... "We had the worst year we've ever had last year, and this year is not shaping up to be a whole lot better," said Mark Dornfeld, owner of Custom Film Effects, a small Burbank company founded in 1999, where half of a 12-person staff is on reduced hours because work is so slow.
"It used to be we didn't have to go search for work, it just landed on our door," Dornfeld said. "We've been told by studios, 'We're sorry, we have to bid this offshore.'"
Funny thing. Just now I'm writing a longer piece* about the 1982 Animation Guild strike. Care to guess what the central, motivating issue of that strike was?
Work going offshore.
So here we are thirty-plus years later, and the issue is again runaway production.
Only now the work isn't just runaway production to Asia or India, but runaway production to Canada or other entitites inside the U.S. of A. that offer major tax breaks and wage subsidies. (Vancouver, B.C. is the most expensive city on the continent, but it offers BIG subsidies for animation and visual effects, so our fine conglomerates are delighted to send work there.)
In the late forties and fifties, studios did productions in foreign lands because of costs and taxes, much like now. The issue never goes away completely, it just ebbs and flows. If California institutes bigger tax breaks next year, it might solve some of the problems. Temporarily. But new problems will crop up. They always do.
* This is the next chapter of the "Hulett at Disney Feature Animation" saga. I hope to have it done before the sun reaches its red star phase.