Game of Aeron Chairs: A Song of Beer and Pixels.

Posted: April 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

If you’ve been watching/reading ‘Game of Thrones’, you’re familiar with the ‘Night’s Watch’, a non-partisan, defensive military order depicted in the series.  Leaving the past behind, recruits ‘take the black’ , pledging their lives in service of the realm.

My personal quest to escape VFX has been underway for quite some time.  These days I stand on the sidelines, observing the struggle of VFX artists to find a unified voice to represent the interests of rank and file artists.  The form of this collective voice is yet to be determined, although I personally suspect that all paths point toward the formation of an IATSE affiliated VFX union.

If the recent postings to VFXSoldier’s blog, especially regard to the DDMG ‘pay to work’ fiasco are any indication, the most immediate need is for someone to hang up the wacom stylus and fully dedicate themselves to industry reform as primary occupation.

IATSE had, until recently, employed Jimmy Goodman in effort to rally VFX artists.  TAG has their champion, Steve Kaplan.

Scott Ross has undertaken his own windmill tilt, advocating the formation of an industry trade organization.  (I see this as a necessary component, but the reality is that we are many sheep, discussing farmers.  Best of luck to Scott, but I find his battle is not necessarily one that we can directly influence without achieving some form of artist solidarity first.)

A quick perusal of vfx blogs, Facebook and Twitter will turn up names and aliases that should now be familiar to any informed VFX Artist.  Dave Rand, Scott Squires, Joe Harkins, Jeff Heusser, Lee Stranahan.  There are also the well intentioned VES players, the delightfully militant ‘Rolling Red’, the enigmatic VFXSoldier him/herself, etc.    The dramatis personae is a veritable host of divisive characters.

I must assume that IATSE has the resources to approach and offer safe haven employment to one or more of these individuals in a formal outreach and information dissemination capacity.  However, IATSE must be prepared for and open to the possibility that the end result may be a rejection of IATSE and the formation of something ‘new’.  Let’s consider it partial payback for the vast and non-participatory VFX driven box office contributions we’ve been making to the healthcare and pensions of their existing membership.

With all due respect IATSE, we don’t need another Jimmy Goodman.

We need a seasoned VFX Artist, with the scars to prove it, who can speak to us… if we ever intend to build an organization to speak for us.

What is needed now, is for someone to ‘take the black.’

Once again, best of luck – I’m back to the sidelines as I have my own, non-vfx irons in the fire.  Failure means I have to once again pick that wacom pen and jump into the fray.  Ideally, it’ll be a better place than I left it.

  1. Dave S says:

    yeah its frustrating. There are a lot of good efforts out there, and you said it. I think its about getting out of the industry (or main stream of it) and making money in a parallel skill-set world. Good luck to you.

  2. The main question is are visual effects artists interested? There have been plenty of blog posts and tweets about the issues, followed by comments, but does this represent the majority of visual effects people? There are plenty of problems that affect not only US visual effects artists but world wide effects artists but I’m not seeing a seeing a huge uprising or major discussions. Many seem to be either uninterested in any of this (head in the sand), or fine with their particular situation for now (the tax incentive gravy train will never end) or think it’s already too late.

    Many artists haven’t taken a moment to get the facts about unions or trade associations and what those actually do and what they will mean to their future.

    As I’ve said before, make your voices heard. The occupy movement didn’t have a leader but it has accomplished a lot. If there is a leader or group, will artists follow?

    • Andreas Jablonka says:

      i think leaders are needed. IATSE dropped the ball on getting people informed and well see what happiness now that Jimmy Goodman has been fired. AFAIK TAG is still told to stand down and I really wonder why the IATSE president is such a ball-less saboteur of this cause, time, money, dedication is surely there (at TAG at least) its a politic game as well.

      the VES is the glacier movement that reaches many and still cruises along always 6 months behind the recent events but at least they are trying.

      Scott Ross might be loved or hated but In my humble opinion is the best leadership figure we have. As former ILM/DD CEO people respect him and as smart business man he surely knows how tod eal with companys. He is not yet wiling to step up as leader and I cannot blame him but he has to realize that he IS the only candidate.

      Occlude/Joe harkins has left the building it seems and without his rebel antics the vfx gossip scene got a little quieter.

      I cant help but feel our momentum disappearing. You would think with DD Florida Scandal on blogs, with Sony ABQ closing and so many shop struggling to keep work in CA it should be the right time for movement…*sigh*

      I have said it before and say it again: Until a major tent pole feature misses its delivery date the studios wont care and have no other leverage than work not getting done. I think the shops crew that does walk out on a delivery crunch time film will most likely die under the studios lawsuits but the shown leverage might be enough to unionize and push back. Maybe the first time the ship the work to india and see how much fixing thye have to do, maybe it will have to be done several times. We tend to stab our brother sin the back with 911 emergency work. But maybe, just maybe we can all band together just one weekend and not go to work, not strike but send a sign.

      here is too hoping!

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