Framestore to open in Montréal

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  01 January 2013
Quote: As projects approach their final weeks we have been reviewing the crew requirements for confirmed work in London. Whilst we are bidding on a number of projects we don’t expect work in London to pick up again until the Autumn so we need to reduce the headcount across all the VFX teams. Following an initial review of crew schedules we would like you to attend a group meeting tomorrow at 10am in the Wells Street Cinema. At this meeting we will tell you more about the process we will follow to reach final decisions on which roles and individuals will be impacted by this and answer any questions you may have. There will be an opportunity for individual meetings over the next week or two but it is very important that you attend this group meeting. Your Producer and Supervisor know that they need to spare you for half an hour.


This must be that meeting where an old man slowly shuffles up to the podium with his cane, and then he adjusts the microphone with his fragile hand, and then in a crackling voice says, "You are ALL fired!" and then shuffles off.

Originally Posted by Michael5188: So instead of the industry demanding higher pay for these jobs that leave them bankrupt (I shouldn't hear of studios losing money on a job) we rely on the government to pay money so we can undercut the opposition, and drive budgets even lower. I'm all for studios opening up all over, but I feel like our industry is in somewhat of a downward spiral right now.

(sorry if this is edging on OT, I know we already had a subsidy discussion)


Studios demanding higher pay just ain't gonna happen. Everyone is driving rates down to stay competitive and they also have to compete with rising talent and quality in the developing economies. Only those who truly do something truly special, like maybe those guys who did the skinny Steve Rogers in Captain America, will be able to command the rates they deserve. When everyone pretty much does the same thing, the powers that be will go to whoever is cheapest.

Even ILM doesn't maintain the huge gap in VFX quality they once had, and the gap between studios is getting smaller and smaller everyday. The gap between the major players and smaller companies in developing nations is getting smaller even faster. The rates will continue to go down, so the industry will have to find another way to survive.
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Last edited by teruchan : 01 January 2013 at 02:28 PM.
 
  01 January 2013
From what I have seen previously, when a province offers a deal to a company in regards to tax credits, that company is obligated to create a number of positions to officially qualify for those credits. It was released in another news article that a vfx company from Europe was expected to create 200 jobs. I suspect they were referring to Framestore.

Personally, I believe those jobs should stay in London. The staff put the time in to make the business in theory a successful entity, the staff should benefit from their efforts. Corpracy is running amok.
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  01 January 2013
There are two ways of looking at it, though. The staff may have put in the time and effort to make the business successful, but they were also paid a decent wage, which they agreed to, in order to do so. They were not partners and had no further stake beyond whatever agreement they entered into. They are not owed anything from a business standpoint.

Yes, that sucks, but that is employment.
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Terrence Walker
Studio ArtFX
Learn How to Make Your Own Animated Projects!
You don't need millions of dollars or major studio backing!!
 
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by teruchan: Studios demanding higher pay just ain't gonna happen. Everyone is driving rates down to stay competitive and they also have to compete with rising talent and quality in the developing economies. Only those who truly do something truly special, like maybe those guys who did the skinny Steve Rogers in Captain America, will be able to command the rates they deserve. When everyone pretty much does the same thing, the powers that be will go to whoever is cheapest.

Even ILM doesn't maintain the huge gap in VFX quality they once had, and the gap between studios is getting smaller and smaller everyday. The gap between the major players and smaller companies in developing nations is getting smaller even faster. The rates will continue to go down, so the industry will have to find another way to survive.


Then maybe the answer is smaller studios with less overhead and more flexibility? All I know is having tax payers make up the difference in undercutting budgets feels like a flawed system to me, or one that just doesn't seem sustainable.

It's a tricky problem to solve, not sure what the answer is...
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  01 January 2013
Tax incentives drastically distort business models. For the industry to come to a realistic balance, they have to create efficiencies and budget productions appropriately. When government departments provide slush funding, there is no incentive to clean up your business practices and policies.

Then it becomes a ongoing war of incentives with different regions wanting to one up each other to get the work. Similar to what recently transpired in Vancouver with the local industry complaining that work was going east because their incentives are richer. And so they adjust to be competitive, and the film industry evolves to be a social welfare industry unable to realistically support itself. Then you get lots of garbage films produced that no one will see, because they are fully funded by subsidies, but they don't have to be good because there is no financial risk ... and that leads us to the discussion in another thread ... the rise of mediocracy.
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  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by Michael5188: Then maybe the answer is smaller studios with less overhead and more flexibility? All I know is having tax payers make up the difference in undercutting budgets feels like a flawed system to me, or one that just doesn't seem sustainable.

It's a tricky problem to solve, not sure what the answer is...


I'm not sure what the answer is either, but I agree the tax payer thing is in no way sustainable. It's a band aid.

Maybe we can learn something from how the 2D world shaped up. At the top you have the big players who create and own their own content. Then you have the mid-level, these would be the studios in a position most similar to the VFX houses, especially in Japan. They are paid a flat rate to produce shows off which the publishers make millions or billions. Many are struggling to stay afloat. Most have to outsource to Korea and China to keep costs down. Then you have the super small 1-3 person outfits. These mostly can only handle advertising and maybe small one-off shows like that guy who did Frogman (a very cheap Flash cartoon).

When I worked on SyFy films, I saw things slowly shifting. It began with principal photography, which was all done in L.A. before I got there. Now it's all done in Bulgaria. The VFX were still done in L.A., but during my years there, the guys in Bulgaria just kept getting better and better, and one by one, artists were disappearing from the L.A. office. When I left there were only 3 or 4 people behind me. No one is there now. Two guys who left started their own outfit. They are a two man team and they outsource and contract everything. When they are not on a project, it is just the two of them. That's their overhead.

When I was in the Philippines I was invited to a local studio doing SyFy level films for the Asian market. It was owned by an Australian dude, I think, and he put stars from the area (HK, RP, Korea etc.) in his films. The quality may have been slightly better than SyFy stuff. Their VFX team was run by a western guy, but the staff was maybe five or six locals and they were good. The average salary there is $300 or so per month. The western guys also had much lower salaries than in their home country because they didn't have to pay any taxes and the cost of living is less than 25% of L.A. costs even if you want to live high on the hog.

A big budget movie over here means $5 million to $10 million, but more and more they are starting to look like big budget movies done in Hollywood. They are not there yet, but that gap is getting too small. I would say only the top of the top level stuff, like Benjamin Button makeup, Skinny Steve Rogers or Davy Jones can't be done here. Most of the other stuff you see is either there or getting damn close. Studios may soon realize that it is cheaper to fly all your western actors to Asia, shoot the movie there and do all the VFX there, like Ultra Violet. The stuff they are doing now looks a lot better than what they were doing in that movie.

VFX may movie in the direction of specialty shops when most studios can do the usual robots and blowing up stuff. I don't know how many people that VFX house that did Skinny Steve Rogers has, but I believe they focus on one thing and one thing only, digital makeup. That might be the road to survival, smaller specialty shops.
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Learn How to Make Your Own Animated Projects!
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Last edited by teruchan : 01 January 2013 at 04:20 PM.
 
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by earwax69: Your post stink.

Montreal was the economic center of Canada for 2 freaking centuries. Only since the 70's Toronto took the pole position.

And how can you complain of corruption and widespread protest in the same sentence when this here protest was against this here corruption?!

I dont deny Quebec Gov is run by a bunch of short sighted politicians, selling the province ressources like mad, but your post is completely out of topic and unnecessary.


"A formal system of equalization payments was first introduced in 1957...Until the 2009-2010 fiscal year, Ontario was the only province to have never received equalization payments; in 2009-2010 Ontario received $347 million"


It may have been an economic center, but clearly not the economic center.

As for the corruption, it exists at a big scale, and is currently being dragged into courts, Montreal mayor included. Thankfully they're starting to disperse them like the cockroaches that they are.

As for protests, i was speaking of the latest student ones which didnt end even after they got what they wanted and the police had to be brought in to end it properly. They're separate events, nothing do with with one another.

My "topic" is based real life news and events. Its plenty relevant for people that may consider moving there. There's a lot of pluses and minuses, and not everyone lives in Canada to know whats going on locally. Not everyone or everything is as famous as Rob Ford you know.
 
  01 January 2013
We had to deal with a relative estate issue that was in Quebec and we were told the Montreal curator-ship office (handles people who need others to represent their affairs when incapacitated) was the most corrupt in the province.
The Duplessis Orphan case comes to mind also.

Not that BC is a glowing bastion of political virtue either...
 
  02 February 2013
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: The point of the thread, looking at the title, is that FS is opening in Montreal. An artist happy about having the city as an option is fairly on topic IMO.

That Kill or the staf offsetting came up later doesn't suddenly make discussion about working in Montreal becoming an option suddenly OT



if you read at all the other replies, people are talking about a completely different topic.

then if you ask me 'is he allowed to say what he wants?' suuuure it is!

your 'forum leader mate' can say all the things he wants, but to me his reply sounded like:

example - thread news: 100 people got killed.
his reply: oh so lucky i wasnt there!!

which makes it no sense.

then like i said, is he happy that he can go to work in montreal? good for him.
are 100-150 people losing their job in london and he doesnt care? no problem.

anyway it is cute to see how you 2 guys back you up each other

 
  02 February 2013
Originally Posted by PerryDS: Tax incentives drastically distort business models.


Perhaps yes, but it is not like federal and provincial tax rates are the same everywhere?
So you could simply say that any kind of tax and related incentives have a big effect on business strategies?

If corporate or income tax is lower where you live, that would be equally unfair?

If you want to compete on a completely level playing field therr should not be any difference in tax, income, cost of living, time it takes to drive to work etc etc.

That is never going to happen.
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  02 February 2013
Originally Posted by almagesto: if you read at all the other replies, people are talking about a completely different topic.

then if you ask me 'is he allowed to say what he wants?' suuuure it is!

your 'forum leader mate' can say all the things he wants, but to me his reply sounded like:

example - thread news: 100 people got killed.
his reply: oh so lucky i wasnt there!!

which makes it no sense.

then like i said, is he happy that he can go to work in montreal? good for him.
are 100-150 people losing their job in london and he doesnt care? no problem.

anyway it is cute to see how you 2 guys back you up each other




Is Framestore London closing down?
 
  02 February 2013
Originally Posted by SheepFactory: Is Framestore London closing down?


no


-------------------
 
  02 February 2013
tax incentives happen in lots of fields. Apple wouldn't have opened their massive datacenter in NC if they hadn't got a tax break to do it. Yes, it's annoying for places that have high wages, hi cost of living and no tax incentives, but job creation often requires sweetening the deal. And people can actually afford to buy a home in Montreal, unlike London. Even Vancouver is crazy expensive for real estate. I bought a beautiful place with high ceilings next to the biggest park in Montreal and I paid 1/5th of what you'd pay in Vancouver for a similar sized place in a shit area. Montreal is a bit like Berlin: it has a ton of creative people because they can afford to live here. It's not as cheap as it was when I first came here in '95 and Berlin is cheaper but you get the idea. If you're looking for art brains who you don't need to pay $200k to art direct, Montreal is it. I've been offered art direction jobs in LA for $140k and you only need about $50k here to live the same way. It wasn't in gaming though – it was back when I was working in fashion art direction.

Last edited by cgbeige : 02 February 2013 at 11:01 PM.
 
  02 February 2013
Originally Posted by cgbeige: And people can actually afford to buy a home in Montreal, unlike London. Even Vancouver is crazy expensive for real estate. I bought a beautiful place with high ceilings next to the biggest park in Montreal and I paid 1/5th of what you'd pay in Vancouver for a similar sized place in a shit area.


And Im sure the wages you are offered will be reflected by the cost of living there.
 
  02 February 2013
Originally Posted by mr Bob: And Im sure the wages you are offered will be reflected by the cost of living there.

Of course they are, but not proportionally lower to the costs of living.

In general when evaluating working abroad there are several things to consider, will your savings allow you to start up and to survive if the place shuts down, how's the visa requirments, what are you actually saving in hard cash compared to a reference and/or stable standard (say the US dollar), what quality of living can you afford out of that saved margin and how close to, or above, your expectations it is and so on.

All in all, in those regards, Montreal is far from being bad, especially if you intend to stay there in the long-ish term.

It's easy to get drawn in from high pay and then find out that taxation and costs wash away the lot. London, which was rich milking for a lot of us for years, went through that at one point, and I remember colleagues from abroad being really surprised at how little they ended up saving or how much they had to sacrifice to save anything. Sydney is going that way, with wages that topped Cali for many roles, but with expenses that place it in the top ten world wide.

Some places don't pay anywhere the same, B.C. is a good example, but even inflated compared to the rest of Canada, for foreign seniors, it's far from being bad if you have a certain set of priorities in life, and Montreal for some people can be even better.

At the end of the day, while it might or might not be a step down in a long descending set of stairs that will bottom out somewhere in the East in a levelled out economy where our job has become fully comoditised the way it happened to web design, it's not like we're talking about moving to a third world country to make 30k a year living like a king but with savings worth squat.

It's no harder for the average mid-level to save 30k a year in Montreal than it is in Sydney, arguably it's easier for some lifestyles, so if you're ready to cope with the Francophone employment ladder and the worst coffee in the world (and weather cold enough to freeze a strong scotch if you dare drink it on a balcony ), and you appreciate all the good sides (I never lived there, but visited many times), it's far from a bad new venue to have.

Of course it will further piss off the average American (not making this a matter of nationalities for the sake of it, please don't take it that way) that has no visa problems anywhere in the world, has a relatively stable currency by modern economy standards, and is used to buying everything and anything for inexplicably low prices, but there are many more nationalities in this industry that don't stand a chance to work in their own country that will probably be more than happy for a new location becoming available for high profile work.

The Brits might stop for a moment to be pissed off too, if they weren't all trying to move to, or come back to, 'Stralya
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Last edited by ThE_JacO : 02 February 2013 at 04:42 AM.
 
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