Visual Effects Oscar Protest Plans Are Underway for Sunday

Visual Effects Oscar Protest Plans Are Underway for Sunday

Organizers will gather between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. PT

Visual effects artists and film and television workers are planning to demonstrate at the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday against production tax subsidies they argue are devastating their industry and drawing work out of California.

More than 350 people have said they plan to attend on a Facebook page for the event and one of its organizers, visual effects artist Dave Rand, said he is confident that the protest will match or surpass the 500 people who rallied at a similar demonstration last year.

Demonstrators will gather from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. PT at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street and then will walk as close to the Oscars as possible. They will not disrupt the film awards, Rand said.

“Even if they let us right on the red carpet, we wouldn't go,” he said. “We respect the Oscars.”

Also read: Salvation for VFX?: U.S. Could Tax Foreign Film Subsidies, Study Finds

The circumstances are as dire for the visual effects industry as they were at last year's event, but Rand acknowledged that there may not be the same sense of urgency. Two weeks before the 2013 show, Rhythm & Hues filed for Chapter 11 protection, its bankruptcy brought on in part by shrinking profit margins in the industry and studios desire to move post-production work to countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom that offer tax incentives and subsidies. Rhythm & Hues did operate in some of these areas, such as Canada, but the cost of maintaining this outposts combined with a fixed bidding process that leaves visual effects studios responsible for many cost overruns on projects, helped pave the way for its failure.

On Oscar night, Rhythm & Hues won a Best Visual Effects statue for its work on “Life of Pi.”

This year's protest is being organized by ADAPT (Association of Digital Artists, Professionals and Technicians), a group that formed to explore legal options for fighting foreign subsidies, but it has been expanded beyond visual effects artists to include any one in film and television production impacted by subsidies, organizers say.

“What we're trying to do is bring public attention to our legal effort,” Daniel Lay, who writes the influential blog VFXSoldier and is one of the event's organizers, told TheWrap. “Right now we hope the rain is going to be gone tomorrow and we've invited everybody we can and using social media to get the word out.”

  • Dave Rand

    The sense of urgency last year was also due to the limited amount of time we gave people to decide to come or was all very heated and emotional due to the recent bankruptcy and layoffs at Rhythm & Hues combined with the irony of their nomination for best visual effects and the fact that they were the “Alamo” of free standing VFX housed in Los Angeles. So many had failed for the same reasons before.

    The protest last year was perfectly spontaneous, artists voiced three main grievances all based on the dismantlement of a true creative culture due to tax incentives that have little to do with taxes or incentives, poor treatment of artists due to lack of leverage, and bad business practices enforced on the VFX houses.

    This year the focus is on Subsidies and the need to level the playing field. We are introducing ADAPT, a non profit corporation initiated by Daniel Lay, a visual effects leader and writer of the online news source… VFX Soldier.

    Since last year, what was left of the VFX industry in California has dwindled further. Until that can be equalized. Until we can bring some of the jobs back, and begin chasing talent rather than government handouts, handouts that lack any merit or return to their communities other than to buy votes by allowing politicians to bask in the technicolor glow of Hollywood. Until then the other issues have to find their place and their pace.

    We are extremely confident that our success is inevitable, and all these events are additive to that end….or to that beginning.