An Open Letter to Ang Lee

Reposted with permission:

Dear Mr. Lee,

When asked about the bankruptcy of Rhythm + Hues, the visual effects house largely responsible for making your film “life of Pi” as incredible as it was, you said:

“I would like it to be cheaper and not a tough business [for VFX vendors]. It’s easy for me to say, but it’s very tough. It’s very hard for them to make money. The research and development is so expensive; that is a big burden for every house. They all have good times and hard times, and in the tough times, some may not [survive].”

I just want to point out that while, yes R&D can be expensive and yes it takes a lot of technology and computing power to create films like yours, it is not computer chips and hard drives that are costing you so very much money.  It is the artists that are helping you create your film.

So when you say  “I would like it to be cheaper,” as an artist I take that personally.   It took hundreds of hours from skilled artists and hard-working coordinators and producers to craft the environments and performances in life of Pi.  Not to mention the engineers that wrote all of that proprietary code and build the R+H pipeline.  That is where your money went.  I’d say, judging from the night you just had, you got one hell of a deal.

Incidentally, those were the same gorgeous sunsets and vistas that your DP Claudio Miranda took credit for without so much as a word of thanks to those artists.  And the same animated performances that helped win you the best director statue.  Nice of you to mentionthe pool crew, but maybe you could have thanked the guys and gals who turned that pool in to an ocean and put a tiger in to that boat?

It was world class work, after all.  And after a fabulously insulting and dismissive introduction from the cast of the avengers, at least two of whom spent fully half of their film as a digitally animated character, R+H won for it’s work on your very fine piece of cinema.  And just as the bankruptcy was about to be acknowledged on a nationally-televised platform, the speech was cut short.  By the Jaws theme.

If this was meant as a joke, we artists are not laughing.

Mr. Lee, I do believe that you are a thoughtful and brilliant man. And a gifted filmmaker.  But I also believe that you and everyone in your tier of our business is fabulously ignorant to the pain and turmoil you are putting artists through.  Our employers scramble to chase illegal film subsidies across the globe at the behest of the film studios.  Those same subsidies raise overhead, distort the market, and cause wage stagnation in what are already trying economic times.  Your VFX are already cheaper than they should be.  It is disheartening to see how blissfully unaware of this fact you truly are.

By all accounts, R+H is a fantastic place to work; a truly great group of people who treat their employees with fairness and respect.  Much like Zoic Studios, the fabulous company that I am proud to work for.  But I am beginning to wonder if these examples of decency will be able to survive in such a hostile environment.  Or if the horror stories of unpaid overtime and illegal employment practices will become the norm, all because you and your fellow filmmakers “would like it to be cheaper.”

I for one won’t stand for it.  Please join me.

Warmest regards and congratulations,
Phillip Broste
Lead Compositor


840 Responses to An Open Letter to Ang Lee

  1. Andrew says:

    Well stated Phil, proud to call you a colleague and a friend.

    • vfxmafia says:

      In the middle of all this bullshit….and blog trolls….and angry comments….

      you started the debate in all this…..a very big thank you to VFX soldier!
      for lighting a fire under our asses…… gave a shit when no one did!
      You put up a blog when no one would….you informed us when we were ignorant.
      you put in the time when no one cared…..! And we still don’t know who you are…..

      a big thank you to the 500 hundred at Hollywood and Vine!!!!!!!!
      a big thank you to VFX soldier and Dave and Les and Steve and the many more
      who fight for their families…their salaries…there dignity….there art!!!!!

      Motherfucking Movie Magic……(or what’s left of it)

    • bob@ANHGREE.COM says:

      makes me very ang lee.

    • Kruse says:

      Welcome to the real world in which most of us live. This is a childish and petulant rant. So no-one came and personally told you how wonderful you were, how nothing could have happened without your personal involvement. Awwww diddums.

      As to cost, I do hope you don’t ever take the opportunity to buy anything in major supermarkets and the like who rely, entirely, on driving down the price they pay to their suppliers in order to maximise profit, irrespective of the personal impact their strategy may have.

      • CptWho says:

        So your response to exploitative business practices is basically “everybody does it, so too bad”? Buy any slaves lately?

      • Aaron says:

        Wow, Kruse, you really are a stupid asshole.

      • Kruse says:

        > CptWho: No, my response is to be aware of the bigger picture. Don’t whine, hypocritically, because you think the system is working against you whilst enabling it to work against others.

        > Aaron: Brilliant response, full of wit and imagination shining a light on your intelligence. Did your Mum help you spell asshole?

      • The Iguana says:

        Childish rant? I got one.
        Hell, the web is the best place for one, I suppose.

        Kruse’s words seem harsh, but I do understand his point. It’s hard to promote the value of production skills when everybody with a web cam and a YouTube account is his own production company. I’ve worked as everything from a web developer to a puppet maker, an animator to midnight janitor in a Wal-Mart, I have never worked for a boss that didn’t wish that he could get everything cheaper. It’s easy to say, “That’s Life,” but it’s more accurate to say, “That’s Life as we have made it.”

        So let’s look at the problem from another direction. Most of us believe our schools suck but we don’t want to pay teachers. Most of us believe our government doesn’t work, but we are content to let industry buy politicians. So, it seems like society is OK with Ang’s opinion, and we reinforce it constantly with every decision we make. In the end, every director knows that media schools are churning out fresh artists every day who would be more than happy to give him fast, cheap and dirty production. So, let’s ask ourselves, is Ang wrong for treating his production team like cheap whores, or are the artists wrong for hearing Ang’s request and whoring themselves out? Its’ not up to the directors to draw the line in the sand, it’s up to the artists.

      • erwin grey says:

        Kruse seems to be on the outside looking in, and deigning to judge.

        Once an Avatar or a Pi is on his reel (ha), he will change his tune.

        For now, he is the type who tells others their talents have no value, for he feels his have none. “Be happy for what you have,” he says, for he would gladly undercut, and underbid, take no thanks, and ultimately scab just to be given a chance to get what these “whiners” have.

        Kruse, in short, is the common type who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

      • Kruse says:

        > Erwin Grey: Rather than trying to put words into my mouth why not endeavour to understand what I have actually said.

        I value my talents and ensure that I trade them at what I consider to be a fair price. If I don’t like the offer made, I don’t engage in the work.

        What I don’t do is carp on to sycophants about how I should be treated differently to anyone else because I am involved in any particular profession/trade etc.

        If you work cheap, or for free, then it really is a bit absurd to whine when people take your efforts and leave you with nothing. You don’t need Pi or Avatar to understand that, just the smallest grasp of human nature.

      • AngLeeIsSoComfy says:

        Kruse is actually pointing out how screwed the whole system is, actually, That people in the supply chain of everything we buy cheaply are screwed all the time for our convenience and with no recognition of their achievements or hard work. Definitely a big ‘welcome to the real world’ for vfx artists, so maybe since you are a little better off that the illegals picking your food, this moment is useful for the wider problem of how the system actually works, How imbalanced and unfair ‘reality’ actually is in this Robber Baron consumer capitalism that exploits the middle class, so the middle class can have cheaper food/toys/movies/gas/etc, while the Ang Lee’s of the world get awards. I applaude the VFX professionals for standing up for themselves and shining a light on this issue, cuz its not just their issue. Workers are treated like monkeys all over and VFX artists might help to change that or enlighten people of it in a small way.

      • explosiveliquid says:

        Post your reel.

      • lazyjonty says:

        Mate that is such a retarded response. History is littered with people like you, that make excuses for injustices.

      • Matt says:

        Kruse, you criticize him as petulantly ranting in your initial post, then you criticize the VXF community for not regulating their industry better and making sure they don’t sell for less than they’re worth. Can’t you see that’s precisely what the VFX community is now trying to do, that solidarity and dignity is first mustered precisely with these types of articles? You seem to be angry about the industry trying to take your own advice and live as you say you do. This confuses me. Maybe you can better unify and explain your stance?

      • Kruse says:

        > explosiveliquid: I will if you can explain how posting a reel would, in any way, shape or form add/detract anything from my statements. Try and understand that the issue raised here is global and can be found in any number of different industries.

        >lazyjonty: Understanding the issue would help your cause. Claiming I am an apologist for reality does nothing whatsoever. I don’t forgive the exigencies of capitalism but I do understand them.

        >Matt: I am not at all angry at any group uniting to protect their interests and move towards a fairer economic model but petulant and poorly aimed rants against one individual in the system is childish and pointless. Ang Lee sought a product, at a price. The VFX house sold themselves and their staff down the river by delivering something that was economically fallable.

        Grasping the real picture and acting with some reason, care and thought is the only way you’ll move the goalposts, not mindless rants that no-one in a position to do anything useful could give two hoots about.

      • lazyjonty says:

        ‘I don’t forgive the exigencies of capitalism but I do understand them.’ Really?

      • jakob burgos says:

        Let’s get this clear”

        We have Kruse saying the complaint was poorly formulated and presented. Then we have a bunch of other people saying his complaint was poorly formulated and presented.

        What have we learned arguing about this? Nothing.

        The point, no matter how it was presented, is that artists in the film industry are underpaid and undervalued. And those who have benefited from it, should champion those artists, not neglect them.

        So let’s stop nitpicking the details. The overall point, whether you agree with the presentation or not, is to treat and pay artists better.

        We don’t need to call people “whiners” or “assholes”. Or talk about fair pricing in supermarkets and all sorts of scattered issues.

        There is one issue at the heart here. Are artists being respected and paid for what they deserve?

        If you have a comment about that and it’s merits from personal experience — positive or negative — then great.

        Anything else is a distraction. Post it on your blog.

      • Kruse says:

        >lazyjonty: Yes, really 🙂

        >Jakob: The very point I have made is that this isn’t an isolated issue and unless you understand the broader context then you’ll spend your time fighting this in splendid, and futile, isolation. There’s a whole history and movement associated with the Labour struggle that stretches back hundreds of years and continues to fight for better conditions for workers. Are you really going to improve your position with your employers by simply ignoring all that previous, and ongoing, struggle. I rather doubt it.

      • best piture says:

      • Beneventi says:

        I am not directly involved in the film industry, but have been very following this whole ordeal.
        Normally I stay out of internet debates because they rarely solve anything and the factors contributing to issues like this are almost never black and white, but thought I’d post an entertaining video regarding ‘underpaid’ and ‘undervalued’ artists.
        Essentially it comes down to business, and for that reason I agree with much of what Kruse has said. You can be the best artist in the world, but at the end of the day it comes down to dollars (right or wrong, it is the world we’ve created – as others previously pointed out).

  2. tellor says:

    We have to share the situation to our medias, press online in our contries (france done)to show to everyone the disaster. We can change a lot of things now.
    Ang lee shame on you any words for artists..

  3. bleh says:

    film subsidies are not illegal. just sayin’…

    • Sim says:

      Well…I dunno…i mean, there are subsidies, and there are SUSIDIES. And ones that significant are no incentive, they are torpedos designed to destroy employment elsewhere….that is anti-competitive. Not to mention the nomadic and bankrupt existance being forced on us and our families because of it….a breach of human rights for sure….so yeah actually, kinda illegal, and a half decent lawyer could easily argue that to be the case.

      • bleh says:

        um, no, not quite.

      • Igor says:

        It does not need to be illegal to be wrong…

      • Studio_Spotter says:

        The WTO agreement, which Canada and The US are both members, states:

        “A subsidy granted by a WTO member government is “actionable” under the Agreement (again, certain exceptions are made for agricultural subsidies) if it “injures” the domestic industry of another country, or if it causes “serious prejudice” to the interests of another country.”

        “prejudice can arise in cases where a subsidy:…”

        “–significantly undercuts the price of a “like product” (e.g., an identical or similar product produced by another country;”

        There is little doubt whether 427 million in subsidies are undercutting the price of like products and injuring industries elsewhere. Under the WTO’s own guidelines it is illegal. The question is whether it is bad enough for the US to get into a subsidy argument with Canada.


      • Harold S. says:

        “Under the WTO’s own guidelines it is illegal.”

        The US spent $700 billion on TARP alone. And that was before they nationalized the auto industry. I think at this moment in history, what is and is not illegal is kind of irrelavent.

      • Easy says:

        The auto industry isn’t nationalized, sorry, try again.

      • Dyan Kane says:

        Wow. If only the 99.9% of actors out there who scrape and grovel for paid work while having to bite the bullet every year while the Oscar goes to those who were loved and ‘let in’ by Hollywood, if only we wrote one of these letters to SAG every year, saying: 1. No one can win more than one Oscar in a lifetime 2. Every Oscar winner must turn around and take one unknown actor/actress with them to their next big film, and the role for the unknown must be a speaking role that will put them on the map, maybe we, the 99% of the rest of the talented SAG UNION ACTORS would work more often. THANK YOU SFX for being an inspiration. I am sorry this happened to you.

      • Ymir says:

        I think it would be great if the 1%-ers in SAG had their millions ‘taxed’ and redistributed to the 99%-ers of SAG.

      • can'tWeJustGetAlong says:

        Tax breaks for keeping 70% of the work of US companies in America would certainly help even things out. As the entire nations Unemployment keeps rising, doesn’t that just make fiscal sense to be more globally competitive?

      • Harold S says:

        Easy said:
        “The auto industry isn’t nationalized, sorry, try again.”

        Yeah, I guess you can only say that the US auto industry was nationalized if you define nationalization as “the government buying it”.

        Which is exactly what happened.

      • Easy says:

        Try reading the definition of the word. A bailout is not the same thing. Nationalization is buying it and running it for keeps. That is not what happened.

      • Just Curious says:

        Harold S. – then you’d have to say that the banks are nationalized as well since we bailed them out too. Obviously, that’s not the case… Though perhaps it wouldn’t have been such a bad idea. Iceland did it when their economy tanked. They also threw a bunch of banksters in jail for fraud (as has yet to happen here) and their economy has rebounded quite quickly.

        Everyone should be aware that the movie studios were one of about 4 or 5 industries that were given tax incentives from the US government slipped into the fiscal cliff deal at the beginning of the year. This tells me that the studios are pocketing money from any and all sources of handouts… not just the highest bidder. My tax dollars are being shoved into their pockets while they move my job to Canada in order to take someone else’s tax dollars. It isn’t right.

        Oh, and I’m one who had defended the NM subsidies because I thought it helped me to have a better lifestyle… but you’ll see how much that matters to anyone else as soon as the next shiny country/state makes another offer.

    • megalodon8 says:

      Actually, there will be disputes on these kinds of subsidies since these nations involved signed the WTO agreement and subsidies CAN be considered “illegal.” This is an action that may be pursued.

      Just sayin’…

    • Film subsidies are unfair ... says:

      My dear British Colombian friend bleh, surely you must have read my posts on the other thread by now:
      “The WTO is sometimes described as a “free trade” institution, but that is not entirely accurate. The system does allow tariffs and, in limited circumstances, other forms of protection. More accurately, it is a system of rules dedicated to open, fair and undistorted competition.”
      You may dance with your semantics, but $437 million in British Colombian film subsidies distorts the competition in an extremely unfair way.

      Phillip, thank you for speaking on our behalf.

      • bleh says:

        not really semantics in the legal sense, but hey, whatever.

      • Simply put ... says:

        British Colombia is not playing by the “system of rules dedicated to open, fair and undistorted competition.”

      • SwitchedOn says:

        The US gov has been using protectionist tactics i.e excessive import duties and subsidies against many areas of trade from agriculture to steel for decades. You can’t blame other govs doing the same.

        Subsidies are just a smoke screen, you will not be able to hold back the tide against the effects of globalisation. The vast majority of VFX work will go to the same places your trainers are currently made. Who knows there may be an inflection in the world economy and westerners will be making the shoes for the successful Asian VFX artists to wear.

      • Ymir says:

        To be clear, we’re talking about two different kinds of subsidies here:

        1.) Subsidies paid by a government to it’s own businesses to help them grow,

        2.) Subsidies paid by a government to businesses of another country to lure jobs away

        The film subsidies clearly fall in the second category. They do nothing to help a home grown industry, helping that nation’s citizens to prosper. The money leaves the country, profiting the American studios.

      • occupyvfx says:

        @SwitchedOn, based on your prediction, all of visual effects work will be done in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, and Laos within five years. These are the areas of the world with the cheapest cost of labor. However, your assumption is incorrect and flawed, because it would appear that your perception of visual effects is that it is a manufacturing process. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Don’t forget that we are artists, not technicians. If the process could have been automated and outsourced, it would have been done years ago. India has had active visual effects houses and major global investment into the sector for well over a decade. Why do you think that all of our jobs are not done in India entirely at this point?

      • Ryan Peeters says:

        Film subsidies have been in place since 1998 in BC. Has anyone, in all this time, actually bothered to challenge their legality or is this just a continual bitch fest?
        You’d think such an egregious (or supposedly egregious) violation of WTO rules would have been punished by now.

      • Tiamet says:

        Article 5 of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures stipulates “that no member should cause, through the use of subsidies, adverse effects to the interests of other signatories, i.e. injury to domestic industry of another signatory . . . . In the event that it is determined that such adverse effects exist, the subsidizing member must withdraw the subsidy or remove the adverse effects.” The language is pretty clear! just saying…

      • occupyvfx says:

        Actually, people have been attempting to combat tax subsidies and runaway production since 1998. A group called the Film and Television Action Committee has filed a 301(a) petition with the US Trade Representative. The Hollywood Reporter has an article on this effort from 2007:

    • not bleh says:

      you bring nothing to the table. quit commenting

      • bleh says:

        pretty sure this is an open forum, thanks. Am pointing out that a lot of good people with families rely on subsidies. Just keep this in mind when you’re trashing subsidies. the world is bigger than LA.

      • Igor says:

        Building houses on sand, you cant rely on the sand. Just saying. It is not a about the jobs in LA only, its about those jobs build on subsides which will fall apart as soon as subsides end. All we can agree on is, stop subsides and pay the jobs nonetheless. There is soo much work done by underpaid, overtimed artists, the work of every one could be divided, but nobody wants to pay that. so they rather create a climate of fear, do overtime, do it for less money, or you and your family will face financal problems, and in the betweentime the movies create big money., but where does it all go? thats what this is all about. that we unite, some profit less, others more from it, but in the end, so that we all can work, and that work got respected, as well as we as individuals get more respect. we are human beings with a life. but rightnow we reached slavery2.0 where we snatch the whips and whip ourselves senseless to make the client happy.

      • don'tbleh says:

        bleh , no one wins with subsides. Everyone in British Columbia likes them now, but what about when they dry up, and Montreal out subsidizes BC?
        As long as the industry is driven by subsides it will never be stable for anyone. It will always dry up somewhere, and pick up somewhere else.

      • Ymir says:

        Bleh, why not just ask the BC government to pay the subsidies directly to the good people? Because then it would be called welfare. But at least the money would be staying in BC and not going to American studios, eh?

  4. Andreas jablonka says:

    Well written.

  5. vfxTaiwan says:

    I just googled on internet and see if there is a way to contact him.
    and I found this.
    it runs by Ang Lee’s brother, Gang Lee
    and here is the facebook

  6. Nikita Saini says:

    very well put Phillip.. I hope this will get some sense into the guy..

  7. CG Joe says:

    Great letter, many thanks.

  8. bleh says:

    Removing subsidies is one piece of the puzzle … says:
    February 24, 2013 at 11:36 pm
    Removing subsidies isn’t a silver bullet, but its an important component, and will even the playing field. VFX Union is another part. We are stronger together.

    CG Joe says:
    February 25, 2013 at 12:21 am
    Yeah I agree, totally. I worry that the subsidy issue has more potential to be divisive than unifying though… a TON of great, passionate and hardworking people in subsidized locations, it’s a tactical and strategic puzzle that I hope Solider, Rand and others have a plan for…

    • The WTO stands for open, fair, and undistored competition ... says:

      We only desire “open, fair and undistorted competition”, according to the principles of the WTO. And a piece of the Pi, in the form of residuals toward healthcare and retirement, that come through unionization. Why do you continue to disparage our efforts to unionize and promote fair competition?

      • The WTO reply above was meant for my British Colombian friend, bleh says:

        CG Joe, I agree with you. I believe fair competition will even the playing field, and that is good for everyone in the long term. $437 million in British Colombian subsidies is not a sustainable solution.

      • Igor says:

        Problem is: WTO is a f+++ed up system. They know how to make money, and it is not the open, fait and undistorted way. You can find a lot of articles, and books on them, and how they distort the system.

  9. Siyun Yi says:

    Hope we can still survive. It’s bad for us that the best Direct in Oscar before so many viewers say so .

  10. Sonya Ballas says:

    I’m a budding producer in VFX. This letter is spot on and I hope to carry this attitude throughout my work. My artists come first, even if that means I’m out of a job. I hope to make this industry better than when I came in. Cheers.

  11. Rob says:

    “I would like it to be cheaper”
    When he probably already made millions off of te work of many unpaid and underpaid artists and many more who worked ridiculous overtime. Just another greedy bastard, it would seem. I hope he and everybody like him choke on their damn money!

    • Rob says:

      “tHe work”, obviously.

    • Nikita says:

      this is where the money goes.. guy like him and the producers, they want everything “cheap” but at the same time they are looking for top notch quality (corrections in an infinite loop). They are least bothered if the artists are underpaid or overworked, or even if the studio is making any profit. Give them what they want just don’t ask for anything in return.

      • Grem says:

        We need more directors like Tarantino – that take the hit on their own salaries when then go over budget just to make a more badass film.

    • Tina says:

      There are so many greedy people between Lee and VFX artists
      just saying…

      • diggingahole says:

        Unless we see their books we can only speculate on where the money went. It would be interesting to see how much actually went into the making the images and how much was soaked-up by the fat & parasites that studios tend to accumulate over time…

    • george says:

      The quote was severely misinterpreted. Read the full article that it came from before you get angry at Ang Lee:

  12. Monica says:

    Dear Philip, thanks for the wonderfully written letter. We should all start following your example and start writing. Also, as a fellow (female) artist thanks for writing “guys and gals”, not just guys.

  13. Steve says:

    “By all accounts, R+H is a fantastic place to work; a truly great group of people who treat their employees with fairness and respect.”

    By some accounts, aren’t a large number some ex-staff owed wages and in fact one has launched a class action against the company?

    I dunno, Ang Lee has always seemed like a decent and humble guy to me, compared to many directors and I don’t know about seizing on this one comment and turning him into ‘The Bad Guy’. I doubt he had much involvement in the nitty-gritty financials behind the R&H contract, did he?

    BTW according to Ang Lee also said “This film had great visual effects and it’s false to think that (VFX workers) are just technicians.”

    • fALK says:

      He was in the position to make a statement on behalf of his team – a team that had most of the work to make his vision a reality – failing to take this opportunity and even reversing the talking points by suggesting to make VFX even cheaper then they already are makes him the bad guy – sorry to say so. He can´t be this ignorant to not see the whole problem – directors talk daily with producers – producers explain problem in financing to directors. If he would care even the slightest for his crew as he as a nice decent humble director should he would not have made such a comment – especially in an interview after the show where he could have cleared things in a more precise way. There is no excuse for this.

    • rfk says:

      When a company goes bankrupt you have to get in line with your lawyers. Believe me, the company’s other debtors already have theirs. So don’t take the class action suit like some sort of reprimand against R&H. It’s just a way to try to get paid.

    • vfxc says:

      Regardless of whether or not he had any involvement with the “nitty-gritty financials”, he had an opportunity to thank the people responsible for making his film what it is. He wouldn’t be standing there without them in the first place and to be so thoughtless and selfish in a moment of power is what spawned much of the anger.

  14. soldieron says:

    Thanks for this open letter.

  15. tellor says:

    Great letter phillip thank you

  16. nathan says:

    Ang Lee certainly got excited when they won.

    Glad I didn’t watch this show and add to its ratings, cutting them off like that! They were given nearly no time, instead we had to watch the avengers actors take even more limelight with some lame jokes.

  17. intvfxartist says:

    Nikita said it right.

    Ang Lee’s ignorant comment goes to show that he and everyone and everything that comes before vfx in a film considers vfx like some “necessary evil”…like some additional tool/cost to create their vision. Apparently were too expensive. Why oh why is it so expensive to just make a realistic tiger… to destroy L.A. the World (a million different ways, to replace actors etc etc) A mentality that shouldn’t come from any artist if that’s what he is. last time I checked a Director is a type of artist right?
    He’s ignorant about what we do and what we bring to these films. Most of these films can’t be made without us. AND RE-MADE at times because they can’t shoot it properly.

    The vfx facilities should organize a trade org for everyone’s own good before we all go union. The pressure from the top (film studios) isn’t going to squish us at the bottom for long… we’re going to start to push up… the facilities in the middle is going to feel it even more if they don’t get their shit together. It’s in their best interest.

  18. […] Carta abierta a Ang Lee [ENG] […]

  19. Robin Teo says:

    Why should Ang Lee be singled out for what he says? Why I am with the plight of my friends and peers who are suffering in the industry, Ang Lee need to be given more opportunity to share his thoughts. He did say sympathetically it’s tough for vendors. He’s just being honest about looking for best service with low cost ratio. Aren’t we all like that when we go out and buy our goods or services? I don’t think he’s saying getting away cheap as in manipulating people working for nothing.

    We need to be more thoughtful in our approach during this climate of crisis. While often artists can be seen as being rubbed over, we don’t have to repay back with the same hostility or sentiment. We earn more respect that way. My 2 cents worth.

    • Monica says:

      Why shouldn’t he be singled out, I ask you? What he said was exemplary in its insensibility.
      His movie got an oscar for VFX and he didn’t even think of thanking the underpaid people that worked overtime to make that happen.
      To create VFX it takes years of study, learning, practice. On top of that, companies ask you to work overtime unpaid and to sacrifice your personal life, in order to meet the increasing demands of the studios.
      In the unlikely event that Mr Lee or anyone in its staff might be reading these comments, I think we would all like to kindly make appeal to his intelligence as a man and sensibility as an artist to invite him to please think about the people who helped creating his movie in order to re-articulate his thoughts.

      • Robin Teo says:

        Monica, thanks for your thoughts. I would like to know firstly, are there any proof that those who work under R and H, were underpaid? Secondly, I still think we should give Lee some benefit of the doubts seeing he has a history of sympathy with artists in his work. Comments about expensive R and D shouldn’t be equate he doesn’t appreciate artists sacrifice and effort. Third, when he says he wants to make his film to keep the cost down, I think that’s not an outrageous comment. But we have to view in context, he doesn’t say that in expense exploit of other people’s labour. R and H is the supplier of that service, and he deals with the rep of the studio. He does not look at how they pay their artists. Until we have some revelation of his further thoughts on this issue whether he’s totally ignorant or not, we should give the man some room of benefit of the doubt. By saying all this I do not minimise the plight of us artists going through hard times or dismiss the whole issue of exploitation. It’s just common sense we do not want to take people out of context with few sentences on the issue.

  20. Robin Teo says:

    Correction, I meant to say, While I am with the plight of my friends and peers who are suffering in the industry, Ang Lee need to be given more opportunity to share his thoughts.

    • Monica says:

      Hi, thanks Teo for replying; I like exchanging ideas. I will answer point by point to your last post.
      “are there any proof that those who work under R and H, were underpaid?”
      This issue is wider than R and H, whatever they were paid. It’s the same wide-world industry, the same (wrong) system.The trend everywhere is for lower and lower wages. Many of those artists have zero pay now anyway as they have lost their jobs.
      ” He does not look at how they [vfx companies] pay their artists”
      That’s wrong in my opinion. That doesn’t mean it’s not his responsability to at least try and make sure that his vision is not realised through the exploitation of workers. It’s just to easy to turn your head and pretend you don’t know.
      If he was a fashion brand making clothes in sweatshops, he would be heavily criticized, no?
      “Until we have some revelation of his further thoughts on this issue whether he’s totally ignorant or not, we should give the man some room of benefit of the doubt.”
      You are right in some ways, but the fact that he didn’t aknowledge these people during the ceremony, when it would have really counted, speaks volumes already.
      ” It’s just common sense we do not want to take people out of context with few sentences on the issue.”
      True, you are right. I’m looking forward to hear more from him.

      • tiger says:

        Ang Lee said thank you to Canada – he didn’t shoot the movie in Canada – the VFX were done there… also isn’t getting an oscar for the work thanks enough? Tax credits ain’t the problem sourcing work out to China, Laos & India is the problem – that isn’t Ang Lee’s fault – he did show his sorrow about R&H’s bankruptcy to the Hollywood Reporter before the ceremony.

    • Yes. They are.
      I posted this elsewhere, but it deserves to be here too:

      “After winning the Oscar for Best Director, Ang Lee addressed the financial woes that struck his Life Of Pi VFX collaborators at Rhythm & Hues. “It’s bad news that visual effects are too expensive and I’m aware of Rhythm & Hues’ (situation)”, he said, noting that VFX artists are “more than just technicians”.

      You know what I realized bugs me about this statement, and the others like it tonight?

      Back in the 90’s we were called “wizards”, “artists”, “virtuosos”, etc; and personally I have always thought of myself as an artist, and always have felt a certain gratitude to be “lucky” enough to work in an industry where I [usually] get paid to be creative.

      But somewhere along the line between then and now, the public perception (and film industry perception) went from artist to technician. I think the fact that people believe computers do all the work now had something to do with this 😉

      On a related note, I think someone on here once stated the reason the studios always seem to have us over a barrel: it’s because we love what we do, and we would almost do it for free. The curse of the creative professional, and believe me studio execs are very good at spotting such weakness and exploiting it.
      They think they’ve got it all sewn up, and they do: most VFX employees consider themselves lucky to be getting paid these days. As long as that perception (on both sides) persists, we have an uphill battle IMHO.

      • Nikita says:

        I couldn’t agree more. People lie us, artists, love to work such awesome stuff. We consider ourselves lucky to get paid for something we love to do “A hobby that pays”. And this fact is exploited by the studios, they are aware of the weak point, and know how and when to press it. Overtime never gets paid (not so sure about RnH). During deadlines, most weekends are working, there is rarely any public holiday. And we don’t even argue over it as we understand that it needs to be done, we sacrifice family and social life. But what are we getting in return? These people we work for can’t even acknowledge our efforts. I seriously don’t understand where this all is leading towards.

      • VFXodus says:

        I think we are being seen as “technicians” because we ACT like technicians now: being told what to do with no objections, happy to be the silent cogs. Artists show creativity, they are opinionated and don’t hide their passion. The VFX people nowadays say yes to everything, don’t rebel or take a stand. So can you blame the non VFX people of looking at us like technicians? I hope we see this now and finally start actively changing. “Revolutions” start with a spark, a catalyst after years and decades of being uncomfortably silent. The time has come I think

      • Jen says:

        I think someone on here once stated the reason the studios always seem to have us over a barrel: it’s because we love what we do, and we would almost do it for free.

        Comic artists face similar pressures. Some escape by self-publishing their own work (ex: Jeff Smith’s BONE and RASL).

        This could be an option for some 3d artists — they could leave Hollywood and try to create their own short films, picture books, graphic novels, posters and T-shirts.

        It would not be an option for all 3d artists, however.

      • lainbrain says:

        The artists may love what they do, but the studios should pay a fair wage for it. The fact that they have peace-work slave type conditions and bidding wars on the work makes me sick. I heard many of these artists didn’t get their full paychecks. Even if you unionized and stuck together (meaning all of the artists and companies) skanky Hollywood businessman would go to other countries to get their slave labor. (Judging from the articles I read this morning.) What a filthy, corrupt business!) I’m all for saving money, but not at the expense of the artist. Cut the director’s and actor’s paychecks. Pay the artists their due. Yeah, I know. I’m naive. Sorry, I’m just angry for you guys.

  21. QQ says:

    vfx monhtly QQ letter

  22. Boul. says:

    About subsidies, coming from a continent where pretty much all cinema lives on subsidies in one form or an other. The thing is apart from the US very few country have a population/market large enough to sustain self sufficient film industry. The situation is being made even tougher by the distribution juggernaut imposed on Europe as part of the post WW2 reconstruction agreement (yes we were forced to accept your films massively when you couldnt’ care less about “foreign films”). So yes, in a world where all is equal subsidies are kind of unfair… just like the subsidies the US gov hands out massively to US agricultors is incredibly unfair to third world agricultors. But in this case, subsidies are just a way to help cinematography survive in smaller markets. Free trade is only beneficial when all the players play on equal terms. It is very rarely the case, and everybody cheats in a way or an other.

    • Ymir says:

      To be an apples to apples comparison, your film subsidies should be going to support your country’s film industry, just as US subsidies are supporting US agriculture. Your subsidies should not be going to support American studios.

      • GREEN says:

        I am no tax expert and I am not convinced that this kind of solution would work either in a globalized world.
        But certainly as it stands now tax money in one country is subsidising studios in another country (mostly Hollywood studios). Surely there must be laws against this, they are just disregarded. The canadian taxpayers are giving free money to California.

      • Ymir says:

        I agree. I’m not supporting subsidies. Just pointing out that the process of the US supporting it’s own agriculture industry is different than the process of other countries supporting the US studios. If they’re going to use that argument, then they need to realize that it would be better if their government supported their own film industry and build it up instead of using their government money to buy work from American based studios. I’m all for the subsidies to go away.

  23. danny says:

    just my two cents.. Ang Lee and Claudio Mirandi can go fuck themselves.

    (I couldn’t be bothered to put it in more eloquent terms)

    As a side note could we please stop giving these directors/studios so much damn respect..?

    • “Everything looks beautiful in Life of Pi. The dangerous animals look beautiful. The terrible storms look beautiful. The crashing ocean waves, the twinkling stars, the wondrous carnivorous island on which the hero at one point lands — pure gorgeousness”

      From Claudio Miranda’s website…He’s bee taking credit for far too long, for things he is not responsible for.

      • danny says:

        dude i read that too. How the hell can anyone take so much credit for doing so little. What i mean is, any run of the mill DP can light and frame a frickin’ swimming pool shot.

        I asked a few people about Pi and they had no idea that the beautiful skies/ clouds were vfx… testament to how awesome the vfx industry is simply for the fact that people don’t question that it’s real.

      • lainbrain says:

        Everything is beautiful in that film, (I haven’t seen it yet.) It’s all sunny in that film. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the parasites that run the shoe are evading taxes and not paying the artists who made this beautiful film. It infuriates me. The fact that they are avoiding taxes makes it even more infuriating.

      • lainbrain says:

        Oops, show. LOL! Macintosh typo correct is messing me up!

  24. “…our VFX are already cheaper than they should be. It is disheartening to see how blissfully unaware of this fact you truly are.”


    • Please elaborate. What “should be” the cost of vfx?

      The market is the only thing that reliably determines pricing, the point where a willing buyer and a willing seller meet. As long as there are people willing to provide their talents at the given rates and the clients continue to pay those rates, that is the right price.

      You certainly may desire higher rates, just as the clients certainly desire lower rates. You have leverage – you don’t have to take the job at the rates you deem to low, just as they have leverage – they can seek out companies or individuals willing to charge them less.

      Seems to me the only ways to change this is to globally unionize and get the studios to enter into exclusive agreements, or to have the federal government create protectionist laws and hope the studios don’t find ways to work around those. I don’t think either of these have ever happened successfully in our history, but maybe it would work.

      • Julio Leon says:

        The cost of VFX should be that which pays the artists to work with dignity.

      • CptWho says:

        “The Market” is manipulated by the studios and the barriers for entry are too high for the studios to feel any pressure to do anything other than force the VFX houses into a race to the bottom.

        There are only a handful of major studios and they frequently work in concert with each other to set industry standards because nobody else can compete with them. Unionizing is the right answer, because although what they are doing is not technically a monopoly, they are behaving as one.

    • lainbrain says:

      There should be an established market price across the board that is comparable to that of any of the crew in a movie, but more because they are artists. There should be paid overtime as that job requires long hours. Each year the pay scale should go up as it does for the others who work in the industry. The show biz big wigs who seek to get cheaper labor in other countries should be taxed twice.

  25. Reality Check says:

    First world problems.

    • Seriously?! says:

      Yes, people not being paid for work, companies going bankrupt and people losing jobs because of that is definitely worthy of the phrase that is used to describe people complaining of having the wrong color if an iPhone.
      (Maybe troll but I could not stop myself…)

  26. Easy says:

    That’s it NERDS, keep on being polite! It’s worked so well up until now that the industry is falling apart. Here’s a pat on the head, now run along, you have shots to complete… We’ll get you some pizza and later you’ll get a credit somewhere after the caterers and payroll. Suckers!

  27. AniMatters says:

    I really don’t understand how Ang Lee can be blamed for his speech or for anything that has to do with R & H going bankrupt. Ang Lee is a film maker and film making is one of the “riskiest” business ever. Its the kind’of business where one cannot really be sure whether the product would succeed, even when one’s sure of delivering a world class film. Because of this uncertainty every film maker desires to keep the costs as low as possible because, if at all the film bombs at the box office, the money lost will also be at the minimum. There are examples of hundreds of good films flopping at the box office and the producers losing their homes and landing up literally on the streets, but there never has been an example where the VFX houses or other stakeholders in the making, give back a slice of their profits to these producers.. so why this outburst?? R & H quoted a price of its work on Life of pi, and the studio executives paid them what they agreed upon, so why this blame game??..if this was case where R & H wasn’t reimbursed of their bills then makers are to blamed..but in this case R & H was paid every penny as contractually agreed.

    My personal take on what happened at R&H is a clear-cut case of bad management or financial and project mis-management, which was pretty evident from the speed at which R & H was expanding. They were opening huge facilities at different locations around the globe without the skill to manage it right. The second branch in India was a huge mistake because the managers were absolutely incapable of managing huge teams and even before they could justify profits by these expansions, they went ahead to make the biggest mistake by opening the Malaysian branch, which was managed by people who NEVER EVER had the expertise in managing projects of such scale! ..and even before they could see any money come in, they opened a branch in Taiwan too!!!..and after opening so many branches, they realized that the costs of training, operating and talent management were not accounted right and they realized that they have ended up with a stable of white elephants, without enof money to feed..SO, they went on to pick every “other” project that passed by, by either under-quoting or price slashing their services and went ahead to pick up multiple projects, which was unfortunately badly managed, which resulted in exceedingly huge production costs that went beyond their budgets.(mind you, employee politics is at the peak in R&H because of this huge sudden inflow of manpower)

    Because of this “greed” or “over ambitiousness” as I may say, other worthy & renowned FX houses lost their chunk of business to R & H and had to ultimately close down. In simple terms R & H tried to chew more than they could digest which ultimately got them sick, and bought them to this state.

    • Isass Derptard says:

      Yes.. why should a noted director fall on a sword for employees that help mold his vision. Without them, his vision would have not come to fruition. But you’re right.. screw them. As for R&H taking on work that others may have done out of sheer greed is moronic. How many smaller houses do you know have the people, R&D and the history of working in similar films to tackle a project such as this? How many of those have a proven track record? Exactly. It’s easy to blame R&H and Lee on this but then you’d be wrong.

      • AniMatters says:

        Your comment didn’t make any sense, but then I wont call it moronic( as u mentioned), but would leave it as senseless to me.

        R & H is a service provider, and as a service provider, you sell ur service for a cost to a buyer. If the buyer doesn’t pays you for ur service, u have a right to complain..but if you have quoted a price, and the buyer pays you for what u asked ..and then if anything goes wrong in your house, how is the buyer or client liable??
        As for ur question on “How many smaller houses do you know have the people, R&D and the history of working in similar films to tackle a project such as this? How many of those have a proven track record? “.. well, can u give me a valid reason for, why Ang Lee or the studio execs didn’t choose DD or ILM or Sony or Pixmondo , etc etc to do the FX for life of Pi??.. who happen to be within the same margins of costing??? .. or if the production budget was small, then they would eventually have went to go a smaller studio and let me tell you, there are a LOT of small studios who do remarkable work.. BY the way, at one point of time R & H was working consecutively on 5 big projects while DD was crying for just 1.. so, are u suggesting they were doing some kind-of social service by taking upon so many films that they couldn’t manage??

      • Ymir says:

        AniMatters, it would be nice if the buyer would actually pay the service provider what it takes to do the job, instead of forcing them to underbid against other service providers just to get the work in the door. The buyer (studios), after all, has the money to spend. The buyers are forcing the service providers in to this tenuous position.

      • Ymir: How were they forced?

        Nobody forced anything.

        If a company is bidding for projects and the bid isn’t something they can financially sustain, that’s bad management on the part of the VFX studio.

        Nobody is forcing anything on them.

      • Ymir says:

        Michael, it’s an implied force. If the facility wishes to stay in the game and have any chance of bringing more work to keep the doors open (some work is better than no work) then they have to keep bidding. Sort of like eBay in reverse. The studios aren’t forcing them to bid, the reality of facility economics are, and the studios know this. And use it.

    • ABM says:

      Dear Sir AniMatters, are you with the senior management at R&H? Coz through the deep wisdom that you show through your writings, its pretty evident that you don’t have a fuckin’ clue how R&H was managed. Because the Asian facilities existed was the reason so many artists in LA had a pretty stable job (as compared to others in this industry) until now. And perhaps the strongest factor that could help pull R&H out now of its current situation would be again, its Asian facilities.

      Mind you, R&H doesn’t have any backing of deep-pocket owners that ILM, Weta or Sony has. And it did what it had to survive for this long in the industry while taking care of its employees as much as it could. Perhaps it is this taking care of its employees that you label as a “clear-cut case of bad management”.

      • AniMatters says:

        Well, you sound like one of those failures from the Malaysian studio or one of those “management” stalwart at R & H, because of whom, evidently the studio got screwed and now u r trying to justify ur stupid actions over here,..or you must be one of tjhose useless a$$lickers in the Malaysian or other overseas branch, who obviously does’nt do any work but gets an salary cheque on time and now is having the fear of being kicked out and u has nowhere to go because u dont know anything else other than ass licking!!!..OR,, you would be someone who has zero knowledge of how studios are run and how business is done..

        Dude, the message is clear that the studio screwed up!.. R & H was working on the maximum number of projects with valuation above 25 mil, and it was a failure of their managers because of which the studio is SCREWED!!.. R & H, had quoted a pricce for its service and they were paid what they asked how is the studios at fault???.. Its either they under-quoted (which is a management problem)..or they messed up the production by letting inefficient people to manage and production costs overshot the budget!!.. as simple as that! IF, ILM, OR SONY OR WETA..screwed up on their production in a similar fashion, then they too will have to shut down! seriously, I don’t even understand what ur argument is!
        ..its a plain and clear scenario, R & H screwed, and they shift the blame on someone else.

      • ABM says:

        @AniMatters: No wait, on what proof are basing your rants on? The studios are “forced” to underbid, so that they can try to stay in business than just close out outright. Everyone unfortunately does it, and sometimes it backfires. However wonderfully you manage your vfx facility, there is hardly any leverage vfx studios have over movie studios and hence are exploited.

        And by what you’re posting, I seriously doubt whether you are just poor disgruntled artist venting out his frustrations, or just a movie studio troll sent to disrupt whatever constructive conversation is going on here.

      • AniMatters says:

        Dear ABM, .. as you said, I can be a “poor disgruntled artist venting out his frustrations, or just a movie studio troll sent to disrupt whatever constructive conversation is going on here.”.. and, I wont defend ur knowledge bout me because ur statement itself shows who’s the “ranter”.
        what I find funny is that you are either trying to justify this failure by putting the blame onto someone else..or ur just acting as a bully, trying to hush up anyone who reveals the inside matters out. What makes me wonder is who are U and in what way u r connected to R & H. Either u r a born idiot, who will shows his/her fury over people who reasons against their belief or u r just a plain born idiot. I wouldn’t worry if u were the latter.

        And yeah.. if u want a constructive conversation, then lets converse. Thats what I am here for. I gave my side of reasoning, but other than throwing slash at me..whats the point u r trying to make?? whom would you blame for the bankruptcy?? you yourself said that “The studios are “forced” to underbid, so that they can try to stay in business”.. but my question is who’s forcing the studios to underbid??.. do you know that underbidding is one of the biggest mistake one makes in business???.. and if someone underbids knowingly, then isn’t that a stupid decision especially one has more than 2 big projects in their kitty??
        Lastly, production studio execs never force studios to underbid, its the VFX studios who bite into each others share of business and underbid in the name of “competition”! why blame the production studio execs??.. that’s my argument to make.

      • ABM says:

        @AniMatters: Studios underbid in the hope that if they can manage to stay afloat, eventually they will get a project where maybe they can make some money. It is business after all, and who’d want to right away shut down their business without trying to keep its door open.

        If you are, at this point of time, asking what is forcing studios to underbid each other, then frankly you need to go back to all the post that Soldier wrote, which maybe you didn’t understand or perhaps didn’t care to read.

        I would have continued this useless argument more, but I need to catch some sleep so that I can go back and work in one of those Asian facilities that you so casually dissed, so that the current projects deliver on time so that everyone, be it Asian or LA artist benefit.

      • AniMatters says:

        I think its better for u to sleep off since u yourself feel that you cannot put anymore sense into the ongoing argument.. especlly since u r going on repeating the same old stupidities of justifying underbidding in one hand and blaming the studios for paying less on the other, ..which sadly doesn’t hold any strength or balances ur argument 🙂

      • AniMatters says:

        Hei ABM, you still haven’t told the story that ur superiors must have told you, bout the reason of this bankruptcy.
        NOW, Rather than coming up with silly re-bucks, wouldn’t it be more worthwhile if u just shared whats the company’s version of explanation for this screw up??..

    • You clearly never worked directly with the Mumbai, Hyderabad or KL offices of R&H or their crews, because you have no idea in the slightest what you are talking about.

  28. Isass Derptard says:

    I wonder what would happen if notable directors and more importantly, A-list actors got on board with the plight of VFX employees. Say for instance, if someone who just won an Oscar for Argo were to stand up and state publicly during his acceptance speech his displeasure with what is going on, would more people be aware. I’m sure the liberal media would finally be all over that. I think some of the bigger names can afford to provide a little bit of heat between them and studios they work with. Hell if people are still willing to work and provide effects for people like Lee and Boll, studios should be willing to work with a Hemsworth, Pitt, Smith or other who raises the issue publicly.

    Hell, if Lohan and Sheen can still work in the industry after what they have done, you would think some real talent may be able to get some movement on this. I think hitting them up on twitter and getting a #hashtag trend going may raise some eyebrows too.

    • vfxwarrior says:

      Not gonna happen. If anything most Directors/Producers/Stars hate the high cost of VFX and recent that it takes up so much of their budget. They could care less about Rhythm and Hues. It’s not their fault the VFX industry is failing, they are the ones pumping HUGE amounts of money into something they see as something they have to do to make the film they want.

      • Nikita says:

        I agree, its not just director, most of time its the producer of the movie screaming to keep the cost down, since they are well aware of the buyer’s market, they exploit the fact. They wouldn’t mind to pay shit loads of money on the costumes/make-up ( we all have seen red-carpet, haven’t we) but a little bit portion that goes to the vfx seems a lot to them, as if all the cost cutting has to be done is this portion alone.

      • VFX_reckoning says:

        The directors and actors aren’t pumping money into anything. They’re just reaping the rewards. Millions upon millions of it.

      • coastuc says:

        And look at poor old Ian McKellen, crying soft tears of woe because he had to act with a ball on a stick in front a greenscreen. No, my friends, there is no love lost between most actors and the visual effects community, I’m pretty sure of that.

  29. vfxwarrior says:

    To me Ang Lee’s comments show the lack of communication and disconnect from directors to the actual work. Having worked in the industry for awhile now this is the biggest problem to me and I’ll just use Ang Lee as an example.

    Ang Lee is never told artists worked 48 hours straight to make a deadline. Ang Lee is never told to redo a simple shot will take weeks of re-tracking and painting. He is just told by disconnected producers themselves to his people that everything is A-ok and not to worry we can do anything he wants. The deadline gets met, or if it’s not met the people in charge of communication tell ang lee’s people a bullshit excuse that is not even close to the truth.

    You have all these bullshit exec’s and the “real” artists would never be allowed to talk to Ang Lee and the ones that do are so afraid of saying something wrong and getting fired by these execs. Any director is put in a bubble by the studio, because of horrible communication lines that water down the real work that happens. Have directors like Ang Lee stop being fed bullshit by corp execs you would find you would get more respect for artists in the industry. I think most high up execs and directors have no idea what we go through because they get the sugar coated ass saving version of things, not the reality. This causes disrespect for the Artists because nobody gives them credit for anything, because only the actual Artists actually understand what they do.

    There is a lot more to it than that, but that is what I have observed.

    • Monica says:

      I agree. If directors knew what goes on they would be more sympathetic.

      • vfxwarrior says:

        I think it would go along way much more than sympathy, I have had the fortune of sitting in dailies with big name directors (not allowed to speak to them of course) and the Bullshit they are feed about how shots are made and the difficulties of certain shots is tremendous to out right lying to make the studio look good so the studio/director hires them for the next movie.

      • Monica says:

        If directors realise how much they are lyed to constantly, as you say, and if they understand that the protests will eventually make them look bad with the media, they might eventually end up siding with the artists. Let’s hope so.

      • vfxwarrior says:

        I hope so too. I just don’t see it happening. If anything it’s because what we do is minimized to them. A certain director that likes transformers goes to the point of hiring his own tech guys that are “his” to communicate to so he can trust them and put up with the half truths and BS. He shouldn’t have to do that, but that’s the reality and shows the disconnect between the two worlds.

        I have no idea how to fix it, I just see the problem 🙂

      • Easy says:

        Never in the history of mankind have workers ever gotten anywhere by being polite in the face of an industry that is fantastically wealthy on their labor.

        The VFX industry suffers from Stockholm Syndrome on a massive scale.

        STOP GIVING EXCUSES TO EVERYONE WHO IS RESPONSIBLE! Everyone has problems, stop putting theirs above your own.

        The fact of the matter is that they don’t really care. The directors aren’t the only ones living in a bubble. The VFX artists think that someone is just going to come along and fix it for them out of sympathy. Good luck with that.

        Sometimes you need to play hardball, but so many people are brainwashed into thinking it’s not “Professional”.

      • vfxwarrior says:

        @Easy I see your point, but it’s an idealist point not reality. I remember one time I mentioned some discontent about a shot saying if you can ask the director to do it this way, we could save weeks of work to a high up exec at our studio.

        The next day my supervisor has “heard” that I am getting “tired” and maybe need some time off (meaning I would probably not come back) as me being “tired” is the reason why I would ever voice any discontent on anything.

        Point taken and learned. If artists stood up one by one, we would all just get “time off” and blacklisted one by one. So it has to be a united movement, maybe this is the start. I hope so, sadly I doubt it though.

      • Easy says:

        @VFXWarrior I have been freelancing now for more than a decade and I’ve had to learn the following the hard way:

        1) You only have leverage when you can put a project in jeopardy by your absence and your absence on that project won’t put you in jeopardy.

        2) Waiting until the job is done to protest and try to get what you’re owed is a useless negotiating position.

        3) Familiarity breeds contempt.

        4) No one appreciates anything they get for free.

        5) Don’t work for sociopaths. (While you’re at it, don’t let your friends or colleagues do it either! You can blackball companies, creative directors and producers too..)

      • vfxwarrior says:

        @easy I been doing this for a long time and I agree with your hard learned lessons, but each situation is different and there is no blanket stand up and do this for everyone.

        1.)True. My experience is anytime you are that important they just wait for the project to be over, or have someone shadow you (saying they are your assistant) to understand your job so production would not be affected and they have an option. Usually they plan these things so nobody is so important if they lost them the production would be affected that much. I have seen many people not asked back because they thought they were that important.




        5.)Easy to say, but nobody has any idea they are working for sociopaths before hand with acceptance packages and their best foot trying to get you in. Most companies even the bad ones treat certain employees well and totally screw over others. So depending on your group, supervisor and who you know etc….one persons experience at one company can be totally different than others working for the same place. I know Rhythm and Hues had a hierarchy of contractors to permanent employees. I heard some great stories and some horror stories about the place.

      • Apparently you never worked at Digital Domain on a Jim Cameron project…

    • Some Guy says:

      An excellent insight, and spot on.

      The artists do what they’re told out of a sense of responsibility and professionalism (and a desire to keep their jobs). What choice have they got when the supe and producer are breathing down their necks to get a shot delivered by some ridiculously unreasonable deadline? Everyone’s covering their asses out of fear to keep their jobs and the studio going.

      Fear and competition is the neoliberal model. The more unstable the worker, the more profit you can suck from his marrow. Sucks for the workers, great for the fatcats. What do the clients care if the worker suffers? They’re getting their shots delivered on a silver platter by companies that happily wear out kneepads for them. The vfx industry is run as little more than an upmarket 3rd world sweatshop. Last night’s incredibly insulting treatment of the industry at the Oscar’s shows the complete disdain Hollywood has for it. If artists could learn to say NO! when asked to work 16+ hour shifts for days and weeks on end without fair compensation they might not be treated like they slaves they appear to be. But that’s not going to happen, is it? NO! gets you blackballed (you think), and replaced by an intern.

      For change to happen NO! must be said by entire departments, entire fx houses, not the lone burnt-out artist missing his family. As vfxwarrior so astutely understands, until the message gets through to the powers-that-be that the status quo is threatened, things will remain status quo. Unfortunately the problem isn’t the business model of the vfx industry (though it’s currently a terrible model) per se, the problem is really the neoliberal model of corporate globalization.

      But the vfx industry is a high-profile industry, and if it can find a way to band together to confront those who exploit it, it will send a clear and powerful message that, by cooperating as a global guild, it’s possible to effect positive change — even in the maw of terrible great white sharks.

      • D. Krumpel says:

        > Unfortunately the problem isn’t the business model of the vfx industry (though it’s currently a terrible model) per se, the problem is really the neoliberal model of corporate globalization.

        You almost got it. The problem is capitalism itself which the only idea is to make money, more money, faster money. Guys over here look like bees against honey, seriously. Capitalism with a “human face” does not exist and if it did exist it would be called some other “ism”. There is an old but still good FAQ about the subject written by K. Marx.

      • vfxwarrior says:

        Well said too Some Guy. I do think that the Director/Producers should be more hands on in the studio, but it also means that the VFX studio heads should stop minimizing our work just so they can get the next contract. Like everything is easy for us…much easier then that other vfx studio that bid on these shots, so hire us for the next movie.

        We all have to be united in this, but in this cut throat industry any one in a dept. that gets wind you are thinking of unionizing “somehow” the execs will find out in no time.

        I hope all these people being unemployed is enough to start a united front that actually makes a difference. We can hope 🙂

      • vfx_x says:

        Unions are a system that work for other aspects of the film business because of legacy and because they are manual jobs which can’t be outsourced as easily. VFX workers need to stop day dreaming about organizing and realize that they will not have a realistic shot at standing up for themselves or being treated fairly unless that have the option of leaving the industry altogether for other places that pay better. Unfortunately, most VFX artists, at least in my country, are not really skilled/educated enough to do anything else. So you have an ever expanding pool of artists, all competing to work for the same unprofessional work places. These shops in turn, can happily continue to treat their employees like dirt since there’s an ample supply of fresh meat for their grinder!

      • vfxwarrior says:

        @vfx_x I don’t really think unions are the answer either, but it would be a start I guess.

        I have no clue how to solve the problem, but I do think that if people with the money actually understand what we do and the sacrifice we make that would be a good start. In my idealistic world a union would do that, dunno. I have never been in a union in my life, just a freelance contractor for years now.

    • lainbrain says:

      Ang Lee was tactless and tasteless, rude and a complete wanker. Shame on him for not mentioning the artists and the company. Boycott Ang Lee!

  30. Dave Rand says:

    Artists all over USA, Canada, India, UK, Australia, NZ are turning their profile pics on FB to a solid green square.

    • Dave Rand says:

      Visual effects professionals is a more accurate term to use. It’s not just an artist cause.

    • lainbrain says:

      Wow. No kidding. that’s fantastic. I wonder if this will be a Twitter trend? I wonder if Facebook and Twitter can make this go viral so that an artist revolution starts. I’d hate to see companies’ getting away with not paying their employees (artists).

    • angekuo says:

      Oh noes!! They changed their Facebook pictures green?! That’ll really show the bigwig producers that they mean business…

  31. VFX_nomadNoMore says:

    Thank you Phillip!! We need much more of this and on a global scale. It’s time to start fixing the problems this industry. While those in the US can try to work in the US we need our counterparts everywhere else in the world to standup for themselves as well. It’s time to stop bitching and hiding behind your computers in cold dark windowless rooms and bring our grievances to the spotlight where they cannot be ignored.

  32. Dave Rand says:


    Ang Lee thanks the crew at the swimming pool BUT NOT THE VFX ARTISTS THE MADE IT INTO AN LIVING OCEAN ! We are overlooked and underestimated because we are perceived as losers, and at the same time feared for our power, however subliminaly those perceptions lay. Having the Jaws theme drown out Bill’s speech displayed amazing irony and ignorance at the same time. Both events however, are a silver lining’s playbook for us …just waiting to be deployed… a blessing really. I could not write this stuff as well as it played out if I were a the craftiest public relations guru in LA….so Thank you Academy! and Thank You Ang Lee ! …we will gladly take it from here …and run with it. Each glimmer of solidarity is no Amazingly additive.

  33. Well said. Sad but true.

  34. If you run a VFX studio, who is forcing you to take less money for your work than what you need to stay in business?

    Sounds like bad business management.

    Of course the guy running the film wishes parts of it were cheaper. Who the heck doesn’t wish things were cheaper no matter what they are?

    • Andrew Werling says:

      Makes sense to me. Actually, I read the quote as saying that he wishes it were cheaper for the effects houses, not necessarily for him personally. If anything, he’s simply guilty of answering a question asked of him regarding a subject he may not know much about.

  35. danny says:

    i’d like to know, if anyone can provide it, what the round-abouts profit margin is for a vfx shop?

    • Thad Beier says:


      In all seriousness, margins are usually about 0%. My little boutique company did a little better than that on paper, but only because our artists’ salaries were higher than the owners. Many years we paid many artists more than the principals. One could argue that the ‘profit margin’ could include long-term investments — but neither the software or the hardware are really long-term investments.

      At the big companies, at least in LA, profit margins hover around zero. It’s just not a money making business.

  36. Reading through these posts, I am amazed by how different VFX people appear to be treated in the movie industry compared to my industry.

    I own an indie video game company that has been in business 17 years. In the video game industry, the VFX team members are some of the most valuable people on the team. The idea of shuffling them off to the side is just ludicrous.

    Is this really how VFX people are utilized in movies? Are they treated like nothing more than subcontracted technicians performing a “side role”?

    That’s shocking to me considering how directly involved VFX people are in video games.

    • lainbrain says:

      Michael, Exactly. That’s how it’s supposed to be. But it’s Hollywood, land of the crooks and thieves who only want to make money at the expense of the other workers and then take all the glory in these archaic award events. I hate Hollyweird. What a screwed up business ethic, (or lack of ethic) they use! It’s so vile.

  37. youknowwho says:

    Its been said more than once here, A VFX black list, where any “more work then I paid for” “you will make it up on the next film” “I know I said this much for this, but the moneys been cut and your at the crappy end of the cuts” producers and directors get back marked with a “If they are working on the film/show we will not even bid, get out and roll some other fool” do that across the biz and the producers and directors who end up out of work because VFX house will work with them will change things real fast.

  38. Just Curious says:

    Beautifully stated! Thank you for putting into words what I and many others are thinking and feeling right now!

  39. GREEN says:

    VFX artists are changing their facebook profile photo to a green-screen hue square:
    I have the impression that from now own this will be the color symbol of the vfx protest.

  40. youknowwho says:

    Seeing Green is the new Red.

  41. The bottom line is that the VFX in Life of Pi were what propelled the movie to greatness. Ang Lee would probably never have won if not for the awesome effects and character animation. The DP Claudio Miranda absolutely would not have won. Both of them OWE their Oscars to the VFX artists, yet they were not mentioned at all in their acceptance speeches!!! Really? I think this speaks volumes about how VFX artists are marginalized in the movie industry.

  42. […] Lee’s comments on the matter just made him look like a giant asshole, which sparked this open letter to […]

  43. Harry Monk says:

    I blame the Canadians, they are undercutting everyone with their tax breaks

    • GREEN says:

      That’s unfair towards Canadian workmates. We have to be united, not blaming each other. But tax cuts have to go, they are just a quest to reach the bottom of the barrel.

      • S says:

        Trust me we do not blame our Canadian workmates. In fact they are hurting as well. Many companies in BC violate BC labor laws, just so those companies can do the jobs that are required to give their employers a hefty tax break.

        If the Canadian governments cared more about their workmates instead of having Hollywood in their backyard, the tax subsidies would be going directly to the vfx studios and the artists, but it doesn’t. The money ends up leaving the country. The intentions of the subsidies is to put Canadians to work. What they are doing is bringing in foreign workers to take Canadian jobs because there are not enough skilled artists to do these jobs. And then these companies are lying to the government claiming that their imported artists are residents so they can qualify for the tax subsidy for the studio.

        There should be a standards and practices for all studios to abide by no matter what country they live in. A trade association would help that.

    • VFX_nomadNoMore says:

      It’s unfair to blame Canadians and subsidies are only a part of the problem. You can blame the subsidies for part of the problem but it’s not just Canada, there are subsidies in Louisiana, New York, Michigan, the U.K., etc.

      The problem is industry wide and if you’re going to single out any group of people for the problem it’s us the vfx artists that are to blame for putting up with all of this crap for so long. Had we united and taken a stand years ago things would not be where they are today. We’re the ones that let it get to this point and we’re the ones with the power to change it for the better. That will not happen by blaming anyone, we’re all in this together.

      • Harry Monk says:

        the breaks are far higher in Canada ergo Canadian taxpayers are directly subsidising Hollywood movies and putting UK VFX artists out of work. If we are all in this together there should be a level playing field and not cheap shoddy initiatives that result in unemployment.

      • lainbrain says:


    • jpanim8r says:

      Obviously a Troll trying to cause division.
      Or ignorant/egocentric.

  44. […] Ei­nen of­fe­nen Brief von Phi­lip Ray Broste an Ang Lee zu die­sem Thema fin­det sich im Blog VFX Sol­dier . Mehr De­tails dazu auch auf der Facebook-Seite »VFX So­li­da­rity […]

  45. Oz says:

    I think it’s time for action , I think an open letter is great for the community because it express how we are feeling but this is not the first time it happened and I don’t think it will solve anything ,remember the open letter to james cameron ? almost 3 years ago yet the situation remain the same.
    Hollywood and the big studios don’t care about us, they don’t care about our open letters and feeling, and the same actors that role rely on vex mock us when we demand fair treatment do you remember the open letter to Andy Serkis ? who was taking the entire credits of theCaesar character?

    I think enough is enough , yesterday event showed us the lack of consideration this academy gives us, it’s time for action , I was proud to see the manifestation that happened ,it is a first step , now we need to do more we need to make them feel that we count ,I propose a strike , I propose that the workers in the big 6?9 studios start getting together to form union and decide to stand united and stop working when they don’t get paid, or are asked crazy deadlines, I’ll start doing it at my work .
    I think we need to take a stand , grow a spine start to respect ourselves and our lives because if we don’t NO ONE will.
    Ps : I am canadian , this is an international fight

  46. Matt D says:

    How much did R+H make on the film? I want to know what their fee was. How much of that fee went to cover past debts, how much went into fatty layers of infrastructure? How many artists actually touched Richard Parker. From that number how many were really necessary? How much artistic indulgence went into stuff that either wasn’t seen on screen or did not contribute to the final shots. Come on we’ve all done it. Tinker here, Tweak there… Try this… Push that. Hey wouldn’t it be great if we wrote a tool to do that thing that we could just animate by hand? Yep we’ve all been there.

    Ang Lee wants it cheaper. Why? obviously he feels that the FX budget was inordinately huge. So my question again is. What was the fee?

    It all sounds like mismanagement to me on the R+H side.

    As for the state of the industry? blame those who have flooded it with cheap labor. The online training sites! What amazes me is that some of the people whining the loudest about the state of things are the ones getting fat off students wanting to enter the industry or artists trying to up-skill to stay in it. You wont find those guys competing for the little work available. They left the industry years ago to sell their knowledge

    • Oz says:

      I have a question for you Matt D, so the problems of the industry come from only on workers?
      I was talking to a producer who was strongly against any type of union of vfx artist and he told me that he would go online and pretend to be an artist and discourage anyone to act , sounds like you’re doing the same thing.

      • Matt D says:

        Do you want a union that dictates who can be part of it and what you as an individual can or cannot do with your skill?

        A union means if you aren’t part of it you wont even get a look in like other parts of the film industry. That means you will place your livelyhood in the hands of a union. So lets look at that senario.

        VFX union forms. Union strikes over pay conditions etc etc. Stand off with studios goes on for months. Thats a lot of people out of work…again.

        Studios will then set up in house as many productions already have.

      • Pookyjuice says:

        I agree. It takes a better writer to adequately disguise one’s voice in an online forum. His intentions shine right through.

      • Jen says:

        @Matt D – A union means if you aren’t part of it you wont even get a look in like other parts of the film industry.

        That is not true. Earlier in my career I was hired by Warner Bros Feature Animation as a VFX artist. The Local 839 did NOT prevent me from getting hired by Warner Bros Feature Animation, which is a Local 839 shop. All the union asked for was an initiation fee and quarterly dues so that I could be part of the union.

        In exchange I got at least $18,000 worth of union benefits including an IAP, health insurance, dental insurance, severance pay and the option to enroll in a 401(k) with Vanguard funds. I also got paid overtime and an eight-hour day. When I left Warner Bros, the union allowed me to go on honorary withdrawal so that I would not have to pay dues while working for non-union VFX shops. My health and dental benefits lasted for one year after I left the job.

        The Local 839 doesn’t stop non-union members from getting a job at a union shop. If the shop needs you, you’re hired and you get to join the union.

    • Oz says:

      ohhh right better do nothing then and work without pay for months ,health insurance and retirements this situation is much much better 🙂
      also you scenarion is incomplete ,
      “VFX union forms. Union strikes over pay conditions etc etc. Stand off with studios goes on for months. Thats a lot of people out of work…again.”
      what if it works? what if we gain better working conditions ?no it’s not worth fighting for it ? 🙂
      are you worried that an union won’t let you be part of it ,hmm weren’t you complaining about the flooding of people trying to work in the field that would help correct it you should be glad 🙂

      a true HERO you are sir or madam

    • AniMatters says:

      I too share similar views as yours. I think we are beating around the wrong bush, putting all the blame at the studio execs..who actually are the very reason why this business of FX still runs because they are our source of money, who pay us for the work we do! .. I still don’t figure why everyone’s blaming the studio execs, especially when they have paid R & H every single penny they owed as contracted and that too on-time!..Even R & H has never evar mentioned that the studio execs were at how come we have come to this conclusion??? If any organisation that was doing well, goes into bankruptcy all of a sudden, and that too without any major factor to contribute the bankruptcy , then logically its the management at fault!! and many a time the reasons are either underbidding or bad money management or bad studio administration.

      production studio execs have never forced studios to underbid, its the VFX studios who bite into each others share of business and underbid in the name of “competition”! why blame the production studio execs alone??

  47. Ash says:

    Great letter, I started as a compositor nearly 20 years ago, and its been a downward slope financially ever since I started. The causes are many, cheaper desktop software, more companies, more countries coming into the market, etc. But in terms of high end visual effects for movies, the primary issues putting these companies out of business are the same ones that have put film production companies out of business for the last few decades: making public companies of the post houses, bringing in investors from unrelated industries, and the constant obsession with profits.

  48. vfxmafia says:


    • GREEN says:

      great idea.

    • danny says:

      that my friend is a FINE idea…

      i literally think it’s down to us, the people, to change things….!

      • Matt D says:

        Seriously, how is one company’s mismanagement Ang Lee’s problem. He didnt move them all to a shiny corporate tower in LA

      • danny says:

        Matt, shush your noise! we’re doing good here. go look at stupid things on youtube.

      • Matt D says:

        Thanks Danny. What a considered response. Just remember if you come across 3 fools in your day look inward. I’m happy to be your number one

      • Now I'm really angry says:

        Matt D – You miss the point. Take the tiger, the Orangutan and the ocean out of that movie, and what you are left with is a very good book.

      • Angry: Your argument makes no sense.

        Take the steering wheel off a car and its useless. Does that make it more important than the engine?

        How is R+H’s bad business decisions and mismanagement the fault of Ang Lee, Hollywood, or Canada?

        That makes sense. In business you have to know your costs and if you bid on work, your bid has to be HIGHER than your costs.


        If you can’t win any business, then too bad. You aren’t competitive enough.

        This is Business 101, not rocket science.

      • Ymir says:

        “If you can’t win any business, then too bad. You aren’t competitive enough.”

        Unfortunately, to be competitive in this business to win work, you have to lower your bids to unrealistic levels just to get the job. Every part on the space shuttle was made by the lowest bidder. Occasionally, you’re going to suffer unwanted consequences.

    • angekuo says:

      …okay…so after this letter goes up in Variety, what do you think is going to happen? Will Ang Lee read this and go to every studio exec and give them a slap on the wrist for not paying VFX Houses enough? Nope.

      Will he dig into his own personal accounts and pull R+H out of bankruptcy? Nope, that won’t happen either.

      maybe some “artists” in the local area will see this and be disgusted by the plight of the VFX artist. Maybe some big name actors looking for their next pet project to whine about will talk about it in small-time TV interviews. Maybe even some other “crusaders” still trying to fill in the space after Ocuppy Wall Street will write all over their blogs about this issue.

      However, most of the country is going to see this letter that’s directed unfairly at someone who doesn’t really have very much to do with the overall budget besides trying to control it, and forget about it entirely after a month or 2.

      Then you’ll just be out of the money it takes to get an ad in Variety.

      If you really want to make a difference, look to how the company’s managed. They’re the ones who are handing out salaries and giving quotes to the studios… not Ang Lee. When you can figure out what they’re doing wrong, then come back to your soap box… Only then will the rest of the world really care about this issue. Don’t blame it on the fact that a couple people who had only 45 seconds to talk at what is arguably the most important venues of their life, didn’t speak up at the time.

      • It is a sensitive time for the people at Rhythm & Hues. Ang Lee’s comment came off as insensitive and ignorant. Empathize for the people at R&H right now. It could have been you.

        It bodes ill for our industry when a director who is known for making FX films like Pi and Hulk does not seem to understand how many people work on the effects and how they need to get paid like everyone else.

        An open letter to Lee accomplishes 2 things:

        a) It raises awareness about the state of the VFX industry. It is better than everyone being blissfully ignorant.

        b) Hopefully, Ang Lee will see how insensitive he was, particularly to the Rhythm & Hues folks. That opinion was given publicly at a sensitive time to people who just worked for him when he won an award and it was a poor choice in poor taste. Being Ang Lee doesn’t excuse him from humanity. He is not some studio puppet and he is responsible for his own words.That statement was infuriating. The letter response is more constructive by raising awareness among the public, filmmakers and studios who didn’t know or pretended not to know what has been happening to the VFX industry. It advances things one small step. So tell someone you know what’s happening.

  49. JohnnyFive says:

    Was it just me that saw the VFX oscar acceptance speech as a missed opportunity.
    Everywhere I read of people complaining about the speech being cut off. The cut off was because they ran out of the allotted time for that acceptance speech.
    I was massively disappointed by the guy giving the speech (forgive me not knowing his name) preferring to namecheck his own family in the thank you’s rather than highlighting the plight of R+H sooner.
    I admit I always take issue at someone thanking their own wife and kids when accepting the award for a whole team.

    • Matt D says:

      The Oscars are about celebrating the achievements of remarkable individuals not a soap box for the disgruntled masses. When you receive your first oscar feel free to
      dedicate you time to your chosen cause.

  50. Oz says:

    I have a question for you Matt D, so the problems of the industry come from only on workers?
    I was talking to a producer who was strongly against any type of union of vfx artist and he told me that he would go online and pretend to be an artist and discourage anyone to act , sounds like you’re doing the same thing.

    • Matt D says:

      Not doing the same thing. I am a vfx guy. But I’m a vfx guy who is not sitting around lamenting the state of things and demanding that someone else do something about it.

      The hero of any story accepts his new reality and adapts to it. The heroes amongst us will go on to do bigger and better things for themselves. The others will be left lamenting the golden age of VFX before real time engines, Artificial Intelligence and iMaya took over. For the times they are a changing.

      • Matt D says:

        Those who don’t do teach… and are making a great living out of too. Come on down and play “WHO WANTS TO BE A VFX ARTIST”…

      • Oz says:

        right….so for you going out demonstrating on the street and demanding a fair treatment and decent conditions is lamenting, besides “artificial intelligence and Imaya took over” wtf?
        you’re maybe a vfx guy but I’m now convinced that you’re also a fool 🙂

      • Spoken like someone who has no idea what they are talking about

      • Matt D says:

        Stupid is as stupid does OZ. You clearly missed my comment on technology and how inextricably your job is linked to it.

        I’m saying look to the future. What does it hold? Foolish I may be but 20 + years of this gives me a certain perspective.

        I got a stop motion mate. He’s still clinging to his glory days. Maybe someone should have protected his craft from that evil computer stuff.

      • JohnnyFive says:

        Yeah good luck with that.

        This situation began happening in the games industry 10 years ago. The hero’s have really risen to the top there too.

      • GREEN says:

        Matt D,….what?!! Lamenting?!
        Dude, if people in the past had not been “lamenting” as you say, in the last few centuries, you wouldn’t have a pension, rights in the workplace, equality, the right to vote or even a Constitution. Pick up a history book for gosh sake’s! You can “adpat” and be a “hero” as you say as much as you like, but when there’s no work and you have bills to pay and a family to feed, what are you going to tell your creditors? That you didn’t want to “lament”? Wait to be out of work, you’ll see how you’ll change your mind. With all respect and peace:)

      • Matt D says:

        Guys, Viable is viable. When did the world owe anyone anything. I have lived in a third world country for 4 years. There are no pensions subsidies or anything else. I know first hand what its like to be on the bones of your ass. You adapt.

        What is the endgame here? who are you blaming? Ang Lee? why is it his fault? This is socialist nonsense. If you and I were both starving. You’d bid under me for a job right? If you weren’t here the job would be mine and I could name my price right? but you are here… and so a thousands more; and that figure grows every semester some other online training ground spits out its next batch of graduates. So now there are more of us.. a lot more of us all competing.

        So again I ask what is the endgame? stop cheaper labor? The only way to limit the issues is to limit the supply. Its that simple.
        R+H got big and fat from being a big fish in a small pond. That pond grew and grew and grew. That were too heavy to carry themselves.

      • GREEN says:

        Sorry Matt, with all respect for your past situation: I don’t agree to one single bit of your post.
        You are effectively advocating worse conditions for yourself (and us). Are you a masochist? Where’s your dignity mate (as a person and as a worker)?
        And that line on socialism is just ridiculous.
        I think you need to be more practical and understand that asking for decent pay and working conditions is a reasonable and just request. If you live in a developed democracy make the most of it.

      • VFXFlack says:

        Matt D said: “The hero of any story accepts his new reality and adapts to it.”

        Screenwriting 101: Half way through the story, the hero stops being passive and reactive, and begins to take action.

      • Matt D says:

        Correct. That’s the adaptation. But the journey is forward into the unknown not sitting around with signs on oscar day complaining about the setup.

        Glad you have studied something other than VFX…

      • Oz says:

        Oh Ok Matt D I understand what you want, the only problem for you are the other vfx people trying to make a living not the people taking advantage of them , and also you’re one of those people to afraid to rock the boat , that’s really heroic of you

      • Matt D says:

        Rock away guys. It is inconsequential to me. I just dont understand the end game. I really dont.

      • Oz says:

        for someone who doesn’t understand the end game you sure have a lot to say , and the fact that you say that it is inconsequential to you proves my point about doubting your claim to be a vfx guy/gal…

      • Matt D says:

        Green I agree with fair work and democratic rights. But this post started with an open letter to Ang Lee. What has he got to do with the decisions of management not to pay its staff. You guys talk of mass walkouts yet when you are not paid do you walk out? or do you sit there and take it while management screws you over? What I’m saying is this is not a film studio issue this a vfx studio issue. You dont want to work overtime without pa then don’t. Thats a democracy. vote with your feet.

      • Green says:

        yeah… right… people not paying their workers has nothing to do with rights and democracy O_O. Matt, sorry. I really don’t want to get into a discussion with you because we lack an agreement on fundametal basic concepts like right and wrong. Peace.

      • Matt D says:

        Green you misread me again. There is nothing right about ripping people off. What is wrong here is the attribution of blame on Ang Lee instead of the vfx studios management that have prior knowledge to insolvency issues but still continue to operate and employ workers without paying them.

        Blame here is on R+H, D and D, Asylum, Orphanage, Fuel and other management that will knowingly work people without cash to pay them or spring upon them Chapter 11. Thats what you should be after. If unionizing labor is what you are after to ensure minim standards then great. go for it. If you are trying to protect studios so that they can get vast amounts of work over cheaper locations then you are pushing it uphill.

      • Oz says:

        You wrote”If unionizing labor is what you are after to ensure minim standards then great. go for it.”
        That’s what we’re after decents working conditions

        ” If you are trying to protect studios so that they can get vast amounts of work over cheaper locations then you are pushing it uphill.”

        I don’t know where you read that , no one here mentioned this sort of thing, but if you’re seriously convinced of this don’t listen to that little voice in your head

      • jackadullboy says:

        MattD.. ever heard of the principle of “raising awareness”? Look it up. There’s a lot to be said for garnering mass support for an idea.

      • Matt D says:

        Sorry OZ i thought you wrote

        “So how do you get the large facilities to set a minimum rate?”

      • Matt D says:

        All for raising awareness. Just make sure you know who you are raising it from. Picketing the Oscars is raising awareness of what to whom? As I said vfx studio management knows well in advance when you are going to turn up to a locked door. This is more a corporate insolvency issue than an industry thing. The industry has developed a culture of raping its talent agreed. however the artists let it happen. Unionise go for it. Fix conditions great. What the hell does Ang Lee have to do with it?

  51. Dear Ang Lee,
    You are cheap. Very simple. It’s all about the benjamins baby. U walk in a strip club and put a dollar on the stage then the pretty girl with Double DD’s will ignore you. You give her a $100 benjamin and you get titties in your face. You get what you pay for Ang Lee. If you only want to pay for “day shift stripper” level special effects then you may as well create your youtube account now. Ang Lee since u don’t deserve it, please give your Oscar Statue to Rhythm + Hues to auction off and pay for their costs. Kisses, Diana Terranova

    • Matt D says:

      Obviously he didnt get what he paid for. He got a whole lot more. The work was amazing and he got it cheap. Or did he? If he wasnt paying enough then why the hell did they put in all of that extra work for nothing? Is anyone getting what I’m saying. Bad management not bad direction.

    • In debth says:

      I wonder what was the budget of this project in R and H..And how studio managed it..If artists were under payed because of a low budget it is important to know if management compromised on their salaries too..I don’t justify Ang Lee’s attitude , but he is not the one who decides on a pay..Every studio in Asia has specific internal problems..Politics is the main issue.. greediness is the second.. incompetence of many is the third one..Job which can be done in 2 hours is made to look like 16.. Sorry , but it is a reality..

    • Jerry Huang says:

      Point 1 :R&H has worked on so many very successful movies, they should have the power to negotiate for better deals.

      Point 2 : Artists or Technicians? The author of the book and Ang Lee created the vision and the staff in R&H “re-created” it on computers. Surely, it takes a lot of practices, experiences, and some creativity to make it great. So I think the VFX workers can probably be called artistic technicians. Those in Pixar are real artists because they create the entire story not just the effects.

      Point 3 : Ang Lee is very humble. He was obviously so excited and nervous on the stage. I am sure he is grateful for all the help and support rendered to him. He did thank all 3000 on the crew.

      Point 4 : Everybody wants things good and cheap but we all know that it takes time and hard work to create good things. I do hope that Ang Lee would see this letter and help in some way so we can continue to enjoy great movies with fantastic visual effects.

  52. Another Perspective says:

    Has anyone considered that you may have all grossly misinterpreted Mr. Lee’s statement?

    If you read it again, it might become apparent that he is not wishing it was cheaper for him to hire VFX artists, but cheaper for VFX artists to produce their work. It sounds to me as if he is showing an appreciation and understanding for how much expense and technology is involved and making a statement which sympathizes with how difficult it is for you, and wishing it was more profitable for you as an artist.

  53. Different Perspective says:

    I feel for R&H, I really do as I have a lot of friends who worked there and lost their jobs. I will ask the question though: What are studios and producers supposed to do when budgets are being cut?

    If you step in Ang Lee or any other producer’s shoes, their job is to create the best quality possible while saving money on their budget. This is exactly what happened on “Life of Pi” and is happening on countless other films, commercials, and other projects today. As a producer myself for a boutique production company, I struggle all the time trying to cut budgets in order to make production work and so I can still make a profit to stay operational. At the same time I must expect the best quality of work. I hate doing this because I know all the hard work that happens on and off set, yet what are my other options? This is no different for the larger studios. People see that the studios are making a ton of money on these movies, yet looking at the details, they have giant overhead, staff (Which people are getting laid off there too), and they take all the risk. Not ever film makes a profit (John Carter), so they have to cut budgets on future endeavors and make the films better so they can get back to being successful. Also keep in mind, that the studios are in direct competition with one another.

    I am not saying this to say that the studios are right and the VFX houses are wrong. I am simply asking the question: What is to be done? Put yourself as a producer or studio head. Would you not work with the studio that charges you less?

    • Jen says:

      What are studios and producers supposed to do when budgets are being cut?

      If they honestly can’t afford the VFX, then they shouldn’t make the film in live-action. Life of Pi could have been a hand-drawn animated feature film for a more modest budget. They did not have to kill a VFX shop for it.

  54. VFXperson says:

    The problems we face in this industry are the same many industries have faced. We(the US and the UK) have exported skills and knowledge for a quick buck, to countries who’s labor markets and low cost of living mean they can undercut us. I was offered a very lucrative contract back in 2002 to go to China and teach them how to do VFX, but I refused as I knew then where it would lead.

    We do need to fight this problem together, but I don’t think demonstrations and threats of strikes are the answer. Very few facilities, large or small, would survive a strike, and we’d be cutting off our noses to spite our faces.

    We need to look at how we became VFX leaders in the first place.. INNOVATION! We need to find new ways to increase efficiency and do more for less. And we need to protect these innovations through the patent system.

    We also need to get governments on our side, and campaign for changes in the law so that the big VFX houses can work together to fix minimum rates. This is currently illegal in Europe and the UK, so any talk of trade organisations is really just pie in the sky.

    If the large facilities could set a minimum rate, they would be free to compete on quality and service for the big jobs, whilst the smaller facilities could compete on price and service. If a studios want the convenience of a one-stop-shop, they’ll have to pay for it. The large VFX houses will then be able to outsource to smaller places and still make a profit, and the smaller places can pick up this work as well as all the smaller projects that come along.

    • United Vfx :) says:

      Any action of any kind (walk outs for example) would be useful if they were global or at least globally supported by colleagues worldwide. We have to be united.

    • Oz says:

      So how do you get the large facilities to set a minimum rate?
      “We do need to fight this problem together, but I don’t think demonstrations and threats of strikes are the answer. Very few facilities, large or small, would survive a strike, and we’d be cutting off our noses to spite our faces.”

      So how do you suppose we could fight this problem together ? by writing angry letter? and innovate ? what do you think happened for the writers in hollywood ?sometime you need to act instead of just talking

      • Matt D says:

        OK Got it. so you want studios to set a minim rate and make it about quality not price?

        What other industry in the world operates like this? As far as I know every company on the planet competes based on three factors. Quality, Price and availability. Good fast cheap pick two. Show me a model where price is not a factor in a capalist economy and I’ll back.

      • VFXperson says:

        Well of course, innovation is easier to talk about than to do, but to start with, we could make IP protection a core purpose of a VFX union. The union could form a partnership with a leading IP law firm so they and us benefit from proper protection, and we don’t pay exorbitant legal fees. As a union we then vote which facilities we allow to access this patent pool free of charge. Those that treat their staff well would get access. Those that don’t, will have to come up with their own innovations.

        As things stand, we give away our best ideas out of ignorance of their value. Just look at how Trextor started suing facilities for using allegedly “novel” stereoscopic techniques that were in fact obvious to anyone in the industry. What if we, the artists, owned those patents?

        Maybe this idea needs some work, but it’s a suggestion, and maybe a start..

  55. VFXperson says:

    @Matt D. Apple has done pretty well charging a premium for it’s products and services. How? Through quality of experience for the customer and IP protection!

    • Matt D says:

      Tell that to google with 70% market share. Apple were first with their gear. So was Digital Domain, and R+H and ILM. Being first is the easy bit. Staying there takes good management. BTW Im a total apple fan boy so dont go with the hater argument.

      Sent from my Macbook Pro

    • Jack says:

      Apple has done pretty well charging a premium for it’s products and services how? By keeping all top level design here in the US, but send all the pee-on work to China. Making US dollars while spending significantly less on production.

      • Matt D says:

        That is Apple trying to stay viable in a competitive world

      • VFXperson says:

        @Jack. Good point. So OK, we send roto and paint to China, until such time as we’ve perfected auto-roto.

        @Matt D. The good VFX houses that have survived so far have done so because of damn good management, but the best management in the world can’t compete against companies that undercut with foreign cheap labor.

        I’m just throwing out suggestions here. Maybe they’re shit, but I think it’s important to examine all the options. I’ll freely admit that the VFX industry is full of people way smarter than me, so I’m sure people can come up with better ideas, but simply pointing out problems we’re all aware of isn’t going to help anyone.

  56. let'sbepractical says:

    I am starting to see that trolls are already trying to sway the conversation with absurd comments.

    Someone mentioned chipping in to publish Philip’s open letter.
    I’m in. Let’s do it (if he agrees I guess).

  57. Kickit says:

    Lets get a kickstarter going and make a documentary about this!

  58. C says:

    Unofrtunately, artists are generally overrated. Which is exactly why films are so expansive to make these days. Especially the artists here in states. If you haven’t realized the business you are in are no different than any other businesses, you need to get a reality check. It’s true that working in a comfortable environment induce a higher level of creativity and maybe without such creativity the tiger would never be as real. But look, while you are upset and typing this letter in the comfort of your air conditioned home/office, on the ergonomic spring loaded chair, there are a truck load of people all over the world who are willing to take half or less than what you are making to do exactly the artistic work you are doing without the benefits and vacations. So who is really driving your employers around the world for illegal subsidies? Maybe you ought to give that some thought.

    On the other hand, you should really be thankful and try look at this from a positive angle. These filmmakers put you guys on the map, so now you have the bargaining chips for your future endeavors. Remember, there were a time movies were made without CGIs.

    With that being said, I think it’s extremely rude that the academy used the theme from Jaws to silence the winners. It could have been done with more class and appropriate.

    • Matt D says:

      Thank you C. Finally another voice of reason here.

    • Ymir says:

      If they can do it to the same level of quality, then the studios would be going there without subsidies needed to lure the studios. Eliminate the subsidies and let’s compete on a level playing field.

    • let'sbepractical says:

      C, the old bugaboo they used to scare people (“work more for less or your job will go to a cheaper country”) is not working anymore because jobs have already gone to cheaper countries. But the point is that they are cheaper because the have illegal or unethical tax cuts or because they treat workers like slaves (or even both). It’s not that an artist work is overrated in a developed country, it is that workers in those countries are underrated and the studios drugged by subsidies.
      You are talking against your own interest and you are justifying exploitment and using worldwide taxpayers’ money to finance hollywood.

      • C says:

        i’m not justifying anything. and you are absolute right about worker/artists are way underpaid in other countries. I’m not defending any one either. This is the world we are living in and it’s rather useless and naive to call out Ang Lee. The OP is absolute right about the communication gap between producers and directors about monetary issues, but isn’t that the role of the producers to take the worries out of the directors hand so he can focus on directing? Why didn’t you call out womack or the FX execs? Calling out people is pointless in almost any scenario. The change need to originate from within the VFX artists, not a film director.

        I remember there was a time when my peers were just a bunch college kids looking forward to work in the industry. We were not thinking about paychecks, rather just putting our works out there. What changed? is it the need to sustain a luxurious west LA life style? My geo metro was able to take me around just as my new audi. To continue to work as an artist is more imporant or to have job security and fair treatment. it’s tough issues we are facing. There won’t be any easy answers. Whatever your argument is, don’t take anything for granted.

    • Oz says:

      right … i think I shouldn’t waste the time to answer you but well Sir/Madam you’re an fool 🙂 no wonder Matt D likes you

      • Matt D says:

        Oz are you actually working in the industry? If so I hope you arent using up your employers time posting on this blog during work hours.

    • Frank N. Stein says:

      Yes, there are a lot of overrated mediocre VFX artists, who deserve to be weeded out and get into some other profession. On the other hand, there are some absolutely incredibly talented artists as well. I don’t know what the hell you are talking about regarding the ergonomic chairs, the benefits and vacations. Maybe some facilities are that way, but most of us who work in the business have no benefits at all and work at places with shoddy office equipment. There are even some companies that still tag us as “independent contractors” to avoid taxes, which deprives us from claiming unemployment benefits. The VFX industry is far from being a cushy job.

      • C says:

        I’m not sure if your “most of us” is more accurate or my understanding of “the most of us” But the wage differences in the hierarchy will be a totally different topic. After all, being a tool, i mean literally, a tool to supplement someone else’s creative vision is honorable, but not irreplaceable.

    • Rob says:

      And of course producers and CEOs, who earn many times of what an average artist makes and contribute little to the actual production of the effects, are not overrated.

      And of course VFX artists, who already earn less than most people working in any computer related field, deserve to earn even less. Because it makes a lot more sense to compare their wages to those of people in poor nations instead of wages of comparable jobs in their own countries.

      It really boggles the mind when people argue to let themselves be more exploited. “Hey, that moron over there is willing to let himself be fucked up the ass with a broken bottle! Can’t you be a bigger moron and top that?!” (Just for the record: No, I am not implying that people from poor nations are morons. They just try to get by SOME way. If you live in rich nation however and try to lower your standards to match those of people in poor nations, then I find that description fitting.)
      Which in fact reminds me – you should really watch Hobo With A Shotgun. That movie is full of upstanding people right up your alley.

      • jpanim8r says:

        Maybe too colorful of an example …. but you make a good point.
        Comparing everyone to the lowest common denominator is only going to bring things down for everyone, and that’s not a good thing. That’s not balance. Why not instead, Raise the conditions of those in that situation. Make their life better instead of everyone else’s worse.

      • CEO contributes little?

        That’s the kind of business acumen that explains why R+H went tango uniform.

    • Now I'm really angry says:

      Matt D and C

      “there are a truck load of people all over the world who are willing to take half or less than what you are making to do exactly the artistic work you are doing without the benefits and vacations.”

      Why isn’t all the work just done there then?

      It’s not India or China that is taking that work. It’s places like Vancouver.

      • C says:

        you are taking my point to an extreme that I had no intention to. Works are going to cheaper places period. The point is we are just bunch of babies whining. If you think you are mistreated, find another job. If you are doing what you love, then consider there might be a price.
        I am simply offering an alternative point of view. Don’t try kill a valid point with an over generalized statement. There will always be exceptions.

      • megalodon8 says:

        @C – When you say “Unfortunately, artists are generally overrated. Which is exactly why films are so expansive to make these days” it is painfully obvious that you are unaware of the problem. You don’t have a clue and just overgeneralize the situation. You seem to think that these artists are paid REALLY well when in fact they are not – lower wages and no health benefits most of them.

      • C says:

        @megalodon8 – I did over generalize for the sake of this particular post. Because the people I know who work at R+H are no bums. In fact, I don’t remember I came across anyone who gets really lousy pay for any studio gigs, not even PA. Since I don’t work for a VFx house, I can’t say I know how much each personnel is getting paid. But maybe you ought to consider it’s not the filmmaker that’s bidding low and leaving you stranded, but your boss that’s trying to screw you. I have seen bids came in where post house charges thousands of dollars for a simple black and white roll credit that was done on after effect. The service is later offered as free because of personal connection. I have worked at production house where they would bid 400k on a 1 min spot and squeezed the hell out of us to make the spot for 200k. If you are working in the states, you have no idea how people are treated elsewhere in the world. I am not saying everybody is well paid or gets all the benefits. I am saying look at the bigger picture and try to change from within.

  59. Bronwen Eadie says:

    Too many grammatical errors; I don’t take it seriously if you can’t spell or put a sentence together.

    • jpanim8r says:

      I noticed that as well. It is a shame. Should at least proof read if you want it to be promoted to a large scale.
      (I’m sure I have some myself in some of my comments)

    • In debth says:

      Hey, you are conversing here with people from over the world..try to write something in their language , then you will know..

  60. jpanim8r says:

    The sentence I appreciated most was:
    “Your VFX are already cheaper than they should be.”
    (And there is so much more that isn’t even being said here in this letter)

  61. bruce banner says:

    You won’t like me when I’m ang-lee

  62. Sean Afshar says:

    Sorry for being so negative, but the reality is that the VFX horrible situation in Hollywood is going to get worse (Maybe not as bad for TV work). Weather we like it, fight it, or not they are pulling the work out of Hollywood and it is a trend that is not going to be stopped.

  63. ArturoM says:

    as a Zoic employee you must be aware that Zoic outsources much of its work to Zoic BC where they are rumored to be moving their headquarters…

  64. Jack says:

    When would you people. You VFX people get it through your thick head… You are not the only one facing this issue. This happened and is happening to many industries. The problem is not union, long hours, unpaid overtime, raise awareness of your work, be appreciated. The problem is the US government and the Constitution of the US to protect the freedom of the corporations and Free market. The moment the government gets involved, the rich corporation will brain wash thick skulls into thinking it is unconstitutional, socialism, communism. While France, Japan, and many leading nation solved/ continue the effort to solve that problem (you can only outsource up to 20% of your service and workforce in these countries), but they solved it by being a democratic socialist country. The textile industry and many more didn’t win this war, what makes you think you can win against the rich corporations our capitalism and our own Constitutions? People have been going to the theaters and spending money through out the ages of film with or without cutting edge VFX. Regular average citizens don’t really care as much as you think. Until the day the government actually makes a rule like other leading nations that only up to 20% of your company can be outsourced and stricter labor laws. Or laws to prohibit the CEOs (such as those in the movie studios) who makes billions of dollars but still trying to find ways to cut costs (by outsourcing) to add on to their already billions of dollars personal wealth to lobby Washington to continue their enjoyment. You the VFX people better start finding new jobs that is not purely production based.

    • Jack says:

      a letter to ang lee is laughable at best. No body cares, including ang lee and the CEOs of the movie studios, because that Asian kid in Asia can do what you do at 1/4th of the price. Granted the quality may be less than what we can do, but do the general public care enough to not spend money on it because they can see some green lines around some crappy composting job? or Shiet looks fake? I highly doubt it. People will continue to go watch the movies. No one will give a flying phuck until they see it impacted MONEY. Unless outsourcing impacts their wallets like piracy does. the sad truth is… you can’t stop it, unless you change our constitution.

    • Ever notice how little innovation is coming out of France? Idiotic laws like that are a perfect example.

      Who would start a new business in a country where the government is micromanaging your business operations like that?

      Answer: nobody worth having.

  65. spamdecoy2000 says:

    Traditionally do all Best Directors thank their VFX houses?

  66. There seems to be a lot of pointed anger being directed at Ang Lee today over the Oscar wins that Pi received. 

    I can understand all of the frustration, it is completely and unequivocally warranted. BUT, do not demonize this man. 

    He has fought tirelessly against out plight, understands in a way that most others could not even begin to how difficult this struggle has been and has fought tirelessly for the rights of every single one of us. 

    He’s also taking his own initiatives to help stop these abuses from happening again.

    He is not against us, he is one of us, and has stood and will continue to stand at our sides, as our advocate and friend and colleague until this issue is resolved. 

    • Frank N. Stein says:

      Nice of you to point out how Mr. Lee is standing up for for the VFX artists.


    • ????? says:

      Do you have any proof to back this up?

    • source for you says:

      Reacting to the news that the visual effects house Rhythm & Hues, Oscar-nominated for Life of Pi, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, director Ang Lee said he is “very sad.”

      During an appearance at the Motion Picture Sound Editors’ Golden Reel Awards, Lee told The Hollywood Reporter, “I hope they can be saved somehow. My heart goes out to them.”

      R&H created Pi’s photo-real CG tiger, and Lee praised the efforts, saying, “The tiger, the water – they did wonderful work, so many people, hundreds and hundreds.”

      Global competition is driving down the prices that visual effects houses can demand for their work. Even though effects are a big part of the budget on VFX-driven films, the companies that produce the work are finding it difficult to maintain decent profit margins.

      It results in a business quandary that has no clear solution. Said Lee: “I would like it to be cheaper and not a tough business [for VFX vendors]. It’s easy for me to say, but it’s very tough. It’s very hard for them to make money. The research and development is so expensive; that is a big burden for every house. They all have good times and hard times, and in the tough times, some may not [survive].”

      He continued, “I hope somehow, two things: It gets to be an easier business, cheaper, and more people can put their hands on it. Secondly, I would like to see it be used more of as an artistic form than just effects for action.”

  67. spamdecoy2000 says:

    In my opinion, directors should thank the people that helped get the film greenlit in the first place. Otherwise, no one would have an award or a job in the first place. Since directors spend so much time with actors on set, there is also a strong bond that forms and they have personal reasons to thank them as well. Notice that when Peter Jackson won Best Director for Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (also a very VFX-heavy film) he didn’t thank WETA. Where was the public outcry and criticism then?

    • Nou Chee Her says:

      Totally agree! The problem here is probably because everyone is upset Spielberg didn’t win and well, someone has to take the blame for R&H, why not the guy that they worked for.

      • pseudanko says:

        When you make a film, particularly one as huge as LOTR, you end up a hell of a lot of grueling time with the very large and complex crew who are physically making the film – a very arduous process. While it is distressing to see the fx crew be overlooked, it’s a bit understandable. Peter Jackson went to war with grips and gaffers and actors and stunt people and camera crew and wardrobe people etc.

        I feel the same way about editors – they’re the ones who actually make the movies after all, but it’s incredibly rare to see a director acknowledge their editors, because directors mostly aren’t there for the countless hours of painstaking work that goes in before he/she shows up for the rough assembly.

  68. yeah says:

    Visual Effects Society chairman Jeffrey Okun called the moment “an exercise of extremely bad taste at an extremely bad moment,” but doubted it was aimed at the vfx biz in particular.

    Okun was more upset about what he felt was a badly organized protest in the afternoon. “I don’t think they were prepared for what they’d do if they won,” he said. “Who would the studios negotiate with? Bad strategy, great move,” said Okun.

    My email to VES this morning:
    This is to let you know that i intend to end my VES membership as of May 31, 2013. Unfortunately, in my view VES has shown too little intend and efficiency in representing people working in visual effects in difficult times. All the Best.

    • Good call – If they had let me into the VES I’d do the same thing.

      What a condescending, arrogant, political douchebag (Okun) – the VES has lame presentations and job fairs, a crappy heath plan, and despite being in a position to actually help artists does nothing. And when we actually do something to forward our cause, he scoffs at us! Scott Ross did more for the artists with one tweet than you probably did in your whole tenure as head of the VES.

      • Ymir says:

        So, was Mr. Ross at the protest? I don’t know, I don’t live in Cali and could not attend. From the photos I haven’t seen him. I do see a number of VES members I know, and at least one of the directors of the board.

      • S says:

        Their job fairs are a joke. I went last year and all the companies present were not hiring. Why are you even here at a job fair if you have no jobs. There is another in April of this year and I suspect the same thing. This industry has no jobs to offer in April and May any more thanks to the studios forcing our schedules down to 3 months out of the year. And people wonder why we are forced to work 7 days a week with lots of overtime. It’s because we are attempting to do a year’s worth of work in a quarter of the time.

        The VES is misguided. It will not change until the board is replaced with the younger generation.

      • Ymir says:

        The VES has no control over what jobs any recruiters/companies have, or don’t have, to offer. It seems like they just had an open forum for members to be able to meet and apply to all these companies all in one place. Where else are you going to find that? I agree, it’s frustrating dealing with recruiters who make it look like they are hiring for immediate positions that really aren’t available. They phish. Could be they’re looking for that diamond in the rough. Are you a diamond?
        The VES is an honorary society. They make no bones about it and it’s stated up front in their mission statement. There is only so much they can legally get involved in due to their charter and non-profit status. Have you ever run for the board of directors? I would suggest you run this fall if you think it needs change and you have what it takes to make that change. Mr. Okun has not been shy about stating that the board needs new blood. The nominations are open (to members) and you can self nominate.

      • yeah says:

        Somebody just called them a frat club.
        Hit the nail on the head…

      • Ymir says:

        Nope, there’s a large number of women members, too. 🙂

      • xegar says:

        VES may be honorary , but how many artists joined up thinking they would have a voice in the industry ?

        That was the hope and spirit when it started. Didn’t happen.

      • Ymir says:

        I can’t speak to what other people thought the VES was going to be when they joined. I joined after the turnover of the executive board a number of years ago. I always knew the VES was based on the model of the ASC, i.e., not a union. Since I’ve joined, the VES has never portrayed themselves as a union. If anyone joined thinking it was one, then I would say they didn’t do their research. The best way to have a voice is get involved. If you are a member, how have you participated lately? Have you volunteered for any committees?

    • VFX Friend says:

      The VES/Jeff Okun has 2 goals. First to get membership dues and second is to destroy the vfx industry so that Jeff Okun can get the studios to give work to his India vfx studio at a 75% discount. Jeff has made a career at bidding facilities against one another for the studios. This is how he could justify his $10,000 weekly rate. His famous quote “I can save you millions if you hire me”.

  69. Once again, somebody reading something into context that wasn’t there just so that they can feel offended. He even explained that the R&D was the expensive part, that he wanted it to be cheaper for these VFX companies to operate. He wasn’t saying he wanted them to charge less so that he could get their services cheaper. If anything, he implied the opposite. Cheaper for the technical stuff, so that the artists can *stay in business and get their fair due*.

    • I have no qualms about his last paragraph. It’s true, and definitely an issue that needs to be addressed. But the rest of his “open letter” is simply misdirected anger towards Ang Lee (“And just as the bankruptcy was about to be acknowledged on a nationally-televised platform, the speech was cut short. By the Jaws theme.”, Yes, because I’m sure Ang was responsible for that too). The guy thanked EVERYBODY who worked on the film. You can’t fault him for not naming everybody specifically. I think the letter writer’s heart is in the right place, but he’s a little disorganized in his direction. This letter actually comes off sounding a LOT more “Anti-Ang Lee” than “Pro VFX/Artist industry respect”.

      • jpanim8r says:

        I agree, the attention might be best “focused” differently.

        Before the news of R&H, I heard vfx artists say nothing but great things about Life of Pi etc.

        (but, this is the opportunity to be heard)

  70. yeah says:

    What technical stuff? Hardware? VFX cost is all labour.

  71. Brad Ferrell says:

    I’m an independent producer making his first few feature films and I would like to move in the direction of partnering with the artists investing their time and experience and not with their mismanaged studios. This would include back-end deals for a discounted rate up front. This is a risky business and can be VERY rewarding. I’m wondering if any of you would be willing to trade your current environments for freelance or boutique work as this level of production ( <1M – 5M )?

    • VFXperson says:

      @Brad Speaking only for myself, yes I would, though such arrangements would only really work for the more basic VFX, and the discounted rates would still have to be liveable. A lot of the work, particularly the 3D side of things, really does require a lot of capital investment in hardware, software and well integrated pipelines, so I’m not sure such arrangements would be practical across the board.

      • jpanim8r says:

        A lot of artists have gone for deals like this. However have been burned in this way many times as well. Putting in a lot of time and hard work on top of the other industry job they must do to put food on the table only to have nothing on the other side. Sadly this is too often the truth of it. So there would first need to be a project worth doing it for. (which all think theirs is, but usually is not) A team that can see it through, a plan, etc. Something to lower that ‘risk’ and make it worth it. Not just another way for artists to work for free and get burned. Another way for them to lower their pay rate. So the answers in most cases is no, with possible rare exceptions.

  72. CumMonster97 says:

    This is so fucking passive aggressive. Grow up, when you wrote this post most of WORKING class America was asleep to wake up to do REAL work in the morning. So I apologize on behave of Mr. “TWO TIME academy award Director” Lee, that he did not thank every VFX person who worked on Life of Pi, as well as not understanding the economics of the VFX industry (who does, besides lame ass VFX people?). And do you really think those VFX people are so insecure that they need Ang Lee to say their name to feel appreciated?

    fucking white people.

    • jpanim8r says:

      Maybe if you knew how to write your post without vulgarities or racism someone might take you seriously and I’m sorry you don’t consider those who work 12-16 hours a day 6-7 days a week for months on end. Those who leave to work when it’s dark and return home when it’s dark. Those who don’t see their children because of this, or only see them as they sleep kissing them good morning or goodnight. Who don’t get paid for the work they do. Who have to look for a new job every 3 months, not “WORKING class” or “REAL work”

    • Paul says:

      In 10 years doing this in LA I’ve seen only one single black person, is this you?

    • RH_vfx says:

      lol. His name is CumMonster97. Please don’t take anything he says seriously. NICE TRY TROLLLOLOLOLOL

    • VFX_reckoning says:


  73. i support ! im a vfx artist. i already faced a huge turning point in my life by working on 3 Sri Lankan movies with only got paid for one movie. we didn’t paid for other two movies though we were doing night and day shift continuesly for 6 months or long. but still i can’t face another turning point and that will be like a zig-zag point to me if the future of our vfx industry goes like this. we want an answer. i stand by your side !

  74. Anonymouse says:

    Not gonna lie: I fucking hate this letter. It sounds really self-entitled.

    Nesflash, bro. BILLIONS OF PEOPLE work without fame and credit, every single day. Every single day. In every country in the world.

    This whole “but we are ARTISTS, so we deserve recognition” thing is rather childish. This whole “but we are ARTISTS,” so we deserve to be mentioned at the oscars” thing is downright offensive.

    Millions of people work on popular art every day. A very small percentage get recognized. And, even artists are subject to the laws of economics. It doesn’t matter whether it was the artists or the “hard drives” that were too expensive; too expensive is too expensive.

    Deal with it.

    • jpanim8r says:

      “Too Expensive” is objective.

      Maybe it is worded in a way that could be better.

      Instead of ‘artists’ should be very talented hardworking individuals, that put in more time and effort than most people do in their jobs. Now that may sound like we’re saying we’re better than others, which we are not. However, every friend, family member, etc that sees how much I work. In every walk of life and every industry, says ‘wow, I don’t know how you can work so much, I could never do that’

      So, I hate the ideal of ‘entitlement’ . I feel too much of this country and many others feel that way. So it’s not just because we’re not computers. It’s because we’re humans. We want to be able to have a life.

    • Ex-VFX Dude says:

      Totally agree with Anonymouse. I worked for 7 years in the VFX industry and I have never seen such an entitled group of people. People are paid very well to do jobs, and expect perks on top of that. Newsflash: VFX is a business. If you want it to be sustainable, then that’s on you (in controlling costs) as much as it is on your clients. If your clients aren’t paying you “enough” then lower your costs. If your clients are going elsewhere because of subsidies, then lower your costs. If you can’t function as a business, then you go out of business. That’s how it works. That’s how all business works, actually.

      • megalodon8 says:

        People are being paid VERY WELL to do jobs? How about R&H employees not being paid AT ALL? Or overtime not being paid? Or no health benefits? Perhaps you should KNOW what you are talking about BEFORE writing it down? Are these people entitled to a fair wage? You seem to think they make hundreds of thousands of dollar and are overpaid. Guess again.

      • Ex-VFX Dude says:

        @megalodon8 – They were paid too well, which is why their last paychecks bounced. Same thing at DD, I’m sure. The people running those shops pay the supervisors too much, pay themselves too much, and pay the leads and other senior artists too much. Want evidence? Take a look at the Chapter 11 filings. The amounts owed to employees are huge – and the average wages are healthy.

      • megalodon8 says:

        Okay, I understand you now.

        You don’t have a clue.

        Got it.

    • Jen says:

      @Anonymouse – Nesflash, bro. BILLIONS OF PEOPLE work without fame and credit, every single day. Every single day. In every country in the world.

      Newsflash, bro. NOBODY ELSE generates the kind of profits that we do. Not Tom Cruise, not Jim Carrey — no film can draw $1.5 Billion in worldwide box office without the collaborative efforts of VFX artists.

      • Ex-VFX Dude says:

        Newsflash Jen: This is exactly the kind of delusion that is rampant in the industry. “Nobody else” generates those profits? Give me a break. How about everyone else on the crew? It’s a particular combination of arrogance and cluelessness that drives this attitude – because VFX is a young industry, there are a lot of people who have worked only in this industry and no other – it was their first and only job so far. That’s not a judgment, just a fact. And because of that, there are a lot of people who do not properly value or put into perspective their relative contributions to the overall project and product. You also grossly overestimate the scarcity of your particular skill set. The fact that the studios can go overseas or north of the border or stay here and go to smaller shops in someone’s garage, the fact that they can and have and will continue to do that and those movies continue to make billions of dollars, well, that pretty much tells you what you need to know about how special your talents are. What exactly are you advocating for, anyway? More credit, or more money? Either way, it’s a market. And the market is speaking, and you (and the rest of you whiners) need to listen. What exactly are you even saying, that studios should subsidize your industry? Pay you more than the market demands? That the US government should? Only the last point has any kind of logic to it, and even then, no one on here is making any kind of real argument that a US government subsidy makes any kind of business sense – only that it “should” be done, for the sake of US vfx artists. Compete. Do better. Stop arguing that someone should give you something for free.

      • Newsflash: Tons of people generate the kind of profits VFX artists do. In fact, they generate more.

        The movie industry is tiny in the grand scheme of things.

        Each of the Fortune 100 companies alone do more revenue than the ENTIRE MOVIE INDUSTRY COMBINED.

      • Jen says:

        @Ex-VFX Dude – Newsflash Jen: This is exactly the kind of delusion that is rampant in the industry. “Nobody else” generates those profits? Give me a break. How about everyone else on the crew?

        Fair enough. Show me a film without VFX that’s earned over $1 billion dollars in box office. Go on. Show me.

        The fact that the studios can go overseas or north of the border or stay here and go to smaller shops in someone’s garage, the fact that they can and have and will continue to do that and those movies continue to make billions of dollars, well, that pretty much tells you what you need to know about how special your talents are.

        Except the studios aren’t always hiring LOCAL talent, are they? They’re hiring the SAME artists who are willing to move from London to Montreal to Singapore and back again.

        Not everyone can do this job. Otherwise Los Angeles wouldn’t take the trouble to hire VFX artists from all over the world.

      • megalodon8 says:

        @Ex-VFX Dude – so you think that if Harry Potter were released without the incredible visuals – REGARDLESS of of the acting or the crew – it would have been a blockbuster? Or Lord of the Rings? Face it, when 85% (or more) of what’s on the screen are VFX, these people DESERVE as much recognition AND PAY that everyone else enjoyed who worked on the film.

      • Jen says:

        @Michael Hartman – Newsflash: Tons of people generate the kind of profits VFX artists do. In fact, they generate more.

        Yeah, but those people are more than fairly compensated in exchange for the profits that they generate. VFX artists are not fairly compensated for the profits that they generate.

    • Now I'm really angry says:

      Anonymouse and ex vfx dude are correct.

      There are loads of people who work on popular art who aren’t compensated “fairly” and they contribute just as much as anyone in vfx.

      Take Life Of Pi. Yes, the Tiger and the ocean and whatnot are amazing, but ultimately, audiences are just as excited about those scenes where they are sitting in the living room chatting, or when he meets that girl, or has dinner with his parents. Most people I know who saw the movie talked about that stuff more than they did about the tiger, or the ocean.

      That’s why it’s simply not true to say that vfx and spectacle are what make huge blockbusters so successful. If that were true, then we should see some correlation between the top 50 or so grossing movies of all time and heavy vfx, but we don’t. Yes, if 48 of the top 50, and all 20 of the top 20 most profitable movies of all time were heavy with vfx, then vfx artists would have a point but they aren’t.

      Anonymouse and ex vfx dude are also right that people are paid too much and that really the work could just as easily be done in India and China. That’s why it already is right? Pretty much all of the hardest vfx are done in those places. R&H LA weren’t even needed. Did they even do anything on the tiger?

      Anonymouse and ex vfx dude are also right that facilities and artists need to lower their costs. Every industry, without exception, is subject to a global subsidy war and race to the bottom. These subsidies are completely legal, and utterly fair. If the BC govt offers a 60% kickback for employment in that state, you need to work for free to compete. That’s the fair way to do it. And if, after basic running costs, there isn’t enough margin to function, artists need to either work for free or pay for the privilege of working on this stuff.

      The bottom line is, the vfx in Life of Pi isn’t really integral at all to the movie. In fact nobody even really cared about it. It had nothing to do with the success of the movie. What really made it a global hit was the acting, and the costume design etc etc. Vfx were essentially just trivial after thought that the movie could easily have done without. In fact it probably would have been more successful if they had skipped all the scenes where he was in the boat. Yes, that’s about 80% of the book, but it’s not that important in terms of the box office for the movie. Like I say, there are hardly any movies with vfx in that end up being successful. Most of those big $$ blockbuster movies, like Transformers, people are there for the plot and character development.

      • Kyle Gray says:

        haha excellent.

      • wb says:

        life of pi sucks….it is a very bad movie. With or without vfx is bad.

      • Now I'm really angry says:

        Whether you or I thought it sucked or not, the point is it grossed over $1/2bn. I’d like to see it’s box office without the parts in the boat with the tiger. Obviously, as Anonymouse and ex vfx dude point out, it would make no difference. It’s the same as finding a nice living room where they have that chat. Or Depardieu. Yeah – it was probably Depardieu. Most of the films he’s in gross 500m+ worldwide.

      • wb says:

        if you mesure a movie based on how much it made on the first weekend – then Life of Pi was really god.

        But this is not art…box office is McDonald of the movie industry.

  75. Glenn C says:

    Ang Lee did not mention the pool crew in his Oscar speech. It was the VFX guys who did so.

    • David S says:

      If Ang Lee needs to thank the VFX crew, who was already representing the VFX teams during the oscar, why can’t the VFX team mention the technicians that make the software, the people that package them and the ones that feed those people? Clearly Lee make a remark to thank the entire 3000 people crew that worked on the film, the VFX group sure didn’t. What say you?

      • Glenn C says:

        I think there’s a ton of pressure and 45-60 seconds to speak, and not everyone can remember everything they want to say, so I wouldn’t blame anyone for forgetting something. Yep, Lee did right by thanking “everyone.” And afterward backstage, he insisted that VFX crews are not just technicians, but artists.

        I just think it’s unproductive (not to mention unfair) to diminish the important message about the problems facing VFX artists by lumping it with inaccurate criticisms of Ang Lee and Claudio Miranda (who has indeed made sure to credit the VFX crew with creating so much of what we see on screen and working together). The message is good, it needs to be heard.

  76. Jack says:

    The problem:

    Why are studios underbidding?
    Because if they don’t they won’t get work.

    Why won’t they get work?
    Because the work is going overseas.

    Why are work going overseas?
    Because it is a free market in the US, and the US government is not doing anything to stop it.

    Why aren’t the US government doing anything to stop it?
    Because it’s unconstitutional.

    There you go.. that is the root of our problem.
    Our Constitution.

    Not Ang Lee.

    • Ymir says:

      Please feel free to move to Venezuela.

    • C says:

      exactly! it’s our society we are living in, yet most of us are fueling this vicious cycle without knowing. Maybe we know, we are just too addicted to our big screen TVs.

    • Marianne says:

      I agree with Jack. He’s made a good point.

      It seems like that our anger is misdirected at Ang Lee. Why are we so angry at him for not mentioning R&H and for our industry financial woes?

      He was just a client who contracted R&H as a vendor.

      He paid R&H for the work done on “Life of Pi.”

      He did not trick or deceive any of us.

      Sure, it would have been nice if he mentioned all the vfx artists who worked on the film, the catering services, the security guards, the receptionists, the secretaries, etc., that were also involved in the project etc. But he did not, and I don’t think he had any malicious intent at all. He did not commit any crime.

      We are placing the blame on Ang Lee this year because our industry is not doing well and he’s the easiest guy to lay the blame on. But let’s take a look at ourselves before we point fingers at Ang (or the Canadians or whoever else we want to blame).

      • Jack says:

        Seriously.. why is Phil writing a letter to Ang lee who legally did everything correctly. Write a letter to the US government. Oh really? We need union to jack up our prices even more? great… the studios will just say “fuk you and your unions, we will hire the companies in India, China, Malaysia, Singapore, there are no law to stop us from doing it, good luck finding a new job!”

      • Jen says:

        @Jack – the studios will just say “fuk you and your unions, we will hire the companies in India, China, Malaysia, Singapore, there are no law to stop us from doing it, good luck finding a new job!”

        Have those companies ever delivered work on par with that provided by Rhythm & Hues for LIFE OF PI?

        That quality of work is never cheap.

    • megalodon8 says:

      So government subsidies form other countries – like $438b from BC – have nothing to do with it? It’s not NEARLY as simple as you seem to think it is.

      • Jack says:

        it is merely that simple. It is unconstitutional to stop a company for taking subsides. So companies move production else where. NAFTA made it even easier to do so. It is very simple. Our own freedom act stops rules and regulations to be formed simply because it is “unconstitutional” because we are a free country. The savings each company gets for moving production elsewhere, the money is being kept at upper management, and it is unconstitutional to stop it. Until the government come up with more solutions to keep jobs in domestically. If a CEO can move jobs elsewhere for more money in his own pocket, he will. You just can’t blame other countries for wanting a piece of the pie, you have got to blame yourself for making it easy for them to take your pie.

      • megalodon8 says:

        I think it was mentioned here earlier, and it WILL end up being pertinent. All of the countries in question regarding subsidies signed the WTO agreement. These subsidies are in violation of that agreement. However, it is up to each country to pursue fairness. If the US does not, then nothing will happen. But NO, it is not because of the US Constitution.

  77. James B says:

    A thought: All the negative anti-Vancouver etc talk in here really puts people outside of LA off. If you want support, lets not make this an LA vs everyone thing. We’re all suffering.

    • jpanim8r says:

      Thanks for making your concern known.

      A lot of emotions are running high with knee jerk reactions. There needs to be some well thought out and executed plans that take everything under consideration.

  78. Steve says:

    So, FB is Green with “anger/solidarity” this morning over the perceived “VFX Oscars Snubs”. I see many local types also going green for “artist solidarity”, which is cool….but, if you were online last night during Oscars and just after, MANY of the (LA) people “going green” are also screaming (loudly and louder than ever before) for “all foreign VFX tax credits to be declared Illegal and/or high US Tariffs on any VFX work done out of America on American films”. Go green to support your fellow artists, but be aware there is a faction of mob like mentality growing in LA who’s ultimate goal is to put YOU AND I out of work (they don’t mention that LA shops don’t have tax credits only because California is BROKE and can’t afford to enact them). The $100 million or so production film tax credits that California does have would no doubt be expanded if the California economy were in better shape. Would LA shops/artists “stand on principal” and say, “NO we dont’ want tax credits, they’re ILLEGAL!” if they were offered. I doubt it.

    As to the “snubs”….here’s the math done by a fellow VFX person in LA trying to calm the storm of anger:

    VFX acceptance speech – music faded in (sign of “running out of time, wrap it up) 45 seconds after he started speaking. Mic cut off and went to commercial at 1:03…a few seconds after he brought up “the R&H’ situation”. Many are calling it a “conspiracy to silence protest” and “slap in the face” to VFX….HOWEVER…

    45 seconds was the “standard time” alloted to winner. During Tarantino’s acceptance speech, the music started at :45 (now through his “star status” and force of personality, he kept going and wasn’t cut off)….but he’s a “star”….much like Best Actor/Actress/Picture…aka the “Big Awards” aka “what middle America tunes in to see”..they usually get more time.

    Other awards winners were also hit with the 45 seconds music cue and wrapped it up. I don’t think there was a “conspiracy” in play here. Should the VFX speech have “led” with the R&H statement as many are saying today? Maybe but he’d just won a OSCAR…I think taking time to thank his family etc should not be held against him.

    As to Ang Lee “snubbing” VFX by not mentioning the VFX team (and many have angrily denounced him)…perhaps he should have, but he was not “obligated” to and he didn’t “owe” VFX a shout out. Would it have been “the right thing to do” to mention the team that created one of the lead characters and many of the environments that gave life to “an unfilmmable book”? Yes, probably…but I don’t think crucifying him online after the fact because he didn’t is constructive. Pissing off a director of considerable skill and clout (moreso now with an Oscar) is NOT a smart thing to door to keep work coming in the door (assuming R&H does some out of bankruptsy at some point).

    Lots of fear and anger in the VFX community in LA right now…everyone is on edge. I get it. But going to an “US (LA) versus THEM (foreign VFX shops with their damn dirty tax credits) is NOT the way to stablize/sustain much less grow the industry. As Jeff Okun (who was online trying to calm people) said (paraphrasing), we need to do this TOGETHER and as a united industry, not infighting factions demonizing “the other guys”.

    My 5 cents (since we no longer have pennies).

    • Ymir says:

      Steve, the California subsidies are in direct response to the Canadian, UK, and other states’ subsidies. If you’ve been around this blog any length of time, you’ll know the message is to end ALL subsidies and work on a level playing field. The only ones who want the subsidies to continue are the ones who know they have nothing else to offer other than free money to the studios.

      (For the record, I don’t live in California.)

    • fair game says:

      I think the *US would stand for the vfx industry in general. The THEM is the filmmakers / production studios.
      Geographic differences are merely a symptom.

      • outthere says:

        those “geographic differences” add up to places where I, and my family, live. Steve raises a great point. Tread carefully.

    • wb says:

      life of pi sucks…very bad movie

    • Dave Rand says:

      6 studios control your employment in their artificially created market that will keep you on the nipple forever, you’ll never grow up, never become anything, but a dependent little puppy.

      We want that to stop. We want every country to have a “…….wood” of their own.

      We want the WTO to decide. If you truly believe it’s far and balanced now…then you have nothing at all to fear, and no reason to be concerned and you can muzzle up to that nice warm spot till someone else steels your milk and you shrivel up. Or you can get off the nipple, grow up, and help us remove a tool that only keeps the fences up and newcomers out.

    • TeeDubND says:

      Great response. In this case, the director is just a scapegoat…

  79. jpanim8r says:

    5 cents, I didn’t even read it yet, that looks more like $2.50 .

  80. Ang Lee says:

    Hello folks!

    Sorry about last night, I really felt bad for you!

    According to your letter I should have thanked the visual effects organization who made my images become reality. But I already did, I thanked them with my money. Let’s get this straight, they did not come up with the images by themselves, they were my images that I paid them to draw up. And my DP didn’t thank the artists because it was his artistic vision that he has achieved, it was not a master piece handed to him to take credit of. We oversaw the entire process of creating these images, and please, the first draft you come up with are always pieces of crap that will become refined as we pass our judgements on it, which will result in the final image. So in the end, it was US who made the images possible, not you. You were only a means.

    And in case you didn’t notice, I also did not thank all the camera assistants, grip, sound department, art directors, make up, props, personal assistant, production managers, or the writers of the script, etc..

    So take one for the team guys and calm down. You’re just a service industry, like car manufactures. You don’t see people thanking their car manufactures for their time and effort or their proprietary pipelines or softwares. You’re nothing special, get over it, life goes on. And if you really are fed up with your industry why not just leave? Oh, that’s right! You can’t do anything else because you didn’t go to college. D’oh!

    Oh, thanks for the tiger guys, it was really great! And thanks for another Oscar win for me!

    PS. I expect you to lower your price the next time we meet by at least 20%.



  81. I'm really ang-lee now says:

    In reply to C, who that posted:
    “I remember there was a time when my peers were just a bunch college kids looking forward to work in the industry. We were not thinking about paychecks, rather just putting our works out there. What changed? is it the need to sustain a luxurious west LA life style? My geo metro was able to take me around just as my new audi.”
    Well, dude, I am not a college kid and I need a decent paycheck to live in dignity: clear?
    I don’t have a luxuorious lifestyle and none of my colleagues in the UK has. Clear?
    Actually, most of them are out of work and even on government money: clear?

    Are you trolling this blog and trying to manipulate us? Please be honest. I find it hard to believe you are an artist.

  82. Craig says:

    Willis O’Brien was sometimes called an fx technician even though he was completely in charge of King Kong’s fx. Make up fx artists got more respect–but with the computer closely involved in the process people just assume it is about button pushing. As for BC, it is amusing that when one of the winners was described as being a BC resident the “save BC film” people were hailing it as a win for them. But he was from France-dont the french have a right to be glad or is he officially owned by Vancouver now? Also funny to see Argo win when the trick in the movie-Canada making a sci-fi movie–is not something that Canada ever did much of–not in the 70s. If the Iranians had researched Canadian film they would have discovered how far fetched it was–like Kenya making a film about ice skating. Canada’s most well known science fiction film was Starship Invasions–made by a US filmmaker. That should have tipped them off.

    • James B says:

      It’s posts like that that demotivates contributing to the cause. Don’t turn this into a sports argument of where the players come vs the team they play for. Vancouver is suffering as well. So is London. So is NZ.

  83. Andy says:

    Millions of artists do brilliant work and never get recognized. It’s part of the job, we do this because we love it, not because we want to get mentioned at the Oscars. Directors are visionaries and story tellers, and the vision and story is far more important that VFX, no matter how cool they look. I can’t believe Phillip Broste had the audacity to write this childish, insulting, and pathetic letter. What a loser.

    • Jen says:

      @Andy – Millions of artists do brilliant work and never get recognized.

      The difference is that VFX artists generate billions in box office profits. We make a LOT of money for Hollywood right now, but we’re starving for it.

      • Andy says:

        Yeah, without grips, we couldn’t even see the actors. I’m pretty sure being able to see the actors also generates billions in box office profits. According to you, sound guys who hold boom sticks also generate billions in box office profits.

        We are moving into an age of crazy special effects. But guess what, big deal! When we transitioned from silent films to films with sound, I don’t think a douche bag sound guy wrote a bitchy open letter to an oscar winning director because he didn’t thank the boom operator.

      • jpanim8r says:

        That sound guy is probably part of a union and getting paid overtime, benefits, etc.
        Maybe residuals? (I don’t know, nor claim to)

      • Andy says:

        No, sound guys do not get residuals, and make far less than VFX guys. They have really hard jobs too. Everyone who works in films has a hard job, and very few get recognized, which brings me back the the point that Broste is a childish cry baby loser.

      • megalodon8 says:

        And yet… ALL of these professionals are on the credits BEFORE the VFX people. Oh…. and aren’t all of them UNION?

      • Jen says:

        @Andy – No, sound guys do not get residuals

        I call bullshit. Sound guys work under IATSE contracts, and residuals flow into the health and pension benefits. They may not get residuals directly, but they sure as hell get their Piece of the Pi.

      • Jen says:

        @Andy – yeah, so? Hollywood will never wring an ILM-quality Hulk out of free student labor, and it’s not for lack of Hollywood trying.

      • Andy says:


        Never is a strong word. A good friend of mine just did an old spice commercial for 80k. He does vfx for fun as a hobby. Sure things like avengers need very professional and talented vfx teams, but how many movies like that come along? 6-7 a year? There isn’t enough for everyone, so of course competition is going to be fierce for you, but that isn’t Ang Lee’s fault.

        Also, how dare this Broste asshole write this as Lee and Claudio are experiencing great moments in their lives. How selfish and disgusting. So what if they forgot to mention some people, it’s an intense moment for a person to go through. They forgot to thank a lot of people. English isn’t even Lee’s first language.

        Phillip Broste is a fucking loser.

    • megalodon8 says:

      @Andy – You’re missing the point. These “millions of artists” (and there are not millions by the way) just want to be paid FAIRLY. It’s not difficult to understand. You don’t seem to get what is going on here – it’s not about recognition, but fair pay.

      • Andy says:

        No, YOU seem to be missing the point. Hollywood is the wild west, it’s lawless in many ways. If a VFX guy wants to make more money, he needs to be able to do something that another house can’t provide for cheaper. It’s called economics. You can’t just replace directors left and right, since they are visionaries and you can’t buy that kind of talent… I can order a tiger on a boat from 5 different places, unless you can offer me something that no one else can do.

      • Jen says:

        GLENDOWER. I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

        HOTSPUR. Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them?

        @Andy – I can order a tiger on a boat from 5 different places, unless you can offer me something that no one else can do.

        Why, so can I, or so can any studio. But will those places deliver a believable tiger on time when you do order them?

      • jpanim8r says:

        @Andy Yes, they could have went with 5 different studios (probably not more than that, it is very difficult to do)
        Yes, you can buy directors, done every day, there are more directors available with talent than there are quality vfx studios.

      • Andy says:

        @jpanim8r Yet, being a director is more prestigious and difficult to do than VFX. You are told what to do by directors, you do not “create” anything. You’re like a paintbrush, or a hammer.

        When I talk about directors, I’m talking about gifted ones who only do film. So no, you can’t just buy directors. That’d be like me saying I could do VFX with mspaint. I could do it and call myself an effects guy, but no one would pay or recognize me.

      • megalodon8 says:

        @Andy – No YOU are still missing the point. 😉
        It’s not about SIMPLE economic. There are a whole host of factors involved here. Try to understand what subsidies do and how they are unfair to EVERYONE including the taxpayers.

      • Andy says:

        @megalodon8 – No, you’re missing the point. The point is that is that your job can be outsourced. Just like how they draw sponge bob in Korea. Everything that you claim responsibility for is actually the work of others. You compose the visuals, but the idea, the look, the feel, etc, was come up with by someone else.

      • jpanim8r says:

        @Andy – Disagree, don’t think those analogies made much sense.

      • Tiamet says:

        Wow, yeah. What an amazing visionary Ang Lee is. Did you know there was a book called Life of Pi written by Yann Martel over a decade ago. It is striking how similar Mr. Lee’s vision is to Martels. Anyone who saw the film would have to be an idiot to think that the visual effects team had anything to do with what they were seeing on screen. Mr. Lee described all of the anatomical nuances and facial expressions that brought the tiger to life in such vivid detail that it didn’t even matter that he was speaking in Mandarin. The English speaking vfx artists were moved to press the right buttons simply by the vibration of master Lee’s voice. Perhaps even Mr Martel was inspired to write his book by the power of Master Lee’s creative will extending itself backward through time.

  84. Reblogged this on Randi Himelfarb and commented:
    Can man live by keyframe alone?

  85. Kyle Baker says:

    How DARE Hollywood treat the VFX industry the way they’ve treated animators and comic book creators!

    • Jen says:

      @Kyle – Animators who work under Local 839 contracts for most of their lives enjoy a comfortable, secure retirement. The same cannot be said of work-for-hire comic book legends like Jack Kirby.

      That said, Hollywood currently holds animators in just as much contempt as VFX artists. The difference is that the animators in Los Angeles negotiate their terms as a group.

      • Anise says:

        Unless you’re an animator that is working for American studios in BC, under the tax incentives that this blog seems to demonize so thoroughly. We’re not unionized, and we get screwed over really badly. I’m hoping these VFX issues help us to get a backbone and join the struggle to organise.

      • Jen says:

        @Anise – if your fellow animators refuse to unionize, consider moving to Los Angeles to work at a Local 839 shop under a union contract.

        I’m not joking. I work in VFX, and I’m thinking of jumping the VFX ship to work at a Local 839 shop.

  86. Stacy says:

    You guys sure are a bunch of whiners! It’s a business you’re there to help a company grow. Company goes under – Bad management. Bad Producing. Stop playing video games on someone else budgets..or sorry “R&D”. Not matter how good you CGI looks.

    • James B says:

      When I’m on my 14th hour without OT I can assure you I am not playing video games.

      • ArturoM says:

        why are you working a job without getting paid OT? why would you agree to that contract? is it not the labour law where you live that you get paid OT no matter what? Honestly want to know, not trying to be a dick

    • megalodon8 says:

      You really don’t have a clue as to what’s going on here, do you? You see one little aspect and say “bunch of whiners.” I wonder how you would feel if you consistently had to work overtime and not get paid at a job you love? I’m sure you oversimplistic response would be “just get another job.”

      • Andy says:

        Uh yeah, just get another job then you cry baby loser. Do you understand that 99% of people on this planet work a job they HATE? You get to do something you love and get paid really well for it. OH SORRY, DIDNT PAY YOU 2 HOURS OF OVERTIME, OH NOOOOOOO. Deal with it.

      • megalodon8 says:

        @Andy – yeah, with your attitude everyone should just bend over and enjoy the feeling. Stand up for your rights? Hell no, I’m just gonna bend over and take it. People like yourself disgust me because you enjoy the fruits of other peoples “fighting back” like 40 hour work weeks, vacations and safety at the workplace – but you don’t want to stand up for anyone else. Yup, let’s just take it up the butt. A very sad example for ANY worker in the USA.

      • Andy says:

        @megalodon – Incorrect. I work longer and harder than you. When I first came into this industry I worked for free. FREE. What I do consumes my life. I live, breathe, and dream my craft. I work 24 hours a day. You VFX people make me sick, sitting on your fat asses eating doughnuts and then complaining that you had to work overtime. You aren’t taking anything in the butt, you have a cushy, secure job, that isn’t hard on you physically, mentally, or in any other way. A director is leagues beyond a VFX person, which is why this letter disgusts me.

      • jpanim8r says:

        @Andy … those comments make it clear to anyone on this thread that you don’t know what you’re talking about, and are a troll.

      • Andy says:

        @ jpanim8r – Oh really? Please tell me what part of the following statement is incorrect.

        The director and DP tell you what they want.
        You do it, and show them
        They tell you to make corrections
        You make those corrections
        repeat until they are satisfied
        You get paid lots of money

        All the while you sit at a computer working, eating some kind of pastry.

      • jpanim8r says:

        I have a point by point reply to each thing you mentioned (and those you left out of your reply)
        However talking with you is like talking with a rock.
        Since it’s evident to everyone but you, there is no reason to continue that conversation.
        Further silence is not a sign of you being right, but of knowing when something is pointless to walk away and pursue avenues that are more meaningful.

      • Andy says:

        Ah yes, you have a “response”… except, you don’t. You know what I said is completely true. Why don’t you go cry some more, you big fat baby.

      • nick says:

        What is it that you do Andy?

      • Peter Nyrell says:

        Andy – Are you stupid for real? Who the fuck hasnt worked for FREE in the VFX business? Youve got this idea of the VFX people´s daily job that it is some kind of luxury life that they got for free and you hate it. Sad to say that youre wrong because I would like to stick it up in your your selfrighteous little prick face.
        Thruth is that its DAMN hard work – far beyond youre little wiseass brain can imagine. And the people doin it deserves whatever they get so fuck off!

      • Peter Nyrell says:

        …and of course. its just troll. stupid shit.

  87. Beepernps says:

    Good to see you here Kyle. I love your work. Loved your demo at Dare2draw in NY last year.

  88. […] former student turned me on to this – an Open Letter to Ang Lee from a Visual Effects artist, taking issue with the expensive nature of visual effects. I […]

  89. julius5 says:

    Many people leaving comments on this entry don’t seem to understand how VFX facility financials work and think my ex-employer mismanaged itself into bankruptcy. If your mental business model of the VFX industry is that simple, I suggest doing a bit more homework.

    Here’s an example of one misconception: VFX facilities aren’t paid on a per-project basis; they are paid for shots on a project, or at an even more granular level. The number of shots on a project can vary wildly from the initial breakdown as script changes and edits are made.

    Here’s an example of another: Financials are constantly negotiated throughout the production process. Studios don’t always pay overages or change orders, much less the entire project bid price regardless of amount of work done.

    Final fact: VFX facilities need to maintain good relationships with studios because those six studios are the only source of all work.

    Given these three facts, I’m hoping a CG chimp could construct scenarios where any facility could go bankrupt, mismanaged or not.

    • why not? says:

      There have TV show / Commercial / Internet the company …etc. should diversify for their only source. Also integrate to their biz model. Clearly it is company fault not the client. Perhaps make own studio so no one could bully them around.

  90. Very well articulated. Thank you.

  91. Christopher Simmons says:

    Well Stated Phil!

  92. […] Here’s a link to a visual effects blogger commenting on the drama: […]

  93. Nou Chee Her says:

    I would have to read the whole interview or discussion before taking side but I believe in the quote that you provided by Lee, he does acknowledge the hard works of VFX vendors but says he wish it can be cheaper, although he understand why it isn’t. As for not thanking them on stage, I believe it is because they have already represented themselves when they won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects. What I would agree highly with you is the rude interruption during the Best Visual Effects category and the awful jokes by the Avengers cast. Perhaps a letter to those cast and the academy?

  94. appleeatingdog says:

    Can I just say, you guys have to realize Ang Lee is not a native speaker who to this day still speaks English with a thick Mandarin accent. Taking his ONE sentence to this extent is simply ridiculous.

  95. jpanim8r says:

    One good thing about this thread is, all the different perspectives being brought to the table. Now it’s time to take all of those different viewpoints and come up with a united agenda that can make a difference rather than us just squabbling among ourselves.

  96. […] VFX folk on my Twitter time line. Some claiming they’d never work on one of his movies again. The open letter was well received by VFX artists, but all too pointless (I also loved how the guy mentioned who he […]

  97. nocap says:

    Thank you for speaking up. I lost my job due to such practices. I am working in a non-VFX job now due to the downward spiral.

  98. me2 says:

    Why are we hurting international colleagues by wasting energy mentioning subsidies? The real cause is the bidding war mentality that big clients use to drive down our margins everywhere. the anti-subsidies rhetoric is getting xenophobic and wouldn’t be a factor if starving artists didn’t have to scrabble for peanuts.

    We’re all in this boat together. If LA wants to hog all of the potential windfall by somehow calling dibs on a globally practiced skill, they will fracture their support and shout with a lesser voice.

    • Ymir says:

      Why are our international colleagues hurting their international colleagues by supporting subsidies? Anti-subsidy is not rhetoric. Subsidized markets make it harder for non-subsidized markets to to competitively bid for work. It’s all tied together. Remove the subsidies and we’re all going after work with the best we have to offer. Just like sports. No one is spotted any points, no one is allowed steroids or performance enhancing drugs. We all compete on the same field of play.

      • me2 says:

        glad to see corn doing so well. US farmers really stand on their own two feet.

      • Ymir says:

        US corn industry supported by US subsidy = true
        US studios supported by Canadian subsidy = true
        Canadian film industry supported by = ???

        Maybe you should start a blog “Corn Soldier”

      • Ymir says:

        Why does work go to ILM? Because of a San Francisco film subsidy? No. It goes there because they are good. Why does work go to a subsidized location, such as BC? Is that how you want to work? The only reason you got the work was because your government gave a kickback to the American studio to do so?

    • Jen says:

      @me2 – If LA wants to hog all of the potential windfall by somehow calling dibs on a globally practiced skill…

      Don’t think of it as “Los Angeles vs the rest of the world.” VFX artists from all over the world already come here to work. The best ones stay put. However, I do know former co-workers who bounce from Vancouver to London to Louisiana to Singapore and back again.

      • James B says:

        Implying that the only good artists are in LA.

      • Jen says:

        No, only those VFX artists who were willing to move from other states and countries to work here in Los Angeles.

        Now Hollywood is asking those same artists to move again.

        And again.

        And again.

      • greenbee says:

        excuse me Ymir? Yea, only LA peeps are any good… please! You guys are not doing the “cause” any good with rhetoric like that. pretty offensive, really.

      • Ymir says:

        Excuse me, greenbee. Please point to where I said “only LA peeps are any good”. Please, point that out. I don’t see it.

    • greenbee says:

      spot on me2!

  99. Bob says:

    I am truly sad to see this happening to visual effects artists. Though I’m primarily a writer, I have the utmost respect for their talent and hard work.

    I recently started learning Maya, and I’m finding it to be incredibly difficult. So, I understand the skill that’s required to master such complex software.

    What’s happening in the film industry now is, I believe, a result of film studios becoming monopolies. Whenever tremendous power is concentrated into too few hands, corruption is the result.

    Perhaps screenwriters, VFX artists, and other creative film professionals can join forces in worker cooperatives.

  100. RH_vfx says:

    I’ve never seen so many people come up with so many different reasons to defend big companies treating people like dog shit peasants.

    The lack of empathy makes me sick. The general consensus of the people against any sort of change is, “The world is tough. Stop bitching and get over it.”

    If you really think this way, I feel sorry for you. When change eventually comes (not if, but when), you will be saying thank you to every one of us you have criticized. We’re here to instill change not only for us, but you too. NOT only in LA, but everywhere.

    • megalodon8 says:

      That’s right. This will end up affecting everyone in VFX all around the world. Standing up NOW is what we need to do. Thinking that this is just the way it is and there’s nothing to be done about it except “grab your ankles” is sad and pathetic. It shows immense disrespect for everyone who came before us and fought for better workers rights and conditions FOR ALL OF US.

    • TeeDubND says:

      I agree that change needs to happen. Despite the fact that minimim wage is consistently increasing, it’s not increasing as fast as inflation. You didn’t get paid for overtime – I think that’s criminal and should also be fixed.

      HOWEVER, I think the main issue of this article is who it’s directed at. Yes, Ang Lee could have given a shoutout to the VFX artists… he also could’ve given a shoutout to the thousands of other people who worked on this project. He generalized everything by thanking everyone in one fell swoop, and even SPECIFICALLY said that he didn’t have enough time to thank everyone individually.

      Do you really think you’re so special that you deserve something more than that? I should hope not…

      Maybe you need to look in on your own peers, your management, even the head of your whol organization. I’m not saying that creating a union is the right answer, but it looks like a running thread in these posts is regarding sound, set, design, etc. artists are more well-off because of unions. Well, why don’t you change the system within? No need to vilify someone who actually GIVES YOU WORK and while didn’t SPECIFICALLY thank you in his speech, is clearly an admirer of VFX artists’ work. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be doing all these large VFX projects.

      Oh, and another thing. If this work is so hard and doesn’t pay well, etc. etc., then get another job. I understand that this is your “passion”, but if I worked in the field/job that I’m truly passionate about, I wouldn’t be making any money. Instead, I’m paying my dues now so that later I can do what I’m passionate about, or do it on the side.

      Again, I agree that there needs to be more consistent connection between all VFX Houses around the globe to stop price deflation on quotes, but try and target it at someone who can really do something about it.

      • Easy says:

        He and every other director are not givng VFX artists work because they admire us and think we’re just really cool people. He gives us work because otherwise Life of Pi and all of these other huge, profitable films are IMPOSSIBLE to make. So yes, we are that special. I think it’s funny hearing all of this great insight and advice from someone who hasn’t managed to work long enough to get a job in their chosen field. Some of us have been doing this for decades and your “just find another job” is an infuriatingly flippant response. Maybe you’ll understand one day ever make whatever is your passion into a career instead of just doing whatever bullshit jobs come along to pay your bills. Imagine you pay your dues for years, you finally make it and then you find you’re getting squeezed to the point you can’t do it anymore because some assholes in suits are raking in piles of money and keep fucking you wherever they can like it’s their hobby. Then some guy comes along and says “Stop whining, just go get another job” Seriously, fuck you.

      • JK says:

        Totally agree, my thoughts exactly. Poor Ang is being used as a scapegoat.

  101. VFXLady says:

    As a simple VFX artist who is no economist and trying to follow along with everything that is happening, below is a summary of my understanding of the arguments so far. PLEASE, correct any inaccuracies!

    Argument: The VFX business model is flawed. It leads to a poor quality of life for those in the field and is unsustainable, particularly for our employers (IE Digital Domain, R&H, Asylum, Cafe FX etc). Something needs to change.

    **This is something it appears most VFX artists around the world agree upon. The solutions is where we begin to differ…

    Proposed Solutions:
    1) End Subsidies
    Pro: This would “level the playing field” and force Film Studios to award work based on accurate bids, as opposed to bids which are based on gov’t assistance. It would also lend stability to the industry, so artists and their VFX Studio employers aren’t chasing subsidies around the world.
    Con: Ending subsidies helps some, but hurts others, at least in the short run. Many artists rely on subsidies to survive. The industry is global, and subsidies support artists around the world so the work isn’t centralized in one location.

    2) Subsidies should directly benefit the VFX Studios
    Pro: If gov’t assistance is meant to benefit the industry, that is best accomplished if the assistance is given to the VFX Studios, as opposed to their employers, the Film Studios. If VFX Studios were to benefit directly from subsidies they could reinvest that money back into their own companies which would add stability to the industry.
    Con: All subsidies are harmful and still distort the balance of the industry.

    3) Unionize
    Pro: As the backbone of the industry, VFX artists have leverage, but only if they work together. Film Studios need VFX artists, but they don’t stand up for themselves well and the artist is undervalued because of it. Together, VFX artists can begin to negotiate a solution for a more sustainable and quality work environment, as many other artist unions have done before.
    Con: Unionization will kill the VFX Studios. The Film Studios will simply take their work to a non-union shop, and the VFX Studio with union workers will close its doors, leaving no one employed.

    Have I missed any other proposed solutions? (I’m sure I have) But this is the meat of what I’ve taken from the content rich conversations I’ve seen on here. And as an aside, to watch our industry come together in the last days/weeks has been incredibly inspiring.

  102. Gornstlar Wangstez says:

    Welcome to capitalism.

  103. […] Ang Lee, who forgot to thank his VFX collaborators during his acceptance speech, provoking an open letter from from Zoic Studios lead compositor Phillip Broste, tried to make amends backstage: “The […]

  104. ArturoM says:

    R&H bit off more than they could chew and got caught out. ( see above, welcome to capitalism. ) And threw all it’s employees under the bus. If you’re working for 12+ hour days more than 5 days/week, you’re working for a poorly managed VFX studio. End of story. They’re counting on us being to afraid to walk out on a messed up project and know we are willing sacrifice our life ( literally your fkkn LIFE ) to make them look good. There are studios that do 40 hour weeks, get good projects and pay well that are doing well. That care about you. Stop working at these crappy sweat shop studios just because they have “blockbuster” movies.

    • RH_vfx says:

      Uh, Arturo? You wanna elaborate on these studios that work ONLY 40 hour work weeks (through the entirety of a project) that are doing well and pay their employees well?

      You can’t name Dreamworks or Pixar. Actual VFX studios. Please enlighten me. Because I don’t believe these exist.

  105. […] The full letter can be found on the VFX Soldier web site. […]

  106. Stop Whing and Grow Up says:

    Ang Lee can thank whoever he wants. He is under NO obligation to thank you or anyone he doesn’t want to. And you need to stop whining accept that as the *ahem* professionals you claim to be.

    When you win an Oscar, you thank whomever you want to.

    • The Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

      Unless they cut you off mid-speech.

    • Studio_Spotter says:

      I dont think people are under the misconception that he is obligated to do anything. People are more frustrated at the common sentiment that vfx is unimportant enough to ignore. Its common in the film industry. That common ignorance has very real and harsh repercussions for those working in the fx industry. He just happened to personify the obliviousness, in that moment, to the many sacrifices fx workers make and continue to make. It wasnt even on his radar, but its not on anyone’s radar. That is the problem. Respect for vfx should be on his radar, the academy’s radar, and certainly all the presenters of the vfx award who’s careers have been made possible in large part from fx.

    • Yes!! They can!! says:

  107. LOKI says:

    The dude only had like 5 seconds. I don’t think he had time to say more than Thank you. get over it.

  108. laurameredith says:

    I just want to say, thank you VFX Soldier for mentioning production coordinators. Though we don’t do the artistic roles on the films, we work very hard too and are just as unsung – I really do appreciate the mention! Soldier on!

  109. Bob (another one) says:

    I wish the whiny people would stop saying things like “Oooh, but it’s gloooobaaal nooow!!” No it fucking isn’t. If you take away the subsidies (socialism for the movie studios – brutal capitalism for the idiot peasant laborers! Yaaay!) and let everything settle down to its natural levels then what you get is a *bit* of high quality VFX in London, a *bit* of high quality VFX in Canada, a *bit* of HQ VFX in New Zealand, vestigial traces of HQ VFX in Europe and Australia and then a hundred times all that combined in California, mainly in LA.

    The only thing that’s global is the gullibility of governments around the world and the movie studios’ willingness to play those governments for complete bloody fools.

    • James B says:

      10 years ago I would agree. These days though the talent is a much more international crowd, and not everyone wants to move to LA to work either.

      • Bob (another one) says:

        Yes, I understand that not everybody would want to relocate to LA. Really, I think that’s a given. But lacking the distortions caused by subsidies there’s a very staightforward reason why most of the world’s VFX end up being done in LA, and it’s because that’s where the movie studios are that are paying for the movies to be made. If the studios don’t gain anything by having the VFX done elsewhere, then they’ll simply make the VFX business come to them.

        And that’s exactly what always happened until “the subsidies war” started.

        What’s completely crazy about the people trying to (somehow) defend the idea of their govt making a 437 million dollar donation (bribe) to Hollywood is that they genuinely seem to think that they have “an industry”. The truth is that their govt is buying them a temporary job. They do not have an VFX industry. They never have had a VFX industry. Once the donations (bribes) go then their “industry” will go back to its natural size, which is practically microscopic.

        I’d not considered this before, but I feel sorry for the people at The Embassy, because I think they were there before all this happened. They really are Canada’s indigenous VFX industry, and they were getting by by being absolutely world class. I bet they feel like they’re drowning in a sea of shit.

      • Jen says:

        @James B – I’d rather live near Los Angeles than Montreal. The biggest clients will remain in Los Angeles for the next century.

        In contrast, the VFX industry in Montreal will exist only for as long as the subsidies. It’s even less stable than Los Angeles.

      • James B says:

        @bob – So pretending you didn’t call the VFX industry in Vancouver a sea of shit, what motivation is there for someone in Vancouver to join the call to end subsidies? I could argue the reason everyone around the world does shit hours and no OT in VFX is because the industry was born in LA – Where 7 days a week, 14 hour days were a standard. If all the work were to go to LA, would that problem fix itself?

        Real talk, the more you make this an LA vs the world, the less support you get.

        @jen – I agree. I don’t want to move to Montreal much either. Such a weird time zone. Speaking of instability, I remember back when inferno guys were bragging about their $400 hourly wages, and I’ve seen the size of some of the VFX/animation campuses down there. Tho
        se also seemed destined to be unsustainable

      • Bob (another one) says:

        Yes, I apologize for the ambiguous sea of shit description. Sorry. It reads as though I mean the people involved, whereas in my own little head I meant to be referring to the overall situation, where you’re making a really good go of things as a vfx house in a remote location and suddenly you wake up one morning to find that, overnight, somebody has artificially created dozens of big-name competitors right across the street, all of whom are underbidding you for every job. (My only defense is that it was after midnight here when I wrote that… mea culpa.)

        As for it being LA vs. The World, I feel I should point out that I’m in Europe. I have nothing invested in LA or the USA. I am, however, fairly capable of making an objective analysis of what’s happened over the last 15 years.

        The movie studios have used the national incentives (/rebates /donations /bribes) to destabilize the VFX business and drive down their own costs at the expense of VFX. And everybody should expect that the studios will behave like this whenever they’re given an opening. They’re big business and this is just what big business does.

        The trouble from the VFX biz’s point of view is that unless the industry can be properly, genuinely stabilized, there’s nothing else that can be done that will be effective in fixing any of the things that are currently wrong. Everything else… *all* of the things that everybody would like to see happen simply cannot happen if the movie studios always have a get out clause where they can jump ship to another country that’s offering donations.

        People have *got* to start thinking of movie studios as big, bad, faceless, unfeeling corporate entities. Because… that’s exactly what they are. There’s no use in blaming them for being that. It’s business. It’s just a thing that is. People need to stop thinking that we have to appeal somehow to the studios’ better nature. They don’t have better natures.

        That, really, is why the subsidies need to go. So that some sort of equilibrium can be restored to the vfx business. Yes, that does almost certainly mean stuff going back to LA, but that’s because that’s where it would naturally be. At *that* point, then having a union is suddenly really useful, just like it is for the rest of Hollywood, and at that point a lot of things can be properly addressed.

        If the subsidies *aren’t* stopped, then we can forget it. We’re all going to be sweatshop workers.

      • Hhhhh says:

        Jen says “I’d rather live near Los Angeles than Montreal. The biggest clients will remain in Los Angeles for the next century.”

        No, they will move to China.

      • Easy says:

        Yeah, sure, China. I can see it now, all of the vapid, self centered pricks that work in management for the studios tooling around in their expensive cars in the middle of a smog emergency in Beijing.. You might as well say they’re going to move to Nebraska.

    • greenbee says:

      sorry, but that is offensive. It is global. People have built lives up outside of LA. LA is not the centre of the fucking VFX universe.

    • outthere says:

      Why are we hurting international colleagues by wasting energy mentioning subsidies? The real cause is the bidding war mentality that big clients use to drive down our margins everywhere. the anti-subsidies rhetoric is getting xenophobic and wouldn’t be a factor if starving artists didn’t have to scrabble for peanuts.

      We’re all in this boat together. If LA wants to hog all of the potential windfall by somehow calling dibs on a globally practiced skill, they will fracture their support and shout with a lesser voice.

      • A member of the madding crowd says:

        I agree. Why don’t we just crowdfund our own movie studio with a profit share for all participants? The studios are never going to change. We have to grow up.

        I’ll put $10K in. 30,000 artists x $10,000 = $300,000,000 movie studio! Looks like a good down payment on a loan to me.

  110. Beans says:

    So much negativity and ignorance on theses comments, it saddens me. Well hopefully the one good thing we get out of all these closures is a stronger more sustainable vfx industries.

  111. Reblogged this on Morrighan's Muse and commented:
    Something to ponder about. Not everyone gets credit in the gorgeous movies that we watch, especially tho ones who help create the possible out of the impossibles.

  112. […] The full letter can be found on the VFX Soldier web site. […]

  113. jpanim8r says:

    How about we start a new thread with ‘constructive criticism’.
    What can be done to improve conditions in the VFX industry?
    Everyone offering up their solutions, by the replies we can see which make the most sense and which have holes that have to be dealt with?

  114. Kabuto says:

    If you want it to be cheaper, create a concept for a cheaper movie.

    Get a DSLR, real Tiger and your oscar winning DP then go shoot in the ocean… have fun.

  115. Movies should be cheaper. I don’t begrudge Ang Lee for saying that. Movies are so expensive nowadays that many smaller artists simply cannot compete. Butch and Sundance was an action classic and it was made for a couple million dollars. Today it would cost a couple hundred million. Ang Lee thanked who he could. He didn’t have a ton of time. The VFX artists were up there for a while and took their time, and they were honored. Everyone gets played off when they are going overtime. And last night, EVERYONE got played off by Jaws. Everyone.

    If you want to blame someone for your company going under, blame your bad management for not managing funds and manhours correctly. Don’t blame the people who actually gave you a job.

    Because honestly, if I’m ever shooting a big budget feature like this, I certainly don’t want to hire someone with your attitude.

    • Ymir says:

      This pretty much sums up the situation:

      • Blacklight says:

        Hilarious! But how will ending VFX subsidies make the producers, directors, and their assorted hangers-on be less stupid?

    • wb says:

      who told you this? that movies should be cheaper?

    • Easy says:

      Cars should be cheaper too. Why can’t I get a new one for $2000? Same goes with air-travel, why can’t I fly from NY to LA for $50, surely it should be cheaper.

      If you want cheaper movies, stop asking for VFX that takes that many man-hours to create. Fuck “Life of Pi”. There’s this thing called a LIBRARY where there are thousands of new ideas that can be made into a movie without having to pay all of those people to make your tiger act in the middle of an ocean.

      If you can’t afford the cost, pick something else. Duh.

      I’m going to continue to blame these movie studios for colluding and pressuring us into this corner as much as I will blame the VFX studio heads for letting it happen.

  116. sigh says:

    I can’t believe I read through the majority of these comments and amazed on how people are just keep bickering back and forth with each other… is there a hope to get some kind of unified voice? Maybe, hopefully, since the ones keep bickering only a small number of the same ppl
    The letter was well said. He made a good point. It’s hard to understand for ppl who never work in a high end facilities why excellent invisible vfx cost alot.
    It takes a lot of man hours to keep tweaking things so its perfect. Thats okay, I don’t expect the ignorant commenters to understand.

  117. J. says:

    So I hear whispers of forming a union. Why isn’t there one?

    Actors have SAG/AFTRA. For backstage crews, there’s IATSE.

    Why isn’t there one for VFX artists?

    • outthere says:

      that includes international VFX artists, right? or is this only a US club? Pretty sure we do the same work…

      • Nikita says:

        well the general perception is a lot wrong that artists from some countries cannot deliver same quality as that of LA. If that is going to be the mindset of the people here, then surely a lot of people are gonna opt out.

  118. […] VFX Soldier – An Open Letter to Ang Lee […]

  119. And here’s the honest truth for all you VFX artists: the digital vfx industry is too big right now to be sustainable. Movies cost more than ever right now, and if they cost anymore than they do right now, that won’t be sustainable. So as soon as you unionize, and ask for more pay, guess what is going to happen? Hirings will be slashed. Jobs will be smaller, asking for fewer people. And studios will have to rely a bit more on practical effects in conjunction with digital. Maybe if we’re lucky digital effects will be dialed down a bit and not so absurd in movies.

    And maybe if we’re lucky too some practical effects workers will start to get their jobs back. Because as much as you moan about being taken advantage of, you really don’t seem to care about how many people you helped put out of work.

    I feel bad for you guys; I do. But you have to realize that there is a bigger world out there than just you. And that world affects writers, and crew members, and directors, and practical effects artists, dps, producers, etc.

    • Get Real Soldier says:

      Patrick Wells…I am guessing you are a practical effects person, but no matter…the comment below applies.

      Nicely said.

      The great creativity of ‘Hollywood’ visual effects artists is being drowned by the noise from a false sense of entitlement which is being pushed by too many in too many directions…on purpose…to avoid getting anything done constructively in a very competitive market. Every one has a complaint, but most of the solutions are driven not by the artists, but by those ‘claiming’ to represent them. Where is their credibility?

      Finding a true leader to cleanse the wounds and hope the infection can be controlled is critical. It would be a job from hell and take a truly dedicated artist driven person.

      I only know one who might do this, and he is extremely highly credentialed and regarded…but even I would not approach him for this mythical role. It is most difficult to feed a friend to the lions.

      With the grace of the powers that be, I really hope some one of integrity and brass balls and no personal agenda driven by income or power can lead the ‘Hollywood’
      visual effects community a few baby steps forward…as one.

      It’s not impossible. It can be done. I know from experience.

      Folks, please, find a leader and make a realistic plan…and do it soon. The clock is close to midnight.

  120. Marcus says:

    Begging for more scraps seems like a dead end to me. We should quit whining about Fox and just go around them. Why don’t we just start our own studio?

    – Crowdfund the initial investment amongst ourselves for each project
    – Have a profit share for all the collaborators
    – Use YouTube analytics to study traction of the production blog
    – Get a loan against the analytics data to take it to the next level
    – Digitally distribute the projects via Netflix
    – Collect royalty checks
    – Move to Sweden*


  121. zz says:

    jesus christ you guys whine a lot.

  122. Harmonics says:

    Phillip you are way off base with this open letter to Ang Lee. VFX is expensive, get over it and stop using Ang Lee as a punching bag. Why do you think TV showers that have a lot of VFX in them are more likely to be canned? 

    James Cameron originally planned to have Avatar completed for release in 1999. At the time, the special effects he wanted increased the budget to $400 million. No studio would fund the film, and it was shelved for eight years. Where is your open letter to him Phillip?

    When it was eventually made it was one of the most expensive movies ever made (as of December 2009), with an estimated budget of US $280,000,000.

    So VFX are getting cheaper, and will continue to get cheaper. I suggest you take a look at the big picture occasionally because Ang Lee is not to blame for the problems in the industry. 

  123. John says:

    Thank you for pointing that out, Harmonics. I also wanted to mention that in the past years, not *every* director that won an Oscar mentioned the vfx shop that helped work on his/her movie. If my memory serves me correctly, hardly ANY of them mentioned any vfx company in their speeches. We were okay with those in the past, yet this year, we choose to cry bloody murder and blame everything on Ang Lee.

    Get over it, people. Ang Lee did not commit a crime. Stop blaming him for the failures of our industry, when we really should take a good hard look at OURSELVES first.

  124. Oz says:

    It’s funny to see that every time there is an attempt of Vfx workers to unite and demand fair treatments you see trolls appearing and warning us not to do anything , saying that we should stop complain and “deal with it” or telling us that we need to adapt, that we should work for the love of it

    Well dear trolls you might have your reasons to want to keep the statut quo in this industry and try to discourage us to unite and demand decent working conditions , you might try to hide your real identities by posing as real vfx guys and tell your fake working experience.

    But we are still going to try our best to unite and demand fair working conditions

    • Marcus says:

      Just thought the same thing. And they appear in packs. Funny that.

    • John says:

      Go for it, Oz. I actually work in vfx and I am not making up my working conditions. As much as I want fair working conditions as the next person — I think some of the suggestions on this blog is just pointless. Blaming Ang Lee or the Canadians or anyone else for the demise of our industry is just one poor, sad example to direct our anger. I am sorry you interpreted those as “warning us not to do anything.” Seriously, I am not stopping you from anything.

      I feel it’s unfair to use Ang Lee as an emotional punching bag and crucify him when he really didn’t do anything wrong.

      Again, I don’t see anyone here trying to stop you from uniting. That’s just your own perception.

    • AniMatters says:

      Oz, there is nothing wrong in uniting and fight for one’s right. But then the point I want to make is, lets be at-least clear for what we are fighting for. With these green screen protests and mails to Ang Lee, what is the expected outcome?.. Do you have even the least knowledge on why R& H went gone bankrupt, because I don’t, and many of us here don’t know what made them go bankrupt..and its because R & H themselves have NEVER EVER made a briefing on why they actually went bankrupt!.. Nobody knows whether the reasons behind R & H’s bankruptcy is a genuine case of bad management or something to do with the studio exec’s.. so on what basis are you putting this blame on AngLee and the studio execs??.. have you ever imagined what would happen if Hollywood decides that its risky to make movie laden effects and so lets make movies with least FX??

      BTW, John Carter was a HUGE disaster, and none of the studio execs complained that its because the cost of FX was so high that the production costs couldn’t be regained.

      there is a risk factor on both the sides, and its only by capable management techniques that can get us all through. Any bad decision would end up in a disaster and in the end there is absolutely no point in blaming one another.

      You can consider me as an VFX rep or a studio rep or a passer by who happened to bump into this blog,..but the point remains that whoever I may be ..the facts of the situation will remain to be a FACT, and unless we get our facts rights.. the situations not gonna change.

  125. Steve J says:

    This isn’t about whining. Other big U.S. industries lobby the government and the WTO to impose tariffs on foreign subsidized goods. VFX artists, as a group, should consider the same approach. Yes, it’s protectionism, but it’s necessary to balance out unfair subsidies that distort the market.

    Solar Panel Tariffs:


    General Remedies for unfair trade practices:

  126. cogent reason says:

    Hollywood considers VFX crew as service providers but not artists. This movie wouldn’t be made possible without Ang Lee, but the film companies could always find next VFX studios.

    • wb says:

      the movie is very bad , anyways…

    • Studio_Spotter says:

      I disagree, fx houses are just as interchangeable as directors. They each have their own aesthetics, strengths and weaknesses. RnH was arguably the most equipped house do accomplish Life Of Pi. Other houses could have done it, sure. But that doesn’t mean it would have been done as well or as quickly.

  127. […] kein Wort über R&H und die kriselnde VFX-Industrie, was die Branche als Affront empfand. In einem offenen Brief wandte sich Phillip Broste (Lead Compositor bei R&H) an den Regisseur, der sich zuvor […]

  128. wb says:

    however, life of pi sucks….very bad movie!

  129. Chuck says:

    While I absolutely sympathize with everything in this letter (as someone formerly in the field) and find it quite movingly written, it would certainly help your cause to fix the grammar and punctuation of your letter. It’s an unfortunate distraction from your message.

    • wb says:

      don’t worry about the grammar and punctuation
      We’ve got the message!
      But if you want , send an updated copy to VFX soldier…

  130. Peter Nyrell says:

    Its the same as it ever was. In the first corner : meet the artist, the visionary that goes ALL (and I mean all) in for height in quality, excellence in the arts etc.

    In the second corner : the bank, the producer, the movie company with one goal doing whatever it takes, goes ALL in (yup 100%) to exploit the doer in the first corner.

    At the end of the day – The artist, hopefully did deliver and of course is left out from the party, while the “smart” side wins the game and gets away with the $ and the girl.

    But – there´s another side to it. Have you noticed those suit guys with all the money often feel empty, they dont know what to do with the resources and all that powers – they feel empty – with pockets actually empty of what really matters.

    The artist might look poor when you give him a quick look. But secretly – he walks away with the truth. He did it. He did what the the guy in the exploiters seat couldnt even dream of.

    He gave his heart for a dream and lost it all – wait a min – not all.

    He grew stronger because he dared to follow his heart.
    And so his heart gets filled with courage to take the next step.
    The artist wont be sleepless of what to do with all that money.
    He already bizy building he´s next dream.

    And again he takes point driving this world to a better place.

    VFX Soldier on brave ones!

  131. LarryDP says:

    I think the letter is absolutely spot on. As a cinematographer, I too was in shock that Claudio didn’t thank all the VFX artists that frankly were massively responsible for that award. From the moment I saw your movie, I reached out to my VFX friends and supervisors to find out who did that remarkable work and I bow to the team of folks that delivered that movie. I think it’s a bit shameful that he didn’t thank you guys right away. Same goes to Ang Lee. The movie doesn’t exist on any meaningful or successful level without the VFX work and to not acknowledge that and the R&H bankruptcy is shameful as well. Good on you for righting the letter and good on you for your wonderful work. I hope the industry will find an equilibrium that helps the these houses stay solvent and continue to do such amazing work. I hope all those involved will land in a good place and be given to tools to keep creating.

  132. Dan Ming says:

    I really can’t believe that you are giving Claudio a hard time for not thanking the VFX department on stage. He was petrified to be speaking in front of so many people. He barely thanked Ang. Saying he chose to not say thank you does not further your cause, it just makes you look childish for giving someone a hard time for being human.

    • LarryDP says:

      Frankly, that’s why they tell all nominees no matter if they don’t think they will win or not to write a speech. So the moment doesn’t overwhelm you. I respect that he was nervous as hell but I still sat there thinking I can’t believe that this guy isn’t thanking the VFX guys – that’s my opinion. I respect what you are saying and I know how hard you worked on the film and you should be extremely proud.

    • Frank N. Stein says:

      Claudio may be an incredible cinematographer, but most likely the academy members who chose him were impressed by the beautiful visual effects, thinking they were real. Maybe he was nervous because he knew he won not entirely by his own merits.

      • Dan Ming says:

        The nominees for cinematography were chosen by cinematographers. Are you calling them ignorant and that they didn’t realize that VFX were a huge part of the look? Claudio was nervous because he was not expecting to win and was standing in front of a huge crowd giving a speech He prepared a speech. He had Ang read it for him at the BAFTAs. He did not “neglect” to thank VFX because he was afraid people would think he was afraid to share credit. Believe it or not, he was not trying to insult anyone. He was just nervous, plain and simple. He was simply in shock and couldn’t say much of anything. It is apparent that you really do think he didn’t appreciate their hard work. Well, you are incorrect, he did. The movie was beautiful because both Claudio and VFX did an amazing job. And that is why it won an Oscar for VFX and Cinematography. And he is thankful. Take it from me.

        Dan Ming – 1st Assistant Camera – Life of Pi

      • Frank N. Stein says:

        Thanks for clearing that up Dan. I would be really nervous in that situation too. Before I wrote my comment about Claudio, I took a look at his website. On it he has “Life of Pi Reviews”, which has 22 quotes from various publications. Most of them are praising the ocean sequences, i.e. the visual effects that were created digitally. So Claudio is fine with posting praise and taking credit on his website for work he did not do. OK, he (and you?) shot the lifeboat on the blue screen, which was surely challenging. Great work there, not trying to diminish the live action photography at all. Nice stereo too by the way. But that is not what blew the audiences away, the CGI was.

        I still contend that the cinematography oscar was awarded based on what impressed people most about the movie; all the lifeboat sequences with the ocean, skies, and lifelike creatures that were done in post production.

  133. Paul says:

    Between all the comments the worse really are coming from the useful idiots who keeps on saying adapt or die. I know what side you would have been on during the slave trade or stasi germany fuckers.

    And the very existence of vfx studios around the globe are directly or indirectly – as in they had to do the same at one point in time – tied to Hollywood, CA. Your foundations are down here whether you like it or not. Yes you read correctly and should read again and again.

  134. […] surrounding the state of the VFX industry, particularly post-Oscars. For anyone who isn’t, VFX Soldier has made some thoughtful, objective posts on the […]

  135. VFXLady says:

    I commend VFX Soldier for his dedication to open debate, allowing all viewpoints on comment section. I have found the spirited debates very educational.

    It’s understandable not everyone will be on the same page. But what I don’t find helpful and truly don’t understand is why some responder put down the effort of VFX workers who DO see a problem and are working toward a higher quality career and life. If folks don’t see any problem with the industry, they are free to do nothing about it, but why is it so important to them that the rest of us also do nothing? Why is it so offensive that we come up with a solution?

    The blog is called VFX Soldier, not VFX Status Quo.

    • ohplease says:

      but it should be called VFX Soldier (s) of the US of A

      (international VFX artists need not apply)

      • Nikita says:

        ohplease.. this is a global issue.. not just confined geographically to the US.

      • James B says:

        Spot on. Come for the Ang Lee letter, stay to hear people from LA bash on other locales

      • VFXLady says:

        @ohplease, that wasn’t really my point, but I understand. I do think VFX Soldier has made a compelling argument about ending subsidies worldwide, as he doesn’t support them in BC, NZ, California or anywhere. So he fights for you too. I’m sorry you feel this is only about USA, I don’t think so. Some people may feel that way, but not the majority.

      • outthere says:

        sorry LA is no longer the centre of the VFX industry. sorry the US government can’t compete (california is bankrupt, us economy is in doldrums) international artists (non-US citizens) are on your side… but tread carefully. we work just as hard as you.

      • Ymir says:

        Sorry US and Cali can’t compete in government funded kickbacks? Yeah, that’s a real feather in your cap.

      • megalodon8 says:

        Seriously? If you think that this will ONLY affect US VFX studios, you really need to open your eyes to what is actually happening in the industry. It WILL affect you if you are in US or another country.

  136. Sumit says:

    Seeing all this I regret doing computer animation degree, which I’m almost at the end…:( feels like there is no value for all the hardwork. I thought it would be great but seeing thing like this hits hard on my brain. I wish, I don’t have to regret whole life for doing animation.. 😦

  137. jake says:

    Wow..what an irresponsible letter. B R&H is filing for bankrupt and not paying their employees for unpaid wages, everyone is trying to blame this on Ang Lee. Ang Lee is the F*$#king director! Not some human resource personnel to look after salary and wages.

    He basically tells the film studio what he needs for the film, they look for a VFX studio to produce the assets and pay them.

    Ang Lee didn’t thank the VFX team, but he didn’t thank a lot of other people too! Such as the sound team, lighting, costume, make-up, etc.

    When you win an award, you’re probably given 30 seconds or a minute to say your thanks. There’s going to be a lot of people you’re going to miss.

    So much butt hurt in this post. I feel bad for the people that lost their jobs but blaming Ang Lee and making him your scrape goat is unfair.

  138. leo says:

    Welcome all to the Walmart business model as applied to vfx. People are so fixated by working in “film” they will work for bare boned budgets and each time the vfx you did last time has to be 25% cheaper. Which is why some manufacturers are no longer in Walmart and are still in business. I don’t see an easy solution with so many different people eager to work for less than industry standard as they do at Lucasfilm as an example. Disrespect for these real artists is rampant.

  139. Daniel saravia says:

    I really cannot agree more with every sentence you’ve written, it is shameful that the movies gross so much money and the people that make the possible are not only not getting paid but also when they get paid they have to work their asses off for little money. I know it’s not all about cash, but truly we, the vfx artists deserve a lot more recognition than we are getting

  140. zatoichi says:

    someone has subsidy!… someone doesnt have subsidy!… its like fighting over water in a desert! With all the nature of the desert, the water will be gone some day! we better look for ways to get more for EVERYONE.

    Metaphorically speaking… As a guy who’s thirsty, i dont care who thanked me! I just want more water.

  141. T E Stazyk says:

    Very enlightening for someone who doesn’t know what goes on behind the scenes. Thanks!

  142. Alex says:

    It’s a shame to say, but greed combined with advantage is powerful. What advantage can you wield against hunger, desire for status, etc. workers catered to by full time schemers out for that last drop of blood?

  143. Oz says:

    From VFxLaw twitter account
    “I had a dream, there was a website with a green background and countdown timer to the biggest #vfx walkout the world has ever seen”

    That might be a very good idea

    • jpanim8r says:

      YES, we can all finally get to all those other things we need to do and want to do during that time. (or make our own independent film while they scramble to not loose billions they should have been doing the right thing with in the first place)

  144. […] speech for best director Ang Lee forgot to thank his VFX collaborators at Rhythm and Hues, which prompted a letter from Phillip Broste, the lead compositor at Zoic Studios. It’s quite long, but I feel like quoting two of the last few paragraphs, because they really […]

  145. Tactics says:

    I hope you can organize a public campaign which will be picked up by the media and get more support from high-profile people in the film industry. However, I’m confused why this is addressed to Ang Lee. I believe he’s actually on your side, no?

    Just saying, I’d be careful about tactics — I understand this open letter apparently originated on a forum and you’re mostly talking to like-minded people here. But when you’re trying to generate broad support (especially from people who probably have very little idea about the greater context) and change longstanding practices, I think it’s generally a good idea to explain your position clearly and concisely…and aim your bombs correctly.

    See, e.g., the Writers’ Guild of America strike for lessons on what to do and what not to do.

  146. James Hill says:

    this the most practical and really only way we can get all vfx guys ang gals all round the world to send a huge “FU” to the studios. Hell its well within our rights and ability to do this for sure, the employers cant do shit – we all happen to take a sickie on the same day suckers. Lets do it! Its not as full on as a full strike as most of us want, But striking is not the important thing or the point. UNIFYING is the point. This would be a great 1st test to see if we all got what it takes to work together. Its simple. Elegant, and easy.It dosn’t matter what we do, all that matters is that we do it all together all at the same time around the world.
    Damn if we set this up and countdown to a certain date. What self respecting vfx artist wouldn’t skip work that day in solidarity?! Every single person I know in vfx and all sitting around me would partake without a second thought! Sure it won’t end our problems or really solve anything, but it will be evidence that we can actually UNIFY on a global scale, if we can pull off this 1 simple act of just skipping work for 1 day, damn how great will that be, it wont mean shit to anyone else and probably no-one outside of vfx could care less, but imagine how great it would feel if we all did it together and pulled it off. It would just be a start!

  147. easytoblame says:

    Philips surely presented some true points, bringing up the issue of bad working condition in VFX, but the action using Ang Lee as a scapegoat is really a total failure. I mean clearly, if Ang didn’t win the awards, he wouldn’t want to write this letter, it’s just much more easier to target Ang to attract the attention than to target other directors also making movies with VFX such as Peter Jackson and James Cameron. I don’t hear them thanking any word to the VFX team on ceremony either, and where was your letter then? The cost down issues already happened 5 years ago, and most of them are caused by the outsourcing overseas method originally from large leading firm like ILM. Yet Philips overlooked those deep factors or the lousy top management leading to bankruptcy instead chose a DIRECTOR (for god’s sake) to blame?! Ang Lee thanked the 3000 coworkers during the film making, don’t you guys in VFX team belong to the 3000 people?? Philips, you really need to think and reexamine your logical thinking and heart before you write something fair and justice, not just taking advantage to achieve what you want.

    • tazzman says:

      Why woulod they address it to jackson or Cameron?
      When did Cameron win a Oscar for Best Picture? We’re a long time from ’97. Light years.

      • easytoblame says:

        First, welcome your discussions. But in an implied way, your questions just prove what I mention: Philips chose a good timing, but not the right person to spill out his words. It is not a thoughtful move. I know the frustration and problems they went through these years, but that doesn’t mean one can blame anyone without consideration.

      • Shake says:

        Okay, we really don’t expect thank you’s from every director, but yesterday’s incident was something specific to look out for. There were 400 people protesting outside and on top of that Bill got played off by Jaws when he was about to make the point. These are the same people who worked for Life of Pi. I am sure Ang Lee was aware of the situation. He had a great platform to show courtesy to the people who worked hard on his film and yet he managed to ignore it.

      • easytoblame says:

        @Shake Are you sure that Ang Lee deliberately ignore it? I heard him expressing gratitude to all his workers and team. The only thing he didn’t do is specially bringing up the VFX team. It seemed to be a mistake rather than guilty for entire industry or ignorance or showing no respect, no gratitude to VFX. In the final part of this letter, Philips mentioned to invite Ang join their action, but I really doubt his sincerity after all those unfair charge.

    • easytoblame says:

      In addition, I would like to know the original source of the quotes from Ang Lee mentioned in Philips’ letter, since they were quite different from what I learned. I think there were some misunderstanding, meaning distortion or interpretation mistakes, and everything needs to be clarified before it could be used to create wrath or passion.

  148. Sorry I’m not sorry. Thanking people who write vfx code is like thanking the people who wrote the video codecs or like thanking the people that made the chips for the red cam. No one is forcing any vfx artist to do anything they don’t want to do. If they work unpaid overtime, then they are responsible for that because they have established what their time is worth. Thousands of hours learning what? Learning software which literally any computer savvy human can learn. If Philip Broste really wants to make a name for himself he’d learn how to tell a story so compelling it couldn’t be ignored. He’d learn how to write a script that everyone in town wanted to be a part of. He wouldn’t whine about how tough it is to make it in showbusiness, please. You can’t illegally download something that costs thousands of dollars for you to start teaching yourself how to act, direct, or write; but you can can pirate all kinds of software to teach yourself how to do vfx. It IS cheap, and it WILL get cheaper. The craft of story NEVER looses value.

    • VFX_reckoning says:

      Can you tell the same story visually without VFX? Until you can, shut the fuck up. Software is constantly changing, new tools, new technologies replacing others, etc. etc. there is always a new learning curve. Learning these tools take years and years, and even then you won’t know it all. That’s why it takes teams of people to finalize shots. Yet we still have to use the these constantly changing tools to form someone else’s vision, that is the art, and that’s can’t be downloaded either. You jackass.

    • Peter Nyrell says:

      That´s “I dont know what Im talking bout” speaking. Please….
      People who write vfx code – LMAO

    • Me says:

      What is vfx code?

      Ah now I get it! You mean the html tags we use to label the Create Art buttons! !

    • VFXtechnician says:

      I heard we can use ‘letters’ to write story.

      I will learn those ‘letters’ and craft story. I will NEVER be out of work then.

  149. Saib says:

    But the Jaws music didn’t start when he started talking about the bankruptcy! It started when he started thanking his kids. Which was well past the point I was (a) bored and (b) wondering why this jerk was doing all the talking when there were three very talented guys behind him with just as much of a right to thank people. The Academy didn’t care about viewers hearing about the bankruptcy, it cared about its bored viewers at home. The real mystery is why they didn’t play the music sooner.

    Yes, the visual effects industry is in an important time of economic transition as they search for a solution to outsourcing, but this article feels like it’s trying to turn a too long speech and a too short comment into a rage inducing controversy. I’m sure that there are better, more authentic ways to bring attention to this issue.

  150. kafoo says:

    Why get angly at Ang Lee. If he goes back to making Brokeback Mountain then there will be less work to go around in VFX. Why are you hanging on scraps of what he says or understands. Were you expecting him to validate you with a nuanced view of the industry ?

    VFX artists are now the bottom 10% of the 99% of Hollywood.

    The artists (not the industry) are going to have to fix all three parts with some powerful lobbies and unity –

    (1) bust the subsidies, legally, in WTO, to prevent exodus of good talent (not cheap talent) which creates a fake competitive landscape
    (2) protect the supply – by unionizing and requiring union contracts
    (3) kill the underbilling – but reporting OT and comp-off abuses even in the big US shops, making sure the correct pricing is forcibly discovered by anyone wanting to do high end work

    Earlier arguments against these were that it would “destroy the LA industry”. Well where is it now ? Neither biggies nor indies like Asylum are surviving.

    Expecting anything short of this (voluntary self-improvement of competitive and pricing behavior by studios and shops) is naive and pointless. Waiting for scraps of comfort/good PR or signs of good behavior from business people is futile.

  151. Jason says:

    Not sure if anyone has mention this.
    But what about a protest at the ArcLight in Hollywood after the release of any big movie with VFX?

    Star Trek into darkness (May 17)

  152. vfxmafia says:

    In the middle of all this bullshit….and blog trolls….and angry comments….

    you started the debate in all this…..a very big thank you to VFX soldier!
    for lighting a fire under our asses…… gave a shit when no one did!
    You put up a blog when no one would….you informed us when we were ignorant.
    you put in the time when no one cared…..! And we still don’t know who you are…..

    a big thank you to the 500 hundred at Hollywood and Vine!!!!!!!!
    a big thank you to VFX soldier and Dave and Les and Steve and the many more
    who fight for their families…their salaries…there dignity….there art!!!!!

    Motherfucking Movie Magic……(or what’s left of it)

  153. Eric Lin says:

    Peter Jason on Best Director Not event mention VFX. You are pick on wrong person – “3000” ppl is including VFX people. You can tell Ang Lee was nervous to mention all the names… to the “VFX Soldier: An Open Letter”And you are shotgunning everywhere and everyone. This is wrong!!

  154. VFXLady says:

    I think this letter to Ang Lee is problematic, but it is both justified and unjustified. He happened to win an Oscar on a movie heavy with visual effects. Ok, many directors have won an Oscar that relied on VFX. But how many have accepted an Oscar within days of the primary VFX company going bankrupt, laying off hundreds of workers, some without being compensated for weeks of work? How many have won an Oscar when hundreds of VFX workers protested not an hour earlier 100 yards away from the red carpet?

    The plight of VFX hasn’t had much if any coverage in mainstream media other than last night and today. Ang Lee was and is in the center of a storm, fair or unfair. And after Bill from R&H was cut off with the “Jaws” music, we were all looking to someone, ANYone to say something about what is happening in our industry. Since Samuel L. Jackson cut the VFX Oscar intro short, and Bill was cut off after 40 seconds during his acceptance speech, that left Ang Lee, should he win. And then he did! With baited breath we waited. How could he not acknowledge the men and women who are so responsible for making his film beautiful? Many of which no longer have a job! But he didn’t thank VFX, outrage!! Fair? I don’t know, probably not. But it made it apparent there is a disconnect between the upper tier of Hollywood and the VFX workers in the trenches. Maybe this letter starts to lesson that gap, so in that way this letter is justified.

    Ang Lee didn’t ask for it. But for many people he represents something, and that’s a fundamental lack of understanding or respect for what’s happening in VFX.

    • C says:

      He was representing and he had represented for so many. He represented minority, Asian American, Taiwanese American, Taiwanese, Chinese as a whole, filmmakers, crew members the list can go on. For you VFx people to ask him to represent for you is just selfish. Do you know the treatment and condition for the non-us crews? Or do you care? Is the equality that we are after only apply to us on this wealthy land that we are living on and the rest of the world can go to hell?
      It’s so funny that when Lucas film sort of started the whole visual effect segment it was because he needed the technology for his vision to come alife. And now the VFx people are saying its because of VFx that’s why the Spider-Man today is so much more amazing. As a filmmaker, I appreciate and understand the power of VFx; and how VFx empowered me to create. However, I don’t think I owe the person who did the wire removal any more than his paycheck. Do you go out of your way to thank the fastfood servers who feed you and give you the energy to work? I don’t remember there was ever a time Americans were that thankful.

  155. DucStu says:

    Wouldn’t it be great to re-release the the movie without all the fancy Visual FX? Let the world see what’s behind the curtain. Call it “The Life of Sigh!” How long could/would an audience stare at green screens, blue screens, and way too tight bodysuits full of tracking dots? Would revenue decrease?

    • ! says:

      Yes! but why you take money at first place? Easily for you to say that, DucStu. If you offer the quote then you should calculate the cost.

  156. watchoutifnotinLA says:

    So, FB is Green with “anger/solidarity” this morning over the perceived “VFX Oscars Snubs”. I see many local types also going green for “artist solidarity”, which is cool….but, if you were online last night during Oscars and just after, MANY of the (LA) people “going green” are also screaming (loudly and louder than ever before) for “all foreign VFX tax credits to be declared Illegal and/or high US Tariffs on any VFX work done out of America on American films”. Go green to support your fellow artists, but be aware there is a faction of mob like mentality growing in LA who’s ultimate goal is to put YOU AND I out of work (they don’t mention that LA shops don’t have tax credits only because California is BROKE and can’t afford to enact them). The $100 million or so production film tax credits that California does have would no doubt be expanded if the California economy were in better shape. Would LA shops/artists “stand on principal” and say, “NO we dont’ want tax credits, they’re ILLEGAL!” if they were offered. I doubt it.

    • VFXLady says:

      @watchout, I disagree. I think the fight against subsidies is a fight against the big 6 studios being able to use them. In that way, it would level the playing field. California cannot and will never be able to provide subsidies. But is that the argument? SHOULD any gov’t provide them?

      I don’t know a single LA artist who says all VFX should be done in LA. In fact, most VFX artists working in LA are not from the US, let alone LA, and many would welcome a stable industry somewhere else. But that’s the problem, they want a *stable* industry, and not one that makes them uproot their family every few years. Subsidies may help with work in areas around the world, but don’t think they provide that much needed stability.

  157. C says:

    who forgot to pay R+H? maybe i’m ignorant, but I thought R+H is expanding to asia, setting up shops around the world. So they have the money to pay for expansion, but not their employees? What’s the real story here? If fox did not pay RH for the bills, RH should sue them get you your fair share. If RH did not pay its employee, then you should sue RH. Or RH filed bankruptcy and fired all the people so that they won’t be liable for the wages no more. If that is the case, then talk about the case. Don’t beat around the bush. is this letter for VFX workers only? maybe that’s why all the outside voices sound so negative here. are all the discussions here just asking for sympathy for the 500 people? I’m sorry but things happened, but filmmakers are not the ones to blame here. You shouldn’t blame hollywood either. so many VFX_this and that_VFX, what exactly are you demanding? feels like occupy, all the noises, but no voice. Most of the people don’t even know there was a protest.

    how about a union for the fastfood restaurant workers, so they can fight for their families and their salaries and their dignity? are you guys making minimum wage and no over time? 8.75 per hour? Do you have to stand in front of your computer or sit in front of your computer?

  158. C says:

    so it’s about subsidies? we learned in school that we need to do whatever it takes to get our film made. As filmmakers, we are almost always swimming against the current. Some of us work three jobs to finance our own film. Why should the VFx artists be any different?

    there’s problem in our society, but many posters sound like the VFX people are the only ones victimized. that’s just absurd.

  159. Kevin Sebastian says:

    Reblogged this on Paper boats on the Street and commented:
    A disappointment, the way the industry is treating VFX artists today.

  160. maka says:

    I think i was the guy, who back in early 2000s took away part of the job from US and EU companies in VFX. We were cheap, with lots of cheap hardware, cheap rents, nice schemes of avoiding taxes etc.

    Now i am on welfare, our team of 4 people fired, hardware sold, and most of the job is being done in Bangalor for a small fracture of prior costs. its faster, cheaper, less problems, clients happy, studios happy, only Mac distributor is a bit sad, as well as our families. but its almost the same situation with of DPs, who cant get a proper movie for years, and after shooting zillions of stupid ads, they quit to set up their own catering business, because it pays off better.

    The times are changing, and people have to change too. I would love everything to be the same, but its not possible anymore.

    • .... says:

      There have in house graphic artist in those regular business company. Work as full time pay, with benefit, overtime pay….etc You may need apply in those company. Wish you luck man

  161. easytoblame says:

    I found the original report of Ang Lee’s quotes:
    So it appears that Philips did mistakenly interpret Ang’s point. Ang mention the word “cheaper” is not that he wished the price paying to VFX work could be lower, but that the R&D expense VFX needs could be lower, so that the VFX firm could survive from bankruptcy. And he also credit that VFX should be used as an art, not just effects for action. It seemed that Ang just didn’t know the insights of VFX industry, and he thought that a VFX firm could go through bad time if the money spent on technology could be less. I don’t sense any criticism to the high cost or to the VFX industry nor lack of respect. So what we need is to focus the issue on industrial structure, not to blur it by dragging a specific director.

    • Harmonics says:

      Ang Lee should not be the target of this open letter; he represents creative endeavours. The question of cost is as old as the hills. Take the cost of the first flat screen TV sets (32-38 inch) that came out in the 80’s were priced around $15,000 to $20,000. Now you can get a 70 inch TV for under $2,000. Talent is involved in creating the technology for flat screen TV sets, don’t you forget that. Take the time to look at what lessons history has to offer before bashing people like Ang Lee.

      It’s possible there may be people on this forum who have downloaded a movie via a torrent? Movies not payed for. What? did I hear someone say movies cost too much? Now where have I heard those words before? Maybe if the cost of making a movie was a little “cheaper” and half the audience didn’t torrent the end product without paying for it things may be better for all of us…

  162. sh1856 says:

    this letter is so one-sided, and blame people who won a statue and have **forgot** to thank someone.

    he seems to expect everyone who wins a statue can have a holy complete list to cover everyone.

    and he got his ass burnt & kicked simply by the word __cheaper__ in Lee’s speech.

    just a letter from a pathetic compositor who got squeezed in terms of $$.

  163. tua says:

    ” I know you must think this is all very unfair. Maybe that’s an understatement. What you don’t know is I agree. I wish the world was a place where fair was the bottom line, where the kind of idealism you showed at the hearing was rewarded, not taken advantage of. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world. ” : David Drumlin – Contact (1997)

  164. theactorx says:

    100% with you! Excellent piece.Too much money at the top, too little responsibility.

  165. zzttzz500 says:

    you better blame the executives of your own company, not the client.

  166. Gabriel Saldarriaga says:

    Cool little video I made to support the #vfxprotest cause.

  167. […] è qui, e consiglio caldamente di […]

  168. […] la compañía de su bancarrota y, según ellos, tampoco les ha mostrado mucho respeto, y le dedican esta carta dónde explican el motivo de su enfado con el director al que los tigres le dan buena suerte en los […]

  169. Rep Card says:

    Sign a rep card on Pi Day!

    On March 14th (Pi Day, 3.14) fill out and send in a union rep card. Get a co-worker to do the same. Pass out as many rep cards to co-workers as you can.

    It’s a useful and positive Union action without a strike or walkout.

    They can be sent to either ITATSE’s west coast office or the TAG office.

    -Mailing Address-
    1105 N Hollywood Way
    Burbank, CA 91505
    attention Steve Kaplan

  170. […] Open Letter to ANG LEE […]

  171. […] "An Open Letter to Ang Lee" by Phillip Broste and re-published at VXF Soldier […]

  172. Goodend says:

    Obviously what he means is to be cheaper for those houses so they can survive. He does respects those artists.
    ‘Life of Pi director Ang Lee also told EW on the Oscars red carpet that the film’s visual effects team “worked with me for two, three years, and every one of them I consider them artists, not technicians.”’

  173. freiheitkino says:

    At the beginning of the letter referenced from Ang Lee’s observation is so confused.That he said “cheaper” means the cost on R&D,even if this suggustion is not match the real situation,he never mean the pay in “cheaper”.I can feel the same standpoint between Mr.Lee and the artists in VFX vendors.Otherwise he can say “I would like it to be cheaper because our cost in film production will be saved more”,Right? Actually,he said “…and not a tough business [for VFX vendors]. “,.This speech is the evidence he paid attention to VFX vendors and care about the issue,absolutly not at a employer’s position.Now,the predicament has existed for a long time,many movies depend on VFX make box office higher and higher,if Mr.Lee has the duty to voice for the artists,AND these famous Directors (like Steven Spielberg,Michael Bay,James Cameron,Joss Whedon…etc.) in these movies? many people suceed rely on VFX before Ang Lee, and their observation?At least Mr. Lee said something and care about it and expressed appreciation to the VFX atrists more one times in public (including news paper or other interviews) ! At The night Me. Lee got the Best Director he doesn’t know what to do immediately because this result is more than his expectance.He said “to all 3000 everybody work with me”,is that means Everyone EXCEPT V FX artist ? NO! I can understand the industrial ecology in VFX and the discontent about it,but it is not Mr. Lee’s fault! Let alone that He is care about R&H!The Writer in this letter misunderstands what is Mr. Lee’s position.
    there are other people’s discontent is just because Ang Lee didn’t mention to the VFX artists ? but when “Life of Pi” got BEST VISUAL EFFECTS,they expressed their appreciation instantly and refer to R&H finally,Right? this is human nature.I don’t know why some people consider the predicament on VFX artists is Mr. Lee’s responsibility.Even Mr.Lee has never thought to take advantage of the artists! (please pay attention : the “cheaper” doesn’t mean “take advantage”)

    The Letter to Ang Lee may cuase severe misleading.

    these is Ang Lee’s complete interview:

  174. Adele says:

    Well said, and we in the digital production industry feel your pain! But – this is an honest question – how do you feel about companies like MPC having giant operations in India? Do you think that contributes to the problem or is it just a product of the state of the industry?

  175. Ryan Peeters says:

    With all the screaming in here that film subsidies in other countries are illegal, this issue has twice been addressed to the US government, and both times was rejected.
    Whatever their reasoning, it doesn’t seem they are buying into this “subsidies are illegal” claim that is being brandished about as fact by many people posting in here.

    • YesWeAre says:

      U.S. does have subsidies as Tax credit for different states like New Mexico….etc. If Hollywood make tone of money in internationally. Why can’t not hire international region and domestic people for international business?

  176. freiheitkino says:

    The point of view of Ang Lee,refering to the actual situation in film working with macro-perspective,is distorted by the writer.even the difficulty occurs,nobody should make use of one person and sink sink someone into the unrighteous deeds.But the writer does.It is so repentant to read the letter.

  177. Just saying says:

    Did you read Ang’s full speech?

    • sh1856 says:

      i don’t think he did, he simply gone mad by the word __cheap__ and developed this whole piece of finger-pointing letter. pathetic.

  178. Nigel says:

    I used to think that VFX guys are as cool as the film editor guys, but today i lost respect for you guys (Especially Phillip), nothing but a bunch of whinny, attention craving cry baby who blame others for their own misfortune, i wish some day software can replace you guys completely so creative filmmakers don’t have to deal with people (who claimed to be artist) like you.

    • Blacklight says:

      You sound like an aspiring producer/director. The kind of “filmmaker” who can’t actually make a film. Am I right?

      • Nigel says:

        Nope, i’m just a student who study graphic design and had taken some programming course, but that’s not important, and don’t try to label me, that just shows how insecure people in this blog are.

        Maybe i should major in programming and contribute to improve the software that is going to replace you guys, just like how CGI replace stop motion.

      • Blacklight says:

        @Nigel Ah ok. I commend you on diversifying your skills, and I suggest you do major in programming, as it’s much more secure than a career in art. But don’t come here and attack professionals who’ve been in the trenches for years while you’re still in school. The future you imagine for yourself and the future you will actually live are two very different things.

      • . says:

        Blacklight show us you are in VFX company? work? imdb!?

      • Jen says:

        @Nigel – Maybe i should major in programming and contribute to improve the software that is going to replace you guys, just like how CGI replace stop motion.

        Erm, CGI may have replaced stop motion, but the artists who worked in stop motion still work today (ex: Phil Tippett, Randy Cook). Hollywood can’t replace artists, no matter how hard it tries.

    • Easy says:

      I don’t have to label you. I know lots of graphic designers. You don’t know it yet, but you’re situation will be a lot like ours. Assuming you graduate, and assuming someone likes your work and personality enough to hire you. Karma, it’s a biatch.

      • Nigel says:

        i think you misunderstood the reason i post here is not to attack this profession, as i have friends that work in this area, but the reason is to express the idea that VFX is not ART, not even graphic designers are ARTIST. To claim yourself as artist shows how overrated you think your talent are.

        in my opinion, VFX is more on the technical sides, and directors are on the creative side, to say that the movie only win awards because of the VFX is just ignorant.

        Hate the game not the player, leave Ang Lee out of this.

      • Blacklight says:

        I don’t know what school you attend, but it must be the only school on the planet in which Graphic Design is not part of the Art department.

      • Easy says:

        No one cares if it suits YOUR narrow understanding of what art is and isn’t. You don’t work in the industry, you have no idea what the process is and you haven’t even managed to graduate yet. What we do requires an understanding of light and color, composition and form, timing and rhythm and how things move and behave. Character animators are skilled story-tellers who can manage just fine without a director. If it weren’t necessary, the industry wouldn’t be dominated by artists. At the high end, the guys who are the best at it are incredible visual artists and also very technically skilled. Some are just flat out geniuses in computer science and the reason they do this and not write accounting software is because they are artists at heart. The fact that you have some kind of chip on your shoulder about us without having the slightest professional experience in a creative capacity says more about you than anyone else.

      • Nigel says:

        Well you have your rights, stop caring about others opinion, or label me as troll when you hear something you don’t like, like Peter Nyrell, but technology and time will prove me right.

        I may be a student but i’m not young, i’ve been in the industry, different industry, different country from you, but it happens all the time, some jobs are replaceable, just like in the graphic industry in my country there is no “Visualizer” or “illustrator” anymore because who want to pay a fulltime “Visualizer” to convey their idea when you can ask a freelance high school enthusiast do it for the fraction of the price, even for free. AND they sometimes DO better job than so called “illustrator”. Who is to blame? Photoshop? no, they man up and face reality while Phillip whine and scream about it, and ugliest of all is to blame his client (Ang Lee) who PAID for their service.

        Let’s face it, some ships do sink, it is you who decide want to hold on your ego and sink with the ship, or adapt and jump on safe boat move to other ship/island and survive like Pi did in the movie (ironic).

        i’m not saying software can replace VFX guys as in one magic button and everything will be done in minutes, but software and technology can enable more people to do the same thing without going to 4 years in college.

        And to my speculation, IT IS happening because the fact that your job can be outsource to some young kids in the third world country shows the sign of a sinking ship.

        At last, you can ignore this post as a troll, it’s your future not mine lol, but try not to single out Ang Lee and use him as a punching bag, this man already suffer greatly in this industry when he’s younger.

        One more thing, forcing people to pay you more just because you and your union think you deserve more is downright immature, and will result more outsourcing, good luck sinking with the ship and tell your grand children about your glory day of VFX where you BLAME your client for your company’s bankcruptcy. lmao.

      • Easy says:

        Moron, it’s not about getting paid *more*, it’s about reasonable working conditions. I can’t blame you, you’re just some stupid kid who just wants to have something to say. Do you feel better now? You’ve injected yourself into a topic you know nothing about, and an industry you have no involvement with and have no intention joining. So, STFU. Ang Lee is a big boy, I am sure he can handle the criticism, he doesn’t need you white-knighting him, he’s not going to give you a job.

      • Nigel says:

        I guess you didn’t even finish reading the whole post or you have misunderstanding or maybe my bad english express my ideas wrongly but that’s just my guess.

        oh so by your logic, Ang Lee can handle criticism so he deserve criticism?
        it seems to me you can handle unemployment very well so you deserve unemployment, and this is the very mindset that cause your working condition to be so bad, you just thinking like your boss. No one put a slave collar on your neck and force you to work in this condition, it’s your choice. You didn’t stand up for your self when you still have a boss, now your company is no where to be seen, so you just take action now? too little too late.

      • Easy says:

        Nigel, you fail at logic and reading comprehension. Why do you care so much? You have no business here. Run along, go tell all the girls in your dorm how you told all of those loser VFX guys what’s what and they’ll totally want to get with you.

      • Nigel says:

        no, there’s no luxury of dorm here in my country nor there is girls around, night school above some shop lot might give you a good idea. VFX guys are pretty cool they work hard to make visions a reality, so do the Editors, Directors, Concept Artists, Music supervisors, but that doesn’t grant you the right to claim credits from others, saying VFX generate BILLIONS like you guys literally CREATE this movie from thin air is just sad.

        Don’t get me wrong, VFX guys i worked with is pretty cool, some might be sour and egoistic, but most are humble and open to ideas, But the different between them and people like Phillip is they don’t make a scene from losing their jobs, and organize mass protest to mislead crowd to his own agenda and targeted attack on director just to make it into the news.

        Why i care? my facebook turns to green screen because you guys clearly made your self heard, congratulations, but does it convey the message? no! every shares in facebook headlined “An open letter to Ang Lee”, as in he is responsible for R&H’s bankruptcy, and when people asked, you replied:

        “Ang Lee is a big boy, I am sure he can handle the criticism”

        yeah right, “criticism”. I wish you can be a director someday, i really wish for you, so you can feel how difficult it is for a director to deal with people like like Phillip.

      • Eric Lampi says:

        Some of us, like Phillip have a backbone and speak up when pushed far enough. I think he was quite diplomatic about it, maybe a little too polite. What VFX people do is exactly that, create what isn’t there out of thin air. I don’t know what makes you think you are qualified to make this opinion since you don’t know anything about it other than your night class above some shop in graphic design. It does explain a few things though, you’re training to be a cog in the wheel, not an artist. You push buttons and think it’s easy. Others are artists first and the computer is the tool. Stop being so arrogant. This is a group effort and it’s been brewing for quite some time, no one is in this for one man’s agenda, it’s for all of us. You’re just scared an opportunity to push buttons might be taken away from you if something is done about this. I don’t really care about your opportunities any more than you care about mine. You’re just trying to manipulate people into thinking that standing up for yourself is unfair to some random director. He signed up for it, I have little sympathy for anyone who profits from this business and doesn’t treat the people who got him there properly. If it weren’t for VFX artists, Life of Pi would look like thus: you would have a guy in a blue boat on a blue set and and a blue stuffed animal instead of a tiger. Do you still think they create nothing out of thin air? I have seen pictures from the set and that’s exactly what it looked like.

    • megalodon8 says:

      @Nigel – Yeah… heaven help ANY VFX artist who wants better working conditions AND benefits. They certainly don’t deserve any kind of treatment like that. How DARE they want better lives for themselves by standing up and wanting fair play!

      • Peter Nyrell says:

        Nigel is either a troll or an ignorant wiseguy with an attitude problem. In the latter case – get out of your dipers and shut the fuck up – How dare you talk down this trade. Ive been doing this since long before you set foot on the planet – I´ve witnessed it all – and I can assure you – if there is such a thing as art today – VFX is it.

      • just do it! says:

        megalodon8: then unionize to those VFX company!! Stop criticizing just pay the action to form the VFX union.

    • Bob (another one) says:

      Hey Nigel. So you’ve “Taken some programming course.” Good for you. So, when you open up Notepad++ (or whatever text editor you use to do your programming) it just automatically writes the program, right? I mean, you don’t do anything useful, right? It’s all down to notepad++ and the computer. Right? I mean you’re just irrelevant.

      And one day a piece of software will replace programmers completely and we won’t need you to program any more. We won’t need anybody to work out how to do something. We won’t need anybody to be able to judge when something is working properly or when it’s finished.

      Oh, no… wait. What am I saying?

      That’s fucking *stupid*. Only a clueless *dick* could possibly believe that notepad++ writes the programs by itself.

      But then I guess that must be you. A clueless dick.

      • Bob (another one) says:

        What the? Well… that posted in the wrong place. I think the page might have too many comments.

    • DrGyoza says:

      If we are whinny baby, you in the other hand are a perfect moron.
      Not only what you said is simply dumb but YOU’re the one with the hubris here.
      Truth is most vfx artist have a background of engineer AND artist. Color theory, sculpting, composition & balance, drawing… Deal with it.

      It’s so competitive that the very few most skilled manage to break in… But finish your photoshop and programming classes and walk away. Become a slave or an unemployed of your own, because you don’t care about us… And guess what ? We don’t give a f- of a kid who is thinking that 14 hours of work a day with no benefits is fair. I’m glad you don’t own a factory in China, you would have been one hell of a boss.

  179. barry says:

    For me this is a rather complex issue. While you blame Lee for his imroper speech, you should also be careful about your own words here especially those sharp comment about Lee.

  180. […] Open Letter to Ang Lee… […]

  181. Pete Griff says:

    Bravo, more of this needs to be done, as Hollywood has gotten too big for its own good and directors like Ang Lee and Whedon are nothing without FX.

    • !? says:

      This is easy say from you take away the fx.
      The film or any other films already have sign the contracts and both party is have mutual agreements. If don’t satisfy why not negotiate first place? but only make scene after effect from bankruptcy of Rhythm & Hues. Due to their poor management in finance and other factory. Any employee / work all take risk been bankruptcy from the company from different industry. You should not solely attach life of pi but rest other pictures or studio or company management

  182. Gina - London says:

    Disgraceful… Unsung heroes if you aske my humble opinion.

  183. […] que ojalá en el futuro sea más barato poder crear esos efectos. Como explica Philip Broste en una carta abierta al director, eso fue echarle sal a la […]

  184. megalodon8 says:

    Let’s face it, Lee may not BE the big problem, but he certainly IS part of the problem. When he wins an Oscar which in HUGE part is due to the VFX work by NOW unemployed artists, he is indirectly responsible. And since he is a director of stature, he certainly has more clout in the industry than a “lowly” VFX worker. Ang Lee as well as MANY high-profile directors should stand up WITH the VFX workers in solidarity since MANY of their box-office hits were due VERY MUCH in part (if not entirely) because of the VFX.

  185. Tiamet says:

    You cannot unring the bell of foreign outsourcing. FTAC went in with lawyers, made thier plea to the appropriate authorities in 2008 and were flatly ignored despite the plain language of the WTO laws. I think we are already ruined, and have been thinking more now about how to destroy the American film industry as it currently exists. Is there anything that can be done to make film completely unprofitable for all the asshole investors and middlemen that have hijacked our art form at least long enough to bankrupt them or send them fleeing back to their military and the drug trade investments?

  186. formerFilmFXguy says:

    Hi guys- I would like to point out that Unions work when corporations are making tons of money and screwing the workers they are dependent on. In this case the VFX Studios are all going bankrupt so I am not sure how a Union asking for more money and benefits from them helps anything. The real problem is that the VFX Studios are not getting what they deserve when they are a major factor in a film’s success. If a major actor can get ‘points’ (a percentage of the profit) on a film, why shouldn’t a major VFX Studio? If the film flops, then the VFX Studio only gets the pittance it would get under the current system, but if the film is a huge success (and the VFX Studio was a major contributor to this) then it should get a portion of the profits like everyone else. It’s ridiculous that individual (‘above the line’ actors/directors/producers/etc.) are making tons of money off of the profits of “The Life of Pi” and the VFX Studios (100’s of people!) that made huge chunks of the visuals only get the amount they underbid to win the contract.

    • rightagenda says:

      I would like hear from you and VFX Soldier:

      1. Why only open attack on Life of Pi not previous films like King Kong, Lord of Rings, Avatar. and all Oscar 2013 VFX nominees like “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, “The Avengers”, “Prometheus” & “Snow White and the Huntsman” ?

      2. And also I like to hear from real VFX artist from major production house:
      – Do you hire project by project like filmmaker do?
      -or do you hire as company employee as full time worker?

      3. Can you just unionized as VFX union? if not how difficult is it?

      4. Why now? not before?

      Here is my opinion on current issue: this issue should be address to all studio, all VFX company, all VFX company managements and all VFX motion pictures (which is and was taking advantage from you guys). However, I do support you guys but not the agenda for solely taking on Life of Pi and Ang Lee.

      • formerFilmFXguy says:

        > in response to formerFilmFXguy:
        > Hi guys- I would like to point out that Unions work when
        > corporations are making tons of money and screwing the workers >they are dependent on. In this case the VFX Studios are all going >bankrupt so I am not sure how a Union asking for more money and >benefits from them helps anything. The […]
        >I would like hear from you and VFX Soldier:
        >1. Why only open attack on Life of Pi not previous films like King >Kong, Lord of Rings, Avatar. and all Oscar 2013 VFX nominees >like “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, “The Avengers”, >“Prometheus” & “Snow White and the Huntsman” ?

        Sorry if that is the interpretation- all these films you mention (and many more) are examples of the problems experienced in the industry and have been talked about for a long time. Life of Pi is just the latest example that best shows how a great legendary FX Studio can do great work for a blockbuster and still go bankrupt.

        >2. And also I like to hear from real VFX artist from major production >house:
        > – Do you hire project by project like filmmaker do?

        Ahem.. I am a real VFX artist… 🙂 Anyway most VFX studios tend to “staff up” for projects, but have a smaller core group that are full time.

        > -or do you hire as company employee as full time worker?

        See previous answer. This is a little different for feature animated films where there tends to be more full time work and less of the “project hire”. Feature Animation also tends to be unionized.

        >3. Can you just unionized as VFX union? if not how difficult is it?

        I have worked both non-union and union (feature animation). It is difficult to unionize generally. Plus it wouldn’t help VFX artists if studios can just farm FX work out to non-union countries (or states). Union FX shops can go bankrupt too if they continue to underbid everyone else to land projects, so unions aren’t a solution to the problem.

        >4. Why now? not before?

        It isn’t now- this has been talked about for a LOOONG time. You can read more stuff from VFXSoldier by clicking on his links at the top to see how many years he has been bringing this to light. Many folks like me (who have moved my family across the country twice only to have major film projects cancelled) have shifted to other industries (games in my case) over the years to have a more stable life for our families. This trend has been happening for a while and has been discussed a lot but just never covered in major media.

        The only difference now is that the trend is reaching a culmination of several legendary highly productive FX studios going bankrupt. Couple that with an Oscar win for one of them at the same time the movie it helped be successful making gobs of money and a speech getting cut off (though in my opinion it was clearly for time and not a snub) and you have the “perfect storm”.

        >Here is my opinion on current issue: this issue should be >address >to all studio, all VFX company, all VFX company >managements and >all VFX motion pictures (which is and was >taking advantage from >you guys). However, I do support you >guys but not the agenda for >solely taking on Life of Pi and Ang >Lee.

        Correct. Ang Lee is not the enemy. I see him as a visionary director and an ally of the FX community. Directors don’t make the deals and write the checks (that is producers and studio lawyers, etc.) and are likely unaware of a lot of the issues, but they can help influence the decisions that are made. Let’s make him an ally in the battle and stop singling him out for derision. The problem is producers constantly wanting more for less and letting VFX studios fight each other to the bottom for scraps. VFX Studios need to be a partner in the films and benefit when they succeed and stop being just a commodity.

      • Respecfully for real VFX person says:

        wow!! formerFilmFXguy!! I think did really work the industry before and does have fair mind in this whole cause on VFX movement.

  187. tiger says:

    Did you get upset when Mauro Fiore won best cinematography for Avatar?

    Year: 2009 (82nd) Academy Awards

    Category: Cinematography

    Film Title: Avatar

    Winner: Mauro Fiore

    Presenter: Sandra Bullock

    Date & Venue: March 7, 2010; Kodak Theatre

    First of all, I want to thank the Academy for this unbelievable honor. It’s a pleasure to be here. I want to thank the visionary Jim Cameron for an amazing vision of the film. My parents, Lorenzo and Romilda, who came to this country with four suitcases and a dream. I want to thank everybody in Chicago, Omaha. I want to thank my crew, everybody in New Zealand. Un gran saluto all’Italia. Viva l’Italia! Un grande abbraccio! I think I forgot a bunch of other people. Jon Landau, Colin Wilson, my crew, everybody. Thank you very much. Incredible honor. Thank you.

    • Ashes says:

      Everyone in New Zealand would have included WETA and WETA didn’t go bankrupt at the end of the project.

      Lee specifically thanked everyone BUT California where R&H is and did go bankrupt. Also, considering the dire straights R&H is in, it would have been an extremely nice and honorable gesture to specifically call them out for thanks.

      That’s why people are more upset about this. If WETA was in this position people would be just as angry.

  188. Douglas Velie says:

    VFX sukkas shoulda gone to law school like me, and make millions being a first-class A-hole. Free money!

  189. greggl says:

    Ang Lee has said his 3D film Life of Pi was made in Taiwan instead of Los Angeles to avoid Hollywood “know-it-alls”.
    The Oscar-winning director, 58, said:
    “The movie couldn’t have been shot if it hadn’t been in Taiwan… it couldn’t have been done in Los Angeles. If we had been in Hollywood, the tech team would probably think they were know-it-alls but in Taiwan they didn’t and they were exploring from the start.”

  190. rightagenda says:

    I would like hear from you and VFX Soldier:

    1. Why only open attack on Life of Pi not previous films like King Kong, Lord of Rings, Avatar. and all Oscar 2013 VFX nominees like “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, “The Avengers”, “Prometheus” & “Snow White and the Huntsman” ?

    2. And also I like to hear from real VFX artist from major production house:
    – Do you hire project by project like filmmaker do?
    -or do you hire as company employee as full time worker?

    3. Can you just unionized as VFX union? if not how difficult is it?

    4. Why now? not before?

    Here is my opinion on current issue: this issue should be address to all studio, all VFX company, all VFX company managements and all VFX motion pictures (which is and was taking advantage from you guys). However, I do support you guys but not the agenda for solely taking on Life of Pi and Ang Lee.

    • Slow boil, and a silent majority that has taken it for years. But with the economy the way it is (and continuing to fail), and the houses leaving in bunches for profit stability they can’t find in the US, and the ultimate economic failure of many other houses … the market is flooded with artsists needing work, and we’re less and less able to consistently make a living.
      So something like an Oscar win for a bankrupt house just kicked the kettle over. And all those who had no idea how to say anything or to whom, at least had some suddenly vocal company, and we were all anxious to talk.
      That sum it up?
      I won’t have a job in April, and I’m scared to death once again that I’ll have to leave this country, and my family in order to survive.
      I love my job, but circumstances are combining to make it to where I no longer can do it, and will have to find another way to make a living.
      There are multitudes of factors in the plight of the VFX world, but when people who we’ve helped pour salt in our wounds, it does tend to breed some complaints.

      btw, I’m an animator for film, TV and video games. And I’ve worked in big and small houses.

  191. sakurafire says:

    As an artist who constantly undercuts himself just to eat (if you can call it eating), I wholeheartedly agree.

  192. […] and Pixomondo (“Hugo”) also shutting offices and filing for bankruptcy — read an open letter to director Ang Lee for an insider’s stance on the […]

  193. Let this post serve to remind all of us of the connection to success we all look to accomplish. This unique illustration, combining many gifted artist contributions, clearly illustrates the need for All to create the whole in which we saw come literally to life. Creation is a magical expression especially when shared. It is then not a singular effort but one of many that is required here. It is evidence indeed to support that We all are very much connected professionally as well as personally in all We do. Let us go forward with this mindfully and with great appreciation.

  194. I just don’t think the current economic model says that the studios need to capitulate to the demands of any effects house or artist. They just don’t need to anymore given the rampant proliferation of effects software, computers, and manpower around the world.

  195. It’s not the only problem not getting paid or honored.
    The hardest thing – people like actors doing much less than the artist get honored and paid much better! Telling some people what your job is “oh, ok you’re sitting all the day on your chair in your bureau a.s.o…” It’s a long way for exactly that kind of people who wants to sit down in the evening after a “hard day” (probably as hard as the artists day) and watch TV, DVDs or going to cinema. Most people don’t know, there are artists often working more than 6 months or longer on a project. Pushing pixels around is much harder than carrying moneybacks across the wallstreet. – But it also declares fantastic predicted visions for reseach industry – that’s the difference. These Artists give thinking abutts for changing the world into the future – these guys who should pay the artists just take care to keep everything like it is. Poor World!

  196. […] 從業人員強力抨擊。抨擊者只看到李安的第一句話:『我希望特效更便宜』就受不了了。這句話大傷 VFX 人感情,彷彿他們工時還不夠長、薪水還不夠低、還不夠 […]

  197. yesd says:

    Why so many of you misinterpreting Ang Lee’s comment? His comment is about him wishing for the VFX houses to produce effects cheaply so that they can survive the hard times. He said right now the R&D stuff is too expensive for the VFX to survive, he didn’t say anything about wanting cheaper works.

    • Easy says:

      I’m so tired of reading this comment. What does cheaper mean? It’s not as if they are asking for less VFX for more money. They’re asking for more. Once it was profitable, and now, the industry is stretched thin. Care to guess why?

      • John says:

        cheaper means you get less money, less job opportunities, more workload. You are competing in a global economy, it’s only natural they outsource the jobs to India, China, and other cheaper countries. The cost to hire you equals to hire three to four people in those countries. What you are complaining now is basically what happened to the internet industry after the dotcom bubble busted after 2000. The truth is it’s only going to get worse, so brace yourself because ain’t nothing you do will change that. It happened to many other sectors, what makes one think the visual effects industry is immune to this?

      • Jerry Huang says:

        20 years ago, an IBM Thinkpad notebook PC sells for $10,000, now it sells for $1,500. Care to guess why? The margin was 30 to 40 percent, now is less than 10%. Care to guess why?

        20 years ago, the companies that I worked for allow me to fly business class for business trips. Now, I always fly economy class. And yes, I don’t think the VPs, SVPs are contributing more to the company’s bottom line than me. Too bad, why didn’t I win a VP or SVP job?

        I love sci-fi movies and I am a huge fan of “Star Wars”. I certainly enjoy the modern VFX in these new movies and hate to see those great VFX houses going out of business. But the reality is, VFX is no different from all other industries or businesses. It’s market driven. Supply vs. demand.

        I am willing to pay a premium to get a MacBook Pro with Retina display because I love the design. I will, however, look for the best price from HP, Dell, Lenovo etc. if I am getting a Windows notebook for my son. Care to guess why? They are all the same to me so the cheaper the better.

      • Easy says:

        “20 years ago, an IBM Thinkpad notebook PC sells for $10,000, now it sells for $1,500.”

        $5k tops. Fine, you want to lay it on thick, so sure $10k, let’s just say $15k for argument’s sake. 20 years ago a seat of Alias or SoftImage 3d with a workstation would put you back about $70k.

        “20 years ago, the companies that I worked for allow me to fly business class for business trips. Now, I always fly economy class. And yes, I don’t think the VPs, SVPs are contributing more to the company’s bottom line than me. Too bad, why didn’t I win a VP or SVP job?”

        So your disappointing career path is comparable that of a group of people who created VFX so stunning it won an Oscar and are all out of work after working their asses off on it? These people are at the top of their field. So what’s your excuse? You don’t sound like you’re winning awards… Maybe you should protest!!

        “I love sci-fi movies and I am a huge fan of “Star Wars”. I certainly enjoy the modern VFX in these new movies and hate to see those great VFX houses going out of business. But the reality is, VFX is no different from all other industries or businesses. It’s market driven. Supply vs. demand.”

        Adorable. Thanks for the economics lesson.

        “I am willing to pay a premium to get a MacBook Pro with Retina display because I love the design. I will, however, look for the best price from HP, Dell, Lenovo etc. if I am getting a Windows notebook for my son. Care to guess why? They are all the same to me so the cheaper the better.”

        Thanks for proving my point. Hollywood can have it cheaper, but they want a MacBook Pro with a retina display but supposedly only have the money for a Samsung Tab.

        I love how you guys waltz in here and make it sound like this is a business where no one is making money. The fact is there are billions being made, so spare me the condescending clap-trap. I’m not buying it, and as you can tell, no one else is either. Well, except for the other shills.

        This is no different than any other industry where the workers had to force the issue of better working conditions. I think most would have little problem making less money for better conditions. If I could work 20% less hours for 20% less pay, I’d welcome the improvement to my quality of life.

      • John says:

        random rant:
        if you want to make big money, you gotta climb to the top. Step on others to achieve what you want. Forget about helping others, because in the end, it’s every man for himself. When the industry/business is good, sure, maybe everyone is all fun and game. You only see the true color of people when the time is bad. So don’t be too surprised when you start seeing people backstab behind each other’s back at work.

  198. gged says:

    To the poster why are you taken this line “I would like it to be cheaper,” out of context and spin it your way? Ang Lee wished you guys can create effect cheaply so that you can survive, he never said anything about cheaper works from you guys. So stop taking other people comment out of context/

  199. khylov says:

    Two sayings:

    “The horse that pulls the hardest, they urge on all the more.”


    “A zealous horse dies early.”

    Choice ultimately comes down to each individual whether they’re going to abide by insane scheduling or not. Coming from a fairly Unionized industry where unpaid OT and massive outsourcing have become endemic (animation), until one is willing to be blackballed by being the head of wheat that leans further out from the rest of the field (in other words, filing a complaint with the Local), I can assure you that no other entity other than the individual and their immediate crew will have their back on this topic.

    As pointed out above, besides a working watch, your feet leading you out of the office at reasonable hours, and independence from the industry, the only way to get anywhere is to be a fairly vital and talented point in the chain. Depending on how unwilling production is to go to the hassle of replacing, how low they’re willing to underbid, and how tight their budget and schedule is, your absence is always a potential spanner in the works. Work well, but reasonably.

  200. nsputnik says:

    I wonder if this company was another victim of “Hollywood Accounting” where very few entertainment shell companies “profitable,” even as they earn studios millions of dollars.

  201. freiheitkino says:

    Mr. Lee thank to 3000 people,thank to the India crew,Canadian crew.Are the R&H artists not including!? Only the staff in USA in R&H are R&H artists? The letter criticizes Ang Lee and misread his speech,the writer should apologize because his mistake.Otherwise,the writer,Phillip,I can say you are intentional!

  202. Chris says:

    I think we are all facing the same issue all across the industries. For example, when we buy groceries, electronics, or whatever, do we look for the best bargains (best value-for-money) or for the most responsible and fair employers?

    Next time the prices of milk, bread, or eggs rise, maybe we should not rant about it, because it may actually go to the welfare of their employees?

    I agree that this isn’t fair, but who says the world is fair after all?

    • Jen says:

      “Fair” is the start of “fairy tale” in Hollywood. The only way you can get what you want in Hollywood is leverage.

      VFX artists generate billion$ for Hollywood, but do they have any leverage?

  203. Paul says:

    shame on you ang lee ! it’s easy to talk about vfx artists in interview but during oscar where are you ?! only Bill Westenhofer have a fucking courage !

    • hatersgonnahate says:

      I believe that all the true facts worth attention went wrong is because there are a bunch of hatred and irrational idiot people like you. Always focus on the few seconds on stage, and ignore the fact that Ang Lee did thank all the staff and crew. Lee could barely represent the film studio, the wrong U.S. policy regarding subsidies or the whole fu*king Hollywood. So if you do receive education properly, you really need to make your brain function well before you open your mouth.

  204. […] would like it to be cheaper and not a tough business.” In response, the VFX community issued An Open Letter to Ang Lee, noting the many reasons the VFX industry is an expensive one and asking directors to pay attention […]

  205. tekcizgii says:

    Gerçekten Teşekkür Ederim. Konu İle İlgili Gelişmeleri Siteniz Kurulduğundan Beri Buradan Takip Ediyorum. Yolunuz Açık Olsun. jigolo arayan zengin bayanlar iş ilanlarır Bilgiler İçin Tekrar Teşekkür

  206. Shroom says:

    To the one who wrote this open letter,

    Is Ang Lee the one caused the bankruptcy of R&H? You simply want to drag him down to this mud fight without a justified comment or reason for it. Didn’t he thank all the crews who worked/ involved in this movie at the first of his speech? You are the ignorant one but Ang Lee.

    Internet is a free space to make comments but personal attack or blackmail. If you’re over age of 3, you should have been aware of that but apparently you’re not, Mr. Phillip Broste

    Best regards to you and congratulations that you did draw some false attentions to your so-called flawless insider speech… You’re not from R&H, correct?

  207. […] To understand this particular situation better, check out this open letter to Mr. Lee over at VFX Soldier by a lead compositor in the industry: Link […]

  208. […] An Open Letter to Ang Lee (VFX Soldier) […]

  209. […] giunta – Oscar, si difende dicendo “Preferirei fossero più economici”, ricevendo in risposta la lettera di un indignato Philip Broste . Degradante, dato il soggetto della frase, degli esseri umani il cui stipendio non sempre permette […]

  210. Ericka says:

    The fact that music was played and the mic shut off is what bothers me. -That- is what was childish, really. Think about those classic moments in middle school where one kid was trying to say something but a pack of vulture-like children screamed na-na-na-na-boo-boo just because they could.

    Yes, I am aware that being an artist myself affects me and puts a bias on my commentary, but the fact that they weren’t allowed to speak should be a universal flag for everyone. Yes, economy is a touchy subject because everyone wants/needs money… but that doesn’t give the right to act like ten year old kids when complaints are raised.

    This letter is actually quite mature in comparison to the whole Jaw’s theme fiasco and censoring. They stated what they found wrong, explained why they felt it was wrong, and did so without resorting to the stereotypical “fuck you” rants that plague media that doesn’t require face-to-face contact.

    So before all of you either support or shut down everyone else in the comments, think like Phillip Broste and don’t just blindly be an ass for the sake of your e-peen.

    In regards to the actual issue, something does in fact need to be done about the overtime and pay issue. Just because it is an art doesn’t mean that is isn’t -work-. I can’t tell you how many times customers want commissions for free because they don’t understand the concept of working artists. It’s the same sort of thing that happens when people find out that baseball players make millions. “But most everyone could just play a game!” they say, sitting on their couch. How many people do you know have the ability to throw a baseball ~80mph through a hitbox that’s only really a cubic foot in size? Artists… GOOD artists like the ones who worked on Pi, are rare and specialized.

    We need to cherish them.

    • Easy says:

      It’s never the right time, never the right place, that person isn’t totally responsible… blah blah blah. Too bad. The music stopped and someone is left standing. Life isn’t fair, isn’t that what we keep hearing? Well this is a start. Tell us all how it should be done if spotlighting this director when all eyes are on him. Maybe it isn’t fair, so what?

  211. […] here to read the full letter from Lead Compositor Phillip Broste at VFX […]

  212. […] effects industry. Life of Pi won four Oscars including the award for best visual effects, but Rhythm & Hues, the VFX studio responsible, was forced to file for bankruptcy earlier this month. That Lee credited Taiwan for making the film possible without thanking the effects artists, […]

  213. Arnot says:

    It seems some of this protest is turning into a bit of a witch hunt, despite some of the underlining causes being just. Some of the evidence and examples being thrown seem unfounded and out-of-context to me (in my very limited opinion).

    For example, in regards to the Oscars kerfuffle, the Oscars speeches are apparently run to set and predefined timers (different for each award) shown clearly on stage for the winners to see. Westenhofer was not cut off early, he just left his mention of the R&H issue until too late. Many many speeches have been cut off in the history of the Oscars. It is not a conspiracy!

    Also, Ang Lee was reasonably justified in what he said in that interview, if a little blunt. The film industry is one of the most high-risk businesses there is and reducing financial output will always be a driving force for those who risk their careers on a film. That’s not necessarily a good thing (though it promotes efficiency and innovation) but that is something that affects nearly every other craft within the film industry. We kinda have to deal with it, and if we can’t, companies close and competitors benefit. In theory, film studios could offer some form of contractual royalty system that rewards the VFX houses involved if a film is financially successful. Then again, why would every other film craft not deserve the same thing? It’s a slippery slope.

    I definitely agree that some of the bad habits in the VFX industry need to be addressed. Public awareness of what constitutes good and bad VFX work is lacking, meaning that presumably there’s little incentive to pay higher prices for a higher standard of service (once the minimum standard has been met).

    Vicious under-bidding by competing VFX studios is inevitably a major problem but then this is an example of VFX against VFX, not big-bad-studio vs. innocent VFX houses. Yes the film studios look for the cheapest prices offered, is anyone seriously expecting them not to? They don’t offer prices that VFX houses have to take, VFX houses offer desperate prices to win the work. If they then go bankrupt, that’s their problem (and no I’m not specifically talking about R&H, I don’t know the details of that particular case). Many people are acting as if we need to reveal and unite against the evil powers that be. I personally think the spotlight should be on the VFX houses and their own business conduct and trading standards as that’s what seems to determine success or failure (i.e. why did R&H fail and so many others survive?).

    International subsidies are also a difficult one, as although they must generate work for national industries (as with Canada VFX right now, or historically international location filming in Europe) they apparently cause massive government-funded under-bidding led by the wide variation in international labour costs. Is this not totally anti-competitive? What’s to stop the work ending up in large facilities in China and India? (and don’t say because we’re “artists” as if our work can’t be achieved by talent elsewhere). It’s a bleak projection I know, but I don’t see how we can avoid it while global subsidies are the cost-saving trick of the day.

    Anyway, I love what I do and I get paid for it. The VFX industry is relatively adolescent but certainly here in Soho, we’re doing OK. There are bad habits in this industry but we don’t need to start attacking Hollywood or the film-makers. I think we need to start addressing our problems ourselves.

    That’s my two pence anyway.

    • Shroom says:

      Hi there, just to say thank you for sharing the objective insights here… well written with justified perspectives.

      • Arnot says:

        Thanks Shroom… It’s odd, after enjoying this thread for the last day or two, I just had to get that off my chest. I’ve found most of it pretty fascinating but a lot of people here seem to be looking to play the blame game and are mostly choosing the obvious targets. I just don’t see how that’s particularly constructive. Fortunately there’s lots of intelligent discussion which gives me hope this whole thing could be stimulating thought for change. Fingers crossed.

    • to be ojective and justify says:


      You did point out good point here!! The whole cause of movement is direct to personal attack not address the issue properly. Many people are confusing the director are bad person. The cause should take on all the VFX pictures, studios and VFX company.

  214. maseadi says:

    I have thingking, why this artikel make forum… salam

  215. studiomiguel says:

    To me, the problem is the undercutting VFX firms do to deliver the lowest cost and thereby win the work. Through solidarity, they could refuse to work under those conditions, but the work would just go overseas.
    I work in the advertising business and 80% of my peers have seen their careers evaporate by cheaper operators, going in-house and sending work overseas.
    For all of the frustration, I don’t think we can change the beast. It’s a wild animal DESIGNED to consume as much as possible as cheaply as possible. It’s a race to the bottom.
    It sucks.

  216. q says:

    how about management and CEO getting more percentage cut rather triangle down to VFX artist for giving the benefit and salary?

  217. way? says:

    The check book is control by company management not Studio why under pay or not pay over time or encourage their employee to be unionized. When the company got million dollar contract and still file bankruptcy. Clearly there have problem within VFX company. hourly rate $25up isn’t not survive in this pay? then how about people who work in burger king?

  218. studiomiguel says:

    Does any kind of percentage-style payout exist in the Hollywood VFX model? I could see producers and the money-people cringing at the idea, but I think they would cringe more at their projects not getting done.
    Or is it all jobbed out at a per-project price point? The flop pays the same as the $200b rocket.

  219. mandyeward says:

    Reblogged this on The World of The Teigr Princess and commented:
    VFX Artists are the gods that make fantasy films possible – I, as a writer of fantasy/science fiction/horror stories who would love to see her work come to life on the big screen, am supporting this protest.

    Not only is my work possible fodder for the movie industry, my partner is a talented artist who wants to move into animation, so I am showing solidarity with all VFX Artists by changing my FB and Twitter Avatar to a green square – symbolic of the green/blue screen that is all that would be there if the VFX wasn’t.

  220. Paul says:

    if Legendary Pictures has injected 5 millions dollars in Rhythm&Hues for the movie of fantasy Seventh Son. R&H should do a strike… in few weeks they will lost their jobs.. so they could fight Legendary Pictures and win a battle

    • Current Hollywood VFX artist says:

      So we make easy target on Lee & Pi!? How about big pie from all major studio and major VFX company they are major cause of problem not only single person or picture. The focus should direct on the root causes of company’s stock holder, company, industry…etc.

      I don’t support this “the open letter” nor “VFX S.” Because it does not really actual VFX artists.

  221. anthony S. says:

    well said!

  222. bob says:

    This is a very interesting time indeed, in multiple ways. For myself I have been talking about this for half a decade while others swept it under the carpet. Why, well because they had a job and no experience with it first hand. So my comments were discarded, even mocked.
    Yet I still see that happening here and it is obvious it is those whom have no experience with blatant dismissal of their contributions.
    But it even though it has taken some of my peers, Dave Rand and others, actually living it to recognize reality. I embrace the fact they finally get it.
    I hope we don’t have to wait till each and everyone of us has experienced it in order to move forward. I fear we will and therefore be caught up in a cycle of pride and delusions that prevent us from addressing the real world issues that consume us.

  223. Boycott Life of Pi!!!!!!!!!!!

  224. BB says:

    Hey Phillip, based on how condescending your letter is, it’s obvious that you think vfx artists are superior in some way to the “pool crew”, and I am sure that you think everyone on the film was either a cheap producer/above the line asshole, a dumb hack crew member who could be replaced by anybody (aka pool crew), or an almighty VFX artist.

    You complain that the vfx artists didn’t get thanked in Ang’s speech. If you were watching it he thanks the 3000 crew members who worked on the film, I am pretty sure the VFX artists are considered crew members, so wouldn’t that mean they did get a thank you? Why should a VFX artist get a special thank you over anyone else on the film. Are you saying that they are superior to the rest of the crew?

    It’s obvious that you want people to see things through the eyes of the underpaid. overworked vfx artist, however you seem completely unwilling to understand someone else’s situation. Tons of people put in a lot more hours than these vfx artists did on Pi. If you knew what the fuck you were talking about you would realize that there were a lot of Taiwanese local crew members putting in twenty hour days and coming back four hours later to do it all over again, seven days a week. They probably made in a month what the VFX artists make in a day, and im not exaggerating. So the next time you feel slighted (which i’m sure is a daily occurrence), realize you aren’t the only person who has it rough. Also realize that all those VFX producers are most likely NOT underpaid, you know, those people supervising while you do all the work.

    When blaming someone for this bankruptcy, look inward at R & H. If they thought the bid was too low they should have walked away. f their work is so much better than everyone else’s (which I do actually believe to be true) than the studios will come back to them and pay them the higher rates they are asking for. They took a rate that was too low and they went under, if you are pissed, bitch at them, not at Ang or at Fox. It’s not the director’s, the producer’s, or the studio’s responsibility to take care of the vfx artists, that is the responsibility of their employer, Rhythm and Hues. Every vendor that a movie deals with gets pressed to reduce rates as low as possible, and sometimes those vendors say they can’t do the movie because the rate is too low, why should R & H be treated any different?

    In the end, even if Ang and Claudio and Bill made their entire speeches about the VFX situation, would it really have changed anything?

    (before you say I don’t know anything about the situation and I should educate myself, I worked on the movie longer than you did and I do know what I am talking about)

    • Easy D says:

      I’m glad we won’t see his imdb update in 2015…. for his hatred and illogical action

    • Easy says:

      Of course, you wouldn’t be exaggerating or anything to make it sound worse than it was would you? There’s plenty of blame to go around, too bad for Ang, he’s in the spotlight, and he makes an easy target to bring attention to the situation.

      This is no different than people publicly shaming fashion designers because their wares are made in sweatshops. What you just did is confirm that this entire project was thanks to horrible working conditions. That’s what you’re saying right? We should just shut up because we are (supposedly, according to a nameless internet guy) not the only ones?

      This can be summed up by something a wise man said to me a long time ago:

      “Your broken arm doesn’t make my broken toe feel any better”

      So, fuck off.

      To everyone in my industry, another bit of wisdom from a different old codger who was very successful in sales most of his life:

      “People don’t appreciate what they get for free”

      Hollywood is absolutely notorious for being packed with selfish, shallow, vicious assholes. If you’re working long hours for free, stop it! You can’t expect to get anything for it after you’ve done all the work. So, moving forward, act accordingly.

      • BB says:

        Easy, what I am saying is that everyone works long hours to get the job done, there are deadlines that need to be met. If these vfx artists were not getting paid overtime by THIER COMPANY, R & H, the fact that they stayed is their problem. I am not saying that they should, as you say “just shut up” about it, but they should address the overtime issue with their boss at their company while it is happening, not by writing an open letter to the director of the movie months later. If R&H refuses to pay the overtime than they should leave the company. How is any of this Ang’s fault? What, do you think he goes to R&H every day to supervise the artists and dictates the working conditions? Maybe he goes on a lunch run for them, takes out the trash at the end of the night? No, the studio gives them a fuck load of money, and they deliver the shots. You obviously don’t know how it works, and it’s clear you are a fucking idiot.

      • BB says:

        Oh, one more thing easy, you say Ang is in the spotlight so that’s why he gets the blame, what about Bill Westenhoffer, he isn’t in the spotlight? He won the oscar for best VFX! Why isn’t he getting any of the blame for not saying anything about it? Because he got played off by Jaws music? Grow the fuck up. Bill hogged the mic for the entire time, giving no one else a chance to speak, and the first thing out of his mouth should have been thanking the vfx team that delivered him his second oscar. Also, I love the sweat shop analogy. A bunch of people sitting in an air conditioned room in $1000 aeron chairs, going home to their apartments on the west side, yeah, slave labor let me tell you. Do you ever stop and think about the real world, people like teachers who make 25k a year? VFX artists are paid extremely well compared to the average person.

      • Easy says:

        Oh spare me the sob story Mother Theresa. How old are you? 12? I can’t believe you seriously wrote that as if you thought it was going to make me go, “OH MY GOD! Some teachers only make $25,000?? I’ll just shut up now!” Teacher also get a pension, tenure, and health benefits, holidays and summers off.

        Your reading comprehension is a pile of dogshit. I already said there was enough blame to go around. That includes Bill. Duh.

        Yeah we’re well paid.. Per day. Our day lasts a lot longer than any other profession I can think of, with no benefits.

        The pool crew, I am sure you guys did a great job filming the actor in a blue boat in front of a blue screen and a blue pantomime Tiger. What finally made it into the film that wasn’t replaced with VFX was probably pretty awesome. It’s a mere formality that VFX was involved, you would have totally gotten the Oscar without it. In fact movies with heavy VFX never do well at the box office, and any profits due to our hard work is just a coincidence. So we should suck it up and not expect any kind of credit other than where our names show up after the coffee runners and the accountants at the end of the film.

        I reiterate, fuck off.

        This is the attitude people have towards VFX people. Stand up now or pack it in. If you’re not mad as hell, you should be.

      • BB says:

        Okay, still you refuse to address this simple issue. The VFX artists CHOSE to work overtime for free, you have no right to be mad at anyone but yourselves for that.

        This is exactly the reason people have a certain attitude towards you, you think you are better than everyone else and that you deserve special thanks above the rest of the crew. Well, no one gave it to you because you aren’t better than anyone else on the crew, so continue to cry about it on message boards while the producers and studios continue to ignore you.

        Your thank you is your fucking paycheck. Grow up.

  225. Jeevfx says:

    “Around 100 people from MPC Bangalore (India) worked on Life of Pi. Out of the 120 shots”

  226. Jeevfx says:

    Rhythm and Hues Hyderabad office:

    Everybody who has seen Life of Pi , knows that if it weren’t for the visual effects, there would be nothing in the film. “The initial part with the tiger in the zoo and the last bit where Richard Parker and Pi are dying, those scenes were extensively made here,” says Varun. The visuals of the island with the meerkats were also done in the Hyderabad studios. “There was special team dedicated to the island and one for the meerkats,” adds Varun.

  227. BB says:

    Okay, still you refuse to address this simple issue. The VFX artists CHOSE to work overtime for free, you have no right to be mad at anyone but yourselves for that.

    This is exactly the reason people have a certain attitude towards you, you think you are better than everyone else and that you deserve special thanks above the rest of the crew. Well, no one gave it to you because you aren’t better than anyone else on the crew, so continue to cry about it on message boards while the producers and studios continue to ignore you.

    Your thank you is your fucking paycheck. Grow up.

    • Easy says:

      I addressed all of that, but I guess when you’re a hypocrite you only see what you want to see.

      It’s not a matter of being better than everyone else, all I did was point out the truth. You’re not the only group who can take credit for a film’s appeal anymore, and I think that is what bothers you.

      VFX sells lots of tickets.

      “Fix it in post” means something waaaay more complex than it did 20 years ago, that’s an undeniable fact. What you can’t accomplish, or run out of time or will to do it right in camera, VFX artists will fix it for you.

      There will come a time when your job is outsourced and/or made obsolete by technology. Just wait and see. In 10 years you won’t need a “pool crew”, it’ll be simple enough to just do it all digitally.

      When you’re faced with the prospect of not having a future in a career you’ve practiced for most of your life, come on back and tell Old Easy your boo-hoo story. No hard feelings.

      There is no reason why anyone, yourself and the amazing crew that supposedly survive on 2 hours of sleep per night for years at a time should have to work like that. Do you see me mocking you because you accepted it? No, because that would be hypocritical.

      I personally think that more big names should be shamed world-wide by all VFX artists around the globe. It gets LOTS of attention, after all, I’ve managed to make you think about it at least 5 times in one day.

      • BB says:

        “It’s not a matter of being better than everyone else, all I did was point out the truth. You’re not the only group who can take credit for a film’s appeal anymore, and I think that is what bothers you.”

        I have no problem sharing the credit for the film’s appeal. We did share it actually, remember when Ang said thanks to the 3000 crew members who worked on the film, that includes the VFX artists. I am merely saying that the original letter made it seem like the VFX artists were entitled to a thank you above what the pool crew received, which I disagree with.

        I think you might be the one who doesn’t want to share the credit. Here is what you said.

        “So we should suck it up and not expect any kind of credit other than where our names show up after the coffee runners and the accountants at the end of the film.

        I reiterate, fuck off.”

        Since you need the last word, go ahead and have it. But I will leave you with this. R&H knew they were going to file for chapter 11 at least a few weeks before they did correct? Did they tell their employees? Nope. They just kept them working so they could keep working on shots, having no idea they wouldn’t be paid. Then they file chapter 11 so they dont have to pay anyone for weeks of work. The whole company had to find out on Deadline Hollywood, and Ang is the asshole?

  228. jem says:

    Obama is driving a nail in all businesses in the US. I hope all you liberals are happy with no jobs,.. you voted for it.

  229. lms says:

    I’m all for you guys…

    and I really do believe there are many shades of grey of in between in all this.

    I know film directors who’ve had moderate success in the international market, it’s sink or swim all the time.

    do people know that Ang Lee was living in a small suburb in upstate NY for 6 years unemployed? his wife was supporting him while he worked for those 6 years being a house dad and working on scripts. it took work and determination to get to where he was.

    I know production people who hop from job to job to job in the business, they work 18+ hours sometimes. I’ve seen people have call times at 2:30am, shoot till 3am the next day, then have a call time at 6am 3 hours later. if you guys think you are overworked, that ain’t nothing. i’ve had cameraman friends running on 2 hours of sleep having to go in a cage with a live lion for commercials.

    i’ve never heard any of these production people ranging from AC’s, to art directors, to producers, to the makeup person whine or complain that they weren’t personally thanked. it’s a job, it’s a passion, and they all know what comes with it. i’ve seen people work on films that tanked at the box office and now they are millions in debt. the crew was all paid up front, but you know what? the producer and director eat it and have to live with that reputation.

    that being all said, i’m not downplaying what you guys feel. I just think there should be some perspective. you are all cogs in a big dog eat dog industry. whether it be big Hollywood movies, or indie films that have zero budget. it really all comes with the territory. for all the art in films, it’s still a commodity and a business, i’d say it’s even riskier than opening a real business!

    from my experience at post houses, i’ll always blame upper management and the corporate heads. i would hardly blame the client (in this case, Ang Lee and his production). they have a set budget to work with, I’ve see these budget breakdowns, it’s not pretty. Some of the stuff they pull off is incredibly amazing with the resources they have.

    If anything, be pissed off at your employer for saying yes and bowing to the money. they are the ones pitching your studio for these jobs, and not fighting for more time or extension.

    common knowledge here in asia, when you can’t put up with the long hours, no life, and crazy schedules of the film business, you get out. 😉

  230. […] the studio behind the recent Oscar-winning Life of Pi, has acted as a catalyst for awareness. A recent letter written by Phillip Broste has been making the rounds via outlets like VFX Solidarity […]

  231. […] Broste, a lead compositor who works for Zoic Studios, posted a sardonic open letter to Lee in a emanate of a Oscars: “I usually wish to indicate out that while, approbation RD […]