COMING SOON! Visual Effects Society Vancouver Section along with the Vancouver Economic Commission and the HR Screen Council Board are pleased to announce the date for the 2nd Annual VES Vancouver Career Fair.
WHERE: Vancouver Convention Centre West Building
WHEN: April 20, 2013 11:00 am to 4:30 pm
Last year the VES Vancouver Job Fair hosted 1200 attendees and 20 exhibitors.
This year we have expanded the space to accommodate over 30 exhibitors.
This event will be FREE for attendees, so sign up and get more info here!
The 2013 Spark FX conference, film festival and job fair takes place in Vancouver, BC this weekend. A hop, skip and a jump across the border gets you access to a killer headliner lineup including Joe Letteri and all of the lead VFX Supervisors on the Hobbit w/Weta Digital, Scott Ross (formerly of Digital Domain), journeymen Bill Taylor, Hoyt Yeatman Jr. and others.
These are heavy hitters and certainly worth the drive. Plus, if you’re lookin’, there’s a job fair as well. Looks like over the course of Friday and Saturday it will catch all of the major players in the Vancouver market – Image Engine, Digital Domain, MPC, Pixar Canada, etc. I’ve not been super impressed with Vancouver job fairs in the past, they usually seem to just be going through the motions (what’s that aboot, eh?) – but with so many new studios opening this past year there might be a genuine demand this time around.
I might be guilty of glamourizing things a little. With as many entry level, budding young talent that we have around these parts, I try to respect that innocent gleam in your eye (ah, to be young again) and keep things optimistic. Focus on the good, gloss over the bad… sure. Shields up, Mr. Sulu!
But as much as you want to give our industry the benefit of the doubt, and think things are all peachy out there – we all know they’re not. On the whole, our industry is far from stable.
I try to remind myself that up here Portland way we’re (for better or for worse) on the fringe, and outside the ring of fire. But any of us who’ve been around the block for a few years have seen the gradual decline and tightening. Let’s just say we’ve seen better days.
The Swifts migtrate and seek shelter in Portland’s Chapman School chimney, each year roundabout September
Not without exception, but on the whole we have become a migratory workforce. Those of us with experience – how many of your friends are unemployed right now? How many are livin’ la vida freelance, tempting fate without benefits like health insurance? OT? Sick days? Waiting in the wings that they might be able to roll off unemployment and get picked up on a new production? Working without a guarantee that they’ll be kept on for the next production (or if there even IS a “next” production)? How many have moved within the last 3-5 years, trying to make things better for themselves and their families with the hope of finding more permanent prospects without the gut wrenching waiting game?
Permanent is becoming a word you rarely hear associated with anything these days. Not even 2 show deals. Those core positions are few and far between, and drying up more and more by the day. Powerhouses like Sony Imageworks and Digital Domain are slashing jobs and salaries left and right, cutting staff positions and going to show or contract based model, and many of those contracts are being offered to employees by dangling the carrot out of state or out of the country, as they’re being baited to move where the incentives are so that the company can remain competitive. They’re after one thing and one thing alone – lowering their bids to compete with the others, keep a stable of projects coming in and to somehow squeeze out any profit as they can while their overhead expenses and talent costs remain largely the same. VFX comes at a price, and after all of these years there still seems to be a huge question mark surrounding just what that price should be.
The thing I always come back to is the idea of “normalcy.” A VFX studio at it’s core is a very simple operation. It provides a connection between artists that can do the work and clients that want the work done, and tries to make the process as clog free as possible. Why this is getting so complicated and the business end of it is still evolving & shaking out is a complete mystery. It wasn’t uncommon for our parents to have 30 years with a company when it came time to retire. Most VFX artists are considered old timers if they have 5 years with a company… you’ve been around “forever.” Yet it’s still the same artists going from studio to studio as doors open and close.
It’s all fun and games when you’re young, healthy, single, still searching for the city you want to plant roots – but once you make the rounds and figure things out, permanence, longevity, sustainability – these are not easy words to come by. A lot of good artists lives are being compromised by the cheapening of visual effects.
By now it’s been hashed for years and everyone should understand the root level problems that need to be addressed. The big news is that yesterday marked the first time in a while that I felt like we took a step in the right direction, and this is worth a mark on the calendar.
VFX Soldier has put into action the beginning steps of a plan that would fight the production subsidies running rampant in our industry. This will launch a feasibility study by a law firm to start weeding through trade agreements and hack through the jungle of red tape with a machete to see if we stand a fighting chance at correcting the giant titanic downward spiral of a mess that subsidies are creating. Hopefully this will take hold and kickstart the process that exposes the truth that subsidies are – and I quote – a “race to the bottom.”
Whether we like it or not, this does reach us in Portland. We, as taxpayers, support production in Oregon with tax rebates just like most other states to remain competitive, but fairly mild compared to some of the more extreme examples. Our studios and startups bid jobs nationally and internationally against companies with unfair tax advantages (and trust me it’s very, very hard to compete with those). Artists in LA, SF, NYC, etc are seeing studios close and general instability at an alarming rate and many of us have friends mired in unemployment who have moved or are considering moving where the work is. As the in-fighting continues amongst the states and work continues to leave the US, Portland won’t be instantly hit as hard as the major markets but we count on the blue chip drip and overflow work being there. As the competition continues to increase, we’ll feel repercussions and continued tightening just a few short months behind any dryup in the major vfx cities. This is an industry wide problem that affects everyone.
It’s natural for the VFX work to continue to decentralize from “mothership” Hollywood. That being the case, leveling the playing field and at least making an attempt to keep as much of that runoff here would have nothing but positive repercussions for the US secondary markets. I don’t think anyone is looking to slap a “made in USA” bumper sticker on a movie – but it’d be nice if the river of money created by the blockbusters wasn’t exiting the country at a record pace strictly due to subsidies. It’s one thing if a US studio loses a bid to Weta Digital, who has the most insane collection of VFX talent on the planet (and is amazingly completely unsubsidized), but it’s another thing if all else is equal and we continually lose bids based on tax incentives. And insult to injury – watch our own studios pack up and leave to try to follow the incentives and stay competitive. The film industry is one of the few areas where the US is still 2nd to none… you’d think it’d be a “manufacturing” market worth protecting.
It’s not out of the question to think that high-quality-of-life Portland or tech+gaming talent rich Seattle might be in line for an injection of fresh startups or even major player satellite office love (hopefully of the long term type and not mere experiments), but certainly not with Vancouver BC being a stone’s throw away for 35% less $. And who can blame them? Who wouldn’t drive out to Beaverton to pick up the new iPhone if it were a couple hundy less? The talent is already starting to cement themselves in the artificially pumped up markets and the longer this goes on the harder it becomes to steer the ship back on course. No one wants to sell houses, pull kids out of school, leave their friends behind.
I’m not saying to support this, but I’m saying that I support this. I don’t speak for anyone but myself here. On the flipside, there is backlash from those living in markets with heavy subsidies that don’t want the artificially pumped up work to pack up and leave the area. I completely understand that sentiment because I’ve seen it happen time and time again, and they’re right to fear it because it’s no secret – it’s a ticking time bomb. I won’t hash through the long version of the story, but let’s just say I know enough people who’ve been directly negatively affected by subsidies and I’ve worked at offices that are no longer in existence. I’ve definitely arrived at the opinion that this is a real problem.
Now that there’s some action on the agenda – it’s worth looking into. Think about the state of things and if you want to be involved in the first step towards stopping the bleeding.