This morning, I paid a visit to the HQ of Warner Bros UK to deliver a petition to Warner CEO Kevin Tsujihara challenging major motion picture companies who don’t give a film credit to VFX artists that work on their films. You can see a video of this here. Alongside me was a movie star who has left a transformative impression on the modern film industry. You can see him prancing around behind me in the pic (below).
At the time of writing, over 6100 people have signed this petition about this issue. The workers that are refused a credit often work 70, 80, even 90 hours a week, and if they’re doing it here in London, they often don’t even get paid overtime for doing so.
These workers are essential to the success of the modern motion picture industry – today, every major success is drenched in VFX. It’s an odd situation for them to be in.
They don’t get a credit, but almost everyone else does, mainly because every other part of the industry is unionised in one way or another. Hang around until the lights go up at the end next time you’re at the cinema and you will see that the rest of the crew get a credit. The reason that VFX Artists don’t is because this sector isn’t seen as unionised – they work for companies that will give their rights away to win the work.
When Warners, and the other big picture companies a firm ask DNeg to jump, DNeg can only ask “how high”? Warners can do this because they know that DNeg will always oblige, worried that they may lose the business otherwise.
So when Warners say to D-Neg “we don’t have room at the end of our film to give your people a credit”, D-Neg have little choice but to say “Oh, Ok.”
That’s what happened last year on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. DNeg had to give the bad news to loads of their VFX people.
And why was this even possible? Because Warners know that DNeg’s staff will let this happen. Because the industry isn’t unionised, the big studios know that they can force VFX workers into a ‘race to the bottom’.
It’s the same with unpaid overtime. It’s the same with really long hours – counterproductive damaging working days that actually harm the industry and drive great artists out of the business. As long as VFX workers don’t stick together and say no to this, they are forcing their employers to compete with each other by running a race to the bottom.
The cost of giving VFX workers a credit would be very low, but this is a much more important issue than it seems at first glance. Here’s why.
We don’t believe that the London VFX houses really do want to be in a race to the bottom – but as long as they are competing in an industry where the workers are prepared to accept not being given a credit, they have no choice but to compete on that turf. We can change this, and when we do, it won’t just be a failure to give a credit that we will challenge. It’s the same logic that results in people working unpaid overtime. All of our conversations with BECTU members working in the industry tells us that they want to be in a race to the top. Our members here in London want to compete on quality.
They want to work sensible hours – hours that are conducive to producing good work. They want a boss who won’t give their film credit away. By sticking together, VFX workers can save the VFX houses from themselves. That’s why we’re asking anyone who isn’t already in the union to go to vfxAssemble.com
If you do, here’s our offer to you:
- Don’t pay anything now. Just pledge to join the union if we can get 50% of your colleagues here in London to do the same thing,
- If we get to that target, only then will we process your application.
It’s like crowdfunding – like Kickstarter or GoFundMe – you only commit once lots of other people have done so. Like all crowdfunding projects, there is a deadline – two-and-a-half weeks away – 10th November – so do it now!
After that, it’s too late. Give yourself a bit of credit – join vfxAssemble now!