Vfx firm Asylum shuts down

Founder cites foreign competition, lack of local incentives

Santa Monica-based visual effects studio Asylum, a highly regarded mid-sized facility with numerous major credits, has shut down.

Recent credits for Asylum included “Unstoppable” and “The Next Three Days.” Owner-founder Nathan McGuinness reported the company was busy with commercials and features until the moment he closed the doors on Wednesday afternoon.

McGuinness declined to name those projects and said his clients were working on unwinding their involvement with Asylum.

“We need to move on with some type of honor,” he said. “We did not damage any job that we were working on.”

McGuinness cited offshore competition and tax incentives for forcing prices down so far Asylum could no longer compete.

“We’ve become a very smart and sophisticated company. We don’t lose money on jobs,” he said. “We’ve lost work because we couldn’t compete with the Canadian companies. And obviously the English companies. I respect these companies, I respect the caliber of work that’s happening around the world. I just don’t understand why we weren’t protected here in Los Angeles.”

In Asylum’s final days, McGuinness was approached by larger companies that wanted to absorb Asylum, but he ultimately declined.

McGuinness expressed his regret that artists will be left unpaid for their final week’s work.