Jeff Heusser is on hand at the VFX protest outside the Oscars for fxguide.
The protest is not a strike, "it is an effort to raise awareness," explained VFX supervisor Scott Squires speaking to fxguide as he marched moments ago.
Here is a phone interview done minutes ago, from the VFX / Oscar protest march. Mike Seymour speaks to Jeff Heusser at the march and he is joined by Scott Squires. (Sorry for the audio quality but it was recorded as they walked).
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Supporting events are being reported to be happening in Canada, New Zealand and New York.
We spoke to Jeff, right before a police escorted march was about to start. The crowd has been growing since lunchtime as people gather to protest the state of the industry, and the often times harsh way that falls on the individual artists, but Jeff reports that the "mood is good, upbeat and positive". There are now some 360 people by the count of the organizers. You can see in these images people with small green tape on their shirts - this was used to accurately count protesters. The final number may run higher as the march starts, which it is as we are posting this. UPDATE: final total was 483 when we were last able to check in with Sam Edwards.
More photos can be seen in this flickr set.
Business issues facing visual effects studios and artists have been a hot topic for years, the last few months have been downright depressing. Before the dust had settled on the bankruptcy and re-emergence of Digital Domain news spread of other companies slimming down, missing payrolls… the kinds of things we have sadly become far too accustomed to hearing. Meanwhile box office records continue to be set by visual effects films.
As we entered the heart of awards season, the news kept getting worse and Rhythm & Hues Chapter 11 hit right before the VES Awards. We find our industry in a situation where Life of Pi, the leading candidate to win the Visual Effects Oscar, (based on other award show wins and the vaunted VFX Predictinator) had a primary vendor that is in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Traditional media sources have been quick to pick up that story - NPR, The LA Times, Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Wall Street Journal Deadline Hollywood and The Huffington Post have all run stories about the state of the visual effects business in recent days.
With that window of exposure open, some Los Angeles visual effects artists took note of a tweet by former ILM GM and DD Founder Scott Ross:
I had a dream, 500 VFX artists near the Dolby (Kodak) theater on Oscar day waving signs that say "I WANT A PIECE OF THE PI TOO."
From this, Twitter, Facebook, email groups, blogs all started buzzing about actually doing that, looking for a way to protest at the Oscars to bring visibility to the issues. What issues? We go back to Scott Ross who followed up with this tweet:
Message is simple: VFX artists create incredible images that translates into huge box office. BUT, VFX companies are going out of business.
New twitter accounts like @VFXSoldarity have started speaking out and visual effects artist David Rand has been working with a group looking to get media attention by flying a banner over the awards - - a plane flying a banner reading BOXOFFICE + BANKRUPT = VISUAL EFFECTS VFXUNION.COM will be in the skies over the awards - you can follow those activities and learn of additional meet ups at @vfxunited.
VFX Soldier has also been covering the awards protest and there are many comments on his blog.
All eyes will be on the acceptance speech as well, many feel that the most effective way to raise the issue to a higher lever is to mention the plight of the industry in the winning speech. So as you watch the Oscars, keep one eye on your Twitter feed, scan the crowd shots from outside the Dolby Theatre and in Los Angeles keep an eye on the skies... visual effects artists are looking for creative ways to share their stories.
UPDATE: More details for those interested in participating can be found in this post: vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/vfx-oscars-demonstration-hollywood-vine-1pm-430pm
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