In The Same Boat vs Last Man Standing

I’ve joined a trade group from Themed Entertainment, the TEA as I’m doing media consulting on a few interactive projects,and my long term goal, is to work at a design place helping come up with attractions. My background in VFX is my starting point to learn the details of the field.

Attending TEA networking mixers, people often ask me about the VFX industry, and how comparable it is to what I’ve seen in Themed Entertainment.

The analogy I use is: “In The Same Boat vs Last Man Standing”

job 4Themed Entertainment people seemed to realize very early on that everyone needed to play nicely with each other, because even rivals find themselves working together on projects. You can still compete, but inevitably you’ll need to work with other places, so you want places to survive to the next jobs and so you help each other in the future. Especially in the TEA, they are trying to rise the tide so all boat go up, through training, through business and personal networking, and aggressive work to properly train and develop the next generation of workers.

VFX by contrast seem to want to be the last survivor, and the attitude is very “everyone for themselves”. On a company and on a individual level. As long as it’s not directly affecting my job, no one seems to care much. Rather than banding together for survival with a trade organization, every VFX house seems to want to go it alone and see how it goes. Places tank, there’s lip service about worry, then things go back to business as usual until the next place tanks. Rinse and repeat.

bruce-with-a-gunIf I contrast the VES, the most similar group to the TEA, the VES is “dedicated to advancing the arts, sciences, and applications of visual effects and to, improving the welfare of its members by providing professional enrichment and education, fostering community, and promoting industry recognition.” while the TEA’s mission is “to create opportunities for the membership and the clients they serve” by “1. Facilitating dialogue and communication, 2. Stimulating knowledge and professional growth and 3. Expanding size, diversity and awareness.”

They’re both similar except for one key bit: “Creating opportunities for the membership.”

Sure, is Themed stuff some Pollyanna world of happily holding hands and never undercutting any bids. I doubt it. And is every person in VFX stabbing the next to survive, clearly not. But in talking to leaders of both fields, it’s a stark contrast in their views and something worth investigating further why there’s the contrast.

I’ll leave my opinions on why for a future post.