European Commission Investigates Games Subsidies

I know I haven’t been blogging much and I’m sorry. So many things I want to talk about!

The BBC mentions the VFX Soldier blog as the European Commission opens an investigation into the UK’s attempt to subsidize the gaming industry. Once again, this blog has become a presence in arguing against the race to the bottom:

Commission doubts whether:

  • aid is necessary to stimulate the production of such video games;
  • limiting expenditure for the tax relief to goods or services ‘used or consumed’ in the UK would not be discriminatory;
  • offering this type of aid would not fuel a subsidy race between Member States; and
  • the proposed cultural test ensures that the aid supports only games with cultural content without leading to undue distortions of competition.

A year ago, the UK government announced that it would offer subsidies to the games industry after heavy lobbying from TIGA, a UK games industry group.

At the same time, the European Commission, which regulates many international policies for EU members, was in the process of opening consultations on it’s proposal to mitigate subsidies for the film industry.

I took the opportunity to get involved in these consultations as I’ve written extensively on the subsidy race in the film industry and how they have heavily distorted the price for visual effects. I urged the EC to crack down on subsidies and challenge the US and Canada to do the same or else the subsidy race would spiral out of control and spread to other industries like the games industry.

This comes as a surprise to many who argue for globalization but fail to realize many of the policies that encourage ending trade barriers include the end of subsidies too.

We’re still working on the details of our subsidy challenge. I know many are interested in the next stage. Please be patient and let our team work.

Soldier On.


116 Responses to European Commission Investigates Games Subsidies

  1. Get Real Soldier says:

    Welcome back.

  2. Scott Ross says:

    The film subsidies in England should be spent on public works,teachers, police forces, firemen, etc… but if the must be spent on film, they should be spent on British film, using British writers, actors, directors, producers, crew and post/vfx. Now if a country wants to waste its money, at least waste it in the best interest of the taxpayer.

    • londonVFX says:

      Is that your pitch to the UK facilities when trying to get them to join your trade association then?

      • Scott Ross says:

        well, it might be if they were to have the courtesy to return emails.

      • Dave Rand says:

        No one wants to see anyone’s job disappear, trust me, we know how that feels here in Los Angeles. Pinning your future, your career, your family and home to the whim of some politician is a fools game. Attach it to talent and branding by removing the barriers to entry. That is the message we’ve been trying to send. Or would you rather see California dump 1 billion into subsidies before you get it?

        Most VFX artsts in California are against this because we’ve seen the damage artificial economies produce.

        Right now there is a monopoly on storytelling and they are all right here in LA hoping you continue to help them keep the fences up by keeping money that could be building your own sustainable industry flowing directly to them, to the Americans instead.

        This makes you no different from the street corner store that has to pay the mob bosses bag men every thursday for “protection”.

        You can carry on about how it’s an international business funded by international banks, and how the UK makes their own movies….if you truly believe that..that it’s all sound business and your are safe….then why are you even bothering to read this last paragraph while your mind rattles on with yet another canned response that make you feel artificially secure in your artificially controlled economy.

      • londonVFX says:

        I started reading the first paragraph, but lost a bit of focus. Should I carry on? Is there anything there that I haven’t read somewhere else before?

      • londonVFX says:

        @Scott Ross – I think they already guessed that’s what the trade assoc comes down to. Your in-tray is going to stay empty, I fear.

      • Dave Rand says:

        I stand corrected, you’re right, I left out denial and deflection. You are also correct regarding trepidation over that empty musical chair or inbox as you called it. Cheerio, carry on, and all kidding aside …good luck.

      • ickeyD says:


        Yes, like (ahem) those folk in certain production companies, acting on their Indian boss owners to train and transfer technology back to that country, where workers are reallly exploited at a fraction of the wage (full profits at US prices go back to the owners, of course). Now, it would take real guts say for someone in that position in L.A. to turn around and say “Nah, see ya, I quit, thanks for all the fish”. That would make a real stand, especially if lots of folk pulled together and did it, joined together in US co-operative owner-operator studios, developing new technology and skills in an organic company. You know, then those old pipelines and ancient tools, shipped off to India/China, would become obsolete. No matter how many workers at how low a wage you had in Bangalore or Shanghai. That’s the positon that could be achieved in the right setting with the right motivations, rewards and business structures. So sounds like blowing a load of hot air, my friend. And what is your stand on folk actively getting paid to transfer tools and training on a production line basis to (stated aim of new owners) in order to transfer 90% of the work to india within 5 years? That’s the business plan. Unless someone comes up with better alternatives (i.e., standing and fighting, not helping the aceleration of a process based on cheap labor overseas).

    • David S. says:

      Wow. Sounds like that was written by the National Front. It’s getting scary in here.

  3. M says:

    Sorry Scott Ross dont start telling people what governments should be spending money on when we have free healthcare, far better schools and crime rate far lower than the states, and lets not get in too gun crime. All we need to do is cut foreign aid and I think we would have 13 billion a year to spend. At least I see some benefit from this spending rather than the foreign aid.

    And the film industry is very strong with many feels having large influence from the british telling stories written by British people, Nolan, Yates, Apted, Mendes, Marquand, Ritchie all directing many of the top films. Stories like LOTR, Hobbit, Potter, Narnia, Bond all british inspired . And the history of film in the UK has heavily helped VFx laden films with the help of british designers, Draftsmen, model makers and crew. Heck Star Wars would not be what is is without the huge help of the UK based crew that helped create that universe.

    I am not for subsidies but geez stop with the you should make your own when it is clear the UK has had a huge influence the yjr hollywood studio success without subsidies.

    Without some of those Uk inspired films many studios maybe bankrupt (MGM, New Line)

    • jonavark says:

      Don’t blame Scott. It is an over inflated sense of self importance.

    • Dave Rand says:

      Hey at least Ross has the guts to use his real name when he speaks his mind in part because he’s chosen not to hide and perpetuate the fear that is our best indication of how fucked up and I’ll balanced things are

      If you take an honest look at your IMDB page and add up the American gigs what do you have left? Then ask yourself If subsidies ended what would happen to that page, or if they had never existed what would that page look like? Therein lies the rub.

      Now, your immediate response may be to project anger, but we all know the likely answers to those questions given your location and anonymity. Fact is the UK could be doing far more under there own steam and I’m all for that…..but I must say, you got Canada beat! ..personally I have not one ill feeling towards any VFX artist or VFX professional..just our government sponsored monopolies…cause when the music stops we all are vulnerable…best of luck..and please less bashing of those brave enough to shun fear, speak their mind, and stand behind their
      name…show some respect.

      • jonavark says:

        Dave.. you’re complaining about anonymity on a site run by someone who is anonymous. So much talk.. years of talk.. while the gigs leave LA forever. So there is going to be some frustration when that’s all that actually happens. The focus on subsidies seems futile. I don’t think anyone is actually angry. it’s part of a discussion. You can demand respect but I don’t see results or a plan that warrant it yet. From anyone, actually. Just talk.

      • Dave Rand says:

        Soldier’s anonymity is not an argument, it’s a requirement. I’ve answered to it hundreds of times as the reason the site is still up. I expect to hear it used again and again as the most favored excuse and should insert a disclaimer in an attempt to avert that as an easy out when I stand up for those who refuse to support the illusion of fear by being anonymous hecklers or baskets of these folks…I see many of those here, but what I see more of is TONS of valid arguments that deserve respect, lots of action like the formation of Ross’s Trade Association, Soldiers Campaign to End VFX subsidies, Squires essays on the state of the industry, and plenty of VALID discussions on contemporary articles about our industry, and the promotion of real action to acquire leverage through better business practices at the artist level and the signing of rep cards. Your right talk is cheap especially when it takes the form of anonymous heckling and the spreading of false information..

      • Dave Rand says:

        I meant to say: …. when I stand up for those who refuse to support the illusion of fear by using their real names and are being bashed by anonymous hecklers…I see many of those here.

      • Dave Rand says:

        ….also the above comments are not directed at you Jona, Iv’e seen plenty of valid commentary from you and thanks for that.

      • Dave Rand says:

        The last comments above are not directed at you Jona, I’ve seen plenty of good commentary from you, and thanks for that.

      • jonavark says:

        You’ve seen a few snarky comments from me as well. I appreciate the courtesy though.

        When I first jumped into this discussion I was ready to do anything anyone asked of me, even if it cost some money. But Soldier wants to be a one man show and Ross wanted 3 million dollars. Since then I have been watching these discussions and indeed it is frustrating. Meanwhile the home of feature film vfx is being hollowed out by a mass exodus to other countries.

        What is truly frustrating is the fact that I have been warning people this would happen for a decade. I watched it happen in other industries, one of which I have made a living from since the 1980s. They never come back.

        I started working in VFX in the mid 80s. Started with a full benefits package and watched it disappear. I was lucky not to be laid off between shows, but most of the rest of the crew was. It’s always been a tough life to sustain. But people were willing to put up with it because the work was here.

        Now that large US studios are setting up shop in China I can’t see how a union or a trade org will have any effect on any of it. Don’t get me wrong.. workers are alone right now and representation might help with some of the problems. I can’t see how that will solve the moves offshore. But I can see how new paradigms beyond the cinder block facilities with rows of cramped workers and high overhead might be the only way out. Other than that, every US vfx worker with a family would be wise to diversify.

        Thank you for your patience.

    • Martyn Drake says:

      The NHS is *NOT FREE* for crying out loud. It has all got to be paid out of somewhere and that’s namely through National Insurance. Some pay more than others. Likewise for Council Tax (at different rates depending on the value of your home) that pays for policing and so on.

      To think Britain is some magical land as a consequence is at best naive. The fact my National Insurance and Income Tax came from a dedicated Film and TV unit within the HMRC says something about how the tax system works for the film industry over here in the UK.

      The tax incentives we offer are not some magical UK economy boosting thing – it is at best short term. We have seen the US film studios use it as leverage, making demands on the government to increase the tax incentives otherwise they’ll go elsewhere. Where does it stop?

      What about the UK government’s determination to go after corporations that have used apparently legal methods to siphon tax through a series of incentives so they’re not paying corporation tax? Why does Hollywood get a break and not the big technology companies and certain hot beverage cafes?

      The US film industry is spending their money overseas rather than keeping it within their own economy. Their profits return to the shareholders and not US jobs. I sometimes imagine that we’re almost doing a straight swap – the US studios come to the UK to make their films and we go over to the US to make ours. It’s not like that, of course.

      Countries should not offer tax incentives to foreign film studios unless there is a certain annual turnover. If you turnover X million or billion dollars – you’re on your own. Big international studios should NOT be granted the incentives. They don’t need them! But smaller domestic and indie companies DO to encourage private investors into their own film industry and own economy.

      I oppose tax incentives even though as my former employers benefitted enormously from them, it HAS taken a lot of work away from films financed in the US – and having had the privilege of spending some time in the US visiting several VFX facilities, it shocks me that these guys aren’t getting more substantial work. They’re on Hollywood’s doorstep for crying out loud.

      Our respective countries need to be good at standing on their own feet rather than relying on influence – and especially finance – from overseas. No one country should control an entire industry and that’s what I’m seeing right now.

  4. vfxmafia says:

    Time and time again…from all the comments from all the artists from around the world……why do the London artists come off as such pricks?

    • jackadullboy says:

      I’m Irish, and I find your comment insulting.. Lots of ignorant tyrades coming from both sides here. Corporations are Trans-national. Let’s not fall into protectionism. It’ll divide us. We need to focus on worker ethics (a universal concern, and a concrete leveller). Outlawing subsidies would be a bonus, were it to be achievable (good luck), but it should not be the focus of discussion.

      • tazzman says:

        I find it laughable you talk about protectionism when it’s your PM tool Cameron who doubled down on subsidies recently.

      • tazzman says:

        Sorry, only if your from NI. 😉

      • jackadullboy says:

        I’m from the republic.. I spent many great years working in London, and have many great friends there who are now struggling to find work, just as we all are.

        You’ll find the demographic there every bit as diverse as just about anywhere else in “the world”. And I don’t think you’ll find many there who have any great love for Cameron.

        Arguments will always be undermined by ad homonyms based on shallow cultural stereotypes.

      • vfxmafia says:

        to Jackadullboy..

        I’m not talking about above average layoffs for the industry. I’m tallking about an ENTIRE collapse of an industry for Los Angeles. And its NOT coming back.

        Imagine is VFX was entirely removed from any countries in the EU? (and you had to move to another continent to find work?)

        There is no comparison on what’s happening in Los Angeles to unemployment in other cities…..we are talking about systematic destruction of VFX in Los Angeles.

        All the people like Dave Rand and Scott Ross are saying….is the subsidy axe will come your way soon.

      • Fightyourcorner says:

        “Imagine is VFX was entirely removed from any countries in the EU? (and you had to move to another continent to find work?)”

        Wow, hadn’t thought of that. You mean it would be exactly like it was back in the 90s when I had to haul my ass off to LA for months – years – at a time, leaving family, friends, house behind?

        The problem is that you all think we haven’t been there before. Thank god our government grew a pair, realised our industry counts and built a system so I don’t have to do that any more.

      • jackadullboy says:


        VfxMafia, if you want to talk about “upping sticks”.. I left home to study in the UK in the early 90’s, ended up on the London circuit for years, and have spent the last several since 2008 chasing gigs around the globe.

        The nomadic lifestyle has been reality for most for some time now. LA has just been the exception up ’til now, so it’s being felt harder.

        As I say, I’d like to think subsidies could go, but financial incentives and market distortions in general are nothing new. Everyone’s at it.. the idea of a genuinely free market is pie in the sky. If it’s not subsidies, it’ll be something else. Corporations will find all sorts of other financial loopholes to exploit…

      • vfxmafia says:

        To jackadullboy…and all the london guys who had to move…

        I happen to mention that yes Los Angeles workers may have to move or go into another biz or quit the biz entirely…..

        WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT Los Angles is that the companies are be forced out of the business.

        You may have to leave london because all the shops are full……but at least you can come back to London…because it will still have a VFX industry.

        How would you feel if ALL VFX production was shut down in London and all across Europe?

        Los Angeles will not survive this……

        Los Angeles VFX production is quietly be stamped out for good.

        alot of people are having a hard time right now…and you should cut them some slack…

        And as far as Market manipulation….it is a relatively new concept since the inception of the WTO in the late 1990s….It took 10 years for the infrastructure to be set up and finally hit the film industry in the US. You act as if the “New World Order” has always been here…it has not….

        If I call some of the heckeler’s pricks on this site…is because they have no sympathy for people being laid off right now. They come on this site and say “LA deserves this” or LA workers “should stop whining”…..

        You need to leave people with a little dignity

  5. Caleb says:

    This site is dormant for some time, then BAM… Ah more attitude than you can shake a pink slip at. ” Hey, I’m smarter than you!” “No, you’re just an egomaniac.”

    Agree or disagree with Scott and Dave, but they are men among boys. They don’t hide behind some bogus name, they are consistent in message and will speak what they say here to your face. This industry desperately needs more “MEN” like them. People need to start developing a common bond or it’s all going to get worse. I have never seen such a divide among professionals than I have the digital effects biz.

    People need to grow the fuck up and lose the chip on your internet shoulder and find some way to come together.

    Let me guess, some anonymous person will quickly take issue with my post, then proceed to illustrate just how smarter they are than me, then throw in a nice personal jab? How original, and well, childish.

    • Get Real Soldier says:

      Perhaps, some of this intense divide has been caused and nurtured by those within the industry?

      That being said, I totally agree that dedicated and qualified leadership is desperately needed. But, it can only have impact with a serious plan and three to five specific goals to agree on and achieve. Sadly, the union/trade organization/VES relevance dialogue does not seem to be gaining serious traction to date.

      The’ blame game’ and the ‘demand for respect’ have been leading the discussion, and that it not beneficial for anyone. Most importantly, the clock just keeps on ticking and time is no longer an option to waste

      Maybe, some Men with Great ideas and plans to get them done will rise with a strong, committed base of support…”common bond”.

      Hope this comment avoids confirming your ‘guess’ response in any way as it is not the intent.

    • jonavark says:

      Why would anyone respond negatively to your wonderfully hypocritical post from an anonymous poster?

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Anonymous, yes. Hypocritical, no. Concerned, yes. Confident, not so sure.

        The ‘common bond’ is key…combined with selected genuinely realistic and achievable goals in a truly global marketplace.

        ……from one anonymous poster to another

    • vfxmafia says:

      Caleb thanks for that comment.

      I am an Los Angeles based artist…and am shocked at some of the comments made by some of the fellow artists on this site.

      Perhaps some of my attitude… coming from a VERY dire situation in Los Angeles. Over 1,000 recently laid off and its spreading….and its looking like no winter movies coming in to Los Angeles.

      Some LA artists are prepping for the end.

      Los Angeles will NOT outlast the subsidies….

      perhaps this site was a little too late…or “WE” were a little too late for not seeing this coming.

      London and Vancouver’s subsidies will last till at least end of year. Which means LA artists getting laid off now… will have to endure 6 months of unemployment or more. I really foresee a loss of business for maybe 2-3 years. Which means alot of artists will move…. or go on to other parts of the industry…. or just plan do something else.

      When I read comments by “LondonVFX”….and “M” it makes me glad to move on to a different industry…..because VFX is no longer cool nor lucrative….

      I really hope im wrong….but when you do the math….its doesnt look good for LA.

      • nobody says:

        … and when all artists will be finally fired, who will make this creative biz? robots??

      • VFX_Reckoning says:

        I kind of with you on this sentiment. I’m also a Los Angeles based artist. Moving into my 4th month of unemployment now and not really sure what to do.

        Personally, I do see a possibility of co-op films becoming a huge savior to the VFX industry, but only if China can get it’s film industry off the ground and share in the U.S. box office

        Until then,…at this point I don’t believe Los Angeles doesn’t have much time left. There seems to be way to many differences and constraints for a world wide movement of the VFX industry and people aren’t on the same page, nor do they care to be. For instance, the UK isn’t as concerned as Los Angeles, because whatever L.A. loses, they might gain and vice versa.

        The fact that the UK might experience the same pit falls some day, is irrelevant. There are those of us in L.A. who want and need firm action now, before it’s to late. We should be banding together based on AREA first. Each take care of their own, sort out the state and gov. issues, then take another look at a world wide organizing.

      • VFX_Reckoning says:

        Sorry, meant to say: I don’t believe Los Angeles has much time left…

    • Dave Rand says:

      Thanks Caleb. Everyone is just scared…such a shitty environment in which to create anything great.

  6. John says:

    “Time and time again…from all the comments from all the artists from around the world……why do the London artists come off as such pricks?”

    Why is it when i read anything from LA artists they all come off as pricks?

    See it goes both ways. Not very constructive is it?

    BTW I don’t see the UK removing its subsidies anytime soon so maybe it is time for you to move to another industry

  7. I'm Just Saying says:

    Tax Incentive Zones, Tax Credits, subsidies and municiple-private partnerships have been in place to spur economic activity in the world long before the internet, globalization, and certainly longer there was such a thing as a digital VFX artist. Dallas, Orlando and Atlanta did it to the northeast states for years. Right now there is a “green initiative” tax incentive zone behind downtown LA, that was the deterring factor in Chinese money building an electric car company in that zone. Burbank steals small business work from LA City cause it doesnt tax its businesses yearly earnings. The list goes on and on. Find another way to survive.

    Value your talent and find advocates who do as well. In other words, your Agent sucks VFX community.

    • vfxmafia says:

      To I’m just saying…..

      Go gorge yourself on the corpse of VFX….its all yours….

      maybe put some hot sauce on it so it tastes better……

      • I'm Just Saying says:

        I’m not gorging, I just want to see you survive. If you think spending your time lobbying that subsidies don’t work is the right path you may be wasting your time. Technology is disruptive and its not gonna change. Large overhead costs can’t be sustained in a business that is both seasonal and unpredictable. Moore’s law predicts that more than 50 % of current positions in VFX won’t even be around in 5-10 years cause one of your colleagues is writing software that will put you out of work.

        A VFX Supervisor who can amass and manage a crew of hundreds is as valuable to a movie as the stars or directors.
        Get advocates who agree and cost will be less of a factor.

        The artists are the stars and they sit in relative obscurity behind bad management who are running the show.

      • vfxmafia says:

        To I’m just saying:

        Dont worry about me. I came into the business 20 years ago. Back then people came from other industries….usually experts in another field with a similar skill set. With a proper skill set jumping industrys is tricky not impossible. I was lucky enough to be around in the 90’s (when we actually made good money). I saved and have retirement plans etc….

        alot of Los Angeles workers do not have long term plans…pensions…..nest egg etc….

        and with that said… one needs your “know it all comments from on high”

      • vfxmafia says:

        to “Im just saying:

        “VFX won’t even be around in 5-10 years cause one of your colleagues is writing software that will put you out of work.”

        you really dont understand VFX…if you think a “magic software” is gonna paint concepts…..or paint a matte painting….or design a creature……or comp a shot….or script is gonna light a shot…..or animate a subtle expression….

      • tazzman says:

        I agree but I think he’s just thinking about the rise of sims. But even those need art direction and are created by people. No, vfx is about the people behind it and will remain so.

      • I'm Just Saying says:

        Funny how you misquote me when what i wrote is right above your misquote. Pretty ballsy.

        My comments of what is wrong with VFX are no more higher and mightier than the two Scotts, Dave or any other mafiosa poster on this site. You guys think stopping subsidies and forming a union or trade association is the answer. Trade association YES, GOOD IDEA, the rest, NO, won’t fly, the ship has sailed. Vancouver may not renew, but someone else will. Good luck chasing that. And unless every VFX worker in Hollywood, London, Montreal, Toronto, India, Ireland, New Mexico, Louisiana and Vancouver just stops working tomorrow and not return to work until they get a union agreement, unionization will never happen either.

        The film I am working on now will be an oscar contender, the shots are so AWESOME the lead company should have top billing with the actors, they were that important to the success. To see that kind of work go under rewarded is sickening to me.

        VFX Companies need GOOD AGENTS. Period.

        Finally, if you look at ALL aspects of post the computers are taking jobs away or causing each job to be less work weeks at a rapid pace. Have you talked to a Music Editor in Hollywood lately? They are all dying too! Did a union help film workers @ Deluxe and Technicolor save their jobs? Nope. Where was the union when the photochemical jobs @ Deluxe were becoming DI jobs @ EFILM? Some union.

        If you do not think the same thing will happen to VFX you are very wrong. Yes, the creatives who dream up the shit will still be there thank goodness, but the masses of crew required today by a Supervisor will not be required in 5 years. So let the boring jobs run off to China cause those won’t be jobs in 5 years anyways (IMO). Let’s face it, if a VFX super could do every shot for a film himself he would. They don’t want armies.

        The model needs to change. Brace yourself cause its gonna happen.

      • tazzman says:

        It still takes multiple eyes and skill sets to make a fx picture. People have been stroking media PR for years about making feature quality fx on their home PCs. Hasn’t happened. Technology is disruptive but it’s also empowering. Empowering for people with real talent and skill. That wont disappear. People will vote with their feet if shit fx start filling up cineplexes on a regular basis.

  8. I'm Just Saying says:

    Sorry, meant to write “determining factor”. iPad English.

    • vfxmafia says:

      to Im just saying…

      With all the wealth of info and articles on this blog about the industry and what is happening…….your big bright idea for VFX companies….is quote…

      “Get a better agent?”

  9. wb says:

    I do believe that if a solid option will be provided for people in VFX , like a valid alternative, many will be glad to switch.To quit.
    The think is – there is no such valid alternative. This is the truth.
    But in the same time, VFX is no more fun or cool – it is coming to an end…
    So I think there is a big fight right now for a corpse.
    A mutilate cadaver…the VFX industry.

  10. tazzman says:

    EA closes Vancouver studio and another. Lays off hundreds:

  11. John says:

    sounds like cinesite had a cull of their full time staff today. 30 out of 45

  12. Roger says:

    what a beautiful day. just got fired from a brand new company, who lost lots of their money because of the vancouver office they opened. life is great.

  13. tazzman says:

    That vfx town hall today….big disappointment. Some of the dismissive comments made about “natural cycles” and unions. Yeah, that’s why we have these Boom and Bust cycles now. perfectly “natural”. Huge bubbles artificially created by governments and their subsidies. Nothing “natural” about them.

    • vfxmafia says:

      By my estimates…….with no movies in production in Los Angeles for the Xmas/Thanksgiving release…..I dont think there will be any movie work in LA till August….if it doesnt hit in August…Los Angeles wont have huge movie work till January of 2014

      Talk about a bubbles in the economy….

      • tazzman says:

        Yeah, the bubble are all up north(although that is changing before our very eyes) and overseas due to subsidies.

        When will people understand that studios are now publicly traded corporations with one mission: making money for their shareholders? Not sure when. But they wont stop here. They’re already taking advantage of cheaper labor markets.

        The only things having a chance to stop this are a trade assoc, widespread unionization, and a petition of grievances before the WTO.

        You cant just expect to stop it by chasing ending subsidies. It has to be multi-faceted.

  14. wb says:

    “Yeah, the bubble are all up north(although that is changing before our very eyes)”
    well…I hope so.

  15. VisuallyEffected says:

    do we have a generic date / estimate of when BC will cut subsidies and at least a little, a minimum of damn work will finally come back to Los Angeles?
    I mean, I don’t have the arrogance to ask a specific day of the future, but do we know by recent BC discussions/forum/tax meetings etc etc when this crap will see an end and they will pull the plug at least to the canadian subsidies so all those Sony/RnH/DD/etc jobs will come back here?

    or it’s just when a union/WTO will come into place that all will end?
    because I have been reading here and there and it doesn’t quite seem happy the near future in BC in terms of jobs… although they keep fucking hiring more and more than SmeLL-A.

    I have a friend who is on a work visa in LA and he costantly has to pay his new work visa for every time he gets hired since he keeps getting laid off because of lack of work and / or company restructuration.

    • vfxmafia says:

      BC already spent the money for this year….so you can count on the subsidies in place till December….which could very well mean no work in LA till next year….

  16. wb says:

    …well there’s some elections in BC right now. there will be cuts here and there – but I am pretty sure – the job is not going to go in LA – or maybe will go later. First – Montreal, Toronto, Mumbai, Taiwan….etc –
    and then , at the end of this journey – maybe will be back in LA

    • tazzman says:

      Yep, I agree. Even if BC ended subsidies tomorrow the studios would seek cheaper labor markets first before looking at LA. People have to understand that studio heads are interested in pleasing shareholders and posting strong quarterly earnings. The studio heads are NOT filmmakers. They are interested in the bottom line, period.

      The only way you will bring the jobs back to LA is if you and thousands of other vfx workers organize globally and the facilities cobble together a trade assoc that comes up with a clear set of standards and practices.

      Until then, forget it.

  17. VisuallyEffected says:

    Damn this market got so artificial it’s almost unreal…
    I honestly can’t believe to see a Los Angeles without visual effects as they were born here in Van Nuys with ILM even before they decided to move to San Rafael

    • tazzman says:

      I’m going to go off on a tangent here but artificial markets and corporate welfare has happened across numerous industries worldwide in the last few decades. Many prime companies were taken over by companies like Bain Capital and Wall Street investors that were only interested in maximizing profit globally.
      Now they’re attempting to do it with fx.
      I think they’re in for a rude awakening eventually, but that doesn’t make the suffering and displacement of artists across the globe any easier to take.

      Fx artists will need to fight politically and culturally to turn things around. It will be a long fight and very hard.
      Anything of value is never easy. This is going to be a hard process.

      The amazing thing though is that despite all of this shit, deadlines will still be met. Amazing fx shots will be created, and terrific fx spectacles will grace theater screens this summer.

      Fx artists are really a resilient bunch.

      But they need to realize the true worth of what they do and the value of being financially compensated for that work. they deserve it.

      Apathy is the real enemy, not fear. Fear can prompt action. Fear can be a great motivator. But apathy will continue the fx industry free fall.

      Sorry for the rant.

  18. John says:

    All the jobs will be in China in less than 5 years. I predict 3!

  19. VEB says:

    I’m not particularly in favour for the tax break attitude but I have to say that the Americans should consider that they have the biggest subside over all the world industries : the Dollar !!
    when you impose this currency as the world currency and, at the same time, you print money as if there was no limit … you break as well the wheel of fair trade.
    the whole system is twisted and it sets rules which are broken as soon as they are written.
    there is no fair trade at all.
    Who ever lobby the most efficiently get some laws customized for itself.
    so … the tax breaks are as unfair as the Dollar as world economy.
    when some start to cheat, the other follow

    • ickeyD says:

      Yup, you got it! Free trade and free markets is a fairytale cooked up for the masses, who then go parroting the vague soundbites from television and education systems about existential concepts of ‘free trade’ and ‘free markets’ when the whole thing is rigged by central banks in wall street and the city of london.

      The rest of us not ‘in on the game’ are left jumping up and down like competing dogs trying to snatch a tidbit. If you control the currency, the supply of money, you control the broader patterns, you can force people around to your wishes one way or another. The central banks can quietly withdraw money in one nation and put into another, suddenly you have have an economic slump here and an economic boom there. Really, you look at the technologial age we witness, special relativity, quantum mathematics, et al, and economic issues are REALLY that dificult?!?! No, they are not when you understand its a rigged game. The only person who truely wins in the casino is the casino owners.

      The BoE and Fed are private companies with government monopoly on currency and money, and you are not allowed to know who owns them as its covered by state secrecy laws. (No BoE is not public my British freinds, its owned by the Bank of England Nominees Inc, registered in Delaware State, US). But search enough and you can find some good reseach on the subject, implicating several of the largest, oldest banking families of commercial, private banks. They also set up the Central Banks of China and India during the 1970’s. They also put in place all the junk environmental science at the IPCC in order to tax business and people even more by quasi-religioun methods. Except in China and India, they were given a further 20 year exemption from the taxations recently. Let’s see .. you are a VFX business burning electricity on computers and farms … but your tax charges and costs are 50% more if you are not in India and China .. because of imaginary taxes made up by the same people who control international trade with imaginary computer money. It’s not rocket science, its an everyday common scam.

      They also helped setup the UN, IMF and WTO. Great book to read is ‘confessions of an economic hitman’, written by a former IMF official. Globalisation is all a con game. You can devalue people’s real labour and technology with pretend computer money through interconnected inetrnational banks, headquartered by central banks who control the regional governments, and then you just play off one against the other periodically to push people lower and lower, making more and more for you. Ever curious why it was finance houses heavily involved in the aquisitions of companies like DD and RH? There is your answer. Its also why I have little faith in vfx soldier’s feasibility study on international trade agreements.

      But there is no easy solution, as long as people still have faith in international computer money and the dollar, as long as they can drain the tax payer because they ‘are too big to fail’. Not saying unions are an answer, but next time you hear ‘free markets’, ‘free trade’ and ‘globalisation’, just think about those concepts, don’t just assume it’s some solid fact and reality. Because its not.

      • urizen says:

        Well, yeah, ok, fine. But if what you’re saying is right, then the whole thing’s a scam- that cant be true!

        Hard work an’ talent an’ keeping up- that’s what counts! Be the best you can be, ’cause the earth is flat!

        And ’cause also, we’re all special, every one of us.

        Otherwise, the whole thing would be a pathetic sucker’s game…

        And that can’t be true, right?

        On an unrelated side note, I’m proud to see that the new R&H diaspora didn’t cave in to the union pinko bogey man before the ship went under, regardless of who was behind the camera collecting the awards along with the pool crew with their pansy portable health care.

        Because here’s nothing worse than an ungrateful uppity lamb stalling at the last minute in front of the abettoir door.

        Hell, it would have put me off my dinner.


        At this point, stick a fork in the whole damn thing.

        Because its us, not them, that’s the problem.

  20. vfxmafia says:

    I was talking to a producer friend of mine…..and he/she was telling me about the %60 in subsidy aid they get from Vancouver. Basically if you are an American VFX worker making $100,000 a year…..(lets say your a specialty worker…IE tool writer, programmer, or some type of lead)

    The Vancouver office can pay you $200,000 a year…..and still it doesn’t come close to the money they have to pay you in the states because of all the kick backs….

    He went on to say he couldnt give a fuck about Los Angeles or US VFX workers……all that mattered to him was the best price on the production side of things.

    Someone needs to tell Los Angeles VFX workers that 70% of them need to start making preparations for their families, estates, and future work……because LA is over for VFX.

    And by the math……the VES is right…the only thing that will keep LA in business in the near future is California Subsidies.

  21. Scott Ross says:

    You are a river. The river of VFX.

    The river starts in the mountains, gains speed and power becoming a mighty waterway and finally, slowly, empties through the delta into the ocean.

    The Indians and the Chinese are thousands of trickling streams, gaining force and power. The British and the Canadians, with the help of dams built by their governments have become wide waterways with deep channels. The Californians have become the silty deltas watching the sweetwater slowly mix with the salty ocean.

    You are a river. And the water in this river moves quickly. One day your a raging stream, then a major waterway and in short stay your water mixes w the ocean and becomes undrinkable.

    VFX is a river. We are all the same yet at different points in time.

    Let’s unite and make sure that the river survives.

    • jonavark says:

      Seriously Scott. That was just odd.

    • Get Real Soldier says:


      Hope that’s not the pitch for a trade organization. One of the biggest problems to date has been the dialogue all around the visual effects industry, but few if any concrete ideas seem to be generated to specifically frame this dialogue and cause meaningful change.

      • Scott Ross says:

        clearly you’ve not seen or heard of my proposals for the Trade Association… and yes it was a bit odd, but I get so frustrated by all the finger pointing…

  22. Pixza says:

    The vfx jock thing is so pervasive in Motion Graphics too.

    Tonight, sadly I’m reflecting on the marriage aspect which is often highlighted but never resolved for long. Hope all of you are coping.

    I used to love this.
    All in the name of being young and naive.

    I’m hearing gutteral moans everywhere I go when around motion or vfx people. Even the ones I work with daily. They’re fried senseless.

    Have you driven through Burbank lately? It’s a ghost town. Commercial real estate blow outs. Weird stuff. Downright obvious something is up in the areas over there.

    Honestly I’m saying this to make sure that people prepare via savings. Not sure what is really happening.

    Sorry if I sound like I’m perpetuating fear. I’m shitting about the near future and those that I provide for.

    • vfxmafia says:


      Your not perpetuating fear….turning a blind eye to what is happening is how we got in to this position in the first place.

      People laid off or about to get laid off is very real…..and I dont mind saying that Trade Association or the Union will NOT come in time to help some people…..people effected (including myself) need to prepare for the worst.

      I wish you and your family well during this time…..

    • VFX_Reckoning says:

      Ha ha! Big surprise. Take that U.S. artists, suckers!

      • wb says:

        the think is…this is not official and I am pretty sure – everything will move to china in couple of years ( months)….so then UK, Canada and US will suffer together.
        Hard times…better find something else to do…

      • vfxmafia says:

        to VFX reckoning…

        you are twit……

      • Scathie says:

        WB, you don’t have to necessarily find something “better” to do. Just leave the US. The US is in decline, but that’s what you get for electing Bush and now Obama who are just going to push the country further and further into debt and industry will move to the best environment for it.

        Sad? Maybe, but that’s life. It’s just time to pick up and move on to greener pastures.

      • vfxmafia says:

        To Scathie:

        Has nothing to do with elections of the Bush or Obama…

        Its just London cant hang with Los Angeles VFX unless it has %60 of the budget paid for by your UK government.

      • qualityVSquantity says:


        Seriously? U.S. Artists suckers? We’re not the one accepting low rates, no overtime, and having our country discount our services like cheap labor. Go ahead and boast about your how cheap you are… YAY!

  23. tazzman says:

    It’s not official but when Miles Perkins is publicly saying they’re considering the move, they are considering the move. You don’t send your PR guy out there to say something that isn’t likely.

    • vfxmafia says:

      got to say people are getting sick of paying ILM prices and getting farmed out Pixomondo shots…..if ILM takes Star Wars to London…..they will loose credibility IMO……

      • tazzman says:

        What people are getting sick of it? The studios are not. They’re glad to get ILM on the credits, farmed out shots or not. They’ll pay the price for the brand.
        And taking ILM to London thus far means opening a small facility to do some shots akin to ILM-Van.

        The issue for ILM is one of quality. Can they protect the brand while subbing out numerous shots to vendors?

        Remember too that Scott Ross has stated that even an ILM had a whopping 5% profit margin. That’s hardly raking in the cash.

      • JCrane says:

        is that a comment on the quality of work in London??

  24. nobody says:

    …and why Weta is all time in NZ? they don’t even think to go to lovely China or somewhere else?…

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