Achieving A United Voice For VFX Artists.

Posted: March 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

“-Artist Freedom
-Paying Artists overtime and giving them proper credit”

“The work I do and with the new technologies the more we can do in less time with more quality”

“Working with great people and on some great projects. Unfortunately some facilities will work on a great project and abuse the staff, because they are aware they have another 100 waiting around the corner”

“I love my job and the VFX industry, however I would like to see wages normalized and access to portable Health and Pension happen for us.”

“I am gratified by the projects I get to work on and the talent I’m around. I’m also glad I live in a great city with many studios to work with. I see this improving with better overtime regulations, climate control rules for workplaces in our region, chair regulations for entertainment/technology studios.”

“I enjoy the creative content and creative industry and knowing that you can take part in something that other people around the world can be entertained by. Things in VFX will improve when communication improves between management and artists.”

“I love painting and films, and since I can combine the two in this industry, working makes me happy. But the issues around work hours, and pay have been a great discomfort to me.”

The above is a sampling of your responses to “What do you like best about your career and how do you see it improving?” which was posed in the IATSE Local 891 VFX survey, posted on // We received over 100 responses from Matte Painters, Roto/Paint Artists, VFX Production Coordinators, VFX Supervisors, Modeler/Texture artists, Lighting Artists, Generalists, Compositors, FX TDs, etc. The results have been collated and among the findings:

– 55% of respondents are Canadian or Permanent residents with 85% identifying as male.

-Only 48% of respondents reported they were paid for overtime worked. Almost 60% of artists reported working more than 60 hours a week.

-Less than half of the respondents have had their work stations ergonomically set up. 63% experience physical discomfort.

Balancing work and home life, annual salary increases, payment for overtime worked, medical/dental benefits ranked high in importance to working VFX artists.

Other comments expressed ranged from wanting to “being paid by the studio directly” and “feeling appreciated by the employer”. Not everyone who responded was unhappy with their job, some have had negative experiences with previous employers but now felt they had landed in a good place: “It is completely unacceptable to leave artists names out of credits and to slave drive them at minimal salaries. I am fortunate to work with a decent company at the moment however, there is the past projects”.

Overall it is clear VFX artists love what they do, are passionate about their work, however job insecurity, lengthy hours, unpaid overtime, and lack of benefits is taking its toll on continued enthusiasm for some in their chosen profession,“Overall my feeling is that it is only a matter of time before I will leave the VFX industry. After so many years it is increasingly obvious that not only is the situation deteriorating, it show no signs of improvement.”

IATSE members working under IATSE contracts are paid for overtime and receive employer funded benefits. Union members have access to the grievance and arbitration procedure in case of disputes, members are not left on their own to face management. They have shop stewards to bring safety concerns to or access to the anonymous hot line. This contributes to a greater sense of security for union members. Presently, Local 891 is beginning preparations for the upcoming Master Collective Agreement contract negotiations which includes the VFX side letter. I would like to hear your thoughts on what important terms and conditions that you would want if you were working under a union contract. You can respond on the blog or if you can email me directly. Finding out about each others concerns and talking about solutions is key to achieving what one respondent asked for “a united voice among artists”.

  1. Dave Rand says:

    After experiencing the Montreal Labor department’s reaction to the unpaid artists situation on Journey to the Center of the Earth some research into the BC’s labor laws may be very helpfull in preventing a repeat of hat situation here. In Quebec I learned that employees are considered unsecured creditors in the event on an insolvency (bankruptcy) of a studio. To cover this many companies acquire payroll insurance, most are minimal policies like the one Meteor had that no where near covered the lost wages, yet they used it to keep us working and then to keep us waiting for our pay. I’d like to see this looked into and possibly require this for all employees in the union contract…even the ones often mislabeled as freelance. I’d also like the terms and limits of such a policy to be freely available to the union.

  2. Anonymous001 says:

    In a perfect world, I’d like the side letter to push to achieve

    – Vfx employees get paid for overtime, all their time after a base eight hour day
    – Vfx employees getting paid overtime at an overtime rate, not just at the same flat hourly rate for overtime hours
    – Vfx employees getting paid double time after 12 hours
    – Portable benefits for contract workers
    – The existence of a studio contributed pension or rrsp fund that is also portable
    – Making sure the vfx artists who work on a project get credited
    – Climate controlled work places that avoid excessive heat in the summer or excessive cold in the winter
    – Workstation chairs that fit the person sitting in them
    – Regulations regarding a timely manner to be informed of contract renewal or extension
    – Enforcement of BC labor laws, for instance, when studios incorrectly designate someone a contractor when they are in fact operating as an employee. And thus entitled to any employee benefits that may exist and the appropriate tax deductions from their salaries.
    – Make mention that vfx artsits are not ” information technology workers”

  3. iatse891vfx says:

    Check out TAG’s website and see how they are helping their members “aches and pains”

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