VFX Subsidy Study To Be Released Next Week

I’ve received the final draft from our counsel on their recommendations pertaining to the feasibility of challenging subsidies in the VFX industry. I am looking to release the study next week after the holiday.

The final draft is about 25 pages and is quite extensive. The law firm met with various individuals in the industry and in government and will reveal what they have learned and what steps need to be taken. The law firm will also identify themselves.

Thanks to everyone for their patience. Enjoy the holidays.

Soldier On.


153 Responses to VFX Subsidy Study To Be Released Next Week

  1. Andreas jablonka says:

    That’s great news! Lets hope it’s not a collection of solutions we all know but don’t follow. I can’t wait!

  2. DarkEnergy says:

    Thank you, just thank you.

  3. Incredible work. I look forward to your findings on the matter. Thank you.

  4. Dave Rand says:

    One day people will realize that these bribes were designed to keep the fences up and the new comers out. Self sustaining film cultures, Maplewood, Englishwood, Kiwiwood, Ozwood, and yes.. Louisianawood, Michiganwood, and NYWOOD…everybody wins, and we see real growth ..and hopefully before Aliens vs Avatar is green lit.

    • Dave Rand says:

      …..You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.
      [Neo’s eyes suddenly wander towards a woman in a red dress]
      Morpheus: Were you listening to me, Neo? Or were you looking at the woman in the red dress?
      Neo: I was…
      Morpheus: [gestures with one hand] Look again.
      [the woman in the red dress is now Agent Smith, pointing a gun at Neo’s head; Neo ducks]
      Morpheus: Freeze it.

      • Linc says:

        …The problem is ‘many’ of us do understand, and ‘many’ do not wish to be ‘unplugged’ from any subsidy even if doing so would be beneficial over the long haul.

        Confirmation of this was recently illustrated when the Fed Chairman even hinted at reducing bond purchases and raising interest rates…maybe, in the future. No one even listened to all the caveats defining the environment in which this might happen.

        The market freaked out, and the Fed has since gone out of its way to calm down the markets and its potential loss of access to cheap money.

        …I think we all understand…

        Although counter to VFXSoldier’s great effort in VFX subsidy elimination, perhaps at this moment, Mayor Eric Garcetti and his immediate focus on filmmaking and Sacramento subsidy support might also warrant some consideration.

        The new Mayor will only have a short honeymoon (like most elected officials) to set an agenda. It appears production subsidies are on his front burner. Seize the day.

      • VFX_Reckoning says:

        I hear that one. Whatever this subsidy study says, lets us as the next rallying cry and truly bring war to these VFX issues.

      • VFX_Reckoning says:

        Sorry, I meant to say, lets use that as the next rallying cry

      • vfxmafia says:


        Great points…..

        but please stop mentioning Mayaor Garcetti. He has mentioned nothing about the VFX business. Film production subsidies and VFX production subsidies are 2 very different things.

        Garcetti said that he hopes to fill the film czar position during his first 100 days and that he’ll push lawmakers in Sacramento to increase tax incentives for filming locally. (not VFX production)


        Be nice if the city of Los Angeles could file a complaint with WTO.

      • Linc says:

        Hey VFXMafia,

        Agree, Garcetti did not mention the post production industry (VFX), but if ever there is a moment (and I mean moment) to get into the mind of the Mayor of Los Angeles the value of subsidizing the visual effects industry in Los Angeles (hence California)…that moment is here…and, now…and, not subject to debate and semantics.

        For sure, some will see this and try to position themselves as power voices for this industry. My suggestion is to very quickly do something now. Use social media. Work together…find a voice, and it doesn’t need to be a union, trade organization, VES or any other entity other those businesses and artists in LA who see value in getting subsidies….that’s it…not respect…not overtime…not anything else to complicate this one single issue and its timing. It just needs the minds and souls of those committed to try this…to get together…and, DO IT NOW!

        This is a very short window…at least, give it a try. What can you lose?

      • vfxmafia says:

        hopefully the report can give us some ammo….

        I had no luck approaching Barbara Boxer’s office some years back…..(but I was only acting as an individual at the time). Maybe if we mix the lawyers results with some sort of diplomatic envoy……

        I was checking the mayor’s twitter feed and found this:

      • vfxmafia says:

        one of the responses to the tweet posted the article on the academy protest….

        @ericgarcetti I was just made aware of the VFX workers plight. I’m curious what your position is on ending subsidies.

      • Dave Rand says:

        Linc. As an former series seven holder and career broker your analogy of interest rate manipulation and VFX subsidies is absurd. The three ways the American federal reserve controls the money supply has nothing to do with one country buying another’s industry. But I do know how you feel regarding concern for your job and also know you’d be singing a different tune if the tables were turned. When the house of cards falls…and it will…you’ll wish the subsidized north turned the corner long ago and became self sustaining instead of turning into a twenty year old that still on the nipple.

      • Dave Rand says:

        This “short window” is a short solution and and example of how fragile our industry has become when it’s dependent on the whim of politicians. I’ve never seen much creativity come out of a fox hole.

      • “Film production subsidies and VFX production subsidies are 2 very different things.”

        Actually, they are not that different at all. In most states, film tax credits are awarded for most categories of production, including VFX. Even California’s existing incentive covers VFX work, but you don’t hear much about it because no project with a budget over $75 million can apply for the incentive. Super 8 is an example of a CA film that used its incentive for some VFX costs.

        NY got press because they carved out dedicated funding for post-production work. Before the carve-out, the funds were getting depleted by non-VFX production spending (like subsidizing SNL).

        In BC, the DAVE credit is only for the digital & VFX stuff, but it is stacked on top of the regular PSTC that applies to all productions.

        And so now I have a question: would CVM apply to the PSTC or just DAVE or to both?

  5. BIG $exy says:

    “Bringing War” is the appropriate way to categorize it.

    I am an LA artist working in Canada. NO ONE up here is anti-subsidy (surprise, surprise) and I dare say I sense some resentment towards those from LA who point out how the subsidies are harming LA and the industry in-general. Not to mention the pay up here is 30% less than LA WITH higher property taxes. People work for less than they are worth AND on top of it the VFX studios receive a tax break.

    Make no mistake about, no one outside of LA is anti-subsidy. It WILL be LA vs everyone else (the heart of the industry vs the newcomers). It WILL be a war.

    • BIG $exy says:

      **with higher property prices, not taxes.

      • Linc says:

        Hey VFXMafia,

        I beg you, do not make this more complex than it need be. If you and many others doing visual effects in California believe you are at a disadvantage because of not being subsidy competitive in a global marketplace…then, start communicating to each other. If others feel the same way and communicate to their friends in the industry…you can get a strong indication of the real feelings out there (within a week if you all try hard)…and, proceed accordingly. Trust me, a communication to the ‘powers that be’ with the support/signatures of several thousand visual effects artists and businesses will get the appropriate attention it deserves.

        The people of visual effects in California have a moment to make a difference if they believe a more level playing field would help their craft and business…NOW.

        That being said…truly, this is a very brief moment in time to act with impact…so, at least, give it your best shot trying.

        You don’t need lawyers, trade organizations, unions or anything to get this together…you only need yourselves…the rest will fall into place especially if the conviction/commitment is there.

      • Dave Rand says:

        Tell me again why California should buy our jobs back? Why you’ve rationalized that California is not being competitive?

        Then ask yourself if California matched the subsidies ( the bribes) and all the jobs cam flooding back..you’d be ….”supportive” of that?

        What other industries should be up for grabs?…what other free markets should fall to market socialism?

        Subsidies are supposed to be short lived, promote local fledgling industries, and then get them runing on their own steam. …not purchase entire industries from other member nations in a fashion that would completely collapse when the payoffs stop.

        I find it interesting when the provinces of Canada fight amongst themselves as to who can give he Americans the most money.

        If they stopped with the payolla they’d have nothign but empty nests. Explain how that’s a good idea.

      • vfxmafia says:


        You dont seem to be up to date with all your info. One of the reasons for this website is for news update, organize the VFX community, and address the International component to this fight. Subsidies or “Legal Bribes” are given out by governments ….mainly BC and UK are the biggest offenders causing distortions in the market.

        All of this part of globalization, free trade agreements, and the WTO. The WTO has ultimate say over trade policy whether it is detrimental to country or a company. The only ones who can lodge a complaint is a company or country. A union cannot make a formal complaint nor a group of informed LA VFX artists.

        The only way to manipulate international law is work within the legal system….hence why we need lawyers.

        You made a couple statements about communicating with each other.

        You obviously dont read this blog much….because we are VERY organized. And we are very much a proactive group who have lodged townhalls, organized union registration drives, and organized protests at the academy awards. We get press, have multiple websites, email lists, and we have our own “slush fund” that funds of our private law council…..

        your a little late to the party…….and i might suggest if your gonna make ill informed statements….please flip through old articles on this website….or visit our many other websites of our close knit network ….like Effects Corner with Scott Squires or IATSE website …or VFX law…or our many twitter feeds.

    • VFX_Boom says:

      Most artists believe their job exists because they worked hard and earned it, and their talent keeps them working. Very few want to hear it’s a product of an artificial market created by various governments across the globe, that ultimately benefits the Los Angeles based studios.

      Artists are also very ego driven, especially in this business. This also creates tunnel vision when trying to look at the much bigger, long term picture of the business. Therefore subsidies are in the blind spot for most folks. To accept them for some, would be demeaning. Even though they are a huge in your face reality.

      I understand why so many are in full denial. On day we might mature………one day.

      • Ymir says:

        Those that support the subsidies are like the kids on test day that didn’t study. They feel they have the right to copy off of the people next to them who did study. Rather than learning and building themselves up, they find it much easier to take from others who did.
        They’re whole system of buying the work hoping to coerce the talent to follow is fallacious. The idea being that once they have enough talent in place, they can reduce or eliminate the subsidy and the studios will keep coming because of the coerced talent base. But what they don’t realize is they are addicting the studios to the sweet crack that is free money. The studios care little about the talent because they know a degree of it will follow the projects which follow the next place offering free money.
        What they should be doing is investing in their own market, building their own talent base, and subsidizing any talent they wish to immigrate there, and let the studios choose where they’re going to get the best work done. But that would put too much power in the hands of the talent, and we can’t have that, now, can we?

    • VFX_Reckoning says:

      Then so be it! History dictates that “war” has to happen in order to build something up bigger and better then before. The only people it’s going to upset are the ones who don’t understand why it needs to happen:

      1) As a global industry, it we NEED to get rid of subsidies.

      2) As a global industry, Canada and the UK NEED to build up their own film industries to compete with the U.S. studios

      then we all can share the overflow of vfx shots and compete on a truly fair globalized market.

      • vfxmafia says:


        You are so right…

        Canada is wasting its money by paying foreign artists to come to there country and fluff their jobs statistics.

        Prime Focus announced today they are going to get “a piece” of back end movie profits….buy investing in the movie…

        “Prime Focus will contribute cash and effects work, as well as offer tax incentives it receives for post-production work in places like Canada and the U.K. to own part of the movie”


        They are actually taking Canada’s freaking tax money and using it to buy into a movie!

      • Steve Whitmore says:

        2) As a global industry, Canada and the UK NEED to build up their own film industries to compete with the U.S. studios

        Then the MPAA, who’s major function is to PREVENT foreign domestic film industries from taking root, needs to be shut down. UNTIL THIS HAPPENS, there can be no negotiations on anything else.

        Do not forget that the primary reason Canada doesn’t have a domestic film industry, is because Jack Valenti and the MPAA spend a decade destroying it.

      • vfxmafia says:


        It is also hard for a country like Canada with a 35 million population to compete with just California alone in ANY business except oil. California has a population of 38 million…..more than the entire country of Canada.

        What pisses me off more… Vancouver only has a population of 600,000 people……

        The US has a hard time keep talented artisans, programmers, etc…with a population of 350 million. To create a Film hub city you need at least a million people or your gonna have to import foreigners….(which is exactly what the Vancouver subsidies do).

        At least take the $437 million and buy some distribution companies like the Chinese. Multinational Chinese company Dalian Wanda Group made the biggest acquisition of a U.S. company by China in purchasing AMC Entertainment Inc. for $2.6 billion last year. The takeover means ownership over the 5,034 screens in 346 multiplex locations that AMC owns in the U.S. and Canada. Even the Chinese are beating you out in your own country.

        You can whine and point fingers at the MPAA all you want. But it doesnt change how STUPID Canada is with its money…..how stupid you ask? Toronto and BC are actually competing against eachother…..this is why there is no “Maplewood”. And when BC exhausts all its tax payers money…….you guys will taste the recession like the US had or still has…..

    • Linc says:


      As God is my witness, well over 10 – 15 years ago when asked to join efforts to keep the work from going (North) to Canada, I replied, “You are looking in the wrong direction (North)…look west to China and India”. I have witnesses if needed.

      At that time people responded…”What are you talking about?”

      So, I ask you…what do you mean “the subsidized north” as it relates to global subsidies and work force salary differences?

      You are focusing on one flank and missing the world as a whole as it currently exists.

      As always, I appreciate your long commitment to visual effects artists rights.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Link again you posts are ill informed.

        BC has dropped $437 million alone this year in subsidies. And more next year. Los Angeles is effectively out of work for a year and a half….because the BC government is giving away free money up north…

        Producers wont except bids if you dont have an office in Vancouver. Fucking Prime Focus (an Indian company ) just today announced they are putting up some of their own vancouver subsidy money (along with cash and free VFX labor) to fund a piece of Sin City 2.


        BC is a giant honey pot of money…..

        Yes I understand your point about India and China who have lower currencys…..which would help undercut US labor costs…

        But that is crashing right now. If you pay attention to the stock market….China is in the middle of an exploding bubble with crashing real estate and manipulated currency….

        Inflation and rising middle class is about to rupture India and China in two……your points are so freaking in accurate its not funny.

        Please read back articles on this blog…..

      • Dave Rand says:

        Linc, thanks for the nod, and for your discussions. China and India are well on their way towards Bollywood and Chinawood. India’s middle class is larger than all of North America. Lots of tickets to sell, lots of stories to tell.

        I’m convniced more than ever that the short supply of talent can not keep up with the demand for film, games, education, marketing, and design that all entale huge growth in visual imagery. It’s becoming the way we communicate as a species.

        I’m also convinced that the best creative cultures breath the same air, work best in the same human interface with focus from one main story teller…the director. Our novels were very very seldom written by more than one person.

        It’s cost effective to share all levels of human communication in creativiy ..you can’t do that over a wire.. you can’t raise your kids by video conferenece either….you say their not the same? Don’t tell that to a financer williing to give you 100 million to do a vfx film, and certainly don’t tell him over the phone!

    • fishies says:

      Said it before and I’ll say it again, Framestore in the UK was around before Imageworks, Dreamworks, Rhythm and Digital Domain.

  6. Linc says:


    This is exactly the type of comment that says absolutely nothing to advance anything. WTF is your point? Truly, these types of comments are really baffling relative to actually achieving anything of value.

    Is this the “confuse and conquer” theory?????

    • Ymir says:

      The point was pretty much covered in my final paragraph, that being, rather than a gov’t spending tax payers’ money to lure an already established industry from one location to their own, they’d be better off spending the tax payers’ money locally, building up their own industry, infrastructure, and training their own talent base to staff it. So rather than ‘stealing’ answers from someone else’s test, they’d be better off studying and bettering themselves. Does that help?

      • Linc says:


        This only clarifies your comment a bit, but again, this is all wishful and long term thinking in a visual effects world being clobbered DAILY in California because of all the EXISTING subsidies all over the world.

        You can live in a world of “what if’s”…or, you can live in the real world of what is critical today with an opportunity to pursue it.

        Do you not think now with a Mayor in Los Angeles touting the virtue of supporting production subsidies (he needs to be educated about post and vfx), this might be a real opportunity to do something immediately to keep more work here? To this extent, I would be shocked if HPA is not already getting a plan together.

        You and others can ramble around with high brow thoughts, but the reality is that NOTHING has been done…and, Hollywood as it relates to visual effects is burning…right now in real life.

        This is a golden opportunity. Please, do not squander it away…

      • Ymir says:

        Linc, I agree with you. Something has to be done to eliminate the subsidies and the studio’s addiction to them. But the situation didn’t happen overnight, and it’s not going to get fixed overnight. There are a lot of things being done and discussed. VFX Soldier’s legal campaign being one of them. I have been in this business since the late 1980s. I spent over 20 years of that in CA in both the major vfx markets. I no longer live in CA, but still in the US, and I have not seen things this bad, even during a couple of WGA strikes. I support a self sustaining US film industry, a self sustaining Canadian film industry, a self sustaining UK film industry, et. al. I don’t support film subsidies, but if the governments sponsoring them aren’t going to agree to eliminate them, leveling the playing field to zero so to speak, then L.A., CA has the right to bring their playing field up to the level of everyone else. I just don’t know where the money is going to come from.
        Until that happens, we should try to educate all involved, especially the local taxpayers in the subsidized locations where their tax dollars are going (corporate owned American studios) and that they’d be better off spent in their own territories helping their own citizens. A bigger spotlight needs to be put on the issue to reach a broader audience.

        And thank you, I don’t think anyone has ever accused me of being “high brow” before! 😉

  7. Linc says:

    Hey Ymir,

    I respect your commitment to be a committed commenter, but I have to tell you…people and businesses are dying while you and others yearn for “A bigger spotlight needs to be put on the issue to reach a broader audience”. Really?

    Like in E.T….let the heart of visual effects shine within. If the folks in visual effects in California want to die fighting for the glory that subsidies are the evil of the world…so be it. I just do not believe that is even close to any kind of consensus.

    • Ymir says:


      Yes, really. You want to change something, you get people angry. Who needs to get angry? People who don’t know how their tax dollars are being wasted. How to show them? Put a spotlight on the issue they may not even be aware of. Be an Edward Snowden and show the otherwise clueless non-VFX populace where their money is going. Get them to speak up against their government leaders to stop wasting their money on already rich studios. So you know my ideas. What are your solutions?
      Trust me, I am fully aware of what’s going on in the vfx industry. I’m also unemployed. I’ve worked maybe 2 months over the past 14. You’re not alone in your anger and pain.

      • Linc says:


        Have a great 4th weekend, and I truly hope you get a job soon. I feel you are a good visual effects artist.


      • Dave Rand says:

        You too. Have a great Independance day!! We are all pro artist. We’ll never have real growth until there are centers of independant creativity Hollywood, Maplewood, Englishwood, Ozwood, Kiwiwood, Bollywood, etc… that is what this is all about…taking the barriers down and letting the new comers in…independantly… if you keep feeding the same small group all the food the rest shrivel and die.

      • Linc says:


        Whatever is done, it must be kept simple. There is so much anger, hostility and confusion especially when multiple issues are addressed simultaneously.

        My solution has been a suggestion based upon the following promise: California has serious problems competing in a world of subsidies, and right or wrong, the chances of eliminating subsidies globally are little and none, and if possible, will take years and years and lots of money for lawyers with no guarantee of the results.

        With this in mind ONLY, my suggestion has been to seize a moment to educate and gain support for subsidies. Make sure the Mayor of Los Angeles quickly has an accurate reading on those who work in California and their needs.

        What is really frightening is if Garcetti does believe that you all really want to end subsidies rather than be competitive. I am not sure what Garcetti’s view of visual effects is one way or the other although as a candidate he tweeted regarding the ‘end subsidies’ dialogue to learn more.

        The time to act is now, because with each passing day this window may close, too.

        So, for those against subsidies (like VFXSoldier)…okay. I am just suggesting those with a different view may wish to take this opportunity to speak out. If so, do it quickly.

        That’s it.

      • Ymir says:


        By all means, go with the Garcetti plan. Seize the moment. If it works, great. But that doesn’t mean all other options have to be scrapped. We have been known to multi-task!

      • Linc says:

        Never suggested any other plans be scrapped, and for that matter, I would assume that all those folks who are against subsidies are framing their message to Garcetti as well. Certainly, the time is now for them to express themselves, too. It is probably safe to say that only the Governor has more influence on California political agenda.

        Just do not forget, this Mayor WILL push for various production subsidies, and I sincerely doubt that there will be much negative support for this by the rest of the industry.

        Wouldn’t it be interesting if the visual effects industry stands out as singularly opposing subsidy support?

        We shall see how this all plays out, and I certainly hope that ‘cooler heads prevail’.

      • Dave Rand says:

        Stay tuned, it’s not as complicated as you may think.

  8. Dick Cuckolder says:

    Can anyone confirm this? And why is it happening so frequently if so? Rut roh?

    • Easy says:

      I find that VERY hard to believe. I have been freelancing at Psyop NY since 2003. I have NEVER had a problem getting paid and have never been “abused”, whatever that means.

  9. wow says:

    I only hope American studios start funding movies with American money as only then can you claim it to be your industry which everyone else is stealing.

    I am against subsidies but American studios do not make American films like you suggest. They buy up all the stories of the world and then make films. Pi, Potter, Rings, Hobbit, Bond, Avatar and the list goes on. So how can Englishwood, Canadawood and so on make movies when studios buy everyone else’s stories.

    Perhaps all the investors who seem not to be American will force studios to leave LA.

    Lets just focus on what the report says rather than continue with the usual BS I have read here for far to long.

    I wonder what percentage of LA workers are based in the UK, Canada these days. I know a few studios have less than 10 percent LA workers.

    Goodluck to everyone.

    • VFX_Reckoning says:

      They don’t “buy up all the stories of the world”, don’t be absurd. There are millions upon millions of written stories that would make great movies, and screenplays that haven’t even been thought up of yet. The resources are endless.

      If Canada or the UK film industry’s were built up, they could also buy the rights to those same stories and/or screenplays. Fair market competition, remember.

      It’s time for them to find some of their own INVESTORS as well.

      • Steve Whitmore says:

        Canada and the UK would love to have their own film industries, but Jack Valenti, as the head of the MPAA spent the 1980s destroying them. Why do you think they moved into the American film industry in the first place? It’s not coincidence.

      • vfxmafia says:


        You can point all the fingers you want at the MPAA…but Canada has settled for a “service industry role” (and cut rate one at that) rather than a creative industry. Which is why all the film productions come up there for the discount………

      • Steve Whitmore says:

        vfxmafia, what you wrote is a 100% fabrication. The MPAA is a cartel which acted to crush foreign film industries and under Jack Valenti and it succeeded wildly.

        And yes, I will point fingers at the MPAA because THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED. We didn’t “settle” for a service industry, the US government backed the MPAA and completely eviscerated it.

      • vfxmafia says:


        Yes Jack Valenti lobbied for US film “Distribution” domination in 1970’s….but I guess the point I was trying to make is….

        Canada had a population of about 22 million people in 1970..(again California alone had more people than your entire country).

        Canada was and is still a small country by population. Back in the 70’s Canada produced not one major movie…….except “Meatballs”….so even if Canada had equal “Distribution” what movies where you gonna fucking market in the 1970’s? I love meatballs but…..

        Canadian film studios rarely, if ever, had/have the budgets to make films that can directly compete with the most popular Hollywood fare. Instead, the vast majority of Canadian films are character-driven dramas or quirky comedies of the type that often appeal to critics and art house film audiences more than to mass audiences. (its hard to make money off that alone)

        During the 1970s, Canada’s tax policy encouraged making films merely to obtain a significant tax credit. As such, many films were produced merely for tax purposes, and quality became unimportant. For example, producers of Canadian films were allowed to take a fee out of the production costs, something that is not allowed in the United States, where producers may only take a fee once the film earns back its production costs (the exact situation that drove the plot line in The Producers).

        There just isn’t alot of money to made of 22 million Canadians in the 1970s…..but go ahead and blame your lack of a film industry on Jack Valenti…there was reason why Canadian actors and directors went to California to further there careers….(you can make more money in the american market than Canada)

        But all of this is REALLY OFF TOPIC for this blog……and none of this has to do with VFX subsidies or labor issues.

  10. needanothersolution says:

    This is seriously such a pointless campaign.
    How can you possibly stop government subsidies ?
    Sounds like a bunch of dreamers

    • vfxmafia says:

      Basically as part of the WTO you cant have caustic trade policies that effect companys or countrys of the WTO. Therefore a complaint has to be brought to the WTO about a detrimental trade practice. The catch is …only a country or company can bring a complaint to the WTO…..hence why we hired lawyers.

      Scott Ross has lectured on this subject for the last 2 years….

      Have you ever read the international trade agreements? Hence the lobby council. Potentially we could lodge a complaint and get the sudsidies stopped or even cause such a stir ….and show how a piss ant provence like BC (which is only 4 million) can drop a $437 nuclear subsidy bomb on Los Angeles…..

  11. frankiet says:

    Sorry, but I work in Canada and would like the subsidies to continue. And many other people feel the same way. It’s really LA artists that are up in arms, while this is a global workforce/industry.

    • Hector says:

      I am afraid it will continue
      Race to the bottom will never end

      • Hector says:

        Workforce? What workforce?!

      • Steve Whitmore says:

        I have to admit, I don’t understand the term “Race to the bottom”. The US has been subsidizing their agricultural industry for about a century and no one calls that a ‘race to the bottom’.

        NASA is fully government subsidized, the automotive industry, housing and financial industries, etc., etc. are all government subsidized, but no one ever says “it’s a race to the bottom” with those industries. Where’s this bottom? Why does it only exist in the film industry?

      • Look at the big picture says:

        Steve Whitmore: The term “race to the bottom” isn’t applicable to every industry that accepts subsidies. It’s actually not that difficult to understand what makes the film industry so unique when it comes to subsidies.

        First is that it is highly mobile. You can’t easily move farmland around, or automotive factories (they have tried anyway), but film production is about as mobile an industry as any that ever existed.

        Second is that modern VFX techniques makes it even easier to make location decisions purely based on costs and tax subsidies rather than other factors (story takes place in Africa, shoot in Quebec, fix in post)

        Third is that American film productions are glamourous. The whole world gets stars in its eyes when Hollywood comes to town. Politicians get to meet celebrities and look good to their constituents. Locals get an ego boost. Job numbers temporarily go up.

        So you’ve got a highly glamorous, highly mobile, temporary jobs program that has made it abundantly clear that they will bring their work to the highest (subsidy) bidder. There are more than a couple locations willing to outbid the others. You still don’t understand why people are calling it a race to the bottom?

      • Ymir says:

        Steve, the examples you give are not analogous. You’ve quoted the U.S. subsidizing it’s own industries; it’s own agriculture and it’s own space program. To be comparative would be for BC/Canada to subsidize it’s own film industry. Not subsidizing U.S. based studios to mandate VFX work to be sent to Canada.

      • Steve Whitmore says:

        “To be comparative would be for BC/Canada to subsidize it’s own film industry.”

        You mean the film industry it doesn’t have because the MPAA crushed it to death? That one?

      • Lord, the MPAA killed Canada 30 years ago drum beating needs to stop. The MPAA is killing workers in the US by lobbying for incentives everywhere.

        If the MPAA is guilty of killing Canada’s film industry, then I would hope you also oppose the film subsidies in Canada. After all, the MPAA spend heavily to lobby the Provinces for the programs. If the MPAA is killing Canada and it’s ongoing mission is to keep it dead, then isn’t it possible their love of Canadian film subsidies and the political lobbying they undertake is part of its plan to keep Canada down?

        And while the MPAA may have hurt Canada back in the day, they are actively hurting the US & Canada now. Right now. The race to the bottom is being driven (pun intended) by the MPAA. So be pissed at them for their actions here and now and lets take Meatballs out of the DVD player.

    • VFX_Reckoning says:

      You fail to realize it’s not a “Global industry” until the subsidies are removed. That’s kind of the point of all of this. As it is now, the work is just jumping around. It’s here, then it’s there, and so on….that’s not “global”. If you truly want a global industry and believe in that, support the fight.

      • Not-in-LA says:

        I fail to see how subsidies are anything new. Countries compete for employment opportunities and work. The VFX industry id no different to any other industry.

      • vfxmafia says:

        To Not in LA…..

        The film business was started in LA over a 100 years ago because of decent weather and land was cheap.

        Around the 1980’s producers starting bringing productions to Canada because of its low value currency…

        during the recent US bubble….some currency’s now equal the dollar…productions were not getting discounts so they stopped bringing discount productions to Canada…so they started giving away free money to the studios……$437 million in one year kind of money……

        So when you say things like ….”I fail to see how subsidies are anything new”…. you really don’t understand the situation.

      • Steve Whitmore says:

        The film business was not started in LA at all.

        Another lie from vfxmafia.

      • Look at the big picture says:

        Steve: You can quibble over where the very first film production company started and when, but the film business as we know it today was created in Los Angeles. Period.

      • Ymir says:

        Steve, L.A./Cali did not subsidize the film industry back in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s to lure it away from France, NY, or NJ. The film companies at that time chose to move to California for (at the time) cheap land and more sunshine to make filming easier. But it happened organically, not from governments manipulating the economics of relocating work and jobs.

      • Film subsidies, as they exist now, are a very new thing relative to the 100+ year history of the film industry. Canada rolled out the first refundable credits in 1996/7. Louisiana and NM got the ball rolling in the US in 2003.

    • Big $exy says:

      Ofcourse you are for the subsidies.

      Your government has to bribe the studios to create an industry in your city. Otherwise there is no reason to hire you or the vast majority of people in Canada (except the uber-talented…who are either originally from LA or were trained by someone from LA).

      Let me guess:
      You work for $30 something bucks per hour (when the same job in LA would pay you more) and somehow feel happy with being given ” the oppurtunity” to work on films.

      • Not-in-LA says:

        ” (except the uber-talented…who are either originally from LA or were trained by someone from LA).” This is so typical of the attitude of Americans. This is simply not a true statement.

      • vfxmafia says:

        To Not-in-LA…

        And this statement is so FUCKING CANADIAN….(cuts both ways)

        “Sorry, but I work in Canada and would like the subsidies to continue. And many other people feel the same way. It’s really LA artists that are up in arms”

      • vfxmafia says:

        To Not-in-La…

        So what’s the oldest VFX company in Vancouver?

      • Linc says:


        Perhaps, some additional information regarding the industry history would help to broaden your description of what was going on in Hollywood relative to production in the 70’s and 80’s.

        Until this time ALL the studios ran their facilities under the studio division which generated revenue from films. The studios and their various departments were only there to serve mostly their own productions. Profit had not been an issue.

        By this time, the yearly ‘nut’ on these facilities was approaching 50 million/year and the bean counters realized this was becoming a serious drag on profit.

        To this end, each facility beginning first with The Burbank Studios which was a joint venture between Warner Bros. and Columbia. Things were so bad at the facility side of the studio business that Columbia sold its Gower lot and moved to share Warner Bros. as The Burbank Studios. Over the next two decades all the studios began to change their facilities to be open for every type of third party business. By the way, letting ‘non union’ shows with ‘non union’ crews did not go over well as demonstrated by the ‘union’ feces and urine often left on the ‘non union’ vehicles parked near the show.

        Over time the unions ‘bit the bullet’ and, today, studio facilities are profitable businesses open to anyone and everyone. And, almost every department on a lot in the 70’s and 80’s which did not and could not turn a profit…were all closed. This included almost all the truly great studio research departments…this was sad, indeed.

        The point is that there are always many issues going on in any industry at any time which tend to paint a better overall picture of the landscape. Rarely is it just one thing like currency, subsidies, weather, talent, etc. Often, there are several levels of reasoning for decision making as to where and why the work is assigned.

        As such, at any moment in time (and this is always a moving target) the dynamics of the production landscape will influence where the work is done.

        And, as a final point, I agree taxpayers are supporting all sorts of stuff they shouldn’t from bridges to nowhere to studying the sex life of some rare and unknown insect. This has been going on since the beginning of politics and government. Is it right and fair…probably not.

        Will it change…probably not…even with the best intentions.

      • vfxmafia says:


        So thats your summary of Hollywood history? Blame it on the Unions?

        Fact is… there is a Huge weather factor why early movies were made in Los Angeles. It never rained and had sunny days every day, which made shooting exterior locations ideal here…..and it was desert…so you could easily build a back lot…or huge stage. Which really sucked in NY.

        Yes back then it was studio system….the advent of unions was a necessity…because people actually DIED on set. People worked ungodly hours…..a light would fall from the grid…a grip would die when a scissor lift fell over…or someone would fall asleep driving home after an 18 hour day…..Really dont know what you point is about “Urine” on tires…

        During the 90’s i was involved on alot of music video and film production. I would see alot of jobs go to Canada (to work non union yes)….but also because 1/2 million dollar job could be almost a million dollar budget.

        As for VFX? in the late 1990’s practical shops started jumping over to digital as computer processing became more powerful. Renderman was invented and so was Maya……up until then artists either worked practically doing minatures or worked in the 2D cell division (which later was outsourced to Korea before it died out)

        After film productions went up north so did VFX. Alot of your VFX houses did Canadia commericals but didnt start making the jump to film…….till about 2005-6. Mostly they handled small comp sequences…..not until the subsidy money came in did you see offices pop up all over…….with major sequences….

        I think all the statements i made are pretty accurate (even though im trying to ball park it into 2 paragraphs).

        In the end your BC film subsidies are a pimple on the ass of film making….and will do BC no good in the long run……

      • Linc says:

        VFX Mafia,

        Please, read my comment again. I was attempting to add to some of your comment about the Hollywood production industry especially in the 70’s and 80’s. It was actual real data regarding another changing part of the industry. And, because there was some union resentment, I thought that aspect was worth mentioning in detail of a larger issue about making facilities profitable..it was initially a problem for the union. Again, this was just a part of a story about production dynamics during the time frame you brought up.

        Here is the KEY. Your response is an aggressive one completely distorting my point. YOU SEE this as a union statement…but, my friend, it was just part of an overall story about the times and how studios facilities were changing.

        With all due respect, please, at least read and feel the comments and not see only whatever appears to inflame your views.

        With all due respect, again…what part of my comment would lead most anyone to see it as ‘blaming it on the unions’ especially in the overall context of the history I outlined regarding facilities?

        It was about making a PROFIT…no more no less.

      • vfxmafia says:


        I guess what I was responding too…is that the unions had nothing to do with why studios in the late 1960’s-early 70’s were having problems. It had nothing to do with labor costs.

        I would also argue (politely this time) Hollywood had only ONE reason for a changing business model in the 70’s….and having sagging profits…. Old geezers VS. the new talent…it was purely creative and had nothing to do with labor costs…..

        The studios had bloated old studio heads that were making musicals in the times of Vietnam and protests. What brought movie making profits back were a bunch of young gun directors……like Dennis Hopper, Lucas, Speilberg, Coppola, Altman, Scorcesse, Sam Peckenpaw, etc…here is a great documentary and book called Easy Riders and Raging Bulls on this very subject….


        but none of this has anything to do with VXF subsidies…..

      • Linc says:

        Hey VFX Mafia,

        Keeping it brief, when having these types of discussions it really helps to stay on point.

        1) Unions (labor) costs were not the reason facilities opened their doors to 3rd party use. It was to generate revenue. The union problem was that EVERYTHING on a lot was under union jurisdiction. The studios said, “Not the stages. the lighting equipment, grip, props, wardrobe, etc”. These things may be used by any production on or off the lot with or without union people on the shoot. Of course, stage rental would include a union electrician, etc.

        But, you are right this is off point from the subsidy discussion, but I was only responding to your history of Hollywood comment.

        I think it does, in a way, illustrate much of the current dialogue which appears to have difficulty staying focused on a SINGLE issue at a time, and working through it. This is not directed to you…but, so much dialogue wastes time, energy and focus because it is all over the place.

        I believe any advance benefitting visual effects will be found in what can be agreed upon…not, what can’t be agreed upon. So, let’s find consensus in one or two issues at a time without making them so complex and/or weighed down by emotion, anger and despair (even if totally valid) there is no chance anything will get done.

        Good chatting with you.

        It’s the weekend…have fun…enjoy..

      • vfxmafia says:

        you too Linc…happy holidays

      • Linc says:


        Okay, I was starting the weekend, and made a mistake of checking the site one more time. Thus, I am compelled to ask what your comment “Nope” about 3:31 PM on July 5 was referring to?

        I have to know…

    • Ymir says:

      Imagine this is the marathon in the Olympics. You’re saying Canada needs a 60% head start in order to compete. Is that how you want other nations to view you?

    • The Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

      The subsidies may continue, but they won’t stay in the same city for long. And when that time comes and your job moves away, then you’ll say “Fuck them subsidies.”

      And the Hollywood studios will be giggling all the way to the bank.

  12. frankiet says:

    I also don’t agree. But best of luck to you.

    • frankiet says:

      especially the ….piss ant provence like BC part

      • vfxmafia says:


        your being very gracious….

        but the point i was trying to make is there more commuters that come in and out of Manhattan every day …than the entire population of BC. In fact Los Angeles and the entire provence of BC are almost equal population. Vancouver is small city with only 600,000 population. But yet it wants to be a film hub on the world market……

  13. wow says:

    It is funny you assume the majority of artists in Vancouver are people who have moved from LA. If you ask around alot of facilities have far fewer ex la people than you would think. And no they don’t teach everyone. It is fair to say Sony and DD may have some but places like MPC, Image Engine, Zoic, Embassy, Scanline have alot of home grown talent and other people from other nations.

    Remember MPC Vancouver shared the oscar last year and that crew had only a small percentage of ex LA artists. So please dont assume that LA trained everyone the art of VFX.

    • Hector says:

      There are very few Canadians working in BC
      Most of them are from europe , asia, and UK
      Even if they might have the Canadian PR card

    • Big $exy says:

      And alot of those sups at non-Cali studios etc did their time at ILM and DD before leaving LA/Cali.

      Its not even the subsidies that get me the most, its the fact that you Canadians (and Londoners) work for slave wages in comparison to what LA pays. People up here in Canada with experience actually think $30something per hour is a good rate. They start juniors here at $12-$15 per hour. When I started I was getting payed almost double that. You all need to start sharing what you make per hour so you can be aware if you are getting ripped off.

  14. ggh says:

    Depends on the company. Some have far more than you think. But I think his point is the genetic makeup of alot of the companies in BC is far less LA centric than some on here try to make everyone think.

    • Ymir says:

      Actually, they are more Euro- and Asia- centric, with some Cali’s filling in the holes. The only Canadians I know about are in the administrative and HR support offices and coordinators. Don’t know of many Canadians working as artists, at least at the pop-up facilities tied to U.S.-based offices. Maybe local companies such as Mainframe and Image Engine have a higher ratio of Canadian to non-Canadian artists?

      • Hector says:

        Mpc offer 60000/year – 10h /day for a senior compositor in BC

      • Big $exy says:

        60k for a senior compositor?

        At 10 hours a day that is $23 per hour


        Slave Wages.

        Senior compositors in LA make over $50 per hour, some make $60-$70 per hour.

        Canadians stand the fuck up and start demanding higher rates. Other than taking all of the work you are all now working for peanuts, screwing yourselves, and screwing the rest of us. You are worth more than twenty three fucking dollars an hour.

      • Ymir says:

        Quick math = $23.08/hr.

      • John Stanton says:

        “Mpc offer 60000/year – 10h /day for a senior compositor in BC”

        Which senior compositor? Please provide a name.

      • vfxSoldier says:

        hey John – why don’t you ask the mpc recruiters.
        They can come out with some names.
        A job offer from mpc sounds like this: – “for a senior compositor in Vancouver you are payed the equivalent of 60000/year cad, for 9.30-18.30 every day, and over time after 10 hours”
        See that’s the think – they don’t tell you nothing about the time spend after 8hour daily.We know people are working there for 10 hours/day.
        So ask them about that….I am sure they can get you some names.

      • hector says:

        sorry I should sign Hector not vfx soldier….all came from a joke I made before

      • pookyjuice says:

        !…not the old “built-in overtime” trick! Listen, people if someone quotes you a yearly salary with assumption that you will work 2hrs overtime on a DAILY BASIS, your actual yearly salary is about 80% lower than what you think.

      • pookyjuice says:

        err, I meant 80% of what you think

      • Jackadullboy says:

        Yes, always break your salary down to an hourly rate, and ask what the weekly hours are. Anything over that should be charged at time-and-a-half ( if it’s just paid as straight time, it ain’t “overtime”).

        IATSE wage calculator:

        Don’t fall for the “we work a fifty hour week but normally only work eight hour day” nonsense.. You’ll be on tens soon enough, trust me.

  15. mattD says:

    And don’t forget that is 60% subsidised, cost to MPC actually around $36K annualised.

    $36K is what a senior artist is worth then.

    • mattD says:

      Sorry, about $24k.

      It’s worse that that, he’s dead Jim.

      Median house price in Vancouver $1m. Senior artist salary $24K. Welcome to the economics of centrally planned economies. The people’s republic of soviet socialist vancouverites.

      • Hector says:

        And when moc recruiter post a nob offer on linkedin …. 25 like!
        Shame .. I wonder how much a middle guy will do …
        Stupid people!

  16. wow says:

    Well I know of plenty of Canadian artists. MPC has several amazing senior and lead Compositors, Anim Supes, FX td’s, environment artists, lighters, textures, roto prep and animators who are Canadian.

    Sony has CG Supes, anim supes that are Canadian along with many artists that I play sports with. Oh and I am a Canadian artist.

    As for MPC wages, yeah I heard recently they were taking advantage of the R&H situation and have driven down wages of new hires but on the flip side I know of artists that make at least double and sometimes more than the quoted 60k. But people go there because they just won an oscar and are doing the best projects in town with previous shows like PI, Superman and now Godzilla, Malificent, Xmen, Spiderman.

    • Hector says:

      I saw a job offer from MPC. Someone who was working fro 10 years in industry and show me , because he was shocked when he received the email from them.
      They have very bad reputation , and sooner or later, people will refuse to go there and work.
      Can someone tell me – what’s the use to work on such big budget movies – in Vancouver ( extremely expensive city) and when the show is done ( and you are done as well – dead!) you are broke, or just have some money to resist until other companies will use you?Take the plane, go in Australia – work hard and then take the plane go for Montreal,work hard and then, take the plane – go Vancouver work hard , and then…
      You spend 10 – 15 / h day, drink “monster” and “coke” and tons of coffee – eat cheap or at Chinese fast foods in Vancouver ( they are all over the place out there) – and then you fool yourself saying – “I do some sports in the weekend”( sometimes only Sunday). Life is great!
      Meanwhile , my neighbour – at 55years. is sitting in his backyard with a nice pension from a well known company , and he enjoys life.

      • wow says:

        I work 8 hr days, get paid well, have a life and home and it is only expensive if you live within a 10 mile radius os the city. Move out a little and it is comparable to where people live in other cities. How many vfx artists live in Malibu, Beverly Hills or Bel Air?

        I started paying into pension when I was 20 as at the time all VFX artists were considered freelance or self employed. Everyone here thinks it is up to companies to sort this out but it was clear to me I was basically self employed from the start so I started planning just like other self employed people.

        I find it funny VFX artists are so irresponsible with money and dont save. I know plenty of people who work as teachers, police and office jobs that earn 35-70k and live within there means. Oh and I am married to a teacher so am fully aware of how hard they actually work and the unpaid overtime they do outside of the regular 8am-5pm work day.

      • hopium says:


        Lets be really clear on vancouver living costs. NOWHERE near vancouver is affordable. You can’t move out ‘a little’. Even burnaby/surrey/westminster have median house prices around $1m. You have to get out 50 miles before you may get a 1-2 bedroom condo for a little under $300K. You mention Beverley Hills – well infact you could get something in this price bracket around the fringes. The only reason the nuts living costs and houses are so unbelievable in BC is because a few years ago BC banks were loaning people 10 times salary mortgages with no checks, often to eastern investors not even living there.

        Now, that happened in parts of California as well, but the government stepped back and the real estate market fell through the floor in many areas. BC (most canadian cities infact) are absolutely fooked in this respect because regional governments like BC are using tax-payer money and schemes to try and prop it up. Because if the real estate market went even a little bit, there would be a much larger affect on the overall BC economy than the fall out of the Socal real estate falls a few years back. Nearly every major canadian bank is bust if real estate prices fell even a little. Vancouver is the worst offender in Canada by a long, long way. Toronto, Calagary, Montreal, they could probably take the hit but Vancouver would be dead and buried within a few months (bank runs and the like). So the stakes are very high for Vancouver.

        So if you have a family, and all this socialist meddling of whacko real estate markets carried on forever in BC, how on earth will your children ever afford to live in Vancouver in 20 years time? What’s the point? This is Vancouver, it’s not Monaco or indeed Alberta (where the oil is). The whole BC economy is a mirage based on effectively bankrupted banks and continual government meddling with tax-payer money. Its going to end up like the USSR where everyone could get a tractor but nobody could buy bread or potatoes in the super markets.

        History is not on your side on this one. You may want to have a plan B at some point. I am convinced Vancouver will undergo a detroit style economic slump with a decade.

        On a lighter note, here again is the game that keeps on giving, the game that one can never tire of :


    • Ymir says:

      @wow, with four of the biggest shows in town, they should be rolling in the green and be able to offer their artists a decent wage for the product they are creating for MPC, not ” . . . taking advantage of the R&H situation and have driven down wages . . . ” What they should be doing is going to the studios and saying they need a fair cut of that gov’t kickback rather than taking the easy road of taking advantage of artists who need work.

    • hopium says:

      the head of vfx mpc/vancouver is a US citizen. Not that this is really important in this issue. He also doesn’t earn much above the top rate you quoted. That is the very ceiling for a few leads/seniors/sups, with the plan to get them off the wage bill as soon as things get quiet. And don’t get too attached to one particular vfx studio, it’s like the old proverb that a scorpian will sting you because that is what scorpions do. You may may wish to research a little, it was only 4 years ago that MPC were in a DD/RH situation when the parent Thompson went bankrupt. They have never been a particularly profitable company, the post production business is a strategic division useful for the manufacturing (technicolor) arm of the corporation. If they didn’t have marketing and strategic value to the parent, they would be in the same situation as the Kodak/Cinesite scenario a few years ago. When Kodak got into difficulties, cinesite was the ‘luxury’ that was taken off the company wage bill very quickly, sold for very little money.

      Framestore in Montreal were also offering similar low ball offers similar to those mentioned here, I know several US/Canadian artists who turned them down.

      Its part of the business model now. VFX artists accept a role as a glorified ‘office temp’. Learn one or two skills, then after a couple of years you will be given a ‘senior’ job title, doing your specific task with the latest ‘software du jour’. You are never viewed as ‘member of the team’, someone to share and grow with the company. If you can ever get to evesdrop on producer meetings behind closed doors, that will be a useful experience, you are just a color on the spreadsheet chart for a few weeks or months. The more you accept that as your role in life, the quicker the acceleration. How long before VFX workers start to resemble contestants on American Idol? (ironic question since we are almost there).

  17. wow says:

    I’m not saying I support them but they are running a business and its about supply and demand. When there is a supply of artists the wages will drop just like every other industry.

    If people refused to work for them great but that has never happened. MPC has always been the same and had a terrible reputation in London but still people work for them.

  18. yes yes says:

    @ymir you could always start a campaign to stop people working for them

    I know several artists who were recently interviewed and offered low wages at MPC. They all said no thanks I would rather take the summer off than work for that. Sadly not many have balls like that.

    • Ymir says:

      @yes yes, i don’t have a personal grudge against MPC (or any vfx house, for that matter). I’ve never worked for them, and wouldn’t if the numbers posted reflect their offers. What I do have a problem with is an economic environment, where hundreds of millions of dollars are flying around, but yet the artists, the ones who actually make the product being sold, are the easy target to cut costs. Yes, artists need more balls to demand what it takes to live in an expensive environment such as Vancouver. And the vfx houses need to have more balls to demand from the studios a cut of the kickbacks to pay artists the wages it takes to live in an expensive location and realistic relocation costs if they have to travel to get there.

      I’ve never seen a shot get produced to final.
      I’ve never seen a shot get supervised to final.
      I have seen crews of artists work together to create a shot to be presented for final.

  19. Big $exy says:

    Most of the ppl with some balls in this industry are the ones from LA. We get paid a certain rate and if we dont get it (or something reasonable) well pass on the offer.

    Canadians seem to take whatever is thrown at them. 15 bucks per hour. 20 bucks per hour. sure theyll take it. Its even worse in Toronto and Montreal than in Vancouver. They have no backbone.

    • frankiet says:

      that’s a pretty nasty statement. And untrue. Maybe you should withdraw it.

      • vfxmafia says:


        I should probably tone down my comments too. I think everyone is a bit revved up because of Independence Day……ROLF. Its pretty crazy how many people are laid off right now……nothing worse than having a holiday and your laid off………people are just blowing off steam….

    • Nick says:

      Wow. Some really supportive comments on here. Doing a great job getting that Canadian workforce behind your movement! Bravo.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        i agree with you but you got to admit as well that the canadian commentators also seem a bit stuck on the “i dont mind subsidies so i have a job for now” train. (Disclosure I am a german artist who is LA based and has done “time” in vancouver facilities)

      • anna says:

        no. it’s because of the LA versus the rest of the world attitude that stinks! it puts ALOT of people off-side (I am working in Asia btw)

      • Big $exy says:

        Trying to get the “support” of the Canadian artists is a futile effort. I personally think VFX Soldier or Dave R. or any of the visible guys in the LA VFX industry trying to gain sympathy from Canadians/Europeans who work for $20 per hour is a waste of time and effort.

        As is trying to convince our Canadian and European neighbors that subsidies are bad. I dont expect them to be anti-subsidy and they shouldn’t expect us to be pro-subsidy.

      • Look at the big picture says:


        You need to understand that feature VFX in LA is pretty much dead right now. That’s an extraordinary development. To the LA based artists who practically built this industry from scratch 20-30 years ago to have it all disappear so suddenly is difficult reality to grasp. Movies, and by extension VFX, are synonymous with “Hollywood” and now it’s all gone.

        Can you imagine what steel workers in Pittsburgh felt when it all went away? Or autoworkers in Detroit? And it wasn’t lost due to cheap labor or other competitive advantages like in those 2 examples. Rather it was specifically targeted and purchased away by politicians. The unjustness of all that just adds to the sting.

        That being said, some of the LA-centric posts here have been over the top. Most of us in LA knew the jobs would eventually go overseas (to China or India) and started making exit plans years ago. I particularly feel bad for recent graduates from expensive art schools who were fed tales of wine and roses and wandered into this mess. They are the ones who are struggling the most. Maybe some of the more bitter comments have been coming from people in that situation?

        I also know that some people in Canada, UK, etc are secretly (or not so secretly) enjoying the schadenfreude of LA suffering. The US is an easy target to pick on and no city exemplifies what some dislike about the US more than Los Angeles with all its superficial arrogance and excesses. It’s just desserts and we’ve seen more than a couple commentators wade into this line of thinking here. So the vitriol has been a 2-way street on this matter.

        The reality is that it has nothing to do with Los Angeles or Vancouver or London or any other city. The movie studios don’t care, they will simply force the work on to the next location offering more generous kickbacks.. All the pop-up shops in Vancouver will move away and some of the artists there will complain about whatever city stole their jobs. This will continue until governments, tax-payers, or the artists themselves wise up.

      • anna says:

        Ok. So the industry in LA has changed. It is not a static industry!!! It changes. Just like ALL industries!

      • Look at the big picture says:


        Understood. As I said, most people who have been in the VFX industry for a long time knew that things were likely to change at some point. The issue is that it’s not happening organically due to market competitions. It’s happening artificially due to the whims of local and state governments. Market distortions such as the VFX subsidies are inherently unstable and unsustainable and are hurting the industry. The VFX industry was never really healthy to begin with and because of this is especially susceptible to these market distortions, but the subsidy race to the bottom is just weakening it further and preventing the sort of changes necessary for it to evolve into a healthy industry.

      • “As is trying to convince our Canadian and European neighbors that subsidies are bad. I dont expect them to be anti-subsidy and they shouldn’t expect us to be pro-subsidy.”

        The people in the UK were anti-subsidy when someone else was hurting them because they offered a subsidy. People in BC have been very anti-subsidy when it comes to the Ontario or Quebec incentives.

        There is a disconnect in these places. When production levels fall, as they did in BC recently, people scream about losing their jobs, homes, savings and so on BECAUSE someone else is hurting them with a film subsidy. Yet they call for incentives to solve the problem. But the root cause of that problem, ironically, is the subsidies themselves.

    • Remi says:

      Now, you made me laugh. Let’s compare our dicks next time.

  20. Andreas Jablonka says:

    Well many Canadian artist have love experience, they take whatever they are given. Its also the older Vancouver/Montreal houses who never had to persuade artist with money and LA artist out of work, full of anger and pride need a lot of persuasion before they go to either Van or Montreal. They hate they have to leave their home and familiys and do it for less money and more cost.

    Are they good high end artist that are Canadian? Of course! Are there as many as similar skilled LA artist? NO. Because LA has a bigger artist pool and arguable the harder shows so the average skill level is higher. Ive seen seniors with 8-10 years experience not being able to do what an LA artist could at 5 years experience. Not always of course. And im sure the same is true for Weta artist who grow up with PJ Plates and can work circles around Canadian or LA workers. Fact is the complexity of Canadian vfx work till a few years ago was much lower than the shows DD, ILM and SONY did in California.

    Wages wise the companys never had to compete so they lowball you. And they can. Canadians take the jobs, foreigners cringe but take them too, better than unemployment. Its sad but true.

    Ive been offered supervisor jobs in Van that paid less than a senior artist role in LA. They think of anything over 50$/hr as a fireman rate. I dont. on the flipside the good old days of 70$/hr rate for seniors in LA are long over. A lead might get 65$ but the rates I have seen in the last 5 years were between 45$ and 60$ for seniors in LA. too bad Aruna had to discontinue vfxwages.com 😦

  21. anna says:

    http://thevfxwatchers.com/ is worth taking a look at. You can leave reviews alongside specific companies

    • Andreas Jablonka says:

      Indeed its starting to grow. it has one major flaw though which is usernames are linked to reviews this is a bad idea. otherwise its useful but needs more reviews.

  22. And says:

    As for experience I also know of recent LA hires in Vancouver who were fired for not being able to take the on the job they were hired to do.

    Its funny cause I have seen different areas of skills based off of location. It was not long ago that you hired Compositors from the UK and Europe but lighting/ Shader people from the US.

    • VFX_Reckoning says:

      I wouldn’t blame any artist’s for that,

      I think ‘experience’ has all been ‘luck of the draw’. Nobody trains anymore, artists don’t like to help each other out, and most shops only want ‘Senior’ artists. People can barely keep jobs long enough to gain a solid skill base anymore, before they are onto a different pipeline with different software.

      I think a lot of artists are just gaining their expertise based on chance. If they just so happen to have worked on a bunch of shots doing character work, their reel will be character centric and that shows proficiency base skill in character work, which means they will probably get more character work best fitting the shop budget.

      Trying to be a professional in all forms of software is damn near impossible if you are constantly jumping around from job to job, contract to contract, pipeline to pipeline. I honestly don’t know how people become ‘Senior’ artist’s when they are kicked out the door every 6 months.

  23. Y Be Slave says:

    I predict VFXSoldier is George Lucas or someone highup at ILM. I’ve got $5 on it.

  24. vfxmafia says:

    “Have you had to leave LA to work in the movie/TV business?
    KCRW wants to hear your story….

    ……for an upcoming episode of KCRW’s The Business, we want to hear stories from people who work in the Film/TV business. Do you call the L.A. area home but find yourself working out of state because of production incentives (runaway production).”


  25. Linc says:

    For all those seeking visual effects participation deals wherein the facility takes a chance and invests costs out of pocket against future royalties…so far, White House Down, The Lone Ranger, Pacific Rim (maybe). After Earth (or whatever that will Smith flop is called), etc. would probably serve to cripple any and all those who took participation deals through investing their own facility money into the visual effects.

    And, quite frankly, few if any can survive the financial losses these and other effects heavy films may generate. It is the same when looking at the top grossing films of all time and stating that 48 were effects driven without listing the 50 biggest flops of all time…because, with each new film the list of box office/visual effects losers grows big time.

    • Big $exy says:


      VFX studios partner with the production studio, and since the Canadian tax payers are suckers who like to give $$ to the rich people in LA, the VFX studio can take that subsidy money and invest it into the film for a percentage of the gross.

      Thats what Prime Focus is doing with Sin City 2. Taking Canadian tax-payer money and attempting to make money off of the said tax-payer money.

      Quite smart.

      If only all of those Canadians working for $15-$35 per hour saw a cut of it too. Then their wages *might* just match LA rates.

      • Linc says:

        Hey Big Sexy,

        Let’s assume your points are dead on accurate.

        In a business where margins with or without subsidies here, there and everywhere (kinda poetic) what state of mind would the management mind set be to put hard earned cash (no matter how it is generated) against the ‘gross participation’ complex formula?

        With all due respect, I certainly would not call this smart by any stretch of one’s imagination.

        Smart people would put the subsidy cash in their pockets.

      • Linc says:


        I used the term “Gross participation”. I should have stated “Net”.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Have to say….the film biz has been shady for a long time….the way actors…ADs, DPs, and Directors get royalties…is they have a union that collects for them…(And does audits etc…)..

        I was once upon a time on the film production side of things and would see 5 different budgets floating around on set..one for the producer one the studio one for actual production….there a ton of ways to show losses on a film and play funny numbers..

        No VFX artist will ever collect on royalties unless there is a collective union……

        Its very curious what will shake from the Prime Focus deal…….especially with so many shadey investors who injected the $53 million recently into the company….sure aint headed to the vfx artists…

  26. Nick says:

    Has the report been released yet?

  27. vfxmafia says:

    This is off topic…but I just saw Pacific Rim on Wednesday night.

    It will make you remember why you got into the VFX business. Definitely not a Micheal Bay movie…..

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