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

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  02 February 2013
Originally Posted by colesslaw: Even if the directors have "no money" they should at least be able to offer minimum wage.


Better still if they don't have any money to make a film, then just don't make it. It's a pipe dream if you don't have money, so don't expect others to do it for free.
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  02 February 2013
I think any work done on a commercial project, and this was definitely a commercial project regardless of the budget, should be compensated for.

For people bringing up student films, those are rarely meant to make money and are designed just to get attention. In the event of money coming around, it is usually split fairly.

In this case, it's a movie made to do the circuits, with the hopes of being picked up and distributed, to make massive money if the chance comes up. The students should be given a cut of the profit.

I like the idea of minimum wage at the least, but depending on the number of workers, that may not be feasible, but a cut of any profits + meals during the production are a must.

Someone at the top is making money, someone at the bottom is happily starving.


As someone who just recently graduated school and got very lucky with my first couple jobs, I've come to realize how much BS the schools feed you.

They tell students, take the first job that comes your way, work for little to no money, you have to pay your dues etc etc... The result is people who work for cheap in dead end roles, who don't have the courage to push forward.

Worse, any drive they had to push to bigger and better things is driven out of them, and they're brainwashed to think they're worth nothing.

Truth is, students need to learn their worth and stick by it. They need to know not to be taken for granted.

At that point,it's up to them if they choose to work for free or not, but atleast they're aware and not rats following the pied piper.
 
  02 February 2013
While this may or may not be good for the students, I think this is really bad for the vfx industry as a whole which is already vastly undervalued, I mean look at all the recent studio shut downs, and yet all the top grossing movies have tons of vfx. It's disgusting and I think it will only lead to hollywood trying to evade paying professionals by giving young kids "experience".

Last edited by elindell : 02 February 2013 at 12:35 AM.
 
  02 February 2013
Originally Posted by DoubleSupercool: 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."


This.

I'm sick of seeing people being exploited like this. This IS exploitation - these students were USED and were not compensated for their work. This bullshit of "it's experience" has got to bloody stop.

It's because of bullshit attitudes like this that the VFX industry is so screwed right now.

ENOUGH.
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  02 February 2013
I agree with the business argument and free work is not okay.

If they got a kid to flip burgers for the crew on a day of shooting, he would have been paid minimum wage. Why shouldn't the students be paid at least a minimum wage for their direct contribution to the final product?

If a vfx student decides to work for his buddy for free, it doesn't mean it is "okay". On a business level, it is a poor business decision on his part, and he has himself to blame for it. On a personal level, perhaps he can justify free work (i.e. giving away free money) in the same way that he is willing to spot his buddy a bit of cash in a time of need. However in this case the students have no personal connection with the director.

Back to my minimum wage argument. Say this "Compositing for Production" class is a 16-week (4-month) term class. The students worked 10-40 hours a week, lets take the maximum of 40. Google tells me minimum wage in SF is $10.55.
16wks x 40hrs x 33 students = 21120 production hours
x $10.55 = $222,816

That's a skinny $6752 per student for 4 months of work and that's 0.2 million that should be accounted for in the film's $2 million budget. If a director cannot afford that then perhaps he needs to reconsider how to distribute the grant money, or just not use vfx at all.

I think people are spoiled by the fact that many on-set workers, like runners, etc, are willing to work for free. The situation is worse in live action than vfx.

---

The students might justify doing free work for their demo reel, i.e. self promotion/marketing. Marketing is an expensive thing and if they think it is worth spending $6752 (+$$ paid to the school for this class) for self marketing, then it is their own financial decision.

The problem is the students are not aware of the value of their own work, and the schools are not helping with this because they are effectively the one making a profit from exploiting ignorant students.
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Last edited by colesslaw : 02 February 2013 at 01:06 AM.
 
  02 February 2013
The mind bending part of this is that the students paid the school for this "elective"... so, in essence, they really got porked.
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  02 February 2013
Originally Posted by wurger: 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.


Have you ever heard of students studying culinary courses being offered and taking the opportunity to get "real life hands on experience" of a month of free shifts at McDonald's? Of course you haven't, because that would be absurd.

So why is it okay to do it to CG students?
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  02 February 2013
Students working for free on a commercial project is one thing, but professional VFX workers working for free is a greater problem entirely. And yet the latter happens every day in big VFX companies around the globe. Every day I see colleagues work overtime, sometimes vast amounts of overtime. Sadly, more often than not without getting any form of compensation for it whatsoever. The reasons: "overtime doesn't count during weekdays", or "overtime counts only if you work beyond 9 'o clock at night", or "overtime doesn't count for the first 10 extra hours". Yet most of us bow beneath the pressure of schedules laid on top of us by our producers. That's working for free. That's devaluating yourself, your profession and your industry. That, in essence, is taking a pay-cut. It's so prevalent that VFX companies have come to heavily rely on it to the point where projects would never get finished without this perverse form of "philanthropy".
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  02 February 2013
Unhappy

Originally Posted by XLNT-3d:
.. snip ..

As a fortune cookie once revealed, where one door closes, another opens. Maybe VFX is headed towards the avenue of the low wage assembly line worker.


It already is. In *certain* country, some studios does NOT hire, and WILL NOT hire people with degree or diploma (4 year or 3 year study). First, this people is asking for degree or diploma level salary. Second, due to lack of connection between college and real world studio, what student learn is basically useless. And sometimes outdated. It's like a public university teaching student to use Turbo Pascal to code EGAVGA.BGI software that simulate Windows 98 gui. At a time people are using VC++ and learning OpenGL and DirectX 6 / 7. In short, they have to waste time and money to teach these kids everything.

After a while, the industry *smarten up* by hiring student with Autodesk certificate (1 year?) instead. At least these kids actually learn the latest software, and spend day in day out for a year using AD software.

And of course, they will be paid certificate level salary...

Oh well....
 
  02 February 2013
To my good Firend Akin, Thanks for posting here..


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Last edited by RobertoOrtiz : 02 February 2013 at 06:17 AM.
 
  02 February 2013
Ever heard the phrase, "I love what I do so much, I can't believe I get paid to do this. I should be paying the company to do this job". Looks like VFX (in large scale format) has become exactly that.

The only free student work I ever did was as a shadow. I would shadow well known and established illustrators on their assignments, marketing tasks, business deals and professional social activities. However, when they needed my help on a project, I got paid. It was some mundane task, like cutting frisket (I've got madskills with exacto knives), they always paid by the hour or a flat rate. I've been careful for 20 years never to use product from an unpaid intern. If the work was good enough to bill the client, we brought them on part time or paid them a freelance rate.

Working with a top gun mentor is worth paying a class fee or consulting fee or if you're lucky, it's free. However, any self respecting professional would never exploit an amateur or student by having them work for free on a paying gig. Normally the student would following along and copy or use their own interpretation. Sometimes the mentor helps to guide the work acquired by the student or rookie.

The VFX business seems to becoming as exploitive as shady opportunities in modeling, acting or professional sports.

Last edited by XLNT-3d : 02 February 2013 at 05:30 AM.
 
  02 February 2013
I got my start working on no-budget projects and I can tell you they look nothing like this. It doesn't come close to passing the "work-for-free" test.

This wasn't a no-budget indie done purely for the love of it - this was a fully-financed feature with a $1.8million dollar budget by Fox Searchlight. And for what it's worth it's marketing budget is probably significantly more than it's production budget.

To put this in context for anyone who still doesn't understand why this is bad...

33 people working up to 40 hours a week for 12 weeks at $15 an hour (let's be nice and give them double the US minimum wage). That's $237,600 in labour costs, once you add on all the other costs and work out your margins your probably looking at a $500,000 contract.

I'm sure commercials or boutique studios will especially appreciate how much a $500,000 contract and 12 weeks work is worth to their business.

I'm honestly surprised that schools don't face a backlash from vfx studios over this practice.
 
  02 February 2013
Question

Originally Posted by earlyworm: I got my start working on no-budget projects and I can tell you they look nothing like this. It doesn't come close to passing the "work-for-free" test.

This wasn't a no-budget indie done purely for the love of it - this was a fully-financed feature with a $1.8million dollar budget by Fox Searchlight. And for what it's worth it's marketing budget is probably significantly more than it's production budget.

To put this in context for anyone who still doesn't understand why this is bad...

33 people working up to 40 hours a week for 12 weeks at $15 an hour (let's be nice and give them double the US minimum wage). That's $237,600 in labour costs, once you add on all the other costs and work out your margins your probably looking at a $500,000 contract.

I'm sure commercials or boutique studios will especially appreciate how much a $500,000 contract and 12 weeks work is worth to their business.

I'm honestly surprised that schools don't face a backlash from vfx studios over this practice.


I don't know if this has been answered before... what legalities was to use the educational software for commercial purpose?

Can someone answer me on the software side?
 
  02 February 2013
This is in fact illegal.
US Labor Internship Rules

This is no different than what DD did. DD School plans

You have students paying to work. It's all just a different scale.

Look, you may chose to help your friend out and work for free on his short film. But as you know visual effects takes a long time so that 1 day everyone else pitches in for the short means you may be working weeks, for free. Much bigger 'freebie' than anyone else.

In this case it was $1.4 million dollar movie and it was picked up and will be generating profits. The director, producer and studio now see how they can get work for free. The students displaced others (illegal) and vfx artists lose the work. Now when they graduate they wonder where their jobs are - oh look, this years students are doing it for free.
 
  02 February 2013
To be honest as a student at AAU i sit by and watch good friends who didn't choose to work on productions like this struggle endlessly to get work in the VFX industry, many of them are very talented artists, easily matching those who worked on productions like Beasts. While we see those who did choose to work on productions like this get jobs quickly out of school. For most of us we love what we do, we are passionate about our work and all we want in life right now is to do what we love for a living and not have to switch career fields to get by. Getting a chance to do what we love is easily worth the money we didn't get, for many of us this isn't about monetary gain its about fulfillment in life...

Honestly what would you choose if you were in my shoes?
 
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