Another show down, and it’s the same old story. We have anonymously received copies of emails encouraging long hours, seven day weeks; and citing false deadlines from one of the BIG VFX Houses.

Changing Deadlines:

Artists were given a hard deadline of Friday and then asked to be on call over the following weekend after being asked to come in the previous weekend both days. They were told “As of this very second, the clients have NOT said that we can have any extra time. This means that whatever does not make it to Technicolor by 5pm on Friday will not be in the theatrical release of the film.” Then shots were continued to be worked into the next week. We can only hope that Hollywood did allow changes into the theatrical release.

How often do we hear this in VFX? How often do the Hollywood Studios take advantage of US and come up with a FALSE DEADLINE to which we work late hours to achieve and then this deadline is magically extended to allow more time on shots? Why do the VFX Studios we work for seem to play into this and allow their employees to work unsociable hours to cater to these whims instead of keeping to the hard deadlines and then allowing employees the downtime they deserve? Are the Hollywood Studios even to blame or is this a ploy by companies to push artists to finish shots before they move onto their next show?

Long Hours and 7 Day Weeks Encouraged:

Further emails asked artists to “check in with production before you leave for the day” and artists were also encouraged to come to work both days on the last weekend of the show. Encouraged when the emails acknowledged that many artists “have already pulled a lot of 7 day weeks, and this is always massively appreciated.”

While it may be massive appreciated, it also illegal under UK law and it’s not something that you can OPT out of, even voluntarily except in very specific circumstances (ex: rescue personnel in a natural disaster)

There are 3 types of rest breaks enshrined in UK Law:

  • 20 minute breaks if they work more than 6 hours
  • 11 hours between shifts
  • 24 hours uninterrupted each week and 48 hours uninterrupted each fortnight.

The Visual Effects Companies need to ensure that their employees are given the necessary rest times to allow for healthy lives. While we all understand deadlines, it should never come at such cost to the employee, especially if no compensation is given.

Companies need to encourage artists to follow the UK entitlement laws on breaks and rest periods instead of encouraging them to miss them, undermining their health and ultimately their performance. BECTU is fighting to put a stop to these abuses.

If this is happening to you at work, BECTU can help.

Find out more information on breaks from the UK Government website: https://www.gov.uk