The Irony As DreamWorks Closes PDI & Sheds 500 Jobs

In the same week that ADAPT announced an end to its legal effort, DreamWorks Animation announced the closure of PDI and the shedding of 500 jobs. Sad news and you could cut the irony with a knife.

ADAPT’s legal effort to mitigate the use of subsidies started at DreamWorks Animation last year when President Obama visited to incorrectly tout job growth in the industry. We hoped to raise attention to a collapsing local VFX industry. Companies were being put out of business by massive price distortion caused by government subsidies and workers were losing their jobs and having to chase work around the world in subsidized locations.

Given the relative stability at DreamWorks as opposed to VFX vendors who don’t own the intellectual property they work on, it was no surprise our plight was ignored by many workers there. We felt what they were missing is that as good as things were at DreamWorks, it was common for places to go through downturns and that there was a need for a healthy mix of VFX vendors like a Sony Imageworks, Digital Domain, or Rhythm & Hues to pick them up. Not anymore, that ecosystem of work was destroyed by subsidies and ADAPT hoped to resolve the issue with a legal effort.

The irony doesn’t stop there. It was announced that DreamWorks would be outsourcing the work for an upcoming film called “Captain Underpants” not to India, not to China, but to Canada where, you guessed it, DreamWorks will be able to take advantage of huge government subsidies that cover up to 58.4% of resident labor costs. Jeffrey Katzenberg was probably the biggest financial supporter of President Obama who campaigned against Mitt Romney for allegedly supporting “tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas”. Now Katzenberg will be receiving massive tax subsidies for shedding jobs in the US and sending work to Canada a year after the President visited his company to tout the growth of US jobs.

It’s also worth mentioning for those that thought the work would go to India and Shanghai that India was supposed to do all the work on films like “Penguins” and “Monkeys in Mumbai” (which was also canned today) but most of that work came back to be done in California. Shanghai (where labor costs are much higher than India) is almost a completely separate company that isn’t even fully owned by DWA. The pipeline is completely different and they are working on local content only.

For those who are looking to blame the costs of unionization should consider that while Glendale was a unionized facility, PDI was not and it was shut down. If unions we’re the anchor that was preventing success as some would like to argue, then it would have made sense to move the workers from Glendale to PDI.

Also, for those hoping that the recently passed California film subsidy bill AB1839 will bring relief should know that animated films are not allowed to receive the small subsidy which requires principal live action photography to be done in CA.

Lastly, for those who routinely use the tired line that VFX companies need to create intellectual property to survive remember: DreamWorks successfully created intellectual property and very well reviewed movies for years. Even they aren’t immune to a financial market that expects grand slam hits every time they step up to the plate.

In the end I’m left asking myself after all these years: “Could I have done more?” and then I answer “Perhaps that’s a question those who ignored us should be asking themselves.”

Soldier On.

251 Responses to The Irony As DreamWorks Closes PDI & Sheds 500 Jobs

  1. thaddeusbeier says:

    I started working at PDI in 1983. Carl Rosendahl, Glenn Entis, and Richard Chuang built the company from scratch. They got a break early, with Rede Globo financing a year-long effort to build an animation system; and that served as the basis for the incredible broadcast work we did over the next decade. By 1985, we had created the “Movie of the Week” openings for all the broadcast networks, and most of the cable stations.

    I worked there until they shut down their VFX branch in ’95, starting my own company Hammerhead Productions. I miss those days, among the most fun, exciting, and collaborative years of my life. PDI was a great, fair, and open company; I’m proud to have been part of it.

  2. animcoop says:

    Harsh truths. Being at a company that creates IP, not enough to provide stable employment. Unions not enough to prevent the nomadic lifestyle. Stopping subsidies, forming a trade association, not enough improve global working conditions without a Unionization effort to demand it.

    The people who run these companies care about one thing and one thing only, and it ain’t the workers.

    If those of us who got into this industry out of love for it want to stay in it, we have gotta start taking the industry away from the people who run it. The good news? We don’t need them.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      I think it’s wrong to assume that Dreamworks didn’t care about it’s workers. Look there are so many people who were artists who ran VFX facilities or moved up to own a company. It’s not like they hated their workers. Usually it’s the money that came in was less than what was going out. What do you do then? How do you tell people to work on something when you dont have money to pay them?

      • vfxmafia says:

        Katzenburg is still a cocksucker

      • animcoop says:

        That Dreamworks *hated* its workers is not the point. That any leaders of any company *hate* their workers isn’t the point.

        “There are so many people who were artists who ran VFX facilities or moved up to own a company. It’s not like they hated their workers. ”

        Exactly! The point is that the way this industry works, no matter how compassionate and artist-focused you think you are, the workers will inevitably become secondary to the needs of the “business” and the interest of the shareholders.

        Sooner or later, you’re going to have to start making decisions in for the business that will adversely impact your employees. Taking advantage of subsidies, looking for cheaper labor, expanding to foreign markets, because ultimately your labor is just a way to make money for your shareholders. And people tell me over and over: “That’s okay because that’s just how business works.”

        Everything Dreamworks is doing now is focused purely on capitalizing on something. Capitalizing on the success of a previous franchise, capitalizing on a new market, capitalizing on subsidized labor. Do you think the employees at Dreamworks were any more excited to make Madagascar 7 or Shrek 100 than the employees at Sony were to make Smurf’s 3 or Hotel Transylvania 2? Given the ability to choose, I’m willing to wager the employees could have steered Dreamworks to success by making movies they were passionate about, not what the execs, through their flawlessly predictive powers of market research, thought would be profitable. Katzenberg is just gambling, using our ability and our passion as chips on the table. And he, like everyone else, is driving this industry to the bottom.

        Look at me, getting up on a pedestal and leading a ra-ra-chorus of worker empowerment. But I’m doing this because I know that I am subject to the same thinking, we all are, and I don’t *want* to be in that position. I don’t want any single individual in the position to dictate the terms of the lives of hundreds or thousands of workers who have absolutely no say in any of it. I don’t think creative companies should operate that way and I don’t think they have to.

        You don’t need Katzenberg to make a good or successful movie, you need 500 people who are empowered to make something they give a damn about.

      • VFXDemocracy says:

        I completely agree with what AnimCoop is saying here. Until workers actually own the companies they are a part of their wellbeing will always be secondary to the demands of shareholders.

    • anon says:

      good comment

  3. Adapting Well says:

    I was not aware they were sending the work to Canada. Can you post a link to an article or something? I could not find anything about it.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Many people at DWA know Captain Underpants will be done at http://www.mikrosimage.ca in Montreal.

      • Adapting Well says:

        Ahhh I had not heard that. Interesting But does Quebec offer 58% film credits? I thought that was BC. “DreamWorks will be able to take advantage of huge government subsidies that cover up to 58.4% of resident labor costs.”

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Yes BC is 58.4%. Quebec was the same at the time JK visited last year but recently they cut their subsidies. I believe they offer about 50-55% now.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Add that the CAD is now at 80 cents to the dollar….and you can knock off another 10% for socialized medicine. I bet they are saving another %30 onTOP of the subsidies.

  4. Easy says:

    So how long until we start hearing how they were lead down the primrose path and told right up to the end: “Everything is going to be OK, you guys are our family! Our special VFX snowflakes!”

  5. VFXSailor says:

    I think back to marching outside of DWA, when virtually no one on the inside could be bothered to put on a green t shirt. I wonder if any of the 500 being laid off regrets not making that one small gesture? Fear won the day that day, and what could have been a turning point in our campaign was much less than that.

    And now not only are there no jobs in LA for these workers to pick up, there is no *hope* for any jobs coming back. ADAPT gave me and a lot of others hope for our industry and our future in this town. But, that is gone. Hopefully most of those 500 will either be able to leave the industry or the country.

    • Adapting Well says:

      Ahh.. the old blame the victim for being a victim. I am sure if they wore green shirts that one day, this all would have been avoided.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        We can speculate all we want of what could have been done to avoid this. One thing is for sure, doing nothing certainly doesn’t help.

      • Easy says:

        Ahh yes the old VFX standard, being a victim and taking no responsibility for your role in it.

        They didn’t get here because too many people stood up and acted in their own self interest.

    • I agree the DW workers should have been less plagued by tunnel visions and don’t rock the boat attitude. If they had all worn green maybe even Obama would have looked up from his script to notice something…

  6. $$BIg Sexxy$$ says:

    I dont see why the Glendale workers should care. Everyone being laid off is up north. Dreamworks in the last the big studio left in socal.

  7. $$Big Sexxy$$ says:

    Oh in that case, sucks for them.

  8. Tim H says:

    Can I ask how ADAPT and getting rid of subsidies was going to help this situation. Fact is they are cutting production and the slate of films being made. Even with subsidies gone this would not save this facility as they will now be doing less releases per year so has less work.

    I don’t see how ADAPT would have helped there change in the amount of work they plan on producing.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      As I pointed out in my post it’s routine for a company like Dreamworks to go through a downturn. Usually people that are let go have a Sony, Digital Domain, or Rhythm & Hues to jump to that is part of the ecosystem of work available.

      With subsidies, it completely paralyzes a VFX companies ability to do work in a non-subsidized location. People in subsidized locations may appreciate that for now as the decline leads to more work in their location, but that will not last.

      Eventually those governments will not be able to continue paying 58.4% of resident salaries and those programs will ultimately reformed leading to another collapse.

      • phoebius says:

        in Montreal they were supposed to cut by 20% the subsidies. I don’t know if this is done or not (the mayor was against) but the gov. cut almost everywhere. Hope they will do it in the future.

    • Disgruntled says:

      Because of subsidies dreamworks is now partnering with mikros to produce a full feature animation movie.

      Its mentioned in an earlier comment

    • Roxboro says:

      Troll is back

  9. Tim H says:

    You also always state that removing subsidies will not affect the number of films being made. Well subsidies are still around and yet DWA are now going to make less films per year even with the one you say is being sent to Canada.

    So are subsidies the number 1 reason for this business decision to try and make better more profitable films?

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Begging the question here but Dreamworks made the decision they made today because they are a publicly traded stand alone studio. They needed to report revenue every quarter so that meant have 3 films release a year so they could leverage a film coming out in theaters or DVD every quarter. They also needed to hit a grandslam everytime. Nobody can do that and unfortunately Dreamworks came out with a few duds which is leading to a collapse.

      • scottross996 says:

        It’s pretty easy to be a wheelchair general…. we have no real idea why DWA has not succeeded. We can take a few guesses however:
        1. Jeffrey Katzenberg grew up at a major hollywood studio. DWA is not a Hollywood Studio. It is a production company. Production Companies that do not have studio overhead deals need to be very frugal. DWA acts like and spends like a major Hollywood studio.
        2.DWA is a public company..”nuff” said there.
        3.DWA does not have a diversified portfolio….
        4. DWA has one leader…who ultimately makes all decisions.

  10. Andreas Jablonka says:

    they have to make less pricey films and make them perform better. katzenberg has said he has spent too much time expanding other sectors than actually overseeing the films. they tanke because they sucked. for some reason pixar and now even disney outperform dreamworks “pop culture reference” flicks. i think they did the right thing. reduce the budget from 3 to 2 movies. and take more care with them. we will see if that works out.

  11. Johnnybegood says:

    Lose the free food = over $3M a year (even though this was used as a write-off for the company)

    Lose the 10 Executives and Managers who shuffle artists from show to show = $1.5M a year

    Lose having a 2 Producer show (min of 2) x 4 shows = $1.4M a year

    Lose AP’s & PM’s not assigned to real shows = $1M a year

    Stop ridiculous technology initiatives = $20M a year

    I just saved PDI for free.

    JK is surrounded with idiots and it’s his fault.

    p.s – Idiots = $6M a year

  12. John Smith says:

    Just wait for the next round of layoffs after ‘Home’ tanks.
    Disney was late to the 3D-Feature game but now they’re probably the best – Pixar is still outputting movies that click with the audience. Then there’s newcomers like Illumination. Dreamworks didn’t do itself a favour with releasing crap like ‘Turbo’ and ‘Mr. Peabody’. Years ago a new Dreamworks movie release was really something the audience was looking forward to, similar to the buzz when a new Pixar movie comes out. You knew you’d go see a Dreamworks movie and have a good time. Now it’s hit (Dragon) and but more often miss (Turbo, Peabody, maybe Home). Their brand has suffered. Cutting down the number of releases and trying to improve the quality is the only sensible way forward – so something good might come out of this. Of course that’s no consolation for the employees who were let go today.

    • FTCS says:

      +1

      This would not be happening if DWA made better films. You can blame it on subsidies, out of state work or lots of other issues, but the bottom line is the bottom line and DWA has been terrible for the past several years making good and profitable films with the exception of HTTYD.

      • SquishNStretch says:

        I don’t think anyone is blaming the DreamWorks cutbacks on subsidies. The problem is, you now have hundreds of artists turned loose into a CA “market” that has been decimated by subsidies. Where else around here are they gonna work? The options are extremely slim. This is the ecosystem Soldier referred to. There ain’t one here any more. Those artists are faced with a stark choice: 1) leave the region or 2) leave the industry. So the talent pool here will continue to dry up, making it difficult for what few companies remain to crew up when they need to. Death spiral.

        Boo hoo for L.A., some may reply. Perhaps. But when the subsidy spigot gets turned off in YOUR market, expect to see the same.

        And if (when) that happens in enough markets globally, what then?

  13. Casey C Benn says:

    I wonder if anyone has tried defending motion capture as the “principle live action” that would be made in California in order to qualify for the CA Subsidy?

  14. animcoop says:

    Food for thought for Dreamworks employees. How 250 Workers Laid Off from a Chicago Company Took It Over Themselves: http://bit.ly/rwdcoop #DreamworksCoop

  15. jackfx says:

    I love that no matter what the story or the facts vfxsoldier finds a way to make it about Canada and about subsidies. And you wonder why no one got on board with you?? You do know that dwa has partnered on a huge production facility in China right? And that they just got co-production status for kfp 3 there. But no, let’s use rumours about outsourcing to some tiny Montreal company for a cheap kids movie shall we. See the forest through the trees much? Your agenda is so transparent and ill informed the only people buying into it are your so cal lackeys that post here.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Very little work for KFP3 will be done in China. Shanghai doesn’t even share the same pipeline. The co-production status is so DWA can easily get their films past China’s tough quota system. Despicable Me for example was not shown in China due to quota issues.

      Cartoon Brew confirms what many at DWA have been saying:

      http://www.cartoonbrew.com/feature-film/dreamworks-will-outsource-captain-underpantsbut-not-where-you-think-108174.html

      This isn’t an agenda. This is reality of the canadian government paying millions in subsidies and it has had an undeniable effect on the loss of work in non-subsidized areas. The animation companies will soon adopt this model.

      Sent from my iPhone

      >

      • Ike says:

        So basically the main point here is us, at the bottom of the food chain, trying to show the CEOs that pursuing cheaper labor and cheaper costs in other countries (or in other states in the US, as it’s happening in non-animated movies) is not sustainable? Am I the only one that see that as a futile movement? Am I the only one seeing that animation is not a special case and it just follows the trend from which this country is known around the world?

        Yeah, good luck with that…

      • animcoop says:

        “Am I the only one that see that as a futile movement?”

        You are not alone! It’s an absolutely ludicrous idea.

    • JonMeier says:

      Subsidies dismantled Los Angeles profitability. Daniel didn’t make that up. This isn’t like a Climate-Change “debate”. The race to the bottom is known by everyone in VFX who believes in math.
      Subsidies will likely dissolve the companies in the subsidy zones. Once those subsidies go (cuz we know nothing last forever), it’s over for them.

      Who is gonna make those companies viable?

    • phoebius says:

      gettin’ nervous jackfx?

  16. Ross says:

    ‘We were top-heavy,” Katzenberg said. “We have too much corporate staff here.”

    I’ve always been convinced and suspicious of this in all the big VFX companies that fold. WAY too many executives with WAY too high of salaries/options/bonuses/etc. How does DWA with blockbuster success franchises like Dragon and Kung Fu Panda and astronomical merchandise successes to go with it (because they own the IP) and blockbuster DVD/blu-ray/VOD/cable to top it off, NOT make money!? And/or at least have a sustainable business model? Even with several non-hit movies? Those have to at least break even or be minor losses.

    It’s executive overhead and Hollywood accounting. It’s disgusting that the people who sacrifice so much to actually MAKE the movies lose their job so executives who’s roles/impact are questionable continue to survive.

    There’s needs to be more transparency. If DW is public, are their executive team and salaries listed somewhere? Same with DD.

  17. Jim says:

    I love the enthusiasm of “let’s get together and make a movie” of animcoop, but I think these employees know that the odds of a successful, well-distributed, profitable first film are low. And most people can’t forgo income for a year or two, plus put up $40,000 or more as an investment while they work on their own company. Which is why it is hard to start a studio, and few do it successfully.

    As vfxsoldier states – the company does not dislike its employees, usually the C-level staff is from the ranks of the artists and loves its employees. But salaries must be paid, and if outgo exceeds income, what is to be done?

    Quick rough estimation of cost for 500 California skilled VFX employees:
    avg salary= $80,000
    benefits cost = $25,000
    government mandated extra costs for employees (SS, Med, Ins) = $12000
    ====
    annual cost $58.5M

    • animcoop says:

      You’re right. Probably too big a risk. Let’s not consider it.

      • animcoop says:

        As VFXSoldier likes to note, we’re getting pretty good at doing nothing. So let’s put our brains together and think of all the reasons why it can’t be done.

        It’s not like it’s possible to turn a $69million movie into a $255million profit. That’d just be too hard.
        http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=despicableme.htm

      • VFX Soldier says:

        What exactly is the call to action here? Are you asking for money or lobbying someone to do something?

        I’m not against the coop stuff it’s just when I hear it from enthusiasts I ask: where’s the money going to come from? And that sort of ends the discussion.

        Sent from my iPhone

        >

      • animcoop says:

        “It’s just too hard”
        Is this becoming our mantra?

      • animcoop says:

        We’re sitting here on the edge of an industry that is not going to exist in the not so distant future, and it’s not because of the market that’s not receptive. It’s because of the practices of executives who don’t dislike their employees. The ground is crumbling. The ship is on fire and it’s going down.

        We have a rope extended to solid ground and we can sit here looking at it saying “it’s too scary, it’s too hard, it’s not possible, it’s too risky.” and hope the fire goes out by itself. And we can go down with the ship.

        Or we fix our eyes on the other side and say: “don’t look down”.

      • JonMeier says:

        Aren’t we the same people who had people telling us not to go into art as a profession? We kinda had to be stubborn and do it anyway, because it was inside of us, and it had to get out.
        Now there are some colleagues who identify themselves as the ones who simply “Fell Into” digital film. If that’s you, and you’re telling me it’s all a bad Idea….well in my opinion you were simply “lucky” to work with peeps who make CG. You don’t count. Anybody who both worked hard to get into CG, and still likes making CG, YOU ARE HOLDING THE TORCH NOW. Disgruntled’s aren’t gonna make the grade. They don’t provide the creativity, nor the ideas to dig you out of this hole.
        I imagine they also do not possess the innovation that brings in an audience.

      • animcoop says:

        @VFXSoldier

        First off, Dreamworks employees are getting two months pay. That’s a start.

        The Shrek 1 budget distributed over 500 artists is $120,000. No small sum, obviously, but not inconceivable. Consider the amount of debt we regularly assume for relatively poor or neutral investments like a house, new cars, education (*cough*).

        The lowest grossing CG Dreamworks movie so far made $64,665,672. That was Flushed Away. Worldwide it made $178,120,010.

        Not exactly high-risk. If you could make a movie for the cost of Shrek and make even the lowest grossing Dreamworks record, you’d be breaking even on your investment.

        I’m no expert on the subject but off the top of my head there are a number of ways that money could be raised.

        1) The first st and most risky is through personal or business loans, second mortgages, whatever, or temporarily living off your savings or the income of a spouse. But again, you’re not up against impossible odds of breaking even or taking at most a minimal hit.

        2) There are actually a number of organizations in the US and the Bay Area that provide support to worker-cooperatives. Working World (http://www.theworkingworld.org/us/), for instance is one company who “provides investment capital and technical support for worker cooperatives using an innovative finance model.” Just do a google search or check who I’m following on Twitter an you’ll find dozens of similar organizations.

        3) Seeking angel investors who are specifically interested in new business models. The bay area is loaded with these kind of people. Finding one (or a few) who would be willing to forego ownership for return on their investment might be tricky but not inconceivable.

        These are just grazing the tip of the iceberg on how to fund the movie, and I bet there are a lot of smart folks out there who can come up with better ideas than mine.

      • animcoop says:

        Not to even mention something like Kickstarter and all the crowdsourcing. Yeah, might be a tough market for indies but “500 former Dreamworks employees want to stick it to the man and make awesome movie” might fare at least as well as Veronica Mars.

      • animcoop says:

        I have little doubt the Dreamworks artists and workers are capable of making better movies than what they’ve been allowed to make these last few years by JK and the executive board at Dreamworks who focused on finding the success formula.

        And yeah, if you’re not willing to temporarily forego a chunk of your six figure salary, sacrifice a bit of comfort and get by with on what you absolutely need to make it work: it ain’t gonna happen.

        I know it’s far fetched, I don’t really need people to tell me how impossible it is, I already know how hard it will be.

        But there is an opportunity here for the 500 PDI employees to lead the industry into a new era where we have complete control and don’t rely entirely on the power of the executives and shareholders who WILL erode the animation industry in time.

    • Scott Ross says:

      Once bitten twice shy….

      UA was incorporated as a joint venture on February 5, 1919, by four of the leading figures in early Hollywood: Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D. W. Griffith. Each held a 20% stake, with the remaining 20% held by lawyer William Gibbs McAdoo.[4] The idea for the venture originated with Fairbanks, Chaplin, Pickford, and cowboy star William S. Hart. Already veterans of Hollywood, the four film stars began to talk of forming their own company to better control their own work as well as their futures.

      They were spurred on by established Hollywood producers and distributors who were tightening their control over actor salaries and creative decisions, a process that evolved into the rigid studio system. With the addition of Griffith, planning began, but Hart bowed out before things had formalized. When he heard about their scheme, Richard A. Rowland, head of Metro Pictures, is said to have observed, “The inmates are taking over the asylum.” The four partners, with advice from McAdoo (son-in-law and former Treasury Secretary of then-President Woodrow Wilson), formed their distribution company, with Hiram Abrams as its first managing director.

      List of UA stockholders in 1920
      The original terms called for Pickford, Fairbanks, Griffith and Chaplin to independently produce five pictures each year. But by the time the company got under way in 1920–1921, feature films were becoming more expensive and more polished, and running times had settled at around ninety minutes (or eight reels). It was believed that no one, no matter how popular, could produce and star in five quality feature films a year.

      UA’s first film was His Majesty, the American by and starring Fairbanks was a success. There was limited funding for movies at the time. Without selling stock to the public like the other studios of the time, all United had to work with was weekly prepayment installments from theater owners for the upcoming movies. Thus production was slow with the company distributing for the first five years averaging five films.

      By 1924, by which time Griffith had dropped out, the company was facing a crisis: either bring in others to help support a costly distribution system or concede defeat. The veteran producer Joseph Schenck was hired as president. Contracts were signed with a number of independent producers, most notably Samuel Goldwyn and Howard Hughes. In 1933, Schenck organize a new company with Darryl F. Zanuck, Twentieth Century Pictures, which soon provided four pictures a year to UA’s schedule and was half the schedule.

      Schenck also formed a separate partnership with Pickford and Chaplin to buy and build theaters under the United Artists name. They also began international operations, first in Canada, then in Mexico, and by the end of the 1930s, United Artists was represented in over 40 countries.

      Schenck resigned in 1935 when an ownership share was denied, Schenck left which set up 20th Century Pictures’ merger with Fox Film Corporation to form 20th Century Fox. Schenck was succeeded by Al Lichtman as company president. A number of other independent producers distributed through United Artists in the 1930s including Walt Disney Productions, Alexander Korda, Hal Roach, David O. Selznick and Walter Wanger.

      As the years passed and the dynamics of the business changed, these “producing partners” drifted away, Samuel Goldwyn Productions and Disney to RKO and Wanger to Universal Pictures.

      In the late 1930s, UA finally turned a profit while Samuel Goldwyn Productions was providing most of the output for distribution. Goldwyn sued United several times for disputed compensation leading Goldwyn Productions to leave. MGM’s 1939 hit, Gone With the Wind, the top money maker of all time, was supposed to be a UA release except for the fact Selznick wanted Clark Gable to play Rhett Butler, but Gable was under contract to MGM. Also that year Fairbanks died.

      UA again was embroiled in lawsuits with its top producer, Selznick, over his distribution of some films through RKO and Selznick’s considering their sloppy operation. Selznick left UA and started his own distribution arm.

      In the 1940s, United Artists was losing money with poor pictures and cinema attendance down as viewers were moving to TV.

      Let’s not forget Station X….

      It ain’t easy.

      • Scott Ross says:

        and just because one can animate Spiderman, move Caspers eyebrow, composite a spaceship, sink a model ship, animate big blue aliens ….does not mean one can develop, write or direct. Think of the VFX practitioners that have succeeded and those that haven’t. The odds are not very good. And even if a VFX group decided to do so, and they had the requisite talent… who would manage it, where would the business people come from, or the money to do the films… and finally, who would oversee the deals? A tough road to say the least. Maybe even highly unlikely. And very very expensive. Unless your Dad is Phil Knight .

      • make_it_better says:

        I’m not sure if vfx artists will need to do everything themselfs, why limit who is part of company?

      • Scott Ross says:

        what I was taking from many of the above cmments was that ” OK VFX artists, we are getting screwed, we make all the images, execs seem to make all the money… and so, let’s form a company that we (the VFX artists) own and make some breat content.

        IMHO, from my experience, that is a VERY naive statement and frankly it has a snow balls chance in hell of succeeding.

        And since ( whether VFX artists believe it or not) CEO’s ( good ones) and sophisticated biz people, lawyers, writers, producers, creative execs, distribution, marketing and finance people are critical to the success of a film company… if the VFX artists own the company, who makes the decisions regarding the aforementioned? The people on VFX Soldiers blog?

      • animcoop says:

        Scott, first allow me to say that I have little but respect and admiration for you and the great value your wealth of knowledge and experience bring to the conversation.

        The history you outline above is not lost on me, and provides – I believe – part of an important lesson for the success of anything we try to do together.

        I believe that I’ve either failed to adequately communicate the breadth of what I’m advocating, or it is simply the fault of the fact that we’re only just beginning to have this conversation. So allow me a moment, if you will, to clarify a few things. (I apologize in advance for the length of this post)

        “what I was taking from many of the above cmments was that ” OK VFX artists, we are getting screwed, we make all the images, execs seem to make all the money… and so, let’s form a company that we (the VFX artists) own and make some breat content. (…) IMHO, from my experience, that is a VERY naive statement and frankly it has a snow balls chance in hell of succeeding.”

        I agree with you wholeheartedly. If this were, in fact, what I was saying, it is a very naive statement indeed. Impossible? No. But not likely.

        What I’m getting at is not a company run only by VFX artists or those practicing a specific trade, but rather a company consisting of writers, directors, producers, story artists, AND animation/vfx artists working together on products that they collectively own.

        Together these workers – which some economists and specialists on worker-coops refer to as surplus-producing workers (animators, story artists, writers, directors) and enabling workers (managers, producers, coordinators) – direct the company. No external shareholders, no big studios demanding work be done cheaper in subsidized locations so they can make more money for THEIR shareholders.

        This doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be a President or CEO and various leaders managing the day-to-day operational aspects of the company, helping to build relationships with necessary partners, or working with distributers, but on the big matters such as how to distribute or reinvest profit, or how that profit/loss affects salaries and benefits, dealing with residuals, those surplus-producing/enabling-workers would be equal participants. And more importantly, if the people in positions such as President, CFO, etc, were making bad decisions for the company, they would be voted out.

        There are a number of significant issues in our industry this model would address. The first being that we’re headed down a path where productions are managed from the big studios but all of the work is done in locations of their bidding. All in an attempt to maximize profit. But when the actual content creators and enablers are equal participants in decisions being made that affect production, these issue disappear. Production in LA stabilizes to LA, production in Canada becomes stable in Canada, London, New Zealand, etc. As long as those companies are producing content people want to see.

        This of course is a big picture and purely theoretical at the moment, what we’re talking about here is starting with just one or a handful of companies. But for that one company, as long as they continued to produce content people enjoyed, they will have complete control of their employment, equity, residuals, and all of the benefits of the content they produce.

        “( whether VFX artists believe it or not) CEO’s ( good ones) and sophisticated biz people, lawyers, writers, producers, creative execs, distribution, marketing and finance people are critical to the success of a film company…”

        As I establish a basic framework for introducing these ideas, I’ve spent a good deal of time challenging, on a philosophical level, our idea of what leadership means.

        Here, again, I may be failing to communicate the big picture (and would note I am open to criticism on how I can better convey it). This does not mean I don’t recognize the importance of people in these roles and nor do I disagree that many of the roles you outlined are vital to the success of a production company.

        The point is that we have people knowledgeable and experienced in all areas of film production (be it feature animation or live action) working together to create a stable, productive environment in which every individual involved can feel a sense of ownership over the product they create and a sense of empowerment to influence the conditions of their studio.

      • VFXDemocracy says:

        Hey Scott! As always you raise very good points! I don’t know if you have yet had a chance to visit animcoop’s blog yet (https://animcoop.wordpress.com) and read over in detail what he/she has posted up to this point. There definitely seems to be a lot of confusion out there on what people think Worker Self-Directed Enterprises (WSDEs) are. A successful company no matter what its structure requires the full gamut of roles and that definitely includes “business” folks like yourself. This is true for WSDEs as well. A key difference in WSDEs though is management is elected into their positions by the workers versus being put there by a board of directors / shareholders. WSDEs are a different animal that requires different thinking. Yes, examples like UA and Station X are illustrative of the types of things that can go wrong, but each type of business structure comes with its own set of challenges and as we can see with the state of our industry the way we are operating now is in dire straits. As for UA and Station X it is very important to note that these companies were Joint Partnerships and not WSDEs, so one needs to take these examples with a grain of salt the, since in numerous fundamental respects we are talking apples and oranges.

        Regardless, if one day I were to find myself in a worker-cooperative and you were to join the team you’d have my vote for CEO.

        Cheers!

      • animcoop says:

        I think I could be persuaded to throw my vote behind that!

      • Bob (another one) says:

        “Let’s not forget Station X…”
        Yes, Scott. Everybody who isn’t legitimately stupid knows and understands that “Artists” don’t make very good business people. And the same people also know that artists are exactly as susceptible to being egotistical, clueless and dickish as, say, production staff.

        Still, for all its failures, Station X was still a much better option for that entire department (except that one guy that wasn’t invited along because everybody hated him) than sticking around and being treated like indentured slaves by Digital Domain, eh?

  18. Poor jusgement says:

    @animcoop

    Whilst they may make a great movie there is no guarantee. Would you risk everything on on a movie that may bomb. For every money making film there are 10 that lose money. There is a reason making movies is a very risky business.

    I would love to make something heck how many VFX people want to be directors and how many have acctually make money making movies. Maybe we can list them on one hand.

    • animcoop says:

      If you are still in this industry and aren’t already planning a way out, you should start now then.

      This message is for those of us who still want to be working in this industry and making a living wage in 15 years. The risk of doing nothing is greater than the risk of not breaking even for me.

    • animcoop says:

      Also I’d point out risk with no guarantee is the foundation for nearly every great thing that’s ever been accomplished in this industry.

    • JonMeier says:

      Plus. The kinds of movies we make……make money. Many movies we make make money, yet we don’t understand why.

      the 10-1 ratio of loss that you speak of. Well, I don’t think it’s that bad for A or B level (maybe even C level) content that is laden with CGI.

      In fact, I almost feel it’s the opposite. That more movies with A-C level work make money than lose it.

      I could be wrong, and I’m open to someone convincing me it’s that more movies with CGI lose money than make money.

      • scottross996 says:

        YOU don’t make movies… You, at best add some really cool eye candy ( that is VERY important to global marketing of the movie). Remember, at best YOU add arms and a head to the Venus de Milo… YOU do not actually create story, dialogue, direction, core ideas and concepts nor do YOU provide the financing.

      • animcoop says:

        In Jon’s defense, and for the sake of argument: I believe he used the word “WE” not “I” in reference to making movies.

        Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t think Jon was trying to take credit for the role of writer, director, or producer on films for which he was not credited for that work.

        Given that no-one here seems to be claiming individual credit for the act of movie-making, I’m struggling to see the point in trying to make sure everyone mind’s their place or is reminded of how insignificant their contributions to movie-making are viewed.

        Yes, the current paradigm is one in which an idea is conceived by an individual or team, owned by a studio, and workers are contracted to help make it. I just don’t see what is so terrible about pursuing a paradigm where ownership (and all of its benefits) is distributed amongst ALL of those who contribute to the act of making it?

  19. anon says:

    “Apps made more money than HOLLYWOOD last year: Market raked in more than $10billion in 2014”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2923713/Apps-money-HOLLYWOOD-year-Market-raked-10billion-2014.html

  20. $$Big Sexxy$$ says:

    Fine the artists should get together and make their own film. But doing it in California would stupid. If BC offers 60% incentive on salaries they might as well form a corp, establish home-base in Canada and take advantage of free money. Ride the train while they can, and then get out when it starts to tank.

    • animcoop says:

      No one is saying they shouldn’t. The beautiful thing about a democratic worker-cooperative is that workers make these kind of decisions in their mutual self-interest. They’re not making decisions for shareholders.

      So if what the 500 artists at Dreamworks really wanted was to just freaking rake it in in a big gold-rush and didn’t care about where they lived. Sure.

      But I’m assuming the artists at PDI probably have families, property, and established lives here in the Bay Area and I’m guessing most of them would rather not uproot their families and would prefer to just keep doing work they love.

      You’re thinking only of profit and bottom line. We need to stop that. 500 Dreamworks employees could have stable employment and residual income for the rest of their lives. That’s profit enough.

      • scottross996 says:

        lets get this right…. the VFX workers put up the capital to finance development, scripting, legal, title clearance, insurance, art, pre pro and budgeting to make a movie ( which probably none of them have ever done and considering the current economic climate, didn’t even have the resources to contribute to ADAPT), then a company is formed which hires management, production personnel, accounting etc… which reports to the workers ( who financed the company).

        Those workers act like the board of directors and they get to hire/fire the management and direct the company resources based upon the workers desires? And so the worker/BOD is comprised of workers that either donate the most $$ to finance the Company or are elected by a group of worker/owners.

        I would assume that these board workers are actual workers in the Company, like TD’s, animators, compositors etc…? And these elected board members know a great deal about animation, algorithms, coding, or art.

        But, what do they know about running a business? Or better yet how will the make their decisions about what is right for the business? And who would they hire ( because admittedly artists are generally not good business people) to run the business? Chances are it would be a seasoned executive or executives as opposed to Robin of Batman fame… and I would assume that executive or executives would want to be compensated in the same way other senior execs are compensated…

        and so aren’t we back to square one?

        The answer is not to reinvent the wheel… at least not yet. The answer is for VFX studios to band together, utilize the rather weighty power that they have and change the business model. My ex partner used to say “FEAR IS NOT AN OPTION”… but in the case of both VFX studio chiefs and VFX workers, it seems that it is the only option!

      • animcoop says:

        Eh… sort of? I feel like there is still a rather fundamental misunderstanding here about what I’m saying: especially when you talk about “VFX workers” essentially hiring business people as employees.

        Sorry, @scottross996, before we proceed, I’ve never been quite clear on this: you are the real Scott Ross, just commenting under a different login, yes or no?

        In either case, could you verify that you’ve read my response here:
        https://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/the-irony-as-dreamworks-closes-pdi-sheds-500-jobs/#comment-74002

        And VFXDemocracy’s response here:
        https://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/the-irony-as-dreamworks-closes-pdi-sheds-500-jobs/#comment-74007

        I’m happy to clarify further but would rather not repeat myself if those comments just got lost.

      • animcoop says:

        “The answer is not to reinvent the wheel… at least not yet. The answer is for VFX studios to band together, utilize the rather weighty power that they have and change the business model.”

        I did want to note that I do agree with you on this point to some extent.

        I do believe that democratic, distributed ownership should be the long-game in a two part strategy. It can’t fix the problems at current studios and while it seems those of us who support this business model are generally perceived around these parts as overly optimistic and enthusiastic, I’m not counting on one democratic self-directed studio causing an immediate domino effect that fixes conditions across the industry. Though I do believe, done right, they would fix a lot of problems.

        But this is a long-term strategy. And as we’ve all noted it’s probably going to take some trial and error to get the formula right. In the mean-time we still need to focus on improving the conditions we work in today.

        What I don’t see very clearly, however, is what roll most of the people reading this blog could play in convincing “VFX studios to band together, utilize the weighty power that they have and change the business model”.

        What is the strategy here, or more specifically what role can non-executives play in this? I’m asking legitimately, not rhetorically, because I think we need some consensus and a direction in that regard if there is some plausible course of action that can be taken.

        Is the thought that we unionize and then agree to a global strike if the board/President/CEO’s don’t change the business model? Is that possible? And what would we be demanding there, or would changing the business model just be a necessary response from execs to our demands for better working conditions and more stability? Given what happened with Adapt and that SPI couldn’t even unionize, the level of unanimous participation required there is just difficult for me to have a lot of faith in.

        What I know that we CAN do is go off in small groups of like-minded individuals, collaborate across fields to develop content and seek financing for independent projects to help ourselves build new democratic studios with collective ownership.

  21. joeRandom says:

    @animcoop “Not exactly high-risk. If you could make a movie for the cost of Shrek and make even the lowest grossing Dreamworks record, you’d be breaking even on your investment.”

    your forgetting the cut that cinema theaters get from your movies, if you do gross the same as flushed away ($64M domestic), then expect 30-40% of that to go to the movie theatres. thats why so many animated films flop in terms of profit.

    • animcoop says:

      A good point, and worth noting. Though, for the record, Flushed Away did do $178,120,010 worldwide (It just cost almost as much to make).

      If you could keep your production costs near Shrek/Despicable Me levels it’s still more than enough to break even and actually profit on the production.

      If you were able to finance the first production all or in part through loans from organizations supporting Worker-Cooperatives (like Working World), some require repayment only from revenue generated from the investment.

      • animcoop says:

        Also, those movies were paying people full salaries.

        If I were a part of starting a worker-coop, I’d tighten my belt as much as possible and advocate that everyone else do the same to ensure we make back whatever we spent.

        Again, that mutual self-interest thing comes into play. This is not short-term profit you’re playing for, it’s long-term stability and ownership.

    • VFXDemocracy says:

      Typically, cinema theaters get most of their revenue from concessions and not the movies themselves:

      http://business.time.com/2009/12/07/movie-theaters-make-85-profit-at-concession-stands/

      … also movies generate revenues from multiple sources (not just box office):

      http://business.time.com/2009/12/07/movie-theaters-make-85-profit-at-concession-stands/

      … so one has to look at the big picture. I for one, as animcoop suggests, would be willing to tighten my belt in pay if I stood to directly benefit from the cash flows of a production.

      • VFXDemocracy says:

        My bad, I accidentally repeated the first link. The second link I meant to paste in was:

        http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/the_hollywood_economist/2005/08/hollywoods_profits_demystified.html

      • joeRandom says:

        while movie theaters may get more revenue from concessions, its still true that they take a large portion of a films box office grossings.

        but its also true that movies also generate a lot of revenue outside of the box office such as dvds and rentals and stuff (like rise of the guardians), but there are also costs for such things not included in production budget.

        however im not trying to deter people from doing this, itd be exciting if people really rallied up to do it.

      • VFXDemocracy says:

        Exactly, there are always costs associated with doing business, but we shouldn’t let such realities be an insurmountable obstacle in our minds. You gotta run the numbers, worker-coop or no worker-coop, and proceed from there. Big difference in a cooperative though is there is no cap on your salary, since all profits feed back to the workers and are not siphoned off by shareholders/executives.

      • make_it_better says:

        So no union needed in coop since all workers can influence what is happening in their company?

      • VFXDemocracy says:

        Precisely!

  22. jonavark says:

    To Animcoop.

    I like the concept. I have always thought that the way out of this required something like what you are proposing. If possible, make them chase you.. but..

    How would you pay for technical infrastructure?

    • animcoop says:

      Brilliant!

      Fundraising, of course, is the biggest obstacle, and I think people like yourself who are at least open minded and not purely in opposition to worker-coops are important in helping figure that out. I don’t have every answer.

      I fired four possible ideas from the hips here:
      https://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/the-irony-as-dreamworks-closes-pdi-sheds-500-jobs/#comment-73913

      As noted, there are dozens of organizations out there that are dedicated to helping worker-cooperatives get off the ground, some of whom provide various types of loans and grants and some of whom provide other types of support. No one would need to do it alone.

      I have begun the process of connecting with a few of them finding out more about the fundraising angle, but I don’t have a complete picture yet.

      Technical infrastructure to support 400-500 workers, if you bought everything from scratch, could easily take up the first few million dollars of your budget.

      I think the first thing we have to remember is that this is not some corporate entity providing you a spanking new office to walk into. This is us, the workers, providing for ourselves to try to build a sustainable future. This is a group of workers giving it all they’ve got to make something work.

      It doesn’t need to be pretty, it just needs to work. So on the most guerrilla end of the spectrum, people who have their own equipment use what they have to help keep the costs down. On the other end of the spectrum you fund-raise that money with minimal to no out-of-pocket.

      Frankly, even if we scored $80,000,000 funding out of the gate I’d still encourage this at first to keep the costs as low as possible.

      • vfxmafia says:

        @animcooky

        word of advice…you need to stop drinking energy drinks……

      • VFXDemocracy says:

        I’ve always noticed when someone descends to pejoratives and character attacks it is a clear indication they’ve run out of rational responses. Don’t be a troll!

      • animcoop says:

        @vfxmafia. Thanks for your constructive contribution to the conversation.

      • vfxmafia says:

        OK how about this….

        You know nothing about making film. You know nothing about fundraising. You never been in a pitch meeting to save your life. In fact you never been in a leadership position in your life……

        Studios….often have a calender of 10 movies…..yet you propose a bunch of half cocked out-of-work VFX artists spend their life savings to make one movie….with a bunch of vfx artists who grind on shots. (they (nor you) know nothing of telling a story, nor of fundraising, nor of commanding a crew on set, nor of film distribution)….nor do you have any connections what so ever to people who run the business…

        and you still can’t answer a simple fucking question….where do you get the money…..?

        your a dickhead nerd who…..couldn’t get into USC film school (with all the other rich kids who are sons of producers) …so you took your bitch ass $40K and went to Gnomon.

        Guess what you dont know dick about how movies are made……

        (Just saying)

      • Jon Meier says:

        @vfxmafia. You are nobody at all.
        Just a faceless word, with nothing offer but a pocketfull of rusty nails.

        You lack imagination. You are not an artist.

        Change is on your doorstep, and you’re tied up thinking in the standard model.

        Animcoop him(her)self may not know how to pitch, produce, or distribute. But I’ll bet you what….there’s probably some talented people who do who might be receptive to Animcoops idea.

        VfxMafia. Why are you even here on this blog?

      • vfxmafia says:

        @Jon Meier

        Why am i here? Am I somebody?

        I forgot this blog is now a tombstone ….for people who gave a shit once……Jon I marched for you on The night of the Life of Pi Oscar night……I was there on Hollywood and Vine..i gave money …..i went to town halls….

        all i am saying is this IP argument is lame.

        The idea that Vfx artists can produce…..write….direct…distribute…and do the vfx for a movie….is just stupid…….the CEO’s love this kind of talk…this is about labor rights and subsidies…….not some bullshit dream of becoming an Indie Film studio….

        have you ever tried to make a movie…or miraculously fund it and try to sell it at Sun dance?

        Why am I here? I shed blood for the movement. I have marched. I have campaigned……gone to meetings and given money….(I also probably pissed off some of the money people along the way)…and i also moved from Los Angeles to this shitty Rainy fucking city called Vancouver……and most importantly i have lost as a labor activist….

        My hope died when Barack Obama gave that shit speech at Dreamworks……because i was packing my suit case for Vancouver at the time……..The president proclaimed his loyalty to Jeff Katzenburg (who was head of his fund-raising campaign)..and “proclaimed how Hollywood VFX was making so many jobs for California”………

        Daniel, Scott Ross, Dave Rand and many others protested with their dicks hanging out……in green shitty shirts……while no one inside stood up for Dreamworks…nor the jobs being shipped out….nor the salary fixing……..nor for VFX soldier.

        Now Dreamworks is succumbing to subsidies…and the deflating CAD dollar……and foreign labor…

        and these forums have become a joke with talk about owning IP….from people who know nothing about film producing….

        Jon you said i am nobody……….your right….i am a craftsman who has worked in the film biz for 20 years…..and i stood up to fight for my rights as a laborer……….and i lost…

        your nobody too…lucky to make 6 figures….so go shove your laser pointer up your IMDB credits…

      • VFXDemocracy says:

        @vfxmafia: Seems like you are pretty bitter these days and clearly not very happy having to have gone up to VC. I can relate with your bitterness. I’m going on twenty years in the industry myself and feel pretty busted up. I’m also sorry to hear that you don’t see the potential of some of the ideas that animcoop is trying to communicate. Yes, what animcoop is putting forth would not be easy. For you it seems impossible and “stupid”. That’s fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. For others of us however who are keeping an open mind and taking the long view we see much potential in what animcoop is bringing to the table. Successful worker-cooperatives exist all over the world in a diverse range of industries, so I have yet to hear a viable argument for why they couldn’t also operate in ours. Yes, capitalizing such an endeavour in one go might prove to be too difficult a hurdle, but there are many paths to Rome if one chooses not to give up the journey before taking the first step.

        Hopefully you get some more sunshine up there and new opportunities present themselves so you can be in the place you want to be.

      • jonavark says:

        Mafia. You’re talking like a Godfather. You probably could have just left it at energy drinks.

        Randomly

        It is true that the costs and complexity of creating a film are usually indeterminable, until you get the bills and confront each of the situations you are presented. The concept of a coop style film production isn’t new. There are many that have tried. But they never actually get very far beyond providing a place for people to move through on their way to conventional, corporate productions while producing gobs of bad movies. Not to mention, the state of VFX nowdays, hard to fund that, given the massive technical overhead.

        You have to be ready to fail more than once.

        That said, I believe that one of the reasons rates drop over time is the software. When processes get easier more people can do it and when more people can do it the rates drop. Coops can use that to their advantage. But if you’re not providing cutting edge FX the coop would be relegated to the lower end productions, which can barely keep a small house alive.

        Personally, I like the challenge of that kind of concept. With only a minimal brick facility. Especially for animated features, which I get a real kick out of writing.

        It is worth talking about.

        “They said it couldn’t be done, so I didn’t do it”
        — Benny Hill

      • vfxmafia says:

        look im sorry for hurling insults…..the postings struck a cord with me. Especially after Daniel asked the question “Where are you gonna get the money?” (and everyone side steps the answer and gives me a speech about being positive)

        but if Daniel, Scott, Scott, and Dave couldn’t rally the VFX community…and raise $500,000 what makes anyone think anyone in VFX can raise a movie level budget?

        You sound like the type of person who because he watched Star Wars…decided to work in VFX……

      • animcoop says:

        Sounds like it might be time to give vfxmafia a big ol’ group hug. It’s gonna be okay ol’ buddy, I’m not gonna hurt you OR the vfx community with these ideas.

        “and you still can’t answer a simple fucking question….where do you get the money…..?”

        I’d like to point out, in my defense, you keep accusing me of not being able to answer the fundraising question, but I’ve given at least 4 potential avenues, and there are many more. I don’t have 80m in my pocket, we’d have to raise it.

        As you so eloquently and thoughtfully stated, I know you think I’m “a dickhead nerd who (…) dont know dick about how movies are made”, but give me at least some credit for what I’m trying to say.

        Even if your assumptions about me were true and I was just a naive, inexperienced nerd with empty pockets and big ideas, here’s the beautiful thing about a worker-cooperative: you don’t have to do everything by yourself. You surround yourself with people who know how to do the things in which you lack experience in and you trust and rely on their expertise and leadership. You support each other.

        The way you attack the idea is as though I’m suggesting we just round up all the match-movers and ask them to write a story, operate a camera, learn to draw, sculpt, build a set, model, rig, do pipeline development, manage artist, run a business.

        I understand you’ve been bitten and are bitter. The situation you are in is incredibly unfortunate and I am incredibly sympathetic. But I have to ask you: who’s side do you think you’re on attacking the people who are trying to find new and unexplored ways to empower the people in this industry to take control, especially now that so many other options have failed? What do you think you’re saving all the Dreamwork’s employees from, the ones you just demeaned and insulted, by attacking these ideas?

        As for all your personal insults: well let’s just leave those at “I’m sorry for hurling personal insults.” But in that uncontrolled litany of angry statements, you got one pretty right when you said: “You sound like the type of person who because he watched Star Wars…decided to work in VFX…”

        Like Lasseter or Catmul, like Brad Bird, Dennis Muren, Stan Winston, Phil Tippet, Jim Henson, and every other person I admire: I got into this industry because I was inspired by the work of pioneers like Willis O’Brien and Ray Harryhousen. I got into it because I grew up watching Karloff and Chaney in classic monster movies. I got into it because of Bogart, Cagney, Hitchcock, Walt Disney, Orson Welles, Stan Lee, and dozens more. I am not pretending I’m anything like those people, but I am deeply inspired by them.

        So yeah, you are 100% correct. I am the type of person who got into this industry because it is something that I absolutely love and will fight for. I have very little trust or respect for those who are in this industry for any other reason.

    • jonavark says:

      “You sound like the type of person who because he watched Star Wars…decided to work in VFX……”

      Actually, that is a common trait of many of the top people in the industry. They all have a story to tell about the one movie that inspired them to start their careers. So I suppose I should thank you. But no, I fell into it while looking for work in another field. These days I only like to do it when I am asked to. Otherwise, it isn’t worth the low pay or the enormous egos and starry eyed harpies I have to contend with.

      That said, Cheer up Mafia!

      • vfxmafia says:

        @jon

        I think that is part of the problem…..most of us never treated it like business …nor did i ever think of myself as labor. I always looked at us as artists……..that illusion got broken with my first company bankruptcy.

        With that said…i probably should cheer up…..I guess I need to go take some Vitamin D….I havent seen the sun in a while up here in Vancouver……..it hasn’t stopped raining in more than a week.

      • Jon Meier says:

        @vfxmafia
        no hard feelings.
        It’s been a shitty news week for the lot of us.
        As for the where the money comes from…..
        If someone has a plan for the money source, that is going to be part of making their business model viable, and from a solid business perspective, should not be posted here, but discussed amongst the members of their group that have all signed NDA’s. Public transparency isn’t always helpful.
        Distribution will find you if you create something (or have a working proof of prototype of something marketable).
        As for broad expertise, just like us CGI nerds, theres a glut of Film and Television professionals who also don’t want to leave the state or country, but are out of work, due to those “free” dollars elsewhere.
        These times are very similar (not a perfect mirror) to the times when United Artists, was born. The difference is that instead of building Physical real estate (theaters)
        Whe are in a time where profits will come from digital distribution.
        It can happen, but we have to organize with all of the talent pool in Hollywood who have lost their battle to keep their fleeing jobs.
        I hope we can get you back here.

      • vfxmafia says:

        @jon..

        i think what bugs me most of being up here …..is the loss of this very kind of talk. Living in LA for over a decade…..you would go to cocktail parties…and meet a director…or your neighbor was a producer…….there was a community where you could actually glimpse into someone making a pitch for Venture Capitol….. you could throw a rock and hit an audio engineer or a TV writer…or someone who had an agent you could pull a favor from……

        I have so many friends who were close to pulling off or had pulled off low budget movies…..

        now that we are some lost tribe of artists scattered half way across to new zealand or the great white north….it seems like they assasinated indie film making….

        This was a tough week….layoffs…and end of the CVD……good luck to you to Jon.

      • What's a little rain? says:

        BS Mafia, they exist in Vancouver too. Go to a few WeCreateBC functions. Use the governments money here to create content, there’s a lot of it. You are just not in the right circles. Get yourself a good umbrella, SAD lamp and a few weekends at Whistler and you’ll get over it bro.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Yeah you Canadians have such a rich tradition of modern film making….

      • jonavark says:

        Mafia

        Even as artists you’re providing a service and someone else is selling that service so eventually it all boils down to your preference of occupation.

        If it makes you feel any better I am just an hour or so south of you, in the US. But after 30 years in LA I am so digging the fog and rain. I’ve always loved it. I was getting up every mornign for years, looking out the window and saying “Shit.. another boring beautiful California day”. Now I live in a tall cedar forest with weather that changes every hour or so. Hobbitville. I probably wouldn’t enjoy this weather so much if I lived in a city, so I feel for ya. Could be an uglier city,though.

        I judge a city by its craigslist ads. VC is hopping compared to LA. So that’s where you have to be I guess. But you’re probably talented enough to migrate to any kind of work you want to.

        Keep smilin’ dude.

  23. JK and the Mouse says:

    Katzenberg has had a vendetta against Disney for nearly twenty years. He left Dreamworks in ruins and was forced to spin off the animation division to save face with Paul Allen and the Koreans.

    The last thing he wants to do is outsource product to other countries to save money if he doesn’t have to. He wants to have a mighty animation company with thousands of employees right across the street from Disney where people chose to work with him over Disney. He wants the mouse ears pained that they can’t get the best scripts or best talent. It’s what he lives for and drives him.

    When you work with someone so desperate for revenge you better be willing to suffer the consequences of their decisions. He will take you all down with him if it comes to it.

  24. Artefact VFX says:

    “I love the enthusiasm of “let’s get together and make a software company” of animcoop, but I think these employees know that the odds of a successful, well-distributed, profitable computer product are low. And most people can’t forgo income for a year or two, plus put up $40,000 or more as an investment while they work on their own company. Which is why it is hard to start a software company, and few do it successfully.” – some visionless schmuck who isn’t Steve Jobs or Bill Gates circa 1975

    • animcoop says:

      And that “visionless schmuck” was… oh right, you’ve never heard of him. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      • Jim says:

        Go ahead and shock us all with your communal movie company, dude. I’ll be the first to applaud.

        And I should correct you both – I own and run a successful animation firm. I have been there and done that. And if you were thinking you might build a firm yourself with a lot of personal investment, a huge personal commitment of time and energy, baby steps for growth, fully paid legal employees and well selected and nurtured talent, then I would be more optimistic about your chances. There’s a reason why communes and communist countries fail and it is going to be amazing if you avoid their pitfalls.

      • VFXDemocracy says:

        Hey Jim,

        Thank you for your input! I am happy to hear you, along with the vital contributions of all of your employees, together successfully run the company you are a part of. We all know how difficult that is so I congratulate you and your staff on your continued success.

        Unfortunately there are a wealth of false perceptions around worker-cooperatives; or more technically Worker Self-Directed Enterprises (WSDEs). For one I have no idea what you personally mean when you call such enterprises “communistic”, since from my own study such a comparison is unwarranted, especially if you are trying to say there is some parallel with the former Soviet Union or present day China. Yes, countries such as these are run by “communist” *parties*, but if you look at how they are economically structured they are in actuality State Capitalist (i.e. instead of enterprises being controlled by private owners they are by government bureaucrats, but the essential relationship between workers and the former remains unchanged.) I actually see more parallels with how our traditional top-down businesses operate today with how they were/are run in the Soviet Union and China in that both employ a top-down “central planning” methodology, which is by their very structure undemocratic. WSDEs are a different animal entirely and why some use the slogan “democracy at work” to encapsulate the idea.

        Successful worker cooperatives exist all of the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_worker_cooperatives) so what animcoop is proposing is a viable business model. Yes, it certainly is different to the school of business that you have come to know, but there are many paths to Rome and we should always be on the lookout for new innovative ways to grow and thrive.

        I wish you continued success and happiness in all of the endeavors you pursue!

        Cheers!

      • make_it_better says:

        Worker Self-Directed Enterprises would probably more democratic then communist country, hahaha

      • animcoop says:

        Hey Jim, just for the record, I didn’t intend any personal insult in chiming in there. I’m sure you’re not a visionless schmuck, especially if you’re an owner of a successful animation studio.

        There is a tendency amongst our peers, however, and many people who comment here to look at anything difficult or challenging and not only discourage it or write it off as ignorant and naive, but to actively mock any one of us “foolish” enough to suggest it. I’m sure you encountered plenty of this starting your shop.

        I’m all for realistic feedback and constructive criticism, but the tendency of some to dismiss anything new and unseen is staggering. We need to stop shooting each other down and start adopting a culture of support and collective problem-solving.

        Ignorant as it might sound, the only way we’re going to do anything good in this industry is to ignore the voices who tell us we can’t. I hope you’re not going to be one of those voices.

        As far as your commune/communism analogy, as make_it_better pointed out: workplace democracy is a fundamental principle of worker-directed enterprises. We’re not talking about some kind of hippy commune in the woods of Oregon, we’re talking about building a legit production company that simply has democracy & equality built into its foundation.

        Having said that, nothing would make me happier than hearing your applause. So I’ll keep working towards that.

      • tazzman says:

        Whole I can appreciate your enthusiasm for this cooperative vision you have, you still haven’t addressed fundamental problems:

        1. Money. VFX artists are impoverished enough. They have little money. They’re out of work after all.

        2. You assume all artists have the same interests. It’s one thing to empower artists to exercise more control over fx shots, but quite another to tell that hard working artist to also wear another hat: business man.

        3. The assumption vfx artists can take their knowledge of storytelling shot to shot or in animation by sequence and translate that into developing an entire film.

      • animcoop says:

        Hey @Tazzman.

        My comments and those of other like-minded commenters are scattered all throughout the comments section here, so I know it’s probably easy to miss. But between myself, VFXDemocracy, JonMeier, DaleDrummond and others: I think at this point we’ve collectively addressed all of these points multiple times.

        I’ll just add a couple things here, though.

        Regarding (1): What do you think, what are some of your ideas? If you look through the comments section you’ll find 5 or 6 suggestions to the fundraising question that are all completely viable. But as none of us have actually tried to raise the money yet, we can’t really tell you which one or combination of those is going to be the ticket. There is no shortage of potential avenues to raise money, though, and having an investor that owns a huge share of your company or funding it out-of-pocket are far from the only options.

        Regarding points number 2 & 3. You seem to echo the most common misconceptions about what we’re saying here. This is, no doubt, due to some failure on my part to fully explain it in a single post, so I apologize for that. I think this stems from a general misunderstanding of what we mean when we use the “WORKER” in worker self-directed enterprise.

        Please take a moment to read my response, and the response of VFXDemocracy, to Scott Ross up here:
        https://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/the-irony-as-dreamworks-closes-pdi-sheds-500-jobs/#comment-7400

        If those don’t clear it up, let me know and I’ll try to address your points.

        I’d ask you, though, if you genuinely appreciate the enthusiasm and aren’t just saying it to be dismissive: take a moment to think and share some ideas on how *you* would make it work. Too often we look at a good idea in this community and think of why it wouldn’t work. This can work, it’s not impossible and it’s been successful in other industries. It’s just a matter of how it would work in ours. Let’s focus on that.

    • Marcus Pun says:

      I guess none of you folks shop at Winco.

  25. nobody says:

    didn’t read all posts but just want to say – people love to watch movies, they don’t care about Dreamworks or Digital Domain or Rhythm and Hues, they wait for new movies; some of you expect movie business collapse now or what? like big bang? I think that market is hungry and it’s hungry for good movies with vfx, if Dreamworks coudn’t deliver product that market want, they finished like now

    • animcoop says:

      No one expects the movie industry to collapse, I don’t think.

      What we can expect, though, is that following current trends and left in the hands of the people with all the power and money now: the stability, work, and living standards for the majority of people creating those movies will be dramatically reduced. People will not be able to settle down in one location or expect a decent wage, work-life balance and general standard of living.

      As a result the quality of the content will continue to be reduced and eventually, people may cease to be interested in it and find their entertainment through other mediums.

      So yeah, it may still be a “profitable” business, and continue to make the same people a lot of money. But will anyone really enjoy making it or stay in that industry very long? Doubtful.

  26. mullerlight says:

    TBH, when folk get stuck too long in corporate megapipline vfx and animation studios, you get alot of this nihilist mindset that ordinary people not backed by financiers in suits can’t getup and do something FOR THEMSELVES. The firms rely on this relationship as much as fatalistic artists.

    You don’t need a mega budget to make a movie. Some basic camera work and rotoscoping or very, very basic animation backed by an engaging story sells. That’s the problem with the recent dreamworks dross and the never ending marvel crap where you start thinking “did I already see this one before” or Sony doing Smurfs v90 or spiderman v310 or yet another CIA funded war propaganda movie like American Sniper or hurtlocker.

    Sure, some CG artist is now snorting saying “huh, sure, I can’t pay for this renderfarm and building ….. (yawn). Why even get out of bed then? If you are even high ranking in vfx and living in West L.A., London, Downtown Vancouver, can you really afford a decent lifestyle in the current status quo where you do the work and the suits are creaming millions from the hundreds of millions of movie sales? I’d say no in 90% of cases.

    Mike judge, Matt Stone and Trey parker were all working regular jobs and self financing their own projects with no budget before they hit their heights. They had crappy amateur animation but engaging stories and productions that people liked. Nick Park developed wallace and Grommit in his parents’ shed. How bout the Monster University Guys? Danny Boyle had a miniscule budget raised by beggging amateur film making grants and sponsorships and favours when he put together 28 days later. With very little real vfx apart from well crafted camera work and alot of nicely done compositing from a small team. It was a hell of a lot better than it’s megabudget hollywood syndication “I am legend”. Stallone took a loan on his house to complete a small budget movie “Rocky”. There are just countless examples of no-budget movies for 10K budgets going onto to gross 100’s of millions.

    And the Steve Jobs analogy is good. Go read Steve Wozniak’s personal biography. That guy was the tech and creative brains of early apple but just digest his thoughts and self belief on coexisiting in a corporation but always remembering “you have to be planning to do it for yourself, to be the master of your own destiny”.

    Its great when you meet with indie makers who just dive in and look for solutions to make the best of what they have to make a STORY and a MOVIE. Compared to the formulaic marvel – dreamworks – disney crap or the latest Sony Adam Sandler or Cameron Diaz flick.

    Nothing is possible if you just fatalistically resign yourself. Still, you are probably an ideal candidate to be working at Dreamworks, DD, Sony, MPC, etc in that case. You can just grumble how 28 days later didn’t have GI zombie crowd simulations and wallace and grommit lacked PHD cloth simulation and shaders. Hoping you sign on for another contract on the next subsidised forlumlaic movie sequel passing through the office.

    • good luck says:

      Do you really believe the movie with crappy visual could do well as long as story is good?

      Good luck.

      There are just countless examples of a few bucks of lotto makes 100’s of millions.

      • mullerlight says:

        Good luck,

        Errr …. Can you read? There is a whole list of movies there that did it and infact became copying templates for later hollywood studio formulaics. See, there it is right there. If that’s your mindset, then of course its impossible. People like Nick Park, Mike Judge, Danny Boyle, etc., should just have rolled over in bed then. Maybe got a job in a CG pipleline, moaning within the office politics and high school culture of VFX studios. Oh wait .. they got off their ass and did something with little or no money to start, artists with just and idea or two. Jeese, its really easy to despise the office clerk mentaility and apathetic hand-wringing of probably the majority of VFX studio artists. They are where they belong. So suck it up and stop moaning if that is you.

    • animcoop says:

      Wow! I have nothing to add here except to say that you make some excellent points and echo many of my sentiments exactly.

      Can’t wait to hear more from you.

  27. Dale Drummond says:

    Dear animcoop,

    Here’s an idea for how to bootstrap a new studio. The problems
    that need to be overcome are (to simplify) money, talent and
    story. You need lots of money, talent and a great story to produce
    a film that will actually make enough money to pay the talent. It’s
    not enough to get a lot of views on youtube if you’re going to jump
    right in and do a feature.

    Why don’t you start with commercials? Start small, like PDI did.
    I know some guys who got hit by layoffs up in Portland when
    Laika shitcanned their CG feature. Four of them started a
    company called Hinge Digital. Seven years later, they have
    30+ employees. If they were interested in doing a feature,
    they are well positioned to do so.

    If you start with commercials, you can start with a core of “true
    believers”, and they can actually make a living without finding a
    billionaire to believe in you. You can also start building up
    your pipeline and technical infrastructure. Over time, as you
    demonstrate your capabilities, you can start to attract more talent.
    And, as you do your work, you can either acquire content,
    develop it on your own, or start to attract story people who
    are looking for a place outside of the big studios to tell their
    stories.

    There’s lots of commercial work here in LA. Some studios
    who do their feature work in subsidized locations do
    commercial work here. Obviously they are following the
    market.

    Just an idea…

    • animcoop says:

      Excellent suggestion, Dale. Thanks for sharing!

      I’m sure there are a lot of people who will tell us why that would never work, but I think that’s as good a strategy as any.

      There is an unfortunate tendency among our peers to think if one attempt at something fails then it simply can’t work. We’ve forgotten the ending to the age old adage: “If at first you don’t succeed…”

      It is my belief, and I know several others share this, that it may take several groups, several attempts, and several strategies to get where we want to go. To me the transformative potential of democratic, worker-ownership in our industry is worth failing a few times before we get it right.

      Personally, I’d add, if I were a part of the one that crossed the finish line first and became financially solvent, I’d encourage us to turn a portion of our resources toward helping others get there too.

      I like your suggestion: It’s a 5-10 year plan. A long-game. A clear 3-step approach. Great stuff.

      • Dale Drummond says:

        I’m happy to help!

      • animcoop says:

        As a side note: In the background of this discussion I am slowly building a larger alliance of people who believe in the potential this kind of business would hold and are interested in discussing it further offline.

        For present or future reference, if at any point you or anyone reading want to be a part of constructive, offline conversations focused on how to make something like this work, drop me a line at animcoop@gmail.com.

        For the mobsters in the vfxmafia who might be reading, though, no naysayers please. Only for those genuinely interested in discussing strategies and solutions to the obstacles in our way.

      • Mullerlight says:

        Its inevitable. Its heading there, the will is there, technology is getting there, it needs the business platform to develop along the lines of online shopping.

        Digital film making was a huge shift and democratisation of the older 35mm film studios and opticalprint vfx of yesteryear. And what happened to this biggest player there? Kodak went bust and sold off failing cinesite for peanuts.

        Amazon prime and netflix are attempting production content for digital distribution direct to home or business. No film stock, no eastern dvd manufacturer, licensing directly from film makers. Theres crowd sourcing, kick starters, social media funding, so many converging technologies that can be harvested. Why work your guts off for peanuts when a stuffed suit in sony HQ or DD/MPC/ILM/Framestore or marvel pays you some peanuts from production subsidies?

        Yeah, youtube et al is a bad idea as you sign away your rights if you deal with them. But what if you already hold copyright, go through controlled channels and charge royalities from distributors and advertisers if they use your work? What if you sell direct to amazon, netflix, film4, natgeo?

        Hidef movie distribution, from artist run content making studios, direct to subscription online tv sets and devices is coming. For sure. Probably tied in to paying advertising streams and not rip off google.

    • Easy says:

      Getting commercial work is not easy. It’s great that you have feature experience but it’s not the same thing. Also, unless you have the agency contacts, you won’t be getting the work.

      NYC is littered with the remains of small studios started by talented people that didn’t make it. Most freelancers I know who have tried, failed at it. Production schedules are tight as well as budgets. You have to fight to keep freelancers occupied or you lose them to another shop and jobs only last 2-6 weeks on average. Agency people seem to be getting younger and more clueless about production every year. These are the people you are going to constantly have to shmooze with to keep them coming back.

      Here watch this, it sums it up nicely:

      Once you get work, your biggest hurdle is going to be having to ramp up and bang out content a lot faster than you are used to with far less resources at your disposal. You’ll have almost no time to submit a pitch, and if it’s anything decent, you will have lots of competition.

      Oh yeah, then there is the fact that the good commercials *never* pay as much as the garbage – a tampon, razor or yogurt ad. So what usually happens is companies spend tons of money on the interesting work and have to make it up on the garbage. Which ends up putting a lot of them out of business, with a few exceptions. Great fun. Especially when you start to realize just how many commercials are made a year and how often you work your ass off on them only to see very few of them more than once or twice- if at all.

      You will still have the long hours, the stupid changes but with a lot less glory. When you are asked about your work and what commercials you did, you are liable to get a blank stare as you list your top 5. Almost no one remembers them for very long.

      • jonavark says:

        Well.. I can tell Easy has worked on commercials and has had to deal with the agencies and the insecure producers and directors comprise that industry. It is a real pain in the ass. That post was spot on.

        The notion of doing commercials as a step towards features is fine but you should know that you still need an effective pipeline, render capability and great talent. You have less time to finish shots and more anxious over-caffeinated insecure, clueless people hovering over you. I have some stories to tell… that’s for sure.

  28. robby says:

    Interesting developments at D-NEG London…..

    • noobmeister says:

      care to elaborate?

    • anon says:

      my guess : “O Canada! Where pines and maples grow”

    • tazzman says:

      Uh oh.

    • Easy says:

      Who cares? Isn’t it a shitty place to work?

      Also, what kind of a jag-off says something like that and doesn’t give any details?

    • anon says:

      are they requesting “security deposits” from London workers now too?

      https://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/prime-focus-exploiting-indian-workers/

      “If we normalized the scheme above to US standards, it would be the equivalent of asking a VFX worker to agree to work for $21,000 a year with the requirement of paying a deposit of $7,000 to $12,000 that you forfeit if you are terminated or quit within the first 2 years. No overtime, no extra pay on weekends.
      While on a project, Prime Focus workers were expected to endure extremely long hours with claims of 16-20 hour days and 7-day work weeks with no overtime.”

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        its a bad tactic yes but its also a secured education. the indian branch teaches NON vfx artist how to do their basic roto/paint/depth conversions. They invest into the artist. Im not saying I think its a great way of doing business but the reason why they don’t want artist to gain experience and then leave is there.

      • anon says:

        Andreas:

        “They invest into the artist.”

        This is about uneducated people doing repetitive tasks for poverty level pay and attempting to be ripped off for the maximum amount of money legally possible by the owners.
        This is about taking jobs and luring capital from the west with teams of uneducated people……… NOT “investing in the artist” or any other euphemism.

        What they end up with is a big cheap ugly mess.

        The poverty levels in India are horrendously squalid, the stratification of society is fundamentally wrong and attempts at moral western equivalence or the contrarianism (“you say black, I say white”) that typifies these comments, are deluded.

        This is about creating employee debt to finance a company.

        It’s not really a “security deposit”.

      • @anon
        Oh boy …I know they have abused it. My intention was not to defend their practice. I’m not a fan of PrimeFocus believe me. They do some shady shit.
        I was aware it’s been used against artist. Granted your links are much worse than what I had heard so. I agree with you. All I stated, maybe not annotated enough, that there is a certain logic in bundling education/on the job training with a paid position and having this been secured by a deposit. I guess I can see the logic behind the idea. But they execute it badly and buss the privilege! I apologize if it came across as if I condone that or take PF side, I am not.

        If DD in Florida would have hired students and trained them while they had them work on their films *cough, looks at Textor* they could have waived their education fee but rather have a deposit so the students won’t run after 2 years.
        But of course it’s much more profitable to have them pay 120k or whatever in student loans AND abuse free labour…

      • anon says:

        read some of the comments here Andreas:

        https://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/prime-focus-exploiting-indian-workers/

        Suren:
        “PRIME FOCUS is cheating their employs by not returning their security money of 30,000/- for Roto Artist & 50,000/- for Paint Artist. They also made them work for more than 30 hrs without any food allowance or late night allownces. And now they had thrown these employees out of company, before completing their 2 years term. As if the said employees complete their 2 years term than Prime Focus had to return their security amount back to them.
        Now Prime Focus is taking test of new people and going to recruit new people and again they will take security amount from them also and repeat the whole story again after some 6-7 months.
        This is really a scam by Prime Focus.
        Due to this 1 of their employee, Dinesh Shelar (cell no. 9689053389) was thinking of suicide, as he had taken a loan for the security amount which Prime Focus Management are refusing to pay back. Their HR dept is not picking any ones calls.

        Prime focus is just making money by fooling new kids who are just going to start their career.”

        Akash:
        PRIME FOCUS is exploiting their employs by making them work for more than 30 hrs and the poor employs are not even payed any over time and neither they provide food to them and once the work gets over.The employs are thrown out of company,t…he company not even gives money back which was payed as security to the company due to this 1 of their employ attempted suicide.Prime focus is just making money by this and now the fresh batch will also suffer through all this

        Vishal:
        ya this article and all comments are 100% true. Artists are treated like sh#t in Prime Focus. They shud know Humanity is more important than making money. Hollywood shud stop giving projects to this company.

        Raghavan:
        This is really shocking.Pay 50,000 as deposit and get abused for 2 years for a pittance of a salary?Even a bank clerk gets a minimum of 15,000 a month for starters.
        I have studied VFX and Animation and been looking for a job since a year.I got a call recently from Maya Studios,Mumbai and they offered a pay of 8000 to 10000.How would one survive in a city like Mumbai on that salary?Most of the tiny studios offer a filthy amount of 4 to 5K.Mid-sized ones 7 to 12K for a fresher.With a year’s experience you get 15K.There are some studios which say they give a training cum job,but we have to pay them a certain amount of 25-30K and not be paid salary.I have done freelancing online for a few projects for a fixed price of 50$ to 100$ and those were just 2 to 4 day jobs.Unless VFX artists have some self-respect and do not wish to be treated like labor things ain’t gonna change in this industry.

        Hitesh:
        Hi this is hitesh.. i been working in prime focus for last 3 and Half yr… by thinking now I have wasted this valuable yrs. in your organization … because when we entered in your organization u all explained that u will get good life in prime focus… but after this 3 yrs I figured nothing but its all pain and tears from all artist… because of u all management method … TMS.. Binding.. what all they.. if u don’t want to give any increment and benefits then u should have announced clearly.. as there will be no increment from this yr… by giving 30 rs and 69 rs… what will do with this amount… can we tell to our family this is the increment we have got… so please madam…. Our humble request please do some thing and save us.. from not to became as a beggar

      • VFXTurdInPunchbowl says:

        Reliance Mediaworks apparently owns some of Prime Focus which owns part of Dneg. Reliance also owns some of Digital Domain.

        Reliance Mediaworks is run by Venkatesh Roddam. Roddam is a banker. Let me repeat this part…. This guy is a BANKER. He worked for Duetsche Bank for 10 years and also other banks. At this point, some of you may be sensing a dawning awareness… But probably most of you are going to obediently and patiently wait to lose your VFX job.

        Reliance Mediaworks is under the umbrella of Reliance Entertainment. Reliance Entertainment is in turn under the umbrella of a huge freaking mega comglomerate known as Reliance Group which happens to own 50% of Dreamworks SKG which just shit on and dismantled PDI San Francisco.

        London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live and work in. High VFX wages, high rents, high taxes, and cheapass studios who don’t want to pay for any of that? What would a banker do???. But again, many if not most are going to ignore that strange “about to get ****** in the ass” feeling you are starting to get.., and you will continue to obediently and patiently wait to lose your job regardless of the fact you have already seen what has happened in Los Angeles.

        Meanwhile you notice that London VFX houses are shifting more work to Vancouver, while foreign companies have moved into both London and also Los Angeles to inspect the proprietary goods they have just bought up. Why are they shifting work to Vancouver? Because they save money by doing so. Ok. So if they are saving money by sending stuff to Vancouver, then why are they in London at all? Oh. Right.

    • phoebius says:

      hey..What about Dneg? They shut down London and transfer all in Van?

    • phoebius says:

      …together with those 500 from Dreamworks = 650. And together with those before from R&H means…
      Well, they have an open house in Montreal this week, so if they are fast enough, people from UK might catch a plane and come to work in the beautiful and sunny Montreal.
      If not, maybe some juniors from NY will show up and fill up the desks (at the open house scheduled on the 11th of February) out there. Hopefully the snow will melt before…
      If not, they still have the, so called, Academy, a very nice and internationally well known Institute to create human peripherals for computers. I think the generous Quebec government provide them some financial help for training, so together with the tax incentives of 58%, MPC is not doing so bad at all.
      Hopefully the subventions will last forever.

  29. jack says:

    Well watch out for the blizzard if you attempt to catch a plane

  30. anon says:

    “West Vancouver saw 77 mm of rain on Friday alone”

    A tourist arrives in Vancouver on a rainy day. He gets up the next morning and it’s still raining.
    In fact, it’s still raining three days later.
    He goes out to supper and spies a young kid.
    Out of despair, he asks,
    “Hey kid, does it ever stop raining around here?”
    The kid says, “How do I know? I’m only six.”

    • phoebius says:

      ..or ask artists if the rain stops…same thing since they stuck on chairs in rooms without any window. (see Image Engine’s compositing rooms)

      • jonavark says:

        The last thing you want in a composite suite is a window.

      • phoebius says:

        …not even a small one?…pleeeeeassse….

      • dave says:

        ” In many cases, poor indoor air quality is a result of an inadequate supply of outside (fresh) air. When buildings do not receive enough outside air, pollutants can build up in the office air. These pollutants include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from office equipment, office furniture, carpeting, and other building materials. New buildings usually have the highest levels of VOCs because all the new materials in the building release chemicals. After six months most new materials will have off-gassed, releasing most of the chemicals into the air. Many manufacturers now produce materials such as carpets, paint, and furniture which minimize chemical outgassing.
        Studies have shown that in new buildings or buildings with inadequate outside air, the buildup of VOCs can often lead to many occupants experiencing symptoms of headache, fatigue, and eye or throat irritation. These symptoms are often called sick building syndrome, or tight building syndrome. The symptoms almost always disappear a short time after the person leaves the building. Often only a few sensitive persons will have symptoms at first, but more people experience problems as the pollutants continue to build up in the air. There are always some people that do not have any symptoms even in severely under-ventilated buildings.”

        http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sick-building-syndrome/Pages/Introduction.aspx

    • rainman says:

      What do you call two straight days of rain in Vancouver?

      The weekend.

    • rainman says:

      What does winter daylight-saving time mean in Vancouver?

      An extra hour of rain.

    • rainman says:

      “I can’t believe it, ” said the Vancouver tourist. “I’ve been here an entire week and it’s done nothing but rain. When do you have summer here?”

      “Well, that’s hard to say, ” replied the local vancouverite. “Last year, it was on a Wednesday.”

    • rainman says:

      Meteorological experts were predicting a gargantuan flood that would destroy the world.

      The Pope went on worldwide TV and said, “This is punishment from God. Prepare to meet your Maker.”

      The President went on national TV and announced, “Our scientists have done all they can. The end is near.”

      The Vancouver evening news came on and said, “Today’s five day forecast-same as usual.”

    • rainman says:

      It rains only twice a year in Vancouver.

      August to April and May to July.

    • rainman says:

      How to predict weather in Vancouver:

      If you can see the mountains, it’s about to rain. If you can’t, it’s already raining.

    • rainman says:

      There’s a technical term in Vancouver for a rare sunny day which follows two rainy days.

      It’s called Monday.

  31. Kim says:

    You are wrong . They are needed for principle photography on a new film. Just like apes and avatar .

  32. Poor jusgement says:

    Talk about having no idea, Weta are the vendor on BFG which is shooting in Vancouver so are looking for onset mocap people just like they did on Avatar and Apes. Stop making shit up.

    • These comment threads are turning into Fox News..

      • more trolls says:

        No fox news is more reliable than VFX Soldier

      • What's a little rain? says:

        Tearing into Vancouver’s weather is a pretty ridiculous way to attempt to fix a problem but I guess its a sign of desperation. Don’t want to burst your bubble but there is no shortage of talented people from all over the world willing to live here to work in VFX and Animation, including many happy Americans who can give two shits about the sunshine in LA. People come from even shittier weather in Paris, London, Ireland, Montreal, San Francisco or NY and love it here but keep a low profile. Not everyone feels fulfilled in life living in Pasadena in August when the daily temperature is 101. So keep spending time making rain jokes and watch the rest of the world pass you by.

      • gravity says:

        Really? There are some talented US, UK and Canadian artists in Vancouver for sure. Not that many though. And I increasingly saw more returning home after a few years of relisation that you are living in the most expensive city in North America with unbearable commuting times and big, big drug issues. Rain isn’t the real problem. Its artificial living costs and throwing huge amounts of money away in rentals every month. I always used to find it strange overhearing lawyer and account types on the skytrain complaining about their commute times and how they are planning to move to Nova Scotia or somewhere.

        I’ll say it, Vancouver is very juniour apart from some of the temporary transplants or veterans seeing out the last few years of their careers. I cannot see it sustainable. It was only a decade ago that it was the place you sent wire removals because the dollar was so low. I gave it up after a few years when I didn’t see the logic of throwing large amounts of money away on high rentals and living costs combined with having to drag along too many unsuitable or inexperienced artists through productions. I also got the feeling that voter sentiment was starting to question the whole election mantras of “support our arts”. There will always be movies and TV in Van, as there always has, just feels like there is way too much froth and less substance at the moment due to tax money and tax-dodging offshore “Bernie Madoff” finance funds backing a number of studios in town.

        Sorry also but rain is a bit of a lifestyle issue there. Its great to have some rain, it gives you the greenery and when the weather breaks, it is such a beautiful city (breifly). So is seattle mind you but you definitely seem to get better summers in Seattle (and Victoria on Vancouver Island). When you are sitting in an office all week looking at computers, you kinda want to get outdoors at some point again before the monday morning. Most weekends are a grey, damp chilly washout. Even in months like June and September. Life’s too short to just have a life that revolves around a work and sitting indoors somewhere 90% of the time.

      • phoebius says:

        well..it is a great attitude to sell bullshit to yourself. Enjoy the flood then..oh, and watch for this as well: http://bc.ctvnews.ca/seismologist-says-the-big-one-would-be-200-times-worse-1.1790585

      • anon says:

        Vancouver receives on average 1,199mm of rainfall a year

        London receives less precipitation 601 mm in a year)

      • Ok, I’m irish, enjoying living and working in Vancouver. . I’m used to rain, as are umpteen of my colleagues from London and other parts of Europe. Never having lived in California, I’m sure it’s a great place, with equally friendly people, but the constant heat and lack of medical care do not appeal.. That and the need, presumably, to have car.

        I’m not alone in really enjoying my life here in Vancouver. BC has spectacular scenery, friendly people, great summers, skiing in he winter.

        Criticizing a place on account of subsidies, ‘the industry’, etc. An making the valid point that subsidies will one day evaporate is one thing, but dissing a place on grounds on it’s intrinsic quality as a destination seem puerile.

        I know people are hurting down there right now, but this is like using ad hominem arguments In a debate.

      • animcoop says:

        Ok, I’m going to chime in here just because this is not a productive discussion.

        Some people like Vancouver and Vancouver weather. Some people don’t. The same goes for every other place we do this work.

        The point here should not be whether or not you care for the climate in a given location, it should be about whether or not we’re okay allowing our colleagues and members of our community to be forced to regularly uproot their lives to stay in this industry just so some studio exec can maximize their quarterly earnings.

        The bottom line is that every VFX artist should be able to call some place home and feel secure knowing that as long as they’re creating a product people want to see, they’ll have income and stability. Regardless of whether their preference is Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London or New Zealand.

        We should not be subject to the whims of CEO’s and shareholders who demand work be done in a certain location so they can pocket the change from subsidized labor. We are the ones actually creating this stuff, after all.

        I agree with @aleprechaunist, let’s stop bickering over who has better weather and stay focused on how to bring stability to the lives of everyone working in this industry.

      • Gravity says:

        Do you own a house? Do you have kids? Do you see yourself owning a house in vancouver on a vfx wage range? If you own a house elsewhere, are you able to save? Given rents or mortgage repayment costs, are you getting money into a pension?

        There is vast homelessness in vancouver as home a living costs leave people high and dry eventually if they hit a run of bad luck or where age ctaches up and leaves them absolutely screwed in a mercylessly expensive city. Healthcare isn’t as free as you think. Lots of things are only part covered. Go for a doctor checkup. You have to pay for it. Not covered under bc healthcare. Lots of people die waiting for drugs or operations. Politicians have bc residents brainwashed until they actually need help then find out the reality. Again, plenty of van homelesss got into that trap cos of unresloved health issues.

        But its a temporary lifestyle for most younger vfx workers there. A long working holiday that might make you sound more interesting back home. Just dont be surprised if your freinds back there, working ordinary jobs but house paid off and easy lifestyle. While you have a few thousand dollars in your pocket and not much else.

      • Rainman says:

        Vancouver didn’t used to be so expensive. Its like a corpoation built town run by financiers nowadays. Think the local polticians shit a brick when the unregulated lending and hot chinese money flooded into real estate. Subsidising vfx is one of several things used to keep a high rental market alive. If confidence wanes just a bit, every canadian west coast bank is dead, financially kaput. Thats the bigger issue of vancouver. Thats why its drowning in debt behind a mirage mirror skyscrapers and million dollar condos. Its usually naive dorks like vfx artists who buy into these sandcastles just before the shit hits the fan. Then van will turn back to a sleepy town with some good skiing and a big port and lumber industry.

      • I love vancouver says:

        @ Gravity

        Sorry but you really dont have a clue about Vancouver.

        Yes I have Kids
        Yes I own a home in Vancouver
        No my mortgage is lower than when I lived elsewhere. My mortgage is $2500 a month. 2000 sq ft property 4 bed 3.5 bathrooms.

        My commute is under 30 mins

        No I have full medical coverage living in Vancouver and never paid to see a doctor.

        Yes real estate is expensive is many areas but there is affordable homes. Its like a VFX artist buying in Beverly Hills not common.

        The reason homeless people centre themselves on the west cost is because of the favourable weather unlike the east coast.

        LA has a huge homeless problem but being American I am sure you just brush it under the carpet like most things.

      • Gravity says:

        http://www.crackshackormansion.com/

        Take it you are living in crackalley, surrey, then?

      • Gravity says:

        Just did a 4 bed search in rew.ca and nothing close to vancouver metro area under $750,000. Most of that in shitty surrey. Thats some mortgage deal you got there! Better just hope vancouver isnt built on a debt mirage then, eh?

        Btw, i’m not american but did live for a longtime in vancouver and yes L.A. for some time. No particular bias. Just think you are probably better in toronto or monteal given the economic risks vanouver is starring at.

      • phoebius says:

        when you lose the job or the company is closing, and you are home, chasing another “great” workplace, then you will be in trouble. I don’t think that you can put aside 2500 to pay the mortgage for one month…in case it takes longer, even worse. See the thing is:
        To be able to get a job that allow you to pay 2500/month ONLY the mortgage, you might be a senior or lead for sure. So, I will tell you that once you lose that job and you are out, it is very difficult to find out other spots right away where you will see the same amount of money. Most of them are occupied by other people who have to pay 2500/month too. So, always be prepared. If you are prepared, means you are not spending too much neither, and save as much as you can. I am not talking about the trend – race to the bottom, so even if now you are ok with the money, 10 years from now you might get less and therefor, you will have to sell and move from the beautiful BC. But I know that you know already this. And we know as well…
        I am not even talking about the fact that the subsidies will not last forever, this I am pretty sure that you are not so naive to believe it. Already reduced in Montreal, this no other way to go, then to see them disappear . So enjoy while it last.

      • kouver says:

        2500 is a collosal amount of cash given the turbulence in the vfx industry over the past 5 years or so. In an ideal world you would live somewhere cheap in the world and be putting aside tons of cash into savings so you could cover costs for a least a year, maybe two, if you had to search work, change work or start a business.

        In a super expensive place like Vancouver, I doubt many people would have enough for a three month drought. Its not like expensive places like LA and London where you can live far out and make costs work. Vancouver seems expensive everywhere but this is where all the studios and financiers have deemed the industry is centered.

        If you are a Londoner or Angelino or maybe even a Sydnier, expensive can also be worth a gamble because you are in home ground, surrounded by freind and family connections, will know the ropes better to hunker down and rent out, economise, etc., if the crap hits the fan. If you are moving, then Wellington, Adelaide and Montreal offer lower living costs at least. Buying into vancouver real estate at the top of a collosal debt boom and debt pyramid in a subsidy driven temporary vfx boom seems madness.

        Just use your head. 10 years ago there was hardly anything there in vfx terms. There was shoot work for sure but vfx was mostly rotoscopy at Rainmaker and ImageEngine. Things only really ramped up when CIS moved in there. Before, high end vfx was all out east in pockets around Toronto and Montreal.

        An industry and a real estate market expanding 10 times in the space of ten years? That has to be the definition of a bubble. We all know what happens to bubbles.

      • I love vancouver says:

        Losing your job can happen in every industry and does. Yes you have to be smart but I have been since I got into this industry. The fact is we as a community have far higher salaries than most where ever we work in the world. I think the average household income in Vancouver is 70k a year and knowing what people earn in VFX is well over that for a large portion of us from a mid level and up.

        Most people outside this industry actually value money but ever since I started I have seen most people use there whole income like it was deposable rather than save for a rainy day like most people. For the record I have always kept enough money to pay a mortgage for 12 months incase the worst happens. This would give me a chance to sell my home if needed or time to find another job.

        As for savings and pensions I have always planned for the future and have and will continue to save. When in college we had many guest speakers who always talked as if we were self employed in a freelance film industry and we should plan for our future and not expect anyone to do it for us. I took those words in and always lived within the means of my income. Simple things like not buying a starbucks every day can save you 2k a year over 10 years is a lot of money. If you think you cant save money just actually look at where you spend money and most of us can if we really try.

        We always talk about the lack of business knowledge in VFX and that starts with us.

        I dont live in Surrey but a nice area that is great for families.

        Anyway don’t worry for me as I have made sure I have every opportunity if and when this industry slides into the pits of hell. Who knows where this industry is headed. Its like everything you need know that one day it may end just like every other industry.

        Remember no job is safe as recessions come and go everyone can be affected.

      • phoebius says:

        Man…you are reach…are you sure you are in vfx? to pay 2500/month and to be able to save for one year and to….wow. I am really sure that from your POV life is beautiful.
        I can say only what I always say: hope it will last and enjoy for now.
        “Losing your job can happen in every industry and does. ” It does but newer with this speed and so often.
        “Anyway don’t worry for me” Who told you we are? I don’t care at all, whatsoever. How can I care about you? You do a great job…LOL 2500/month. Listen – 2 – fukintousendfivehundred dolars/month. For what? to be here and tell us how successful you are? LOL.

      • phoebius says:

        sorry – rich not reach. Although I was thinking about the fact that you reach a certain level of prosperity in vfx, that not many of us can even dream about it.

      • I love vancouver says:

        Im sorry you feel that way. But I have worked hard for many years to get to this point. The fact is for years I lived in cheap bedsits and saved my pennies so that I could afford a house.

        People these days think they can go out blow money on eating out, travel and live in fancy apartments rather than save for the future. Fact is I did the scrimping and saving for years, ate in rather than go out while my collegues were blowing there money on alcohol, eating out and living in nice apartments.

        I am just reminding people can live within there means and still save. I have friens who earn 50k a year and you never hear them bitch half as much as I see here.

        We are pretty lucky to do this and generally we earn far more money than most industries but sadly people entitlement means they only think of today rather than tomorrow and end up wondering why they have no money. If a person earning 50k in vancouver can save money then so can you just lower the expectation of how you plan to live you life. Life isnt easy for most people out there and yet the most complaining I is from VFX artists who earn 80k + a year who think they have a hard life.

      • Ok, Phoebus. To answer you question, I have been to umpteen meetings with union reps up here, tried to rally as many co-workers as possible to the cause, tried garnering interest in a meeting with BC labour law experts, vary sadly to almost zero avail. If that counts as nothing to you, so be it.

        Well then let me turn your question back at you. What have you done to try and achieve change?

      • phoebius says:

        I signed the rep card…this was all we needed to do, as a first step. Some did it, some were afraid and called later to cancel. But I signed and if every artist had signed the card, the situation would have been very different. Bye now.

    • Phoebus, you are angry. We are all angry about the state of our industry and how it’s run. However, it seems as though you’re thrashing out.

      Are your problems the fault of Vancouver’s weather? Are your problems the fault of other artists who are currently working here? Are your problems the fault of high property prices here (prices that are high for ALL Sectors)?

      If you answer no to all of those, it seems you need to direct your vitriol somewhere else. The was an opportunity to pursue the CVD. There was (still is) an opportunity to Unionise. I’ve tried for the latter, to no avail. Others like animcoop are pursuing the model of worker cooperatives, which have been very successful in many industries in many countries.

      Bitching about the weather in Vancouver and shouting down the artists working here (some even out of choice, believe it or not – I wasn’t forced here) achieves nothing, and makes you sound rather insular and bitter.

      We’re all trying to make the best of the situation as it stands, and many of us are continuing to try and find ways to fix it.

      • phoebius says:

        “We’re all trying to make the best of the situation as it stands’ right..show me how you try and what have you achieved so far…Plenty of big eyes are looking at you, willing to see a success story inside this industry.
        So you agree the situation is not as good as some of you are trying to show it here?!
        “Are your problems the fault of Vancouver’s weather? Are your problems the fault of other artists who are currently working here? Are your problems the fault of high property prices here ?”
        No …my problem are those people like you and some of your colleagues who refuse to step outside and stop working because everything is turning into a nightmare. 50000 in Vancouver is nothing. peanuts. ask people in LA how much they used to do in the past. They don’t do it anymore thanks to people who work hard, don’t have any life and earn peanuts.
        My problem are the subsidies as well, since it creates bubbles…not the weather. It is up to you to be in that place or in the freezer Montreal. And it is you problem to abuse or not the workers, but is my way – the only one to defend myself. Not to agree with all the trolls that are throwing here every day bullshit, creating the false impression that everything is ok and there are only couple of people, very few that complain and this is mainly because they do not find jobs because they are not good in what they are doing. There are 2 main categories of people in vfx:
        Those who are abused and the ones that abuse.
        And yes, I am bitter. But not for long. Have you noticed that the ship is sinking? Adapt didn’t work, Union neither… the ship is sinking man…
        it is like cancer..you try this, or that..but the disease is in the final phase. Keep working man. You do a great job.

      • I love vancouver says:

        You are correct 50k in Vancouver is not a large income and that is what many people survive on in jobs outside of VFX. Thats my point we get paid alot more than most and yet we complain that we cant afford the lavish lifestyle we think we deserve. Guess what there are people earning less than you and they complain far less than you.

        Does VFX have its problems? Hell yes but so does alot of other industries.

        But I guess you think you deserve everything on a silver platter cause and your life is harder than the single mum working 2 jobs.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Haven’t been following the comments but just randomly saw this comment.

        It’s a bit funny to say people in VFX who complain are entitled when there are single moms with two jobs and other people in Vancouver who make far less than what VFX people make.

        The pot is calling the kettle black here. 58.4% of those high resident VFX wages are paid for by Vancouver taxpayers which include that single mom working two jobs and those making much less.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        Also the single mom might(!) not have a great job because she had the kids and not a higher education. Or she has no skills? why cant a single mom with 2 kids work in vfx? because we are working crazy hours that “normal” dont.

        we are making a descent living. high for a wallmart worker. low for a lawyer or doctor or banker. do these guys work 100 hours a week? I dont think so. vfx workers are skilled workers. so 50$/hr is alright no? its not 200$/hr like a lawyer or doctor. Ignoring that what they do is more important they have spent more time and money on education. I dont feel bad for making more money than some uneducated office worker. But I do feel we need to stop having to work 80 hour work weeks to afford a home in a town of our choosing.

      • I love vancouver says:

        Its like you guys bitching about healthcare and knowing your government cut foriegn military aid and then put 14 billion into universal healthcare. But wait that would be crazy talk.

        Our government gives away a few hundread million in subsidies to generate stimulus in the economy.

        Whats does the 14 billion get you VFX Soldier.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Not sure what universal healthcare and military aid have to do with this conversation but let’s be clear, if taxpayers are paying 58.4% of your salary, you should probably look in the mirror before calling others entitled.

      • VFXJackass says:

        Americans need to stop blaming the Canadian and British government for stealing American jobs. Blame the American government and Hollywood heads for giving your jobs away. The American government, Correction… elites in the American goverment have made a killing selling everyone out. They have made a literal killing in half a dozen or so wars that Americans are too lazy or too ignorant to stop fighting.(pick one) And they have made a killing off shoring your jobs. Stop blaming Europeans and the Canadians for stealing your jobs… Start blaming yourselves for allowing your 1% to manhandle and bitch slap you around like a bunch of whiny children. This is your own fucking fault. No one else is to blame for the fact that American elites sold out their own.

        The British, Europeans and Canadians here obviously have zero interest in Americans in Los Angeles ever getting their jobs back. Because that means they would lose jobs. They simply won that war and Americans lost it. Their governments chose to strip Hollywood of half of its industry and very wealthy players in Los Angeles made a killing selling everyone out. Everyone else simply got screwed and allowed themselves to get screwed. How might this have gone differently? You would have to go after the guys doing the screwing. Take them to court, fight political and legal battles, that type of thing which requires a combination of will and “cojones” as they say in LA. Apparently too much to ask of most Los Angeles VFX artists too busy clawing each other to death in the great race to the bottom.

        How would Los Angeles reclaim its VFX industry? Very simple, By TAKING it back just as London and Vancouver TOOK it in the first place. Don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure that out… That is the stark truth regardless of whether you are offended by my bluntly saying so or not. Of course London and Vancouver are going to cry bloody murder if Los Angeles try to do to them exactly what they have done to Los Angeles. if you are an American, you clearly understand what has happened. And if you are in London or Vancouver you also likely clearly understand what has happened but it is in your best interest not to say it but to make Americans feel guilty for wanting to do back to you exactly what London and Vancouver has done to Los Angeles.

        But again, It is really that fucking simple and all of the rest of this noise is just that… NOISE. Some will win and some will lose. Passively farting away your time here on this blog about how you are losing is probably not the way ….. to stop losing.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        @VFXJackass
        you are completely right! I agree.
        I do wish that the artists in these locations would be so honest! but no they claims its for the quality of live, the skills of the artists there or whatever other reason besides the truth: the subsidies make it financially appealing location with great savings to the studios. end of story.
        is it moral or ethic? no. its business.

      • Tim H says:

        So teaching average salary is 60 k in Cali. They are educated people who get paid no OT and work many free hours a week lesson planning, marking, writing report cards. Are they less educated than the average VFX artist.

      • Tim H says:

        I just read all this and have to laugh looks like VFX Soldier is doing his classic taking it all out of context so he can make up his own little world. It appears to me this was more about some people claiming they cannot live on wages that are far bigger than most in Vancouver.

        It makes sense to me that it is more about artist living outside there means rather than being sensible with money just like those less fortunate do .

        GOD BLESS HIM.

        Although this blog needs a name change to Soldier as he has nothing to do with VFX anymore.

        And Go !

      • joker says:

        I think he is yanking your chain trying you to get you to get all worked up.

        Looks like it worked. Classic.

      • Roxboro says:

        Tim the troll.

      • Sure, it would be great for artists in London, Canada etc. locations to take the broad view and oppose the subsidies that create their jobs, but anyone who thinks human nature works like that is unfortunately naive…

        Humans think short-term, and that’s as true of Californians as it is of any of these ‘foreigners’, so please don’t point a sanctimonious finger at other artists. Instead, point one at the economic structures that support and encourage the type of behaviours studios and governments are engaging in.

        I’m sick of artists from one region or another being typecast as stealing from taxpayers, being less talented, having worse weather, etc etc.
        Don’t be ignorant and lump everyone together. We all have our own individual stories to tell.

      • phoebius says:

        aleprechaunist the troll

  33. […] corporate handout chasers are moving middle class jobs to places that will give them free money like at Dreamworks Animation. In New Orleans, where many of my friends traveled, forced to seek work in subsidy friendly […]

  34. anon says:

    These companies make a fortune and the fact is this : they know they can dispose of vfx people easily because there is no union preventing them.

    Dreamworks is opening a billion dollar studio in China.

    http://www.ibtimes.com/oriental-dreamworks-moves-beyond-animation-new-live-action-film-slate-1602472

    That is who will be replacing US workers.

    You are working hard, to make companies money, to destroy your career………….not grow it.

    • phoebius says:

      they work hard because they do not know what else to do. Companies know very well that and the whole system is based on the fact that the artist does not know anything else to do. He lost a lot of money and time building a “career” and the result is: He wants to get out but he did not know what to do instead.Adapt was a solution, but they say: it’s for California only. If you say: UNION they are afraid for being blacklisted .
      There is no solution viable for them because there is none. This industry is based on abuse and no ethics, on cliques and politics. Hence hard work and fear for tomorrow. All fear for tomorrow. Sometimes, even the companies. But the thing is: A system that is based on such values, sooner or later it goes downhill.

      • Nvfx says:

        I can’t wait to see how this industry plays out… What a mess.

      • ivorbiggun says:

        That’s the thing now. Like that Reliance banker guy buying into “rival” firms, closing offices like PF london (that went bust earlier on) and vancouver, only to open it up again as dneg, that was losing millions for a number of years anyway. Like Sony preparing to close its live action arm of imageworks in 2013 (all movie productions ceased) before some strange deals ended up in vancouver becoming a new HQ. Pretty sure the finance is coming from scamming investment trusts and pension funds by presenting VFX as some fantastic investment opportunity when the plan seems to be open up somewhere for tax breaks, cut wages, staff and investment, close down with a bancruptcy, then start all over again. Somewhere else. After these guys pocket millions in “consultancy” up front. Its the subprime mortgage bond market all over again, just this time “vfx” is the label.

        Not to bash Vancouver. The rain jokes are quite funny but the bigger issue of all this corporate chair shuffling and pushing artists from pillar to post like seasonal farmworking gypsies affects everyone. London is definitely following L.A. downwards. And it will be vancouver’s turn next. If artists really were savvy to the cynical finance scams these financiers are really upto (instead of assuming they are trying to build serious businesses), they wouldn’t move families, take on mortgages and car loans thinking the firm and business plan is to be in it for the longterm. Cos they don’t. They are financial fraud scams to lure naive investor funds, no longer production companies run by production professionals. Its probably better to avoid all these firms mentionned variously above. There is no longer a solid link between the core business and its operations because of more wallstreet subprime banker bullshit.

  35. anon says:

    “Question: Which VFX facility had “company-wide mailing lists devoted to “Porn Fridays,””? Was that ESC?”

    It was WETA Digital.
    Everyone was asked to submit their favorite porn images to a mass mailing list which connected everyone in the facility.
    That was when many say the facility was actually doing it’s best work too, just proving “liberal” policies work.

    Quality vfx work and porn are not mutually exclusive.

    Also criticizing people for sexuality is like birds criticizing other birds for flying,

    Eileen Moran used this as leverage to blacklist people though, and after she arrived it all stopped.

    She died of ovarian cancer.

    • MartinP says:

      To my knowledge Eileen did not do that. I’m shocked that anyone would imply such a thing of her.

      Besides, it carried on for many many years while she worked there. It also didn’t ‘connect’ to everyone in the facility, you signed up for it.

      • dave says:

        it was the main company general mailing list, basically everyone was on it

      • Jackadullboy says:

        Yep, the “caveman” mailing list, as I recall. You had to sign up for it. There was also a “cavewoman” list for the ladies. Both had (have?) to be signed up for.

    • Andreas Jablonka says:

      yes WETA. confirmed.

      • paspos says:

        ugh

        yet they will blacklist people and give them bad reference if they download porn and submit it to the group

        go figure

    • anonymous says:

      Eileen never did that. Thats not true and kind of a sick claim. Also the list was not an official one. Dneg had also one. Probably all of them in the “good old days”. But what does that have to do with anything?

    • anonymous says:

      getting pictures of people smearing shit on each other isn’t something I would have chosen to get in my mailbox while working overtime

      being backstabbed and lied about by Eileen was a similar experience and not something I would have chosen either

  36. anon says:

    yes, noise had everyone on and later it became different groups.

  37. anon says:

    “anonymous” how the fuck do you know what Eileen didn’t do, were you on her shoulder watching everything she did in her life ?

    NO.

    LEAVE IT AT THAT

    SHE IS DEAD. FORGET IT.

    IT’S GONE.

    STOP TRYING TO WHITEWASH OTHER PEOPLE’S LIFE INTO YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES AND UNDERMINE THOSE OF OTHERS.

    YOU IDIOT.

  38. joe blow says:

    Wow, I always knew there were some fuckwits on this list, and reading the comments about Eileen has just confirmed it for me.

  39. fred flintstone says:

    Holy smokes. I read about four of these threads. What a bunch of losers. And I’m talking about even the so called winners making fun of losers. Reading some of these insulting comments really made me super happy I left the industry. Get out of film and make some money justifying your worth. Seriously, spend your life wisely; animation is a waste of energy. And if you have a family, get you shyatt together and leave animation and film. It’s for the losers.

  40. […] in 2013, a claim that was met with protests outside the studio and uproar across the Internet. As one VFX blogger pointed out: “Given the relative stability at DreamWorks as opposed to VFX vendors who don’t own the […]

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