I'm a visual effects artist - 17 years in the industry, creating vfx for commercials, TV shows, and movies that make a lot of money for increasingly fewer people.
Today, in Los Angeles, from 1pm to 4:30pm at Hollywood and Vine, there will be a demonstration to raise awareness of how billions of dollars are being made by corporations and studios, while the workers and companies who actually create these stunning effects are increasingly going unpaid, declaring Chapter 11, or going fully out of business. How can this be?
How can the company that could win an Oscar tonight for top visual effects for "Life of Pi" have to declare bankruptcy last week?
Who is eating this pie? Why are the workers treated like crumbs and swept under the red carpet? Who will fight this injustice? (I'm not waiting for Superman).
Follow past the orange reel change cigarette burn marker to continue this story...
There are going to be many reasons for the demonstration. Some will be there to promote unionization of visual effects workers. Some will be there to fight against foreign film tax incentives given to the studios to entice them to "run away" with their productions. Some will protest the trend towards contract-only hires, eliminating the need to provide health care coverage, or retirement plans, or even job security.
Personally, I have been 1,500 miles away from my family for the last 8 months, just to have a job, since a global corporation closed their profitable vfx studio where I lived, and moved all that work to a foreign country because of the tax incentives offered. Unemployed, I had to move out of the US to where the corporations decided to next set up shop.
What is clear above all of this is that there is a crisis in the vfx industry, when some are making billions while those creating the effects go bankrupt. That theme, whether it's the "47% takers" or the "99% vs 1%", or the Occupy movements, possibly even to the "Arab Spring" - the idea or theme of protesting gross injustices seems to be a global phenomenon.
And tonight, when you see the big fuzzy tiger in the Life of Pi, think of the bankrupt company and all the vfx workers who MADE that tiger and now who are out of jobs. Then look at the audience and the amount of wealth therein.
One can almost hear them saying "Let them eat Pi . . . "
Here are some links for more background information:
And for detailed info on the demonstration, plus a COOL look at the BEFORE/AFTER of the Life of Pi tiger (blue stuffed doll -> awesome tiger), click here:
2:26 PM PT: Well well, even FORBES allows an op/ed to take direct aim at the top 1%, managing to corrupt yet another industry and rob the workers, and the taxpayers, while creating the very distractions that keep us from noticing them stealing in the first place!
It is truly, maniacally, pathologically brilliant. And it works.
2:47 PM PT: A quick Twitter update - Facebook "committed" signatures were over 500, and a Twitter report estimates 250 demonstrators so far!
A small airplane sporting a banner "box office + bankrupt = visual effects vfxunion.com" is set to fly around the Hollywood & Vine area at around 3pm PST.
3:10 PM PT: UPDATE 3x - Twitter and Facebook support is coming in globally from others who recognize this is not simply about one single industry.
The small plane/banner has taken off - the march has been halted near Hollywood and Wilcox due to police presence - literally snipers are on the rooftops, as one might expect in this day and age.
3:14 PM PT: UPDATE 4x - ooh lookie, pictures!
3:24 PM PT: UPDATE 5x - Twitter estimates between 376 and 395 demonstrators, with the airplane circling above. Even jaded Angelinos are "mildly surprised" at the turnout.