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.”