Bohemian Rhapsody VFX workers owed thousands as Halo VFX goes into administration

from the news section at BECTU

26 February 2019


VFX workers have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket after working tirelessly on recent films including multiple Oscar winning film Bohemian Rhapsody.

Despite recent news from the BFI that the VFX industry contributed £1BN to the UK economy, freelance visual effects artists have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket after a VFX firm went bust.

BECTU union, which represents VFX freelancers, is currently handing cases totalling more than £53,000, owing to four of its members following the collapse of Halo VFX Limited, which provided visual effects work on high-budget productions including Curfew, Bohemian Rhapsody and A Discovery of Witches.

In yet another example of the problems facing the VFX industry in paying its staff, BECTU is pursuing the unpaid fees and demanding answers from company directors about how they will compensate members for the failure to pay them. The union is also calling for a new industry code of practice to better protect freelance workers when companies go into administration.

BECTU Assistant National Secretary, Paul Evans, has been working with London production freelance members for seven years.

He said: “I’ve never had a situation where individual BECTU members have been hit this badly and it is not something we can’t just shrug our shoulders and move on from.

“This is a hugely profitable industry and the productions that our members worked on were successful. It’s not acceptable for VFX artists who have contributed to the success of multi-million pound features to be the ones to carry risk and to go unpaid for their hard work and talent.”

BECTU is seeking a meeting with company directors and is writing to union members to advise them against accepting work without guarantees of weekly pay.

Evans added: “Our industry is unsustainable if directors can, effectively, establish an arm of one company, trade unsuccessfully and then leave workers to carry the can. If the industry can’t come up with a way of protecting workers from this kind of catastrophe, we will have to invest in some publicity to warn people against working for any VFX or Post Production company as a limited company, or in any status that doesn’t ensure that they have full employment rights.”

“The incentives are all wrong in VFX. A lot of the risks end up on the shoulders of freelance workers who have to cushion the industry by accepting long periods of unpaid overtime work and working-hours that are very sub-optimal in terms of creativity and productivity. It’s an industry that drives talented people out.”

The PACT Agreement for Major Motion Pictures

A new agreement covering major motion pictures production was decisively voted for by BECTU members in November 2017. It is the first of its kind in the UK and was implemented on 2 April 2018. The agreement has been welcomed across the industry and is the result of a successful partnership between union reps, producers and employers’ associations.
Below are some of the highlights. The full agreement is available for download from the BECTU website.

Please note that the agreement only applies to workers employed directly by the production companies, therefore not employees of VFX facilities, although this can change if enough VFX workers join the union and ask for it.

1.2 This Agreement will apply to all crew members engaged on Major Motion Pictures that commence principal photography after Monday 2 April 2018.

1.3 For the purposes of this Agreement, a Major Motion Picture shall mean a feature film intended for initial cinematic exhibition with a production budget equal to or in excess of £30,000,000 (Thirty Million Pounds Sterling) (the Major Picture Threshold).

2. The Working Day and the Working Week

2.1 The Standard Working Week
The Standard Working Week is a 55 hour 5 day work week. This can be varied by the producer upon payment of overtime and other premiums as set out in this Agreement, with the understanding that all overtime is voluntary.

2.2  The Working Day – All crew during pre-production and non-shooting crew during principal photography 
Outside the period of principal photography and/or for non-shooting crew members, the standard working day comprises 11 hours worked with 1 hour for lunch (the Standard Working Day or SWD).
(b) Post Production Crew: Post Production crew members will follow the Standard Working Week and the Standard Working Day applicable to non-shooting crew and will be entitled to Non-Camera Overtime, if applicable, in accordance with Section 3.3(a)(ii), but shall not be entitled to Camera Overtime. Start times will be the times at which each crew member starts work, which will not necessarily be the same as Unit Call times for the Post Production Department.
Lunch breaks may be ‘staggered’ under the direction of the 1st Assistant Editor or Post Production Supervisor in co-ordination with production, and post-production crew members will be expected to manage their own time in order to take their breaks. Lunch break penalties shall not apply.

3. Working Outside the Normal Working Day – Overtime

3.2 Prep and Wrap
(a) Specific Departments: For the following departments, the crew member’s rate is deemed to include, in addition to the 55 hours worked, up to 30 minutes at the beginning and 30 minutes at the end of each day, if required and in accordance with current working practices, without any overtime being due:
– ADs
– Accounts
– Costume
– Hair and Make-up
– Locations
– Production
– Script Supervisor

3.3 Overtime Rates
(a) For the purposes of calculating overtime, the crew member’s hourly rate is deemed to be his/her contractual weekly rate divided by 55 (Hourly Rate), or for daily crew members, his/her contractual daily rate divided by 11 (save for Rigging Electricians whose rates are as per clause 2.2(a)). Overtime will be calculated at either the Hourly Rate multiplied by 1.5 (1.5T) or the Hourly Rate multiplied by 2 (2T), depending on whether overtime comprises Camera Overtime or Non Camera Overtime (see subsections 3.3(a)(i) and (ii) below). The attached Appendix details examples of overtime rates.

(ii) Non-Camera Overtime including pre calls and de-rigs is paid at 1.5T for any overtime, payable in 30 minutes increments (and pro-rated accordingly for partial hours) and subject always to the Maximum Overtime Rate and the prep and wrap provisions of clause 3.2.

(c) For all crew members, the overtime rate may be no more than £81.82 per hour (Maximum Overtime Rate). For the avoidance of doubt the Maximum Overtime Rate shall apply to all hourly rates uplifted hereunder including in relation to 6th and 7th days, Bank Holidays and Broken Turnaround.

4. Working Outside the Normal Working Week – 6th and 7th Days
4.1 6th Days
(a) Any 6th consecutive day or night worked will be paid at 1.5T for actual hours worked, with a minimum guarantee of 6 hours for non-shooting crew and 8 hours for shooting crew.

4.2 7th Days
(a) Any 7th consecutive day worked will be paid at 2T for actual hours worked, with a minimum guarantee of 6 hours for non-shooting crew and 8 hours for shooting crew.

4.3 For the avoidance of doubt:
(a) Saturdays and Sundays shall not be paid as a premium day unless they are consecutive 6th or 7th days worked; and
(b) all hourly rates for 6th and 7th days are subject to the Minimum Camera Overtime Rate and capped at the Maximum Overtime Rate.

5.3 Broken Turnarounds
Producers should endeavour to give crew members eleven hours’ turnaround between the individual crew member’s wrap to his/her call (Turnaround Period). In the event of any shorter period of turnaround:
(a) the producer should wherever possible allow the crew member to take an equivalent period of compensatory rest, and shall in any event afford the crew member such protection as may be appropriate in order to safeguard the crew member’s health and safety; and
(b) in the event that a crew member is required to work during the Turnaround Period (Broken Turnaround) the crew member should be paid at 1.5T for any such time, which payment should accrue in 30 minute increments (and shall be pro-rated accordingly), subject to an overall cap of £45 per hour (or £22.50 per 30 minute increment).

5.4 Meal Breaks
(a) Standard Working Day (SWD): During principal photography crew members should be generally entitled to take their lunch break no later than 6 hours after unit call.

If non-shooting crew are asked by the producers to shorten their lunch break from one hour, then infringed time will be paid in 30 minute increments at 1.5T.
For the avoidance of doubt the Head of Department for non-shooting crew should manage their department so that crew members are able to take their lunch break (save as where requested above). In the event that such Head of Department wishes to curtail or delay the lunch break of crew members, prior approval must be sought from the Unit Production Manager, and the penalties above will apply.

5.6 Bank Holidays
(a) Where a crew member is contracted by the producer to work over a period which includes a United Kingdom official public holiday or foreign official public holiday where work takes place abroad (Bank Holiday), but the crew member is not actually required to work on that Bank Holiday, the crew member will be entitled to receive his/her daily fee for that Bank Holiday.
(b) If a crew member is required to work on a Bank Holiday, the crew member will be entitled to be paid at 2T during such Bank Holiday, whether the crew member is working on a weekly or longer term basis or is engaged as a daily.

VFX Gender Pay Gap in the UK

Why is it that women in VFX with equal qualifications, skills and experience are paid less than men?

After last summer’s BBC report sparked an uproar on gender pay gap there has be a new surge on finding out what really is the gap. But that’s the BBC, surely the Visual Effects Industry is nothing like that, right?!

Unfortunately that is not the case. These are the official reports:


Double Negative

“Women’s mean* hourly rate is 19.8% lower than men’s
when comparing mean hourly rates, women earn 80p for every £1 that men earn.
Women’s median** hourly rate is 22.8% lower than men’s
when comparing median hourly rates, women earn 77p for every £1 that men earn.”



“Women’s mean hourly rate is 14% lower than men’s
when comparing mean hourly rates, women earn 86p for every £1 that men earn.
Women’s median hourly rate is 16.4% lower than men’s
when comparing median hourly rates, women earn 84p for every £1 that men earn.”

Industrial Light & Magic

“Women’s mean hourly rate is 25.5% lower than men’s
when comparing mean hourly rates, women earn 74p for every £1 that men earn.
Women’s median hourly rate is 29.2% lower than men’s
when comparing median hourly rates, women earn 71p for every £1 that men earn.”

Moving Picture Company

“Women’s mean hourly rate is 23.8% lower than men’s
when comparing mean hourly rates, women earn 76p for every £1 that men earn.
Women’s median hourly rate is 28.3% lower than men’s
when comparing median hourly rates, women earn 72p for every £1 that men earn.”

These were the large VFX companies in the UK that provided the data (all companies in the UK with 250 employees or more are required by law to provide gender pay gap data) – smaller studios were not required by law to provide this data. In their reports, each of the four companies above – except ILM – made pledges of bridging the gap by taking different steps such us diversity promotion and supporting women – yet none of them addressed the real issue – why are women in VFX getting paid less than men?

After all these reports and pledges, will companies act on that and start paying their female staff equally? Will they address the underlying problems in VFX that make this disparity possible? We will have to wait until the next report for hard evidence of their intentions. In the meantime, it is time to face up to facts in the visual effects industry and for us all to keep up the pressure for facilities to do something about their gender pay gap problem. BECTU, the VFX Union is committed to equality in the workplace. By joining the union you can support this cause and help make the VFX industry a stronger and more ethical industry.

Need inspiration? Here’s a couple of things to pump you up! Take a few minutes to watch Stacey Smith’s TED talk in 2016 and Frances McDormand’s 2018 Oscar acceptance speech which taught the world a new phrase: inclusion rider***.

Can the UK VFX facilities come up with an “inclusion rider” of their own? The VFX Union wants to see men and women paid equally based on their skills and experience and not their gender. By organising together, we can make this happen!

*The mean hourly rate is the average hourly wage across the entire organization so the mean gender pay gap is a measure of the difference
between women’s mean hourly wage and men’s mean hourly wage.
**The median hourly rate is calculated by ranking all employees from the highest paid to the lowest paid,
and taking the hourly wage of the person in the middle; so the median gender pay gap is the difference
between women’s median hourly wage (the middle paid woman) and men’s median hourly wage (the middle paid man).
*** “An “inclusion rider” is a clause that an actor can insist be inserted in their contract that requires cast and crew on a film to meet a certain level of diversity. ” (

Official goverment website:
Moving Picture Company

VFX News

this is it!




click here for more info


VFX Union members and non members alike are invited for an opportunity to hear about all our work over the past year, to discuss and to give feedback, and to have your say on where the VFX branch should focus its efforts next.

We’re in the middle of a Visual Effects Industry Revolution! Our membership has exploded by over 500% in the last year and we need you to keep pushing this amazing momentum forward. If you’re not a member, come along and find out what the visual effects union is all about! If you’re already a member, bring a friend or two!

We’ll be talking about all the work that the VFX Branch has done over the past year, and what the coming year might hold. There’ll be an opportunity for questions and feedback from the floor. This will be followed by a talk about the EU Referendum and the likely effects on the vfx industry in the case of a “leave” vote.

Non members can join the union on the night and there will be a special members only voting session at the end of the event to elect branch officers and decide our priorities for 2016-17. Sign up to attend here:

VFX Union Mass Meeting

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Come along to our weekly Thursday VFX Lunchmeet

Every Thursday from 1-2pm at the Jurassic Church (St. Anne’s Churchyard, Wardour Street – nr. Shatesbury Avenue) Grab a sandwich or some sushi, sit on the grass, soak up a little sunshine and chat about what’s happening in the world of London VFX – look for the green flag!

1:00-2:00pm every Thursday

The Jurassic Church

(St. Anne’s churchyard, Wardour Street – near Shaftesbury Avenue)