So it finally happened. Sony Pictures Imageworks is moving all of its work to Vancouver signaling an end of an era:
Variety: Sony Imageworks Moving HQ to Vancouver
The Hollywood Reporter: Sony’s VFX House Imageworks Moving Headquarters to Vancouver
LA Times: Effects firm Sony Pictures Imageworks leaving L.A. area for Canada
Deadline: Sony Imageworks’ Flight To Vancouver Latest Blow In VFX Subsidies Battle
The Globe and Mail: Sony Pictures Imageworks to move HQ to Vancouver
Cartoon Brew: Sony Pictures Animation Will No Longer Animate Its Films in the US
The only reason for this move is because BC taxpayers are paying 60% of resident salaries. That’s a ridiculously unsustainable amount and if you think Sony is committed to staying there you should talk to the people who were sold the same bag of goods at Sony New Mexico. If you think Sony will stay there because the costs of labor are lower regardless of subsidies, talk to the people at Sony India. Kim Kardashian has had a better track record on commitment than Sony.
Subsidies create a permanent cycle of displacement that puts a significant burden and barrier on VFX professionals and their families. This affects everyone from the bottom to the top.
Shortly after the Imageworks announcement one of Imageworks leaders announced he would go to ILM rather than make the move to BC. I’m aware of other industry pioneers leaving Imageworks and while that’s a big loss consider the story of Joe Rosensteel who I met when we both first started at Imageworks. Mr. Rosensteel attended a very good VFX school and was immediately hired by Imageworks and finaling shots in front of Oscar winning VFX Supervisors. The prospect of having to chase work to a different country every few years has provided significant challenges in continuing:
I hold on to those moments, like Watchmen as the reason why I have pride in what I do. I like to hold on to those moments where I worked crazy overtime for pride in my ability to do a task set before me. However, without more of those moments I fear I’ll lose momentum.
Mr. Rosensteel’s story conveys the very idea of why many of us work in VFX: Meritocracy. Subsidies destroy the idea of meritocracy and puts the decisions of who wins and loses in the hands of foolish bureaucracies that are destined to fail.
This latest move by Sony actually helps add more evidence to our legal effort to mitigate the effect of subsidies that is currently being worked on.