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Comment count is 15
Mr. Purple Cat Esq. - 2022-10-17

Wow now I feel like a total champ for having always pirated everything and thus never having supported marvel or netflix.

Why do they do it though? Why do the companies take on such onerous contracts? Why do the workers put up with such insane hours? I think it's just typical hollywood, drawing in young impressionable people with the glitz and glamour, then abusing the fuck out of them and spitting them out.

radiosquido - 2022-10-17

It's not unique to Hollywood.

If you're passionate about a career, your employer will recognize that your emotional satisfaction provides an opportunity for exploitation. Eventually, you will grow to hate what you loved (and also your life).

Take it from someone who attempted a career in the arts and pivoted to healthcare. I see this literally every day.

Mr. Purple Cat Esq. - 2022-10-17

I actually work on my passion (making computer games) but as an independent contractor. My salary is low but I charge a lot per hour and I only work a tiny fraction of the year. Most of the time I can do whatever I want + the stuff I choose to do in that spare time is pretty much similar to contract work I do, but on my own game ideas. Honestly its been working out amazingly since I quit being an employee about 5 years ago.

ashtar. - 2022-10-17

They can make money by exploiting people and there's nothing to stop them.

I love my job and I am in a union. It's great.

jfcaron_ca - 2022-10-17

Academia, public service, and non-profit work is kinda like this. You get the "benefit" of not feeling like you're 100% participating in capitalism all the time, so you get to make a bunch less money.

SolRo - 2022-10-17

Pretty much if you don’t have a union in Hollywood you’re going to be taken advantage of.

The VFX studios need to join the regular film workers unions or they’ll just always be threatened with outsourcing the work to some Asian sweatshop.

Sludge Vohaul - 2022-10-17

The running gag is that if they unionize they'll just have their jobs outsourced to somewhere cheaper. Unlike physical products or services this is just a data and it can be made anywhere. It's a Faustian bargain: weather the bad system or lose it entirely.

SolRo - 2022-10-17

That’s why they have to join the regular film unions and not make a special one for themselves.

Can’t outsource the production crews.

Sludge Vohaul - 2022-10-17

Yes, exactly what you said, I should have read that properly before I replied.

kensingtonGore - 2022-10-17

I'm a VFX artist - been doing it for 15 years. Worked on large productions like MCU + Star Wars projects and small productions like Revenant and Silence. I even got to work on Life of Pi and I just wrapped on Avatar. I started fresh from college behind a computer and worked my way up to a supervisory role and been on set, so I've seen a few aspects of the industry.

Pain is temporary, film is forever.

That's basically what it boils down for these artists who are kids at heart trying to recapture the magic of watching movies in their childhood, and then smashing toys together to imagine new stories. Seeing your work on the silver screen and your name in the credits makes you forget about all of pain and suffering, and for the most part its FAR more interesting than the service industry and trade jobs I've had.

The studio system is literally setup like a series of little dictatorships, and I think that's why studios have put up with so much abuse. There are basically 3-4 clients who can pay for high end VFX, so VFX studios get bullied and let those IP holders/clients have the power. The pool grows smaller every time Disney buys another studio.

But the movie studios turn their back to you as soon as the spreadsheet says so - you have to over promise and deliver in order to stay in favor. I've seen a studio be blacklisted in real time for comments made over an accidentally unmuted phone on a teleconference - that vfx studio is now closed. Even ILM, who is OWNED by Disney needs to apply and bid on Star Wars projects, (and they don't always win.)

So the vfx studios have to resort to preying on young artists who are competitive and work for awful terms and require support by 'key creative' artists. Instead of making cooler stuff, you end up babysitting trainees and trying to stop them from blowing things up too far. Leads are usually compensated well because they know the game - until they are too burnt up to produce work. (Then they get moved to a salaried contract and made into supes if they survive) Then they cut everyone they've trained because there was no money left for overhead when the project is over - only to have to hire and retrain new people for the next show.

IMO, its because of the movie studio 'producers' which boil down to two flavors - those that get the production its money, and those that spend it. The spenders have the power over VFX studios because they play them against each other. Because producers get paid fat bonuses if they come in 'under budget,' they'll try to cut as many people out of their pie as possible, no matter how short sighted it is.

I was going to work on All You Need Is Kill / Edge of Tomorrow until a rival studio came in weeks before the footage turnover and underbid so drastically that it was financially impossible to work on the show - they stole the bid. That second studio almost destroyed themselves doing it, and actually had to hire/sub-contract my studio to help finish that project. They paid us more money than the original bid in the end.

As long as there is a VFX company based out of India or subsidized by local government incentives undercutting the rest of the studios the budgets won't get better. And (IMO again) its about to get even more nuts once producers get their hands on AI prompts and start believing they can do it all themselves.

The only way around it would be for the studios to get together around the world and form a union of sorts, to standardize pricing and agreeing on client terms, (preventing unlimited revisions, etc.) I don't see that happening, as I'm sure the movie studios would hit them with anti-trust allegations (even though they're happy to collude on wage fixing that screws artists.)

SolRo - 2022-10-17

Like i said before your only realistic chance is unionizing with the on-set crew workers. And that union going on strike will shut down the whole production from start to finish.

ashtar. - 2022-10-18

I mean, the government could step in, but I don't think either party is especially pro-labor unless their feet are held to the fire.

"Go to college and become a professional and you'll have a good salary and job security" I think used to be true, but is a huge dangerous lie now. This situation isn't unique to VFX artists. Getting out of Academia (though I miss teaching) was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Sludge Vohaul - 2022-10-17

Hoo boy does this hit the nail on the head.

I don't work VFX but do a lot of post work and this is just how it is. A bunch of my coworkers have insane horror stories about Life of Pi and Star Trek Discovery. We call it framefucking but it's the same thing. It's even worse in TV where you're cranking out 2 eps a month. 'Fix it in post' is industry standard and eats lives.

radiosquido has it right in terms of doing what you love until you're drained dry and I find it amusing/sad that dealing daily with someone in a medical emergency is a better career decision for one's mental health.


cognitivedissonance - 2022-10-19

It was originally part of the social contract that the ruling classes also had to be patrons of art. Art is now commodified and has been removed from the social contract entirely. Now it's just "work, or starve". That's the contract, and you don't have a choice.

SolRo - 2022-10-20

Sorry my naive little friend, but it has always been work or starve, other than a brief period in the early/middle 20th century when labor unions and socialism allowed some artists to mooch off the government and rich people full time.

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