VFX Progress Group

We’ve seen VFX communities create local organizations: The VES has had a local chapter in various cities, the UK facilities have the UK Screen Association, BECTU is forming a labor organization in the UK, and recently companies in Ireland have formed a local trade organization.

Over the past few months I was invited to meet with a group of VFX professionals based in the Los Angeles area who have been looking to network and initiate more face-to-face conversations about industry action. The group is calling themselves VFX Progress Group.

In my conversations with the group I’ve found one of the promising angles has been their interest in facilitating connections between people, helping one another find new opportunities in a difficult working climate.

They’ll be having their first open meeting this Wednesday at 8pm. I’ll be in attendance and available to answer any questions. Below is a message from the group.

Soldier On.

Greetings LA area VFX Professionals,

Shortly after the 2013 academy awards and the ensuing outrage that they created, a small group of VFX professionals began meeting in Los Angeles.  Until now we have been meeting privately, inviting people by word of mouth.  Now, after nearly a year of meeting in secret, the VFX Progress Group is choosing to open its ranks to the general public.

Our organization aspires to several goals, but our single overarching aim is to improve the lives of our fellow professionals in basic and practical ways.  Currently, our focus is in doing whatever we can do to support ADAPT in their efforts to appeal the US government to levy a countervailing duty against foreign VFX subsidies.  In addition to our support of ADAPT, as a group our primary goal is simple – to bring people together face to face in order to help build a stronger and more vibrant community of VFX professionals in Los Angeles.

We can’t adequately express how good it feels to meet with your peers; to hear about the latest industry fluctuations first hand and to catch up with old friends.  Through these conversations we pinpoint the challenges we face in this industry and brainstorm ways we can help the community overcome them.  Then we move to put those plans in to motion.

We meet roughly twice a month on Wednesday nights.  Our next meeting will be at an undisclosed location in Culver City, next Wednesday, February 12 at 8 pm.  For insurance liability reasons (a restriction set by the space that we rent) we cannot disclose the location publicly, so we ask that you sign up to be invited on our website.  Your email will only be used for invitations to our meetings and events, and you may easily unsubscribe at any time should you choose to do so.

http://www.vfxprogress.com

You will have to follow a link in our response email to complete the process.  Please keep an eye on your inbox and your spam filter.

You may also contact us via Facebook and Twitter.  Please feel free to like share and retweet if the feeling moves you.

https://www.facebook.com/vfxprogress

https://twitter.com/vfxProgress

Hope to see you soon.

-The VFX Progress Group

17 Responses to VFX Progress Group

  1. contessa12 says:

    Reading some of the many comments and have this to say. Forming unions and trade organizations are a terrific idea. Our government is not providi g assistance to the US VFX industry the way other governments are by providing tax incentives. By the way, historically, wars have begun over such economic issues. My advise to all you US VFX workers: although globalization presently is a reality, STOP trying to be fair to the other countries competing for your jobs, stop trying to be PC and fair. Your next job and the ability to support yourself depends on you becoming more nationalistic. And if you don’t do this, your gov’t won’t either. The studios will go where the money is until it’s too uncomfortable to do so. Make it uncomfortable for them and continue however and when ever you can, and stop waving other countries flags!!!

    • vfxmafia says:

      @ contessa

      Unfortunately the US government is part of the problem.

    • Jackadullboy says:

      Framing the solution as nationalism plays right into the hands of the corporations and politicians that benefit from the race to the bottom.

      Keep the little people at each others’ throats.. Divide and conquer!

      No, don’t fall for it. Nationalism never leads anywhere good.

  2. James Hattin says:

    Things we have thought about: Branding locales. e.g. “VFX Made in California.” “Made in Vancouver.” If we want regional successes we should make it a brand. Have some pride. There was even talk of regional specializing. Go to Montreal for digital doubles. Go to LA for set extensions. etc. It really can be a global marketplace as long as the playing field is level.

    We at Legion would love to find a way to unionize our new model, but the unions are too slow and inflexible. Also Legion exists all over the world, so while we support the LA movements like ADAPT and VFX Progress, we are ultimately about the VFX work, and supporting artists worldwide.

    If we become wildly successful, we will have hundreds of artists all over the world, living where they want and not fighting to live in the most expensive markets in the world.

    • vfxmafia says:

      James, So how is that working out for you? You guys getting any work from it?

      • Yes. The more people know about the model, the more they see that it is a future of visual effects. Being able to bring the talent to the project regardless of distance is powerful. It requires educating people about it as well as changing the thinking about VFX as a commodity, to being the artistry of the people doing it. Our intention is to get ‘those’ people and create a supportive structure for it.

        We are only just now starting to get ourselves out there. We’ve been building and refining for the last year and still have a lot of work to do. I’m very optimistic about it. Of course, I would kind of have to be.

  3. gj says:

    Don’t know if this is helpful but it’s from Assemblymember Richard Bloom’s website and has information on the amount of jobs lost and a renewed push to reform CA subsidies:

    http://asmdc.org/members/a50/news-room/district-reports/february-2014-district-report?utm_campaign=Bloom_February2014_DistrictNews&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=link#A

    • Studio_Spotter says:

      More subsidies? Ugh

      • gj says:

        Awww, c’mon you know kids and old ladies don’t need those pesky social programs.
        No, really is there a solution that doesn’t involve more subsidies? Is there any honest business out there not sucking up subsidies? Energy, health care, agriculture? Seems like all the worlds governments are locked in a race to see who can cut more in taxes and give more in subsidies to bribe industry to come use up their resources and labor.

  4. notHappy says:

    Countervailing duties are by definition a negative action – takes money away. It will hurt the Studios directly. That makes it hard for US VFX companies (and their principals) to vocally back countervailing duties even though it is in their direct interest.

    Matching subsidies would be the positive solution to the issue, but if they come from US states, they have to be paid for by the states’ taxpayers. Taxpayers won’t care about a few thousand individual jobs even if in the big picture the plan is a net win. (also: big “if”)

    If the US Federal Government were to create a national subsidy, that would adequately counteract the overseas credits as far as US studios are concerned. (And taxpayer funding is no longer technically an issue).

    However, the Federal Gov generally has a “Free Trade” stance which prevents it from acting on these sorts of issues because it looks like stooping down to the level of the opponent. (i.e., it harms their free trade positions in other areas if they look like they speak out of both sides of their mouth on the issue).

    If the industry in question were larger & more influential, then Federal action could be taken. Too bad the VFX industry isn’t located primarily in Wyoming or North Dakota…then we’d have a couple senators willing to go to bat for us day in day out…and things would get done at the Fed level. In CA, we are nothing – especially compared to the Studios influence which is exactly counter to our interests (no matter what the Studio reps say, ever).

    Some hopes are:

    – that the various locales offering subsidies continue a race to the bottom where more & more funding is necessary…and then the local tax base protests the give-aways.

    – the monetary effects of the subsidies become more obvious: i.e., local inflation (see: Vancouver house prices, etc). In areas with depressed aggregate demand, this effect will take a while to manifest & until it does, it’ll be the Roaring 20s.

    – chasing subsidies results in a tiresome chaos for the Studios.

    – the accelerated rise & fall of VFX houses in the various markets cause chaos in team-building & continuity of talent…which results in uneven quality…which drives Studios back to keeping more steady relationships instead of chasing subsidies.

    • VfxFreelancer says:

      Putting the studios in a bind is part of the appeal of the CVD’s. I hope people like you can make it to the meeting tomorrow.

    • Hollywood Reporter says:

      US Feds currently subsidize farming, energy production and a slew of other industries creating unfair competition and creating havoc in place like Africa but that doesn’t matter on this site. You only get to pick on Canadians, Indians and Brits here.

      There is no race to the bottom. It’s actually a slow and endless jog with no end in sight. There will always be a locale willing to fork over bucks. Some bloggers like to perpetuate the myth its a race to instill fear in politicians that their investments will crash and burn without paying a return.

      CVD’s won’t happen, US Studios are actually Distributors and the ownership of the film (product) is by thousands of entities. Studios don’t import work unfairly created and bought at a discount overseas, they actually license it at a premium. Good luck with that.

      You think Vancouver’s inflated housing prices are due to local inflation because of vfx jobs being subsidized? Ummm, not quite.

      There is no tireless chaos at the studios. They hire many consultants who guide them through the mess.

      Studios could give a crap about steady relationships, that’s the job of the vfx producer and vfx companies. Studios will gladly chase incentives at the expense of some chaos.

  5. hector says:

    An interesting article about Canadian tax incentives? Maybe you know about it, it si dated April 2013, but just as a reminder in this case…
    http://opinion.financialpost.com/2013/04/18/lights-camera-film-subsidies/

    • vfxworker says:

      Interesting? Not really. The article is about Adrian Dix running on a platform to bring more tax credits to BC last year. It was related to the Save BC Film program. Guess what? Adrian Dix LOST on that platform. So the story, along with your constant attempts to bring everything back to BC tax credits is as stale as your posts Hector. If you’re not going to bring anything new to the table I’d suggest you stop posting Hector. You bring zero to the dialogue here.

    • hector says:

      you’re right. Sorry about bringing something you already knew about. I’ll stop for now.
      Meanwhile I’ll take a chair and stare at this site to see that something interesting is happening. Something to end the subsidies and the race to the bottom.

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