Visual Effects Society Calls For New California Tax Incentives
Prana Studios' Winning Bid for Rhythm & Hues Valued at About $17.8 Million
The Visual Effects Society -- a global honorary society of the VFX industry -- sent an open letter to its membership on Tuesday in which it asked the state of California to create new tax incentives and called for a "VFX Congress" to explore other solutions to the problems facing the visual-effects industry.
The move followed a demonstration on Sunday that drew nearly 500 people representing the visual-effects community to Hollywood Blvd. to focus the film industry’s attention on the economic problems threatening visual-effects houses. While the industry has been grappling with problems for some time, those issues have received more attention since Rhythm & Hues -- the VFX studio behind the majority of the VFX in Life of Pi, which won the VFX Oscar -- filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month.
VES did not organize the Oscar day demonstration, and as an honorary society, it does not have collective-bargaining power. But the open letter, signed by VES executive director Eric Roth, said VES intends to urge California Gov. Jerry Brown and the state legislature to expand its tax-incentive program to include "a focused approach concentrated on the visual effects and post production sectors of the industry.”
"California will need to take action – right now – or we’ll lose many thousands more jobs and Hollywood will soon be the equivalent of an empty storefront," the letter reads. VES is asking its members to send letters to the legislature and offers them a sample letter.
VES also plans to organize a “VFX Congress” to take place in the coming weeks “because we have reached a tipping point for the visual effects industry and there is much pent up energy, anger and frustration right now.” Roth said “everyone” is invited and that VES is still working out details as to how to involve artists from around the world in the meeting.
The letter asserts that the VFX industry and the entertainment industry at large in California are in “serious jeopardy.”
Citing incentives offered by other states and countries, the letter states that California’s incentive program is “woefully inadequate” and that, as a result, "thousands of talented visual effects artists are joining the unemployment lines or becoming 'migrant film workers.'"
A portion of the letter also reads: “We know that there are some out there who are calling for the elimination of all subsidies and tax incentives everywhere around the world. We think that’s a great idea and if there were a magic button that could be pressed to make that a reality, we would press it in a nanosecond."
"But in today’s global economy, where many hundreds of localities around the world are feverishly devising new ways to make California’s piece of the entertainment pie smaller, the fact that California’s program doesn’t meet its current needs … is recklessly negligent to the thousands of visual effects professionals who are daily losing their jobs to other locales around the world. This not only hurts those artists, but also California’s economy.”
VES has made previous efforts to shed light on the industry problems. In 2011, it sent out an earlier open letter to the entertainment industry and proposed a VES Bill of Rights.