David S. Cohen reports in an article today in Variety that Montreal's Fake Studio (part of Camera e-Motion Group) has left a handful of VFX artists unpaid since April for work done on the film Piranha 3D. The article discusses the familiar nature to the Meteor story, mentions the Visual Effects business as a Ponzi scheme and talks of the lack of a union for artists. David ends his piece with this paragraph:

"The show must go on" has been the showbiz mantra, and the movie biz has counted on artists taking that to heart. But the patience and goodwill of vfx artists aren't infinite. Whether the solution is market-based (i.e., artists negotiating ruthlessly and walking off immediately if a payment is missed) or a union, it's becoming clear that the status quo will not hold. Something has to give.

Read the whole article at Variety.

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  • MotionGuy

    I don’t understand why if an artist doesn’t get paid when they are supposed to on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, why they stick around and finish the job. A new model needs to happen, like a the little guy with a small motion design business who will watermark shots or the complete commercial until full payment is received.

    • One problem artists have is when you are freelance, being classified (probably incorrectly) as an independent contractor you lose the normalcy of payroll. In California if you are on payroll you must be paid on a regular schedule but many VFX companies vary payments for “contractors” wildly. If an artist is experiencing swings of being paid every week to 90-100 days they have no way to gauge when to panic.

      • MotionGuy

        But why don’t these “contractors” put in their contract that they a due pay at “x” date?

  • Scott Squires has some solid advice for artists in his blog post “VFX artists don’t need to be taken advantage of”


    • 9. Respect yourself. Respect your job.

      -amen to that.

  • joe

    That’s what happens when you work for a fake studio đŸ™‚

    I guess people should just stop working for companies with names that represent either a false something or a falling object.

  • Annie

    Ha, I saw Piranha last night. We thought it was more of a spoof on Jaws because of Richard Dreyfuss and Christopher Lloyd’s roles. Nope. It’s absolutely the most realistic goriest of films I’ve ever seen. That being said, the VFX teams did a wonderful job – especially with the eaten flesh… Yuck.

    I’m in I.A.T.S.E. There are times I scream out in anger at the politics and corruption, but I always get paid đŸ™‚

    The other alternative for VFX pros is a guild. Essentially, VFX pros need to be a member of a group that has a list of standard practices that an employer must follow. The group – just like a union – should have a contact with the labor department in whatever State or Country they are working in. Respective governments/departments can act quickly to get a person paid. Each VFX pro should sign a “deal memo” with the employer outlining the job, and then each person needs to document their work hours. Once an agreement is met on a pay schedule, and then you don’t get paid, go to the government labor person for help.

    In Texas, the employer commits a crime if they do not pay the employee either on the seventh day or thirtieth day after work. If you don’t get paid, call the local police for advice.

  • Anabelle

    Hi all,
    I am writing a story on unpaid artists in Montreal. Did that happen to you? Do you know anyone who would like to talk about it? Let me know.