VFX House Pixomondo Freelancers Angry Over Late Payments (Exclusive)

VFX House Pixomondo Freelancers Angry Over Late Payments (Exclusive)

Visual-effects company behind "Game of Thrones" and "Star Trek Into Darkness" acknowledges a cash crunch led to unpaid bills

Pixomondo, a visual-effects company that counts "Game of Thrones" and "Star Trek Into Darkness" among its credits, has not paid numerous freelance workers in its office in Frankfurt, Germany, TheWrap has learned.

Some workers report that they have waited months to get compensated and that there have been headaches involved with how the company processes invoices. In some cases, workers have ended their contracts early.

Pixomondo CEO and founder Thilo Kuther acknowledged that roughly 20 freelancers had not been paid and attributed the issue to a cashflow crunch the company experienced at the beginning of this year when it was between feature film projects.

Also read: Pixomondo Lays Off 23 as Part of Consolidation Plan, CEO Says (Exclusive)

"It's not something we're super proud of, but we're working to clear it up," Kuther said. "These people are rightfully upset, but it's not a hostile situation or where we're considering not paying people."

He said that the company was in the process of honoring all the invoices it received from freelancers and noted that some workers have been at least partially paid.

TheWrap has been in contact with roughly a half-dozen current or former Pixomondo freelancers who are frustrated over the late payments and the explanations they have received from the company's leadership team. They requested that they remain anonymous out of fear that coming forward would damage opportunities in the visual-effects industry.

"They just kept telling us that money was coming, and how they are waiting on this or that money to come through," one former freelance worker told TheWrap. "They would blame delays on banks, or issues with contracts etc. Originally they said a big lump of money would come through in mid June, this became end of June, then end of July and then end of August."

"I should have heeded the warning signs when my first invoices were rejected for minor mistakes," another former freelancer said, adding "I hoped that Pixomondo would be as good as their word; I've certainly learned from this experience."

There are also messages on Pixomondo's Facebook page from employees complaining about not being paid.

It has been a particularly challenging time for the visual-effects industry. Shrinking profit margins and fast-moving foreign tax incentives have led to the bankruptcy of Oscar-winning visual-effects companies like Rhythm & Hues and Digital Domain and resulted in layoffs at companies like Tippett Studio.

Pixomondo has done its own share of pruning. Over the last year the company has shut down offices in London, Berlin and Shanghai as part of a restructuring. Kuther said the company was trying to broaden its portfolio of clients to include more industrial work as a buttress against the issues plaguing the feature film world.

He said that some of the cash flow problems had to do with costs associated from closing those offices, although he said the company plans to reopen its Shanghai branch in September.

"We are in no danger and this is not a dire situation," Kuther said. "We have contracts in place for the next three years and are looking very positive into the coming months."

Pixomondo has more than 400 employees and offices in cities like Los Angeles, Beijing and Toronto.