Creative professionals are thriving with flexible work-from-home models that provide more accessible career options for people of color while removing elements of unconscious bias and social barriers.
Remote working is a game changer for diversity and equality in the VFX industry. Historically, in-person networking and in-office work have been fundamental aspects of forging a career in VFX. However, In-office work continues to foster a lack of diversity in the industry due to the costs of talent moving to VFX hubs in capital cities. The latest UK Screen Alliance report found that only 19% of the VFX industry are people of color, while BAME representation makes up 14% of the workforce.
Creative professionals can thrive when working remotely. The COVID-19 pandemic saw professionals move to remote work en masse. Flexible working models became accepted in many industries - albeit if only out of necessity. Remote working helped create a lifestyle where people are often more productive than 100% office-based working. People collaborating while working remotely at VFX studios with flexible work environments can proactively increase diversity in the VFX industry by presenting a more accessible career option for people looking to enter the industry. It can also remove elements of unconscious bias and social barriers.
When creative professionals can express their authentic selves, exciting things happen; we see fresher ideas and people who are happier at work. Remote working and the style of remote working employed at many VFX companies has been a game changer for access to VFX work, inspiring a new generation of talent to join the industry.
In February, we worked on a big project where 200 CGI shots were required. The project was led by the teams in the U.K and France, while the teams based in Madrid and Istanbul worked on the rendering and CGI. There were six artists in Berlin, 15 in Madrid, 12 in Istanbul plus those in the USA and India. On this project, each team had their strengths, some were more artistic and creative, while others were more technically proficient. Working collaboratively to share knowledge was at the heart of this project.
VFX supervisor Akca Elmas, based in Istanbul, explained how her creativity flourished during the project, working from her home in Istanbul and interacting with teams across the globe: “Working at an international level as compared to working on local projects has challenged me as a VFX supervisor. I am constantly growing. I have a great pool of contacts and get the opportunity to work remotely with artists from around the world. After work, I can wander around my city aimlessly. I feel empowered working remotely- each collaboration and project brings me a new spark of energy.”
Remote working is a necessary step on the path towards increasing diversity in the VFX industry. Working remotely for a studio allows professionals to grow and apply their talents on projects while maintaining their lifestyle, family, and health. Production Manager Mayumi Boruah, based in India, is the mother of a young son. She shares her experience working remotely in the VFX industry: “I start the day by checking the delivery schedule, then I speak with the shift producer. Once my clients are online, I am ready to focus on their requests. It’s teamwork both in my home office and in my daily life. Remote working means I can work and care for my son at the same time.”
Elmas, similarly to Boruah, appreciated the flexibility remote work gave her to be around her family, commenting, “Remote working gives me freedom and flexibility - it keeps me motivated. Working while being there for my loved ones, when they need me, is priceless.”
For VFX studios, being able to access workers from around the world means access to more talent so they can take on work while having teams geographically closer to clients based anywhere in the world.
As someone who has built a career in the industry, I would like to see VFX studios continue to embrace and grow their reliance on remote or flexible work. Remote working is “win-win” - I've seen how the fusion of cultures and skills on projects creates more creative, technically excellent projects when working with a global team.
Nicolas Cotta, Global Creative Director at Hotspring, is based in France, and has been working in the VFX industry for almost 30 years- starting as a flame artist in Paris in 1994. Nico founded two companies: independent post-production boutique CherryCherry VFX in 2010 and Blaze, a remote post-production solution in 2018, before joining Hotspring in 2022.