Where Are The Women In VFX?

victoria-alonso-marvel

Marvel’s Vice President of Post Production Victoria Alonso was a speaker at this week’s VES Summit where she asked “where are the girls?” and called for more women to work in VFX.

In Variety’s report, she spoke about how lowering the gender gap would help bring balance to the industry. She also pointed out obstacles that make it more difficult for women to make it in VFX:

  • Subsidy-induced cycles of global displacement.
  • Long 16 hour work days.
  • Maternity leave dampens the ability to get back to work.

While I agree with her on the problems that cause a gender gap, I can’t help but ask the same question Scott Ross asked:

Why would anyone want to encourage anybody, woman or man, to join the tumultuous VFX industry as it currently is?

I can understand the calls for more women at successful tech industry companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook but visual effects? It’s like a tobacco executive wanting to close the gender gap by encouraging more women to smoke. Perhaps there’s a gender gap because more women aren’t as foolish as the majority of men who choose to jump in the shark tank that is the VFX industry?

Ms. Alonso’s call has been warmly received in the media but it raises an eyebrow for many of us in the VFX industry and this isn’t the first time. You know I never agree with John Textor but I couldn’t help see his point when Alonso publicly called for studios to be more supportive of bankrupt VFX vendors like Digital Domain while internally slamming those same vendors with incredibly low bids:

When Victoria puts out the word to other studios that they should step up and support DD (or the next guy), ask her to do the same. She shoved a 14% gross margin down the throat of DD on IM-3 that is not enough to even cover the light bill…and she has the gumption to challenge other studios to step-up and help.

Like an oil executive dubiously encouraging everyone else to do more about global warming, Victoria Alonso is one of the few key executive decision makers in the VFX industry that is unfortunately objecting to a byproduct of her own making: Studios like Marvel and executives like Alonso have made the decisions that create an environment that she acknowledges is extremely difficult for women to participate in.

Anyone can preach platitudes but it takes real leadership to propose a policy that implements those goals and executes it. What’s amazing is the answer for Marvel and Alonso is right down the street in Burbank, California at Walt Disney Animation Studios. They continue to make great movies with huge profits while offering their work force union wages with overtime, paid maternity leave, and other benefits. Oh and they do this without subsidy-induced displacement of their workers.

If that model could be applied to the larger ecosystem for the VFX workforce you would see a closing of the gender gap as conditions get better. Marvel should be able to take some of those policies and make it a standard for VFX vendors:

  • Mitigate the use of subsidies which constantly displace VFX families.
  • Initiate a limit on long work hours by making overtime pay a standard across the industry globally.
  • Mandate vendors provide proper maternity leave, childcare, and healthcare to VFX professionals.

Some would cry that this would put a dent in Marvels immense profits but if WDAS can do it so should Marvel. Unlike Disney, Marvel doesn’t have to continue bankrolling VFX vendors and their army of VFX professionals after their work is completed on a project. Disney carries a huge staff costs and is still able to succeed.

Ms. Alonso could actually be the first female superhero by initiating an across the board change of the VFX industry, but simply paying lip service to the issues while in a position of power will simply lead to nothing but a super zero.

Soldier On.

113 Responses to Where Are The Women In VFX?

  1. Jackadullboy says:

    Agreed. The core dysfunctions need to be attended to first.

    Advocating the kind of positive discrimination that would be needed to jumpstart a vfx culture more attractive to women (not to mention other non-white-middle-class-male demographics) seems absurd given the slim margins vfx facilities are expected to operate under.

    I mean…even those of us lucky enough to be here are all talking about leaving..

    • Disgruntled says:

      I like your term “positive discrimination”. Because thats exactly what it would be.

      You can’t force parity in everything in life. VFX is a hard industry. Anyone you have to entice or coerce into joining it isn’t gonna have the stamina/drive to make it and last in this industry. They’re gonna just have wasted their money on schooling for an industry they don’t really like and had to be pushed into attempting.

      • sabretruthtiger says:

        Brilliantly put.
        I think it’s time someone amidst the sea of liberally brainwashed herd mentality beta male, white knight statist sycophants (sorry if the truth hurts) so prevalent in VFX told it like it is.
        Here’s what’s happening:
        The central banking oligarchy is expanding it’s power with an eye to world government. To do this they need to destroy the current western dominance and redistribute wealth and power. Western populations will fight this engineered disorder and decay and thus they need to control the populations.

        Social engineering via Marxist doctrine is mainly aimed at social division as part of their divide and conquer agenda.
        The promotion of feminism masculinises women, feminises men and confuses gender roles. This makes male/female relationships hard to form leading to less marriages and less families.
        This is destruction of social cohesion as the family is the core of society. Children also have less parental influence as a result and can be more brainwashed and influenced by the State and the mainstream media.

        So getting women into traditionally masculine roles, particularly areas of cultural and political influence are key to increasing female dominance and dividing society.
        It has nothing to do with ‘equality’ women are not prevented from entering the STEM fields they either show less interest or are not good enough. The top minds, the top IQs are almost all men, it’s just a fact of biology to do with natural selection, the mammalian male population is almost always more diverse (Bateman’s principle).
        This is an overall statistical distribution and doens’t prevent women from becoming top animators scientists etc but the vast majority will be men and trying to force what may be partly a result of biology leads to discrimination against more talented men, particularly white men.

        It’s all a political agenda of social engineering. Don’t fall for it. This has escalated to point of insanity in the past few years out of the blue at a point where women have more freedom and privilege than ever, it’s obviously a political agenda at a strategic point in the ruling elite’s plans for power expansion.

  2. contessa12 says:

    Are you sure Alonso isn’t a man dressed in sheeps clothing? Hire women (they work for less money) Alonso? Really? Really? Hollywood had a perfectly good upcoming Industry who really EARNED their money and the “suits” looked to enrich themselves, their investors while cutting to ribbons the VFX industry. The work is creative and interesting but the hours and pay sucks now. In addition they want the artists to pack up and leave their families and go all over the world. THEY HAVE GONE TO GREENER PASTURES– other Industries or jobs that know how to treat their people, reliable hours with descent pay and perks. That’s where the women are!

    • vfxgirl says:

      exactly. i was at the VES summit when she spoke and i couldn’t help but look at her as the pinnacle of hypocrisy, speaking about VFX issue while being exactly as daniel said – one of the key decision makers strangling vfx and its workers (guardians of the galaxy and MPC being one of many examples but i could go down the line with allll the marvel movies. everyone knows Marvel has quickly gained the reputation as being one of the worst clients in the industry for VFX studios.

      • vfxgirl says:

        …..and that’s not even getting into women in vfx discusssion b/c that could be a whole other article…. suffice it to say: i agree with you contessa. many of my female friends have have chosen to look at work in other industries and quit vfx altogether. Of those who don’t have families, many have gone to vancouver and are going through more of the same fluctuations. Frankly, I see Alonso as a huge part of the problem and not part of a solution, and not someone, men or women in vfx, should look to as an example of anything positive.

  3. Idiot says:

    U should work in Canada we have overtime , healthcare and paid maternity leave for anyone who has worked more than 600 hours in the previous year before taking maternity leave . And we also get a tax credit to help pay for childcare , sport activities and arts programs for all children.

    • anon_vfx says:

      OT in Canada? Try again. I’m working there right now at a “big 6” studio. The major facilities play all sorts of games with importing foreign workers as “high tech professionals”, or classifying them as salary rather than hourly employees. OT in Canada is not by any means guaranteed or paid out to all vfx workers.

      • Jackadullboy says:

        Having worked at many of the big 6 in canada, i find most of those flagship companies are at least getting close to adhering to the statutory overtime rules, with MPC being the most notable exception. No surprise there.. I assume that’s who you’re talking about.

      • Economics says:

        Well more fool you as I am aware that all the companies do Pay OT. The only loop hole recently introduced is at MPC where Leads are now considered salaried rather than hourly. This is nothing to do with the high tech worker issue as all industries .

        To be transparent Supervisors and Managers do not get OT just like all industries not just VFX. All other hourly staff get paid ot. This is true at MPC, Sony, ILM, Method, DD.

      • anon_vfx says:

        Sorry @economics, but it sounds like you are talking about Vancouver. Things are a bit different in Montreal. Should I post my timesheets that show 52 hours worked, and my paystubs that show 40 hours paid ?

        Something else Americans in particular should know about working in Canada. The healthcare only kicks in after you’ve been here for at least 90 days + processing time. If you come to Canada for a short-term gig, no free healthcare for you. You pay out of pocket.

      • Disgruntled says:

        Scanline does the BS mis-classification of calling everyone high technology and starts paying overtime on the 10th hour…not the 9th like they should.

      • William C. says:

        Abuse is the work in almost all the studios in Canada.
        Hidden under different names.

      • Bleurggghhhh says:

        Every studio I’ve worked at in Ontario has paid proper overtime. Not only that, but they’ve all adhered to the law which prevents them from scheduling more than 60 hour weeks. If you’re ever in Ontario and working more than 60 hours, without being paid overtime, it’s time to quit and go somewhere else. There are enough studios in this province who follow the rules that you don’t have to put up with being mistreated.

      • William C. says:

        “f you’re ever in Ontario and working more than 60 hours”…is this a norm? I toughed that 40h/week should be the norm. Why now 60?
        40 h/week should be specified in your contract. Not more. The rest should be considered over time and payed. if you refuse to do overtime, should be no discrimination on it.

  4. sol says:

    I am currently a female student aspiring to become involved in film or television( such as working in vfx), until recently hearing about all the problems in the vfx industry am not sure if I should continue. I was planning on going to school for vfx here in Canada. Any tips on where I could become involved in the artistic or technical side of post production?

    • Disgruntled says:

      Don’t get into this industry unless you like instability and long hours in dark rooms sitting in front of a computer.

      And for sure don’t go to school for this stuff. You can pretty much teach yourself everything you need to know for a fraction of the cost.

    • William C. says:

      well…I think is to late.

    • Rob says:

      Disgruntled mentioned long hours in dark rooms in front of a computer.

      That actually always sounded appealing to me, as I have the blinds closed at home all the time and I sit in front of my computer all the time.

      But even if you’re like that – the more important thing is that you have to be willing to get screwed over and over again. Many things are mentioned in the comments here. They will usually pay you relatively little for the amount of work you put in. Which is shitty regardless of whether you love the work or not. And most of the time, you don’t even have the option to say “I accept a lower pay but want to work reasonable hours” if maybe your back, eyes or whatever starts hurting from the ongoing abuse.

      I would really recommend you pursue another field that appeals to you as well, even if not quite as much but that offers decent working conditions.

      • William C. says:

        hey dude….why not to build “decent working conditions.” inside our industry? why so many people give the same advice: LEAVE! is this impossible to be achieved in vfx?

      • Rob says:

        In my opinion, it is. After watching the situation and having gotten to know the industry very well over a number of years, I don’t see a change happening unless maybe the industry collapses because people simply refuse to work under these conditions.

    • Nick says:

      If you’re trying to get a good sense of what the industry is actually like then you’re in the wrong forum. The negativity in this place is enough to make anyone rethink getting in to the industry. And no you can not just learn it on your own.

      • many people like this industry says:

        Most on this website talk doom and gloom. Well I have been in the industry 15 + years and not been out of work a single day. I have always been paid to as an artist and as a Supervisor I am more then well compensated compared to the average wage of those in every other industry.

      • Roxboro says:

        It’ s negative because it is not positive. If you are still in vfx means for sure that either you close your eyes when the abuse is done either you are the one who encorage the abuse, or generate it.

      • VFX_Reckoning says:

        Roxboro is speaking the truth. This ‘Nick’ fellow above is not being earnest about the industry or has had very very good luck. This site is negative in a way, because they are the facts of the industry. The one common denominator we all have to experience, and to deny it is to be oblivious.

      • Phuck yo mama says:

        you listen that bullshit artist in the comments below named “many people like this industry.” That guy has never had a day off in 15+ years or 5475+ days. he is da real MVP. all you vfx artists should aspire to be on his level so you can look down upon people who don’t make as much money as he does or call people who lose their jobs or laid off lazy because that dipshit hasn’t had a day off in over 15 years.

    • Earl Grey says:

      Any tips on where I could become involved in the artistic or technical side of post production?

      Three thoughts:

      1) Consider working in our sister industry, animation. The Los Angeles animation industry is unionized. Animators working at Disney and Dreamworks have problems, too, but nowhere near what non-union VFX artists endure.

      2) Consider following in Freddie Wong‘s footsteps, and self-publish your own VFX videos to a YouTube channel.

      3) Look for similar work outside of the entertainment industry. An example of CG/compositing outside of the entertainment industry would be the US Patent and Trademark Office’s YouTube channel. VFX artists created the virtual sets, graphics and fake example products shown on that channel.

    • steezy says:

      There’s plenty of work..all around the globe now. A lot of people here are very negative and instead of doing something about it, they bitch on this forum. If vfx work is the worst it’s been..then I’m all for it. I’ve never been busier than I have the last 3 years. If you really want to do this, and it’s your dream. Go for it. Like any career, you have to work at it. Long hours get old, but if you’re working your dream job you’ve always wanted..you may dig it (for a couple years until you learn to pace yourself) Me? yeah it was my dream as well. Now? it’s just the fastest way to make this much money. I would say bail on that school though if you can. You’re already in Canada. I’m more than certain companies up there will give you an internship if you write the right people. MPC seems like they’ll take anyone.

      • Roxboro says:

        hey dude…I really recognize this type of dialogue from somewhere…just don’t remember from where.

        if you are ok, and so busy, don’t spend your time here….What is true, though, is that MPC and other sweatshops started to have difficulties in finding skilled workers. They already hired/fired almost all the valuable artists on the market and now, they are ready to hire juniors and students as well. None of intelligent people I know will accept such poor work conditions that MPC is promoting.
        NONE!

    • animcoop says:

      You’re smart to be skeptical. My advice, stay away. Use your talents and interests and apply them to almost anything other than film/vfx. Specifically target industries that don’t depend entirely on client/vendor relationships.

      Unless people find a viable way to do something like start artist-owned-cooperatives that don’t depend on any outside clients, this industry is only going to get worse. Salaries/pay will decrease while work-hours & instability increase.

  5. To the question of why would anyone want to be in the VFX industry now? Have you looked at the job market for artists in any other field? Beyond basic design positions there is nothing, NOTHING.

    For a young artist a career, even a career in a tumultuous industry is better than the alternative, nothing. From the perspective of an educator our obligation to our students and alumni is to prepare them for this industry and give them the insights so that they can make decisions based on facts and long-term goals. This includes preparing our students to seek management positions and to prepare to shift careers when and if they desire.

    We accomplish this by inviting groups like ADAPT, local union representatives as well as management reps to discuss unfair hiring practices and employee work rights. Our hope is that with some education the next generation of artists will have the ability to mobilize toward collective action.

    Before you condemn education as part of the problem consider how little professional organizations have done to support artists in this industry. With the exception of ADAPT there is next to nothing from SIGGRAPH or VES. These are groups that represent the work but do little to support the artist – and nothing to prepare the next generation of artists.

    The future of the VFX industry is here, now. They are exceptional artists and they are made up equally of brilliant women and men.
    These artists cannot be forgotten in the conversations about the future of VFX. The professional groups that have chosen to ignore them will have little chance of being relevant as this group continues to mature.

    John McIntosh, chair
    SVA Computer Art
    New York, New York

    • Jackadullboy says:

      “Our hope is that with some education the next generation of artists will have the ability to mobilize toward collective action.”

      This!

      Keep up the good work…

    • Muse says:

      Totally agree. SIGGRAPH (at least in LA) has been irrelevant for a decade.

    • animcoop says:

      “Our hope is that with some education the next generation of artists will have the ability to mobilize toward collective action.”

      Indeed, in my opinion what we really need from our academic colleagues is to encourage students to think outside of the studio paradigm and encourage the birth of film & animation companies that are owned and operated collectively by the artists with no dependence on outside client/vendor relationships. We need innovation to break free from this broken model.

      We’re a bunch of old folks with a lot of reasons (the kind that wear diapers or include mortgages) why we don’t think we can take that kind of risk.

      But with the technology available to us, we truly have little to no need for the corporate structure we exist in, and the terrible profit-driven decisions made within it.

      • Image Ghost says:

        Inmates running the Asylum has been tried before and rarely succeeds. VFX companies need a cost plus model with a standardized bid system.

      • andrei gheorghiu says:

        have you ever toughed to build such a cooperative? is this already functional? I will really want to become part of it. If I understand, a company like Framestore will be forced to hire a cooperative instead an individual…Am I right?
        This ideea I had for a while. Looks amazing!

      • animcoop says:

        @andrei,

        I’ve been discussing the idea for several years with a growing number of people and I believe at some point we will get one off the ground, but we shouldn’t limit ourselves to just one. There should be many. Talk with your friends and colleagues, try to encourage the idea.

        What you’re talking about is more similar to a union or guild, but a cooperatively owned studio would be one started fresh where there is no single owner and no shareholders. Every artist is an owner, and every owner has a say in the direction of the company. This doesn’t imply no leaderships by necessity, leaders would be democratically elected and would therefore be accountable only to everyone else, and not the other way around.

        @Image Ghost
        Okay naysayer, don’t think I’m a newcomer to this kind of negativity. It’s pointless. Any artist owned company should be started outside of the client/vendor paradigm and not focused on profit or bottom line but rather quality of the content and quality of life for the aritsts.

      • animcoop says:

        @Image Ghost: Also, who exactly do you think you’re benefiting by trying to shoot down the idea of artist owned companies?

      • Image Ghost says:

        The Artists. Artists trying to create and run businesses is one of the reasons the industry is so screwed up to begin with. Not just in VFX, but in other creative disciplines as well. That’s why Actors, Directors, DP’s, PD’s, Composers and Editors have Agents, Managers and Lawyers.

      • animcoop says:

        @Image Ghost. Okay, clearly you’re either not thinking this proposition through, or your one of the people who benefit from the situation being the way it is. (Bob Osher, is that you?)

        If you’d prefer to live out the rest of your life working for suits who unjustifiably make absurd multiples of our salary, offering up the fruits of your labors to the big 6, making decisions we unanimously recognize as bad, and if this is a system you want to rush to defend, then I suppose that’s your prerogative.

        The point of organizing into companies that we own and operate is not to liberate ourselves of people with good business sense and organizational skills and run wild and free in the fields of our uninhibited imagination. The point is not be slaves to entirely profit-driven objectives that influence our industry, it’s that we can work within a system where we all have input, finances are transparent, projects are decided on jointly, pay-scales are fair and agreed upon democratically. Business people would be an integral part of the workplace, equal owners with everyone else. But depending on how you chose to structure your specific company, you may cooperatively elect them into positions with greater decision-making power for a specified period of time, and change things up if that’s not working out.

        The major difference would be that there could, by the very nature of such a workplace, be no “executive” decisions made behind closed doors and against the interest of the artists. The executives would be equally accountable to the artists as the artists to the execs and everyone to each other. If someone wants to move 90% of the labor from LA to New Mexico or Vancouver to Montreal, everyone has to agree on that.

      • golstein says:

        @Image Ghost
        You are one for which many other suffer.I know you. You oare in every single company I’ve been.

  6. vfx_cog says:

    Victoria strikes me as the same as the Wal-Mart executive that denies any responsibility for what happens in their sweatshops. The systemic labor abuse in this industry is addressed with platitudes and a “Not our problem, that’s a subcontractor issue” attitude. How do you think those bids get so low Victoria? I hope you enjoy your time with your family while your policies force the rest of us to live like gypsies out of suitcase, away from our loved ones, so you and your fellow Marvel executives can enrich yourselves on our backs.

  7. minoton says:

    Ms. Alonso would have so much more credibility if she (and all other vfx execs) were to move to Vancouver, the UK, or wherever she sends Marvel’s visual effects work.

  8. VFX_Boom says:

    Very curious if the higher ups at Disney know that they have one unit, Marvel Films, trying to put another unit of theirs, ILM, out of business. I wonder how that would go over during a company retreat.

    • vfx_cog says:

      Ask the former employees of ImageMovers, The Secret Lab, Circle 7 Studios, Feature Animation Florida, Paris, Toronto….. etc etc

    • Andreas Jablonka says:

      Im pretty sure that disney is shuffling loses around between marvel and ILM. its just not a stable industry. if you are ok living in a different spot every 6-12 months it can be fund. your taxes are gonna kill you.

      the above miscommunication about overtime is a good example. an enraged canadian worker feels he has to defend ontario stating OT after 60 hours. 60? thats 20 more than LA. not saying every place but 60 is already 1.5 as much as other people work. are you ok with that? its bad enough that you have to be thankful to get OT after 60 when you are used to 40. thats AFTER you leave your home and travel to a new place.
      Also whats the wage you make in ontario as senior? let me guess 45$/hr? on 10 hour days thats actually more like 39$ if you consider the delayed overtime.
      thats what a midlevel artist makes here.
      point being you get what you ask for or are willing to accept. the golden times in LA are over we all know that.

      • William C. says:

        Right Andreas.
        Good times are gone thanks to those “artists” that are willing to work hard for less…ans less…and less…and…

  9. urizen says:

    Where are the women in VFX?

    Well, before you answer that question, consider
    first that in general, women are smarter than men.

    Or rather, that their priorities are smarter. They themselves are often just as dumb as men, even if
    they may express it in different styles. But we are ultimately together in our stupid. Which is partly why we are where we are.

    Having pondered that, take the next step and ditch the misleading premise of the question.

    The real question is more properly, ‘Where are the people in VFX’? Anyone who draws a fantasy line between the concerns of women and the concerns of men, whether in the context VFX or otherwise, has a little living to do.

    Yes, there’s an endless supply who want the job. But everyone who has the job and who has seen the lay of the land, is looking for a way out.

    As one commenter high up in the art edumucation mill for pay astonishingly admitted, choosing the arts as a career in our wonderful 21’st century is a not so slow route to suicide.

    So slap a grateful smile on your surly faces and get back to work wherever whenever you may be sent, or the beatings will continue.

    At least he’s candid. I admire that, especially when you have people like Alonso running around getting paid for lying through her teeth.

    I guess the ivory tower, besieged as it surely is, still even today affords some small freedom of expression completely forbidden to house slaves like Alonso.

    All that aside, if you nevertheless still prefer the male-female binary model on issues of life, death, and the next month’s rent, then in that case at least try to look at it as a case of the canary in the coal mine.

    Although I have known many happy heroic exceptions, by and large this beautiful creative insightful eagle died at least a good ten years ago, before she even had a chance to fly, and to help make something amazingly awesome at the highest levels and at all levels. What a shamefully missed opportunity for the craft.

    That means one thing and only one thing.

    That the air is bad.

    In that case, Adapt.

    • jmcintosh says:

      In education we still have some freedom of expression (not quite as much as you might imagine). It is shocking to me how few educators contribute to these conversations.

      I have never thought of education as an ivory tower however I may not be very representative of the “system.” In my view, colleges and universities should be playing a central role in these discussions. When ADAPT or the VFX Soldier want to meet in NYC – this is where they should meet (and they have).

      Further, I personally feel as obligated to support my alumni as I do my current students which means I regularly advise long term VFX artists as well as aspiring artists. I can assure you we do not attempt to camouflage or distort the issues either group faces.

      Education is not the enemy in this conversation. In fact, in an industry that thrives on fear and ignorance – more education is required not less.

      ADAPT indeed,

      John McIntosh
      SVA Computer Art
      NYC

      • urizen says:

        “Education is not the enemy in this conversation. In fact, in an industry that thrives on fear and ignorance – more education is required not less.”

        I could not agree more. May your already helpful efforts in the direction of laying bare the true facts of the false gold rush for what it is, particularly in regard to increasing student awareness of the industry-wide crisis points that have given birth to ADAPT, be redoubled.

        As an educator, your voice in this regard is indispensable.

  10. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    I am a woman who has worked in VFX and animation for 20 years. After years of 12 hour days, weekend work, eroding benefits, juggling child care responsibilities with my husband who also works, missing my kids first footsteps, first lost tooth, first words am left wondering why anyone male or female should want to get involved in this industry. Fifty hour work weeks to begin with don’t leave anyone with the time needed to have any life outside work. To work in VFX man or woman requires a non working partner if one wants to also have a family, care for aging family, or have any outside pursuits. Increasingly jobs in LA are temporary, have no benefits, no security and demand long hours and/or travel.
    There are plenty of talented men and women who can do the work. The hours, benefits and pay are increasingly unattractive. If working 10 hours a day doesn’t help one save for retirement, give them sick days, the ability to see a doctor, service student loans, pay them enough to afford a home, or raise a family why bother at all? Workers are treated like crap in VFX. Expected to be thankful for their temporary no benefit positions that require them to be separated from family. It’s ridiculous.
    Not even going to go into female managers who discriminate against female artists…not all managers are like that but it’s always ironic when working for one.

    • blah says:

      I absolutely agree with being more discriminated by other women who are managers the most. As a side note, Blur is the worst studio to be a female artist.

      • industrylady says:

        Second this. I have some rather frightening stories about working as a woman in the industry. Lower pay than male counterparts with less experience and discrimination to name a few. I have emails and evidence to support if interested @VFXSoldier.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        email me vfxsoldier at gmail dot com. I won’t disclose your identity.

  11. scottross996 says:

    Ms. Alonso has had a spectacular career in VFX. She worked hard, long hours when she worked for me at DD. She was tenacious, buttoned up and a real “squeaky clean” production person. She also wound up, with a bit of luck ( don’t we all, that succeed) at a place in time that has afforded her great power, position and money. She is one of the few ( men or women) that has truly “succeeded” in VFX. I’m sure from her vantage point, “VFX has been very very good to her”. She doesn’t realize that, in today’s market, VFX, for most workers, male or female, is an incredible hardship. It ruins families. It makes people ill. It doesn’t compensate folks fairly. She can’t see or feel what the men and women go through because for her, at least, it all worked out.

    I guess if all men and women felt that if they too work really really hard, that they too would, after 15 or so years, make the kind of money that Victoria makes… all of the VFX workers would stop complaining, keep their nose to the grindstone and rejoice.

    Unfortunately, Victoria represents the .00001%. The rest of the VFX workers, I guess, from on high, as another very powerful woman once said….. “let them eat cake”.

    ADAPT

  12. scottross996 says:

    … and btw… women nerds that will work for beer and pizza, that get really turned on by seeing their names flash by in credits for The Avengers, are few and far between….most women are much too smart, have more important priorities and like interacting with people… Victoria, pulling the “gender card” is way too 20th century for VFX…. you’re in a position of power, you’re a smart woman… tell your bosses at Marvel to stop beating up VFX studios, start giving them real points in your films when they succeed..

  13. SteveJay says:

    It’s like saying “ladies first” to board the Titanic. I’ve had direct dealings with Victoria, and it’s not her bosses that beat up studios, it’s her. No one I’ve dealt with is a bigger advocate to the race to the bottom than this woman. Unfortunately, at that level of management, when you describe someone as “ruthless, petty, and vengeful” these adjectives are selling points that corporations respect all too much.

    I suspect she’s trying to distance herself from some news blurb about women in tech / entertainment fields. Trying to seem like workplace issues matter to her.

    • scottross996 says:

      As Bob Dylan said ” Ya gotta serve somebody”. I’m sure that Victoria Alonso is only following the orders of her superiors that say “Faster, Cheaper, Better”. And when she gets that done… which she is very good at getting things done, gets promoted, receives bonuses and compensated very very well.

      • tooche says:

        Dylan also said …..”I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s Farm no more.” (in this case that would be I aint gonna work on Victoria’s Farm no more)

  14. minoton says:

    When Victoria Alonso asks where are the women in visual effects, one could also ask where are the women in metal bands, or auto racing, or . . . ? Yes, they exist, but not to the male to female ratio that is our population. Did she consider that maybe, it’s just an interest thing? That some, but not an equal proportion, of women just aren’t interested in doing visual effects? I’m wondering if she herself has ever done any visual effects? Has she built a model, threaded and programmed a camera move, sat at a workstation and plugged through rigging or animating a character, simmed effects animation, lighted and/or composited a shot? According to her IMDB credit list, no she hasn’t. Why not? Probably because that wasn’t her interest.

    She even said as much in relating what inspired her to get into this business. Not visual effects. It was that Kathleen Kennedy produced E.T. Not inspired by the creativity of that Spielberg guy who actually brought that movie into existence. No, she was inspired by the power position.

    The visual effects industry has been very good to her. She got in at a very good time during the growth of digital effects and rode the wave all the way to the top, to a powerful position where she now speaks at summits and makes decisions affecting the industry, peoples’ careers and even their lives. Her comments about why aren’t there more women involved in visual effects, and how it hurts her to see people displaced are laughable. Executives in her position should thank their lucky stars they have the jobs they do.
    Without the artists cranking out the shots that entertain audiences, there would be no reason for their jobs to even exist. Maybe she should be a bit more protective of the people who helped her get where she is, rather than displacing artists, and driving artists, male and female, out of the industry.

    I have yet to see anyone Executive VP a shot to final.

  15. jona says:

    I’d like to see a study on how many women are in admin roles in VFX. Wherever I have worked there were more than men. Differentiating between the artists and the admin staff should be part of this discussion. Women don’t gravitate towards the long hours, tech laden, low paying jobs.

  16. Nvfx says:

    It may not be an even 50 / 50 split, but I’ve worked with quite a few women on these last couple of gigs (ILM / Weta). Most of my managers / supes / producers have been women as well.

    There’s too much fear in the industry. Forget trying to stand up for better conditions… There are plenty of artists (guys and gals) who fear to even negotiate their pay, yet they complain about the rate? This industry will implode before the current workforce takes action.

    Btw, Weta hires all (including locals) as contractors. OT (x1.5) is after 60 hours. Funny enough, New Zealand’s employment laws dictate OT after 40.

    • Economics says:

      weta pays ot at time between hours 50 and 60 at your regular rate so to say OT starts at 60 is misleading.

      Also as an independant contractor you can claim alot more off your taxes which is better.

      • Nvfx says:

        I said OT x1.5 after 60. Nearly all the first time international hires thought they were making time and a half after 50. Misleading indeed.

        Regardless of claiming more off taxes, I rather take the extra 50% starting from 40 hours.

      • Jackadullboy says:

        People need to realise that pay at the regular rate does NOT count as overtime. You need to be getting 1.5 or more.

        The idea is that a company should be incurring a penalty for working people beyond what has been established as healthy/ethical. It’s not supposed to a way to get minted, but that prospect is what keeps people (I’m thinking of Weta in particular) working BEYOND what is healthy/ethical, and what keeps people from making any waves about it. That, plus the prospect of working the top gigs…

        Also, the classification of workers there as contractors is highly questionable, as people are working on site for the company using company equipment etc…

      • Roxboro says:

        “Also, the classification of workers there as contractors is highly questionable, as people are working on site for the company using company equipment etc…” In Quebec/Montreal very often companies are hiring people as independent contractors, although they work at the company location using company equipment.
        A lot of things to be fixed in this corrupted Quebec.

    • “When an employee works more than their normal hours then they need to be paid for the overtime that they do. There are, however, no legal requirements to pay overtime above the normal rate of pay after working a certain number of hours in a day or a week. ”

      http://www.dol.govt.nz/workplace/knowledgebase/item/1329

      • Jackadullboy says:

        No-one’s quibbling over the definition of what ‘overtime’ actually is (hours worked beyond norm).

        ‘Overtime pay’ on the other hand is necessarily, by definition ( not talking about any legal obligation on the part of companies in any national context) higher than the normal rate. Otherwise it’s not a disincentive..

  17. many people like this industry says:

    ot is anything over you’re regular rate of pay and weta are never misleading and it is VERY clear in the contract you sign. It is your fault if you don’t read before you sign. No wonder there are so many idiots on this site.

    • Nvfx says:

      That’s what we’re saying. Weta states hours from 50-60 is “overtime”, but that is still regular rate of pay. “Overtime” continues after 60, but at the proper x1.5.

      Yes, Weta has this clearly stated in the contract. Regardless, it’s still confusing as to why they label it this way.

    • Jackadullboy says:

      Absolutely.. Always read the contract. The correct terminology is ‘ straight time up to 60 (50%over the length of a normal working day it should be stated) , overtime thereafter, with double pay after 80 or whatever the current policy is there now.

    • animcoop says:

      This is such an ignorant, conceited thing to say.

  18. davidwblythe says:

    Reblogged this on David W. Blythe and commented:
    Love this

  19. Kim Adams says:

    Easy for someone on an executive’s salary and schedule to play with such a question. “Where are the girls,” itself is an offensive question. Is she searching for females under the age of 18? Otherwise, women would be the appropriate term. It’s also quite glib, considering the issues she then outlines.

    Although I am slow to praise a company like Disney, I see your point. But don’t forget how much animation work is farmed out to companies in India (Prana) and China by Disney.

    The answer to her question is pretty clear. One can put up with a certain amount of abuse, mediocre compensation, and long hours early on when building a career, but then you choose to either continue to have work as the focal point of your life, or you prioritize and opt for some semblance of balance for your own survival and preservation. Until VFX work and balance are not mutually exclusive, there will continue to be less women than men in the industry.

    I opted to leave for animation, and now am consulting for companies like Google, where I can continue to work with inspiring artists and tech geniuses and still be an active participant in my family and an advocate for my own health and well-being. This is not the case for all women in tech, however, which has been acknowledged recently by Facebook in their new health plan, which offers to cover the freezing of eggs for their female employees.

    Let’s face it, the challenges that face women determined to rise in the ranks and have a life outside of the workplace are huge, never-ending, and present in every industry. This issue extends well beyond VFX.

    Thanks for your article and for shining a light on Victoria’s comments.

  20. Jackadullboy says:

    Can I just mention that a lot of people seem to conflate criticism of ‘the industry’ with criticism of ‘the profession’, thereby implying that those questioning the way things are are whiners, or must lack the requisite commitment and talent to succeed.

    This is of course totally disingenuous and besides the point. I might suggest that, while some on this forum may be creative on facts and often lash out from a place of anger, it is imperative that there be a place To discuss the shortcomings of the business model.

    Most of us love what we do ( I for one can’t imagine any other trade I’d rather have gotten involved with sixteen years ago), and want to ensure a healthy, sustainable industry in which experience and innovation can thrive.

  21. actuallyitsaboutsexism says:

    It is sad to see that, yet again, comments in this blog consistently divert to subsidies and overtime pay.

    Particularly when the subject heading is “Where are the women in VFX?”

    Quite frankly, this is not the answer:

    “women nerds that will work for beer and pizza, that get really turned on by seeing their names flash by in credits for The Avengers, are few and far between….most women are much too smart, have more important priorities and like interacting with people…”

    NPR had an interesting podcast last month about women in technology and computer science:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2014/10/17/356944145/episode-576-when-women-stopped-coding?utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=planetmoney&utm_source=dlvr.it

    Upon noticing that women’s enrollment in computer science programs began to drop dramatically in 1984, they began to examine the computer culture at that time to find out what could have caused this dramatic change. They found that this directly coincided with the advent of the personal computer, which at the time was heavily marketed towards boys and men, particularly for playing video games.

    Modern VFX is a computer-based technology industry folded into the film and television industry – another industry that women are still struggling to be an equal part of.

    This Forbes article poses the related question: Why aren’t there more female directors (women in film)?:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/dorothypomerantz/2014/02/25/the-real-fiction-in-hollywood-women-cant-make-movies/

    “Across multiple studies, our interviews with industry leaders and filmmakers have revealed myths that drive exclusionary hiring practices surrounding film directors. The most subtle and problematic is that when industry leaders think director, they think male. That is, the role of the director is often perceived to require traditionally masculine attributes. For women to step into these positions of authority, others have to project them into that role, or believe in their leadership style. We have also found that financiers may perceive females to be less confident than their male counterparts. In sum, the deck is still stacked against women in leadership positions.”

    Now, do negative factors in the VFX industry contribute to some women leaving (for more stability, better hours, to start a family etc). Possibly.

    Does Victoria Alonso have the power to change some of these factors? Maybe, maybe not.

    But instead of actively discussing the core reason that more women aren’t in VFX , this entire article, posting and comments thread has completely digressed.

    It’s not about the subsidies.

    • jona says:

      “another industry that women are still struggling to be an equal part of.”

      Nope. Not seeing that.

    • Jackadullboy says:

      No one’s arguing that the sexism problem doesn’t exist. The contention of this particular post (as against the scourge article) is that this issue ( a feature of many tech industries) is entirely rendered moot by The deeper dysfunctions in vfx.

      In short, you’re attacking something of a straw man, here.

      • jona says:

        “No one’s arguing that the sexism problem doesn’t exist”

        I am. All we see are minimal stats about the number of women DOING SHOTS in vfx sweatshops. A lot of hand wringers look at that and assume some sort of discrimination. That’s the first assumption made and, as is the case in many other fields, it is largely erroneous.

        In fact, I will state that the women I worked with were mostly huge pains in the ass, save for a few.

        I agree with your straw man assertion. This is the wrong time to buy ribbons for another PC ’cause’.

      • hmmmmmm says:

        “In fact, I will state that the women I worked with were mostly huge pains in the ass, save for a few.”

        You probably don’t understand what the problem is Jona, largely because the way you view women IS the problem.

      • jona says:

        Nah. Just some of the women I worked with. They’re not all the same, you know. But you’re welcome to educate me about ‘what the problem is’. Have at it.

      • Jona I can agree with your view. She woman fit in perfectly some stand out in both good and terrible. Somehow they are either really good or a real pain in the ass. Recently an artist I supervised bitched me out in front of others. I kept (most) if my composure. Later I was asked if I held back because she was a woman. I was confused at first by that question as I did not see the relevance of the sex. The coworker said if she wasn’t a woman she probably would be fired for calling her supervisor an a-hole.
        I held back as I did not feel like having a non constructive screaming match with her. Especially in front of the crew.

    • scottross996 says:

      Actually, it’s not at all about sexism.

      Digital Artists are hired solely on their portfolios and experience not on their genitalia. There are significantly more male candidates for DA and technical positions in VFX than women.

      On the other hand, I believe that there are more women in production management positions than men. And, at DD (1.0) there were numerous women in senior management roles and there were more women in production management roles than men.

      So, it’s time to stop hiding behind PC issues and time to start addressing the issues that are real. Like, subsidies, health plans, OT pay, the business model, profit participation etc.

      Ms. Alonso’s VES statement was a slight of hand maneuver, which tried to take our minds off the real issues that face our industry. It’s not sexism that is harming the VFX industry, its not that we “need more girls” ( though it would be nice to have more women) it’s that we need better compensation and considerably more respect.

  22. SoldiersFriend says:

    If you are a good artist – does not matter male or female, you should get a job. And in good employment conditions. No question about it.

    ”Its not about sexism” Please my dear friend, there always is element of sexism involved. Always. Especially when a male recruits female.

    Let me give you a real life example.
    Here comes a middle aged recruiter at one of biggest VFX houses out there. He is very pleased to see a tall long legged blonde (preferably wearing short skirt) appearing in his house door and applying to be a runner.. Does not matter she has very little experience in some micro house somewhere in a world, that no-one even ever heard of. Broken language and almost no artistic skills… But these long legs.. of course she got a job, so that all can see these ‘long legs’ at a front of a house.
    Now comes another girl. Pure talent. Looking for work for just under a year after graduating from a college. Short wearing Dr Martens boots, skinny black jeans and stretched old black t-shirt. Awesome portfolio, a diamond to be polished. She is turned down…
    Why? And please don’t tell me its experience..

  23. was she applying to be a “Runner”? If so, I would always choose the person with the longer legs…. after all, they go faster than the ones with short legs.Short legs and Dr Marten boots, for Running? Forget about it.

    • SoldiersFriend says:

      Yeah I guess you are right here😉 Although sadly for many a ‘foot in the door’ mean being a year as a runner. Especially in London. This begs the question what is more important: long legs or artistic skill?

  24. anonmpc says:

    Yeah we worked crazy hours @ mpc but we got overtime for them. Take your hour lunch you aren’t getting paid for it. If you didn’t get ot you negotiated like crap. I rejected 5 offers (respectfully) before I signed onto a job. Don’t be afraid to say no in the first place. Get what you think you are worth. If you are a senior and aren’t making close to 60/hour just bail. Stop allowing the industry to leach off of you and we will all do better.

  25. Mark Hennessy-Barrett says:

    Soldier, in your Facebook presence, you’re actually really a dick to women. Don’t expect much traction on this one.

    As you sow, and all that.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      That’s a simple mischaracterization. This is a separate issue but in my personal facebook I’m very critical of politicians in general and this includes authoritative groups that use gender issues to drive discourse.

      I’ve read many of their points on statistics and culture and simply disagreeing with those points with fact-based evidence draws calls of sexism and misogyny.

      Regardless, the issue here is that Victoria Alonso is a feminist in a very powerful position to change gender participation rates in the VFX industry. She will not because she is a capitalist first.

      • Atomica says:

        So are you a feminist?

      • VFX Soldier says:

        I don’t even know what that even means today. If it meant equal rights then yes but today I see the debate being more about equal results which I question.

        example: We often hear about the gender pay gap: how women make 77% of what men make nationally in the US. However when you account for the discrepancy between hours worked, that gap dwindles.

        Does acknowledging that fact make me a “dick to women” as Mark concludes? If your an authoritarian on the issue probably.

      • Atomica says:

        So you don’t believe there’s a significant gender gap in salaries?

      • VFX Soldier says:

        I agree with the WSJ analysis that when you account for hours worked and chosen occupations, there isn’t a significant gender gap in salaries:

        “The BLS reports that single women who have never married earned 96% of men’s earnings in 2012.”

        This is why I have said to support higher female participation in industries like VFX, you need to provide an environment that is friendly to family-minded professionals. The VFX industry is not but it should be and can be.

        http://online.wsj.com/news/article_email/SB10001424052702303532704579483752909957472-lMyQjAxMTA0MDAwOTEwNDkyWj

      • Atomica says:

        Interesting – you feel that women should bear the primary responsibility for child rearing, if not then surely child-friendly policies would appeal to men equally? Not a feminist then.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Careful, you might break your arm making that reach there.

        Where did I say “women should bear the primary responsibility for child rearing”?

        It’s a simple fact that women get pregnant and need adequate paid time off to go on maternity leave. I used to think that was something feminists we’re for. I think most women and men are for maternity leave.

      • jona says:

        “She will not because she is a capitalist first”

        And that is exactly what she was hired to do. That is what every for profit entity is designed to do. All this yak yak about gender “inequality” is nonsense, noise and completely unrelated to profit and success.

        In the end the simple fact is that if women were more productive than men are in certain fields they would hold most of the jobs. They aren’t. So they don’t.

        No one starts a company to employ and take care of people much less to even a gender’s playing field.

      • SoldiersFriend says:

        @Atomica do you have any children?

      • Jackadullboy says:

        “So you don’t believe there’s a significant gender gap in salaries?”

        Careful.. There’s a danger here of conflating correlation with cause. Additionally, equality of opportunity need not imply equality of out come.

        I strongly suspect that, in industries where women dominate, a pay gap will tend to present itself in the opposite direction.

  26. Atomica says:

    So a 4% gap is acceptable? Is any gap acceptable? How about we tell anyone that isn’t a male that fits the profile that they should just suck up that 4%.

    If you’re saying that a 4% gap – your numbers, remember – is just the price someone has to pay for not having the right genitals then you don’t really get the basic principle of feminism: equality.

    And yes, I have children, and a partner who also works in the creative industries and who shares the burden of childcare with me.

  27. […] argument that artists can’t run a company. It’s a defense the comes up often. As one VFXSoldier commenter suggested “inmates running the Asylum has been tried before and rarely succeeds.” […]

  28. […] studios who choose which VFX vendors get the work. One of those key decision-makers at the top is Marvel’s Victoria Alonso who I pointed out would take no course of action on the issue which the authors gave a pass to. “What leverage do you have?” is how the industry […]

  29. […] President of Post Production, Victoria Alonso, who also asked “where are the girls?” at the 2014 VES Summit, whereby she called for more women to work in VFX.” Obviously, some folks in the industry feels […]

  30. Alex says:

    This article puzzles me. I had always assumed the lack of women in the vfx industry was due to stereotype threat or having to put up with staying in a male environment. This article gives reasons that don’t sound much like real reasons to me:

    “Subsidy-induced cycles of global displacement.”

    Your family is feminist enough to accept your tech job, but not your decision to travel?

    “Long 16 hour work days.”

    Women aren’t capable of working long hours?

    “Maternity leave dampens the ability to get back to work.”

    What about the freelance and temp jobs in the industry?

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