From the Montreal Gazette:
Britain’s Framestore Inc., a leading supplier of visual special effects and animation for the movie and TV industries, is setting up operations in Montreal and expects to provide 200 new jobs over the next three years. The project is being backed financially by the Quebec government with a repayable grant.
I wrote about this 3 months ago and pointed out that the reason for this move was because Quebec offers significantly larger subsidies than London. For every $100 in VFX salary paid there, the Quebec government offers $60 to the studio regardless of the amount of taxes owed.
Layoffs at Framestore London?
While things are looking up in Montreal with 200 new jobs, rumors are that 100-150 people at Framestore London may lose their jobs. I’ve been unable to verify the authenticity of this email which may have been sent out to Framestore London employees:
As projects approach their final weeks we have been reviewing the crew requirements for confirmed work in London. Whilst we are bidding on a number of projects we don’t expect work in London to pick up again until the Autumn so we need to reduce the headcount across all the VFX teams.
Following an initial review of crew schedules we would like you to attend a group meeting tomorrow at 10am in the Wells Street Cinema. At this meeting we will tell you more about the process we will follow to reach final decisions on which roles and individuals will be impacted by this and answer any questions you may have. There will be an opportunity for individual meetings over the next week or two but it is very important that you attend this group meeting. Your Producer and Supervisor know that they need to spare you for half an hour.
The Institutionalization of Displacement
Sad news. For years this blog has argued that subsidies in the VFX industry hurts professionals. Not only do we work project to project, but now we have to engage in an international job chase around the world as various governments hand huge amounts of cash to the studios so they can proudly say “we are creating jobs!”
An article came out yesterday from a writer in BC who so eloquently put our struggle into a short sentence. He called the subsidy race the institutionalization of displacement and unemployment. When we allow companies that we work for to do things like coercing of professionals to constantly move or prescribe day rates with no overtime, we institutionalize it where the next set of companies open up and turn the abuse into policy.
So What Should UK VFX Professionals Do?
Look I know this blog isn’t very popular with the folks in the UK but the struggle that has arrived to your shore is nothing new to California (and soon BC) VFX professionals. The subsidy war hurts all of us and there’s a reason why the European Commission is looking to ban or mitigate subsidies for the film industry.
The EC is quite responsive to people who contact them. I’d encourage you to all ban together and challenge the subsidies offered in Canada, US, Australia, and NZ. The UK has world-class VFX talent that resides there and while mitigating subsidies may not turn the UK into the hotspot it once was when it was the leader in the subsidy race, the work will ultimately go to where the talent resides when the playing field is level.
Let’s turn this race to the bottom into a race to the top.