04/21: Add-On's at the bottom ..
Steve Kaplan and I spent a large part of the afternoon in Culver City with IA reps Peter Marley and Vanessa Holtgrewe, hosting an "informal" meeting of visual effects artists in the lobby of the Culver City Hotel ...
Driving down from the Valley, we made cryptic jokes about nobody showing up, that it might morph into a drab little lunch with the four of us staring at each other. And no takers.
We got to the Culver City Hotel a bit before noon. The lobby was empty. I grabbed some sandwiches from across the street, and when I got back there were twenty-five or thirty artists clustered around Peter, Vanessa and Mr. Kaplan, asking for rep cards, asking questions about health care, pension plans, and how this union thing would benefit them.
We explained that the goal was to get the visual effects community under a cloak of benefits so they could add to their pensions and keep their health coverage no matter what visual effects project they worked on in Southern Cal. The crowd was receptive, and we handed out a lot of representation cards (and got a bunch handed back, signed.)
By the end of the afternoon, seventy-five visual effects crew members came through the lobby. One veteran told me:
"There's got to be a better way to do these things. The studios putting their big visual effects pictures out for bid and the vfx houses cutting each others' throats underpricing each other doesn't work well for anybody. Directors need to be in the post-production phase, looking at the shots as they come together, looking at the artists working at terminals and watching what they're doing, same as on a live-action set. There's no need to do a shot over and over, especially if the director of the picture is there.
"Things have to change."
This meeting marks only the first few steps of a long hike, but we're going to do whatever it takes to reach out and get visual effects artists and technical directors under the big union tent.
Dave McNary of Variety writes of the meeting here.
Kaplan here ..
The turnout yesterday was truly inspiring. As Hulett mentioned, we estimated around 70-80 people from all over Southern Cal who took the time to wade through Friday traffic to show up at the Culver. Hat Tip to Dave Rand and Scott Squires for showing up and continuing to participate in this important discussion.
The energy was high and the questions flowed as all IATSE representatives had the opportunity to form their own groups and address the attendees in small groups. As Steve mentioned above, the questions weren't new or shocking, but I feel the impact of having reps available and "in the flesh" made a big difference.
Peter and Vanessa echoed those sentiments to me as we departed lovely Culver City. We agreed that it would be a huge mistake not to continue meetings like that .. not only for Imageworks employees, but for the Los Angeles visual effects community as a whole.