In February of 2013, John Hughes, founder of Rhythm & Hues Studios, regretfully announced that the company was going bankrupt. With no way to pay his hard working employees, and no other options, hundreds were laid off. Two weeks later, they won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for “Life of Pi.”
These were tragic, ironic times, and as employees, we were compelled to document it. As the bankruptcy finalized and layoffs continued, we began filming – watching helplessly as one of the most prestigious VFX companies in the world crumbled. As we all asked how this could happen, many stood up in outrage, sounding the alarm that this incident was not an isolated event, but a reflection of greater problems.
The old model of the movie business is passing away, yet modern-day Hollywood grips it ever more tightly. VFX companies and artists are treated as mere cogs in the machine, with little regard to creating a sustainable, collaborative working relationship. This will lead not only to the demise of more VFX companies, but to increasing instability industry wide.