Ross Lincoln is a Deadline contributor.
Just over two weeks after reports that troubled VFX studio Rhythm & Hues would be establishing operations in Taiwan, the company is courting new employees for its facility in the city of Kaohsiung. The studio is seeking a variety of creative personell, including special effects engineers and 3D animation artists, according to the China Post. The U.S.-based firm was running a booth at a job fair at National Chung Hsing University in Taichung.
Whether the jobs being offered in Taiwan represent a new beginning for Rhythm & Hues or a respite before a bitter end remains unclear. The company declared bankruptcy on February 11, mere hours after Life of Pi won the BAFTA for Special Visual Effects (The movie went on to win Best Director for Ang Lee and Best Visual Effects at the 85th Academy Awards.) On March 8, a federal bankruptcy court in Los Angeles approved a stalking horse bid by Korean media concern JS Communications, a move designed to encourage competitive bidding among interested buyers. A stalking horse arrangement can result in the breakup of a bankrupt company and the sale of its assets to several buyers, as was the case in January with video game publisher THQ.
Rhythm & Hues’ difficulties have rallied VFX professionals to protest what they contend is a race to the bottom for the industry, citing reliance on offshore labor and tax subsidies in Canada and elsewhere as particularly brutal impediments to profitability for California-based effects houses. Current and former Rythm & Hues employees organized a demonstration the afternoon of the Oscars to call attention to these problems that was ultimately attended by over 400 people. Since then calls for a trade organization or full unionization for the industry have grown, though there is no agreement among VFX industry professionals about the most productive course of action.