Visual Effects… We love what we do. We work long hours putting in hundreds, even thousands of extra hours of unpaid overtime year after year. We are hired on short term contracts with no job security, never knowing for sure where we’ll be working next year (let alone next month!). We are treated like a disposable resource, dropped – without a thought to loyalty – the instant a project finishes when we should be seen as talented and experienced professionals who add value to the facility and are worth retaining. We are the professionals who make the billion dollar blockbusters possible! Our sick pay, pensions, training and other benefits are a disorganised mess because facilities either can’t or won’t invest more than the bare legal minimum in their workforce – and yet, we all still consider ourselves lucky to be working on these cool projects!
Well, it’s true. We are lucky. We do wonderful work that we all love. Not everybody loves their jobs out there in the “real world”, but I’ve never met a single visual effects artist who doesn’t get immense joy from their creative process and I don’t know any who do not take great pride in their work. The truth is, most of us can’t wait to get back in to work on a Monday. We really love what we do – and because of that, we allow ourselves to get exploited.
There is no ignoring the fact that the rest of the film industry is heavily unionised. Why can’t visual effects be unionised too? To all of you who are already members of the VFX Union, bravo! You get it! You love what you do, but you know there is much still to be done to make visual effects a stronger and more ethical industry. Well done you!
For those of you sitting on the fence or even those who are actually against unionisation, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Things are good and getting better for other unionised branches of the film industry. Ask any writer, actor, cinematographer, director, producer – all of them are union members and they all value what unions do for them. None would tell you they think the unions are bad for the film industry.
Meanwhile back in the non-union sector of the film industry, things are not getting better for either the visual effects artists or the vfx facilities. There are ups and downs, good years and bad years but in general, things are getting a bit worse over time for everyone. We are all in a race to the bottom that only an organised workforce can fix. No one can fix this on their own. We need to join together and unionise for the good of our industry now and to ensure its future prosperity.
Join the VFX Union today at bectu.org.uk/join