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Desc:Make breathtaking effects, Get financially sodomized, go bankrupt, win Oscar.
Category:Business, Crime
Tags:ang lee, Rhythm & Hues, Life of Pi, Hollywood Ending, bankruptcy
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Comment count is 20
SteamPoweredKleenex - 2014-02-18
The effect of this "race to the bottom" method of producing VFX really shows how the "work hard, do good work, get success" maxim is pretty much bullshit in Corporate America.
Jet Bin Fever - 2014-02-18
Perfectly said.

misterbuns - 2014-02-18
read my response. it's not an american thing.

SteamPoweredKleenex - 2014-02-19
Given your response, I'd say it IS an American thing, in the same way that other industries outsourcing jobs willy-nilly with nothing being done to stem the tide.

As for your notes on graphic design, the problem there is (1) no permanent hiring, or at least, very little, and (2) how easy it is to just rip off things from someone's Tumblr or portfolio without compensation since most artists can't afford to hire lawyers.

SolRo - 2014-02-19
I'd say it's an American thing too. Most other countries have some sort of restrictions or tariffs on exporting jobs, America does the exact opposite.

'Digital' jobs are hit hardest because data is so easy to move around and most of the time it's not language dependent.

And it's impossible to compete for those jobs on a global market when just the cost of education is so much cheaper in places like India. (for example, identical computer certifications offered by the same company are about 1/3 price in India).

misterbuns - 2014-02-19
But North Carolina, Louisiana and New Mexico all offered tax credits.

That is why we have Breaking Bad and The Hunger Games.

So yes, American states DO offer tax credits like Canada and the UK, but not California.

Which is why i said its not quite right to say it's an american thing : because each state acts differently.

craptacular - 2014-02-19
Think of VFX as a traded good, like bananas, web design, carpets, or cars, or music. Don't think of it like a non-traded good like a haircut or medical services, or even grip, lighting, dress, or makeup workers on set. When VFX work is a traded good then the "True" price of that good is the competitive price on the market, and all that's happened here is that price has fallen. Hollywood and California are very, very expensive places to live, and that makes high wages demanded in contractual talks. The guys doing this work need to adjust from the old way of thinking that the pay rate for this work in American terms is x amount, to the new way of thinking, where the pay rate is really Y amount, and the old X amount is way, way higher than it really ought to be.
they can either move to Asia, or do subcontractor work as a self-employed agent if they want to remain in America. But the dream is basically over.
and in the grand scheme of things, it will all even out, because the people in China or Vietnam now doing this work are earning better money and living better because of it. On balance it's the same result, really.

Adham Nu'man - 2014-02-18
Life of Pi was ok but most movies these days suck balls because of their over-reliance on special effects.

You have all these college graduates specializing in special effects and then you need an industry to support them and give them jobs, which results in a bunch of shitty films basically designed to work as a vehicle for special fx.

Sorry for these guys and their jobs, but this whole system needs to fail spectacularly.
Gmork - 2014-02-18
On another note, those same kinds of VFX people did a fantastic job giving movies like Gravity the ability to exist.

misterbuns - 2014-02-18
Oh man where to begin, Adam.

Firstly, a lot of us VFX dudes are self taught, or taught in trade schools like Gnomon. Secondly, the tail doesn't wag the dog.

As in, the job market isn't determined by itself.

Here is the real issue with VFX industry, and this is coming from someone who has been through this shit for about seven years:

The state of California does not want to keep it's film industry. VFX houses in California have to compete with facilities all around the world who are financed by state sponsored tax-incentives to produce tiny short term bubble economies (usually during election cycles). Canada, the UK, China, India, Singapore and even other US states (New Mexico, N. Carlolina, Louisiana) all offer tax incentives for postproduction to move out of LA.

California offers none of these incentives to productions, so facilities here have to compete with the economies of whole states or nations as vendors.

I just finished post-vis work on a US based major motion picture with an A-List cast and an A-list director. The production can't hire me as an actual VFX dude because hiring 3 cheaper UK guys is a huge write off for them.

So i lose my job. This is the story for many many Americans in the VFX business. Our whole industry is dying essentially to support local politicians in far away places who can say "look i increased employment for two years!"

The OTHER main issue, which is sorta related is that. THERE IS NO VFX UNION. There is no check an balance to prevent a client like Lee from exploiting a contract like what happened to RnH.

Now, there are a lot of logical reasons why there could never be a VFX union, many of which i listed in my first part of this rant: If the VFX industry was regulated in the US ( like say, SAG, DGA or PGA ) The work would simply evaporate to an unregulated sector: probably Canada or the UK.

The punchline?

I am getting out of VFX. I have worked on a lot of movies and TV shows you've probably seen. I am good at my job, I like my work, but I spend more time worrying about job security and lining up backup work than actually focusing on the art.

Who is to blame? I'd say the legislature of California. Ang Lee is a dick, but he is a symptom, not a disease.

infinite zest - 2014-02-18
Well said. I've been thinking of going back to school for graphic design (you know those commercials you see.. if you like to watch movies so much.. etc. etc. why not make them) because my Philosophy/Comparative Literature/Music BA's left me.. well you're looking at it. I work doors at shows and get the occasional freelance writing gig, and am a ghostwriter for an online dating service. Oh yeah and I philosophize all the time.

I'm currently co-writing a screenplay for a TV show, and for one of our test shots we needed a CGI tiger, ironically enough, as well as some other animals for a ketamine-fueled petting zoo sketch (it'll make sense if the fucking thing ever airs). I was like "ooh I can do that!" And... well it looks like shit. Laughably bad shit, so we're keeping it (let's just say that it makes the Reality3D guy's Jurassic Park animation look like The Matrix in comparison) and have considered enrolling in one of these programs, A) for the future and B) because it's fun to do.

But I just paid off my student loans from undergrad, and those programs aren't cheap. If the future's truly as bleak as this documentary and your experience make it out to be, I might start looking into something else.

misterbuns - 2014-02-18
Well, I am cynical beyond my years. My advice is: do your thing until it starts sucking.

If you're having fun and learning: keep it up and see where it takes you.

also: Graphic design is a totally different animal. While there isn't a union for it, there is a ton of work, but the skill set and software literacy is completely different. If you want to do graphic design just start making cool shit and start posting on tumblr until you have a portfolio then start looking for work.

me? I am getting an agent for a feature i just wrote. if that goes nowhere, i will probably find a way to join the Editors Guild.

WHO WANTS DESSERT - 2014-02-19
A few generations ago you would be whining that sound was ruining film.

baleen - 2014-02-19
Gravity was horrible and everybody who worked on it should be fired. Except George Clooney *swoon*

Adham Nu'man - 2014-02-19
I stand corrected. Thank you for your input.

Adham Nu'man - 2014-02-19
Also, Gravity was really good.

(It's no Children of Men though)

Monkey Napoleon - 2014-02-19
The most surprising thing to me about Gravity is how bangable Sandra Bullock looked in her astronaut panties.

exy - 2014-02-19
Since movie-making seems to be largely about hiring people who can emote well in front of green screens, maybe the VFX companies should just hire some of those people and replace Hollywood.
Rodents of Unusual Size - 2014-02-19
Had no idea this was going down. Very sad.
fedex - 2014-02-19
yeah, I worked there for almost twenty years, it was a good run but a hard fall. I'm glad they made this film to help the public understand how thoroughly fucked our industry is here in the US, but I don't really see how it will help. Money talks and suckers walk, or in this case, run to chase the subsidies all over the globe.

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