Postmortem: (Rhythm & Hues Bankrupcy): What happened...

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Old 03 March 2013   #16
so the average income of an artist is about 2000$ a week and that too including overheads? thats not much, is it?
 
Old 03 March 2013   #17
Originally Posted by joyceanblue: so the average income of an artist is about 2000$ a week and that too including overheads? thats not much, is it?


The artist overhead isn't an issue unless you have to maintain that burn rate while the client decides to stop production for a few months. The staff artists also carry the 10 weeks vacation a year benefit, but most of the staff is contractors which don't get that benefit [and since has been cut down over the past 2 years]

The construction analogies are nice and all, but in VFX you got the Big 6 and that is it, and you won't be able to hold their feet to the fire on the contract without risking loss of work in the future.

I've heard horror stories from a few friends at R+H about clients just being raging knobs on issues or forcing a rebid mid production, or what happened on Narnia where the studio up and decided to pull half the shots and give them to Imageworks mid contract.

As put to me by an ex supervisor there, he said there was warning signs 2 years ago. Plus when they started capping vacation, and cutting back on that benefit, anyone who was working there who had significant PTO accumulated should have kept an eye on the door, especially when company meetings with financial reviews were starting to get infrequent.

We'll see what the future holds for R+H after today, I suspect the new owners will clean house of senior management and get new people in charge to right the ship.
 
Old 03 March 2013   #18
$2K a week AND 10 weeks vacation per year?

Are you f'n kidding me?
 
Old 03 March 2013   #19
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: VFX shops go tits up all the time, new ones with the same testicle gripping limited client pool pop up from the ashes just as quickly.


Does anyone else wonder why they bother? I would think it common sense not to open a business the same as one that just failed, it just has to be a huge risk of losing your shirt. As an example, a local flower shop went belly up before Christmas. Nobody was fool enough to open another flower shop in the same store, it's a Beauty Shop now.
I'm just having a hard time understanding why when a VFX shop goes down, somebody decides to throw their money into starting a cloned one dealing with the same clients and problems that sunk the previous VFX shop. Maybe they think they can do it better, or different and they won't run off the cliff like all the other lemmings?

By the way ThE_JacO, excellent and informative post you made. It cut through myths and theories I think, and made it easy to understand.
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Old 03 March 2013   #20
Because they're special and shouldn't have to evolve to stay alive the way every other business does?
 
Old 03 March 2013   #21
Originally Posted by redbellpeppers: $2K a week AND 10 weeks vacation per year?

Are you f'n kidding me?


Yes, 10 weeks vaca a year and $2K per week?

Sounds like a tenured University professor's gig.

Oh boo hoo if it is the true, true!

Certainly this type of abusive working situation requires immediate picketing for
worldwide solidarity and of course, a union!!!

We are really the stars and yet our end credits placement comes after the caterers.
 
Old 03 March 2013   #22
Originally Posted by redbellpeppers: $2K a week AND 10 weeks vacation per year?

Are you f'n kidding me?


I think he meant 10 days of vacation per year. That's pretty standard in the US, even though it isn't the law.

Cheers,
Michael
 
Old 03 March 2013   #23
Originally Posted by Dillster: Does anyone else wonder why they bother?

For the same reasons people still become jazz artists, or start independent record labels, or become painters, despite the fact two thirds or more will be starving artists and only one in hundreds makes it.

Unlike the music or publishing industry though, where initial investment makes the very small enterprise an option as lucrative as the large if you get really lucky, and then allows you to go with a major with some bargaining power, film VFX hasn't quite found those alternative business and distribution models, or rather, found them profitable.

Rarely, very rarely, someone like the Strause brothers with Skyline find their way to money-making indie-selling-to-majors through VFX, but that's infrequent at best.

Many VFX shops have tried, and keep trying, to develop and own their own IP and co-produce. Insofar success has eluded almost everyone outside of feature animation, but it doesn't mean they won't keep trying.

Things will change at some point, but it won't be the end of subsidies or everything moving to some sweatshop somewhere changing the industry forever respectively for good or for bad, like some people seem to believe (IMO). It will be when studios will lose their ONLY real edge, distribution to the only outlet that can support big VFX.

Sooner or later "big" will be redefined, cost of production will change, money will come from other places more regularly, and options will form.
Vimeo's 90/10 split, the success of low cost many-sales apps, webTV overaking antennae/cable broadcast, Google Play, Amazon and so on hitting consoles and small footprint players are all paving the way, but we, as a collective industry in the higher tiers of production value, are unable to use those for now. It'll change though.
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Old 03 March 2013   #24
Originally Posted by Dillster: Does anyone else wonder why they bother? I would think it common sense not to open a business the same as one that just failed, it just has to be a huge risk of losing your shirt.


No offence but your perspective is that of a teenager and you won't see the fuller picture.

Jaco's post just above mine gives an idea of the mentality, dedication and determination involved. All VFX owners want to succeed and believe they can in spite of what went before them.
Think of it as "beating the house" thinking. Anyone going into a casino must believe they have a chance of beating the house, which is why they put their money down. If every gambler let their head rule, casinos would be empty.
It's human nature to believe we will succeed in business, which is why we have Bill Gates, Steve Jobs (RIP) and others who took a gamble on a dream and prevailed.
 
Old 03 March 2013   #25
Originally Posted by MDuffy: I think he meant 10 days of vacation per year. That's pretty standard in the US, even though it isn't the law.

Cheers,
Michael




No, 10 weeks base vacation, after a few years you get an extra week thrown in and the occasional 4 or 8 week sabbatical tossed in every few years. *IF* you were staff. The bulk of the employees were contractors so they wouldn't get the big vacation package.

I mean honestly guys that's old old news, that was one of the perks of going to work at R+H, although generally speaking you earn lower pay then you would at DD or Sony, but the vacation and benefits would offset that.

It's one reason why R+H got tagged with the "VFX Retirement home" moniker a decade ago.

As for $2K a week, if you have a few years of feature film experience under your belt as a journeyman or experienced artist, you shouldn't have any trouble pulling down that as a standard rate in California. A lot more than that depending on the field and the type of job.

R+H the average wasn't $2k a week. Among senor staff? Sure, some contractors with experience absolutely. But the bulk of junior talent and people right out of school aren't making anywhere near that. If you troll through vfx wages spreadsheet you can probably work out a mean average of 60-70k a year average artist salary

It's a moot point, the overhead of manhours isn't a big factor unless you have a out of control client that is forcing you to take the hit on wages to do change orders.

But back to the vacation I know of people who had 30-40 weeks of PTO that went right out of the window when the bankruptcy happened. Easy to say folks should have used it up, but that's hard to do if you are always busy with production work and can't take time off.
 
Old 03 March 2013   #26
Well initial staff contract least in recent years is 10 days. In the states they were allowed to carry this over each year, and the. They would earn the sabbatical every 5 years. So no one just got 10 weeks it was earned over time but yes it was a major problem being over 9 million sitting in a pool that rhythm couldn't use. Enforcing vacation or paying it out end of each year rather than letting it accrue would have helped rhythm a fair bit. It's that sort of generosity that was a goal of the owners but certain aspects of their generosity were also major contributors to the downfall.

The employee creditor claims with the exception of those laid off, is mainly going to be towards unclaimed PTO and sabbatical time. I mean you'd be making a large chunk of change if your two missed paycheques were more than the creditor cap. You'd be making mor than 120k/year. So the reason so many are above that cap is that extra money sitting in PTO.
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Old 03 March 2013   #27
If you're an experienced artist, 2k a week is what? 96k a year? In California, 100k should be a mid-range salary for a seasoned effects person. No issues there. That seems fair, its very very costly in Southern California. 100k is worth 60 k elsewhere.
 
Old 03 March 2013   #28
wrong post, to be deleted.^^
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Last edited by collings : 03 March 2013 at 05:25 PM.
 
Old 03 March 2013   #29
Originally Posted by pipdixel: If you're an experienced artist, 2k a week is what? 96k a year? In California, 100k should be a mid-range salary for a seasoned effects person. No issues there. That seems fair, its very very costly in Southern California. 100k is worth 60 k elsewhere.


It is 96K a year in a year that has only 48 weeks...
 
Old 03 March 2013   #30
In reading of these topics I still cannot shake the thought that an industry that has been around for 30+ years still hasn't nailed down the the whole proper billing thing.
Only now, after changing facebook profile pics to green swatches and walking down Hollywood and Highlands during the Academies does anyone think 'change' is in order (and that this is the way to do it?)

Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: For the same reasons *snip*.


What is it called when people do the same thing the same way over and over and expect different results?

Last edited by redbellpeppers : 03 March 2013 at 07:17 PM. Reason: more
 
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