The excellent VFX Solider has posted a rather worrying article about the Indian division of Prime Focus allegedly demanding a “security deposit” for artists that work for them (post also contains sample employment contract).
Many of the comments appear to back up other allegations that the company routinely fires workers before their contract expires, keeping a significant portion of the “security deposit” as a consequence. The comments are on fire with stories of other malpractices, not just with this company, but others as well.
The fact that Prime Focus is (at least until now) a reputable company makes this all sound ludicrous – but having been hanging around VFX artists for a significant amount of time in my career, I’m rather inclined to believe what is being said. And if these allegations are true – shame on Prime Focus. Shame on them.
Of course that’s not to say that all companies that have deployed offices in poorer nations such as India, China, etc. are as bad. But for those that do exploit their workers in such a way as to put productivity above the wealthfare of their workers, will soon find that unionisation is going to make things very difficult for them indeed.
I really do want to see the VFX industry unionised. Absolutely.
I am of the absolute mind that if I ever were to be in a position whereby I’d have to employ a VFX facility for my work, I would only ever do so if it were a member of a VFX union (or that the majority of it’s employees were unionised accordingly).
We cannot allow the film industry whose reliance on VFX is so much these days – to the extent that post-production facilities are expanding at an exponential rate, to exploit the workers who are already on the lowest rung of the production ladder.
I’m seeing the relationship between a film studio and a VFX facility the same as a supermarket and a farmer. Would you like free-range or battery VFX artists? You pay a little more for for free-range, happy productive artists, or you can pay pittance and get ill-treated battery artists that produce possibly lower quality work.