Circumvention Through Hollywood Accounting

Our feasibility study concluded that the best way to discipline visual effects subsidies is to use existing trade laws to implement a countervailing duty (CVD). This duty would be a tariff that US studios would pay to offset the money that is kicked back to them when they have their VFX work done in those territories.

One of the common skeptical questions we’ve been getting goes something like this:

The US studios are masters of Hollywood Accounting and they will simply avoid paying the duty by some convoluted scheme using shell companies and other countries.

I’m not surprised by this question as this was one of the very first questions I asked when I first met our law firm. Look, nobody wants to pay taxes and many of the rich and powerful hire very good accountants to lower and avoid the amount of taxes they pay. The risk of course is if they aren’t careful, they could do something that triggers an audit by the IRS.

What if that audit could be triggered by not just the IRS, but normal people like you and I to make sure that they pay their fair share? Well that might be a pipe dream as far as income and corporate taxes are concerned but in the area of trade law and duties, that’s sort of how it works.

Our law firm mentions this in study on page 18:

Once a year, any party – a domestic industry member, an importer, or an exporter – can request that an importer or exporter’s actual CVD liability be assessed retrospectively for the imports (not the entries) during the prior year.

In other words if a producer is smart enough to avoid paying the duty, anyone can request that the government to review how much they paid. If they didn’t, they’ll have to pay the full amount of subsidies they received.

Oh and I forgot to mention: It’s illegal too.

A common type of duty circumvention has to do with something many commenters expect US studios will do: Open a shell company in a country to hide work that is actually being done in another dutiable country that offers a subsidy.

A customs broker explains that this type of circumvention is commonly called trans-shipment. What’s his advice?

Don’t do it! Don’t even think about it. It is illegal. Importers can and will be prosecuted by the U.S. government.

As an example, the author brings up a recent case that has been dubbed Honeygate where a Chinese Honey producer tried to avoid $180 million in duties by setting up shell companies in proxy countries that normally would not have a duty applied.

The result? On top of having to pay the duty back, the accused were indicted under federal crimes for fraud that charged fines and jail time:

Yang has agreed to the prosecutors’ recommendation for a 74-month prison sentence, imposition of a $250,000 fine and restitution of $2.64 million.

There are also other cases involving circumvention: Solar panels, steel, citric acid, and even tissue paper.

That fact that this evidence exists shows that the CVD route can be a powerful and quick solution to ending the race to the bottom caused by subsidies. Some will argue that US Studios would have an easier time avoiding duties because much of the product travels through the internet.

However I would argue that we would have a relatively easier time applying duties. While I’ve shown above that the annual review is a powerful tool to retrospectively apply CVDs to subsidized visual effects, unlike other industries that have to deal with annual reviews of 100s of importers, our industry is only dealing with six: Universal, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Paramount, Fox, and Disney.

Knowing that this mechanism is in place, put yourself in the shoes of a producer who must determine where the vfx work should go. Would you go through all the trouble to take advantage of subsidies and avoid duties if you knew that a group of domestic VFX professionals would drool at the prospect of having an annual review where you would not only have to pay the subsidies back but face federal crimes, fines, and jail time?

There’s substantial evidence of people who thought they could get away with it and they paid a very hefty price.

Soldier On.

256 Responses to Circumvention Through Hollywood Accounting

  1. Dave S. says:

    I bet other industries are watching what happens here, b/c there’s got to/will be more races to more bottoms in the digital age.

  2. vfxmafia says:

    I thought these were some great articles relevant to this post. Speilberg’s predictions are coming true…..with Avatar, Independance Day 2, Star Wars, Justice League, Pirates 5, Superman, Terminator 4, and Jurassic Park 4 all about to collide….

    4 Reasons 2015 Could Be the Movie Industry’s Worst Year Ever

    Read more: http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/4-reasons-2015-could-be-movie-industrys-worst-year-ever/#ixzz2bJhd90BD
    http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/4-reasons-2015-could-be-movie-industrys-worst-year-ever/

    2015 BOX OFFICE BLOODBATH:

    http://www.imdb.com/list/tTRtfz51NzA/

    How much money does a movie need to make to be profitable?

    http://io9.com/5747305/how-much-money-does-a-movie-need-to-make-to-be-profitable

    • Easy says:

      Hey Hollywood. Here’s an idea. Dial it back..A LOT. Every movie doesn’t need 80 minutes of a whole goddamned city exploding into a trillion bits of steel and glass with smoke and giant goddamned fireballs going off every 2 seconds. For f#@%’s sake. If you cut half of that nonsense out of a film like man of steel it would still be 2x too much. Geez. Try not shooting everything on green screen for a change. Or here’s an idea, does it have to be super ultra photo real? I just wonder, you see something awful like Shark ado, and I’ll be damned it had a huge audience. I wonder how much profit they realized from that. Makes you wonder if the race to the bottom wasn’t also helped along by an inability to say “enough is enough, it doesn’t have to be that good, let’s save 200 million and call it a day”

      • Easy says:

        sharknado… stupid auto correct.

      • jackadullboy says:

        Too true… I watched the original Star Wars in HD minus the added digital excess and I have to admit, seeing all those excellent practical effects (for all their flaws, and to a large extent because of them) was like breathing fresh air for the first time in years…

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m no luddite, but just because you ‘can’ do something doesn’t mean you should. Constraints (and restraint) are a good thing.

        Despite relying on this overuse of VFX for my bread and butter, Man of Steel was the last straw for me. Complete, unmitigated cacophony (visual and auditory) from the outset.

      • Big $exy says:

        Dont u love it when VFX ARTISTS hold the opinion that there should be less VFX in movies. Yes, lets all preach for less work and hence, less jobs in the VFX industry since film studios decide to scale back VFX production.

        Makes perfect sense.

      • Scott Squires says:

        If vfx are poorly used or over used to the point of public fatigue, then the amount of vfx will plunge and all the vfx films will go the way of the western. Better to have studios use them well and as needed to employ a certain level of vfx workers rather than a very short burst with more workers followed by close to zero employment.

      • Easy says:

        Big $exy, yes I advocate for smaller more focused and efficient VFX teams. Ever hear of something called DIMINISHING RETURNS? The definition: “A yield rate that after a certain point fails to increase proportionately to additional outlays of capital or investments of time and labor.” Economics of scale are fine for repetitive production of the same exact thing every single day. It can’t really be applied to something like VFX nearly as efficiently. You are not doing the same exact thing over and over again, EVER. The suits and bean counters don’t realize this, but are surprised when it doesn’t work out the way they thought it would. What is the solution? Not working smarter, throw more money at it and at the same time cut costs. Efficiency falls way behind when you have to have too many people working too many hours just to keep up with a production mentality that doesn’t allow a VFX studio to have the power to limit the amount of pixel-f#@%ing that is allowed to occur. What you end up with is you get what is happening now in our industry, companies going under left and right and people like that one producer who claimed he wasn’t doing his job if he didn’t put a VFX studio out of work on every film.

      • Just Curious says:

        Easy – I could not agree with you more on both of your posts here. Well put! And when 80% of the movie is shot on green screen (as seems to be popular these days), there is NO reason why the VFX shops shouldn’t have more say in the movie making process… Other than the fact that they’ve given it away.

  3. minoton says:

    It’s happened before . . . 1998. The year of ‘Godzilla’ and ‘Armageddon’. If you haven’t read ‘The Gross’ by Peter Bart, it’s fascinating reading.
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Gross-Flops-Summer-Hollywood/dp/0312253915/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375912403&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Gross+peter+bart

  4. Nick says:

    @vfxmafia. I really enjoyed that article and find it compelling. I’m not sure though how it supports the arguments for subsidies to be abolished. Can the work come back to L.A. and be cheaper is the ultimate question. Also I’d really like to hear a thoughtful analysis and breakdown about what a realistic outcome would be if the CVD succeeds. There’s a lot of talk about what needs to be done but I really want to hear some predicted outcomes from people who support it. If the article you’ve cited is potentially correct what outcomes can we expect with the CVD in place? I’m not being a troll I just truly would like to hear peoples “Best scenario” outcomes with the realities of the current market trends which seem to obviously not be able to continue.

    @VFXSoldier If this succeeds where do you realistically see the industry in 5-10 years?

    • VFX Soldier says:

      If the subsidies are properly offset I believe it will level the playing field. From that point on producers will have to account for the real price and that’s where we get to find out who really is the more economically and artistically competitive.

      If it’s the UK, NZ or even India and China for that matter then so be it. However I wouldn’t bet against the artists based at ILM, Digital Domain and Imageworks in California.

      I think what the evidence will reveal is that International VFX in the UK, Canada, Aus, NZ and other subsidized locations isn’t that much cheaper or for that matter probably more expensive than US VFX on a level playing field.

      I know this is blasphemy but I believe VFX isn’t really global, its very local once you eliminate the subsidies. (and by local I mean where its done, not who does it)

      Consider VFX for commercials. Commercials VFX receive no subsidies and grows in California. You’ve had UK companies Framestore and the Mill expand in CA for commercial work.

      • Dave Rand says:

        It’s been my observation that shows demanding advanced cost effectiveness, either from compressed schedules or budgets (like commercials) require live, real time direction. I believe this will soon become standard on feature film work as well.

      • Dave Rand says:

        …and I don’t mean to imply all the work should be done in LA. I believe a vfx world -without- the current subsidy model will drop barriers to entry and help develop creative centers based on talent and branding, There are plenty of those areas around the globe.

        In the future we won’t all be “working for the man”

      • vfxeuropa says:

        Of course it’s global! Don’t offend the good work of so many people! – in Germany, France, Dubai, Poland, India, Shanghai, Beijing etc etc etc!

      • Dave Rand says:

        Global in appearance yes. It’s really an oligopoly.

        No disrespect to any artists but we are working mostly in an artificial market controlled by six studios who’s film divisions are centered and incorporated in Hollywood California. They work in concert with an equally small group of global politicians. I believe the fragility of that design from an artists standpoint becomes very evident when a neighboring politician decides to throw a switch…up or down… That is no way to live or plan a future, a family, or the stability needed to even be creative. Our culture should be based on talent and branding.

        A truly Global industry has centers spread out …well…globally. All competing with each other for the world’s audiences, without any specific control emanating from one nation or group. That has always been the best growth model for any industry.

      • justno says:

        um Australia is in no way shape or form cheap.
        anyone who says that obviously has never lived there.
        very high taxes and wages and cost of living.

    • vfxmafia says:

      Nick,

      To answer your question. I truly do not know what effect the CVD will have on the industry. And I especially can not predict what will happen with Los Angeles. I really don’t know if it will recover.

      I guess my point with the article links about movie market slowdowns….is that the blockbuster film model itself has become unstable on the studio side….(not to mention what is happening on the VFX side). The article “2015 could be the worst year?” article really hit home for me. The article uses Pacific Rim as a case study as a looser movie. It is a movie that I actually worked on for about a year.

      With the giant roster of movies coming out in 2015. I hope one or two lands in Los Angeles. I was fortunate enough to work with Volker Engle and Marc Weigart on “2012”. That movie kept LA working for a year and a half when it was in production. It went to all the shops including Imageworks, DD, RH, Hydraulix, Pixomondo, and Dneg had a piece too. I hope with all the productions with WETA and Dneg pressed to the gills that studios bring a “little” work back to LA.

      The CVD case will take a year maybe two to effect the industry. I hope that we all can hang on till then.

  5. Captain Kewl says:

    How on earth was Godzilla and Armageddon a flop financially.

  6. Captain Kewl says:

    As much as I respected this blog in the past.
    The real question here is, why arent VFX studios standing up to the corporate bullies themselves…This, and this alone is how the industry will reform. Not a whinging blog, which has spent the last few years doing exactly that..coming up with unrealistic solutions, to a problem which clearly as a small group we have little to zero influence over.

    • vfxmafia says:

      I think your a little off about this blog. What you call a “Whining” blog…….has accomplished a lot in just a few years. You would be blown away about the people who read and make comments on this blog. You have supervisors, owners of VFX companies, VFX producers, people that have Academy Awards all read this blog……and The LA Times, Variety, Deadline Hollywood, FX Guide all have referenced this Blog as a first news source. This blog has organized protests on the Academy Awards and held town hall meetings and gets its own press. This blog has exposed shady practices with real life whistler blowers and informs on labor rights and labor laws. It has followers in at least 6 different countries and has its own law firm fighting for it….Its galvanized the Union and the V.E.S. and….. is the birthplace of the first ever VFX Trade Association that (in the future, who knows? )may make the VFX industry a cool place to work again.

      About your question about corporate bullies? I thought the VFX studios were the corporate bullies? The CVD will take time but it will influence what happens in VFX over the next decade. (won or lost)

      • vfxmafia says:

        I might be a little harsh on the VFX studios. They are doing what they have to do to survive (even if it is sometimes at the expense of the artists that work for them). Maybe with time this will change as well…..

      • Just A Thought says:

        VFXSoldier has put its (your) money where its mouth is. VFXSoldier deserves lots of praise for walking the walk.

        Part of the ‘whiner’ remarks which often have appeared on this and other sites is the reflection of two things. The first is that, maybe the industry has arbitrarily called the Oscar show ‘The Tipping Point, yet so many of these issues have existed for years and years with frequent, but stalled efforts to make any consensus improvements. This is not a new problem. It has been growing exponentially for the last several years.

        Okay, the second reason that folks may call this ‘whining’ is the tone of much of the dialogue leading up to this point. For far too many years, the circle blame game has been a huge distraction. Blaming everyone sooner or later has had some seriously negative impact. For example, while the industry through its various ‘spokespeople’ has demanded respect, it has simultaneously and repeatedly slammed the studios. And so, naturally to be proactive to this turmoil in LA/California, the studios expanded their global footprint even faster as they prepared for this “Tipping Point”.

        I don’t think anyone disputes the real troubled times that the visual effects industry in LA/California are experiencing with little evidence of any kind of consensus solutions in spite of years of what is perceived by many as lots of ‘whining’ with little real concrete results.

        And, that is really the issue. And, unfortunately, the lack of real meaningful action has left many to perceive this as just ‘whining in the wind’. Why can’t the visual effects industry agree on anything which might actually have some positive impact? There is still no union, no trade organization, etc. The only consensus is that things are really bad. In fact, I wonder if anyone is really listening anymore. Most all of you notice the blogging has not been growing. Often it appears to be gaining less attention except for the usual group of participants.

        Like it or not…there is certainly some truth in this statement. No consensus…no possibility of real action. With meaningful consensus…the ‘whining’ accusations will disappear very quickly.

        Just a thought, but kudos to all who are working so hard to find a consensus for action. Hope something happens soon as with each passing day the problem just gets worse.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Good point I sometimes wonder why people come on my whiny blog to whine about studios not doing anything. Ever wonder if they tacitly support this blog? I heard Digital Domain sent my feasibility study: To. Everyone. At. The. Company.

      • Nick says:

        There should be no argument that your blog has drawn much needed attention to the plight of the common vfx worker and I commend this blog for that. There are differences in opinions, fights and real dialogue in your blog. The regular vfx artist can duke it out or share opinions with industry leaders and legends. This blog has done more to promote a common cause than others or at least drawn the most attention to it. Whether you agree with it or not this blog has brought attention to something we all believe in. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t care.

    • mattD says:

      @Captain Kewl

      And I guess you would have told Rosa Parks to stop wasting her time and just get off the bus…

      The current situation relies on apathy. It’s a millenia old business model. Tell people they are useless and worthless enough times and eventually they will believe it become a quiet slave. There are plenty of women stuck in awful marriages because they are told they are usless and worthless everyday be a moronic husband. The fable of Rapunzel is thousands of years old, this story has been around for a long time.

      Who cares if no work ever comes back to LA? At least if the playing field is level and you know you gave it your best shot, well that’s just life if you fall short. That is easy to deal with.

      Shady ‘phoney money’ shell companies and offshore caribean banking and finance firms circling the vfx business is not a bright future for anyone. Why let them do it? Why not make them pay back something from ill gotten gains? Because everytime they succeed in scams, the worse your life will get whatever you do for a living. They are blood sucking parasites whose aim is to use bribery, corruption and imaginary computer money to make you work ever harder for ever less to give ever more to them.

  7. scathie says:

    Yeah, let’s impose duties and tariffs.

    How about your disband the MPAA first?

    • vfxmafia says:

      Scathie,

      What does Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have to do with the Visual Effects Industry? Film production and post production are two different things.

      • scathie says:

        “What does Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have to do with the Visual Effects Industry?”

        Ask around or think about it a bit. Once you realize how unjust it is to have a state backed cartel crushing foreign industries, then maybe the idea that the workers in those markets use tax policy to lure service work to their jurisdictions will start to make sense to some of the more frequent posters to this website.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        “The MPAA crushed our ability to make films, so in order to make films, we’ve paid them a ransom.”

      • vfxmafia says:

        $463 million in subsidy money can buy alot of Canadian films….so why does the BC government give money to American studios so they can do their VFX cheaper? Whats worse is there is not enough Canadian VFX artists to the job and they have import foreign VFX workers…..

        I wouldn’t point fingers at the MPAA for destroying your film industry….its more like the BC government.

        The Motion Picture Association of America go after royalties, box office receipts, copy right infringement and do censor ratings. So what does the MPAA have to do with Visual Effects again?

      • vfxmafia says:

        Here is a great article…titled “Why are so many movies still being shot in Canada?” (sounds like you have a bustling film industry with 1,500 US movies and TV shows shot in Canada every fucking year).

        http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/the_hollywood_economist/2006/02/northern_expenditure.html

      • scathie says:

        “I wouldn’t point fingers at the MPAA for destroying your film industry”

        Then you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

      • deanareeno says:

        @vfxmafia I don’t know what the current statistics are, but you should be aware that the article you pointed to is from 2006 — it’s 7 years old.

      • vfxmafia says:

        To: deanareeno

        I apologize about the old article. But the film stats should be comparable to today if not more. Toronto is just behind NY and LA for film production.

        Here are some stats I can not forget. In 2011 BC alone spent $100 million in film subsidys. In 2012 $437 million and in 2013 numbers come in at….$380 million. With close to $1 billion in subsidies in 3 years canidate Adrian Nix promises to raise BC subsidies to %40. Ontatio hovers at 35% and Quebec is now at fucking %45.

        http://opinion.financialpost.com/2013/04/18/lights-camera-film-subsidies/

        The postings that MPAA is to blame for all the Canadian film industries problems is the biggest stinking pile of bullshit I ever smelt. BC alone spends $1 billion over 3 years which could buy a chunk of the film industry. (They could have put a down payment on the Star Wars franchise for that kind of money).

        Sure the MPAA has got a lock on film distribution in Canada. But there are number of problems why Canadas film industry sucks an egg. One, your budgets suck. Two, a lot the money you do get is subsidy money. Producers were allowed to take their production fees out of production costs….which gave them no incentive to make profit driven productions. Canadian producers take there fees and move on. Three, make something else besides documentary. Four, half the Canadian movie audience would rather see a US movie and the other half would rather see a French movie. Five, stop competeing against your own Provences. The US has 2 cities that make most of the movies….NY and LA thats it. Six, your movies generally suck with exception of Porky’s and Meatballs.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Oh…and the MPAA has nothing to do with VFX….so why does Scathie keep bringing it up?

  8. VfxGeneral says:

    Quite frankly this “little blog” may think it’s important and with blowhards like Dave Rand puffing up his chest every other day to rant on here (maybe it makes him feel better). But the REALITY is that every day more work goes to New Zealand, London, Montreal, China, India, and yes, Vancouver. This has become a blog of LA artists ranting to other LA artists about how bad their industry has become and blaming everyone else. And guess what, the rest of us stopped listening long ago.

    The rest of us have sucked it up, moved around the world to where the work is, and taken care of our families. Yeah, I’m sorry that you don’t get to stay in Los Angelese and keep your little house and nice picket fence. But wake up. It’s 2013. It’s a GLOBAL business. Tariffs, fighting the WTO, and all the other protectionist nonsense that gets posted here on a daily basis is just that. Nonsense. I can guarantee you that the VFX Sups, Directors, and artists going around the world every day to work on these films could give a crap about the whining on here. So keep doing feasibility studies, and hiring lawyers, and having town hall meetings. If DD handed out your feasbility study to its employees it was only as toilet paper because they weren’t able to pay the cleaners this week after being bought by yet another Chinese company.

    The bottom line is that the only way to compete in a global market is to offer a better product at a better price. Or make your own movies and sell them on demand or on kickstarter. But if you want to play in THIS Studio game, with these players, you aren’t setting the rules. Now or ever. They’ll take the work wherever they can get the most bang for the buck. Period. And no WTO tariff or taxes or anything else is bringing that work back to Los Angeles just because “it’s not fair”. Life ain’t fair bro. Grow up and play the game or you might as well just move on. Soldier On. Rant away Mr Rand, yet another pathetic hypocrite who lines his pockets with BC Taxpayer subsidies working at DD Vancouver and then rallies the troops against the same subsidies. Point out how much good you’ve done to offset the hypocrisy in everything you argue against. You guys make me sick.

    • minoton says:

      “The bottom line is that the only way to compete in a global market is to offer a better product at a better price. Or make your own movies and sell them on demand or on kickstarter. ”

      Or if 1.) and 2.) don’t work, have your government buy your work for you.

    • vfxmafia says:

      VFX general…

      Why do you waste your time coming on this sight? Why do you hurl insults at well respected artists? I would have a discourse with you…but your statements are so inaccurate, miss informed, and full of insults….that have to treat you like the adolescent “internet troll” that you are.

    • Just A Thought says:

      Hey VfxGeneral,

      Your post reminds me of Patton slapping the ‘injured’ soldier in the hospital telling him to go back and fight. Of course, Patton got slapped around, too, for his actions as, I fear, you may be scorned for making this statement.

      The truth is extremely hard to accept as evidenced by the LA/California visual effects industry as it currently exists with its rudderless leadership sailing around in circles while indicating to all, “if we stick together… all will get better”. The problem is… they were never ‘together’ in the first place.

      Sadly, I think you are spot on.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Vfxgenerals comment is why comments like these will always allow free and anonymous commenting: this motivates people.

      It doesn’t motivate people to be apathetic, I think it motivates them to support my cause.

      Notice what he wrote? Absolutely nothing. Just an attack on a commenter who is public and no substance whatsoever.

      No attempt to argue against the merits of what me and the law firm have worked on.

      Sure maybe he hasn’t been here for months but what brought him here? Someone sent a link to this post around. He got angry to see what I was up to. Why? Because it has a very good chance of working.

      Thank you VFXGeneral. Thank you.

      • Easy says:

        My thoughts exactly. Obviously the “GENERAL” here thinks oh so very highly of himself and the tone, well that is just precious. All worked up and angry… Fearful perhaps? Maybe he has a good thing going somewhere and just wants to keep it that way. Or he’s so pissed off he had to pick up and move he doesn’t want anyone else to not share in his misery. Either way, it was entertaining. Calling Dr. Freud…

    • hector says:

      you don’t look like a sick person…but I think you are.
      Thanks to you a, race to the bottom is open.

    • VFXLady says:

      VfxGeneral, your information is wrong. You obviously don’t work at Digital Domain.

    • Rob says:

      Sounds to me like it is really you who needs a reality check. I have ONLY worked outside of the USA and still, every other person in the industry I talk to reads this blog regularly. Because nobody in their right mind loves to be exploited. And this blog isn’t “just” about fighting for the work to keep from moving around but other exploitative issues as well. I guess you have forgotten the many posts about unpaid overtime or e.g. the report on Prime Focus in India, which even people who don’t read this blog regularly know about.
      Oh no wait, I’m sorry – you probably know about all that but just “sucked it up”. Well, keep on sucking. Because there’s a whole lot more to come.

  9. VfxGeneral says:

    vfxmafia.

    #1 – I don’t come on this site. As I thought I made clear I stopped reading this site long ago. Someone posted a link for me today and I happened to end up here. But I haven’t read this site on a regular basis for 6 months ever since it became the “Norma Rae” for LA based artists against the world.

    #2 – Dave Rand is only “well respected” as an activist rabble-rouser because he plays up to all of your fears and insecurities about this industry. The TRUTH is that he took a job at DD Vancouver, put money from BC Taxpayer subsidies in his pockets for a year, and then headed back to California to complain about how bad said subsidies are. THATS the truth. So please don’t tell me that I am mis informed. I’ve been in this business over 20 years and worked with Dave Rand and probably half the people posting here. So I’m neither a “troll”, nor “adolescent”. I just think he’s a hypocrite. Sorry. I’m entitled to my opinion. You can worship the guy all you want because you think he’s “standing up for the industry” but some of you need to look behind the curtain a little more and question what you’re being told. Or not. Keep villifying Vancouver and every other place the work is going and isolate yourselves from the rest of the Global vfx workforce even more. You can all sit in LA and enjoy watching the work leave while you complain and hire lawyers all day long. Your choice. It’s typical entitled American attitude, where if you don’t get what you want you hire lawyers and start suing people. Have at it mate. It’s working great for you guys so far, eh?

    You whine and whine about how unfair work leaving California is. But you know what? There are GREAT VFX Artists in London, New Zealand, and Vancouver that want that work just as much as you do. And here’s the other big secret no one wants to talk about. The artists there are JUST as good as the ones in LA if not better. This is a GLOBAL business. Where you live has NOTHING to do with it. The Studios go where the tax breaks are best. PERIOD. End of story. Unless you stop all subsidies around the world and get rid of cheap labor in India, China, and wherever it’s going to crop up you’re tilting at windmills.

    Master your craft. Hone your skills. Become the best vfx artist in the world and the work and the money will come your way. You can still make a very good living doing what we do. Or sit in LA with other have-been washouts like Dave Rand and complain and whine about the state of the industry and cry “poor me”. Again, your choice. I’m out, and you can flame away cuz I won’t be here reading it.

    • Look at the big picture says:

      Not trying to make this an old school vs. new school debate but… the kids we have to deal with in this industry today. Sheesh. Not all of them mind you, but enough of them. Full of bluster and short on results. You’ll fit right in. It’s your industry now, have at it. Take no prisoners or whatever.

    • vfxmafia says:

      General:
      Hey big man I dare you to post your real name…and make such big statements.

    • hector says:

      ” I’m out, and you can flame away cuz I won’t be here reading it”.
      Then, stay out and shut up! You are an imbecile like so many I worked with…

    • VFXLady says:

      If you read between lines, I think VfxGeneral is about anti-Americanism more than anything else. Anyway, it’s good to have opinions such as these out in the open, as ugly as they are. There are those who root against Los Angeles and the US very much and it seems like many of those people hide behind the “Global Industry” argument, ironic.

    • Big $exy says:

      Thats comical.

      The best in the industry either work in California or are from there. Nearly everyone who has worked at a studio in Cali that has a Vancouver branch has complained that they have had to fix work from Vancouver artists before cuz it isnt up-to-par.

      Second, youre going to be singing an entirely different tune once Vancouver dries up and Montreal steals all of the work. Well see how cocky you are then.

  10. Just A Thought says:

    @vfxmafia,

    Grow Up. You perfectly represent the problems VFXGeneral outlines with your childish, unprofessional and absolutely not moving the needle attitude.

    Your responses illustrate the endless emotional dialogue world in which you live while not fully embracing the reality in which you live.

    This is the reason you are where you are, and again sadly, many of your contemporaries are in the same place.

    Who cares what his reel is? It only matters that he has an opinion about these issues, and expresses himself quite well.

    End of discussion.

    • vfxmafia says:

      I’d pay $500 to see your IMDB page too…

      • Just A Thought says:

        Maybe, if you ask really nicely, I will reveal my anonymity as “Just A Thought”, if you reveal who vfxmafia is?

        And, my IMDB or reel don’t meet a damn thing, yet I am rather confident that my credentials will certainly be acceptable in this arena…even to you.

        The only thing I regret about this post is that you have brought me down to your level. Okay, in this one instance, I will make a one time aberration and play in your sandbox as long as all reading this fully understand..this is just some totally unimportant sideline crap.

        You don’t have to pay anything to know who I am…other than who are you?

        And, you know, I feel cheapened doing this response.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Just a thought:

        Look for every posting I make….I have like 3 Canadian artists telling me what an “asshole” I am….or “how much I deserve to be laid off” or how much American VFX artists suck.

        If it is not “Vfxgeneral”, its “Meinvan” or “QT” or someone else.

        All I ask if your gonna make postings insulting LA VFX or Dave Rand or me or what “bullshit this blog is”….have the decency to put your name behind it. Anonymity is powerful thing on the internet and alot of people hide behind it.

        It seems like your trying to have a discussion unlike VfxGeneral. Peace be with you….and go about your way….I forgive you.

        Im off to my “lower level” now….

  11. Eyes says:

    To vfx mafia and vfxgeneral. Your debate as degraded to a level of maturity that is very low. I have never posted it anything here, but I look at things now then.

    But aside the ranting, you both make good points. VFX is a global business whether you like it or not. and calling people hypocrite here is childish and shows lack of understand of human realities. Even though Dave Rand or others takes a job in vancouver they are just swimming the flow for survival. Going against it is counter productive. It doesn’t mean that you can’t influence the way you swim and or about dealing with the flow. I think this the approach that those people try to address and solve the issues.

    I am Canadian, been doing vfx for over 7 years now as a matte painter and concept artist. I believe I am pretty strong artist compared to my peers. (I’d be happy to provide a link to some of my work but privately only if people the see a sample). I started when the bandwagon of easy money as a vfx artist was at its end. When I first learned about vfx, I was surprise of the low amount of qualification and degree required in order for you to get a job in LA. Sometimes just knowing the software could land you a job of more than 100k a year after only 2 or 3 years of experience back the late 90s. I am an industrial designer by training and within it I’ve learned how project should be managed and planned. Now project as so poorly managed and incompetency as seeps in at all levels that even within ourselves the problems is compounded. Now its a necessity that you are actually good at what your doing, not about what softwares you know.

    I support the idea of trade law leveling of competition in california not so much that it will benefit californian on the short term. But it will constitute as a basis and template for the rest of the world in terms of dealing with business practice that the hollywood studios and associate does. If you look at other industries, such as medical/scientific or even engineering companies and the amount of lawsuit that throw at each other, its make think twice before stealing intellectual properties and abuse. (not counting the huge of money as penalties that they payout because of their business practice justifying the international law business practice)

    Its not perfect, and some do get away, but the fact that some of them a scared will diminish the abuse and playing field. Subsidies won’t disappear but it will be more controllable.

    One issue that is hardly discussed though mentioned is the amount of newly trained student from school trying to enter the industry. I’ve worked long enough to know that most of them are incompetent, and this not due to lack of experience. Its the fact that their personality and profile doesn’t match what a good vfx artist should be. This in itself put pressure at devaluation of the value of our professional standard. Overtime is required on crunch time, but often now overtime is due to the fact that a lot of individuals are not good at what their doing or human resources are not well distributed. I came by so often fixing others people problem who took 2 weeks to work on with multiple individuals and I fixed it under 1 or 2 days with a great deal of stress. And that I am sick of it. Our last project of matte and art department became patch artists for the whole company. We were the only department that was on time on preassigned work because our team was strong with 4 strong seniors and 1 junior and we were creative a solving our problems.

    AND THIS is half the reason why work condition brakes down. Due to the fact that studio in their desire to have low cost are willing to gamble more and more at hiring unproven, cheaper and incompetent individuals. Teams gets big its becomes near impossible to establish a culture of efficiency and smart work ethic. The common denominator is lowered. Instead of hiring good artist who are smart and have a strong eyes and hides themselves with technical prerogative, pipeline and render issues. The reason is simple, they hope that by prepackaging thing technically they expect that the quality of work will even out compensating incompetency. But its doesn’t work that way.

    Other older profession proceeds in guarantying the quality and value their professional by having a trade association that actually license and enforce schools and individuals to pass examination before being allowed to work in the field. Like like doctor, lawyers, engineers, architects and etc. I think that such thing will help at allowing retention of quality of work and candidates. I am not certain how this should proceed but it will definitely empower the vfx professional and ensure that we can get the best people to handle the challenges during production and at the negotiating table. I cannot see any other way that proceeding with international business law.

    • vfxmafia says:

      to eyes:

      Hmmm…a matte painter…..with 7 years experience and Canadian??!!

      I could probably make a guess at your real name….(there is not to many well known Canadian matte painters with 7 years of experience). But I digress..

      Thank for making an articulate and intelligent positing. Let it be said I actually agree very much with your posting. Thanks for keeping the insults to a minimum.

  12. love this shit says:

    I wont throw insults but have wondered about things suggested by people like Dave R and others.

    1. Having directors in the same location issues.
    First off how many directors live in LA to be able to be in the VFX office every day? Or are you asking to displace directors and there families to LA for the good of VFX artists?

    2. Who has final approval ?
    How many directors have final approval in reality? Anyone who worked on a fox show was always excited by the Tom Rothman note you got after the director. And fox are not the only ones. Only a few of the top directors have final approval, Cameron, Jackson, Lucas, Spielberg. With this in mind who is on hand to give personal feedback to the artists as wanted by Dave.

    3. Weta
    I keep hearing people dis weta suggesting they get work because of subsidies. Thats hogwash. THey get work because of the work they produced and I would say the best along with ILM. They get alot of work because there owner chooses to use his crew and then his friends want Weta to help make there films. Avatar went to weta less because of money but more to do with they had the technology and dev team to help focus that film. Cameron was so impressed he is making his sequels there. That says a lot about how weta treat there clients.

    Look at other facilities like sony that is owned by a studio. I have wondered why they are not feeding work to image works. How many sony films get made at sony. not as many as they should.

    • vfxmafia says:

      to love this shit:
      1. Cinesync is here to stay unfortunately. I wish asset creation like model, texture, look dev could be done remotely. Imagine if all the top modelers, painters, and look dev could work from home? All you need is to hear a recording and send out turntables.
      2. Very few directors have power
      3. WETA is the top shop along with ILM hands down

  13. Loving VFX In Spite Of It All says:

    I have a hunch about vfxgeneral… in fact, based on some of the writing, I may know this person personally. “Life ain’t fair bro” sounds like someone I know, and the irony is that he is American and works (or worked) at DD. He also threw in “eh,” which is spoken by Canadians sometimes, but mostly that’s a stereotype. Maybe he watched SCTV back in the early 80s. So you may have a native of LA trying to rouse the rabble by pretending to be Canadian for some reason. Maybe an obvious reason.

    But vfxgeneral did reference one interesting thing maybe someone here can shed some light on: was that Feasibility Study actually handed out to everyone at DD? Not many copies needed, for sure. But WHEN was it handed out? Before or after July 26th?
    As recently released DDer, I’m curious…. timing is everything, some say…

  14. Loving VFX In Spite Of It All says:

    Interesting. Would it be a good guess that the executive has moved on?

  15. DDer says:

    This is a bunch of b.s. I got no email about this study. DD has been going down the tubes for years. Our renders look like dog shit. Did you see that Jeff Bridges face in Tron?! Plus we don’t even do test renders and we dick off for weeks! No wonder! We act like we’re all entitled and elitist here in LA. Yet we’re busy working on another live performance for an eastern country.

    I see the writing on the wall. I am here still because I am great at politics, not because I am good at what I do.

    So many at dd are the same, hanging on til we die. Well we’re dead guys! Rose Cafe is about to be a lot less busy.

    The work went away because we are expensive, political oriented assholes. All the great artists left or got canned. Those of us left are just better talkers.

    My plan is to move to Vancouver or London. A breath of fresh would be nice. Venice beach is toxic anyways, can’t even surf anymore.

    • VFXLady says:

      I don’t believe you are a DD person at all. “Dick off for weeks???” What dept are you in? That’s almost impossible. And if you are “dicking off” then you need to be removed big time. You are not a better talker, I can assure you that. I think you should move. Sorry but this makes me very angry someone I work with having so little pride in what they do.

    • Loving VFX In Spite Of It All says:

      Baloney! “Better talkers?” “don’t even do test renders?” Tron had versions of shots and assets that were v100 and higher. I know; I was there working on it. Yeah, the Rose Cafe will be less busy, but come on, that shit is preordained. DD’s lease will be up on 300 Rose. They’ll move everyone to Playa. Its a small space, I know, I was there too. If they succeed, it will be too small and they will start the whole mess again in a new larger space when LA gets busy once more. And it will. Moviegoers will suffer some bad vfx first for a year or two.

    • Paul says:

      Can you buy one of those industrial lofts on main with a DD pay?
      I’d really like to know who’s the clientellllllle….

      • Loving VFX In Spite Of It All says:

        Probably not, especially if the rumor I heard about another round of larger paycuts for whomever is still with DD. But those lofts are junk anyway and Venice is overrated. Sure it ‘nice,’ but so are other parts of the city.

  16. Michael says:

    The point I seem to be missing here is if the studios are using shell corporations and subsidies to skirt taxes then why is their talent still going unpaid and studios, like R&H shutting down? Are they avoiding paying their own talent too and simply reopen in a new country, new name and do it all over again? If so then the level of corruption has gotten way out of control

    • Hector says:

      It all about the money… And where money is, corruption is there, make no mistake about it.

    • Loving VFX In Spite Of It All says:

      Does anyone know if R&H has actually shut down its El Segundo office? I heard rumors about people still there working without pay. And the other day I heard similar about DD with some payed and some not. Does anyone know whats really happening at both of these places?

    • VFX_Reckoning says:

      Yeah, it would be nice to hear from more artists about what has been going on in L.A. recently. From what I gather there still isn’t much work. (I heard Pixomondo has been bringing people into their Los Angeles branch, but they are only hiring foreign workers with visas. Isn’t that a nice kick in the nuts for the all the unemployed American citizens.) Are there any shops staffing up yet?

  17. Loving VFX In Spite Of It All says:

    I think it may be the right time to leave the vfx biz, especially if there IS no biz in the usa. Things in LA could get ugly, particularly now that there is an oversupply of talent mixed with some desperation. Stick with commercials till these issues settle out, I say.

    • VFX_Reckoning says:

      People can’t stick with commercials either, freelancing isn’t sustainable in Los Angeles. I know a few guys who have only been able to book a couple short term (week long) freelance gigs in the last 6 months.

      • Loving VFX In Spite Of It All says:

        Yikes! That is awful. I hope people are able to supplement their income during this.

  18. Big $exy says:

    As ive said before, its Cali vs everyone else.
    I fully support an end to subsidies and will support VFX soldier in his efforts to stop them.

    Those in Canada/Europe and anywhere with a socialized VFX industry should support them for the sake of self-preservation (after-all, there is really no other reason these studios are doing vfx work in your cities). In-the-end, the subsidies will either stay or disappear.

    • Jackadullby says:

      Ah, you use that word “socialized” in a way that betrays your political stance. I’m guessing you may be against ‘socialized’ healthcare too, and big government?

      While I am in favor of eliminating subsidies from the equation, these discussions to seem to lean towards the dogma that the invisible hand of the markets will take care of all, if governments and regulatory bodies would simply get out if the way.

      Furthermore, it just seems to me our western economies have all been “subsidized” in one way or another by the rest of the world, in a sense, via rather exploitative and lopsided trade practices. There is no free market. Never has been.

      • vfxmafia says:

        My big question…is Where did a small province of 4.4 million people like BC….get almost half a billion dollars in tax revenue to just throw away. In 2011 they gave $100 million then in 2012 $437 million. Must be all that “Tar Sands” money.

        Oh wait they are taking it from your own healthcare….

        “It’s arithmetic. And the arithmetic of taxpayers subsidizing the film industry is failing. B.C. taxpayers lose money on film. In 2012, BC spent $437 million on film subsidies, six times as much as in 2005, but virtually the same amount of production happened in B.C.—$1.2 billion. With every conceivable tax spinoff counted, B.C.’s treasury likely lost $220 million or more—money that should have gone to education, health care or tax cuts.”

      • vfxmafia says:

        and Finance Minister Mike de Jong…said:

        “The B.C. government expects to pay out $380 million this year in subsidies for film and TV labour.”

        I the last 3 years that is $917 million. (Almost a billion dollars) in free fricking money. That could buy an entire film industry….or be used for one HUGE tax cut or maybe spent on that free health care you guys have.

      • vfxmafia says:

        In 2012/13 the film tax incentives cost BC $331 million. BC collects less than $100 million in income/sales taxes from all film workers, production companies and secondary vendors. Needless to say, those income taxes barely cover the services (BC spends an average of $8,000 per capita per year) consumed by film workers and their families.

        The average BC film worker has 50% of his wage paid by the taxpayer. The argument that he pays that subsidy back in income tax is beyond stupid.

        I wish %50 of my salary was free handouts from the government!

      • minoton says:

        Meanwhile, east downtown Vancouver is a ‘Zombieland’ of homelessness, addicted, and destitute. I’m sure they’d rather have their housing paid for with the subsidy dollars rather than the Malibu beach house of some studio exec.

      • mmmmm says:

        I guess you could liken it to foreign aid that benefits the local population. Whilst 380 million is alot I am sure the total expenditure is far greater into the local economy.

        Perhaps the US could withhold the 37 billion dollars they give in foreign and military aid and instead provide free healthcare to its citizens ???

      • minoton says:

        Seriously? You’re equating hundreds of millions of dollars of corporate welfare (aka subsidies to the rich) to foreign aid?! It has been shown many times over that the returns on subsidies are pennies on the dollar. I suppose we could withhold just a billion of that aid just to spend more on film subsidies than the next country, right?

      • vfxmafia says:

        To mmmm…

        “I am sure the total expenditure is far greater into the local economy.”

        If you read the quotes and stats I wrote……

        1. BC likely lost $220 million in 2012
        2. The average BC film worker has 50% of his wage paid by the taxpayer.
        3. BC collects less than $100 million in income/sales taxes but spent $437 in hand outs…

      • vfxmafia says:

        “Welfare for the whole Canadian film workforce would cost just half as much as the current provincial subsidy package!”

      • Big $exy says:

        Im against a socialized industry that creates an artificial advantage for any specific market. Either way, its unrealistic to expect any government to be able to indefinitely support something as petty as the film industry. Enjoy the train ride while you can, because it will be leaving Vancouver very soon.

        Next stop, Montreal.

    • Hector says:

      I do support him. And i am from Canada.

  19. mattD says:

    Part of the problem is the narrative sold to voters by the politicians in european and north american nations. Take for example the UK. Ever remember that movie ‘the full monty’? One of those low budget classic movies that comes out of the british film industry every so often that sells massively across the world box offices.

    The background to that movie, by the writer, was how at the period in the uk, whole areas of industrial economies and cities that were built on heavy industry and mining were swept away within a few years. In the name of free trade and anti-subsidy. So a former industrial city, sheffield, in the north of england, where full monty was set, resulted in once skilled workers turning to stripping to try and earn a living. Hsave a look at some of the old youtube footage of this era – the uk seemed close to civil war with all the civil unrest brewing.

    Just like everywhere, the politicians sell a story that all the old industry can be done cheaper elsewhere and that the future is computing, entertainment, import-export. Well, prbably because polticians get back handers from eastern factory and industry owners. Anyways, it doesn’t work when its based on backhanders, so places like vancouver and london merely switched subsidies from mining, shipbuiling and manufacture into things like vfx production. But they can then point at that and say ‘look, we are now doing vfx, film making and computing instead, like we said’…. except the massives subsidies are played down, and in the uk they wil say, look, we give all this subsidy to soho vfx frms s they can hel make the next full monty, r28 days later or train spotting, not the realty that the subsidies chase us stdo marvel superhero comicbook movies, that have nothing to do with ‘ cultural fundibg’ or supporting local talent.

    C’mon already with the first case against these trade violators!

    • vfxmafia says:

      MattD:

      That was an insightful recap on UK trade policy.

      Something similar happened with Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s. Reagan sided with industrialists and decided to break the back of the Unions. Reagan opened the US doors to the Japanese auto industry. Basically throwing Detroit and the US auto inudstry to the unprotected International market.

      Margret Thatcher had her own version of the Reagan anti-union policy.

      One country which we could learn from is Germany. (Europe’s leading economy). Germany let say has domestic toys sell for $40….and China makes them for $10 each….Germany will put a tax on the China toy to sell them in Germany for $41. Thus protecting Germany and domestic Industry.

      Trade policy’s sometimes favor labor or domestic business or sometimes the protect the international companies that can pay the politicians off.

    • Tom Atkin says:

      Hey mattD,

      This comment is not about the pros and cons of subsidies. It is about the Brits listening.

      Many, many years ago a member of Parliament tasked with building and supervising the film industry came to visit. As founder of the new Visual Effects Society, and being somewhat naive, at our meeting I inquired why the UK subsidies covered only production?

      And you know what, not long thereafter postproduction/visual effects were included.

      Again, whether good or bad is not the point here. The point is they saw the future and acted to get a piece of the pie. And, by all accounts, production and post production are doing rather well in the UK.

  20. vfxer says:

    NY spends millions in subsidies to create 173 post prod jobs. These subsidies must go too.

  21. pixie. says:

    I am settled in Canada now. Subsidies and tax incentives make the world go around. They always have and I am happy here. It’s a great place.

    • vfxmafia says:

      Wait till the work dries up…..and you come on forums like this one in a few years and have VFX artists from other countries……make quaint little postings while you try to the rent…for your great little place.

    • Just Curious says:

      I made a post similar to yours a few years ago about living in New Mexico. A lot of us liked it here but when Sony left, most people had to leave to find a job. I stayed and bailed on the industry which was always the plan. I just feel very fortunate that the plan worked out.

      • pixie says:

        Pft. So I’ll rent my place and move. Big deal. It’s a global industry.

      • Easy says:

        How old are you Pixie? Are you Married? If so, does your significant other have a career of his or her own? Do you have children?

        Maybe you don’t have anyone, maybe you really don’t even like your family. Some people do.

        Name one other global industry that makes their people pick up and move every 2 years.

      • Ymir says:

        Pixie, nice that you have control over your life.

  22. mattD says:

    @tom aitken

    But is uk vfx doing that great? If you look at the subsidies and political bluster? Some people denied it, but dneg was in serious trouble a while back. Mpc is basically a french not british company that did fall into administration in 2009 and went through corporate restructure. As
    Did cinesit a few years back. Framestore took a bloody nose in failed animation features about five years ago and were also making large scale layoffs just a year or ago. And who does it benefit, apart from the private company owners who have no sharholders to pay and can directly pocket the subsidies. Most of the staff are short term overseas temps. Most of their major high tech technology is foreign produced and bought in, not domestically created. Dneg just copied ilm’s visual fx pipeline using prof. Rob brisdon’s

  23. mattD says:

    Contd…
    In his re naiadd days, paid him to recreate something similar, think he was uni socal those days. Mpc license scanline technolgy supprt. Framestore furry creature technolgy was a mostly swedish effort. The owners are the only big domestic winners in all this. And how stable is it to rely on usstudio comic book character movies? Surely if domestic writers were the source, it would all be more sustainable. Its built on sand.

    • vfxmafia says:

      I dunno ……what I hear Dneg has 9 movies right now….
      and if you see the list of blockbusters coming up….chances are the majority of shots will go to UK……

      • Tom Atkin says:

        I tend to agree with vfxmafia (alert the media). DNeg has grown exponentially over the past decade and it appears that Star Wars/ILM will have a big presence, plus other work was flowing through the UK. Certainly, there have been holes to fill with the end of Harry Potter, but those folks operating efficiently and creatively appear to be doing okay or better. And if comic books wear out, some other tentpole franchises will be developed. VFX certainly benefits from the Super Hero films, but filmmakers will find other stories as the market requires, and there will be lots of visual effects.

        Granted, over time only those mid size and boutique companies will survive with excellent management now and into the future.

        Also, the studio facility business (production) has consolidated, and is seeking to expand and/or already has.

        The subsidies encourage the work to be done in London/UK. The only time the government announced it was cutting back on post subsidies…the work left like rats on a sinking ship. It was quickly announced that all would stay in place, and the work returned for the most part.

        And, it may ‘be built on sand’, but their view from the beach right now looks good compared to most other locations.

        I mean, with all due respect to my friends in London, it ain’t the weather and climate which brings the work there.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Tom….Im a big fan. Thanks for what you do (and have done).

      • Nick says:

        vfxmafia is that you? Tell me your handle has been hi-jacked?

      • vfxmafia says:

        What??!

        I have a deep respect for the old school VFX guys….I think Tom came from an era when this industry had some class. And he did alot for the community. I’d say the same things about Scott Ross, Scott Squires…John Knoll etc….these types of guys are why I went into the business…..

  24. Nick says:

    My interpretations of Toms post don’t seem to be anti-subsidy. Correct me if I’m wrong:

    You: Tom….Im a big fan. Thanks for what you do (and have done).

    “….I inquired why the UK subsidies covered only production?

    And you know what, not long thereafter postproduction/visual effects were included.”

    “And, by all accounts, production and post production are doing rather well in the UK.”

    “And, it may ‘be built on sand’, but their view from the beach right now looks good compared to most other locations.”

    Just didn’t seem to line up with your hard lined narrative of previous posts.

    @Tom not trying to exclude you in this post and speak of you like you’re not there. Apologies.

    • Tom Atkin says:

      @Nick,

      No problem.

      Perhaps, this might help. This particular blog, VFXSoldier has made admirable advances to seeking an end to subsidies.

      The issue I was commenting about is my observation of many years and the impact subsidies have had and are having on production/post production in the UK. Certainly, the way I outlined them indicates support for subsidies.

      Here is the problem, and it is a whopper. On one hand, we have the moral and fairness of competition in a global marketplace. This dialogue is made more complex and diffused because of the reality in which the global political world resides. Subsidies in one form or another have existed, do exist, and most likely, will continue to exist. If the legal plan actually worked and the funds were there to pay the vast amounts to follow this case from start to finish through all appeals, the world will figure out a way, if it wants to, to work around this. I live in the real world right now. I no longer trust Wall St. nor do I believe government will ever do the right things if they do not meet with the agenda of the powers that be.

      So, what hurts so much to see, is the killing of a lot of the California industry when if the energy to get big subsidies in place had existed for the past 6 – 10 years, immediate relief of sorts may already be at hand.

      This is a very tough call, but from my perspective I would rather have a risky possible short term guaranteed remedy (partial) than rely on research over extended time going against the grain of global reality to be my cure.

      I have spent most of my life in California. The core founding base of VES were and are Californians, so for me I want something to help the pain as fast as possible.

      Under another name on this site, I urged folks to make a move on Garcetti as he appears to be seeking more subsidies. So, why not make the case for post/vfx?

      So much time has raced by since VES was first established almost 20 years ago. I wish during that time California could have become more competitive working together to achieve better more efficient business models; better understanding and implementation of globalization; subsidies;
      and, honestly whatever it would have and will take to stop the bleeding.

      I applaud what you are all doing, although the tone is often too heated, but at least you are involved because you, too, care.

      And, thank you both for the kind words.

      Tom

      BTW – Government spends money politically. Does anyone anywhere believe the projected 80 billion, but probably 250 billion tax payers money for a high speed train beginning from nowhere to nowhere is a good use of tax payer money. For me, I would much rather see 100 to 200 million a year for vfx subsidies if it would bring much needed relief faster than any other alternative. Trust me, one way or another subsidies of one form or another will always exist as they have from the beginning of time. They just keep morphing depending on who is in power and spending the money.

      • Nick says:

        Well said Tom.

      • vfxmafia says:

        I am for Cali and the US defending itself …”By any means necessary”.

        Its CA vs UK vs BC vs China vs India…..may the best vfx artist win………….

      • vfxmafia says:

        Its gonna take 2 years for the CVD to take effect. A California subsidy would help a ton off CA VFX workers who are desperate to make a living for themselves. If a subsidy brought in “Marmaduke Duke fucked the Chipmunks”……if it meant a year of work….alot of LA guys would jump on a movie like that….

      • Nick says:

        Finally someone says it! No beating around the bush either. I commend your honesty. At the end of the day there’s a little of that feeling in everyone no matter how noble we aspire to be. I’d say your thoughts represent a large portion of unemployed vfx workers from LA and is unfortunately a big reason you won’t be winning the hearts and minds of the global community. At least you’re honest.

  25. vfxmafia says:

    There is no “global” community…..because all the countries have different labor laws, different Overtime laws, different currency values, and have subsidys.

    I was at the first townhall when a young Chinese VFX artist stood up and asked “What can you do for China? How can we organize labor in China?”

    The union members got silent …and after a long pause….and answered. “We can not comment on China or the union of VFX workers there……because it could get someone killed”.

    I did a commercial in Bejing in 2005 and my cameraman went jogging in Tiananmen square. A woman was on a soap box and with a sign protesting labor rights…..and suddenly a van with secret police came rolling up. There are 3 types of police in China….regular cops, military police, and the secret police. The secret police….where black leather jackets and have red armbands, sunglasses, and ear wigs……and kind of look like tough guy secret service. A secret police guy comes up and tackles her like Ray Lewis…and they throw her head first into the back of the van..”Instructing people to look away” to my cameraman….

    In India…65% of the country has rolling power outages…

    In Canada %50 of the salary of film workers is paid by tax payers. (Otherwise they would all be hunting moose for a living)

    In the UK…someone at Framestore said “70% of productions couldn’t be completed if it wasn’t for subsidys”

    Meanwhile in the US…..guys are working long hours for less money…often with no paid vacation, no paid sick leave, and no health care……

    The world is NOT a fair stage…..

    Especially when the UK and Canadian companies turned their backs on forming a Trade Organization.

    I am for workers rights where ever they may be. You have the right to got to work and get a fair wage for a fair days work…..The playing field should be as level as possible.

    Right now for the US it isn’t a level field. Guys that pioneered VFX are have companies going bankrupt. People that should be gracefully retiring are now defending there mortgages or wondering how they are gonna take care of their famlies….they are desperate and the “Self Preservation instinct” has kicked in full effect.

    So what if my postings ruffle Europe VFX workers feelings? You guys get to do F*cking Star Wars…….and pay your rent…..

    • VFX_Reckoning says:

      @vfxmafia, Yes to that ^. We are on a divided world stage and at this point we need to do everything we can to help our own stage from being burned to the F’ing ground.

    • Tom Atkin says:

      And to all of you not using your real names…neither have I for the same fears of saying something that may be used in a court of law against me. For most of you it is to avoid a different kind of retribution.

      For this, I apologize to you all. I will never post again on this or other specific visual effects sites other than under my own name.

      Don’t be afraid. People have put you in this place. Don’t risk your identities until comfortable…but, don’t be afraid.

      And truly find a few common grounds on which to agree to move forward.

      And, to VFXSoldier, seeking some immediate relief while supporting long range legal solutions to the problem of subsidies are not necessarily in conflict. Both could actually be going on at the same time in California and the rest of the world.

      I think on Wall St. this is called hedging your bet.

    • vfxmafia says:

      I also agree with Tom that the UK is a VFX hub that is here to stay….because it seems to be the center of Europe VFX. There are alot of great artists from around the world. And DNEG seems to have become a really decent facility…that im personally pretty jealous of. I think the UK could survive on commercials and a few movies if the subsidies ever left….(just like LA is doing now)

      As far as Unions….

      Unions must abide by the rule of law of the country that they are in. Unions are not international….and by that fact they are the natural enemy of the WTO and globalization. Every VFX artist must stand up for their rights and fight the laws in the country they live in.

      It is sad to see Union organizers in places like Brazil actually “disapper” and found murdered. I really feel for workers in China and India.

      US Vfx workers need to embrace their history. Workers fought the monopolies a 100 years ago…..for the very labor rights that are being stripped from us now. The US vfx workers (and all the foreign workers with green cards that work in the US) have to stand up for businesses INSIDE the US.

      A “Global VFX community” is bullshit as long as companies are allowed to operate internationally ….and labor is confined to individual countries.

      Vfx artists are united naturally…..because we feel some kind of dagger about to be placed in our backs. We all face ridiculous hours, a lack of wage standards, and fluctuating working conditions. This blog is a great place for news, labor issues, and discussing the international problems of this industry. This website is also the rallying point for stopping subsidies. Non-US vfx workers who read this blog just have to accept that.

      Unfortunately the fight for making the industry better….takes place under the labor laws of the country you live in.

  26. mattD says:

    I always find it a head spin when comany directors talk about subsidies to support local industry and communities and education, but as soon as you question specifics and detail on this, the debate will suddenly switch to globalised markets, need to compete internationally, global business. Fine, so then you question globalised markets and subsidies, then its back to local industry, education and training. So once you have politicians and lobbyists on the scene, just forget any reaoning or debate.

    Tbh, los angeles is terminal decline down. The industry will not remerge to the same size, part of that is probably due to problems in the wider city. But work will come back. The studios own the work distribution entirely and if gvernments are falling over themselves to offer them money, what do you expect them to do? However …. do you think it stops here? Do you think they aren’t going to say year after year to london and vancouver vfx companies that costs have to be slashed 10% every year? And if they don’t, that they will threaten to pull work back to los angeles? Kinda thiught that was one of the topics this blog focused on.

    Question to vfxsolder. Did the law firm ever investigate eurpean competition law? There was a large studio complex in southern spain that was forced to close due to subsidy complants raised by the london vfx industry. In court, i believe they argued that what they were doing was no different to london studios, but i never followed the case too closely.

  27. LAskyline says:

    There was no complaint from “the London VFX industry” as you put it, nor is any UK company – VFX or otherwise – identified as a complainant. The only named contribution from a UK organisation was an observation by the UK Film Council (which no longer exists) that there was a case to answer.

    The main objectors were european studio complexes such as Barandov (Czech Republich), Mediterranean Film Studios (Malta) and Babelsberg (Germany).

    Ciudad de la Luz closed in October 2012 – Babelsberg thought about buying it, but the local gov wanted too much money for it.

    It’s all here in the EU ruling document

    ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/cases/224304/224304_1396907_301_2.pdf

  28. vfxmafia says:

    interesting article…..
    I don’t think Garcetti can sway city council for Subsidies when Cailfornia is closing prisons cause its so broke…..good read none the less…..

    http://variety.com/2013/biz/news/l-a-mayor-declares-state-of-emergency-as-movie-tv-production-flees-hollywood-1200589182/

  29. mattD says:

    Hummm.. i don’t really get all the nuiances of eurpean competition law tbh., like i don’t really understand how some of the movie subsidies can stand at all, compared to similar industries. I get the feeling that much gets swept under the carpet of national education, training and cultural funding. When most f the culture is american comic book stories and most of staffing is overseas temps. As with most laws and beauracracies at that level, in the real world, there is an image for the gullible public, and a reality of who is conected to whom has money to grease palms.

    On a another note, anyone been following the current economic collapse going on in india over on bloomberg? They have just suspended rupee currency exchanges, the government offices are settling payment in dollars and there has been huge falls in shares and real estate. As prddicted fr several years now, may fi ally be underway.

    So wonder how thar affects the miracle business acumen and effeciency of thise indian vfx and animation firms we were told all about. You know, like PF that doesn’t make much profit and is backed by a shady offshore globalisation finance house, or reliance that has never made a proft, or prana that bought rh by accepting to take on debt (ie, didn’t have any money). Or indeed the recent one that went bancrupt/closed as mentioned here. So it still remains to be seen if this ‘fit all’ business plan these offshore finance houses come up with for every industry, will infact fit for vfx production. You, the one that says, ‘yes, transfer technology and training, offshore to a cheap location, preferably with government subsidies, division of labour to small, individual tasks on a production line, with local recent college grads with a 2-3 year expected working life cycle on the production line, send it across wires or on airplanes,blah blah blah’. Its a facinating concept to wach because it could answer one of the oldest questions of philosophy. Are humans just biological machines predetermined for programmed destinies,or is there something more random, born from chaos theory and free will? Thats what i think is so facinating about this subsidy driven industrialisation of a somewhat creative industry.

    • lolvfxworkers says:

      The time to do anything about vfx has come and gone….again. I’m sure in another few years the’ll be another uproar for about 3 months, then it’ll die down just like it has now…again.

      I thought this industry would finally change with the last round of DD and R&H bankruptcies, but to my surprise (maybe my fault for being surprised), nothing happened.

      My co-workers constantly bitch about the industry and yet are unwilling to do anything about it. A few friends of mine are moving up to Canada to become the VFX nomads they said they would never be…..and the cycle continues.

      I have just come to accept it, this industry will never change. This industry has forced VFX workers to become very selfish making us incapable of thinking as one unit. Amazingly enough, it seems that the vast majority of VFX workers ONLY think of the here and now and can’t think ahead to the future. Pathetic.

      Is it possible to change the industry? Absolutely. Will it happen? Nope.

      • lolvfxworkers says:

        Oops, this was supposed to be a General reply, not a reply to mattD, my mistake.

      • vfxmafia says:

        to Lolvfxworkers:

        You sound like your co-workers are some young guys….The older guys aren’t selling their houses just yet……and they have saved an prepared money for layoffs…..

        Alot of my co-workers and vets…are pretty frigging militant about the movement. We do know the system will take time…like a year to bring a CVD case…..so we wait and try and find commercial work and survive…..

        The reason it is quit….is because VFX soldier and others are working with the lawyers to draw first blood. It is a little wiser to not let the studios and their lawyers see this coming…..

        I might suggest you contact Soldier…and see if you can involved more…or maybe try to educate some of your co-workers….in the mean time…..try to pay your rent ….and don’t movie outside of California if you can…..

      • urizen says:

        The flesh is weak-

      • minoton says:

        I’ve tossed it out there before, and I’ll suggest it again. It’s going to take some time before anything legal can be done to attempt to stop subsidies from destroying the U.S. effects industry. Until the race to bottom can be stopped, we can attempt to at least neutralize it, but there will need to be a code of conduct, a gentleman’s agreement if you will, amongst the artists. This is what would be happening within a union anyway. We offer the effects studios a simple payment option: work in L.A. at your usual rate, or travel from home (wherever that is) to a subsidized location for 1.5X your usual rate. Make it actually cheaper to hire artists locally.

        When union crews travel to a location shoot, they get a pay increase. If we’re going to moan about not having a union, we should at least behave like we have one already. We’re all a union of one. At least until we become a union of many.

      • burnout says:

        If it was another industry, I would say great idea. The problem is that this industry is full of narcissistic and immature people, not sure it would ever get off the ground. But you could try.

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        here’s another reason why it wouldn’t work: There are literally hundreds of eager European, US and Canadian artists being spat out every year by the top schools: Gobelins, Supinfocom Gnomon, Escape Studios, ArtFx, Filmakademie Baden Wuttenberg, the list goes on and on.
        This is just the reality I know, I’m sure Asia is catching up – you just need to look at the work coming out from the Feng Shu School of Design in Singapore.
        I’ve also seen some pretty good work coming from Brazil.
        These peeps are more than eager to take your place at 1/4 to 1/2 the rate of an LA artist and they will move anywhere. After all they most likely moved cites or countries to study…why wouldn’t they move again to work?
        don’t believe me? It’s what has hapened in the last 5-10 years. you need to have your head in the sand if you don’t see it.
        I hear a lot about subsidies but no one ackowledges the reality: CG/VFX isn’t a rare skill like it was 10-15 years ago, there are lots of great artists with cheaper rates than LA peeps.
        adapt or die.

      • scottsquires says:

        There are film students out the wazoo coming out of schools too. You don’t see them displacing all the crews currently working. The union provides the studios with experienced and trained crews and the studios know enough to hire experienced people. As great as schools are most of the graduates will need real world experience as a few places have found out the hard way. Cheaper isn’t necessarily better.

      • minoton says:

        Charlie, I hear what you’re saying. But if that were the case . . . 1/2 to 1/4 of an experienced L.A. person’s rate, then they would have taken over the industry by now. And it hasn’t happened. Here’s where what you say falls short:
        1.) Most facilities advertising for artists are asking for 3-5+ years feature experience. Students don’t have that.
        2.) When hiring for a location, such as Vancouver for example, the facility has to provide proof why the hire is needed over a local Canadian. The hire has to have skills that can’t be found already available in the Canadian workforce. The hire has to show that they will benefit the local workforce (i.e. training) to get the required visa. Not just cheap. Why would a country allow their workforce to be overrun by cheaper labor?
        3.) Facilities aren’t going to go through the legal expenses for a work visa for an unproven hire such as a foreign student.

      • Mr. Knowitall says:

        minoton said: “Most facilities advertising for artists are asking for 3-5+ years feature experience. Students don’t have that.”

        Yes, that is exactly what they are looking for, people with just that much experience. That way they know just enough to basically do the work, and are still cheap labor. If you see a job listing stating 3-5 years, and you have more experience than that, forget about it.

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        hey minoton
        I appreciate your points but that is not the reality of the industry in London. Just ask anyone who has worked at MPC lately.
        London vfx has worked on a burn and churn basis of cheap European talent for a few years now.
        Of course there are still seniors and supes there but every year you see a lot of new faces fresh out of school that get on the treadmill for a few years until they burn out, move up or move on. And they don’t always start as runners/matchmove/roto, particularly if they go on to smaller studios ( working in commercials and music videos, as well as film ).
        Also, a junior in London earns between 18-25k GBP. That is 1/4 to 1/2 of LA rates, is it not?

      • minoton says:

        @Charlie, do the other UK vfx houses operate the same way, or just MPC? Either way, here’s what I see could be happening . . . UK has a smaller overall population than the US and thus a proportionally smaller talent pool to pull from. The competition for the local talent must be pretty fierce. So MPC has to look to the other European countries to broaden that pool of potentials. I don’t know what the UK work visa/immigration laws are, but I’m going to assume there is one and it has a cost. If that’s the case, then I would imagine the cost of the UK work visa is deducted from, or part of, the foreign hire’s salary, leaving only the amount that a junior or below would accept. As they gain years and experience, are they discarded for another crop of not-so cheap graduates? The constant rotation of talent is a poor business model of constant training and lack of continuity of talent.

      • burnout says:

        I can agree with this point. I personally believe studios like DD, RH and others, including all the big london VFX studios that have skirted with disaster a few times, have all ended up in these situations because they have tried using inexperienced staff. I remember a supervisor at DD who always used to spend time boasting to producers how all he needed was juniors with a year experience, the pipeline tools and his guidance will ensure everything works. Needless to say, he and indeed the company are not around anymore. Subsidies encourage inefficiency and things like this.

      • burnout says:

        MPC went bust/under company administration with the parent Thomson in 2009, just a few years ago. And that is with a business model heavily reliant on tax subsidies. Way to go! And the cheapest labor costs model they use relies every year on further slashing costs to keep work coming in. In any other industry, you would call this a declining industry. Great, pour tons of UK taxpayer money into a terminally declining industry.

      • mattD says:

        http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/

        There ya go. Just given a link forward to this blog over at the UK tax payers alliance, an organisation representing UK tax payers who have already been scathing of UK movie production subsidies in the past. Seems like a lot of tax payers in the UK don’t take kindly to having their wages ransacked to pay for inefficient, subsidy dependent and privately owned firms. That’s the big difference – in the UK they don’t get a choice or breakdown of where their tax money ends up. California has taxation by representation, budgets have to be identified, verified and put before the voter. Most californians don’t seem to keen on throwing money into a subsidy war that is just going ever downwards if it continues. Quite a few folk in the UK too, except the lobying is more ingrained there and rank-and-file tax payers have little choice in it. Hence why the taxpayer alliance setup to try and raise a citizen voice.

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        Hi Minoton
        MPC is just the worst offender for bringing in a constant crop of fresh artists on 3-4 month contracts and then discarding them but all companies do that to some degree ( big, medium or small ).
        Sorry for presuming you were informed of how the visa system worked in UK. In the EU, you are free to move between countries for work ( I call it the United States of Europe ) – so the UK has acess to the talent pool of 27 countries free of charge. Given that London is where most of the big medium and small vfx houses are in Europe ( and where the rates, while still low in comparison to Canada/US/NZ and Aus, are better and there is no barrier to entry – it’s where hundreds of new graduates end up looking for workeach Summer. I should know, I’ve been one of them. and so have literally dozens of my French, Irish, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, etc etc friends. a wider picture view will reveal
        Please joke about the French mafia in London vfx. You wanna know why? Because it’s true.
        Now, I don’t see this as a negative thing at all, I have had opportunities there I would have never had on my own country, but when you question what sort of competition you are up against… you should really put your eyes on the level of work coming out of artfx, baden wuttenberg, supinfocom, feng zhu and gobelins ( among others ). It truly is some outstanding work, and I have personally know juniors fresh out school that were artistically better than other mid level artists I have worked with in production ( and I’m not saying this to slight or offend anyone – just a fact ). So when you are trying to come up with an argument on why you shold be employed instead of a kid that is trained on the same software and willing to do it for a 1/4 of your rate, you better bring something special to the table. Just saying.
        And I don’t think fighting subsidies is going to fix that in the slightest. Sorry.

      • minoton says:

        @Charlie, thanks for explaining the European immigration system to me. I didn’t know if the UK was part of the EU since they don’t use the Euro. I knew it was easier for people to travel back and forth amongst member countries.

        Fighting subsidies will make sure everybody is competing on an equal cost/quality basis, with no government handouts to help overcome any area’s shortcomings. If the best quality vfx is coming out of the UK with cheaper artists, then they really don’t need subsidies to land the work. So there’s nothing to lose for everyone to join the fight for the much touted level playing field. Remove the subsidies and lets prove once and for all that the quality of the cheap labor coming out of these schools can win the day.

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        some bad spelling and unfinished sentences there:

        I meant to say: a wider picture view will reveal that London vfx is actually European vfx, London just being the city where the work happened to converge. If you are European ( regardless of nationality ) and vfx is the dream, London is the place to be.
        People joke about the French Mafia, but it’s true, etc etc.

        Just to add, I do think that if you are a vfx studio and want to set up in a place with access to the most talent, London is an obvious choice – It’s far easier to get access to a bigger international talent pool, than in the US, where it’s notoriously hard to get a visa.

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        To clarify my comments re: subsidies, I truly do not think they are the major issue.
        Competition among artists, lower wages, visa laws, currency fluctuations, etc are all equally important factors IMO.
        But, the way you phrase it, as government handouts is pretty offensive to European sensibilities. We are used to government intervention in the economy and in accepting it, in a way I do not think Americans generally are ( I do not mean this negatively, just as a general observation ). In my mind if the government chooses to support the formation of industry ( and that they have, because since subsidies came into play, a large amount of work has indeed landed in UK shores ), then they are free to do so. Further, subsidies are a large part of the business environment surrounding global filmmaking and an important part of the guarantees needed to approve film financing. It would be suicidal for the UK and its film industry to remove that single handedly.
        If there was a way to do it in all jurisdictions then perhaps it could be attempted. As it stands, I do not think it’s a wise move.
        Ask yourself – why would the UK government give up it’s competitive advantage?
        For the sake of a ‘level playing field’ which is a theoretical conception with no grounding in economic reality?
        Subsidies are a fact of the economic landscape.
        Like I said, adapt or die. I do think that if California would step up and offer subsidies then you would suddenly hear a lot less anti subsidiy talk.
        Again, I do not mean this derisively – just as an observation of what the actual issue with subsidies is to my eyes.

      • minoton says:

        I see it from your perspective, but try to see it from mine as well. I don’t intend to be offensive, but it is what it is . . . bring your movie here, we give you money. Ask yourself this, why isn’t your government giving the subsidies to building up it’s own industry, investing in it’s own businesses, it’s own artists without sending money, tax payer’s money, out of the country to rich, corporate owned, American studios? Wouldn’t it be better to keep the tax payer’s pounds in the UK? It’s been shown through many studies on this blog that the subsidies do not return the money that is paid out. If California had the money, they could step up. But what would that solve? Would it make the playing field level? So tax payers everywhere are watching their money wasted buying jobs for a small segment of the economic pie? Why not just level the playing field at zero, and spend that tax money where it’s needed, such as education, health care, law enforcement, wherever? You’re championing the ‘race to the bottom’. If California stepped up, what would you do, cry for the UK to step up even more? Where is all this money supposed to come from?

        As for the competitive advantage, in a hundred meter race, is a fifty meter head start considered a competitive advantage?

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        The thing is, I do understand your perspective – I’ve said before if I was in California I would support an anti-subsidy movement or a CVD because it directly supports my interests. And don’t get me wrong – I’m not championing anything. I am dealing with the economic reality that exists, not the one I wish existed. I have moved countries twice for work, once across continents.
        I have no beef in what the UK government does with their money because it’s not my government – I just happened to live there for a particular time. I did spend my money there while I was living there so they did have some return from their investment they wouldn’t have had otherwise, that’s for sure.
        If you ask me if I have an issue with it? Certainly not because it afforded me the opportunity in an industry I would have never had the opportunity to work in had I stayed in my own country.
        Just like you have the opportunity to move to Vancouver. Peple once moved across the US for work in LA, but now they have to move 300km up North, it’s suddenly an issue?
        Like I said, the real issue behind this blog is that California does not offer subsidies. If they did, I would certainly not have a philosophical problem with it. I understand the race to the bottom comment, but the race to the bottom has to do with a lot of other factors that concern me a whole lot more: competition from lower wage workers, no unions, no regulatory bodies, no trade association, visa laws and currency fluctuations – issues that have zero to do with subsidies.
        I appreciate your position, but please do consider that the vfx industry a whole is facing bigger issues. I hope I may have contributed some to the conversation.

      • minoton says:

        So it seems that, as long as we, artists, get to do what we want, the overall economic impact on others (the taxpayers affording you your situation) doesn’t matter? It seems like you’re saying, as long as I get my job, everything’s fine. Doesn’t matter if the country is losing money providing it for me. I’m happy. What about automotive manufacturers? Or textile workers? Maybe they’d like the government to go out and buy them some work, too? Governments are not bottomless pits of money. What government gives, government can take away just as easily. What happens when the subsidy stops? You move to the next subsidized city? Vancouver? What happens after they stop, or someone out bids them? Off to Montreal? Or Australia? How many moves do you plan to make? Don’t know if you have a family or not, or planning on starting one, but do you drag them around the world never having a place to call home? And I don’t mean to sound like I’m focusing specifically on you, but anybody who thinks this government ‘interference’ in renting an industry until a higher bidder comes along is a rational or sustainable way of operating an industry. Or conducting a life.

        I appreciate the conversation, and I realize there are many issues involved in what’s weakening our field. Understand a lot of those issues have been around way longer than subsidies, and the industry survived just fine. There were no vfx unions or trade associations, and companies bid against each other for shows. ILM, Boss, Apogee, Dream Quest, et. al. all bid against each other. But it wasn’t until governments got involved adding subsidies that needed to be bid against as well that things really started the downhill slide. The industry did function at one time. And rather smoothly, all things considered. But government handouts weren’t part of the equation back then.

        Do we deal with the economic reality that exists, or do we try to change it to be the one we wish existed?

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        Not sure bringing up auto workers or textile workers is a smart idea because both those industries are massively subsidized both in the US and other countries
        And I’m not saying not to try change it. I’m just saying that your interests are diammetrically opposed to those of a vfx worker in subsidized locations.
        As for me, personally, I am not that bothered. I recognize the situsation is unsustainable and I don’t believe I will be working in this industry in 5 years time. I have better things to worry about than keeping up with technological advancements every 5 minutes, working OT, and worrying about where my next contract is about to come from. You’re right, it’s nuts, it’s a crazy inudstry to work for, unstable and with all sorts of downward pressure on wages and working conditions. I just happen to think there are bigger issues at play than subsidies, that’s all. Maybe i’m wrong, who knows.

      • minoton says:

        There are two kinds of subsidies: 1.) those that are kept within a country (government subsidizing it’s own industries like automotive and textile) and 2.) those where a government gives money to a foreign company to have work performed in that government’s locality. These are the ones that are damaging the vfx industry because it has created a bidding war of sorts among states, provinces, and countries, for work to be outsourced. So, to be clear, I have no problem if the UK, BC, wherever, wants to spend subsidies locally to build up their own film and vfx industry. That’s what governments should do, look after it’s citizens, but not at the detriment of another country’s abilities to sustain it’s own industry.

        Yes, the technology has changed how we do effects, and information and training is more readily available. I don’t see that as much of an issue. Whether all the effects houses are in the same city, or different cities, they each have their talent base, and they bid jobs based on each of their individual costs (overhead, materials, wages, etc.) As when shopping for anything, there is a cost/quality consideration to be made. Every company is going to have their operating expenses that they are going to have to figure into their bidding equation. And that’s how it should work, the effects houses competing with each other. But when governments start getting involved, artificially enhancing the attractiveness of an effects house (or houses) that’s when things start to collapse. Some folks may think they’re in good times, but it’s a bubble, and bubbles tend to pop.

        Yes, my position is opposed to that of someone in a subsidized location. I’m just trying to make those people realize 1.) what their situation has done to others, and 2.) don’t get too comfy because it’s not economically sustainable.

        Personally, I have no idea if I’ll still be doing this at the end of this year. I can’t rationalize allowing any of six corporate entities dictating to me where I should have to live.

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        just to add one last comment, you are referring to a golden age before a few other significant factors came into play: the cost of entry lowered very significantly and the educational offer exploded worldwide.
        I learned Maya on SGI’s running IRIX that cost more than a house. I was in Portugal and the only person the faculty could find to teach us was an American from LA. Now you can get a machine and rent licenses for a fraction of that price, and learn all you need to know to perform simple tasks via the internet and your teachers can be anywhere in the world. a colleague of mine here in Australia just signed up for an online course in London.
        When I was in London I signed up for fxphd courses in Australia.
        the landscape has totally changed in a little over 10 years. you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.
        there was no cinesync, no shotgun, no skype.
        you are focusing on one factor when the displacement of work has been accellerated by many others.

      • scottsquires says:

        Charlie it seems like you’ve already given up on the industry and plan to bail within 5 years and have offered no solutions or suggestions. Just that in your mind subsidies are not a real issue. While subsidies aren’t the only issue I think it’s pretty clear they are one of the main issues. As was pointed out, as long as those on government welfare see no issue with being on government welfare, things won’t change nor will the vfx industry get any strength in any location. Each vfx seems to want to fend for themselves for today with no plans for the future. If they’re ok they don’t see the problem.

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        hey Scott. I haven’t bailed on anything, but I recognize the present course of the industry is unsustainable. Particularly if CVD’s come into effect – as I have between noze to zero interest in moving to the US for work. besides I have always worked in other related areas, and don’t really see an issue in jumping backl to them schould necessity arise.
        I do see the problem that subsidies pose, I just don’t think a CVD is the solution ( for me, personally or fost most people in subsidized locations – which, incidentally, are MOST people working in vfx nowadays ).
        As for solutions I can offer quite a few, as indeed I have, either here or via twitter, or in person.
        – institute a regulatory trade body of certification for the pratice of the profession. similar to doctors and lawyers. only people with relevant academic qualifications or equivalent professional experience can be hired to perform the task. this would have to have the backing of vfx studios, which I find quite hard to believe would be interested in limiting themseleves in this way in their recruitment processes, though.
        – urge local vfx workers to join local labor unions
        – urge individual education of vfx workers in business and negotication tactics
        – increase transparency in wages and working conditions worldwide.
        – alert students or people interested in working in the field in the harsh realities of working in this field.
        – continue to blow the whistle on unsutainable/illegal work practices via social media, and indeed, this website.

    • VFXLady says:

      Wow. Matt your last lines make me think a lot. I do think that vfx workers, from school and probably earlier are people disposed to “just taking it” don’t ask questions, don’t rock the boat. A year ago I did have more faith we’d be able to do something about this as a team, as a union, but I realize, we aren’t the same as other industries. We are, basically, weak. We view each other as enemies, not allies and some then actually argue for subsidies. We work unpaid OT, we devalue our own work, mock those who don’t work 5 hours unpaid each day. It’s a childlike circle.

      I don’t know if it’s biological for humans, but it may be biological for people willing to be cheap vfx labor. It isn’t vfx that made them devalue their work, it’s that vfx coldly embraces those who devalue themselves.

      • hector says:

        well…it is harder and harder to get a job. As a student – you don’t have any chance. As a senior you don’t want to work for cheap salary…

      • VFX_Reckoning says:

        Our world is like a dumbed down version of the matrix, but instead of mechanical overlords we have corporate structures. There is nothing biological about the nature of business.

        Most people love to be deceived into thinking business “entities” are living, breathing, emotional giant’s, but being classified as an entity has always been nothing more then a marketing ploy and a means to get around the law.

        The reality is, nowadays, “business” is an interconnected web of cold calculating systems specifically designed for income accumulation, no matter the cost to society or a living civilization. Like a piece of farm equipment harvesting a crop laden with anthills, and operating all of it, the “farmers” per se, are soulless, unethical human beings. Our places within the systems only seem biological because we are born into it, allow it to happen and allow it to progress in any fashion.

        So of course, they embrace those who devalue themselves. Eventually, at present course, one day, they will also embrace those who give their lives and sacrifice their children.

    • Charlie Don't Surf says:

      The thing is, I do understand your perspective – I’ve said before if I was in California I would support an anti-subsidy movement or a CVD because it directly supports my interests. And don’t get me wrong – I’m not championing anything. I am dealing with the economic reality that exists, not the one I wish existed. I have moved countries twice for work, once across continents.
      I have no beef in what the UK government does with their money because it’s not my government – I just happened to live there for a particular time. I did spend my money there while I was living there so they did have some return from their investment they wouldn’t have had otherwise, that’s for sure.
      If you ask me if I have an issue with it? Certainly not because it afforded me the opportunity in an industry I would have never had the opportunity to work in had I stayed in my own country.
      Just like you have the opportunity to move to Vancouver. Peple once moved across the US for work in LA, but now they have to move 300km up North, it’s suddenly an issue?
      Like I said, the real issue behind this blog is that California does not offer subsidies. If they did, I would certainly not have a philosophical problem with it. I understand the race to the bottom comment, but the race to the bottom has to do with a lot of other factors that concern me a whole lot more: competition from lower wage workers, no unions, no regulatory bodies, no trade association, visa laws and currency fluctuations – issues that have zero to do with subsidies.
      I appreciate your position, but please do consider that the vfx industry a whole is facing bigger issues. I hope I may have contributed some to the conversation.

  30. mattD says:

    I guess that is kinda the point. Alot of folk will just sit there like a dinosaur because they are so conditioned that you have to have ‘a job’ by a studio, sitting there doing your little task. I really don’t think many folk in the now industrialised pieline scenario would actually be able to get and say ‘i am an engineer or artist and i am going to do something else, or do it for myself’. I know plenty of well talented artists working mostly in advertising who said at the begining of their careers ‘i am not sitting shoulder to shoulder in an office environment with layers of petty managers trying to look busy. People who said ‘i would never work in a large cg studio pushing shots off the production line’. People who could never imagine anything other than printing off some business cards, putting up a webste and knocking n a few doors because that is real work in their mind. I used to sit in on crew interviewing at a large studio for some years and had plenty of vetos by qualified hr folk that candidate X was the wrong ‘type’ for this job/company. So, basically, i would agree with vfxlady. Most of the folk been blown around the subsidy world from city to city and company to company actually have a personality type that predeposes them to accept this lifestyle. And maybe you can’t blame some companies for their employment practice. They are probably meeting a deep psyclogical need in these people born from their childhood, parents, schooling, same kind of mind pattern that predisposes some to drug addctive behaviour or a lifetime of abusive personal relationships. Its a dfferent point to the one i orignally made but very similar in nature.

  31. mattD says:

    So getting back to the topic of determinism vs free-will and the application of the ‘fit all’ business plan that offshore finances houses apply to every industry, and recently the vfx industry, you know, transfer technology and training to a cheap location with tax breaks, break down a pipeline into small individual tasks, employ short term staff with highly specific roles and limited training with division of labor. That is the one to watch with fascination. It has never worked in a creative field.

    I am nt knocking it. At one level it definitely works. The soviet was excellent at producing machine parts and tractors but ultimately failed. Creativity is meant to be at the very edge of human intelligence. When say creativity, i dont just mean artists – high level software develpment, mathematic modelling, engineering design are also incredibly creative disciplines. So, are the industrial susbsidy pipelines financed by funny money offshore funds and tax payer shenanigans utlimately doomed to fail? Because they have been failing, with bancruptcies galore.

    Maybe, creativity results from free will and creativity and trying to squeeze it artificially from an industrial pipeline is awlways dooomed to fail. Maybe the future, if all tax subsidy shenanigans were removed, would be a large network of collabative individuals networked by technolgy, bit like the internet. It would certainly remove large amounts of costs spent on layers of managers, supervisors and coordinators in large cg studios that spend most of their time trying to look busy with the obligatory cc and bcc emailing all day.

  32. VFX_Reckoning says:

    So what’s the story of late?

    Are there things in motion for the CVD? Are there any other agreements in the works to help bring some work to L.A.? Any more progress on a union?

    I haven’t heard from VFX artists in the L.A. area for months now….again.

    • scottsquires says:

      Union- still in hands of the working artists. All it takes is for the majority of them at a given company to sing rep cards.

      CVD – things are brewing from what I understand.

      • Studio_Spotter says:

        Is there any way to check the existing ratio of employees that have signed rep cards at a particular company vs. those that havent?

      • Loving VFX In Spite Of It All says:

        That’s good news. What leads you to believe that?

    • Loving VFX In Spite Of It All says:

      Many more people I know have decided to take up other lines of work, usually in fields perceived as ‘outsource/subsidy-proof,’ if there is such a thing. Personally I think any creative field is will be plagued with this trouble until people stop acting like they’re lucky to be paid at all.

      • Jackadullboy says:

        Precisely.. It seems to be a problem with artists in general.

        I’m inclined to think that the very humility and self-criticism necessary for the best work also leads us to devalue ourselves in the marketplace.

        Is our industry simply maturing and settling into it’s natural equilibrium alongside the other well-established creative fields?

  33. VFX_Reckoning says:

    Well, I’m at the end folks. I’ve come to determine as a mid-level generalist and environment artist, it has now become impossible to progress my career forward anymore in California.

    Does anyone know of a few companies outside of the VFX arena that offer creative jobs that utilize 3D? So far I found a medical animation company in SoCal, a nuclear schematics 3D position in San Diego and a few autocad manufacturing places. There’s got to be more then that, right?

    • Loving VFX In Spite Of It All says:

      Don’t give up. But I feel your pain. For those types of positions/contracts, American HR often seems to be a large obstacle. If you haven’t recently done *exactly* what the given job is you won’t be a successful candidate. The HR person is afraid of being fired for placing a candidate that isn’t “the perfect fit.” But they want *you* to “think outside the box,” even though many in HR cannot do so themselves, be it due to fear, a room temperature IQ, or whatever. The cg job market stinks right now, I agree. Especially in California.

      • VFX_Reckoning says:

        Thanks for the encouragement, but I’m earnestly searching for other avenues outside of vfx.

        A fish can’t live in a bowl without water and my time is up. Without the ability to properly exercise the skills in a production environment, they deteriorate. I can no longer support a career where progress can only be measured by taking one step ahead, and then two steps back. A source of employment, learning and enrichment is needed to survive, none of which are present in the U.S. vfx industry.

      • Loving VFX In Spite Of It All says:

        Contract work that is freelance lets you bypass HR, and thereby reinvent yourself…

  34. Marcus says:

    Fron what i heard dneg london is a pretty good place to work in, the less can be say about the other dneg in asia ran by the aslyum gang.

  35. mattD says:

    They have a very high turnover of staff. That is something never associated with a good company, is it? And the CEO said openly in interviews that subsidies are essential to continuing business. That doesn’t sound like an efficient business model. I guess it all depends on who you are and what you get from the situation. Plenty of people working hard, for little money, in jobs they hate, don’t take too kindly to having the government dipping into their bank accounts to pay lobbyist friends. If that’s you, hop on over to the taxpayer’s alliance. They have an army of volunteer or retired lawyers, accountants, forensic accountants, supporting their cause.

  36. mattD says:

    http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/about

    The TaxPayers’ Alliance is Britain’s independent grassroots campaign for lower taxes.

    After years of being ignored by politicians of all parties, the TPA is committed to forcing politicians to listen to ordinary taxpayers.

    Our Team

    The TaxPayers’ Alliance has a small but enthusiastic campaign team based in central London. We have activists all across the country, and over 75,000 supporters nationwide.

    What We Do

    Taxes have been rising but there has been very little improvement in the quality of schools, hospitals and transport provided by government. National debt has now surpassed £1 trillion and unless action is taken to tackle unsustainable public spending future generations will inherit the consequences of today’s extravagance.

    High taxes damage the British economy and our way of life. Burdensome taxation stunts economic growth and tens of thousands of jobs are being lost as huge tax bills reduce incentives to work, invest and save. In the long-run, higher taxes make us all poorer.

    Find out more about our work
    Our History

    The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) was launched by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum in early 2004 to speak for ordinary taxpayers fed up with government waste, increasing taxation, and a lack of transparency in all levels of government.

    No party was standing up for taxpayers and nearly all politicians were committed to bigger government, higher spending and secretive deals behind closed doors. The TPA sought to challenge this status quo.

    Find out more about our history
    Get Involved

    Without the help of our activists around the country we could not be as effective as we are. There are many ways you can help us in our grassroots campaigns, from handing out leaflets and attending action days, to organising a branch of the TaxPayers’ Alliance in your area.

  37. mattD says:

    Just to even things up here. There seem to be posters who come along saying “but Britain is a socialist utopia that has always favoured government funding of industries blah blah blah”.

    Not according to the tax payer’s alliance. Efficient or necessary funding, yes, lobying of inefficient industries and unecessary waste of tax expenditure, no. There was also a certain woman called Margaret Thatcher who championed smaller government and lower taxes and she was elected well before a certain Ronald Reagan in the US! Infact, the longest serving prime minister over there.

    And most CG artists don’t seem to have much interest in anything else than video games and movie graphics but, if you read a book or two, you will also find that the whole concept of free trade was a British concept born from the writings, hundreds of years ago, of the British economists Adam Smith and David Ricardo! They must be spinning in their graves …

  38. vfxmafia says:

    the US motion picture and sound recording industry lost 22,000 jobs in August, (the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/22000-jobs-lost-hollywood_752819.html

    to all the laid off VFX workers…hang in there….

  39. who says:

    What happened to this blog? No updates for a while now.

    • VFX_Reckoning says:

      I guess that depends on what you are looking for. We’ve firmly established there is no real community support system within the vfx industry, unless something bad happens, then this blog is a platform for selfish squabbling and hollow commiserations. For random industry info, check Soldier’s twitter feed.

      • hector says:

        The people, so called artists, are one against the other and I think the industry will implode because of this.

    • vfxmafia says:

      The lawyers are proceeding…should be an update soon….from last time I talked to Dave Rand. The case needs to be built for proper presentation….

      as far as selfish squabbling….

      The Adolescence age of the industry is upon us. We are separated by different countries. In the past California workers worked along side the best and brightest of people from around the world. They flocked to America on greencards and H-1 Visas. All were experts in another field but migrated over to VFX because of the love for film. We made billions for the studios and they took the work to countries who payed them a bribe to get the jobs.

      Now we are in a global community…..and we are not the same. There are alot of old school international VFX artists that I have respect for…..but there is something worse that has been created. The 2 year student who works for less and longer hours…and the work just is well…. “Hack”. Armed with an education of “canned” knowledge and huge egos…..they cater to the producers who wrangle them like migrant farm workers…..

      …..my posting has venom today…because of recent poll conducted on http://www.vfxheaven.com.

      There was a recent anonymous poll done by international artists…..asking “Our Sympathy for California is..” The poll had 75% of the UK and BC workers “couldn’t give a shit” if Cali VFX artists lived or died. US workers you are all alone……

      …..the bottom line is all the countries are separated by different tax laws, government trade policies, different labor laws, different wages, different currency amounts, different OT, different benifits…..

      We can’t evolve in this industry until we separate ourselves into different countries….because we are held to the laws of the countries we live in….

      Hopefully soldier will have an update soon…….unfortunately lawyers and trade policy is very slow……..but the reboot of this industry is coming…..

      To all the laid off US workers…hang in there…..

      • VFX_Reckoning says:

        Oh man, I’ve been spouting that for a year and a half now, but it falls on deaf ears. How we need to concentrate on strengthening the industry in our own individual areas first, then we can work on coming together as a world wide unit.

        With Hollywood films comes the disease of glamour, overwhelming ego and destructive pride, which a lot of VFX workers are infected.

        Even artists within Los Angeles, that same ego is what also divides the artists who are currently working, from those of us who are still laid off, halting any progression for a union, etc.

      • hector says:

        the reboot might come, but way too late.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Hector,

        Im afraid for some people it might be too late.

      • VFX_Reckoning says:

        It’s already to late. I know guys who were let go from Rhythm last November, who still don’t have any work. They are so desperate now, I’m half expecting some suicides.

        …Actually, that might be a good idea. A VFX artist breaking into a studio lot and off’ing themselves in full view. Blowing their brains all over some producers face. Ha, that would get some attention.

        Some artists aren’t known for being the most stable of people.

      • minoton says:

        I certainly wouldn’t recommend anything that drastic, but if the artist is in the right situation, I suggest get the f*** out of California. It is WAY too expensive of a place to be unemployed. It’s much more bearable in other states. It’s already a given that we’re going to be traveling for work. Set your base in a more economical state and travel from there. And you can travel to Los Angeles should the magic unicorn job appear there. It’s sad. “Undocumented” workers are treated better in CA than VFX artists.

      • Easy says:

        @VFX_Reckoning You just described what I could only characterize a pathetic end for a cowardly ineffectual who never had the balls to stand up for himself. Man up, move on, get a life. For f#@%s sake, we’re making pixels flash on and off, not curing cancer.

      • vfxmafia says:

        To Easy,

        You’re a little prick….to come on here and “tell people like it is”….

        People have been in this business for 20 years….with familys and houses….kids…

        honestly go fuck yourself…….better yet….to all the people that come on this website with boastful, or arrogant, or brutal postings…..I dare you to post your real name and your reel…..

        your the little coward who hides behind anonymous posts….

      • vfxmafia says:

        To Easy:

        You accuse people of not standing up for ourselves??!

        All US workers did was work our asses off…to build up an industry….so that smaller countries who are too small…and have no VFX industry to come in and buy there way in….

        I might add we ARE defending ourselves…..and when the lawyers and CVD ruling reboots the industry….I hope I can come on a website like this and call you the hack that you are….

      • Easy says:

        OK “VFXmafia”, (there’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one), I’ll bite. What are your panties in a bunch about? Because I pointed out how pathetic it would be for someone to kill themselves in front of some prick producer that screwed them over? So they shoot themselves, leaving their family without a parent or a spouse and a waste of 20 years of experience? Suuure that makes total sense, but how dare I point that out? I still stand by my comments, you make your own way in this world. You choose how you will allow yourself to be treated and if you don’t like how you are treated do something about it. I’m not waiting for a VFX Union to happen to solve my employment issues for me. When/if it becomes untenable, I will move on and leave my 20 years of experience in 3D to go and do something else to provide for my family. I’m a man and that’s what men do, they man-the-fuck-up and handle what life puts in front of them. Go on, post your own name and reel. I’ll enjoy looking at it, Googling your name just to see what a self-styled VFXMafioso looks like, probably laugh at you a little and then forget about this douchey flame war a week from now. Get over yourself I don’t care what you think about me and I damned sure don’t care what you think about my work. I’m no one special, but I am sure you think you are. You make pixels move, so shut the hell up.

      • VFX_Reckoning says:

        Huh, Hey, I was just poking fun at a strenuous situation. You know, a little morbid jab with an overactive imagination. I don’t think anyone is going to actually off themselves.

        Jeez, I didn’t know suicide was such a hot-button issue with all the tender folks.

      • Jackadullby says:

        Easy… I’m sorry. You may be a “big man” but you write like a sorry excuse for a human being. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you didn’t think this through before posting.

      • Easy says:

        Jack I’m tired of the bullshit, I read a lot of it online from VFX people and I’m mad about it. It’s like we suffer from a mass Stockholm Syndrome. I’ve freelanced for the last 13 years straight. I don’t make as much as I used to, refuse to take a booking from companies suck to work for. I stumbled across a “Pixmondo Pay Us” facebook page the other day. Apparently people are upset they haven’t gotten paid. Sure, who wouldn’t be? It got me thinking, how many people know this but continue to work for them? I’ll bet there are a fair number that haven’t gotten paid and still come to work every day. THAT is what I am talking about. If you’re going to support the assholes that run these companies, boo hoo that you aren’t getting paid, or that they work you like an animal, congratulations you’re a big part of the problem.

      • TimeToAct says:

        Easy is right, either do something about it, or shut the F#%@ up. VFXRec was making a bad joke, but Easy isnt wrong.

        VFX artist killing themselves won’t fix anything. Producers and studios don’t give a shit about you, and one less LA based VFX artist is only a good thing in thier eyes.

        Get your head out of you ass’s. Currently Sony is Dumping all it’s artist and from what I hear in the next year we could see no work in the Culver Office. Whole lot of people shit out of luck that thought they were Teflon lossing thier jobs.

        Times up, we missed the window, we should have stopping being fat and happy 10 years ago and joined together instead of competing so hard against each other. If soldiers lawyers can’t doing anything the work in LA is done, maybe not for ever but for a long time.

        And F#%@ people if you aren’t getting paid then stop F #%@ing working. Stop being stupid, I mean sh%t the people of china and Inda walked out on jobs that weren’t paying, and they weren’t being paid sh%t.
        You know how you change thing? You WALK OUT, do you not pay attention to how it works for everyone else?

        Hey us directors want more money… They strick
        Hey us writers want more money.. They strick
        Hey us actors want more money.. They strick
        Hey us VFX people want to be paid for work we did.. We do nothing and keep working. Idiots!!!

      • Jackadullby says:

        Agreed on all those sentiments a thousandfold. My objection was to the trivialization of suicide here, which I find offensive. Passions are running high, and that is understood.

        The Stockholm syndrome is rife in this industry. Unfortunately it is now swamped with recent graduates and people with under five years’ experience who are desperate to get experience and cover their loan payments etc. For a VFX house with upwards of 500 people, mostly in the former category, with the ability to work them several hours overtime each day with no compensation ( not to mention a poor initial salary in the first place)… Think of the free man hours that represents. It’s phenomenal.

        I’ve been trying to get people interested in a union for some time now, and am signed up myself long ago, but so far it’s been like trying to fend off a tidal wave with a stick. I’d love for people to stop taking the cool aid for a couple of minutes and start thinking in an adult way about this profession and the way it’s structured (rather than simply bitching about it and then laughing it off as though we’re a platoon of soldiers in the trenches doing a job that ‘ someone’s gotta do’ ). Frankly, The only enemy in this equation is ourselves…

      • vfxmafia says:

        Easy,

        It is getting really tense in Los Angeles at the moment. Im sure you meant well but you need phase things a bit better….especially about posts that refer to suicide. Your post just came off weird….and callous.

        The banking scandal REALLY hit California very hard…then comes all the subsidy bombs…..Cali people got hit with a one-two punch. I don’t know if you are a US vfx worker or even a California VFX worker….but here is a story of what the climate is like here….

        My friend went looking for a new house in LA about 2010…(the peak of the banking scandel). He came across a house for cheap..and the realtor said it had smoke damage…(there was a fire)…..and my buddy was like…no really ..the price is too low…whats really wrong with the place?

        Turns out the woman who owned the place got locked into a predatory loan….and lost her house…then got laid off…She set the place on fire and shot herself in the kitchen…….

        Its gonna get worse out there……and you never know what people may do when they loose their house..their job….and possibly their family.

        I knew a guy in Video games who got laid off during major California cutbacks….and had to start working in different places…he sold his fat house….and the wife left him…because he wasn’t making as much money and had to move all the time….and the job stress destroyed the family. The guy almost had a nervous break down….

        this economic slowdown and then the subsidy drought is lasting close to 5-6 years……….I wouldn’t be surprised if someone did commit suicide before the CVD ruling. Just be careful how you post stuff…..I should be more careful as well…..

      • VFX_Reckoning says:

        I think there is something to definitely say about the money hungry culture we’ve become and the nature of United States living. A lot of people build their world up along with their career, and in today’s culture it represents who you are as a person. Once that world has been shattered, people become aimless, faceless and worthless. Hell, I can sympathize with that. I’m forced to look for a new direction outside of vfx myself. And as a debt culture, when that world of yours falls, if falls hard.

        But even then I don’t think vfx artists will go as far as suicide. Every artist I’ve met has been quite clever, and intelligent with fairy think skin, so I don’t really see that happening. (I make light of it because, honestly, I don’t give a s**t and am not easily offended, so I just assume others aren’t as well.)

      • vfxmafia says:

        VFX_reck…

        I don’t know if wanting a house, a wife, a family, and a decent living is a “money hungry culture”. I call that a “Life”.

        I think that some of the younger guys (espeically from BC and Europe)….once you been in the biz for 20 years…you’re older…you’ve made serious investments of your future. When you face not simply a job loss but an extinction of an entire industry in your country…..it can be devestating..

        Its not easy to go back to school when your 40’s…mix in school time, retraining, and climbing the ladder again….you may never get back to where you were at age 60. Which means half your life is wasted because of another countries politicians…

        Luckily i prepped for the occasion as all good freelancers should…..but imagine some guy out there might get a divorce over this ? or have to sell his house and take a loss on 15 years of payments…..

  40. hector says:

    shame on them…they might be able to show some respect – but these kind of people don’t have any GOD!
    vfxheaven.com might be good, but sometimes is way over the idea to rebuild this dead industry.
    Can someone tell me , someone who shows such a big amount of hate against LA , can this person tell me why he is so upset?
    Cruelty and hate is coming from primitivism – and believe me, I saw so much primitives and arrogant “artists”

  41. CN says:

    God, you take VFX Heaven seriously?
    It’s well known its a cynical joke of a place. It’s 4chan, not a respectable source, or even a reasonable forum

    • vfxmafia says:

      its not just VFX heaven……just take a look at the comments from people like “easy”……….or the response from the heads of the UK VFX owners who want no part of a trade association.

      • hector says:

        How can someone build an union? Does it looks like an union?

      • vfxmafia says:

        To hector:

        Well that got things stirred up a bit…no?

        The biggest problem with forming a union is 2 things….

        1) International contracts: Studios are allowed to do business internationally and labor is contained by domestic labor laws.

        2) The perma-freelancer: Unions can’t organize if you get laid off from that company in 9 months. Salary workers are becoming a thing of the past along with benifits and healthcare……

        Union busting has been in place for 30 years since Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Unions in 1950 made up %60 of the work force. This was one of the greatest economic times for the middle class in history. Now corporations and monopolies rule,
        and unions only make up less than 6% of the workforce.

    • Loving VFX In Spite Of It All says:

      Looked at that “vfxheaven” site and I think its a prank, a form of satire or something like that. Terrible logo to boot.

      • John Crane says:

        It is, always has been. A site born out of frustrated London MPC artists a long time ago. Please don’t take it seriously.

      • minoton says:

        Maybe it’s something born out of a prank that could be turned to use for the benefit of artists everywhere?

  42. mattD says:

    You will achieve nothing in childish bickering. You have to be focused on core issues, international trade and tax abuse.

    You know that every london and vancouver vfx house would go bust overnight if they tried to continue working on multiple us studio movies without tax sweetners. The owners even admit it as a blackmail threat.

    You know also that plenty of tax payers in thise countries hate with venom the fact that crony connected company owners can grease personal relationships with politicians to skim off a few hundred million here or there from the taxpayer cash cow. If you help their local citizen tax payer organisations and watchdogs to the real picture of what is happening at the coal face, you suddendly have 100,000
    dedicated supporters of your cause
    fighting your corner.

    If you talk about suiciders, well, you are wasting your time and not living in reality. Your parents should have smacked you when you were young and screaming for ice cream, telling you ‘no!’, you do not have hissy fits and sulks to solve lifes issues.

    Producers arent bothered. Its part of the job makeup. You are just a statistic. Get over it. It only changes when angry tax payers turnup with burning torches at the city halls to drag out the politicians and make them answerable to their actions. You say to producer X, you can hurt the feelings of this delicate artist fflower that you will never see again in your life, and then you can get a big house, holiday home, fancy sports car, diamond neclace for your mistress, or you can do the right
    thing. Well you know what the right thing for them to do is.

    So manup, live in the real world, fight your corner in ways that actually may work.

  43. mattD says:

    Its not a ray of hope but tax payer funded subsidies of us studio work will eventully collapse in all those countries. Its soviet style economics, it has never worked in history ever. But it may take a long time before economic realities or tax payer revolts occur in those countries and some kind of trade based on real economics resumes. Lleft to its own devices.

  44. Graeme Cracker says:

    More knighthoods for VFX!

    After reading this article, you realize that unpaid OT is a Great British government-sanctioned tradition. (It also indirectly inspired the opening track off the White Album!)

    Enjoy: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I’m_Backing_Britain

  45. VFX_Reckoning says:

    So I didn’t know this, but apparently the United States Department of Labor offers trade adjustment assistance to individuals who file a petition for job loss due to outsourcing, foreign trade, or a shift in production to a foreign country.

    Does anyone happen to know if there has been any petitions filed for vfx workers?

    (You only need at least 3 individuals from a company to file and the department of labor investigates to determine if the company is trade-injured. If so, they offer assistance for health-care, tax credits, job search and relocation expenses. etc.)

  46. hector says:

    Seems like…don’t want to hurt , but chances that a union to be created – are really close to none.
    Artists are the first to be blamed, since they don’t want to unionize.
    They prefer to work crazy hours , sometimes for nothing.

  47. vfxmafia says:

    Hey, did the 2-pop jobs forum disappear?

    • minoton says:

      Looks like it’s under construction.
      You weren’t actually expecting anything to be there, were you? 😉

      • vfxmafia says:

        No…LOL….the only way to get on jobs this season…is to be in contact with the recruiters and sups…..

        I do so love watching who has more job postings Canada or UK.

    • VFX_Reckoning says:

      No kidding. What other job boards have the few L.A. postings? I know VES has one…

      Last I heard 2-pop was hacked or something and they were working on getting it back up. But I’m not sure if thats what was really going on.

      • minoton says:

        I think all the recruiters hit all the same ones with postings. This one could be a good fallback site:
        http://www.cgmeetup.net/home/jobs/
        Recruiters post in various LinkedIn groups, as well. But like vfxmafia said, it’s hard keeping score between Canada and the UK! 🙂

      • VfxVet says:

        Just curious. I understand the anger from LA artists about jobs leaving California. But why does Weta get a free pass? They are subsidized more by NZ taxpayers than any studio in Canada or the UK, and yet all the anger is directed at Canada on sites like this? Why? Is it just because most of the people posting here are from Sony or R&H and are pissed that their studios started Vancouver branches? If so, I find it a little myopic. Weta hires way more artists using taxpayer $ than Sony, R&H, and DD combined. They peak at over 1000 people, of whom 500+ are highly paid foreign workers.

        BaseFX in China is not only subsidized, but pays salaries so low American labor could never compete on a level playing field. They’ve got hundreds of artists and continue to expand daily. Why are you all so fixated on Canada? This is a global issue, and you have a lot more to be worried about in this industry than jobs going to Vancouver. Just saying.

      • minoton says:

        VfxVet, speaking for myself, I think the reason Canada (at the moment, primarily BC) gets the most attention is one you touched on correctly, but didn’t fully follow through. Yes, companies such as Sony, DD, R&H, ILM, Scanline, Method, et. al. have opened offices there, not in NZ. But what you didn’t state was that many of these companies in the US either closed down facilities in order to coerce artists to move there or be laid off, or still have functional US facilities, but state they will only recruit/hire for Canada, and then only pay a pittance for relocation costs. I believe that’s why BC gets the most attention because of the direct US to BC connection of the facilities. It sucks to work for an American facility and have them tell you “Want to keep your job? Move to Vancouver.” But fortunately, the citizens of NZ and other subsidized areas are waking up to the costs of the film subsidies.

      • vfxmafia says:

        To VFXvet:
        “why does weta get a free pass?”

        1. Do you have the actual subsidy numbers from WETA? It doesn’t seem to be that much compared to all the provences of Canada. (As far as I know)

        In just BC, Vancouver provence alone spent in 2011-$100 million, in 2012- $437 million, and is estimated in 2013 – $320 million. Thats close to a Billion $ spent in 3 years. And thats just ONE provenece! The other provences of Canada actually have higher % of subsidys compared to BC.

        I can hardly believe NZ is spending that kind of money. I thought NZ gave $32 million to WB for Hobbit….

        2. WETA also happens to be one of the top studios ever…including one of the most innovative creature pipes done to this day. They can survive without subsidies.

        All the Candian companies have is basically out-of-the-box V-ray pipes. They offer no innovation to the industry other than the money their government offers…and cheap unexperienced labor. They don’t have the top talent…and they are using the same software as a commercial shop.

        Least the UK has places that have game like D-Neg…..

        WETA has a great matte department, a great sculpt department (Digital AND Practical), insane fur, water, and has a killer Renderman pipe….bla, bla, bla…..

        If Joe Letteri or Gino Acevedo worked in Canada…I would stop talking shit about Canada.

        Whats does Canada have? Barely any Canadian VFX artists, and all young experienced kids (mostly from other countries). And mostly Canada handles a limited section of VFX….(they mostly blow stuff up)….No creatures, no water, no fur….and I hate to say it….by alot of the 911 calls Los angeles got…Canada has a problem with finding matte painters.

        and lastly……

        3. WETA people don’t come on this website and talk shit about US shops….Canadians do…..

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        Actually I think it has a lot more to do with Weta paying higher wages than LA and Canadian companies paying lower.
        As for software innovations, ever hear of a little software called Alias Research Inc ( makers of Power animator, later Maya )? or Side FX ( makers of Houdini )?
        Both are Canadian companies.
        And what’s with the Vray hate ( originally out of Ukraine ) ?
        I’m sorry but it’s clear you know nothing about the origin of innovation in this industry.
        Evidently a lot has originated from the States, but a lot has also originated from Canada and the UK ( The Forundry ) and Germany ( mental images and Flowline ), Spain ( Realflow and Arnold) etc etc.
        Stop with the divisiveness, you are just growing the divide even further. I understand your frustration but this is an international forum in a global industry.
        The jingoism prevalent in the comments here, is the reason why people are increasingly alienated with this blog. A shame, really.

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        Actually V-ray is out of Bulgaria, not Ukraine, my bad.
        Excellent piece of kit, use it every day.
        And I meant to say The Foundry obviously.

      • hector says:

        VFX Mafia is right. But unfortunately it is way too late…

      • mmmmm says:

        @vfxmafia

        There is a lot of top talent in Canada hence why MPC Vancouver won an oscar for the Water work on life of PI, and why they will probably get a nomination for Man of Steel. Image Engine have some insane talent. A guy by the name of John Haddon has developed some insane stuff to allow Image Engine to create amazing work did you forget there Nomination for District 9.

        Just some of the amazing work done recently in Vancouver with more than just junior talent. Life of Pi, Elysium, Man of Steel, Seventh Son, Lone Ranger, Iron Man 3….

        Not to shabby for a place with no talent

      • LAskyline says:

        John Haddon is a Brit and Peter Muyzers (D9 nomination, Elysium VFX supe) is German. And everyone knows that Pi’s Oscar was for the tiger (animation supervision by a guy from the Netherlands, now based at Method Vancouver) – MPC’s supervisor on the show in Vancouver is (I believe) French. Seems like Vancouver’s success is primarily European.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Wait so your telling me Canada’s VFX studios are as good as WETA? Your smoking crack laced Subsidy cigarettes…..

        Btw all the concepting and design was done by WETA and/or I think Wingnut for District 9.

        http://www.wetanz.com/d9/

      • vfxmafia says:

        To Charlie Dont Surf

        “Stop with the divisiveness”…

        I firmly believe we have to be divided by country. The only way we can unionize is by individual country….

        All the countries do not share the same labor laws….or the same OT, or the same budgetary rules, or the same currency rates, and subsidy rules.

        Canada and the UK are not playing fairly…..”the world market” concept is exactly what is strangling labor, labor rights, and the labor movement.

      • mmmmm says:

        I never said they were better than weta and I am an ex Weta person who worked on D9 and the main reason it was nominated was the first class work done by the team at IE like many Canadians including the Animation suoe who is wait for it Canadian. You ta;lk of the lack of talent but the fact is there is alot of talent here who choose to be here.

        The funny thing when people listed of the people none of them were people from LA which makes no sense when you claim all the talent is LA based. I am a vet of Weta and thing they are amazing but for all talent Weta has they failed to win the oscar last year.

        And as for pi winning for the tiger well yess it was fanastic but take away the water and the film has far less impact FACT.

        You may continue to bitch that Vancouver has no talent but most of the talent choose to be here and then the others are LA based workers who do not make up the leaders and senior talent here.

      • minoton says:

        I would say most artists don’t choose to be in Vancouver, but are there like Cro-Magnon man following six mammoths looking for the next valley to strip clean of foliage before moving on to the next.

      • VancouverVFX says:

        Wow, VFXMafia, your answer really shows how ignorant you are to the things you are talking about here.

        1) Weta can get subsidies ranging from $10-$50 Million PER film from the NZ Government. They have blanket approvals to bring in up to 1000 foreign workers per year, no questions asked. Canada has nothing like that and you contstantly inflate the BC tax credits with bullshit scare numbers like 60% rebates which are totally inaccurate. Was the $320 Million in BC rebates that you claim in 2013 all from VFX work done here? Or is that lumping in live action shoots as well? Or is that yet another bogus number based on some formula that’s been cooked up which wildly skews to paint an anti-subsidy picture? In any case, it doesn’t really matter. Vancouver, Montreal, London, Sydney, Wellington, are ALL offering rebates and competing with each other to bring work to their countries. The point is this ISNT a Vancouver or a Canada issue and the fact you turning it into one shows how ignorant and divisive you are. That’s probably why this site hasn’t been updated in months and VFXSoldier has become a laughing stock in the industry.

        2) Your depiction of Vancouver VFX being off the shelf Vray houses is so laughable it hardly deserves a response. Almost every studio up in Vancouver have unique, very advanced pipelines, much of which are inherited and modified from their parent companies. Some, like Image Engine, are completely homegrown. I could go on and on, but it’s clear you know nothing about how vfx houses in Vancouver operate or pipelines up here. Off the shelf Vray. LOL.

        3) You claim that vfx houses in Vancouver are full of kids and junior artists, but if Joe Letteri or Gino moved here you would stop talking shit. LOL. I can name half a dozen VFX/DFX/CG Sups IN Vancouver who worked with Joe/Gino at Weta and are on his level of experience and talent. I know dozens of artists, from matte painting and environments, to lighting, comp, and fx that CAME from Weta and work in Vancouver now. That fact that you think Weta is some pinnacle of creative talent and those same people aren’t in Vancouver now shows how little you know. If someone from Weta walked into MPC/ILM/DD/Method/Prime Focus/Sony Vancouver I guarantee they would know half the people working there. Your delusion that vfx houses in Vancouver are full of kids and junior artists is so wrong it doesn’t even deserve a reply. I’ve worked at VFX houses in London, Sydney, LA, NZ, and Canada and I can tell you it’s the same talent pool around the world. It’s a global industry and you should wake up and pull your head out of your ass because your post just sounds so ignorant and wrong it’s not even funny.

      • vfxmafia says:

        To VancouverVFX:

        So let me get this straight….you worked at WETA and now you work at Image Engine…so Image Engine is now as good as WETA?

        WETA has custom muscle systems, custom renderman librarys, a huge paint team, some of the best sculptors in the world, and one of the best independant concept shops ever done…..in “WETA workshop”…..they are as good as practicals as they are digital…..

        Amazing how Vancouver ramped up so fast….

      • VancouverVFX says:

        Wow, way to derail from all the facts Mafia. Did I say Image Engine was AS good at Weta?? No. I said, you claim you would stop talking sh!t if Joe Letteri or Gino worked in Vancouver and that all Vancouver has are junior artists and off the shelf Vray solutions.

        First off, MPC, Sony, IE, DD, ILM, and R&H Vancouver do NOT in fact have off the shelf Vray pipelines. Which I know for a fact. So your initial premise just shows how little you know about the Vancouver VFX houses. Most are using Katana, and renderers vary between Arnold, Vray, Prman, and custom renderers. NONE use off the shelf Vray.

        Secondly, I said I could name a large number of top level supervisors, and artists who left Weta and now work IN Vancouver. I was only answering your point that Weta is some mythical creative house and none of that exists elsewhere. That’s inane. Larry Gritz, who is an industry legend (and posts here) now calls Sony Vancouver home. Greg Butler, who Supervised much of the lighting/lookdev on Gollum at Weta on Rings is Head of VFX for Framestore Vancouver and has been here for years. I could go ON and ON with people who were high up at Weta and other Studios who now work in Vancouver full time. MANY of whom are Canadian in the first place. Your post that Vancouver doesn’t have senior talent is not just ignorant but 100% wrong.

        As for your statement that Weta is good, and has great software, I don’t disagree. I never said Weta was bad in any way. They have great talent there. My point is that same talent has spread to shops around the world in the last 10 years. It’s a GLOBAL industry. In any case, I think the original poster was only pointing out the hypocrisy that you guys like to target Vancouver when Weta, and shops all over the world in Australia and London are chasing the same subsidies. By being so single minded about targeting Vancouver because R&H, Sony, DD, or any other studio has relocated there recently and it’s personal to you, you’re missing the bigger picture. Cuz I have news for you my friend. Those same shops are already chasing bigger rebates in Montreal (sony, Ilm, Framestore, MPC).

        Posts like you have made on here recently just serve to de-legitimize the entire dialogue and make this site more of a joke than it already is.

      • Easy says:

        What a surprise, a guy who’s job relies on his government’s subsidies to keep working in his home country thinks that a website that is fighting against those subsidies is a joke.

      • vfxmafia says:

        To VFX_vancouver:

        I guess my point is Canada is a very small country population wise. Im sure they have some vet guys as sups that they flown in…..but i was refering to more to the everyday talent.

        Vancouver has a population of 600,000 and BC has a population less than Los Angeles (around 4-5 million), Canada has a population of 34 million and the US had a population of 350 million. We churn out alot of artists here. California is the 8th largest economy in the world….im stupified that such a small country is spending so much on subsidies….when they have such a small population.

        The stories that I hear is that most shops have 80% of their talent is foreign (europe or US)…..I have also heard of alot of matte paintings getting pulled from various canadian shops. (inlcuding the movies you mentioned) I also hear alot of fucked up assets that come back from Canada.

        Its interesting with places like Sony……still do alot of the modeling , texturing, and look dev at Culver city and Vancouver is basic comping and rendering…..it seems like the hard stuff that sets the look and required finessing is still done in US.

        But hey thats one senario….and your right i don’t know much about BC VFX companies other than the shit i hear on the rumor mill……..

        Just ask yourself….would Canada have a VFX industry if it wasn’t renting its way into the movie biz through subsidies?

      • vfxmafia says:

        And I have to disagree with you that this website is a joke.

        When the CVD case goes through and your companies choke because they don’t have 40% of their budget paid for by the Canadian government……

        The only joke will be on Canadian VFX companies (especially the ones that compare themselves to WETA)

      • mmmmm says:

        to vfxmafia

        Thats what I love the rumour mill and people passing around false information.

        1. LA companies saving Canadian companies that fail.

        In recent times it has been the opposite in companies picking up work from LA based companies that failed. MPC along with I think Buf had to step in and help on Green Lantern when Sony were not delivering .

        MPC stepped up and helped finish on both Percy Jackson and Black sky when R&H LA failed to deliver and the irony was they hired all the laid of R&H crew to do it.

        Has the reverse happened maybe but it has happened my whole career I know Weta and various london shops are often bailing out companies on 911 work.

        2. Sony only having easy work in Vancouver.

        While yes departments are split where they are trying to utilize the strongest crew in both locations they are for sure having more departments in Vancouver, They now have models, texture and many other department with crew in Vancouver and several capable lookdev artists. And recently I was told both models and textures were off shored to non sony companies in asia like many of the big companies .

        3 population size.

        Whilst yes merica is bigger the question is how many artists and senior people are actually Cali natives or as I suspect a large portion of them are foreign or atleast from foriegn states.

        Anyway goodluck with the CVD we can all see what happens as I don’t think it will play out at you seem to think. Most studios have foreign operations where I assume they will start running there films from if it means saving a buck.

        I would say you should write to your government but I hear they are taking an unplanned holiday.

      • anon says:

        I guess the whole question here vfxmafia was why Weta gets a free pass from most of these discussions about subsidies and so much hatred is thrown at Vancouver. It would appear the answer is:

        1) It’s easier to hate Vancouver because Sony/R&H/DD have set up shops there in the same time zone and it’s easier to hate on them
        2) Because you are a huge Weta Fanboy

        Ok. At least I know where the discussion is coming from then. Since it’s not based on any facts or actual discussions about the merits of subsidies as a global issue I’ll feel free to tune out now and go back to work. I’ll check on this site again in 6 months and see if the url still works.

      • vfxmafia says:

        To Anon:

        I guess my question is …..how much does WETA take in subsidys? If i remember Jackson forced something like $30 million from NZ…for them to greenlit the Hobbit. (Which is not alot compared to Canada). I think the big compromise was NZ actually changed labor laws there increasing OT penalties. And I think they beat up the actors union (but i don’t remember..have to look it up).But my impression was WETA didn’t take alot in subsidies…or am I wrong?

        And yes, I have a great deal of respect for shops that do it right. WETA, ILM, and even DNEG. Question is why do some of the Canadian guys talk shit about WETA? (I don’t get this new breed of VFX artist these days)

      • youuuuu says:

        I dont think anyone is hating on Weta its the fact that other companies benefiting from subsidies get a free ride. The NZ subsidies are pretty genourous and I forget the figure but they may have gotten 30 million back for the first film so for the 3 films it could be as much as 100 million .

        In Canada they may have subsidies of 300 million for a year but that is split over as many as 30 or so films.

      • subsidise this! says:

        mmmmm what do you think of pixar vancouver closing? surely with all the insane talent, it must have been a huge money spinner. Odd to shutdown, no? But, they did say they will have a look at more competitive subsidy provinces like quebec and ontario, so all those pixar workers can packup their belongings and move on over to there for a while if thye apply and are accepted, probably with a wage cut. Well, as long as they didn’t buy homes or have families,so on. How do people plan for any kind of life like this in the subsidy provinces? Particularly an expensive place like vancouver where you really need to be pulling top wages each month to buy or rent a home (buying probably impossible)? When your job is always dangling on the edge of politician decisions and voter sentiment?

  48. hector says:

    I think someone is very upset. Someone is blaming Americans for the actual situation in this industry.
    vfxheaven.com

    • John Crane says:

      i would just ignore that website, its a parody/joke site.

      • hector says:

        right…but in reality , it is as I said. Workers , I don’t have any idea why, but workers here in Canada, are blaming the Americans for the actual situation in vfx.
        I said I don’t know why they blame them, since they have work and the americans don’t.
        But I think , once the work will return ( and it will) to states, situation will change. i hope it will.

    • vfxmafia says:

      To John Crane,

      “Vfxheaven is a just a joke website”.

      Yeah and the joke is on us!

  49. hector says:

    I can see the artists in Vancouver are extremely proud – and they consider themselves sort of = winners.
    For now, yes. They might do some money – but the magic will not last and here is why:
    1. Movies are garbage, consumers are waiting for something new and more likely quality than quantity.
    2.Race to the bottom is open, so , if yesterday was LA . today Vancouver ( and I think for another year or two) but later , this will move to some other location and using cheaper workforce ( cheaper than 10/hour )
    3. But the most important factor that will create the implosion of this industry = people . Arrogant people will contribute without knowing to the end of the VFX in the future. The fact that you are God and your next worker is a shit, will definitely have a negative impact in the future. You cannot do/promote negativity and expect to grow.

    You might come back after 6 months and see no link for this page, but you will be busy in finding another location to work and to keep your high rate on.

    There is no way out , except a personal one.

  50. Handle says:

    Welcome to the vfxmafia blog! Watch as he pits an entire global vfx community against the noble yet naive cause of the VFX Soldier with rumour mill facts, blatantly obtuse misinformation with the fury and vocabulary of an irate 13 year old blogger.

    • vfxmafia says:

      To handle:

      And yet again…another newbie self patronizing foreign VFX worker who makes no point…and throws out couple insults to the blog and unemployed LA VFX workers everywhere!

      • Handle says:

        You have diluted this blog to the point where all you do is invite insults with your tantrums. You are hurting VFX Soldiers reputation and mission. The level of class and maturity you display on this blog has only harmed the movement. You complain about how arrogant artists will never form a union or accomplish any sort of organization since we can’t support each other. You are that arrogant artist. You have contributed immensely to the degradation and opinion of many peoples attitudes towards “L.A. workers”. You have become the face of this blog and the reason many people have left and lost interest. Keep posting and soon you’ll be the only one yelling in here.

        There are no unemployed LA VFX artists “everywhere”. Only in L.A.

      • vfxmafia says:

        To Handle:

        The only postings I have made are for Labor rights, Industry wide standards and practices, budget bidding reform, the formation of unions, and abolition of subsidies. And I thought I was pretty articulate about it.

      • Not So Hot On VFX Anymore says:

        “There are no unemployed LA VFX artists “everywhere”. Only in L.A.”
        Not so simple, and not so fast. Some have left LA and are still unemployed. Some have moved to Vancouver and have since become unemployed. And when attitudes towards taxes change in Vancouver, there will be many LA transplants headed for the next locale deemed economically viable by the powers that be.

      • vfxmafia says:

        And I found out the total subsidy money taken by WETA. (and its a shit load of money and I stand corrected)

        “New Zealand taxpayers have so far contributed NZ$98 million to the Hobbit trilogy.”

        http://variety.com/2013/film/news/hobbit-trilogy-has-cost-561-million-so-far-1200694351/

      • VancouverVFX says:

        Exactly. You stand corrected about how much subsidies Weta gets. You stand corrected about how every studio in Vancouver uses an off the shelf Vray pipeline. You stand corrected about there being no top-end VFX talent in Vancouver. Hmmm, that about sums it up. I think you stand corrected on just about every point you made.

        /End Match

      • vfxmafia says:

        To VancouverVFX:

        Listen don’t put words in my mouth….. I’d love to have a discussion with you about VFX someday but this forum really isn’t the place for it……..(if you can call this a discussion anymore).

        Alot of peoples livelyhoods are at stake, with familys, mortgages, careers, and kids. Maybe we should take a moment and reflect on that before we start arguing over Vray.

        Maybe one day we will find out if Vancouver can stand on its own merits without subsidys.

        I am going to go enjoy my weekend…I suggest you do the same.

  51. Not So Hot On VFX Anymore says:

    Hopefully the author of this blog will start a new topic. And the air could be cleared. Unless it too, runs away…

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