How You Can Help Demonstrate Domestic VFX Industry Support

In my last post, Tom Atkins asked how support for our effort could be demonstrated.

As I’ve explained, our law firm has recommended that the best way to mitigate VFX subsidies from harming the industry is by going directly to federal trade court. If our law firm can prove that those subsidies are causing injury and we have support from the domestic VFX industry, a tax (countervailing duty) would be levied upon US studios to offset the effect of subsidies they receive.

Since this law already exists, no new legislation would be needed and attempting to circumvent those duties is very difficult. It is our belief that utilizing this mechanism with the formation of a trade organization will help serve as a catalyst to negotiate terms for VFX sustainability with the US studios.

I met with the Washington DC-based legal team last week to get a better understanding of how domestic support could be demonstrated. Now the easiest way would be if a company owner signed a confidential memo of support but we know that many companies are owned by studios that benefit from subsidies like Sony Pictures Imageworks and Disney’s ILM. Also, other facilities like Digital Domain have facilities in subsidized regions and are reluctant to support the effort out of fear for US studios.

So how can you generate industry support without owners?

If a majority of domestic professionals at companies like ILM, Imageworks, Digital Domain, Zoic, Method Studios, etc support our effort that would be acceptable.

How can those domestic professionals express support?

A confidential memo made up of either signatures or emails (written or electronic) submitted to the law firm.

Do we have to win support from all the domestic companies?

No, we would probably need the support of companies that combined produce a total of at least 25% of visual effects for TV or feature films in the US. Given the dwindling amount of VFX done in the US you could probably easily achieve that threshold with support from just a few of the companies above, but more is better.

What about professionals that are unemployed or not working in the industry or have moved out of the country?

You can still help depending on what year the court would base it’s measurement of domestic VFX production which would probably be one of the last few years. If you were employed at a domestic vfx house that year, then your support would be needed and yes, I’m looking right at you former Rhythm & Hues workers.

When would we need this by?

We still have a lot of work ahead of us setting up an official trade organization so we can attain funding for this effort. However, for now it would be good to get a head count of supporters where you work or used to work. Once you get a good head count send me an email telling me how many support us at your facility so I can discuss with our team what the reception would be for the effort.

Our law firm mentioned something that’s worth noting: These cases have been successfully administered by people in many rural industries like shrimping and lumber. Many of them were fisherman that had either a high school degree or none at all and even they were able form an ad hoc group to generate support for a CVD. Given how tech saavy we all are in VFX, I’m hopeful we could do the same.

Soldier On.

66 Responses to How You Can Help Demonstrate Domestic VFX Industry Support

  1. Adrian says:

    So say we all, Batman. Let’s roll.

  2. billgilman says:

    Well job, Soldier. Anyone reading this, if you have ever complained about or merely frightened by subsidies, put your real, physical support behind this. This includes the international community – stop the subsidy madness. We can make this happen.

  3. Andreas jablonka says:

    Nice to hear an update! Thanks soldier

  4. Dave Rand says:

    I think we can all agree, especially in these times here in the USA, politicians can just get in the way. We’ll never have a truly internationally robust industry as long as they can pull a switch and tell us how it’s going to be. If our industry was based on talent and branding minus any geo political oligopoly we’d all see a better future with more choices and far better and more profitable products like Gravity…(cheers to Framestore). We could all breath better, create more, without the FEAR that comes with our broken business models.

  5. Tom Atkin says:

    Thanks, VFXSoldier.

    This explanation is quite helpful, and I hope it brings qualified signers to the table to assist your efforts.

    Again, I applaud all you have been doing…kudos.

    Tom

    PS – If my signature as Founder of VES would be at all worthwhile, please, send me the paperwork tomatkin@sbcglobal.net. Be advised, however, as I have stated several times…in the short term I would also support subsidies if the California legislature would approve them to aid post/vfx.

    This is not hypocrisy in my mind, but rather covering all the bases with no long term downside that I can see. Truly, I would be pleased with any assistance that the California visual effects industry can generate…now.

    And, I fully understand and agree that we would all be better off without subsidies, but I worry that politics can find a way around this if it wishes to do so no matter what the economic support is called and how it is implemented. Moreover, the bigger bucks for lawyers, accountants and lobbying will be extremely hard to overcome…but, certainly, worth the effort that VFXSoldier has put into this.

  6. vfxmafia says:

    If there was ever a rallying cry….

    PLEASE…..
    If you worked at R&H during the bankruptcy…please send an email to VFXsoldier documenting your story.

    PLEASE….
    If you worked at DD during the bankruptcy….or during the forced exodus to the Vancouver studio…..please send an email to VFXsoldier documenting your story.

    PLEASE….
    If you worked at Sony Imageworks…during the forced exodus to New Mexico or the Vancouver office……..please send an email to VFXsoldier documenting your story.

    PLEASE…
    If you worked at Method and were laid off due to work going to the Vancouver office………please send an email to VFXsoldier documenting your story.

    PLEASE…
    If you worked at Scanline and during the forced exodus to Vancouver ……please send an email to VFXsoldier documenting your story.

    the list goes on and on……Asylum, Cafe FX, Zoic, Dreamworks, Disney. The one thing you have control of is your story. Help soldier get your story into the hands of the law firm.

    Your voice matters.

    • vfxmafia says:

      I forgot Pixomondo…

      if you got laid off due to Vancouver..or had problems getting paid…..…please send an email to VFXsoldier documenting your story.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Just to clarify, while your stories are great, I’m just asking to get a head count at the facility you worked at of people who support a CVD.

        It’s just a temperature reading. Stories of displacement will be documented as a part of the case later.

        >

      • vfxmafia says:

        For the head count….what info should we send? and to whom shall we send it to…..VFXsoldier or directly to the lawfirm?

        Does this apply only to certain companies? and is there time table? (did you have to work for this company at such and such at date)

      • VFX Soldier says:

        All I’m asking is to find a place that you worked within the last year and contact the people you worked with there. Ask them if they support the CVD and just email me:

        Hi,

        I worked at Luma Pictures in 2013 and I was able to find x workers that support the CVD.

        It’s as simple as that.

        >

    • VFXWorkerBee says:

      And the rhetoric continues in the pointless us-vs-them battle that this site and others in the VFX industry propagate to pit LA against Vancouver.

      #1 ) NO ONE was forced to move to Vancouver. There are many thousands of VFX jobs still in California, including many hundreds at DD/Sony. In fact, Sony Vancouver recently LAID OFF over a hundred people when Cloudy 2 wrapped. ILM Vancouver essentially shut down over the summer and artists there didn’t work for months. R&H Vancouver let most people go. Pixar just closed it’s Vancouver branch. I could go on and on. Vancouver is not the Honey Pot of endless opportunity that people here make it out to be. It has the same ups and downs as shops in LA, with places opening and closing, and laying people off on a REGULAR basis. As soon as you LA artists realize we’re all in this together, and it’s not Vancouver vs LA you would begin to reach a global audience. Until then you’re just pissing people off with your arrogance and rhetoric.

      #2) Studios have set up shops around the WORLD for the last 10 years. Subsidies run rampant everywhere. New Zealand, London, Australia. All of the short-sighted anti-Vancouver BS on this site is exactly why no one is listening. The countries you aren’t targeting in your posts are just laughing at you because you’ve all become so short-sighted about one specific area because you happen to work at places that have recently set up in Vancouver. Guess what? They’re also looking at India, Montreal, Australia. THIS ISNT ABOUT VANCOUVER.

      #3) If you drive all the work out of Vancouver, London, or wherever the current target is, what do you think is going to happen?? It’s all going back to LA? Wake up people. It will just go to China and India (already happening) or places where your CVD’s or legal tariffs mean nothing. So many people here are ready to cut their nose off to spite their face. Look around. You don’t even know what battle you’re fighting.

      • VFX worker says:

        You are right it shouldn’t be LA vs (whomever). Can you share your insider information on what companies are Hiring in LA? that would be helpful. Who should we contact?

        “thousands of VFX jobs still in California, including many hundreds at DD/Sony” — This is not true, Sony LA just let go just about everyone including Senior Artist. I haven’t heard of an opening at DD LA in a very long time. I have emailed both companies and Have friends that have been lucky enough to stay(for now) and there are no openings. Most friends of mine at Sony are being told day to day/ Week to week if they are being extended.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        You are very ill informed WorkerBee:
        1) DD will close feature in venice(LA) and therby reducing the total headcount of all devisions in LA to maybe 100 people. Sony used to have 500+ people now they have maybe 40 artists. Its NOT hundreds of vfx jobs left in LA. id estimate 75% has left not just to VAN but a majority has gone there

        2) Studios have opened satellites yes. Sony/R&H were the pioneers of India.That was for LABOUR cost, not subsidy money. Film Studios are forcing our vfx shops to open locations in subsidy regions like Van or Montreal. Its not like Van is the choice for its huge qualified talent pool. Van had some vfx and good quality but not LA level and not as much capacity before the subsidy.

        AUstralia,NZ have opened their OWN shops. and thats great. If they can compete on quality and not just subsidized pricing. Weta can, but would RSP get work if it wasnt cheaper than anywhere else? I doubt it. Animal made its niche alright. London is capable on skill alone, they dont need subsidies. It be interesting to see how much would be produced there if it wasnt for the money. Id waged about 1/3 less but still a thriving industry.

        3) The scarecrow of india and china is not valid. sure they get better but they cannot produce all the vfx for all blockbusters there. if they could, it would be there already believe me! Prime Focus Mumbai is desperately recruiting westeners to fly down there to help finish sin city 2. we will see how much that will go over budget and overtime.

        In a world without subsidize the market would rebalance to skill and connections being valued more than just money. Id say 1/3 would flow back to la for the convenience in proximity to the filmakers/studios.

        Also CVD’s are an american thing. doesnt matter where you produce it, as soon as its imported it will be taxed and that should scare the execs to not farm it out in the first place as it could ruin the credit they get and thereby voiding the need to go to these locations in the first place.

      • VFX worker says:

        The only openings I see online on the job forums are Montreal, Toronto and London.

      • #1, no one is forced but you are told you have no job and here ar the other locations you can go to. Also, day or weeks later they hire someone else at a lower rate to work in the LA office. I know this for a fact since a good friend of mine took my exact job, title, desk, everything and did exactly what I was doing almost 1 month after I was told they had no positions in LA. But they had several in Vancouver / New Mexico. Also, he was interviewed the week I was let go…

        It’s hard to say that sony does not force you when they leave you with no options. Sure the lawyers and the people like you who want to believe this is not true can go on. But the fact remains they hire to LA, get you hooked, then try and ship you to Vancouver since the turnover in Vancouver is much higher. Mainly because people figure out the cost of living is too much in Vancouver. You need to be making as much if not more than what you make in the LA area.

      • X-Sony says:

        VFX worker bee:

        I don’t think you understand the concept of subsidys. The subsidys are paid to the big 6 studios located in the US. If you stop the subsidys in the CVD case you stop subsidys EVERYWHERE. All the money for Blockbuster VFX movies comes from the US.

        You have to understand why the closings in Los Angeles are NOT the same as layoffs everywhere else. Los Angeles was a mecca of VFX…the birth place..and the home of all the movie studios. LA is not merely expiriencing common layoffs. It is witnessing the extinguishing of companies…..(which means we are not just facing job losses but the loss of entire companies.)

        Yes Pixar Vancouver closed yesterday. Those 100 jobs are not coming back. Now Imagine that 10 times worse in LA.

        Yes VFX workers are united in the fight for labor rights, being paid on time, and reasonable working conditions and hours. But the subsidy issue skirts local laws…and is an international issue.

        VFX workers should be united…but by nature are separated by subsidy because different countries compete (and sometimes compete within their own country….like US states and Vancouver vs. Toronoto vs. Montreal). Subsidys are the enemy of every VFX artist because it causes distortions in the market.

      • minoton says:

        This, from a pretty smart guy in the VFX industry . . .

        . . . “economic war is being waged by Canada, England, New Zealand–and California is not fighting back. It’s loosing a war it’s not fighting. [It’s an] extremely unlevel playing field.” –John Knoll

        http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/behind-screen/reflections-siggraph-making-money-are-594123

      • VFXWorkerBee says:

        I am certainly sympathetic to the many artists laid off in the LA area. The point is that those SAME ups and downs happen in Vancouver. And London. And Australia. And yes, there are still THOUSANDS of VFX jobs in LA. I’m sorry if you don’t have one, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

        Sorry Jablonka, DD Venice still has close to 300 people. You are wrong. There are less than 80 in Vancouver.. Will that change? Probably. They certainly talk about it changing. As they have for years. And you know what? DD Venice has never gone below 200 people. DD Vancouver goes down to almost nothing between shows. A skeleton crew. Does Venice do that? NO. I realize there are plans to expand to a few hundred in Vancouver, but the biggest it’s ever been was slightly over 200. And never bigger than DD Venice. Those are the facts. It’s a hire and fire studio with less stability than anything you’re going to get in LA. As are most of the Vancouver shops. Sadly, Pixar was one of the last that had permanent staff and treated employees well up here.

        Between Sony, DD, DWA, and Disney alone there are still more than 1000 people employed at those studios combined in LA. That doesn’t count any of the Northern California studios like ILM/PDI/Pixar who have 1000’s more.

        Many of you on here paint a very inaccurate picture of what the VFX world is like in Vancouver because your particular company set up a branch here. Yeah, Sony set up here. And guess what? They just laid off over 100 people after Cloudy. ILM set up here, and guess what? Over the summer they had less than 10 people. R&H set up here, and guess what? They have less than 30 people now. Pixar Canada set up here and just closed and laid off 100 people. DD drops down to skeleton crews between shows. As does Prime, Method, etc.

        This is a GLOBAL issue. You don’t show up in Vancouver and get handed a free ticket with a list of all the places you get to work because the jobs were transplanted from LA. In fact, the salaries are lower here, and on par, there are WAY more ups and downs to the industry in Vancouver than any of you suffer through in LA. It’s hilarious to read posts from people in LA bashing Vancouver when they have NO idea what the job market is really like up here.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        For the sake of full disclosure I should mention that I have worked at DD Vancouver and IN Vancouver for 10 months and seen the misery of mid level artist being overwhelmed by demand for A level work. Vancouver FilmSchool is powering half the facilities.

        Anyway DD Venice will cease to exist by years end. your 300 people will be gone. SOME will relocate to the Playa Commercials building. Ill guess maybe 50 or so. Then the building is full.

        Vancouver IS facing the same hire and fire as other countries yes. but with jobs that were in LA first. The ONLY reason they even get to Hire in Van is tax incentives. Dont thin for a second that the studios are there for the non existing talent pool. Transplants are filling it, and students are learning but it was not a creative choice to go to Montreal or Vancouver it was the subsidies.
        You are saying you lost money investing in a bad stock, same as us, but you did not use your own money, you used ours😉
        I’m sure you wont agree but thats ok. All i can do is correct your facts and let your mess it up again.

        You should NOT throw vfx and feature animation in the same pot. A contract at dw or pixar is much longer than your 3-6 month vfx contract. they are union and provide great benefits. Pixar just closed Vancouver. Why? Subsidies removed next year and movies pushed a year so no need for a short. Boom gone like that.

        CA had prolly 5000-7000 vfx jobs. If really 3000 are left (including animation) that still means we lost over HALF of this. And I think at least 2000 of these went to Vancouver.
        Its not a war of LA vs VAN. I know i sound like that too but its a war of shifting money and relocating workers for no reason but money.
        Vancouver is feeling the sting from Montreal. Maybe in 2 years its all in Montreal. It should all be awarded on merit. VAncouver has great old shops like Rainmaker that do good work. Have Canadian Filmakers use Canadian VFX shops, have British Filmakers use London Shops, have Australians use AZ shops. And have the heart of filmaking, Hollywood use LA shops. Feel free to generate your own industry, support local film funds, make a Bollywood, Wellywood, Canuckwood. Just dont move our Hollywood to the darklands because they subsidize it. Have Canada have lower labour cost and let that be the reason, im cool with that. its stupid seeing how expensive Van is, but apparently Montreal is cheaper. India and China are cheaper (for now). But you get what you pay for.

        Otherwise you end up with Jack the Studio Slayer….

      • minoton says:

        Andreas,

        WORD!!!

      • VfxSingapore says:

        Andreas, if you think India/China are a scarecrow you don’t have a clue what you are talking about. Look up BaseFX. They are doing, and have been doing, FEATURE visual effects work in China. And no, not just the crap work or the roto. Models, textures, and final shot lighting in film. For “little” crap movies like, uh, Pacific Rim…

        If any of you think China can’t compete and do feature quality vfx work you’re delusional. It’s only a matter of time.

        But keep targeting Vancouver. BaseFx, Weta, DNeg and every other company are loving that you can’t see the forest for the trees. Keep your eyes focused on the little guy in front of your in your same time zone while the rest of the global vfx market rolls over you.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        Calm down…BaseFx is a single company that has done great work. Compared to all movies vfx made in a year and all the other 1st calss vfx shops they account for what? 2% of the vfx market? if that? China and India have struggled greatly developing their own name in vfx. Outsourcing of grunt tasks yes, but NOT creative work to western standards. Will it come? Of course, but i have seen maybe a 200% improvement of these countries in the last 6 years. Im not worried that in 2014 half the work will be done in these countries. All they do is hire westerners to train them and then ditch em. In my opinion they should work on vfx for their own markets and sensibilities as the talent is clearly there. Its just not to western taste yet. I repeat myself, if it could been done, it would have been done. why wasnt pacific rim done completely at base fx? or at dneg Singapore? because they cannot deliver this yet.

      • vfxmafia says:

        To VFXsingapore…

        What shots and what exactly did China or India do on Pacific Rim? (I assume you work for ILM Singapore)

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        base fx worked on the shatterdome. you can read more here: http://www.fxguide.com/featured/monster-mayhem-pacific-rim/

        it’s far from an isolated case, base fx have an outsourcing partnership with ILM, and have worked on Star trek, GI Joe and Lone Ranger.

        and here’s the kicker – they used v-ray. I know how you love that renderer. funny thing is: ILM also uses v-ray in the digital matte department.

        I’ve talked about this before. Lots of good work being done in China, India, Singapore ( and others )

        …ever heard about Disney outsourcing ‘Planes’ to Prana in India?
        or MPC shifting assets to Bangalore?

        I’m not being alarmist, I think it’s great they’re getting the chance to work in these projects, god knows there’s a lot of talent there.

        you only need to see the work coming out of here: http://www.fzdschool.com/

        this is student work from a school in Singapore that gives Gnomon and Escape a run for their money:

        http://www.fzdschool.com/gallery_entertainment_01.html

        Anyway, while you guys are focusing on subsidies these guys are producing quality work for a fraction of western prices.

        sure the wages will come up, but not in time to stop a shift of work, only accelerated by this fratricidal CVD crusade.

        I’m done repeating myself, to the point where I almost wish that soldier gets his way and the CVD goes thru…just so you see that not as much work as you think is going to return. sorry to be so negative, I know you’re unemployed and I wish you can return to work as soon as possible. but there is no magic bullet. we are all in this together. good luck.

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        hey Andreas, i am curious.
        Weta have mostly worked with NZ and Canadian filmmakers ( Peter Jackson and James Cameron )
        I’m in Australia where the last 3 projects I’ve worked on have been for Australian directors…and it’s looking like my next one will be for another Australian director.
        When i was in London a lot of projects were done by English/European filmmakers – Chris Nolan springs to mind.
        they all are distributed by US studios ( notice i did not say funded ) as that is the only way to assure international distribution.
        Just recently it was announced that James Packer, an Australian billionaire was investing 450 million to finance 75 films in Hollywood ( partnership with Brett Ratner )
        I’m sure that if you study a little bit about film financing you will find that yes, a lot of it comes from Us sources…a lot also comes from foreign sources.
        So, given this information – where do you feel this work should be done?
        Just so we are clear, about what we really are discussing here.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        Hey Charlie,
        you are absolutely correct that funding has always come from sources besides the us studios. Im german and germany has a huge history of film fonds. Granted they dont amount to much in comparison but your point is valid. Im very happy that australian filmaker stay with their work in australia and Aussie vfx shops. Clients should be able to chose they vendor, INDEPENDENT of subsidies. For instance the aussie directors chose australia for the proximity, same as US director like JJ Abrams choses LA for proximity. I’m in favor of that! Now if the aussie director would chose Vancouver because of higher incentives that az that e as fucked up as whats currently happening.

        Weta has made its nieche for being a directors “sandbox” you pay a premium even without the subsidie I think weta would be well off.

      • GiveMeABreak says:

        Jablonka, you are a joke, and you have nothing but misinformation in your posts.

        #1) You make this oft-heard propaganda claim that half of the studios in Vancouver are full of VFS students? Oh really? Which highly paid and experienced leads and artists on Jack at DD Van came from VFS? So all of the experienced compositors and lighting TD’s on that show at DD Van were from from VFS huh? I’m sure they’ll all be glad to hear you say that. Give me a break. The average person on that show probably had 5-10 years experience and came from Weta, ILM, Sony, etc. VFS students my ass. Oh, you must mean Sony…Hmmm, no. Not hiring VFS Students there either. Scanline. Nope. ILM. Nope. Hmmm, I know people at all of the top vfx studios in Vancouver and you can count the number of junior, vfs students on any given show on one hand if they have any at all. I know the crew you worked with on Jack and you’re full of crap.

        2) DD Venice will be gone? No. Sadly you have your facts wrong again. The Playa buiilding holds 200+, not 50. Yes, they will downsize. Venice is NOT going away and there will still be a couple hundred staff there. You are playing into all the fear mongering and rumour spreading that starts when companies talk about shifting work to Vancouver. They’re not closing or eliminating Venice. They’re just shifting more work to Vancouver to stay competitive.

        3) Vancouver is feeling the sting from Montreal? Again, more propaganda to promote this race to bottom mentality. But in reality, that’s NOT happening. Pixar didn’t shut down their Canada operation because Montreal/Ontario have better tax breaks. Go read David Cohen’s Variety article again. He’s already corrected the misinformation that reduced tax breaks were the cause. Because they’re not. NO large VFX studio has YET to flee Vancouver for Montreal. Montreal is just another tax subsidized area they can expand into and get additional rebates and take advantage of that talent pool. Your claim that they are beginning to flee Vancouver is a joke. Most of the VFX houses in Vancouver are ramping up again to higher levels than ever before.

        Like many people on here, get your facts right before you post disinformation. You really don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        Lets look at this a bit closer. I need to more clear I give you that.

        “DD Venice is going away” The lease on the building is up and its staff will be partially moved to Playa and partially relocated to Van. Playa had already about 60-70 people last time I was there so say another 100 get moved from Venice to Playa. Not sure if I feel 200 fit that building but im speculating. The comment is justified. If DD felt its wise to keep a big chunk of feature work in LA they would have gotten a new building no? Instead they try, again, to shift focus on Vancouver.

        Jack the Giant Slayer was a disaster. Not just because of the crew no, but they WERE junior people, not just seniors I have not seen MANY with more than 5 years experience. Not to say they were none, but compared to the talent pool in Venice it was not the A Team. Also a lot of work had to be redone in Venice later. This was also NOT due to lack of skills but a mismanaged show, clients changing minds. Van and Venice worked on it for another 5 months or so after we were supposedly done.

        I’m sure you do know all the studios, more than me. I heard they needed more residents and citizens, not just flown in talent. I dont have hard numbers to prove this, I admit that, but for what its worth this comment on missing seniority has been echoed by many artist i worked with, not just from LA.

        Im kinda amused by your accusation of fear mongering. I’m actually fairly down to earth and not a panic maker. Otherwise id buy the “all goes to india” rage. I have seen and elt the impact of subsidies on this industry fro the last 5 years. This is NOT a change in work climate due to us studios suddenly wanting their work done elsewhere.
        “They’re just shifting more work to Vancouver to stay competitive.” you said. Well isnt that the culprit? That you need to lower the quality to stay competitive? Ironman3 was supposedly done 75% in Vancouver. When it failed a bigger chunk was done in Venice. They tried to put more weight on Van multiple times and it failed. I love DD dearly, but nothing good came from the bankruptcy yet. Sony is not better, forcing people to Van (“go there or no slot in culver” is forcing to me) just not going bankrupt because of Sonys big pockets but they also do this to stay competitive. Not to gain talent, not to be closer to clients (they are further away) just because of subsidies.

        Vancouver artist had a harder time finding job lately than say 1 year ago. I personally know of 3 Canadians who could not find a fitting job in Van and had to go to Montreal. Doesnt mean everything will go there. I doubt it. Shops are too established in Van but why was savebcFilm so worried and lobbied for higher tax credits when montreal made their move? Because they suddenly were hurt by this race to the bottom, not being the one profitting from it anymore.

        please take a look at vfx soldiers newest Post. 450mio loss in taxes that could have been used for good in bc in 2010. thats insane!

        Montreal talent pool? While they are some facilities already established there , like Vancouver the talent pool cannot accommodate the need. hence more talent is flown in. So dont give me that crap🙂

      • vfxmafia says:

        Hey…I just wanted to say….this is a pretty informative and important thread. To get all the facts out there for public knowledge is an important one.

        Thanks for the posts on both sides…..

        PS…I don’t hate Vray LoL

      • Charlie Don't Surf says:

        you’re welcome, vfx mafia. i’m glad we’re having a dialogue as opposed to the usual ‘subsidies are bad, m’kay’ monologue.
        if you have some time, check out this book on film financing:
        http://www.fundyourfilm.com/
        it’s a good intro guide to contemporary film financing.
        It will help put this debate about subsidies in the context of contemporary film financing, and film making for a global market. I urge you to remember this term: global market.
        there’s been a shift that happened alongside subsidies. domestic revenues ( a term which funnily enough also includes Canada due to reasons cited in other comment threads ) used to be the main money maker for Hollywood and are now only 30 per cent of total box office. forign revenues accounrt for the other 70 per cent.
        films distributed by Hollywood studios are now an international collaboration, made by filmmakers from and in many different countries. these distributors can finance films, but do so from sources both domestic and foreign.
        to not recognize this is to fight a fight against imaginary enemies – who are in reality, your friends and collaborators. I know it’s hard to see this from the point of view of unemployment, but with all due respect, this is what the artists in subsidized locations have been trying to say for a while now. the film industry has changed ( and is continuing to change ) and we as vfx artists have to roll with the punches and adapt to this change. at least I have been trying to say this.
        be well.

      • VFX worker says:

        GiveMeABreak.. How long has MPC been in Montreal? Honest question, becuase they are recruiting hard for that location. And if you look at the job boards every day I see more Montrial jobs posted.

        So things are shifting. You sound just like everyone in LA back around 2005, it’s took 8 yrs, but LA is pretty damn dry.

        I don’t know you or your experience, all I would say is start saving now becuase NO city is safe as long as it’s a game of subsidies.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        exactly !
        everybody jobs is becoming a mobile one. nobody is save. not LA, not Vancouver, Not Sidney, not NYC. Dont gimme the whole “global industry” excuse. We can have a global industry where everybody is doing their work in a home of their choosing and have clients decide to have their work be created there. Aussies filmakers in NYC, Canadians in LA, Canadian filmakers in…well they arent any besides Cameron😉
        kidding aside work should be chosen to be completed for reason of merit, of class, of specialization. not where you get the most money thrown after you.

      • GiveMeABreak says:

        Andreas.

        First of all, the Playa building that DD is moving to holds 200+. That is not speculation. I know that. I don’t know how many existing artists will stay at Playa when they move, but suffice it to say more than 100 DD Venice artists will be moving over there. So to counter your claim, DD Venice is NOT going away. All of their main pipeline, supervisors, and key production staff are STILL there and will probably move with the company. That’s not a company that’s “going away” as you put it. Meanwhile, DD Van will continue to expand and contract as projects come and go. Which would you rather be? Part of the 100-200 core staff that has kept their job at DD Venice for 10-15 years, has benefits, and good salaries? Or part of the DD Van workforce that is hired and fired by project and has to continually be looking for work? Same with Sony. All I’m saying is I’m tired of everyone painting the “poor LA” picture, and not realizing artists in Vancouver and everywhere else in the world have it just as bad if not worse. And I know you’ll say, tough luck, because the work “came from LA in the first place.” But that’s a load of crap. With that argument Weta didn’t deserve to grab the Rings or Avatar work away from Hollywood studios and the London shops shouldn’t have touched Harry Potter. What about the UK shops all getting tax rebates to do Episode 7? Are you fighting them too? Maybe you are, but all I see on this board is anti-Vancouver BS instead of discussions that reflect that this is a GLOBAL issue.

        Secondly, regarding Jack. I don’t know why you want to throw stones at the Vancouver crew and claim they weren’t the “A team” when you know that’s not true. First of all, the “hero” work and assets were all built in San Francisco, so if you really want to dig into that show you know it all originated there, NOT in Vancouver or Venice. Regardless, Vancouver picked up the show from Venice and did almost all the work on it. What happened at the end had nothing to do with Venice “rescuing it” or any such thing. That’s a load of crap. The VFX Sup was fired, and the show was pushed out a YEAR. Most of the DD Van staff had already quit or moved on, and frankly the company didn’t have the money (pre-bankruptcy) to keep Vancouver working on it. So pick up work went to Venice because they had staff artists down there who were getting paid anyway that they could have work on it to make the client happy. If you watch the film, it’s overall look hardly changed after Vancouver wrapped on it. Venice just tweaked comps, fixed some effects, and added little tweaks here and there. You know this because your shots of Fallon look almost identical in the final film as they did when you left Vancouver. And to say that the people you were working with on that show were not “A level” is just ridiculous. I’m not going to get into naming names, but most of the compers you had around you that worked on that show, as well as your CG Sup are people that have worked at Weta, Framestore, etc. They were mostly VERY experienced people, as were almost all the compers on the show in Vancouver.

        Lastly, Ironman3 wasn’t done in Vancouver, so I don’t know what you’re talking about. Once again, you make up some story about how 75% was supposed to be done here but Vancouver couldn’t handle it. That couldn’t be more wrong. Erik Nash, the VFX Sup in Venice, NEVER wanted that work to be done in Vancouver. They had a half dozen artists working on it for a short time and the WHOLE show was pulled back to Venice. Before it ever got started in Vancouver. Leaving, by the way, a bunch of very talented Vancouver artists who had committed to that show high and dry, including one of the most experienced comp sups in the business. Erik Nash has since left DD, which is no surprise.

        And one final point, MPC has an office in Montreal. And in Bangalore. And in London. That does NOT mean they are closing Vancouver, downsizing in Vancouver or anything else. They’re not “moving work to Montreal”. Like many studios they opened a Montreal branch last year to take advantage of additional tax credits and EXPAND. Not to move work FROM Vancouver to Montreal. It drives me crazy to see so much misinformation on these forums from people who are trying so hard to create a story about work leaving Vancouver when that’s 100% not the case.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        I feel we all need to chill a bit so I pondered of not responding and letting this be. some small notes i do have and i hope than we can move on to bigger things like fixing this stupid industry🙂

        “First of all, the Playa building that DD is moving to holds 200+. “That is not speculation. I know that. I don’t know how many “existing artists will stay at Playa when they move, but suffice it to “say more than 100 DD Venice artists will be moving over there. “So to counter your claim, DD Venice is NOT going away. All of “their main pipeline, supervisors, and key production staff are “STILL there and will probably move with the company. That’s not “a company that’s “going away” as you put it.
        IF you know that Ill accept that since i just guessed. But, to be apita, if the Building in Venice is not occopied by DD anymore after end of year. Dd Venice(!) technically has gone away…Since Playa is not Venice. I should have said, feature work in LA will mostly disappear. Anyway I think we clarified this enough now.

        “All I’m saying is I’m tired of everyone painting the “poor LA” “picture, and not realizing artists in Vancouver and everywhere “else in the world have it just as bad if not worse. And I know “you’ll say, tough luck, because the work “came from LA in the “first place.” But that’s a load of crap.
        Sorry still diagreeing. Just plain numbers. 7000 vfx jobs in 2007, now maybe 2000 in LA. 1000 vfx jobs in Vancouver in 2007 now 5000 or so. they definitely “got our jobs”. Of course they went to other regions. Im arguing we have it worse because it was just subsidies. not because LA suddenly sucked. Or because Vancouver or London suddenly got better. Weta got good, or rather was always good so they legit got the work base don merit. Yes hey have incentives too, but I truely feel, having worked there, that even without the incentives weta would get a piece of the vfx pie based on merit. LA artist are hurting for no fault of their own but tax schemes. The ramp up and down is the same as its always been. nowadays just not in your neighborhood anymore.

        “With that argument Weta didn’t deserve to grab the Rings or “Avatar work away from Hollywood studios and the London shops “shouldn’t have touched Harry Potter. What about the UK shops “all getting tax rebates to do Episode 7? Are you fighting them “too? Maybe you are, but all I see on this board is anti-Vancouver “BS instead of discussions that reflect that this is a GLOBAL issue.
        For the record ALL subsidies are bad, london, az, nz, van, hell even florida and michigan are bad. level playing field people. that eing said you have to argue that the london vfx industry was greatly build on harry potter and the tax incentives. By now they at least made a name for themselves and would get work by merit. So its not just Vancouver, it just feels like most LA jobs have moved to Van and now Montreal as thats all the job posts in the last few months. The proximity and same timezone are the least evil for directors. I apologize if it seems im giving Van an extra hard time. They are all bad mkay? Since i have spend 10 months in Van I just chime in more about Van than say montreal as I have no personal experience there and unlike some users on this board I prefer to speak from personal experience not hearsay (this was NOT meant towards you btw).

        “Secondly, regarding Jack. I don’t know why you want to throw “stones at the Vancouver crew and claim they weren’t the “A “team” when you know that’s not true. First of all, the “hero” work “and assets were all built in San Francisco, so if you really want to “dig into that show you know it all originated there, NOT in “Vancouver or Venice.
        well call it personal choice. I was disappointing in the level DD Van operated. Some were great, some not so much. No way of measuring. Lets end this debate please. If you dont agree ok. You dont have too. I call it opinion not truth. how is that?

        ‘Lastly, Ironman3 wasn’t done in Vancouver, so I don’t know what ‘you’re talking about. Once again, you make up some story about ‘how 75% was supposed to be done here but Vancouver couldn’t ‘handle it. That couldn’t be more wrong.
        No dreaming here man, the VAN GM had a meeting in which he announced the gameplan which was for the shots to be split between Van and Venice. If you werent there, cannot help it. It was never intended to be a Venice only show UNLESS they told that to artist in venice and the opposite to us.

        ‘Erik Nash, the VFX Sup in Venice, NEVER wanted that work to ‘be done in Vancouver.
        I wonder why….ok that was mean. But wanting is not good enough. The beancounters wanted it.

        “They had a half dozen artists working on it for a short time and “the WHOLE show was pulled back to Venice. Before it ever got “started in Vancouver.
        Kinda wondering why if the Van team was the A Team. You are not making a very good point here.

        “And one final point, MPC has an office in Montreal. And in “Bangalore. And in London. That does NOT mean they are “closing Vancouver, downsizing in Vancouver or anything else. “They’re not “moving work to Montreal”. Like many studios they “opened a Montreal branch last year to take advantage of “additional tax credits and EXPAND. Not to move work FROM
        “Vancouver to Montreal. It drives me crazy to see so much “misinformation on these forums from people who are trying so ‘hard to create a story about work leaving Vancouver when that’s “100% not the case.
        Have i said close? I dont think so. As I did say I know of several artist who had a hard time getting Van jobs ow and that is not skill related. Also heard from London artist being forced into Montreal. Expansion it is, just not a friendly one. But lets table this. If we polled 1000 Van artist and asked if it has been tougher to find jobs since Montreal stepped up im sure they would not all say no.

        lets move on. we are all wanting this industry to succeed. to fight back the studios so we can CHOSE to work where we live and not having to migrate to temporary live where we find work.

      • VFX worker says:

        Maybe you are right, but like I said, that’s exactly what everyone in LA use to say.

      • Larry Gritz says:

        It’s quite a jump to go from “end subsidies and have facilities compete on their own merits” to “the nationality of the director should determine the country of the VFX facility.” What about employees — must US directors only have US citizens working on their films? Do you also think that the nationality of the director should restrict which countries the film is shown in? Why is it ok to have a global market for the film, but not for the work it takes to make it?

      • meinvan says:

        @andreas

        Many things you have said, I take with a grain of salt, you tell people to state there sources of information, but you wildy throw around numbers, god knows where they came from. So, just to clarify one small statement you have made:

        “Sony used to have 500+ people now they have maybe 40 artists.”

        I am at sony, and yes im in their vancouver office so i dont know all the details of what is happening in LA, but I can tell you and everybody on here with certainty that this statement you made is utter bull shit, and just a plain out lie.

        I can count 40+ FX artists that are located in LA, and as all of you know the fx departments are generally not the biggest staffed departments. On the movie im currently on its split about 50/50 between LA and Vancouver….and this is the first show that has such a high percentage of people in Vancouver, and that would mean on this show alone there are atleast 100+ people working actively in LA.

        Thats not even looking at the other shows, which have a lower percentage of people up here in Vancouver (I must admit they are smaller shows though).

        I can also tell everyone on here saying that the studios are full of juniors, straight out of school (VFS, academy of arts, gnomon…etc), ITS A LIE. There is not a single person that I have met at sony straight out of school. They have a summer internship programm where they bring on 10 – 15 students, they dont work on shows, they dont get abused, they are not treated like runners (like in london). They are there to get feedback from experienced artist, they get to see whats its like working in a pipeline…and they get free training through the training department. After about 2 months they are all gone again, until the next batch arrives the following year.

        Of course there are better and worse artist with more or less experience….but thats completely normal, and good.

        And on top of all of this, Andreas, you bitch about the industry leaving LA, and you having to take work else were….you, specially you, who is neither Angelino, nor even an American, have been working all around the world, from weta (subsidized) to vancouver (subsidized) …if what you say you would actually believe yourself you have “no” right to be taking away a job from a poor american who cant pay his/her rent. (not that i believe this, and i think you have every right to be were ever you want) just stop preaching something that you dont live by.

  7. This is all great stuff. However, I do want to note that some companies you list (e.g. Disney, ILM, Sony) already have union’s for part or all of the VFX business.

    Sony has part of there company on union and the other part on contract-hire. The fact that they call the “lighters” lighting technical directors gets them off the hook for the union. If they called them “lighting artists” then they would need to put them in the union.

    I do not agree with Sony’s current model. Bring new people in at lower wages in LA, then lay them off and give them an offer to go to Vancouver for less pay but you will still have a job.

    ILM also has optional union positions from what I remember. I do not know if its still in place. But I know it was as recent as 2010.

    @VFX Solder
    I know much of your time is spent focused on the lawsuit these days. But I would encourage everyone to also “inform” students of all the major collages that these companies recruit from. If students don’t take sub-pay or no pay jobs then studios can’t hire people and will be forced to unionize.

    Here are some collages I know they recruit from:
    – Texas A&M
    – MIT
    – Art Institute
    – Academy of Art University
    – SCAD
    – UCLA

    I am sure the list is much larger. But I think working at the catalyst for this problem of low wages or jobs moving overseas would not hurt much either.

    Yes, I understand, its subsidies + people accepting lower wages + lack of oversight from the government(s) that has brought us here today.

    • VFX worker says:

      The titles of the lighters has nothing to do with the union. SPA (Sony Pictures Animation) and SPI (Sony Pictures Imageworks) are TWO different companies. SPA is union, SPI is not union. SPA creates the story and character design, and then they contract out SPI to make the movie (shot work). If you are a lighter on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, you work for SPI, not SPA. They are not connected. Workers have tried a number of times to get SPI union.

      Also the title Technical Director doesn’t stop you from being in the union. If you work on shots at a Union shop example Disney, they you need to join the union. I know someone that was in Disney’s Tech department (not working on shots) and switched to a Lighting TD position and they then had to join the union.

      Also the union will do NOTHING about subsidies. They have said many times that they won’t. They have a non compete with thier other unions in other states and countries. The point of the union is to make sure you get paid/benefits/ and aren’t miss treated at work. It’s also a good way to get all artist working together on the same goals.

      You are right about telling students what’s going on. I feel that we need to be open about rates. I hear to many senior guys bitching about people with lower rates, but they won’t discuss what thier rate is. If someone doesn’t know $15 hr is a bad rate, then how do they know what’s good. $15 hr is better then the retail job at $7.25 or the no job they had before VFX.

      VFXwages.org or check out the union site, they list the union MINIMUMS per company contract.

      • X-Sony says:

        just to add…

        SPA (Sony Pictures Animation) has like 50 lucky guys which reap the Union benifits.

        SPI (Sony Pictures Imageworks) (non-union) can ramp up to 500 + guys. SPI does all the hardcore CG work.

        Just to address your Union and subsidy comment…..Unions are bound by states labor laws. Unions enforce labor laws, watchdog companies, negotiate collective bargain contracts….and make it a little more secure to come to work everyday.

        International subsidies is an international issue and is therefore a federal issue. Unions are powerless against international trade issues.

      • I am not sure where you are getting all this extra info about “unions and subsidies”. I was stating that both combined with low wages brought us here. I said nothing about the union fixing this problem. However, not having everyone in the union still has its challenges. My post is saying we still have another issue to address and that’s dealing with low wages and uninformed new hires.

        Countless hires at Sony get hired pretty much yearly for much lower rates than they should. But its not till they are 3-4 months in they figure that out. And when it becomes time for review that is when they lay you off from your contact and dangle the “Vancouver Carrot”.

        I too worked at sony and I do understand the separation. When I was there though, it was explained to me the “SPI or 500+ people” are considered “technical guys since they do no art”. This was repeated to me several times by various people at various levels of the company. I also heard them saying all the “art” is done at SPA (e.g. creative). We of course know this is not true as without lighting, animation, fx you would not get the wonderful looking films. There is an “art” or creative side to the CG aspect of films. Even still many executives still have it in there mind that SPI is a machine even though we know that’s far from the truth. Even the job is treated much like a machine. At other companies though the work is just as hard you get a sence of “companionship” that you are in this together till the end. At sony however, I never really seen more than 10 people in my daily tasks at sony. I heard back in the early 2000’s sony was much like disney, pixar, dreamworks. But over the years has become a “factory” environment with little to no sense of “belonging to something”.

        As for the comment, I meant to say:
        If they called them “lighting artists” then they may need to put them in the union. – This was also meant to be speculative based on my experience there and what I just described above.

        For the same job at SPI (Lighting or Compositing TD); it is called Lighting Artist or something similar elsewhere. Where TD is generally referred to jobs where programming is involved either part of all of the day.

        As for the Disney comment, that has nothing to do with the sony comment. I know all other studio’s are setup different from sony. Maybe I was not clear enough. But sony is the only one that calls the “artist” positions “TD’s” where all other studios tend to call them “artists” in there title.

        I was in the exact position you describe years back at Disney (went from tech to union). The union at disney is anyone who does any work on the “film” directly. Lighting TD’s at disney are doing little to no shot work at all. It is “Lighting Artists” who do the actual shot work. Lighting TD’s are fixing heavy technical problems with shots. A few times at the end of the show Lighting TD’s tend to light a few shots but that is far and few between. For the most part 90% of there day job is tech issues with shots and software debugging / programming / troubleshooting pipeline issues.

  8. Orlov says:

    This is good effort but the war is an international one that involves very powerful corporations. When corporations control governments, there’s nothing the average Joe or a million average Joes can do.

    That said, trying to interfere with international laws without the support of the federal government is pointless. Now even with the federal government’s support, the laws set by foreign governments are beyond reach of the US and any foreign country.

    Some governments are killing their own people while foreign governments are not allowed to interfere. Subsidies, weather they’re legal or not are the least of their worries.

    The auto industry is a good example of this. Outsourcing labor has been the norm for quite a few years now and if the auto industry can’t do anything about it, the film industry sure can’t.

    The war was lost 20 years ago…

    • vfxmafia says:

      to Orlov:

      Your post is more cynicle than my postings…LOL…..but I have to add you incorrect about….

      “trying to interfere with international laws without the support of the federal government is pointless.”

      You need to read the Lawyers report and the CVD law…I might suggest you browse this…

      http://tinyurl.com/VFXSubsidiesStudy

      The US Steel industry, the US shrimping industry, and the US auto industry have all fought China subsidys and WON. You might want to check your facts…..

      CVD Case Archive: (it is currently down because of the fed shutdown)

      http://ia.ita.doc.gov/ia-highlights-and-news.html

      Most governments have CVD laws in place to protect domestic injury…including Canada and UK.

  9. VFX worker says:

    My point is SPI Isn’t union, so even if SPI changes all titles to just “Artist”. Example: accounting is now “accounting Artist”, Secretary is now “secretary Artist”, they still wouldn’t be unionized.

    NO ONE at SPI will become Union if the employees at SPI don’t vote to BE union, So the Title of the position, Artist or not 2 be artist, is mute.

    Also the Executives at a company have nothing to do with if its union or not. The people working at the company have to vote for a union. SPI tried to do that and they didn’t get enough employee votes.

    You are correct about the low rates for new hires and the Factory mentality of SPI.

  10. Scott Ross says:

    Gather ’round people
    Wherever you roam
    And admit that the waters
    Around you have grown
    And accept it that soon
    You’ll be drenched to the bone
    If your time to you
    Is worth savin’

    Then you better start swimmin’
    Or you’ll sink like a stone
    For the times they are a-changin’

    • hector says:

      nice poem Scott…

      • Tom Atkin says:

        Bob Dylan will appreciate the compliment, too.

      • Scott Ross says:

        A fellow named Zimmerman wrote it about 50 years ago… it still applies today. This industry is sinking and the time to fix it is slipping away. Stop the infighting. Realize that the enemy is of our own doing. Understand that we are ALL VFX workers, not BC,LA,UK,AUS …. but a global work force that is being exploited by a few.

        … you better start swimmin’
        Or you’ll sink like a stone
        For the times they are a-changin’

      • street fighting man says:

        Scott,

        “I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more”…Bob Dylan

        I do understand the distabilization of the industry is bad for all VFX artists. But labor laws and even subsidys are delegated by individual countrys. Unions operate by the laws of the countries they inhabit….and the same with subsidys which are designed to help companies inside a particular country.

        Since no one is going to change unless they have to (espeically studio executives who are making bank)….the only way to invoke and fight for change is work within the laws of each country.

        It kind of separates the fight based by country no?

        Since Globalization and the WTO pits ALL workers against each other based on different OT, different Labor Laws, different Subsidys, a different standard of living, and different currency prices….

        …”Well, then what can a poor boy do….Except to sing for a rock n roll band”…..he sure as hell isn’t gonna go into a long career in VFX.

      • Scott Ross says:

        Tom… I passed the kind words on to Bobby. He said “Thanks”.

      • Scott Ross says:

        Hey Street Fighter… actually I think an International Trade Association would be able to address issues on a global and local level.

      • street fighting man says:

        Scott,

        I know you are for the trade organization. And I think you would be a great Trade association president. Which is a good idea in theory.

        But if Im not mistaken the Trade Association would be made of VFX studio owners?

        RIght now I think there is a serious division in interests between the following groups.

        1. The Big 6 studio execs (whose goals are to maximize profits by any means necessary)

        2. The VFX owners (whose goals are to make as much money out of their companies while they still can, even at the expense of the artist). Alot of the UK companies could careless about the American companies. Alot of the US companies have been bought out by foreign interests which are even more vicious than the UK ownership. An the American owners are flocking towards the subsidys.

        3. The VFX workers (who are fighting between themselves because of the migration of work).

        I need to ask you who makes up the trade association?
        and does it take into account the interests of VFX Labor?

      • Scott Ross says:

        “Street”, (may I call you “Street”?)…

        Yes, the proposed International Trade Association (which at this point is moot, for lack of interest on the part of VFX facility owner/managers) would be an organization comprised of VFX facility owner/managers.

        And yes, there is a ” serious division in interests between the… Big 6 Studio Execs and the VFX owners”.

        Which, from my perspective is the VERY REASON why a Trade Association is critical. The interests of the major studios and the inability of the VFX facilities to curb that interest is the core reason why the industry is in a death spiral. And to be fair, that “interest” is to make as much money as possible, after all, making movies is big business.

        Unfortunately, in this situation, the Studios ( which make billions) have been putting the screws to the VFX facilities ( which are unprofitable or barely profitable) to the point of at times, bankruptcy. A Trade Association would allow the VFX Facilities owners to be able to finally speak as a collective force to power. In unity there is strength.

        And yes, the VFX facilities owners are tasked with making as much money as possible, which under present conditions is defined as barely staying alive. Unfortunately, since the Studios have a stranglehold on the VFX facilities ( after all there are only 6 Studios and they have common interests in keeping VFX, the largest portion of a films budget under tight control) the VFX facilities managers need to desperately look for ways in which they can address the pricing demands and lack of financial responsibility of the Studios. Which means lowering costs… which means, at times, “taking advantage of the artist”.

        I believe this “situation” needs to be viewed in a longer term way. It seems to me that both the Studios and the VFX owners are very shortsighted.

        Studios see VFX as expensive, unpredictable,difficult to grasp and yet critical to success. Today, VFX costs can make up 50%or more of a tentpole movies overall costs, and at $250M budgets, that’s a lot of money. They desperately want to lower these costs, but I believe they are doing so incorrectly. The Studios way of lowering costs is by subsidies, competitive bidding and at times asking for the impossible (and getting it). I’m not sure that they understand that if they continue to act this way, they could be killing the “goose that that laid the golden egg”. There are much better ways to control costs, lower costs and get better work.

        Interestingly, the VFX facilities are acting shortsightedly as well. They are unwilling to “stop the madness”as they chase subsidy locations, lower their pricing (and their margins), kowtow to Studio demands, agree to onerous contracts and at times, take advantage of their most important assets, their artists.

        A Trade Association could afford VFX facilities and Studios alike, a long term solution.

        At some point soon I hope, the warring distrusting factions of VFX facilities will realize that VFX is a global business and that subsidies come and go. We are all in the same ocean though at present not in the same boat. They will realize that the interests of the UK will be in short order, the same interests as CA.

        And finally, while an International Trade Association would not directly represent the VFX worker, it would IMHO, get the business back on track so that many issues the workers face will go away. And… if it doesn’t meet those needs, then the workers should form a Guild because only at that point would the VFX facilities be able to afford such an effort.

        Hope this helped “Street”.

        P.S. Thanks for the compliment, but because I am a rather forceful personality, I don’t believe the powers that might be… that would make up the board of this “possible Trade Association” would ever elect me as its Exec Director.

      • street fighting man says:

        Scott,

        Thank you so much for that post. It is great to hear an update from you.

        Currently the VFX owners are pretty brutal on the Los Angeles guys right now. Guys that have been at DD for years are asked to take paycuts……and then forced to move to BC. I have friend at another company, who took a hit on his rate…just so the facility could afford to keep him long term. He worked there for years at lower rate in exchange for loyalty and job security. They came to him last month and said he has to movie to the BC office or be replaced by a Canadian artist.

        I too am now contemplating moving to Vancouver for a year just to wait out the CVD ruling. But it seems like some forced death march. Its very clear the VFX owners now treat artists as replaceable flotsam.

        I fear there is no voice for the artists. And with contracts tactically cut to 9 months…..artists are laid off before they get any benefits….(or start a union). Seems like the VFX studios are taking a page from Walmart.

        Could you expand more on VFX Guild? I would love to hear a breakdown from you about the benifits of VFX Guild…..how it would work….who would run it…..and would a Guild work as domestic institution or could it work as an International group and help unite artists a bit more?

      • Tom Atkin says:

        Hey Scott,

        As always, you do have a solid perspective on what is going on in this dysfunctional industry. I think, however, the biggest problem you have always faced is from the facilities which are very afraid and counting the nickels and dimes in detail.

        And, if by some incredible stroke of fate, a trade organization actually comes forth from these facilities, you are correct, they would most probably not want you as Executive Director.

        They would prefer a humble pawn who would only serve their interests…and Scott, you are neither humble nor anyone’s pawn.

        Although you might do the best job, that will never be a part of the yet to be formed mythical trade organization thought process.

        And, for what it is worth whether we agree or disagree on issues relating to a trade organization…all should take a moment and realize that Scott has been working hard for the past several years TRYING HIS BEST.

        And, Scott that’s all one can hope for and admire.

        Thanks for your efforts.

      • street fighting man says:

        To Scott,

        As you probably guessed. I have a great deal of respect for your career.

        I actually looked up what Guild was before you posted it. LOL
        I was actually after your specific insight ..if a guild is worth pursuing. How to implement a guild…and if it could actually help the artists.

        It seems that this global market has really suppressed the forming of unions and the artists cordinating at all..

        Tom if you have any thoughts about Trade Associations or Guild please weigh in as well. I know the VES is a historical society but it seems like the closest we ever got to a guild.

        Thanks for all the postings Scott.

    • BobbyD says:

      Your post is dripping with irony, unless you were making a case to adapt in this ever changing global market and embrace change. Somehow I doubt you were….

    • hector says:

      Well – you’re right Scott. I am afraid is too late. The workforce you are talking about it is not united at all. Different goals, as well as different people from different parts of the world.
      If you are trying to swim, your colleagues will drag you down, so the battle is lost .
      But the whole ship is sinking and soon we all ( good and bad) we are going to realize that we really have to change the field.
      For me it is clear that this industry will not survive. For Spielberg as well…

      • Scott Ross says:

        We actually don’t have different goals.

        Our goals are the same. Fair compensation, abiding by labor law, not having to uproot our families, reasonable workloads, health coverage, fair credits, profitability, good work, accountability. These goals, if one was not to be shortsighted, are universal in VFX. Unfortunately, many in management are so scared of the ramifications that they cannot see the forest from the trees. One cannot live for today. We must think about the future. Long term… is the key.

  11. minoton says:

    http://www.deadline.com/2013/10/california-film-tv-tax-credit-plan/

    Oh, lookee there. California looks like it’s going to waste more tax payers’ money, too. Way to go, subsidized areas!

    • Andreas Jablonka says:

      Im readings its extended and maybe removed some limits for the tentpoles movies. This wont help much as its tiny budget is nothing compared to BC alone. I understand why they are trying this. Maybe this is the temp solution but I rather see more efforts on the CVD’s and WTO front.

  12. love this shit says:

    I love the thoughts that all the countries make there own films, except hollywood does not allow it by buying up all the foreign films and have non Hollywood directors make those films. Jackson – Hobbit, Ang Lee – Pi, Bond Films. Studios maybe american but percentage wise film makers in directors , writers and others are actually not American. Imagine a world where Hollywood could only use American cast, crew, stories . Your films would suck. Maybe if the CVD’s do come in then studios will make those films in foreign offshoots so that the money does not come back. This should be easy for all the non American films.

    As for arstist level many who come here from LA are not the cream of the crop. Heck there are people on here who were fired from there gigs in Vancouver cause they did not perform claiming to be senior/supervisor material.

    • hector says:

      Just because people give their real names, you don’t have to blame them. I know exactly where are you pointing, but it is not the case. I worked with him in the past, and saved the show when artists were leaving and lots of shots were left behind unfinished.

  13. […] only positive thing I’ve seen of late that has a chance of success is VFX Soldier’s CVD effort.  Why?  Because it’s easily sold.  For example, the following […]

  14. Dani says:

    Fine by me. Where do I sign already ?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: