Friday, July 26, 2013
* The IATSE Booth Crew: yours truly, Michael Chambliss (Local 600), Dusty Kelly (Local 891), and Rob Callahan (Local 700)
Today marks my first day back to the office after helping wave the IATSE flag at the SIGGRAPH convention. This year saw the most support for visual effects unionization than any other conference I've attended. I talked myself horse on the exhibit floor, witnessed vfx artists openly signing rep cards at the booth, and honored to take part in two discussions that focused on improving conditions at the workplace.
It's no surprise that this was such a hot topic. With the Rhythm and Hues bankruptcy and sale, as well as the decision by Digital Domain to copy Imageworks and move their feature work to Vancouver*, Los Angeles artists are panicking and believe "all the work is leaving". Times like these tend to give discussions of improving conditions and establishing protections a boost in interest.
The first of the two discussions I participated in took place on Tuesday morning. Besides myself, the panel was made up of David Cohen (author and distinguished columnist from Variety), Bill Gillman and Mariana Acuña Acosta (VFX artists and VFX Town Hall founders), Scott Squires (VFX Supervisor and VES Board Member) and TAG President Emeritus Tom Sito. What I thought was going to be a discussion on where the industry is headed turned into two hours of Union questions. I was overjoyed to interact with a packed room of people with questions and concerns, as well as a panel of experts that have as much experience as they do.
The second discussion took place Thursday afternoon. I was again sitting with pillars of the community: Dave Rand (TAG member, VFX artist and union supporter), Scott Squires, Scott Ross (legendary VFX industry executive) and David Yocis of the law firm Picard Kentz & Rowe. This discussion was moderated by Jim Hillin (TAG member and VFX professional). The two Scott's opened the panel by giving a portion of their NAB "State of the Industry" presentation. Dave Rand then presented his "Thoughts of the Future" which focused on his desire to inspire and educate vfx artists on taking control of their destinies.
The floor was then given to Mr. Yocis who discussed his appointment by VFX Soldier to conduct a feasibility study on the best approach to defeat the prevalent entertainment tax subsidies in production. Mr. Yocis and the firms suggestion of utilizing the Countervailing Duties laws was the focus of the rest of our discussion and offered explanations to the law firms results.
I left feeling that another milestone has been reached in the effort to bring unionization to the visual effects industry. I hope the IATSE sees fit to ask me to attend next year's conference in Vancouver. I would relish the opportunity to continue fostering discussions and raising awareness of the best option available to visual effects artists seeking to better their conditions as well as making important and lasting change in the industry.
* I can only hope Digital Domain follows Imagework's example. SPI had hundreds of artists working in Culver City for months on Smurfs 2 and Cloudy 2. How's that for "its all going away"?
Posted by Steven Kaplan at 3:29 PM