A VFX Town Hall meeting held Tuesday night at video-conferenced venues in Burbank, the Bay Area and Vancouver drew a bare-bones crowd, far smaller than the aggregate 350 who participated in the “Pi Day” event on March 14, according to a report by The Hollywood Reporter.
The event, streamed live on YouTube, was focused on IATSE and its continued push to unionize visual effects work in the U.S. and Canada.
The effort has been ongoing for more than a year; an earlier unionization attempt failed in 2003. Meanwhile, a London-based union similar to IATSE began a campaign in April to organize U.K. visual effects workers.
Meeting participants in several cities spoke of working hours that defied rationality coupled with the difficulty getting paid at all. From Montreal, VFX artist Diana Marie Wells weighed in. “I bought my co-worker toothpaste because she didn’t have money to afford it,” she reportedly said.
In LA, an anguished young VFX worker told the audience that he had lost his job and now, “I’m losing my place.”
The question remains how a union would help in an industry marked by temporary, globally dispersed employment, itinerant labor and razor-thin margins.
Steve Kaplan, organizer for the Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839, suggested that unionization represented one way for VFX houses to push back against studio demands that result in long hours.
Another panelist, dooner, business representative for the Art Directors Guild, IATSE Local 800 is engaged in a parallel campaign to organize previsualization artists. He also noted that his Local represents digital matte artists, but only those at studios that are already signatory to the IATSE agreement.
Watch the event, below: