If you are Facebook Friends with any artist you may notice that many of them have changed their profile pictures to solid bright green images.
During the 2013 Oscars, VFX winner, Bill Westenhofe, accepted the award for Life Of Pi. Westenhofe’s acceptance speech was cut off (to the JAWS theme no less) when trying to bring awareness to the issues currently being faced by the VFX Industry. Additionally, Ang Lee, the director of Life of Pi, didn’t thank anyone in the VFX department for their work on the movie, especially Rhythm & Hues for their work on Richard Parker while accepting his Oscar for Best Director.
Rhythm & Hues, the VFX company responsible for the beautiful imagery of Life of Pi has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy earlier in February. Additionally, there was a protest supported by VFX artist and supporters before the Oscars focused on bringing awareness to the fact that VFX work is being sent overseas and Oscar winning companies are going bankrupt.
It is apparent that it is becoming increasingly difficult for VFX studios to make a profit off their work. Most VFX studios don’t make more the 5% profit while studios make millions, if not billions of dollars from films success mostly based on the VFX that have been provided. This issue is being brought to the forefront of Hollywood because:
- There is no Union to protect the Visual Artist. While actors have Screen Actors Guild and writers have The Writers Guild of America, there is nothing to protect visual artist making it much easier for studios to pay less and expect more.
- Many projects are being shipped overseas to India and China.
- There is getting to be a demand for more work, in less time, for less pay. The mentality that is being adopted is ‘that If you won’t, someone else will.’
This controversy is being supported by many smaller VFX studios, directors and actors. During the Oscar’s Kevin Smith Tweeted:
While VFX are an important part of cinema, their fight for respect and financial support is going to continue to be a rough. To learn more about the Visual Effect protest and how you can support this cause follow the Visual Effects Society on Twitter.