Rhythm & Hues One Year Later: Life After Pi

Shortly after the Rhythm & Hues bankruptcy, Scott Leberecht and Christina Lee Storm worked on a documentary for the past year about the event. This may end up being the most powerful film about the VFX industry:

Soldier On.


31 Responses to Rhythm & Hues One Year Later: Life After Pi

  1. Sylvia says:

    Oh fantastic!
    Props to those two for taking on the task and actually doooing it!

  2. tazzman says:

    Hopefully there won’t be a need for a sequel.

  3. Andreas jablonka says:

    Can’t wait to finally see it!

  4. Ace type says:

    Unfortunately cannot go to March, what else can we do to help out? Thanks

  5. usfilmguy says:

    The trailer for Life After Pi looks terrific. Christina Lee is a passionate documentary film maker, and former manager at R&H. What I’m afraid won’t be told in this documentary is that John Hughes walked away with over $1M while many, many lives were ruined–and work unpaid. And to hear smug Lee Berger say ”…like a perfect storm of crap”. How articulate. Berger got to keep his job at R&H, which is a mystery to most studio and industry people.

    I stand by my February 11, 2013 comments in the Rhythm & Hues
    Chapter 11? subject/thread:

    “Yes, the tax incentives do play a role in all this but there was chronic mismanagement at R&H for the last seven years. I see these posts about “Poor John Hughes”–John was complacent. He allowed incompetent amateurs (their initials are : DW, LSB, EWB, JDD, BT…to name a few) to “run” the place. Employees went to him often with their concerns about how the company was being poorly mismanaged, and while he listened—he did nothing to correct it. What VFX company has two presidents, two executive producers, a production executive a.k.a bidder all in one office under the same roof? It was a free-for-all for those managers making high salaries with expense accounts while receiving terrific health benefits. It should also be mentioned that the two executive producers worked 3.5 day weeks each and pulled in FULL salaries. Furthermore it is a ghost town in the executive offices after 6:30pm on any given night.

    The writing was on the wall about the subsidies and tax incentives years ago. R&H jumped on the band wagon in 2004/2005, and opened the India offices. Richard Hollander (former President of the Features Division at R&H), in a company meeting in May 2006, made the unfortunate statement: “No LA jobs will be lost because of India”…That worked well. What didn’t work was that while R&H opened India, Malaysia, Vancouver they kept LA at status qou, when they should have been restructuring the overhead in LA. In fact, they added an additional executive producer and brought back the lame-duck additional president within the last year and a half. It was described to employees that the additional executive producer and additional president were brought in to help manage R&H’s expanding global presence. HOG WASH! There were already highly competent and effects managers in the LA in place for years who specifically handled India and later India.

    Sour grapes? NO. Tax Incentives and subsidies? YES, partly so. A poorly run company with greedy, ineffective and lazy executives…ABSOLUTELY!”

    • Disgruntled says:

      Thats the other thing I worry this doc wont share. The fact that at a certain point they knew they weren’t going ot be able to make payroll but still let people work crazy hours and OT only to get screwed.

      • usfilmguy says:

        I agree Disgruntled. It would be a huge disservice if this doc. doesn’t expose the payroll and OT mess that occurred. If you’re going to make a well-informed documentary cover and expose everything. The last thing I want to hear is John Hughes waxing poetic about how amazed he is by the work—really? And to have listen to the incompetence of Lee Berger is embarrassing.

      • tazzman says:

        I agree. No whitewash. Show it warts and all.

      • chexmix says:

        Bankruptcy doesn’t happen over night….the higher ups new at least 6 months it was coming……

        At the end there were other warning signs. A big push to start “Intern training” programs for highly skilled positions ….trying to stack the deck with cheap kids you grind on is another sin that they committed……I wonder why there was a revolving door in some departments to retain veteran talent?

        Have to say…when I did my tour of duty at R&H. (this was back during marina del ray). The wharehouse (which it was literally)….One room had basically just seats in a giant room…..giant dusty black cloth was hung from the ceiling to separate people. I wouldn’t know what to do if i had allergies and had to work in that room. The other rooms weren’t much better. Often working in rooms so small that if you backed up your chair…you would hit the person behind you. Off coarse there were no windows….

        The older veterans got basically sheet rocked cubical walls…that i thought resembled a giant rat maze. To make it better because of the darkness…and lack of air….people decorated everything with christmas lights and Mcfarlane toys….

        The worst of it was something called the “Stink Box”.

        Yes, They literally had a room called the “Stink” box. It was a closet of a room that was an off shoot next to the Men’s lavatories. Literally after lunch….(I don’t know who was worse comp or the Houdini guys) would come in and lay bombs in the lavatory. The ventilation was so unbearable…..after lunch….your eyes would water.

        I was walking by and saw a young talented Z-brush guy that I knew sitting in the stink box. Next to him was 5 pound box of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda….with the words “Stink Box” written in black magic marker.

        He told me they didn’t have enough seats so they put him the stink box. I immediately told him he should be asked to be moved. No one should be stuck next to a vent next to a public bathroom…no matter if they didn’t have room. He said he was afraid of “Causing Trouble”.

        I told him that he could develop a respiratory illness from inhaling fecal matter. He shrugged it off and kept grinding OT in the stinkbox……..”for fear of being a trouble maker”. (like asking for a change of seat was being some sort of trouble maker)…..(apparantly it was at R&H)

        I saw alot of weird shit like this at R&H…..especailly back when they were in that asbestos wharehouse in Marina Delray. I swear to god some of those crazy rat cubicles they called offices were bugged. R&H had a huge beuacratic way of doing things and harbored a strange disfunctional cult like culture….the whole place seemed like it was out of the movie “Brazil”. Can’t say i was surprised that it went under. (I can’ really say anymore than that)

        I marched on the academy awards when Life of Pie hit……but privately i was NOT shocked about the bankruptcy after watching so much waste, mis management, and bids that just were fucking botched. And everyone who walked by the “Stink Box” secretly knew something was wrong with this company, whether they wanted to admit it or not…..

  6. M Kurt says:

    I like that the last Pi shot in the trailer was actually done at MPC.

    • kyoseki says:

      I thought that was an odd choice too, it’s not like there’s a shortage of R&H shots to choose from.

      • artifart says:

        While not an R&H shot, I get the impression that this doc is more about the whole VFX industry -> A Sinking Ship

      • vfxguy says:

        Melodrama over accuracy then. Soldier will love it.

      • tazzman says:

        The vfx “industry” is not a sinking ship. Not as long as there is demand. With demand will come supply. The question is what type of industry will the vfx one be. Will it be full of artists with leverage and pride? Or will it be one in which studios can continue to push fx houses around and pass down the bad practices onto the shoulders of the artists.

      • Qwerty says:

        To Tazzman…it is a sinking ship, with the senior staff artists first to board the life boats and the junior artists to sink with the ship. Companies have figured to how keep the 2 groups separated and for this reason unionization will never happen.

      • tazzman says:

        Not as long as there is demand it won’t sink. It will stay afloat. It might be an ugly industry but it will still exist with demand.

  7. Eric says:

    This annoys the hell out of me, who honestly believes they just got caught off guard? Oh it just all of the sudden happened???

    John Hughes? Well shit John, you don’t know how you make these FX? It’s all just magic to you?


    One of my biggest pet peeves is when a “bean counter”/”pusher of important papers” walks by giving a tour and says out loud “Over here is the >Insert Name Here< Department, I don't know what they do, it's all so complicated *lolz*!" and then everyone laughs at the nerds. Why is it almost fashionable to admit that you don't know anything? If we were making wine, these same twits would be falling all over themselves each trying to out smug/know-it-all each other.

    I really hope this isn't a fluff piece. If you wanna see someone horrifically pissed off, come to my house to film my reaction.

    On that note, galvanized? Gelled? Horrifically pissed off? REALLY? Oh gentle, non-confrontational, ineffectual VFX people, you're ADORABLE! Like soft little kittens. Very smart, artistically talented kittens.

    Horrifically pissed off are a bunch of people setting fires and smashing things with axe handles, not "Oh dear that's unfortunate… I better get back to work".

    • Disgruntled says:


    • usfilmguy says:

      Great statement. Thank you Eric.

    • Annie hall says:

      This doc was made by a manager at rhythm. This will be a propaganda piece. No one in the trailer was let go. It wasn’t a perfect storm, it was perfectly planned. John is a businessman. At least you can ask him anything. I bet that you could ask him if this whole thing was orchestrated to land around the Oscars to make decent sale. They were strapped with millions in pto and investors weren’t interested. He had to do it. I am sure that it was heartbreaking for john, but not a clumsy mistake,

  8. hector says:

    Problem is that we do not know where to go and what to do. There’s no one to open the way. The soldier tried and he’s trying, but it is limited to specific actions that make them locally, and certainly the intention is more to solve isubsidies.
    Or in other words he starts with the removal of subsidies, which is very good.
    But the nightmare called vfx is not related only to the incentive but also the quality of the people working in this industry, and that those who support them, they hide. So even though we are outraged, we do not know where to go and who to follow.
    Looks like there is no plan to follow.
    In areas with subsidies, hard artists are working on miserable wages, way lower than 5 years ago.
    There are very silent hidden threats that cause this fear, the fear that gives great results.
    I said my opinion, if I’m wrong I’m sure I’ll be noticed.

  9. John S says:

    I’d like to see the doc that exposes chronic mismanagement of R&H instead of laying blame on “crisis in the industry”. Businesses fail all the time. The fact that an incompetently run company goes under, has nothing to do with the health of a given industry.

    • Ace type says:

      I believe the biggest problem is the outsourcing of alot of jobs in our country today. Why we have so few jobs now. Ever look at our stores… Some 100 percent made from another country! Our leaders and executives of businesses that live here in our country need to start keeping the money here in our country. I’m so very sick and tired of International shit. Cause when it comes down to it…. They live here!!

      • John S says:

        You’re sick and tired of the international shit? Fine. Turn off the MPAA and let the rest of the world have their own film industry.

      • Hahahaa says:

        ok lets turn it off so the rest of the world has a film industry. Remember without the rest of the world you have no industry as it is that box office that is far more important than your own. Turn against them and maybe the theatre chains of the world will say ok and release only a small amour of US films whilst keeping most screens for there own movie industry.

        This needs to be a united front where all can prosper. The reason all jobs go off shore is because the Consumer (thats us ) demands cheaper products. If you were willing to pay premium prices then you would have Nike made in America, Apple made in America, Oakley made in America and Hollywood made in America. But no we demand that prices are low and those with stocks and shares demand the profits are high. I am sure many here have shares in Apple and would not be happy if there share prices were affected by bringing back jobs to America.

      • Ace type says:

        Wrong… It’s because people in other countries have no choice but to work on low wages, child labor…things from other countries should be taxed high so the products cant be lower here. Your country, your home should be first, and only 1/3 from other countries. Not 100 percent and 0 made in usa!!!!! owners of companies had greed and became too selfish to share their huge profits with rest who really do all their work!!! We would buy made in USA if more were available in our stores.
        You can’t even get a USA made item without ordering online. This country is a Joke now. And you are right…. Most people here have their heads in the sand like a cattle of sheep pushed around. I only buy made in USA it’s the only little thing I can do to help my home. And now I will boycott movies!!
        End of story!!

  10. Ace type says:

    believe the biggest problem is the outsourcing of alot of jobs in our country today. Why we have so few jobs now. Ever look at our stores… Some 100 percent made from another country! Our leaders and executives of businesses that live here in our country need to start keeping the money here in our country. I’m so very sick and tired of International shit. Cause when it comes down to it…. They live here!! I’m ready to boycott everything international to get our country back.

  11. Andreas Jablonka says:

    WHERE IS IT IT? Need to see this!

  12. pro_animator says:

    Boo! Lame! Where’s the video? They took it down. Figures. Lame…

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