Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Times In Which We Live

We get e-mails (Ooh, do we get e-mails):

I am coming to a serious decision in my life....I'm getting ready to possibly leave the country I love (maybe for good) so i can find a new job. That's how tough times have become. ...

I had two heart attacks by the age of 37 in this business. I got caught working 100 hour weeks on some summer blockbuster. On the 75th straight day of work (mandatory 7 day weeks/17 hour days) I fell asleep at the wheel and did two 360's on the 10 freeway hitting 3 people. That was my only day off. I didn't mind at the time I was making like $1000 a day.

The real problem occured after 3 months. I never looked in the mirror. With all the catered breakfast, lunchs and dinners, 12-15 hour days, I had shot up to 290lbs (I was 200 when i started the job). THats 90lbs in 3 months. Too many breakfast burritos.....and I smoked 2 packs a day....and drinking tons of coffee.......They took me to the hospital with chest pains around 120 days.

The nurse in the ER didn't believe I was having a heart attack..."What? How old are you, 37? Thats too young...". The blood pressure cuff read 235/120.....She didn't beleive me until I started having nausea after telling her my arms were numb....I threw up in her lap. I was 238/125 now.........and ticking........ They first gave me a green sauce (which is what it looked like). They explained to me it was to freeze my esophogus....Just to make sure that it wasn't indegestion. The pain continued....

What is worse, you get so helpless. Literally, you're lying on your own slab and unable to move. You see their lips moving, but can't hear what they are saying. They asked me "Sir are you on methamphetamines? Do you smoke crack?" They thought I was a junkie....and it's the part in the movie where it goes all slow motion. I'm having a heart attack and the ER doctors think I'm on coke. It's true I hadn't had a physical since I was 18.....and I was uninsured......It was called "Defensive Medicine" designed to prevent me from suing them........ But could 90 hour weeks cause this? Unfortunately, the doctors never met an overworked VFX worker.

I waited in pain almost 4 they watched me have a heart attack.....they waited 'til the blood panels came back negative for ANY drugs. Finally that convinced them I was not a drug addict like they anticpated and I was indeed having a heart attack....... My blood pressure went up so high that it crushed my heart.....'til I wound up in these fools hands. Next thing I know they are shoving up a wired camera up my wazoo. In laymen's terms: they inserted a wire with a camera in my crotch....a femoral artery ...past my balls, my stomach into my heart. have to be concious for the whole procedure. It's part camera and part claw.....if the camera sees something, the claw rips it out......

There I am on a cold steel table with a camera in my most important aterery......The guys were telling jokes.....(most of the techs looked like they were under 27). The guy with the device now inside my heart......I watched as they inserted radioactive dye into ....or what looked like my own heart...on TV. They all laughed about getting laid at tonights parties.....It was Halloween in Los Angeles.....and you would shit your self at what LA hosptial i was in. Not many men get to see their own heart beating before there eyes...unless it was in a Quentin Terantino movie. Because i had no insurance, that night, they placed me in a room with a woman who was in the last days of her life ( a nasty state of dementia).....she couldn't sleep and she screamed all night because she was in agony........I'm thinking here I am...they can't save me and they can't kill her......stuck here in the middle with you.......I was in the movie Jacobs Ladder ....... no, alas, the American medical system.....isn't this the best medical system in the world?.....well maybe for some people......I suddenly realized I was not them.......

I was in between health coverages....and now I am uninsurable.

I lost like 40 lbs and went back to work. On the next summer blockbuster I had my second heart attack......and I was back at work 5 days later. Out of the hospital on friday back at work on monday. I could tell NO ONE about my condition with out the fear of being fired. I have since lost about 70 lbs and have my condition under control.....all though forced OT jacks my blood pressure up. The company where my first heart attack occured, they politely refused to hire me back.

Years later I went back to.....that fateful company. No pipeline......absolute chaos....and high end assets hit their plate. They call me in to save the day..........immediately into OT. I forgot my medication and I wasn't feeling good so I told the coordinator I needed to leave for the night and was unable to work OT.

She was like "Sure! we are all about safety!"...she went on...."In fact a couple years ago we had an VFX artist get hospitalized from a heart attack." I was like, "Laura.....that was ME...." almost kill yourself for a company...... and then they dont even remember you. That company later went bankrupt ... owing me close to $10,000 in back pay.

With worker productivity being the highest in the world, why would you outsource away from workers like myself who would literally kill them selves for a job?

Answer: You can get someone who will kill themselves for $15 a day in some other country. The Indians and the Chinese will have their OT and have their heart attacks too.....they will have their mortgages....and their wives that wonder why they don't see them any more....and have kids that wonder were there dad is.....their sister will have cancer and they need to miss work without being fired............or they realize they are us........but realize they sold their soul for less money.

Your facts about the AMPTP don't scare me.....That the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have sold out 10,000 + American workers so they can employ slave labor. Its not scary.............its worse for me...

I'm a 40-year-old, shit-kicking VFX artist, who has no health care in a job that is literally killing me......I'm the lowest you can go..........I have nothing to lose.

I've got a ton more horror stories. I've also retained a lot of the knowledge from being in bed with snakes. Things like mark ups and how much studios are really making.....and accounting practices....

If we can educate the fucking Gnomon kids on how much people are making off their asses.......we could shake the community if we do one simple thing...let everyone know what everyone is making......if we can take the glamour off the most unglamourous business.....

Unions? I don't think we can get one.....but that doesn't mean we can't stop outsourcing......My goal is to simply remind everyone that this is a business..and no one gives a fuck if you worked on Lord of the Rings ...or you worked with Dykstra.......or you were on Star Wars's not about hacking it in shitty pipelines either.....we are really gifted individuals and we deserve some respect for what we do.

I had a buddy who was at ILM. He was walking to the parking lot.....when the EP of ILM and Geroge Lucas were walking by. Lucas was super pissed off and was talking loudly. (Keep in mind, this is a true story.) My friend overheard George Lucas say ..."You know what the problem with this business is? Look at this parking lot.....too many BMWs".

Excuse me??!!!....but I didn't see George do all the concept drawings or pour the glue on the minatures...nor get behind the camera or do the stunts. A lot of people went in to making him look like a genius. And now ILM is part singapore.......I'm sure the stinking Force was too strong there. No? George?

If we could just tell people our heroes are not who we think they are......

In case you've been dozing, the American Middle Class is being sliced and diced, and our little corner of the American Dream whittled away along with it. The e-mailer above is a symptom of the problem, but only a symptom. As we move inexorably away from Ozzie and Harriet, June and Ward Cleaver to the London of Dickens' time and the Gilded Age of Mark Twain, remember the way it was, if only to tell your grandkids.

We can't afford Medicare. We can't afford Social Security. Nor police pensions nor public schools nor libraries that contain actual books. Taxes are just too high, don't you know. (Oh, wait ...)

Most other countries, from China to Germany and many geographic areas in-between, have industrial policies, and taxes and regulations for sheltering key parts of their economies. We gave most of that nonsense up decades ago, and things have worked out dandy ever since. (Oh wait ...)

And today, Americans get gifted with 90-hour weeks. What fun. Not.


Anonymous said...

tl; dr

Anonymous said...

"You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job, but it doesn't pay as much. And so that's what's happened to us is that we have put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry and said you don't want the jobs that are available."

sharon angle

""You know," Delay said, "there is an argument to be made that these extensions, the unemployment benefits keeps people from going and finding jobs. In fact there are some studies that have been done that show people stay on unemployment compensation and they don't look for a job until two or three weeks before they know the benefits are going to run out."

tom delay

"We shouldn't turn the safety net into a hammock." — Rep. Steve King

"[C]ontinuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work."— Sen. Jon Kyl

"[Y]ou gotta look people in the eye and tell 'em they're irresponsible and lazy .... Because that's what poverty is, ladies and gentlemen. In this country, you can succeed if you get educated and work hard. Period. Period." — FOX News host Bill O’Reilly

"“Literally, if we took away the minimum wage — if conceivably it was gone — we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.” "
michelle bachman

“I should tell my story,” Mr. Romney said. “I’m also unemployed.”
mitt romney

“we change the entire [unemployment benefits] program into a worker training program and not give anybody money for doing nothing"

newt gingrich

I care that much more about the poor if they vote for me
e. cantor

"We have a tougher job than our friends across the aisle. They've been offering Americans a free lunch for the last 80 years, rather successfully," john boner

Anonymous said...

Yay corporations!

Anonymous said...

I feel bad for this guy. I do. And the VFX industry abuses their employees, no doubt, while the big wigs get loaded.

But smoking two packs a day and eating shit food (and presumably not exercising) is your fault, pal. I've worked long, hard stretches of OT too and never had that. And I'm almost 40 too. You have to take some personal responsibility.

Anonymous said...

AH, yes, let's throw politics into the mix, shall we? Muddy the waters, point the finger. Well, that IS how a certain unqualified do-nothing Senator whose idea of "change" was to vote "Present" instead of yea or nay when called on in his state's Senate got elected President. And as a result, things are so much more "hope"ful now!!!

(The muddy water flows both ways, people).

I feel very sorry for the poster who got 2 heart attacks and is uninsured. I agree that there are massive forces of talent behind icons such as George Lucas that make him look good (despite effing up the Star Wars franchise). BUT THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT THE ANSWER. UNIONS ARE THE ANSWER. For god's sake, artists need to band together and STRIKE. Studios can't send ALL their pre-prod overseas. The sitch isn't going to get any better until the people being shat on stand up for themselves. 'Bama can't help you. The Repubs can't help you. The Tea Party can't help you. TAKE ACTION AND GO UNION. Listen to what Steve is trying to tell you on this blog. JUST DO IT.

Anonymous said...

Who said the government is the answer? But corporate communism and trickle down lies aren't either.

Tax cuts for the wealthy to ship jobs overseas. An unpaid war. The bush economic depression.

And we're sick of big government--especially the gop version of it--intruding into American's lives. Remember, government grew larger under republican contol o DC under bush and gop control than ever before or since in history.

Anonymous said...

"The Bush Economic Depression" HAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!!!

Oh, you 'Bama lovers. You are true believers, for sure. Well, your Chosen One sure hasn't done much good against the "Bush depression", has he? What a clueless chump he is. Looks good in a suit, and that's about all there is to him, apparently.

Yeah, those awful Bush years - low unemployment, booming economy, gas below 2 bucks a, they SUCKED.

Taxing the wealthy is not going to help VFX producers get a better deal. If the wealthy get taxed more heavily, they'll ship MORE jobs overseas. Dumbass. It isn't all about the wealthy having more loot to buy more BMWs with. They have stockholders they have to cater to, and in reality, STOCKHOLDERS run corporations, and those stockholders include ordinary workers with their li'l 401ks. Tax the "wealthy" more, and in order to keep catering to their stockholders, they'll do whatever it takes to keep costs down and dividends high - which means outsourcing.

"Tax the wealthy more" is a catchphrase. It has no beneficial application to reality.

Artists need to organize and strike. It'd be painful, for sure. But what else can they do that has a chance of working?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, those awful Bush years - low unemployment, booming economy, gas below 2 bucks a, they SUCKED.

Somebody must have slept through 2008.

Anonymous said...

To counter the right wing Fox / Limbaugh lie machine of the last two posts I'll state the real problem:

30+ years of Reaganomics baby. Dismantle unionization and tariffs and the global race to the bottom is you oyster.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, those awful Bush years - low unemployment, booming economy, gas below 2 bucks a, they SUCKED."

Aftermath of Clinton, not a result of Bush's action. The issues we are dealing with *now* are largely a result of Bush's actions.

Anonymous said...

Let's stop with the political debate and agree that our country is in a DUMP right now and no one has jobs!! Arguing back and forth is not going to give anyone work.

To have given so much blood, sweat and tears to studios for years only to find your jobs being given to someone overseas for pennies on the dollar. To wor...k so many hours and years to gain respect in the industry and then be thrown away like a piece of trash, it's what me and others are experiencing today.

My single (and very talented) colleagues have had to leave the country to find work and those with spouses like me, have had to consider risking their marriage due to finding work. You look at job postings here, and our hourly rate has been whittled down to $10/hr. All those years and your experience will only pay the same as a Walmart employee.

To say I haven't mourned the loss of the VFX industry here, I would be lying. I've actually cried many times...really balled my head off. Saying goodbye to a career in CG that I started in 1985 has been like saying goodbye to someone I have really loved. The sad part is we all end up feeling the relationship was one-sided and they don't even remember our names.

Anonymous said...

I agree, can we leave the Repub/Dem arguments for another post? This is a thought provoking letter that merits real discussion.

Also, the above commenter (8:08 AM) is right that we need to take personal responsibility, but I know when I get into a crunch (which used to be a couple of months a year, and has now become an almost full-time situation) then regular exercise is the first thing I sacrifice (exercise or sleep is the usual choice), and it's really hard to stay away from the mountains of crap food the studio provides to keep people living at the studio during those times. Personal life, family time, recreation, exercise, reading, shopping for healthy food - all this is disappears during crunch-time.

I've managed to continue making good money in the industry, with only rare travel away from my home and family, but even making good money becomes pointless when you have so little life apart from work.

The insult that is added to this injury is the disrespect from producers, which has become shockingly pervasive. I could tell a dozen different versions of the George Lucas/BMW story that I've personally experienced, except with producers at different major studios. There seems to be some cognitive dissonance that goes on with these producers. In order to treat us like tools, then need to denigrate who we are and what we do. I guess it's how they sleep at night.

If I could find a studio where the production staff appears to genuinely respect the talent that creates their product, I'd happily work for half of what I get paid now, especially if management could do their jobs well enough that every other day wasn't a crisis requiring extra work.

Anonymous said...

Why can't bloggers learn to hate people other than Bush and Lucas? I'm sure there are other evil minds at work within the political/cinematic arenas.

Anonymous said...

There used to be a time when working in the animation industry was about the love of the craft and the slow, creative process of bringing characters to life. If the film made enough profit to make another film, that was considered a success.

Now it's become fast-paced, profit/stockholder feeding frenzy where the only way a film is considered successful is if it makes enough money to make 4 sequels to sell McDonalds toys and line the pockets of execs. Producers breathing down your neck constantly and everything has to be safe and not experimental or different because heaven forbid you somehow offend middle-America and their fat kids and pocketbooks.

Fuck that.

(whew I feel better)

Anonymous said...

I just want to know where he's going.
Is there room for my family too?

Former key clean-up and current animation widow

Anonymous said...

What!? He made $1000 A DAY and didn't think about affording health insurance? How expensive is private health insurance in America?

- guy from overseas

Anonymous said...

Instead of striking,the real answer is to start our own companies instead, and I mean en-masse.

When all the talent isn't sitting on the sidelines on strike, or moving to Singapore chasing jobs, but is instead forming small houses offering the same HI QUALITY work that America is good at but at a severely reduced rate (because everyone in the company is an equal partner in making it work.),

THEN the big houses will either have to completely pull up stakes and head out of country, or re-work their financials so they can offer competitive wages and working conditions.

All of you sheep that keep thinking if you just join with the "correct" political party are just deluding yourselves.

No party is working for the people they are all working for their donors. Also, wasting time pointing fingers and calling names is doing nothing but fueling the feud and keeping the status quo heading down the tubes.

Strike is a blunt transitory weapon. Re-organization of the entire workforce into a more mutually beneficial environment is a true game changer. Maybe Unions can help lead that charge, maybe people should just get together and do it ourselves, I honestly don't know. However, if all the really talented people worked for ourselves then we'd all be invested in keeping the work here and without killing the workers in the mean time.

Sadly, thanks to capitalism's great race for individual wealth this will never come to pass, but if you want real control over your lives you have to TAKE it.

Johnny V. Effex said...

I'm sorry, I have to say I'm not shedding too many tears for this guy's life story at this moment.

First of all, all of this guy's health problems could have been 100% avoided or drastically reduced in severity if he didn't eat so horribly. I work at a feature film studio that also provides delicious treats on a weekly basis. Do I eat every doughnut I'm offered? Every piece of cake? Every breakfast burrito, cup of soda, coffee, etc? NO. I pack my own lunch, or make smart food decisions when eating out at lunch. Grilled chicken, veggies, salad... these things aren't hard to find. And I must say, are rather affordable when you earn $1,000 per day!

That alone eliminates this dude's clogged arteries, massive weight gain, and drastically reduces his blood pressure even in times of stress. Heart attack at 37? In the words of Tony Horton, "Take care of your body and it will take care of you."

Now sure, 100-hour work weeks suck. And many studios DO need to get their acts together in terms of health benefits, regulation of overtime, and a more level playing field in terms of salary. (But then didn't this guy say he earned $1,000 a day....? Hmm...)

However, long hours are an industry standard that's no state secret. Most students are aware of what awaits them at the end of their film/visual FX studies, and are therefore left with ample time to decide if this road really is right for them.

I don't think anyone held a gun to this guy's head and forced him to work "on the next summer blockbuster." Don't like being a big money maker on such high profile Hollywood movies? THEN LEAVE AND DO SOMETHING ELSE. Yeesh.

There are endless dreamers who would LOVE to have your position, work long hours on that summer blockbuster, earn $1,000/day. If you don't want to swim in the deep waters, there are countless smaller studios working on projects that never get called a "summer blockbuster" but still provide their employees with a happy lifestyle and creative satisfaction.

Now what about the rest of the people he worked with throughout the years... did they ALL get heart attacks twice by age 37? Did they ALL gain 90 pounds in three months?? I'm willing to bet they did not.

Life is about choices, and this guy made his. I just hope he's learned from them.

rufus said...

This letter reminds me of the EA angry spouse letter that circulated some years ago.

Before things change, they have to get to the boiling point. Let's hope we're getting there.


Anonymous said...

That email has a lot of shit going on in it. I think it's more of a reflection of how insane modernity is. Not a whole lot in this world makes sense. But I appreciate the honesty.

IA4thefuture said...

so many of us got used to refinancing our homes as the assessed valuation went up, then using the cash we took out to buy expensive toys (BMW's) and luxurious lifestyle, until one day the bubble burst and the value of our homes plummeted. it will take several years of bank foreclosures before the American economy recovers from lending practices the Bush administration failed to regulate.

In the interim we have two possibilities;
1. we can convince 300 million Americans that protective tariffs and protectionism can build a wall around the US and preclude all forms of outsourcing (a very unlikely prospect, i'm afraid
2. we can convince a majority of our co-workers that a 50 hour workweek, overtime pay, no more phony "independent contractor" gigs, and affordable medical insurance (part of which is paid by the employer, part of which we contribute and deduct from our paychecks); and the protections of a union agreement, is an achievable and worthwhile goal.

I'll go with what is eminently realistic: an IATSE which has reasonable, realistic, and attainable objectives.

what do you say???

Anonymous said...

To the Anonymous poster who said we should all open up small VFX houses here in America and then took a big jab blaming capitalism for all the problems...Did you not read the irony in your post there somewhere? Isn't starting up your own business capitalism? A good Econ 101 class for many posters here would be helpful.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I have to say I'm not shedding too many tears for this guy's life story at this moment.

Me neither. And you totally forgot about the part where he said he smoked 2 packs a day.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of which, 2 packs a day is a fuck of a lot of smoke breaks. Maybe he was "working" so much because he was only "working" 4 hours a day, and the rest of the time smoking.

I hope he dies.

Just kidding.

No seriously.

Anonymous said...


oh...almost time for that Double Down from KFC and my nightly fifth of vodka...


Being an Anonymous poster has some advantages.

Anonymous said...

...oh yeah...and I can't forget to sue KFC for MAKING me fat.

Anonymous said...

"Most students are aware of what awaits them at the end of their film/visual FX studies"

No, they're not.

Anonymous said...

Yes they are. I remember hearing about the horrors of massive amounts of OT in the industry when I was in college 13 years ago

brandon young said...

"However, long hours are an industry standard that's no state secret."

your kidding right? just because you think its the industry standard doesn't mean its right.

and no Johnny students dont ALL fucking know what awaits them. you are really assuming alot there Johnny

one thing i do agree with, if you dont like it LEAVE or do something about it.

Anonymous said...

It took me until I was almost done reading these comments to understand Lucas' point about the BMWs, and I still don't completly understand it (is he saying people are being paid too much, or are using their money to buy things they can't afford to look rich?).

I think this (the general article topic, not the BMW thing) is a problem that's not going to go away anytime soon. Animation is expensive, very expensive. There's a reason (As far as I know) most actual animation gets done overseas: it's less expensive. Many shows probably couldn't turn a profit paying even American minimum wage for animators. You could argue that people hire up get paid far too much and they do, and that if they used that money they could hire American workers... but that would be asking people to make less money, and I don't think people would really do that.

What really bothers me is if the people who were actually animators and effects artists who got promoted react this same way to the people working on their features and shows. I would hope that many of them would love to treat their animators better if the budgets would allow for it, and that the slave labor conditions are things (either here or overseas) they try to put in the back of their minds to get through the day. Considering the money these effects heavy and just animated movies in general make, I would hope there would be some way to strike without losing all the jobs overseas indefinitly. At the very least it would screw up everyone's bottom line for awhile, and bring this all to public light.

Anonymous said...

What!? He made $1000 A DAY and didn't think about affording health insurance? How expensive is private health insurance in America?

- guy from overseas

He might not have been able to obtain private coverage even if he tried. California currently allows private insurers to cherry-pick applicants, so private insurers don't have to accept your application no matter how much you can afford to pay. Insurers keep their premiums low by screening out all but the healthiest applicants.

My applications for private health insurance have been rejected three times by three different private insurers here in California. I finally had to form a general partnership with my spouse just to obtain guaranteed-issue group coverage.

Anonymous said...

^ Given that he'd had a prior heart attack, no insurance company would likely accept him for his "prior condition."

VFXwiz said...

Health care in California for the typical private contractor (1099 "employee") or show hire VFX wiz here above is hodge podge .
Pretty much non existant. Shows only last a few months. Crews are hired and laid off before they can accrue seniority and get vested in any benefits (when there some offered). One big VFX house in Culver city (that is partially TAG covered) that used to have great benefits(sick days + paid holidays etc ) and coverage. They have sliced everything to shreds and laid off and rehired artists as freelancers. This means when their Summer blockbuster schedule wraps not only does the source of making your BMW payments disappear so does your health care. Its a real challenge to Try to keep a family coverage going.

Anonymous said...

Fact: More jobs were lost under the bush "administration" than under President Obama (and, of course, because of bush's ignorance).

republikkkans want something for nothing. I do to! But I'm a responsible American. We didn't ask for a war in iraq. But we're gonna have to pay for it.

And remember, bush let 9/11 happen. We're ALL still paying for that.

Anonymous said...

THIS is what republikkan's asked for and we all have to pay for:

Anonymous said...

Agreed! Also the gNOp is intent on killing business by stifling competition--competition that keeps prices up, kills innovation, and leads to worse service. Corporate Communism is alive and well in the republikan party.

Anonymous said...

Are all of you government employees? If not, it's Capitalism that is hiring your butt. Free market society...means JOBS. Don't shoot the messenger that's paying your check. Yes, there is corruption but the alternative is socialism where everyone shares the poverty.

BTW...I studied in East Germany from the East German government Socialism, Communism, Facism, etc so I'm not talking out of ignorance.

Anonymous said...

Health care in California for the typical private contractor (1099 "employee") or show hire VFX wiz here above is hodge podge .
Pretty much non existant. Shows only last a few months. Crews are hired and laid off before they can accrue seniority and get vested in any benefits (when there some offered). One big VFX house in Culver city (that is partially TAG covered) that used to have great benefits(sick days + paid holidays etc ) and coverage. They have sliced everything to shreds and laid off and rehired artists as freelancers. This means when their Summer blockbuster schedule wraps not only does the source of making your BMW payments disappear so does your health care. Its a real challenge to Try to keep a family coverage going.

No kidding. I know some VFX artists who have no health coverage for themselves, their spouses or their children. This is not a family-friendly industry.

Anonymous said...

Free market society doesn't mean jobs at all. Instead of studying East Germany maybe study the history of the great Train barons and labor history in the US. You are certainly talking quite a lot out of ignorance considering Germany is doing bloody fantastic and they have safety nets.

Anonymous said...

To hell with both parties. The Dems want to subsidize "losers" who are having a hard time and refuse to go searching for jobs that don't exist.

The Republicans want to subsidize the wealthy, oil companies and Wall Street.

Who will subsidize the rest of us?

Anonymous said...

It's depressing to read the insider comments that amount to "We all know it's a tough industry, be happy you're a part of it, if you don't like it, move on." I suspect they're more on the management side, or they among the very few who have long term stable jobs.

This quote is particularly full of shit: there are countless smaller studios working on projects that never get called a "summer blockbuster" but still provide their employees with a happy lifestyle and creative satisfaction.

I've worked all over California, at studios big and small, and this notion of small studios who provide stable employment is nonsense. Usually the smaller the studio, the more transitory it's workforce, the crazier the hours, and absolutely no benefits. Unless you a stakeholder.

Anonymous said...

You are correct...last Anonymous poster. Last time I worked at a small studio, they worked us 16-18 hours a day without overtime pay promising us a big bonus after the project was completed. When we completed the project, they met with us individually telling us there would be NO bonus and that WE OWED THEM money due to a tax withholding discrepancy. They closed their doors forever soon after that.

Anonymous said...

Without the artists, ILM is but a warehouse full of computers. Quit en masse, make your own studios, state your own costs and your own times. Do you think by the time you are 50 you will be hired anymore? Do you think in 10 years you will be making any decent money working for big studios?

Outside the US there is absolutely no capacity for handling the quality and quantity needed for all the blockbusters that are coming out of Hollywood if that were remotely possible you guys would not exist in this day and age. All your work would have been outsourced by now.

The studios are only the people who work for them, the higher tech is there to uphold the illusion. The illusion being that you can't have your own studios when the simple truth is that it's is only artists that make it all happen. I saw where things were going a few years ago, now I have my studio, and even though there are crunch times every now and then, we treat ourselves with respect. Studios should be owned by artists. Only artists know how to handle the projects so people don't kill themselves. Only owners who work with the artists day and night appreciate and value what they have. What good is killing yourself for anyone? Make yourselves a single giant studio or group of studios with your rules. Hard? Only at first.

Anonymous said...

Germany is doing great? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Anonymous said...

Germany is supporting the entire EU and in terms of global stability is one of the strongest nations on the planet. Brush up on your education before you pretend you know a thing or two about the world. Typing 'HAHAH...' only makes you look bitter and stupid.

Or better yet just unionize and try learning what the world socialism even means. America is actually an extreme socialist nation but only if you're a corporation.

Anonymous said...

"Strike is a blunt transitory weapon. Re-organization of the entire workforce into a more mutually beneficial environment is a true game changer. Maybe Unions can help lead that charge, maybe people should just get together and do it ourselves, I honestly don't know."

Where do you think the power of the union comes from?

Also, SOMEONE needs to study what communism is, before throwing phrases around like "corporate communism".

Anonymous said...

"Are all of you government employees? If not, it's Capitalism that is hiring your butt. Free market society...means JOBS."

No, corporate America creates the entire economy of jobs at home, and within the framework of the now-extremely-competitive world economy. The free market is a fine theory for academics, but is not reality. Remember, we are competing with other state capitalists now. US leaning corporate engines have no incentive at all to create the new jobs here at home. Without their usual injections of capital directly into defense or pharma or hi-tech, as they have done for a century, you get no innovation, no consumer economy, and therefore, no jobs.

And you cannot cut taxes enough, or 'stimulate' the economy enough, to make them any more profit, which is, by stated American law, their sole overriding obligation to the US government. They don't EXIST to 'create jobs.' State corporate power protects capital, that's it. It just happens to not be your capital. (So what else in the history of the world is new?...)

Centrally planned state capitalism in America is stagnant, so it is gleefully operating elsewhere in the meantime, namely China and Russia, and so-called emerging markets, anywhere that looks fresh and new, with less headaches from dealing with, you know, reasonably literate citizens who vote and have bank accounts already on the grid. State capitalism is the fundamental center of American military and economic power and it is, YET AGAIN, failing the people. Well, of course it is failing us - that's state power and how it functions. Perhaps we all need more history lessons on the evolution of the modern nation state?

You would think the left in America would get it by now. But they don't, because the anger that continues to build in this country is only creating the usual political push from the right, as we are a historically conservative group of religious nutcases.

Under the surface, it's just the same old John Birch Society Christian conservatism - Reconstructionalism, Constitutionalism wrapped up in a big fat bow of classic isolationism and nationalism to make it all too attractive for any disgruntled populace to resist opening. This is manifesting itself in the Ron Paul run for 2012. He's leading the 'secular' libertarian movement of the Tea Party.

And around and around we go. Where we'll stop at? I dunno, fascism sound familiar? Anyone?

Anonymous said...

This guy is an a grade nugget muncher. If you're prepared to get fisted in the flaps by the VFX monster and take the fat cheque spare me the tirade that comes as a result of suckling on 10 cans of red bull and enough packs of monster munch to turn your arteries into noodles of lard. Don't get me wrong, I feel for the guy but at 40 he needs to spend less time crying like a pig stuck in a wheel chair and more time playing with himself in the sun

Anonymous said...

I don't know who Anonymous 12:54 is, but I like him

I'm going to guess it's steve hulett posting anonymously.

Steve Hulett said...

Not Steve.

But Steve's viewpoint is pretty much reflected in this two-week-old Jon Stewart piece:

Anonymous said...

Funny. But liberals have to learn to be more than just funny to hit the corporations where it hurts. After all, Comedy Central is a slice of a very big one.

Anonymous said...


Now PAY for it.

WikiLeaks cable: U.S. troops handcuffed, shot Iraqi children in raid

By David Ferguson
Thursday, September 1st, 2011 -- 9:40 am
According to a diplomatic cable published by McClatchy, U.S. troops massacred an Iraqi family in the town of Ishaqi in 2006, handcuffing and then shooting 11 people in the head including a woman in her 70's and five children ages five and under.

McClatchy is also reporting that the soldiers then called in an air strike on the house to cover up evidence of the killings.

Anonymous said...

Please, I know it's hard for the unemployed trolls out there to respect this, but the post isn't about Republicans or Democrats or the wars in the Middle East or the class war going on here. It's about our industry going to hell in a hand basket, while we all sit around bitching at each other.

Anonymous said...

this thread of comments just makes me laugh.

I m that guy who gets that outsourced job overseas. I want to voice my opinion too.

First of all let me say, welcome to your face-off with what you have been building all these years.

You basically invented vfx for modern cinema and let the profit go to your super-overpriced actors and actresses and directors...didnt form a union, sharing your genius nearly for free with the dumass directors and producers...

I want to ask, the films you built, frame to frame, how many of them actually sells "serious acting" nowadays that a basic actor cant manage ? how many of them actually sells a grand story that a blogger cant imagine ? and here is a final question, how many of them sells impossible, interesting visuals that happens on screen , a designed mood or a sequence of designed moods aka cinematography that noone but a vfx guy visualize ? how many minutes of a film is not post produced?

I believe you are just starting to acknowledge your huge importance for the producers. I guess it will be very hard to accept for you that after the script, you produce the most important thing in the movie : visuals.

BUT, they pay big bucks to and interview with sam worthington and zoe saldana for the avatar... and you let this pass. just roll over. really ? yeah they worked hard but are they the people who makes the avatar the movie that it is? where is the name of the lead compositor in the headlines ? the mocap guy in people magazine ? the animator ? why is the lead concept artist not in every single talk show for gods sake ?

why dont you rage and rise against this injustice, all together ? do you lack communication in between yourselves ? what is keeping you from protesting ?

you have animators in ilm and pixar who imagine action better than actors themselves. and you let it pass. get paid little. be thankful that you have a job. you have directors who act like children as far as decision making goes, while you have amazing vfx supervisors with great imagination and legendary storyboard artists who just happens to work for these directors. I am sorry but this all happens just because you guys are inconfident. And you have the nerve to blame a poor guy because he didnt exercise and eat salad enough inbetween like 18-hour-a-day workshifts... LOL are u guys freaking insane ? if you really are in this mindset still, you really deserve whats happening to you.

... oh also another thing. you work for a global industry. the movie industry. never forget this. these movies get shot all over the place in the world, and its box office revenue paid grossly overseas. actually most of the profit is gained globally rather than domestically. so hollywood gets paid from all over the world. but you want this industry to hire&pay only americans ? why are you so surprised when the workforce is also scattered around the globe when it is convenient ? would you react with anger if a foreign movie's vfx job is done in hollywood , leaving the local vfx studio jobless ? like it has been for so many years ? never read any american objecting it.

so now you are crumbling. I believe you guys need to come together. and tell the studios that glamorous hollywood faces are not what makes a movie. a good script and you do. Especiall in animation, you develop the story, color and mood and you make it sell. actors and actress are just super overpriced assets compared to you. you should get paid proportionally. and you have to do it en masse.

finally , I have to say. You wont do it.

LOL. You lack the confidence. so you will never come together and tell any studio anything. so here is whats gonna happen. as the tech improves, it will be easier to pull off great shots for individuals or less experienced work force. in 5-10 years internet will be second nature and there wont even be a disconnect button. so with that level of communication outsourcing will be sky high. and each of you will stand alone as freelancers. working for a lower payday.

Steve Hulett said...

Obviously, we don't monitor or edit much.

Things get off-topic, move on to the next post. There's always newer off-topic comments at the later offerings.

Anonymous said...

Any idea how much this VFX made per hour?

If it was a flat $1000/day on a 1099 basis, he made $58/hour. ($1000/17hrs).

If he was paid time-and-a-half past 8 hours, double-time past 12 hours, time-and-a-half for the first eight hours on Saturdays and double-time for remaining hours on Saturdays and all day Sunday, my feeble attempt at math says he was worth $38/hour.

If working consecutive days without a break pushed him into double-time for all hours, he had a $29/hour rate.

Whatever his hourly rate actually was, it reeks that the employer could find the money to pay artists $7000/week but not a penny more for health insurance benefits.

Anonymous said...

I only problem i see in many is there habits which lead to health problems and anxiety . Cause of any health problem would be your bad you need to first have positive thoughts and self confidence!

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