WSJ: Oscar nominee (Beasts) had 85 of its 120 VFX shots created with free labor

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Old 02 February 2013   #16
Originally Posted by RockinAkin: Let me put it this way: Should VFX students and Film students be allowed collaborate with each other to work on making a film? Even if there is no money involved? Or is it devaluing the industry and no VFX student should lift a wacom pen without being paid for their work?


Nobody is profiting off a student film, and if they do end up profiting, everyone involved probably splits the money.

I don't care what the budget of a movie is, it's making money and a portion of people who worked on it aren't making anything.

Can I start a new company and tell my contractors and IT folks and etc. that they aren't going to be paid cause I figure my business will probably fail within the month?
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Old 02 February 2013   #17
Originally Posted by Michael5188: Nobody is profiting off a student film, and if they do end up profiting, everyone involved probably splits the money.

Nobody would be profiting off of Beasts of the Southern Wild if it didn't explode like it did.

Now that it did profit - the only question in play is what happens with that profit... do the VFX students get any of it for their labors?
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Last edited by RockinAkin : 02 February 2013 at 11:06 PM.
 
Old 02 February 2013   #18
Just know that the Academy of Art University isn't the only institution who's doing it..
 
Old 02 February 2013   #19
Originally Posted by RockinAkin: Nobody would be profiting off of Beasts of the Southern Wild if it didn't explode like it did.

Now that it did profit - the only moral question in play is what happens with that profit... do the VFX students get any of it for their labors?


But the intention of the movie was to make a profit. Among other things, sure, but I'm willing to bet the people involved wanted to make money. This isn't a non-profit, it's a business venture. A small chance of success means nothing.

You're whole logic of intention is flawed. I'm not free of the obligation to pay someone for their labor if I think the product will fail.
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Old 02 February 2013   #20
No. Lets use the business analogy you brought up:

Quote: Can I start a new company and tell my contractors and IT folks and etc. that they aren't going to be paid cause I figure my business will probably fail within the month?

You can tell your contractors and IT folks that you have an idea for a product - something you believe in, that may or may not be successful when it's finished. You don't have money to pay them for their labors right now.

Now those people have the choice to decline and find paying work with other people / go off an work on their own projects / etc. But if some of those people believe in your product, and want to help you realize it, then that's their choice and they become investors of the product.

If the product is a failure, everyone walks away and goes off to try something else... knowledge and experience is earned, and some will no doubt use that to open new opportunities.

If the product becomes a hit, then the question comes up on how you compensate those people that believed and invested in your product in the beginning. (Hopefully this is all laid out in a contract beforehand)

The issue here ISN'T that the Students volunteered to work on the project.
It's whether or not that project - which is now a hit - gives them compensation for their investment.


Which I personally believe it should.
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Last edited by RockinAkin : 02 February 2013 at 11:06 PM.
 
Old 02 February 2013   #21
Originally Posted by RockinAkin: If the product becomes a hit, then the question comes up on how you compensate those people that believed and invested in your product in the beginning.

The moral issue here isn't that the Students volunteered to work on an uncertain project.
It's whether or not that product - which is now a hit - owes them compensation for their original investment
.


But that's not the issue. The analogy would be more correct if you said that a school will offer free staffing for your start-up company, no matter what your product's chance of success is. I don't believe these students chose to work on the movie because they thought it would be a hit. They chose it because they qualified for that particular class (offered by the school, a very important point) and saw it as a way to gain real world experience.

Another thing you are ignoring about this analogy is that if you decide to do spec work for someone, and you do it all on your own (no school involved), you are a fool if you don't have some kind of contract in place to reap any possible rewards should the product become profitable. In the school setting, the students likely have no legal or contractual recourse to any potential profits.

It's the school that's at fault here. Seriously, what is a student supposed to say to the instructor that says "Little Timmy, your 3D modeling kicks ass. You can either keep building your own little 3D projects or you can work on this indie movie project for school & screen credit over here." That is not a choice, it's an imperative.
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Old 02 February 2013   #22
If the school doesn't have some sort of contract in place beforehand, then I agree with you 100%. It's short-sighted and it limits the students legal recourse when a situation like this arises.

Quote: Seriously, what is a student supposed to say to the instructor that says "Little Timmy, your 3D modeling kicks ass. You can either keep building your own little 3D projects or you can work on this indie movie project for school & screen credit over here." That is not a choice, it's an imperative.

It absolutely is a choice - and most students (including myself at the time) decide to work on their own projects.
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Last edited by RockinAkin : 02 February 2013 at 10:14 PM.
 
Old 02 February 2013   #23
If this is OK then am I right in expecting all the other crew of the film to have worked for free?

Did the lighters get paid? The caterers? Sound design?

How about the other vfx shots, those artists were paid correct?

Anyways we could go back and forth forever, I suppose we can leave it at yes, I agree I hope now that the film has blown up the students receive payment, though I'm 99% sure they won't...
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Old 02 February 2013   #24
It would be interesting to know if the school gets some type of compensation for the students work on the film.... either direct/indirect through funds or notoriety. Considering the students pay a tuition to attend, there should be more than a pat on the back and some credits given.

I guess time will tell.
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Old 02 February 2013   #25
Why should it be a moral question of whether they get paid if the the movie gets big?

Why is it not a business decision? For god's sake, this is why NOBODY IS MAKING ANY F*CKING MONEY.

It's a business.

YOU ARE IN AN INDUSTRY AND YOU NEED TO GET PAID AT SOME POINT. THIS ISN't "ART", IT'S BUSINESS."

Students and artists in general don't know their arses from their elbows. If a movie is using "free labour", have an employment contract written up the expressly states that if the movie makes money you get a cut of the gross or at least net before XYZ "hollywood accounting practices" get their hands on it. If no money is made, fine, it is there on paper, but if there is a profit, guess what pal? I helped you make that profit, f*ck you, pay me.

The problem with the argument "nobody forced them to work on it" is that it is only partly useful. No, nobody did, but these agreements should still be written down so both parties know where they stand. If you signed a document saying "I waive all rights to any form of payment from this film" then you have nobody to blame but yourself. You got some skills, so good for you, but don't come complaining when you are eating cup noodles for 3mths because you have no money.

Seriously, these students are starting out their working lives with their pants down. The teachers might be teaching them tech skills, but not business skills. The teachers should be helping them protect themselves. Their very first job is "handshake deals and promises" rather than concrete contracts that are written down and agreed upon. Still, in this industry, getting screwed on your first job probably *is* the best kind of education . . .
 
Old 02 February 2013   #26
Seeing how it was an elective course, it looks like a win for the students to me. They got course credit, experience on a real world project, and credits in an Oscar nominated movie (assuming they got credit, if not - bad on the filmmaker).

Higher education students getting actual experience in real world work is invaluable. Especially when I recall how much of the conceptual foolishness I had to endure while studying architecture had little or no practical application in professional practice.
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Old 02 February 2013   #27
Originally Posted by Michael5188: If this is OK then am I right in expecting all the other crew of the film to have worked for free?

Did the lighters get paid? The caterers? Sound design?

How about the other vfx shots, those artists were paid correct?

If all the crew members got paid, but none went to vfx, then I agree that there's a problem.

Also 100% agree with DoubleSupercool - while the teachers focus on teaching students about the art and technology of the industry, they should also be teaching them the business side (in this case the contracts detailing what happens if the film explodes like it has).
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Last edited by RockinAkin : 02 February 2013 at 11:14 PM.
 
Old 02 February 2013   #28
But even if it's an elective, there should be a contract so nobody is asking questions like "should we have gotten paid?"

Starting your working life like this is a bad idea in my opinion. I don't disagree that it most likely is a win for the students, but, you can get the same result and be more professional about it. It is a bad precedent to start your working life like this. Heck, even the directors and actors will potentially be facing the same issue if they didn't have contracts/agreements when they started. What if it makes millions and the actors get nothing? You have to cover yourself.

Even if you are doing free jobs for people or jobs that don't pay very much, treat it like a business and I guarantee two things will happen:

1. You will feel more professional and responsible; and
2. You "client" will see that you are taking this seriously and will be less likely to try and pull something on you.

If you don't feel comfortable doing this then, again, don't complain when things go wrong. You are in a business. Your product is you. If you can't or won't look after that side of things then you are likely to get into trouble.
 
Old 02 February 2013   #29
Lightbulb

Originally Posted by RockinAkin: If all the crew members got paid, but none went to vfx, then I agree that there's a problem.

Also 100% agree with DoubleSupercool - while the teachers focus on teaching students about the art and technology of the industry, they should also be teaching them the business side (in this case the contracts detailing what happens if the film explodes like it has).


The film cost $1.5 million to make. I figure most of the crew got paid for their time and expertise.

Maybe the teachers could show their students this video: Protect your art career -- stephen silver
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Old 02 February 2013   #30
Originally Posted by Michael5188: If this is OK then am I right in expecting all the other crew of the film to have worked for free?

Did the lighters get paid? The caterers? Sound design?

How about the other vfx shots, those artists were paid correct?

Anyways we could go back and forth forever, I suppose we can leave it at yes, I agree I hope now that the film has blown up the students receive payment, though I'm 99% sure they won't...


It would be good publicity for the film studio to throw a bone to the students who made it happen. A few hundred dollars to each student would make the studio look like nice people. if they don't, they will look like stingy feckers to he whole world.
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