2. Andreas Jablonka says:

    Maybe VFX LAW is the law firm? First job not pro bono? 😉

  3. […] VFX Soldier – Campaign to End VFX Subsidies Back On  […]

  4. Dave Rand says:

    Thanks for all the hard work VFX Soldier. We can all float many theories as to what really became the motivation behind the freeze.

    Ironically this has brought the campaign more attention and I sent a thank you letter to the three founders.

    Funny campaigns like this one go unquestioned though…and the list is long.

    At this point we can just dust off and move on. I have a feeling we’ll see some new attention to this and some real telegraphing.

    Thank you Indiegogo !

  5. Jordi Riera says:

    It is not the end of the world today, but tomorrow will be the end of subsidies!
    Thank you Captain!

  6. Barry B. Sandrew, Ph.D. says:
    December 19, 2012 at 11:36 pm
    Love what you’re doing for the industry. I’ve been trying to create an economic zone with incentives in San Diego to keep jobs in SoCal. I follow you religiously but I’m confused over your objection to subsidies. I can understand that subsidies encourage our gypsy lifestyle but if we can create a stable environment in SoCal via competitive subsidies, wouldn’t that be a step in the right direction?

    What is wrong with subsidies? Where you sit generally determines where you stand. The fact that Barry is trying to draw jobs to San Diego and then justifies it by saying it includes SoCal. is little different than for example New Mexico claiming kickbacks keep the jobs in the western states. Or Louisiana claiming its free money is keeping jobs in the US instead of letting Canada’s free money lure the studios north. The problem is that the ‘incentives’, ‘tax breaks’, and ‘subsidies’ are actually kickbacks and do not create new jobs, they transfer jobs and in the end transfer money from the bottom to the top. Film subsidies are corporate welfare. While a small number of people and companies who actually get the money and jobs do benefit, a much larger number of people who provide the money through higher taxes do not.

    There are two other important reasons why film kickbacks are bad for the great majority of people. One, the downward pressure on wages, which has already occurred and isn’t over yet. And two, the inevitable subsidy wars that develop between US states and other countries, contribute to the race to the bottom for the great majority of people. Film producers essentially extort money by playing one state or country against another.

    So, if where you sit ‘always’ determines where you stand because your own personal self interest is the only factor that matters then support for the banksters makes sense. But in the end, Wall Street, the banksters and coupon clippers will be the big winners.

    • VFX_Boom says:

      Yup, I’ve been arguing the point of Job Creation for a while. Because there is ZERO job creation. Like you said Gene it’s “Job Transfers” . And Temporary ones at that. At the end of the day, it’s the same people performing the same job, just in different states/countries.

      Maybe if the artists had some sense of self worth, we’d stand up for ourselves, and stop chasing jobs globally.

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        Really? How about some numbers to back up your claims?
        Because, from where I am standing, what I have seen in the past 10 years is some studios in LA closing or opening satellite offices, along with other LA studios growing, some other studios open in LA and, most importantly dozens of vfx shops of all sizes pop up all over the world, employing thousands upon thousands of new workers.

      • Studio_Spotter says:

        How about some numbers to back up YOUR claims Charlie? Where are you sitting exactly? And what is it about travelling from one subsidy location to another that creates more viewer demand for films? How many more movies are sought and therefore produced because of Albuquerque’s evaporated fx industry? If anything that energy spent on travelling and setting up new shops in new locations could have more efficiently been spent making better looking films to draw more people. I don’t deny a natural growth rate related to population growth and perhaps enhanced entertainment value/availability. But to relate increased demand for films to nomad vfx companies chasing subsidies around the globe doesn’t make any sense.

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        I am sitting in London, at the moment. Working at a company with almost a thousand people. This same company had less than 100 6 years ago. All the major vfx houses in the UK grew enourmously over the last 10 years too – Dneg. Framestore, MPC, Cinesite.
        There other smaller oufits like baseblack, blue bolt, Pixomondo London, etc who also do interesting film work here. In France and Germany, they have other major companies, Buf, Scanline, Trixter, Pixomondo. Spain have big outfits too. Czech Republic has UPP.
        We can look at Canada and the myriad companies that have started there ( Image Engine, Mr. X or the companies that set up satellite offices and employ thousands of people )
        We can look at New Zealand where the best vfx work is done nowadays at a thousands strong company that didnt exist prior to Lord of the Rings.
        Australia has a few good ones too. Animal Logic, RSP.
        India, China, Singapore they are all ramping up very fast.
        Even worse, U.K, Indian and Chinese companies are opening companies in L.A. and NYC and creating jobs for U.S. citizens!
        To say that this is a California industry and that we steal jobs – or that no job has been created, and they were simply transferred from La to other locations is completely absurd.
        But I guess your entitlement attitude doesn’t allow you to see that what started as a U.S. industry is now a global industry.
        The playing field has changed. Hardware and software are cheaper, talent is being cranked out all over the world.
        But the demand has also risen dramatically. Don’t forget the fact that India, China, Brasil all have millions of middle – class citizens that din’t exist 10 years ago.
        U.S. studios now make a lot more from overseas showings than on the domestic market. Perhaps something to take into consideration next time you go on a rant against other countries stealing away the industry in California.
        The world is changing, my friend. Change with it.

      • Dave Rand says:

        What percentage of the films that you do visual effects for are from the same six studios in the United States? For there lies the rub. If the market has become truly international and free then you will not miss the subsidies if they dry up.

      • Dave Rand says:

        Personally I don’t think the UK would miss a beat. Talent is rare. free markets always grow the quickest, and it should be based on talent and branding not which politician is offering the best bribe.

      • Studio_Spotter says:

        Yeah great so where are the numbers. CA jobs have declined by the thousands too. You can say employment is up in other areas but you arent showing me how demand for film is directly related to vfx companies roaming around the world. Again population growth and technological advancements to bring entertainment to the masses will always expand the film industry naturally. Show me how the growth rate has jumped as a result of subsidy chasing.

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        So what you’re saying, Dave, is that no one but U.S. companies/citizens should have the right to work on films because they are funded by U.S. studios?
        Believe me I respect the professionalism and talent of the California vfx artists/companies a lot. But there are great artists everywhere. Don’t begrudge other countries companies because they are able to offer the studios better terms. Push your own to match them.

      • Dave Rand says:

        Not at all what I said, or have been saying…you could not have drifted further form my words actually. I understand the knee jerk reaction of the world wide visual effects community. They know were the work comes from, no questions there, but so many leap to conclusions that I believe are ill founded, possibly based on fear. I mean look at these posts…hardly anyone will stand behind their words with their real names…maybe it’s shyness but I believe we’ve been duped into thinking we can’t even speak our minds without being blacklisted by the Americans either directly or indirectly through the web they’ve concocted including the very subsidies some cling to for dear life. I’ll restate what I’ve actually been saying best I can in one phrase as the truth needs no shadow to hide in.

        The visual effects market should be a free market based on talent and branding. It should be just as easy for a studio in the UK to get distribution as it is for one in China. We work best and most economically when we are all in the same breathing space as the director and the meter is running the same way it runs on the traditional movie set. Subsidies and bidding are killing our shops and limiting the bottom lines of the studios that enforce these practices. They are tools to keep the fences up and the international new comers out.

        I don’t claim to be an expert on the film industry but those are my observations after working for 20 yrs and being on the staff of five major vfx shops that have folded. Shops that made help make billions for others.

      • Dave Rand says:

        sorry about the bad iPad typing I’m sitting in an airport.

      • Tom Atkin says:

        It is interesting to see various folks posture their positions with totally incorrect facts. Specifically, this applies to Dave Rand’s comment that the loss of subsidies would have little impact on the London (UK) market, because of the talent.

        Dave, many years ago the UK government announced it was greatly cutting future subsidies, and the visual effects work (and general production as well) began to exit like rats on a sinking ship. Once, the government backed off the reduced subsidies…all went back to normal for the market.

        So, at least, when you all discuss this, please, look historically into the results when subsidies are cut. I would love to see facts indicating that there have been no serious results when subsidies are lowered or removed…but, that just is not the case.

        If anyone has hard data to prove otherwise…let’s hear it.

      • alex lim says:

        The fact that visual effects industry in the UK or anywhere in the world require government subsidies to survive– is this not unsettling to anyone regardless of country of origin? Will you not rather a visual effects or any industry that can thrive and compete on its own rather than a perpetual need for government subsidies to survive? What will happen with the government is out of tax-payer funded subsidy money?

        There will always be someone with more money to offer bigger subsidies to lure the productions to those places. When those money run out, productions will go to another one offering more money. They are not loyal to you, your livelihood, or to any country. It’s not their concern. Resulting companies that depended upon project income to survive will find ways to take lower profit margin to compete with countries with large subsidies. This eventually create greater pricing pressure for everyone, including places that offered subsidies. When the pricing pressure caused by studios chasing after subsidies become even greater, the people who perform the actual work will be the first to take the hit. Or else trotting to the place with greater subsidies at your own personal (and family) expense because that’s where temporary work is.

    • Charlie Don't Surf says:

      Thanks for clarifying that, Dave.
      studio spotter, here is a list of worlwide box office ( comparing domestic and overseas gross )
      you wanted numbers, here they are. draw your own conclusions, but the numbers do back me up when I say overseas take is bigger than domestic.
      as for this initiative, I still think you are trying to bring back to California an industry that has become global. in the process completely disregarding how your actions might affect the livelihood of film workers in other locations.
      International subsidies are intended to create a thriving business environment and expertise in a given area. I’ve only been in London for 5 years, but have seen incredible growth here in the scale of the companies. If the subsidies weren’t in place I very much doubt this would have been possible. The CEO’s of some companies here like William Sargent ( Framestore ) are the first to admit this. so I really don’t have a problem with subsidies, and neither do many of my co-workers,as they make the existence of my job possible.
      Dave, I know what you are saying about a U.K or Chinese studio should in theory have as much capacity to reach international distribution, but in practice it’s not the case, nor will it be on an immediate future. International companies have to work with American studios, and offer them the best terms they can. And this includes subsidies.
      anyway, I appreciate your insight, even if we have a different stand. hope you appreciate mine.
      I would support an iniciative that would bring global workers together, not fracture the relationship among them. but it’s only nature that you look out for your best interests. just don’t expect us to sit quite without looking out for our own.
      anyway, I have said this on a few occasions here and on other forums, and don’t wish to keep repeating myself I’m signing out – but not without making one last request for soldier to create a post that would clearly explain how global workers might stand to benefit from this proposal, not just those sitting in California, where the studios are.

      • Studio_Spotter says:

        I really don’t see how comparing overseas box office to domestic box office backs you up.
        The numbers Im asking for are the natural growth rate of the film industry and how that growth rate spikes under subsidized vfx.
        I’m not trying to bring anything anywhere. This industry is not as global as you think. Thats the point Rand is trying to make. The “global” industry is really just US industry getting paid by your tax payers to do work outside the US. The studios paying for films in subsidized areas are still US studios getting kickbacks from foreign nations. If this is truly a global industry then let the subsidies expire and see what happens.
        Truth is the industry is being artificially supported in other nations and it is uprooting our industry every few years. I have no problem with the industry globalizing if it is allowed to expand naturally.

        “If the subsidies weren’t in place I very much doubt this would have been possible.”

        “[subsidies] make the existence of my job possible.”

        Exactly! It doesn’t bother you that (your admission) the existence of your job is only possible because tax payers are being used to create it? You think that is perfectly fine? Who exactly is resorting to self interest again? What do you think happens when your tax payer funding dries up? You think the US companies receiving these subsidies will stay there? Think again. The reason there are agreements against this practice is because it is less efficient for industry/trade in the long run to keep uprooting everyone’s lives and infrastructure at the cost of the tax payers. So there is your answer you say you continually request. Getting rid of subsidized vfx will keep you from having to uproot your life every some odd years while everyone around you, you included, pays your employer to do it.

    • Charlie Don't Surf says:

      ok Studio Spotter, I will go over some of your points:
      International box office is up 35% from five years ago.
      I have no idea how you can relate box office growth with international subsidies – but if this is the kind of growth reported in the years international subsidies have been in place, and film production, in all it’s aspects not just vfx, has been globalized, then perhaps that is having an effect.
      As for the rest, personally, I have no qualms with government supported industries, be they solar power investments or film production or subsidized healthcare, education or automotive industries.
      Perhaps it’s hard for you to comprehend that large parts of the world have a totally different conception of capitalism where state-backed industries are not a dirty word, but something that is matter of fact and perfectly accepted.
      Ill give you an example: in my home country, a company that produces Volkswagens is the biggest private employer ( directly and indirectly ). This has only been possible due to government incentives. Do you think I have a problem with government incentives attracting international companies and supporting jobs? Think again.
      Volkswagen might be a German company, but they sell cars everywhere. It’s only natural that they source production in many different parts of the world – and that the decision on where they base their production is related to the growth in the local markets where they are present.
      But perhaps you think that Volkswagen should only make cars in Germany, regardless of wether it’s more cost effective of them to produce it elsewhere?
      Not only this, but individual governments might decide to make a big strategic investment in one area. The U.K. government announced they want to make this country the technology hub of Europe. To this effect they passed the bills subsidizing film, games, animation and high-end tv production. Just like my own government decided to subsidize solar power and renewable energy firms. Or previously, automotive companies.
      Or like your own U.S. government subsidizes the energy, financial and telecomunications industries.
      Yes, some international companies will come here due to the attractive business environment generated by these laws but the expertise generated will also support many local companies working locally. Companies which in time might become self sustainable working purely locally, but that in the short run, would only be viable because of government support.
      Look, I get your point, I really do. I would be doing what you are doing if I was sitting in California. But since I am not, nor do I want to be, I will fight my corner where I’m standing.
      Good luck with your iniciative. Just don’t expect workers in other locations to be happy about it or think that you are doing them a favor. You’re not.

      • Dave Rand says:

        The WTO deals with imbalances due to subsidies. Aprox 80% of our jobs left their source of origin due to countries and states offering market socialism that is mostly parasitic, a one way street. I mean I wish they were at least supping content to the mix that we could also bid on and “subsidize” but they don’t …do they? Imagine your a trade delegate using the VW example to prove your point given this evidence because It’s really leaning more towards the arguent that someone stole my VW and I’m trying to steal it back, then I realize, that mabye I should ust ask the police to decide before the world turns to GRAND THEFT AUTO and stealing cars becomes the norm.

      • Dave Rand says:

        meant to say …..I mean I wish they were at least SUPPLYING content to the mix that we could also bid on and “subsidize” but they don’t …

      • Studio_Spotter says:

        Tick tock, Charlie.

      • Charlie,

        I think that you may be inserting arguments into people’s mouths that they are not making. This is not about American jingoism, it’s about jobs and quality of life. Soldier does not care where the work is being done or who is doing it. If everyone in the VFX industry decided to move to Greenland because that’s where they want to live and work, then so be it. The problem is they have no say. The studios dictate where the work will be done and they dictate based on who is offering the most free money. If the UK eliminated its tax credit and all of the houses began shifting elsewhere because of an incentive, I suspect you would sing a different tune very fast.

        And few people on here, Soldier included, has a problem with film being a globalized industry. As an American, I think I speak for many of us when I say we are happy film is global. The international markets you mention consume a US export and give us one of the few positive balances of trade we have left. But let’s not conflate the growth of the BO with an increase in the amount of VFX work being done. Certainly the amazing effects help, but probably less so than the tens of thousands of new screens that have opened across the globe, the increased ticket prices and extra revenue from IMAX and 3D.

        As for the subsidized industries you mention, few have anything close to what Hollywood gets. This is not about a lower rate, a tax abatement or shelter. This is about free money that does not have to be repaid. It is a giveaway, plain and simple. And once the money stops, the industry leaves.

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        Actually, Adrian, I have little personal stake in what the UK government might or might not do, since I will be moving out of the UK shortly.
        You might say you are happy with film being global and this isn’t US jingoism, but if you followed these forums a little more closely you would read the statements being made here equate to: ‘ this is a US/California-centric industry since the studios that fund the work are here/ the vfx work should remain here/ if people want to work in vfx they should come to California/ foreign subsidies are stealing our jobs and are parasitic ‘ – this has been the tone so far. Doesn’t sound like you or other CA based posters are too happy about film vfx work becoming global. But I digress.
        I am merely stating the obvious – film and vfx workers in locations other than California will not sit quiet if their competitive advantage is taken away.
        I fully understand your point too – as I have stated before I would be supporting this campaign IF I lived in California or had any wish to do so. But I don’t.
        What I do support is global unity among vfx workers, as well as local labour unionization.
        Good luck with your campaign, but I certainly don’t see my interests represented by it.
        And by the way, you CAN conflate the growth in BO with the visual effects being produced globally – just look at the list of highest grossing films of all time. You will have a hard time finding one that isn’t vfx-heavy.
        Obviously thousands of extra screens ( most of these outside the US ) and increased tickets prices help, but they don’t tell the full story. Film BO grew because a new type of blockbuster has been created in the last 10-15 years. One that relies heavily in vfx produced globally.

  7. Chris Simmons says:

    The tax credit kickbacks were created for all film production, not just VFX work. It’s important to keep that in mind. The VFX work going to those countries is a small part of the total amount of film work being subsidized. This needs to go before the WTO, or tariffs need to be put on these “Foreign” films.

  8. Dave Rand says:

    LA Times reports on our Campaign, although the article paints an incomplete picture, it’s a start. I encourage you all to leave a comment below the article,0,6457938.story#tugs_story_display

  9. 94%!! This is so exciting.

  10. Paul says:

    The thing is, in the end, you’re gonna bite the hand that feeds you…even breadcrumbs. If studios have to go to Mars to reduce costs and leave California dead dry they will do it.

    • Clicking Bandit says:

      So Paul, settle over breadcrumbs or try to fix the problem for a better industry?

      Hrm. Seems like an easy choice to me.

      You also seem to forget that the artists, programmers, technicians, are the ones creating the VFX. This isn’t an assembly line job. There is no “Animate Optimus Prime” button or “Create Spaghetti Tordano” plugin. As much as large studios like to think we are interchangeable (and by studios I mean FOX, Warner, etc, not VFX shops), we are not interchangeable. Why do we have to keep moving chasing subsidies if they could just find talent everywhere?

      Like Mr Rand said, we are the hand. Movie studios ain’t doing us any favors.

      Also Merry Christmas!

      • Paul says:

        I haven’t forgotten anything, you still don’t seem to understand who hands your paycheck that’s it. Too expensive here? I’ll go over there! As simple as this.

        And by the way that’s exactly what we’re all doing from the electrician down to that cappuccino. $4 espresso you serious? no thanks!

        Move to Venezuela they’ll protect your wages down there. I’m barely joking,

      • Dave Rand says:

        Beauty needs no subsidy…that’s Talent
        Expresso is now $5 …that’s Branding

        We could make a movie without one single studio executive but they could not make a frame without us. That’s why they’ve relied on accumulating leverage through purchase of politicians and the controll of content and distribution. Creating the illusion that you can not even use your real name when you speak of your own future…that’s fear.

        Most of the talent reacted appropriately to this 70 years ago and it is the reason industries that rely on Talent are still the most highly organized industries…..if anything, as a reminder to all, who the hand really is.

        Few can recall the name of the pope that commissioned that painting of the Sistine ceiling, but I bet you know who painted it.

  11. What is with the LA times article on this page? If im not mistaken it infers you want non US subsidies to end. correct me if im wrong but shouldn’t they all end? What LA times suggest is hypocritical…

    • Dave Rand says:

      “Several U.S. states also are grabbing a larger share of the business, especially New York, which recently launched a postproduction tax credit. The visual effects artists also favor ending those subsidies as well.”

    • Studio_Spotter says:

      The WTO does not cover state subsidies. Ending state subsidies would be favorable as well but there arent any rules against them to my knowledge in at the moment. The WTO agreement, however, does specifically protect against foreign governments supplying subsidies for like products to the extent that they “injure” a fellow member’s industry. A challenge against that violation will likely be the focus since the rules are already in place. Thats not to say state run subsidies aren’t also a problem. But it would be more difficult to influence the creation of new federal laws.

      • vfxguy says:

        So we can chase jobs around the states instead of varied and interesting countries around the world? What a wonderful new future Soldier is trying to build for us!

      • Clicking Bandit says:

        How about not having to chase jobs?

      • Studio_Spotter says:

        You’re right. Why would anyone fix a major problem if it doesnt fix ALL problems. Boy, with vfx soldier running around addressing this major issue, life must be hard all over for you.

  12. Scott Ross says:

    good luck…. I’m in.

  13. jonavark says:

    Curious…. who pays the taxes on that funding?

  14. Dave Rand says:

    “The World Trade Organization tells the United Sates it must stop paying certain subsidies that could affect world prices or production”

    Thanks Farmer Joe for posting that timeline out, as you can see petitioning the WTO can yield results!

    • globalConspiracyRus says:

      And here you can see how effective that has been. Seems that there’s plenty of ways for the US to get around pesky WTO rulings that might hold back its god-given right to spend tax payers’ dollars in any way it sees fit!

      • Dave Rand says:

        “Green box payments are exempt from the global trade body’s spending limits, on the basis that they cause no more than minimal distortion of trade or production”

        Keep in mind these American subsidies are being monitored on an American industry…and not that of another country…given that, they are still considered unfair and have required action.

        Interesting, especially in the light of this effort, and it’s feasability study.

        “WTO members have frequently been criticised for the lateness with which they submit official notifications of support to the global trade body. ”

        Given that, one may think it’s about time someone submitted official notification regarding foreign subsidies of an American industry. Especially given that the USA dose not have a foreign industry (in our case) to subsidize and thereby move to the USA.

        Can you now see the imbalance?

        The question that may arise is: Why are there no foreign VFX industries to subsidize?

        Now that’s a good question.

        Thanks for posting this. I’ll pass it along to the attorneys.

      • Dave Rand says:

        The question that may arise is: Why are there no foreign VFX industries to subsidize?

        So as not to invite arguments over semantics, that statement should read:

        The question that may arise is: Why are there no foreign VFX (films) to subsidize in the Untied States.

  15. globalConspiracyRus says:

    Warner Bros. UK Ltd, headquartered at Warner House in Central London and Warner Bros. Leavesden Studios, is a British film production company in the same way that Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. is an American company (by your definition, I should add). Seems to me that the British company Warner Bros. UK Ltd has been making a lot of VFX films in the last decade. Alas, the profits get repatriated to the USA, just as SPE’s profits get repatriated to Japan.

    • Dave Rand says:

      SPE takes up several square blocks in Culver city California. They’ve actually rebuilt half the town including new schools, Fire, and police depts. “Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation.” ….. Just loads of VFX work being subsidized by Japan to. Could you help me put the list together?
      You may have heard SPE scrapped an entire operation in a New Mexico because Vancouver offered a better deal. Sad for all those families buying homes at the top of the market then told their job just left the country.

      • Dave Rand says:

        I would certainly welcome some examples that demonstrate there exists great balance in the VFX market based on talent and branding, free from political handouts and monopolistic practices. So far though the other posts though have been truly enlightening and helpful, thanks!

  16. Yeah, you buddy! says:

    Please could the trade subsidy-dumping investigations extend to the following U.K. organisations ;

    NESTA (
    a registered charity that has involvement in several UK post productions studios and training/education subsidy programs

    Skillset UK (
    a government subsidised training-education organisation with heavy links into UK vfx

    National Lottery Fund (
    The main national lottery fund that distributes funding grants into some UK vfx related activities and has regularly found avenues into london VFX studio projects.

    • jez says:

      Hope your are taking the piss with this. Cause these are very good and important subsidies, though it does depend on your ideology. The lottery one is actually equity, and the whole point is to subsidies films that are hard to find investment, (so the big six aren’t going to put any money in). These are to do with films that LA and a number of countries won’t invest in, (even the BBC turned downed the KIngs Speech, and part of their license fee agreement is to invest/produce films) and NESTA and skillset are education programmes; you will find programmes like this in all the art forms ranging from opera, ballet, theatre, Fine Art to TV.

      The original point of the lottery/eu grant is to produce films that aren’t all about money (though there are lots of arguments at the moment about this). It’s like saying lets get rid of the bbc which is funded by the license fee; you don’t want free museums, cheap theatres etc etc, these all get lottery funding. The lottery/eu grant create interesting and important films and in a weird way help even LA. A few films funded by the lottery grant have been nominated and also won oscars. And when they make money at the box office because the grant is equity, the government/BFI get’s a tidy share of that box office.

      There are many forms of film funding in the uk/eu same with any art funding. The uk/eu subsidies are more complicated that what has been presented in this blog.

      At the end of the day what this blog is all about is 5/10 films max being produced a year that employ lots of vfx artist and have huge budgets, which the complaint about subsidies is on about. And to be honest there is a lot of “F**K yeah, America” on here, sorry you might not like that term, but there it is, even someone else has noticed it:

      “And few people on here, Soldier included, has a problem with film being a globalized industry”

      And come on, look at the VES logo (though I think some of the people on here would like it to be a tie fighter. Though I think Disney might have words about that now.) Film has been global since day one, also VFX has. Perhaps some people need to read the Story of Film by Mark Cousins, might broaden a few horizons. And yes over a number of years nearly a century, there have been subsidies, these also helped build LA as a film industry it is nowand a lot of other factors as well, which can never be repeated (some are actually illegal trade violations now.)

      Personally I think there are some very good subsidies for film and also there are some really stupid ones as well. Are they in the WTO laws; to be honest I think a lot are, also there a few that are probably not; but I think you will be surprised to find out which are not, and it might not be the ones you are expecting.

      • jez says:

        The ‘f**k you america’ I admit was puerilie. But I find there are to many people on this blog, that feel that the whole film industry was US over the whole history of film, and it was created in some form of vacuum somewhat navie.

        The studios (if you are talking about the big six) will always try to have their cake and eat it (subsidies or no subsidies). Until another studio comes along (will be another 20 years at best I think, because of the way distribution works), and even then any new studio is going to act in the same way, it’s a case of protect their/other peoples investment.

        I feel there are too many people thinking that getting rid of subsidies, “and yeah everything is great again.”

        Subsidies have help create work for us vfx houses just look how the financing was for life of pi, looper, even going back a while the Fifth Element.

        There never was a level playing field and there never will be. So I think the main reason is how do you protect people from that turmoil. Removing subsidies (which do, do a lot of good), I feel isn’t going to help protect anyone against the turmoil, and won’t create some great static world. Look how the vfx commercial industry is rapidly changing.

      • Yeah, you buddy! says:


        Absolutely is not a joke, I assure you. Also, don’t paint this thing as a US vs Uk thing. True I live in the US but I am talking from my perspective as a British born person who started their career in London vfx and relocated due to the shocking nature of UK ‘barrow-boy’ business practices. I have also worked in Canada and New Zealand before. And I would again, if I had to. What I am seeing creeping in at these places is the same things that eventually dragged down the vfx artist in London. There are no unions in this business, likely never will be. All most people want is a fair playing field in the business end so that artists can concentrate on their profession, without all this additional racing-to-the-bottom becoming the the be-all.

        Just want to bring you up to speed with reality here. Hiding behind ‘charities’, ‘education programmes’ and the like is the number one way alot of undesirables can milk the tax payer, line their pockets and break international trade agreements through the backdoor. I am sorry that this happens in the world but we have to deal with reality here. Should charities contribute to cultural movements and arts? Should governments help with training and education programs? Absolutely! If it was that simple and straightforward, nobody could disagree. Who wants to live in a cultureless world of McD’s, starbucks, MTV, and masses of people homeless and dying in the street? Nobody!

        But when you have UK oxbridge connections between charities, foundations and lobbying groups, the ignorant hapless tax payers back home may think their lottery contributions or tax moey is going to culture and education and good causes, but in reality, it could equally be going to connections of crony freinds to prop up a facade of a business and pocket tax money. Just like the mafia in 1930’s chicago ran the government construction contracts. Building bridges to nowhere, digging holes in the road and filling them in again. All from tax payer money. Every Christmas we see re-runs of the 1980’s ‘band-aid ‘feed-the-world’ concert for african hunger. I still love that footage of Bob geldof screaming for more charity money, while holding a big bag of Monsanto genetically-modified grain in his arms. There is a alot of controversy about the role of big agricultural firms operating in africa, and whether this is a destabilising influence on regional governments that causes the war and famine in the first place! That is a good starting point to research, if you want to understand how things can appear to the public and how things may or may not really be underneath.

        Anyway, back to the world of vfx. Are these firms, that seem to be heavily in bed with particular lobbying groups, registered charities and government funded training schemes, ever delivering on their mantras? Why are so many short term workers going through London like a revolving-door? When they keep saying that there is a skills shortage that requires government money and charity donations. Or is it just about having short-term vfx staff treated like cotton-pickers on a plantation so that the oxbridge MD’s can have an extra yacht or golf course in the portfolio? And what is cultural about London firms chasing commercial-globalised hollywood movie flicks? The royal family related flicks get funding because that is propagnda funding, establishment control, blah, blah, blah, make you believe that the queen’s head on the paper bank notes makes them worth anything. They wouldn’t get made on a commerical basis – there would be no interest. So what real cultural funding actually happens? And where is the large remainder of that money otherwise going? Beats me! But I can take a good guess …

  17. Sari Gennis says:

    Although I don’t pretend to be an expert about it I sent you some money for the feasibility study, figuring that’s a great place to start. I know it seems like I’ve been awfully quiet, but please know that I am still doing what I can behind the scenes. Being a “sensitive artist”, it took me a while to recover from some of the negative comments I got after the LA Times article, (although I can’t tell you how many people came up to me in private and thanked me for speaking out). Also, between having to be neutral in public as a Visual Effects Society board member, and the new rule at the place where I work which says that you have to get their permission to speak to the media, (!!!) it made things difficult for a while. But I am still working behind the scenes to try and make things better for visual effects artists as much as I can. Things have actually gotten somewhat better where I work, but I don’t want to stop there. Keep up the good work, the more people who actually DO something the better! Also, as a VES board member, I am charged with representing and talking to the members. So if anyone ever needs to talk to me I’m available.

    • It’s nice to see someone from the VES standing up for artists –
      I’m not a big fan of them becuase they’re the one organization in a position to help VFX artists but don’t. I understand the VES’s neutrality on Subsides because that only obviously hurts the LA industry (although long term it is bad for the industry as a whole). But they could be helping the industry in ways like these:

      – Put the smackdown on payroll companies like Yurcor that are illegally ripping off Freelancers.

      – Stand up to Digital Domain on the Florida fiasco

      – Getting some kind of group discount Health Insurance deal. Their insurance deal is pretty much the same as for anyone off the streets.

      Maybe if the VES actually stood up for digital artists they might get some love from us… Until then it seems like their main purpose is just to sustain itself.

  18. urizen says:

    @ jez

    While I personally would hesitate to hold up the bland mediocrity that was ‘The King’s Speech’ as a booster for anything at all, I understand your broader point. (Croupier or The Red Shoes or Get Carter or Kind Hearts and Coronets or Naked, etc. – although I’m ignorant of details regarding specific financing0- in the larger view then we’d have something to talk about maybe).

    Historically, many genuinely wonderful, unique, and important films have been made thanks in part to state subsidization of local industry throughout Europe. Having said that, the intermittently brilliant, cutting edge, and tragically palsied history of the British film industry in particular, is just one corner of a broader World Cinema experience in the context of what has been a Hollywood dominated medium both financially and culturally speaking. I may be wrong here, but I believe, at least in the past, that the French may have understood this kind of thing a little better in regard to state support of film production.

    Anyway, the subsidization of local culture and local artists for or against, is not what’s under discussion on this website. Dave Rand has made this point umpteen times in this forum, and yet…

    But if we do move the discussion into the explicitly political realm of ‘Fuck yeah America’, then the unconscious irony becomes thick even for the storied island irony appreciation capitol of the world, piss or no piss.

    Rather than promoting local production and genuinely non-American voices that enrich cinema, the direct, (and I’ll bet unknowing) investment by English, Canadian, and world wide taxpaying citizens (in the middle of today’s world wide financial crisis when most people are just trying to put food on the table!) in American Hollywood hamburger product, reduces world cinema to a Hollywood whore.

    Or Hollywood tart, as you would call it- quite rightly detecting the sour undertaste.).

    ‘Fuck yeah America’? To my eyes, the purest and sweetest definition of that kind of dumb ass imperial colonialism is bending over, grabbing your ankles, and funding the business ventures of American studios to pad the bottom line of fat cat American executives in order to pay next week’s rent.

    Or am I missing something here?

    If not, lets not obfuscate this subterranean American hegemony with fairy tails and wishes, and instead stick to the subject- American corporations are having their cake and eating it too, with the willing participation of politician lap dogs with their own goals and agendas, European and otherwise.

    As part of the fallout from this, effects artists throughout the world, are being thrown under the bus.

    But then, like most things Fuck Yeah American, we’re all merely collateral damage.

    Good luck with all of that, brothers and sisters.

  19. Dank says:

    Looks like the US has entered the Film subsidies war. It will be interesting to see what that does.

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