Monday, August 18, 2014

Visual Effects Company Closure Exit Form

Since this is happening more frequently I thought it best to create a form for visual effects workers and reporters.

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Visual Effects Company Closure Exit Form VFX-SOL

Check all that apply.

It was announced on ____________  that  ______________________________ , a visual effects company, located in _________________________, has closed it's doors due to:

__ Subsidies
__ Bad business practices (note: requires Subsidies to be checked as well)
__ Completion of project

The vfx workers had:
__ Finished the project
__ Done above and beyond their jobs
__ Sacrificed their personal lives
__ Shown loyalty to the company
__ Solved immense technical problems
__ Gotten the company out of a jam
__ Put in unpaid hours
__ Put in unpaid OverTime
__ Put in a lot of OverTime

At the end of the project they had expected:
__ Payment
__ Pat on the back
__ Thank you
__ Wrap Party

Instead they were given:
__ Pink slips

but did not get:
__ Paid

During the project they received:
__ Missed payrolls
__ Broken promises
__ No communication with management

The owners repeatedly said:
__ You will be paid soon
__ There was a glitch in accounting
__ The bank messed up
__ The client will be wiring money soon
__ Once we complete this next sequence
__ Once we complete this next milestone
__ Don't worry, you'll be taken care of

During this time workers did not want to:
__ Do anything
__ Say anything
__ Unite together

__ Fear of blacklisting
__ Didn't want to rock the boat
__ Fear of losing work (even if it wasn't paid work)
__ Prided themselves on being individuals
__ They had faith in the managers/owners
__ They had faith in the company

So when the company closed the workers had not been paid in:
____ Years
____ Months
____ Weeks

__ They loved vfx
__ They had faith in the managers/owners
__ They had faith in the company
__ They had thought their sacrifices would be rewarded
__ Didn't want to rock the boat
__ Feared being blacklisted

In total ____ workers are owed over _____________ and some as much as ____________

In addition the company owed them:
__ Vacation
__ Health Care
__ Pension
__ Retirement plan
__ Expenses

They expect to see ___ % of their actual money owed in:
__ Weeks
__ Months
__ Years
__ (Default) When hell freezes over

To do so they expect to:
__ Complain to each other
__ Put up a Facebook Page
__ Write a bad review
__ Contact legal help
__ Complain publicly

They do not expect to:
__ Complain publicly
__ Put up a Facebook Page
__ Write a bad review, even anonymously
__ Contact legal help

__ Fear of blacklisting
__ Don't want to rock the boat
__ Love of vfx

In the future the workers will:
__ Do the same thing

__ This was a unique event.
__ Things will improve without any effort on their part.

The workers learned:
__ This is just the way it is
__ They should change careers

Things they still won't do:
__ Sign a union rep card anonymously
__ Support Adapt
__ Do something

__ Fear of blacklisting
__ Don't want to rock the boat
__ Love of vfx

Meanwhile others think:
__ Everything is fine
__ That will never happen to them
__ Subsidies aren't so bad
__ Moving frequently isn't so bad. Their spouse and children love it.
__ If they ignore the issues, the issues will go away.
__ If they're very quiet they won't lose their job or have to move
__ They'll wait for someone else to implement a perfect global solution
__ More overtime for no pay. Where do I sign up?
__ They'd rather be on a sinking ship that to help try to fix it
__ Silence is golden.
__ Watch out, you could be blacklisted
__ Watch out, don't rock the boat
__ It's fun to live in fear of the company you work for.
__ They love VFX. They might as well because it's becoming less of a profession all the time.


  1. Priceless.
    Thanks for the good:
    ___ laugh
    ___ cry
    _X_ all of the above

  2. Sadly VFX is one of the few professions where people are afraid to say anything bad about a company that closed and left owing them a lot of money.

  3. Excellent summary. A few comments regarding the section titled “Improving the overtime dilemma”….


    Project based businesses must perform pre-agreed scope of work, with a pre-agreed deadline for a pre-agreed fee.  These businesses often must expend capital for materials and people to win that project. As a result, the industries that are comprised of project based businesses, excluding VFX, depend on sophisticated PM techniques, accounting principals and trained professionals to steer the organization through such untenable conditions.

    I can count on one hand the number of VFX Producers\Supervisors who have formal Project Management (PM) training/certification. There are some who have heard of Agile PM methodologies, and still more who may know how to enter formulas in Excel. This just creates a false sense of confidence early in the production schedule, and shear panic at the end once ACTUALS are discovered to be tracking way past the constraints stated at the start of the project.

    Posting job openings for management positions with project oversight (e.g. coordinators, Producers et.) that list as a requirement, “Must have BA or MFA in Film or related field of study” should be interpreted by artists as a warning sign - “STAY AWAY. Should you seek employment here expect losses to your earnings, health and happiness!”


    As you stated, Bids are based on the ‘best case scenario’ and then cut further in an attempt to ‘remain competitive.’ Bids need to be based upon quantitative project management metrics that are used in cost/scheduling scenarios for predicting overruns in advance.

    At the very least, you should start from the worst case scenario and make cuts from there.

    It is important to note that our clients never hear anything with regards to risk management from VFX vendors. They only hear how facilities “have it under control…can increase our capacity with minimal effort or impact to your project.” Clients, especially studios, know better and as a result mandate that projects be split up across companies, countries and time zones. They are practicing risk management.

    The current practice of dividing the number of WORKDAYS in the calendar by an estimated number of MAN HOURS to determine staffing needs and labor costs, is a recipe for failure. If bidding used PM principals, estimates would be more accurate, risks would be more easily identified and managed, and quite possibly, the biggest potential benefit could be that facilities would begin to see a way to present the argument to clients for charging overages. 

    The lack of standard business practices is (IMO) part of the reason that the industry has maintained the perception that VFX studios are ‘black boxes.’ Outsiders must jokingly think VFX production costs and schedules are estimated and managed by working out how long it would take one person to do the job then multiplying that by the number of people on the project! ...CONT'D

  4. CONT'D...


    A career in Hollywood is no longer a creative endeavor (, it is a job managing commodities.

    Studios are risk adverse and so should VFX companies. The studios have an in-depth due diligence process to determine a films profitability before deciding to green light the production. The outcome is NOT based upon whether or not a majority liked the script. It involves 30-40 people from a variety of disciplines and departments, who reference years of data including everything from behavioral tendencies and taste preferences of the target demographic to projected revenue from advertising ties ins.

    Performing CBA post mortem, would enable VFX studios to begin building a database of performance metrics. Management could then review estimates vs. actuals, proactively respond to areas where estimates and allocation of resources were off. Additionally, the data can provide supervisors with ‘tribal knowledge’ so that each show is not solving the same problems or repeating the same mistakes. Lastly. CBA allows upper management (facility owners) to link investment in workflow/pipeline to profitability.


    I have been in the industry for 16 years and can confidently say it is not a sustainable career choice. I was optimistic about ADAPT, because for the first time there was an entity who understood that in order to be heard, you have to be able to speak in the language that the gate keepers understand - commerce.

    My disappointment, anger and disgust is because so few supported ADAPT. There is no guild, union or trade association that can fix the problems we face. Those in our community with the courage to stand up for the rest of us, never received our much needed support. I do not think that there are anymore of us (myself included) who are sticking around or have the ‘cajones' or will to pick up where they left off. At least not for the foreseeable future.

    “…but I have been known to make mistakes…from time to time…oh dear!”


  5. visual effects bring a huge difference to the normal picture


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