So, there was a protest yesterday regarding the rights/treatment of VFX ARTISTS (not fucking technicians as the Guardian put it). It wasn’t just talk on Twitter or Facebook by some anonymous, bitter faces. Someone organised it and a shed load of people went and protested! I applaud them. It’s about time! If you want to watch a three minute video of people walking in a circle, click here.
I’ve one thing thou. It all feels like it’s the treatment of US-based VFX Artists. I hope this isn’t the case. Yes, the US-based Artists have been hit hard, with DD and R&H taking hits in the last two years. But these events effects other studios around the world. VFX artists should united, not segregated based on geographical location.
Life of Pi, as predicted, won the VFX Oscar. More insulting was as Bill Westenhofer was giving his acceptance speech and began talking about Rhythm and Hues, they turned on the music from Jaws and drowned him out. Terrible treatment. The Academy should issue an apology.
The final kick in the groin for many was Ang Lee’s acceptance speech. He thanked everyone, (including his Lawyer – wtf?) but the VFX artists who’d spent a year working on his film – a year working on it and now jobless because the studio went bankrupt – they get no thank you. No mention. Nothing. Ang Lee sure pissed some people off. (I was going to say “Ang Lee sure made some people Ang-ry”, but then thought against it. Bad pun and people may claim it’s racist.)
There was all kinds of crap being spouted from VFX folk on my Twitter time line. Some claiming they’d never work on one of his movies again. The open letter was well received by VFX artists, but all too pointless (I also loved how the guy mentioned who he worked for and what a great place it was – nothing like free advertising for the studio and telling your boss you love it there!). Ang Lee won’t read it. He doesn’t care. He just won Best Director Oscar. It’s all well being pissed with him, but you’ll end up working on one of his shows again. A studio wouldn’t turn down work because they didn’t get thanked during a speech. Be realistic.VFX artists do have some crap. Stupid working hours – sometimes 90+ weeks with no overtime pay. Some places pay overtime, some only pay overtime on the weekend. There are some artists, however, who are paid incredibly well. Granted, not everyone. VFX studios, artists need some form of guild or union. Some organisation. This is where VES should come in and organise it. Not a dinner and a screening for its members.
During the build up to the protest/Oscars, there’s been some fantastic images floating around such as:
They’re true. You wouldn’t have a tiger near the actor unless the tiger was dead. VFX brings the impossible to screen. It’s time for change.
The only advice I could offer to fellow artists: If you really don’t like it. Find another vocation. I really don’t see much change happening in the near or distant future.