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VES launches effects industry ‘bill of rights’

Saturday, September 24th, 2011 | Posted by Jim Thacker

VFX artists should be free to turn down unexpected overtime work, according to the Visual Effects Society’s new industry bill of rights.

The 23-point charter, published on the VES’s website, sets out a proposed code of rights for artists, visual effects facilities and the companies that hire them.

Other proposed rights for artists include prompt payment, health care coverage, and the automatic right to use work in demo reels after its commercial release.

Rights for facilities concern the need for the scope of a project to be defined clearly in advance and the right to turn down additional work – for which, read project creep – “without fear of reprisal on future projects”.

Rights for changing times
In a statement explaining the new bill of rights, the VES writes: “Though the number of jobs has grown worldwide, job security and working conditions have significantly eroded.”

“In some parts of the world, many artists do not have access to health care coverage [and] non-paid and unchecked overtime, lack of access to pensions and day-to-day job security are key issues. Similarly, many facilities are experiencing tremendous difficulties keeping their doors open because they are finding out that their current business models are broken.”

Enforcing the bill?
The VES’s statement emphasises negotiation over enforcement, positioning the bill as “a starting point for a meaningful discussion that will unfold over the months ahead” – and, as a membership organisation, it has no other way to enforce its proposals.

However, the bill is the first manifestation of the action promised in VES director Eric Roth’s May open letter to the industry, which proposed “virtual town hall meetings, a VFX artists’ Bill of Rights and a VFX CEOs’ forum”.

It will be interesting to see where the VES goes from here in the coming months.

Read the full bill of rights on the Visual Effects Society website

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  • pixel pusher

    sigh… my wife and i left the big world of big vfx companies a decade ago hoping that creating smaller, more efficient companies with more genuine intentions and more defined collaboration tools could enable us to do what we loved to do without the umbilical cord to dinosaur vfx giants and their associated henchmen, making closed-door negotiation deals that had nothing to do with the well-being of the artists that were intrinsically involved in making the true vision of their films reality. Sadly, the only association that supposedly held any hope for ensuring that the visual effects artists and technicians who showed up in the credits well after the caterers and the animal handlers on a 100% visual effects film that grossed way beyond any other comparable film would receive any real recognition for their efforts was the VES. We as an industry (and i am speaking for those of us who actually do what we do from a standpoint of collaboration and enjoyment of making the visually impossible possible) have come to witness the larger studios diminish our workforce’s collective value by following the foreign tax incentives and completely decimating the flow of work into the very place where innovation and technology changed the face of visual story telling forever. The ” VFX Bill Of Rights” is too little too late. Why didn’t the VES stand up for digital artists’s rights when European tax incentives were obviously luring studios away from domestic artist pools in favor of very cheap overseas labor… why did we have to see so many mid and upper level VFX companies close their doors due to an inability to compete with international bidding wars that would undercut any reasonable budget due to the fact that the studios could get 30%-40% TAX FREE incentives by simply shooting and posting their films in another country. If you think that posting a Visual Effects Industry Bill of Rights is going to accomplish anything, maybe you should have taken the initiative to convince Mr. Schwarzenegger’s studio liaison when you had the chance, to introduce local incentives that were comparable to the standards set by London, India, Australia and many other countries. Maybe that would have helped to keep the industry alive, here, where it was born… good luck with that.

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