Learn how Hollywood screwed over the VFX industry in Life After Pi

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In 2011-12, the VFX company Rhythm & Hues created the astounding effects for Ang Lee's gorgeous movie The Life of Pi. Then they went bankrupt, fired their staff, and went out of business. Two weeks later they won an Oscar. The new documentary Life After Pi shows how this insanity was made possible.

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As we've previously chronicled here, movie studios so vastly underpaid for the work these companies do — the work which makes most modern blockbusters possible, by the way — while denying them any access to the film's profits. So a company like Rhythm & Hues can be hired repeatedly, do amazing, Oscar-winning work, and then still go out of business.

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This documentary was made by former Rhythm & Hues employees, and will be released online in its entirety on February 25th. Then it'll become part of a full-length documentary called Hollywood Ending, about "the larger, complex challenges facing the US Film Industry and the many professionals working within it, whose fates and livelihood are intertwined." For more info on Life After Pi or Hollywood Ending, head here.

[Via /Film]

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DISCUSSION

former CORE Digital employee here...

VFX studios are NOT 'vastly underpaid' for their work...this particular aspect (of a much larger and more complex problem) has to do with what is called a 'fixed bid' - imagine I'm hiring you to build me a house, I give you some plans and some indications of materials I'd like you to use, you have a look and determine that the house I want, built in 8 months, will require 50 people and cost $125,000. I say ok and we write a contract to that effect....then 4 months into the job (all is going well) and I come along and say "I know that the plans say this is a one level bungalow, but what I really want, and what will make this a really great house that many people will want to live in is if it were a two level Tudor style house." You then say "well, that wasn't what we agreed to, but it's your house - so ok..." you then do some math and find that you'll need 15 more people and another month to get the job done, and another $20,000. I remind you that we have a 'fixed bid' contract - more people etc etc is your problem...

so you do the job in 8 months for $125,000, but you had to hire 20 more people (above the est 15 that you thought you needed) and under the original contract your profit would have been $20,000....but now your profit is actually a $7000 loss...

but that's OK...because while you were building this house someone else said that they wanted you to build them a house...and it looks like you'll make a profit of $30,000 on that new contract...which will make up for your $7000 loss...

or will it...

this is what is happening in the VFX industry...vague plans about the amount, kind and complexity of VFX work, addition of shots not in the original bid, removal of shots that already have time/money spent on them, ENDLESS FUCKING CHANGES by 'creatives' (directors, producers, studio fucks, marketing team etc) right up to the very second the work is due (and beyond)...

all of this comes at a cost - and it's the VFX studio that usually bears the brunt of it...and if it happens enough time over a long enough period - you run of of money and willingness on the part of your bank to keep extending you - and you go 'tits up' as they say....

looking forward to the doc....