Life of Pi (Fox) and Snow White and the Huntsman (Universal) combined, grossed almost a billion dollars worldwide. Rhythm & Hues Studios, the VFX company that brought Richard Parker to life and created the bulk of visual effects for these two Oscar nominated films, has just declared bankruptcy. Many of the artists who worked nights and weekends to create those effects are out of work and unpaid for weeks of work on new tent-pole films for the same studios, Fox and Universal.
As expected, the Oscar night red carpet has been hit by a protest over the treatment of visual effects technicians. Several hundred people reportedly congregated outside the Dolby theatre in Los Angeles as the stars walked the red carpet, demanding better treatment for the artists who make the spectacular visuals for blockbuster movie possible.
Rhythm & Hues’ troubles come despite working on a string of highly successful films, including The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Mr Propper’s Penguins and The Hunger Games, and winning two Oscars, for the Golden Compass and Babe.
When the visual effects team behind Life of Pi attempted to draw attention to Rhythm & Hues’ plight during their acceptance speech for the best visual effects Oscar, they were cut off by the band as the speech went on beyond the stipulated limit.
Apart from a march on the street – which Twitter users report has seen more than 450 people assemble, calling for “a piece of the Pi” – a chatered plane has been circling overhead towing a banner with the protest slogan: “Box Office + Bankrupt = Visual Effects vfxunion.com”
Artists worldwide, it’s time for a change!
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