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Visual Effects Society Issues Industry Bill of Rights

Today the Visual Effects Society (“VES”), a member-driven organization of visual effects artists and practitioners, released a Bill of Rights designed to recognize and address numerous industry-wide issues affecting its membership and the visual effects industry as a whole.

Press Release from Visual Effects Society

Los Angeles, CA – Today the Visual Effects Society (“VES”), a member-driven organization of visual effects artists and practitioners, released a Bill of Rights designed to recognize and address numerous industry-wide issues affecting its membership and the visual effects industry as a whole.  The release of the document comes on the heels of an Open Letter to the entertainment industry by the VES, which raised issues about downward spiral of visual effects artist working conditions and benefits as well as facility profit margins around the globe.  In a strong showing of unity, the VES Board of Directors unanimously voted to approve the visual effects Bill of Rights at its Board meeting this month.

“In the VES Open Letter, we said it was time to step up as the voice of the visual effects industry by talking to all parties regarding their concerns,” said Eric Roth, Executive Director of VES. “At this time we have engaged in a vigorous dialog with key stakeholders at all levels and believe our Bill of Rights lays out the vital concerns of each segment of the industry  Our next step is to focus on bringing all parties together to seek solutions.”

According to BoxofficeMojo, 43 of the top 50 films of all time are visual effects driven – 6 of the remaining 7 films are animated films such as Toy Story.  Despite this fact, the Bill of Rights recognizes that issues related to job security and working conditions dominate the concerns for artists and practitioners, while facilities and studios want better business practices and a more even playing field in a changing global economic environment.

To address these concerns, the VES Bill of Rights states that visual effects artists and practitioners, facilities, and studios all have basic rights that need to be upheld in order to recognize the contributions of each group while improving the quality of life and work for artists, practitioners, facilities and studios.

“We have taken significant steps to make this a collaborative process throughout the industry,” said Roth.  “The VES is committed to working with its members as well as facilities, unions, guilds, studios and leaders of the entertainment industry to find meaningful, realizable remedies to the concerns we have raised.”

Input on the visual effects Bill of Rights was solicited by VES in numerous meetings, blogs, and forums with entertainment industry representatives from across the industry.

The VES Bill of Rights can be accessed here:  http://www.visualeffectssociety.com/visual-effects-industry-bill-of-rights

About the VESThe VES is a professional, honorary society, dedicated to advancing the arts, sciences, and applications of visual effects and to upholding the highest uniform standards and procedures for the visual effects profession.  The VES is the entertainment industry's only official organization representing the extended community of visual effects practitioners including supervisors, artists, producers, technology developers, educators and studio executives.

Its over 2,300 global members contribute to all areas of entertainment from film, animation, television and commercials to music videos, games and new media. VES strives to enrich and educate its members and the entertainment community at large through many domestic and international events, screenings and programs. Visual effects professionals constitute a vital creative force in content creation and are literally shaping the future of entertainment.

For more information regarding the Visual Effects Society visit: www.visualeffectssociety.com.

VISUAL EFFECTS INDUSTRY Bill of Rights

The Situation TodayThe global visual effects industry is in transition. Because visual effects now play a central role in today’s feature films, television programming, animation, video games, commercials and virtually all forms of entertainment, they have become critically important to the entertainment industry.

43 of the top 50 films of all time are visual effects driven. Today, visual effects are the “Movie Stars” of studio tentpole pictures – that is, visual effects make contemporary movies box office hits in the same way that big name actors ensured the success of films in the past.

It is very difficult to imagine a modern feature film or TV program without visual effects. Visual effects drive the entertainment marketplace which entertains billions of people across the globe, and earns billions of net profit dollars each year.

Technology, local tax policies and the current business model have transformed the visual effects industry over the last 30 years from a provincial business with a few locations primarily in California, working on a relatively small number of projects, to a global market of projects and providers. Though the number of jobs has grown worldwide, job security and working conditions have significantly eroded.

Caught in these changing conditions are the visual effects artists, practitioners, and facilities that actually do the work and are finding the business landscape more difficult to navigate. In some parts of the world, many artists and practitioners do not have access to health care coverage (primarily in countries without nationalized health care); in many areas of the world, non-paid and unchecked overtime, lack of access to pensions and day-to-day job security are key issues facing visual effects artists and practitioners. Similarly, many facilities are experiencing tremendous difficulties keeping their doors open because they are finding out that their current business models are broken.

The Visual Effects Society (VES) is an honorary Society of artists and practitioners, and is currently the preeminent visual effects organization in the industry. Our mission is to further the art and science of visual effects, to address conditions impacting artists and practitioners, facilities, directors and studios, and to reflect the needs of our membership, therefore enhancing the artistic and business lives of our members around the world. Addressing these challenges will require the collaboration and cooperation of all sectors of the entertainment industry.

In response to this environment, the VES offers this visual effects Bill of Rights, and a dedication to work with the entertainment industry at large to transform the visual effects industry into a model that is mutually sustainable for artists and practitioners, facilities and studios.

Therefore be it resolved that:

A Visual Effects Artist or Practitioner has the right to:

* A clear understanding of the work he/she is being hired to perform, including knowing what they are being paid per hour, per week or per job, as well as the duration of the assignment, with strict adherence to all local labor laws and tax codes regarding overtime, sick time, vacation time, working conditions, safety and other aspects of a professional work environment. This would include a minimum of an industry-standard turnaround between work shifts;* Negotiate a modification in the terms of employment should the realities of the position change in any material way, or decline work that is outside the terms of the employment agreement;* Quality health care coverage no matter where in the world he/she may be working;* Be paid on time;* Work under conditions conducive to the work they are expected to perform and the creative process it entails;* Be given a reasonable amount of notice when being asked to work overtime. If asked, to be able to turn down such requests without reprisals;* An appropriate and certifiable credit;* Show their work after the project is commercially released for the purpose of securing more work.

A Visual Effects Facility has the right to:* A clear and reasonable deal memo with the artists and practitioners for hire delineating the scope of the work, the schedule from commencement to completion, and the agreed upon price;* A clear and reasonable contract, signed before their work begins, with the producers or studio hiring the facility, delineating the scope of work, production schedule and payment schedule;* Expect to make a fair and reasonable profit for work performed;* Expect the highest level of professionalism from artists, practitioners, and studios;* Turn down projects, or additional work on projects already awarded, without fear of reprisal on future projects;* Charge for material changes and delivery schedule changes that impact the ability to deliver or the quality of work to be delivered;* Retain ownership of their intellectual property and proprietary tools;* Fair and reasonable credit for services rendered and/or risks taken;* Show their work after the project is commercially released for the purpose of securing more work.

A Studio has the right to:* A clear and reasonable contract delineating the scope of the work, the schedule from commencement to completion of the project, and the payment schedule based on the agreed upon price;* Be informed in a timely manner before incurring any excess charges, delays or problems with work for which it has contracted;* Shorten or lengthen a schedule as long as they are willing to compensate facilities;* Change direction on any aspect of the show in question, as long as it fairly compensates facilities and artists and makes the necessary contractual and time accommodations, on any changes that affect them;* Expect professional work from facilities, artists and practitioners;* Expect a high degree of productive collaboration between facilities on shows that have multiple visual effects facilities working on the same project;

The FutureThese goals must be sought with an overriding concern for improving the artistic quality and value of the films, TV shows, commercials, animation and new media we produce.

We believe that achieving these outcomes – which will benefit visual effects artists and practitioners, visual effects facilities, directors and production studios – will be a collaborative process. This Bill of Rights is only a starting point for a meaningful discussion that will unfold over the months ahead. Each geographic community that is involved in the crafting of visual effects has different needs. VES’s goal is to play the role of catalyst to bring together all the participants in the entertainment industry who interact with visual effects.

This Bill of Rights is also a “bill of responsibilities:” it must be implemented in a manner that strengthens the visual effects industry. We recognize that the responsibility of moving this program further lies primarily with the VES. This is a global issue---by working together, we will benefit together, and so will the entertainment industry at large.

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