Help people to work remotely

Mario Rokicki, a Colour Supervisor at Double Negative in Canada has started the petition to allow artists in VFX industry to do remote work on shows that are under NDAs from Big Hollywood studios.

Rokicki explains that “with the Coronavirus spread there is a lot of fear among artists and staff of VFX facilities that there will be layoffs and closures since under current legal frameworks most houses cannot deploy remote work solutions on shows”. As such he has set up a petition to allow remote work.

The petition already has over 6500 names supporting the move. As he states: VFX Studios around the globe, that work on projects for the Hollywood Studios and Streaming Companies, are prevented from providing remote working solutions to their staff. NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) for VFX studios don’t allow artists, production, tech and support staff to work from home.

Artists and their families need support and VFX houses could quickly deploy secure technology solutions to allow work from home on the projects. Additionally, with most major productions now delayed, even when productions are allowed to return to work there will be major delays to the VFX supply chain. These delays will only be worse if momentum is lost, teams dispersed and artists forced to do other work.

“All I ask is to put aside often legal misguided IP protection measures and harsh NDAs and allow tens of thousands of dedicated artists to work from home and prevent total VFX studios shutdown and layoffs. We want to make the best of the tough times and towards creating the great work that we always delivered in the past”.

Hire people if you can

Quinn Richardson’s Facebook post is a good one

If you do have any chance of generating work during this period, to be done remotely, consider hiring people not only to get the work done, but to help keep people afloat (they will remember it for years to come).

Working from home

The VES pointed out that many artists that are being asked to work remotely are being asked to use their own equipment and their own software licenses – this may be difficult or create a hardship, particularly for those who don’t have personal licenses for the software required.

The VES has a great technical doc on working from home. Link here: VES Technology Committee WFH best practices and tips & tricks.

SideFX has outlined some technical tips for artists working from home, including VPN and installing licenses locally. Jody Madden CEO of the Foundry posted saying. “For most studios, the quickest and simplest solution is to use a VPN which requires no change to your Foundry licensing.” In that letter, she also pointed out that if anyone does encounter challenges or requires licensing changes, that they should contact the Foundry support team. “We are ready to help,” she goes on to say. “There is free access to Foundry software to help companies who may be experimenting with new infrastructure or artists learning new software, we have reset our trial database, meaning you can now access a new 30-day trial for all products, independent of the date of your last trial”.

The Foundry will also continue to offer unlimited non-commercial use of Nuke and Mari. For any students who are unable to attend school and can no longer access school facilities, the Foundry offers a year’s free access to Nuke, Modo, Mari and Katana.

The USA: Families First Coronavirus Response Act

IATSE in the USA points out that entertainment workers generally are likely to be collateral damage in the fight against COVID-19. “We need a special Emergency Coronavirus Economic Support Benefit geared to include workers who have a bona fide, good faith offer to work that gets canceled due to the coronavirus” states their web site.

The unique nature of the entertainment industry means that many of the creative professionals may not work every day or even every month. In the USA the existing paid leave programs are by and large not applicable to this workforce. Entertainment workers depend on the income from each project they book to ensure they can support themselves and can qualify to participate in our collectively bargained health plans.

As part of the bi-partisan rules of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was not designed with the unique needs of the Entertainment industry freelance community in mind.  They were designed specifically for the traditional single employer relationships, or even for multi-employer work in the construction industry and are thus likely to exclude entertainment freelancers in general.

IATSE is supporting a request for the special Emergency Coronavirus Economic Support Benefit to be adjusted or extended to include workers who have a bona fide, good faith offer to work that gets canceled due to the coronavirus.

Look after yourself

If you are working from home or using the time to improve your skills, re-cut your showreel and update your web site, here are a few great thoughts from fellow artists posted online:

  • Don’t turn home into 24/7 work, allow time for both family and your own mental health.
  • Walk outside if you can, fresh air is remarkable and blood flow is key to feeling OK
  • You will miss those crappy meetings. It is likely you could feel left out or isolated just skype or call work people and check-in. Social calls are of course also important, but stay connected with some form of facetime. Text and Facebook posts are not a substitute for a genuine smile.
  • Where to discuss issues with your peers:
  • Recruiters are stopping or pausing, but once this passes – and it will, they will once again welcome your communications. When this situation is finished, it would be great to have a killer web site and a sample piece of your work to show.
  • It is all changing day by day – but you don’t need to focus on the COVID-19 minute to minute. Mentally it can really get depressing, try and not just transfixed with the news (especially before bed).
  • Now more than ever: try and eat well and look after yourself.
  • Nothing cheers you up more than helping someone else, so offer to make a model or cut a clip or comp a shot for someone else’s personal project, – for free.
  • Be aware that there will be increased mental health issues ahead and perhaps increased domestic violence, keeping connected and engaged with others is vital for everyone’s sake.
  • And please wash your hands …
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