In the wake of VFX studio Rhythm and Hues filing for bankruptcy, protests were started at the Oscars outside the Dolby theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday. Rhythm and Hues were responsible for the visual effects used in the film Life of Pi which ironically won an Oscar in the same category. When the team tried to bring the tragic bankruptcy to the audience’s attention during their acceptance speech, they were cut off by a crass rendition of the Jaws theme.
Rhythm and Hues are not the only studio to have suffered lately.There have been layoffs and cuts throughout the industry. In the US, VFX studios make little profit on the films they work on. The main reason for this is that other countries offer tax subsides making even competition difficult. Conditions in the studios have been brought into question as well, artists working long hours without overtime because of unrealistic deadlines. The VFX industry is the only trade without a union which means that none of this will change and if the studio were to complain to their powerhouse clients they are likely to be dropped.
It’s obvious something needs to change, if the situation continues we could see more of a drop in the US industry and studios outsourcing the work to other countries. Here in the UK for instance, we have government-funded movie productions that help the studios pay for overheads, keep the artists employed between productions and keep the costs down. This is something the US drastically needs and hopefully these protests will pave the way to change.
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