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.