Friday, December 7, 2012

Understanding Unions: The Good, The Bad & Ugly

VES will not let me embed the video, but you can watch if you click the link below...

Honestly, in all of the years I spent hundreds of dollars on the VES, I never saw any valuable return on that money.  For this reason, I have not been a member, since 2009, when they doubled the dues.

This, however, is a great VES talk.  

Marty Schindler, the moderator, is someone I met while serving, myself, as a speaker on a VES panel, in 2002.  Marty knows his stuff.  If nothing else, watching this video is worth listening to Marty.  His guidance of this talk is on point.

It's interesting to listen to each person on the panel, objectively, and observe their directives.  It's very clear the union rep wants unions in VFX, because that means more money and power for the union. The attorney is very careful about defining unions, trade orgs and the like, without bias.  She also checks the union rep on his statements that a union would incur no costs to the VFX facilities.  How could there not be?  She checks the union rep's claims consistently throughout the discussion.  I do not hear from the union rep an argument that convinces me one way or another that the union will solve the issues that lie in front of the VFX industry.  I am not convinced a union will hurt either.

Union or not, I am not sure what the answer is since we possibly missed the boat to implement infrastructure years ago that could have protected the VFX productions facilities, and therefore their workers.  One of the most constructive comments is where they discuss how the workers and VFX vendors have to work together as a unit to make for change in a biz where there is no longer a profit margin to provide leverage with the motion picture studios on schedules, contracts and creative content.

The studio management reps on the board also give the perspective of cost of unions vs. profit margins and the reality of creating a VFX union at VFX shops that are making no profit.  All of this is compounded by runaway production and a union can only cover workers in the US and Canada.  The studio management reps actually offer some solutions to the problems that face artists and studios today, outside of a union.  One important crux of this issue is the perception of the value of VFX artists and what we bring to the table in the first place.

The bottom line, 
"You can't go further into debt every year and expect to make money as a VFX facility."

Scott Ross grabs the mic at the end of part 2, stating, "We shot ourselves in the foot."

I have to agree with Scott Ross on all of his points.  A VFX trade organization is crucial to ailing the symptoms of a sick industry that has set itself up for failure.  Since the beginning, VFX shops have been working themselves into the ground for the movie production houses.  A union could help the situation, working as a trojan hourse, by forcing the hand of the VFX management to band together and form a trade organization to deal with all of the issues before them.  The sad part is, the VFX vendors could create a trade organization all on their own, but they refuse to because they believe no movie production studio will give them work if they fight back.

A must watch.

And, here is a link to the

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