VFX Union meeting

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  02 February 2013
I like the idea of some structure in our industry and I think that the Oscar fiasco is actually promoting our best interests right now BUT.... Overnight I have seen about 10 different organizations trying to promote "our interests in these difficult times"... And because people are so frustrated right now, they tend to follow anyone into what might potentially be a slaughterhouse in our field.

Unions or not, we NEED to know who is representing us. Right now its every man for himself and some self appointed Messiahs that will lead us through the crisis. I am sorry but this will not work. Not with the one sided way everything is stated right now, not with the problem being presented as a local US phenomenon and definitely not without the support of the global collective of artists.

If someone is representing this industry, he shouldn't just talk about the perils of the job in California or else he is not really representing me or the rest (80% of the industry i am guessing) not located there. It is this selfish and narrow minded behavior that has brought this industry where it is right now.

That's all I had to say. I am just sick and tired of seeing everyone still trying to serve their own needs amidst this whole turmoil.

PS. Feel free to rip my opinions to shreds.
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  02 February 2013
Originally Posted by _vine_: Now, the motives for corporations to outsource sucks because they only see the profit savings. However, that is their karma to bear. For myself, I have made a lot of friends in other countries who I would hate to see lose work just because someone else says they need it more. We can do away with outsourcing with the right set of laws, but then we're just taking work away from someone else. I would like to start seeing people come up with some real discussions and alternatives that lets everyone get some modicum of livelihood.


It's not only that. If someone is producing equal, or similar, quality at a better price, why shouldn't they get the work? IF a studio head is spending millions to get something done, why shouldn't he have a choice where and how to spend his (company's) money? People make it seem like outsourcing is somehow unfair, but why is it deemed so? If a local studio somehow offered that same low rate, I guarantee they would get the work over someone thousands of miles away.
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  02 February 2013
I am a California VFX artist against California subsidies.

Like VFX Solider, I am against California subsidizing VFX. Subsidies offer only a foundation of sand for VFX artists, not rock.

Originally Posted by leigh: It's clear to me that when people talk about solidarity, they're talking about solidarity between US artists only, and that's unsettling at best, and offensive at worst.


As a London artist threatened by Montreal subsidies, you know that is not true. Hollywood's greed hurts all VFX artists, not just artists working in California.

Originally Posted by teruchan: It's not only that. If someone is producing equal, or similar, quality at a better price, why shouldn't they get the work? IF a studio head is spending millions to get something done, why shouldn't he have a choice where and how to spend his (company's) money? People make it seem like outsourcing is somehow unfair, but why is it deemed so? If a local studio somehow offered that same low rate, I guarantee they would get the work over someone thousands of miles away.


With Montreal's subsidies, Hollywood gets 60%-off all VFX artists. An artist who earns $2000/week in Montreal delivers work valued at $2000/week, yet Hollywood only has to pay $800/week for that artist. Montreal pays for the remaining $1200/week.

An unsubsidized artist in Los Angeles cannot easily compete with that 60%-off discount. If an artist delivers work valued at $2000/week, that artist would like to get paid $2000/week. However, to compete with a subsidized artist in Montreal, the artist now has to deliver work valued at $2000/week for less than $800/week.

This is why half of my Los Angeles co-workers have traveled to subsidized locations around the world to work on VFX projects. If they do work valued at $2000/week, they want to get paid $2000/week, even if it means moving to another state or country.
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  02 February 2013
Jennifer thanks for posting.
I agree that everyone is getting screwed by this.
For example the people from Vancouver right now are being starting to be affected by the Montreal subsidies. And from what I have read, London was quite affected by the flight to Vancouver by the studios.


So this is obviously a race to the bottom fueled by greed.
So do you feel about the VES position on this.

http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=3ca9b54d75b9a3b8dbabefd4f&id=2bcf72f6b4&e=847c804368

I think honestly they are not part of the solution right now.


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Last edited by RobertoOrtiz : 02 February 2013 at 05:09 PM.
 
  02 February 2013
Originally Posted by teruchan: It's not only that. If someone is producing equal, or similar, quality at a better price, why shouldn't they get the work? IF a studio head is spending millions to get something done, why shouldn't he have a choice where and how to spend his (company's) money? People make it seem like outsourcing is somehow unfair, but why is it deemed so? If a local studio somehow offered that same low rate, I guarantee they would get the work over someone thousands of miles away.


I'm not against outsourcing in principle, but as it stands now, so much of the work coming out of the poorer Asian countries is produced by indentured labor in sweatshops that I can't really endorse that system. Right now, the studios aren't just exploiting the differences in labor costs between countries, they're exploiting the desperation imbalance, and using lax enforcement of local laws (where those laws even exist) to their advantage.

I want every artist, everywhere, to be able to make a living doing art. I don't think maintaining the status quo with regards to outsourcing is going to accomplish that.
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  02 February 2013
Originally Posted by balistic: ........Right now, the studios aren't just exploiting the differences in labor costs between countries, they're exploiting the desperation imbalance, and using lax enforcement of local laws (where those laws even exist) to their advantage.......


Isn't that just what Nike, Adidas , Walmart etc. have been doing forever? And getting away with it? Nobody who matters (ie the politicians) seem to give a toss about that, so can we really them working up a sweat about it for the 3D industry any time soon?
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  02 February 2013
on top of the issue of (sometimes, probably often) poor working conditions in some of these places, surely it's obvious that it's not a level playing field simply due to lower cost of living in some of these places.
yes, over time it will probably equalize, or shift, but in the meantime, service industries (like vfx) that are based in areas with high cost of living are going to suffer. and many of the people who work in these industries simply don't have the option of moving to malaysia because it's cheaper there.
 
  02 February 2013
Originally Posted by earlyworm: Look I'm all for subsidies up to a point, but I think they've gone far beyond what they're designed to do - which is ultimately to simulate growth industries within a local economy. .


As a follow up
saw this Variety article posted on a pro subsidies BC film discussion board about Ireland boosting subsidies for film. They were saying it shows Ireland "gets it."
But what was overlooked is that most of the people cited in the article (actors, producers, directors) are either from Ireland or other parts of the UK. They are locals.
They arent servicing runway productions like we are in BC (while doing little to support domestic production). Oy, you can repeat this a hundred times and they just dont get it here.


Edit: though a guy I know in Ireland says a lot of foreign productions are being done there-they even want to get a Bollywood movie brought over so maybe the local production is just window dressing and a fraction of the productions being done there. I dont know. But when such articles appear about BC its only about X-men or Smallville or some other non local production.

Last edited by kelgy : 02 February 2013 at 08:51 PM.
 
  03 March 2013
Originally Posted by Celshader: Like VFX Solider, I am against California subsidizing VFX. Subsidies offer only a foundation of sand for VFX artists, not rock.



As a London artist threatened by Montreal subsidies, you know that is not true. Hollywood's greed hurts all VFX artists, not just artists working in California.



With Montreal's subsidies, Hollywood gets 60%-off all VFX artists. An artist who earns $2000/week in Montreal delivers work valued at $2000/week, yet Hollywood only has to pay $800/week for that artist. Montreal pays for the remaining $1200/week.

An unsubsidized artist in Los Angeles cannot easily compete with that 60%-off discount. If an artist delivers work valued at $2000/week, that artist would like to get paid $2000/week. However, to compete with a subsidized artist in Montreal, the artist now has to deliver work valued at $2000/week for less than $800/week.

This is why half of my Los Angeles co-workers have traveled to subsidized locations around the world to work on VFX projects. If they do work valued at $2000/week, they want to get paid $2000/week, even if it means moving to another state or country.


I think this says that Hollywood does not in fact value the work at $2000/week. Something is only worth what people are willing to pay for it. The unfairness of subsidies lies in that the work is supposedly still valued at $2000/week, but Hollywood is only paying $800 and Montreal paying $1200. The problem is, what happens when a studio in SE Asia is offering that work at $800/month? (a salary the artist would find impossible to make in just about any other industry in the developing economy)

If Hollywood flocks to there, then that becomes the value of the work, regardless of where the artist is or what their cost of living may be.
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  03 March 2013
Originally Posted by teruchan: I think this says that Hollywood does not in fact value the work at $2000/week. Something is only worth what people are willing to pay for it. The unfairness of subsidies lies in that the work is supposedly still valued at $2000/week, but Hollywood is only paying $800 and Montreal paying $1200. The problem is, what happens when a studio in SE Asia is offering that work at $800/month? (a salary the artist would find impossible to make in just about any other industry in the developing economy)

If Hollywood flocks to there, then that becomes the value of the work, regardless of where the artist is or what their cost of living may be.

Not quite.

The problem is not that the work is still valued at $2k, but that both VFX shops in CA are paying $1200 AND the VFX shops in Montreal are ALSO paying $1200 - the VFX shops in Montreal are getting $400 BACK from the government in subsidies so that THEY don't have to shell out as much. THAT is undercutting fair business practices and is unsustainable - the people being taxed never get as much OUT of the subsidy as they put in.
 
  03 March 2013
Originally Posted by teruchan: The problem is, what happens when a studio in SE Asia is offering that work at $800/month?


No studio who can handle the quality and volume of work that Blockbusters require are charging $800/month in SE Asia that I know of. Maybe for roto/mm legwork? Certainly not for complete sequences, comping or supervisor positions.

Yes, Asia is cheaper, but it isn't a hell of a lot so and the quality is still far below par. Take China as an example. There are literally only a handful of shops (I'd argue ~3) capable of handling of the standard required by Blockbusters and none of them are close to being that cheap.

I'd be interested in hearing of examples that support otherwise.

Basically I think your argument is flawed. Yes developing economies are a problem for VFX but compared with subsidies and the over supply problem it's smoke without fire. Certainly for the next 3-5 years...
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  03 March 2013
Originally Posted by DSW: Not quite.

The problem is not that the work is still valued at $2k, but that both VFX shops in CA are paying $1200 AND the VFX shops in Montreal are ALSO paying $1200 - the VFX shops in Montreal are getting $400 BACK from the government in subsidies so that THEY don't have to shell out as much. THAT is undercutting fair business practices and is unsustainable - the people being taxed never get as much OUT of the subsidy as they put in.


That sounds pretty underhanded. The question I would ask then, is there some benefit to the people, who pay the taxes that make these subsidies possible, by having all this big movie work go to their city? It also makes me wonder, what happens with this system falls apart? Where does the work go next? Where do the artists who packed up and moved to Canada go next?
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  03 March 2013
Originally Posted by teruchan: That sounds pretty underhanded. The question I would ask then, is there some benefit to the people, who pay the taxes that make these subsidies possible, by having all this big movie work go to their city? It also makes me wonder, what happens with this system falls apart? Where does the work go next? Where do the artists who packed up and moved to Canada go next?
That's part of the problem.
It is SUPPOSED to help the region, but considering the amount of the subsidies, it does not end up helping the people - just the few VFX houses and supporting businesses - but from another thread, and I wish I could find it again - it doesn't come anywhere near cost-effective. It's ultimately a lose-lose situation since it artificailly creates the jobs and the tax payer ultimately loses more than they receive. The VFX houses and those employed are helped for the short term, but these subsidies cannot continue at their current rates.
 
  03 March 2013
Originally Posted by kelgy: ....so maybe the local production is just window dressing and a fraction of the productions being done there. I dont know....


No window dressing at all. The vast majority of film production in Ireland is by home studios and the tax relief system was designed for them to benefit from:

"The commitment to Section 481 highlights the support of the government for the film and television industry in Ireland," said Deenihan. "Supported by the Irish Film Board and Section 481, 'Frank' will spend close to Euros5 million ($6.7 million) on the Irish economy, on jobs and local services, and will go on to promote Ireland and Irish talent around the world."
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  03 March 2013
The whole government subsidy thing not working out well reminds me of something I read a few months ago about a failed Michigan studio. It's a good read if you have time.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/04/u...wanted=all&_r=0

As for the Union idea, hell, go for it. I was against it in the past, but all I hear about is abuse, abuse, abuse. You guys need it. You might lose out to globalism in the end anyway, but at least your final years before the western industry dies will be alright.
 
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