The Visual Effects Society speaks.
As a professional honorary society, VES has become aware of some unsettling comments from Digital Domain's CEO regarding its employment practices. We were shocked to hear how DD hopes to utilize interns to accomplish professional visual effects work. If the reality matches the remarks of DD's CEO, then we believe DD is not only denigrating the value of artists who do incredible work under trying conditions, but are also unfairly taking advantage of a difficult job market and will ultimately harm the ability of visual effects artists to survive in the future if such an imprudent business model became the norm.
However, and equally important to note, if DD's internship program is merely the same as those that exist in many schools across the country, and they're only guilty of having their CEO use ill-advised, self-boasting rhetoric that happened to be caught on tape, then we hope the recent loud reaction and unified voice of visual effects artists around the globe has caused DD to be more sensitive and appreciative of the plight of those artists who struggle to endure in an industry that is constantly redefining itself yet always seeks to maximize the ways it uses their art and magic to produce record profits for the entire industry.
Our understanding is Mr. Textor has confessed to using "ill-advised, self-boasting rhetoric" when soft-soaping potential investors about what a really great plan it is to have visual effects students pay to do the grunt work on higher end visual effects extravaganzas.
However, also per our understanding, Brother Textor isn't backing off his swell plan. While he's performed the required mea culpas for inartful language, he hasn't budged a millimeter from the deal outlined in his spiffy video:
Students enrolled in the aforementioned visual effects college program will be doing work on projects in the third and fourth years of that program. He's been kind enough to clarify that the internships are voluntary. But really, which student isn't going to try to work on what he called "a major motion picture"?
Now, is Textor a booger for doing this? No, he's a businessman, trying to pump Digital Domain up into something bigger and better.
For Digital Domain investors.
This isn't about "doing right" by DD employees. This is about building a business model that turns a profit. And if Florida law allows Mr. Textor to use students in the making of visual effects, thereby increasing profit margins, that is exactly what Mr. Textor will do.
Making the staff that does the actual work happy and contented is way down Mr. T.'s "To Do" list. And the VES Society, which represents visual effects artists but also the studios employing them, ain't going to condemn him for the order of his priorities.