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Friday 1 March 2013, 15:03

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

There was a protest by visual effects artists going on outside this year's Academy Awards ceremony. But what were they demonstrating about and do they have a point?

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    Comment number 1.

    Unfortunately, this attitude is indicative of any creative industry where the hard work goes on behind closed doors. A complete lack of understanding regarding what goes into producing these incredible shots comes before the lack of respect.

    Only the most hands-on film-makers - or those with a background in CGI - have a true understanding of what goes into it.

    You hear it revealed in so many Blu Ray commentaries, when the film-maker says "Oh, this was one of the last effects shots to come in..."
    Not one of the last shots that he oversaw, or composed, or nurtured. It just "came in" in its fully-formed glory, free from the tears that were shed and the hours of life lost to get it there.

    I'm sure studios care even less...


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    Comment number 4.

    As a London based VFX artist I can say that this problem isn't just affecting Los Angeles artists. It's a world wide problem, particularly the unpaid overtime and ridiculous hours we are expected to work to fulfil the studio's crazy deadlines. A day's work averages at 14+ hours and then weekend work to boot and even then you aren't guaranteed a credit (after they've listed the caterers and assistants to assistants etc etc. For a while you get through it because you truly love your job and the fun it is to create all this amazing monsters, tigers, space battles. But as the years go on, going from company to company after being laid off when a project ends and having to shift your family about (and then never see them when crunch time comes), it can get a bit tiring on the old soul. We ARE artists, most of us started out with art degrees (usually animation) and the occasional techie and we just want the same respect as any other person in the film industry. Hollywood would soon come crawling if they had to make movies without VFX let me tell you. It's not all about making the unreal either, every period drama of the last 20 years uses VFX way more than you can ever imagine. For every Gollum there's also a set extension of Victorian London for Sherlock Holmes or a photo realistic horse leading the movie in Warhorse. Our job is make you believe everything on screen is real/or was there on set right along with the actors. Maybe this scandal will make Hollywood sit up and take notice, but given their track record, I don't see anything happening soon.

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    Comment number 2.

    Mark, Welcome to the world of post-industrial capitalism where workers, whether they are unionised or not are finding their jobs outsourced to the third world where wages are many times lower. What is happening to the VFX workers in California has already happened to IT workers both in Europe and I imagine the US. The American film industry is after all a capitalist industry before it is an artistic enterprise. As with other aspects of our society so it is in Hollywood, the rich are getting richer by cutting costs at the expense of the ordinary worker, in this case the cost of VFX which is becoming ever more important in mainstream filmmaking, so expect to see more of this sort of thing. Next time you see some dodgy VFX you'll know why its the cinema equivalent of that cheap pair of jeans you bought in Primark or that dodgy cheap burger you bought in a supermarket which you now know was prime horse.

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    Comment number 9.

    I absolutely and wholeheartedly support these people! I don't work in VFX myself, but I do work in the UK creative industry, and I've had my own job outsourced abroad on 3 separate occasions.

    The fundamental error that the bean-counters make is that they think anyone with a computer and the right software can do a creative job.

    However, what they're really paying for is what's inside the artist's head, and all his/her years of experience. Skills are NOT automatically installed along with software. The software is just a tool to enable the artist's vision.

    I could go and buy a piano tomorrow, but it won't make me a concert pianist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    "I'm a latex guy" - Mark Kermode.


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