Tuesday, December 11, 2012

VFX Soldier launches campaign against entertainment subsidies

In any discussion about the state of the entertainment industry, the topic will eventually land on tax subsidies and troubles they've brought. We've written plenty in this blog about production, both on set and post, flung to the farthest corners of this country/world as it chases the most lucrative cash handouts. These cash incentives, which flow directly back to the production entity, have been the key facilitator in the "race to the bottom" that describes working in entertainment today.

VFX Soldier aims to change that. Yesterday, he launched his Campaign to End VFX Subsidies. A crowd-funded campaign whose goal is to identify the best way to challenge these subsidies, and attack them using a law firm with extensive experience in the matter.

From his post:
Fellow VFX Professionals, the time has come for us to take direct action. As many of you know, this blog has written extensively on the harm that subsidies have caused by distorting the price of visual effects work. This has led to a race to the bottom where many of our colleagues are forced to constantly move around the world as US studios chase subsidies for their films.

As you know, I have pointed out that many of these subsidies violate international trade agreements because they distort the market. I have been in contact with a law firm that specializes in international trade law and has the ability to challenge these subsidies.

On the campaign's Indiegogo page, Soldier brings the point home for 839 members:
Why Should Games & Animation Professionals Fund This Campaign?

Subsidies already play a huge role in the games and animation industry. We may be able to stop those subsidies if we are successful.
As we reported in the linked article above, the UK's incentive was already extended to games and animation. It's easy to assume that the adoption of feature and television animation tax credits will only spread as the hunger for these handouts grows.

This campaign faces a big fight from the conglomerates. These incentives are a palpable revenue stream for their productions and its likely any challenge of this nature will not go unanswered. Having participated in the latest TAG Collective Agreement negotiations, I can say that the overall message from the producers was "Give us a break! We need some relief from you're expensive corner of the industry!". Its important to realize that the financial burden and risk of marketing and funding these ventures belongs to them, not us. We told them so in negotiations, and we should tell them again in the fight to keep the industry from bleeding provincial and state coffers dry in their pursuit of profit.


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