Monday, July 14, 2008

Worker Abuse, Part XI

We harvest this pearl from the forums (via TAG blog's comment thread):

According to David Rand, special effects artists worked for Meteor Studios, a company established by Discovery Communications of Virginia (Discovery) (owners of the Discovery Channel) and Evergreen Films of Pacific Palisades (Evergreen). During October, November and December of 2007, artists worked without pay; some put in 100-hour weeks and stayed loyal to the project with the promise of pay as soon as the accounting glitch was fixed. Most of the artists who applied their talents to the creation of the film have families, and half are American freelance artists like Rand, whose hope for a bright Christmas was extinguished when all artists were laid off without pay in December upon delivery of the film.

Per the story, this small, sad event isn't getting much play in the mainstream press, like almost none.

Not much of a surprise there. Workers being abused isn't news anymore, it happens so often. In our small corner of the forest, we hear of it occuring every six months or so. But here's the skinny. Whenever you hear of a friend that's working without pay (and usually the friend is being harangued by management to "stay loyal" and "take one for the team" until the "payroll problem" is cleared up), scream at them in your loudest and clearest voice:

Put down your mouse! Get the hell OUT of there! You out of your mind?! You don't work for no pay!! That's @#$% NUTS!"

Because guess what? There's nothing and nobody to be loyal to.

The employer has breached the circle of trust, torn it into small shreds and stuffed it down the toilet. People work for money, not a candy gram. When the money is not forthcoming, then laws have been broken, and nobody should aid and abet a lawbreaker. Period. Full stop. End of saga.

We wish Mr. Rand good luck in getting that million dollars he and others are owed. And we applaud his calls for unionization in the VFX world. Fact is, stories like this were rampant all around Hollywood back in the old days, which is a major reason for the rise of organizations like the DGA, the WGA, SAG, the IATSE, and the little ol' Animation Guild.

As a Hollywood old-timer said: "They worked us 'til we dropped. Thank God the unions finally got in."


Anonymous said...

as soon as an employer uses the word "family" or "we're all one big family..."

its the first sign...head for the doors...!

Anonymous said...

If I'm gonna work for free, it's gonna be on one of my personal projects; I DAMN sure wouldn't be working for free for someone else, especially when that someone is still gettin' paid...

Anonymous said...

I'm a freelance VFX artist and I can relate to being shafted. However, if you're not getting paid you have all the right (and the responsibility to you and your family who you are trying to provide for) to watermark the sh*t out of your work until they pay you. It's not a matter of unionizing anything, it's a matter of common sense.

Anonymous said...

it happens too often!


Anonymous said...

Oh, and regarding that "Tugger" film. Anyone who would work for a crook/creep like jeffery varab had it coming to them..

Anonymous said...

The last is an appalling and ignorant statement.

How are you supposed to know someone elses history before hand?


Anonymous said...

wow, I cannot believe there were artists who fell for this "Family" crap. They have my best wishes that this gets resolved through the labor board though.
The real pigs are the producers who sunk this low to chat up the artists only to rip them off.
Money talks, nobody walks should be the motto we live by.
If the artists had walked, the production would have had to cough up the dough, or risk millions for not delivering their film. I bet the higher ups in this production didn't work for free.
Live better, Work Union.

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