The Hollywood strikes continue.
The Hollywood movie industry has been facing a lot of trouble in the past months, with the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) joining the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in its strike against studios represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
But writers and actors are not the only ones involved in filmmaking: VFX artists are getting restless as well. The fact that they don't have a union to protect them is one more reason to fear for their future. According to IGN, many artists have already been laid off, and the strikes are not making it easier.
“More than 50% of my colleagues have been laid off,” a former visual effects producer told IGN. “Some were able to pick up work in commercials, games, etc, but a good number of them are still unemployed hoping that the strike ends sooner rather than later.”
A lack of resolution for this whole battle means that even without layoffs now many professionals might run out of stable work soon.
“The post industry is coming to a complete halt by the end of the summer,” added the former VFX producer. “VFX studios started laying off freelancers in the first wave and now they're dealing with letting go senior staff artists due to lack of incoming work.”
Of course, this crisis doesn't mean VFX artists are against the strikes' cause. Many support the fight for better conditions and pay and wish for a union of their own in the US. At the moment, it's a game of studios; they bid for shots in a movie, but no one can tell how this work will be distributed among artists.
“I have to side with the writers,” said the head of production at one VFX studio. “I hate the fucking strike but if VFX artists were in the same position and unionized and moved to strike because they were so frustrated they'd take the hit, then I'd be striking with them too...The fault of the strike lays firmly with studios. They could end it very quickly for less than the concessions they just gave to Directors.
Naturally, not everyone has this problem – some studios have plenty of work to last them some time, but not everyone is so lucky. In fact, these new layoffs could be even harsher than those we saw a couple of years ago.
“I don’t remember seeing this many layoffs during COVID,” a compositor told IGN. “Even a global pandemic wasn’t enough to make production companies halt projects like they are now. They found quick ways around that with social distancing, and postproduction was still in high demand.”
This clearly brings VFX specialists together as they sympathize with writers and actors. Maybe this situation will result in what they desire – a strong union that can represent their interests.
“I think unionizing would benefit VFX artists a lot,” said the senior animator. “But I’m pretty sure most don’t fully understand the benefit of it. They’re so focused on their career and the shots they are doing for each particular movie. This industry relies a lot on juniors who are desperate to work on big projects and who don’t care about working overtime or getting underpaid, because they have their name on the big screen.”