VFX Community Responds to Life of Pi Oscar Wins
It was world class work, after all. And after a fabulously insulting and dismissive introduction from the cast of the avengers, at least two of whom spent fully half of their film as a digitally animated character, R+H won for it’s [sic] work on your very fine piece of cinema. And just as the bankruptcy was about to be acknowledged on a nationally-televised platform, the speech was cut short. By the Jaws theme.
If this was meant as a joke, we artists are not laughing.
Mr. Lee, I do believe that you are a thoughtful and brilliant man. And a gifted filmmaker. But I also believe that you and everyone in your tier of our business is fabulously ignorant to the pain and turmoil you are putting artists through. Our employers scramble to chase illegal film subsidies across the globe at the behest of the film studios. Those same subsidies raise overhead, distort the market, and cause wage stagnation in what are already trying economic times. Your VFX are already cheaper than they should be. It is disheartening to see how blissfully unaware of this fact you truly are.
By all accounts, R+H is a fantastic place to work; a truly great group of people who treat their employees with fairness and respect. Much like Zoic Studios, the fabulous company that I am proud to work for. But I am beginning to wonder if these examples of decency will be able to survive in such a hostile environment. Or if the horror stories of unpaid overtime and illegal employment practices will become the norm, all because you and your fellow filmmakers “would like it to be cheaper.”
I for one won’t stand for it. Please join me.
Warmest regards and congratulations,
The open letter comes on the heels of a protest during the red carpet portion of the Oscar ceremony that reportedly drew over 450 attendees, and included a plane commissioned to fly a banner that read, “BOXOFFICE + BANKRUPT = VISUAL EFFECTS VFXUNION.COM.”
Rhythm & Hues, the VFX house behind the CG tiger in Life of Pi, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week despite infusions of studio cash, leading to mass layoffs affecting roughly 250 employees and a class-action lawsuit.