This is a bit of rehash of a post I wrote a long, long time ago. But I think it’s still relevant.
I came across Tomb Raider 2 on iTunes the other day and managed to grab this screenshot which shows my one and only official film credit.
Now I accept that I was working for a facility that works on many productions simultaneously and that credit space is at a premium. I was employed full time and duties on all of the 42 TV and film productions varied greatly in how much one would work on a particular project.
It just so happened that Tomb Raider 2 was one such project in which I spent time working on both in Soho and at Pinewood Studios. On the films Troy and Wimbledon I spent some time at Shepperton Studios getting things all geared up. On Ella Enchanted I went to Ireland for two days to sort out the VFX team. For Sunshine I was at Three Mills Studios setting up VPNs and workstations. For Harry Potter, I’d make repeat visits to Leavesden Studios for VFX kit set-up and internal VLAN/VPN connectivity.
Yet Tomb Raider 2 was the only film I got a credit for out of 6.5 years service, and this also applies to a lot of former colleagues. We were put aside in favour for HR credits. Indeed the HR department for a lot of the films we worked on got ridiculously out of place credits (they were credited as Systems or Technical Support). I don’t know if that’s still going on, but it sure as hell wasn’t a nice thing to look at.
As an engineer, our eternal reward was our salary (which even then, varied enormously within the department and against other skilled system admin roles within London – it wasn’t great). Judging by industry standards, VFX engineers were much better paid that artists for much of the time. But it’d have been nice if there were more recognition from the employers or studios for our work – making stuff work around the clock to meet tough deadlines – for doing this.
But are film credits even worth bothering with these days?
VFX folk are in the lower pecking order anyway. Even the catering department gets higher placement. When you think about the likes of modern Hollywood VFX-packed blockbusters – everybody that spent crazy hours in the office slaving over keyboards, pens & tablets (no, not the iPad variety) and often many artists having had to migrate from different countries for greater opportunities – are all listed towards the end of the credits scroll.
With a lot more independent films being crowd sourced through the likes of Kickstarter and IndieGoGo – you can earn a credit simply for pledging money to the production. Even if you are credit worthy, you’ll likely find that broadcasters wil often chop out credits, or squish them to unreadable sizes (although it strikes me as somewhat dubious that they don’t do this for their own productions but rather third party licensed stuff).
I’d suggest that film web sites carry the full credit list, but most individual film “web sites” are now only hosted through Facebook (and few film studios will keep old film web sites live – they’ll archive them or even just wipe them completely after a few years). IMDb entries aren’t official. Anybody can update their own profile – rightly or wrongly – there’s nobody from the film companies to verify whether somebody has genuinely worked on a production.
On the plus side, given how terrible some of these films turn out – would you really want to be associated with the really bad ones no matter how good the VFX were? Looking over the list of productions I’ve had some involvement with, there are some terrible, terrible films.
Now if you’ll all excuse me, I’m off to add myself as Vice President in Charge of Camels to Transformers 4′s IMDb page.