The first calls on the California legisltature and Gov. Jerry Brown to “immediately expand its tax incentive program for the entertainment industry and to include a focused approach concentrated on the visual effects and post-production sectors of the industry.”
That aligns the VES with the California portion of the vfx industry, which has complained subisides in other states and countries put it at a fatal disadvantage. However taking such a stand risks alienating much of its membership, which works in those other states and countries. Many of the protesters at Sunday’s pre-Oscars visual effects street demonstration complained about foreign subsidies.
“We know that there are some out there who are calling for the elimination of all subsidies and tax incentives everywhere around the world,” said the VES statement. “We think that’s a great idea and if there were a magic button that could be pressed to make that a reality, we would press it in a nanosecond. Why? Because California can compete with anyone, anywhere if there’s a level playing field.”
The second VES call to action is the announcement of a visual effects congress to allow “all artists from around the world” to share their concerns and find common ground.
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Following Sunday’s street prostest planning continues for more action to raise awareness of the problems facing the vfx industry and its artists. Protest organizers are calling for a “Pi day” walkout on March 14 (3.14), in which vfx artists worldwide would not report to work. Efforts by IATSE to organize vfx artists are also expected to pick up.
However the Sunday protest included several distinct factions. Pro-union, anti-subsidy, and general pro-fairness demonstrators walked side by side. VES chair Jeffrey Okun posted a statement following the protest saying that while change is needed and he supported the protesters, “We need a clearer sense of strategic thinking about what we should be asking for with the support of the entire VFX community. I felt that to organize a formal protest without well defined goals was not the best way to capitalize on the anger in our community (although I was heartened to hear that hundreds of artists from our community took part).”
photo credit: Aaron Kupferman