Last Saturday, I spent the morning hours participating in a panel discussion about the viability, impact and repercussions of visual effects artists banding together and forming a union. The event was attended by Jeff Heusser of FXGuide, as well as Jonathan Handel of The Hollywood Reporter. They’ve done a fine job of capturing the happenings of the event in both long and short form, respectively. Here, I’ll offer my recap for your review.
The discussion that took place was one that has needed to happen for a very long time. I’ve yearned for a time when open-minded business owners, a labor attorney whose interests and experience lies with representing employers and pro-union voices could gather around and openly and respectfully voice concerns and seek clarity on the matter of fixing a broken industry by using leverage and collective action.
VES Chairman Jeffrey Okun, Executive Director Eric Roth, the Business Labor and Law Committee (specifically Gregory Lemkin, Bob Coleman and Ray Scalice) should be praised for acting in accordance with the mission of their organization. This discussion certainly attempted to advance the craft by providing education and fostering community in a way only they could provide. I know of no other organization with the membership or structure to be able to bring this type of panel together.
This discussion proved another example that when faced with the facts, the prospect and purpose of focusing leverage through collective action becomes not only clear, but the only option remaining when seeking lasting and viable change. Both a union for visual effects artists and workers and a trade organization for the visual effects studios is required to face the AMPTP and force the changes both organizations seek. Both bodies are necessary to work in concert toward their common goal of making visual effects a viable and sustainable industry.
Many thanks to the panelists for their time and input and again to the VES executive officers and BL&L Committee members for giving me the opportunity to be the voice of the union in such an important talk. I hope to be able to do so many times again and in the near future.