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.