Hollywood Ending: A Documentary Detailing Why the Movie Capital of the World is Forcing Filmmakers to Leave‘s first part, Life After Pi, covering the demise of Rhythm and Hues, is now out.
I didn’t need to watch it, as I am living it after 14 and a half years at R&H, but I did anyway.
It does a good job of raising some of the important issues effecting all companies and workers in the visual effects industry through the lens of the implosion at Rhythm. As an “opening chapter” of a larger story, Scott, Christina and crew have encapsulated the fiscal and emotional issues pretty succinctly in only 30 minutes running time in an emotionally engaging story that technically and visually looks great. You get a sense of the completely broken business model, and how much pain it has caused throughout the levels of the VFX industry.
The race to the bottom caused by subsidies, which are nothing but corporate welfare for multinationals making billions of dollars in profits already, is real. And even if you’re not in this industry, it’s affecting you, since it’s your tax dollars being spent. Money that would otherwise be spent on education, roads, or millions of other things. You should have an opinion on it. You should know all the independent studies show this welfare doesn’t earn its money back in taxes paid by workers. And as soon as someone offers a better deal, the deal in your town is going to disappear.
Being in the position where you feel you can’t get overages for changes in the scope of work, or being caught paying for a full crew when a show stops production to figure out how they want to end the film, is insane. I don’t know any industry that allows that to happen. Yet, all I ever heard was how we had to do a thing because we wanted work in the future from one of the studios. But damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. It was never really a question that it would all come to a screeching halt at R&H, it was just a question of when? And then, it came sooner than we were prepared for as employees.
I know all the artists in this documentary and they are *amazing* people. So much talent, and many of them in this documentary I’ve directly learned from and grown from being with. They’re not just good artists, but good people. I hope someday to work with them again. And they’re just a fraction of the people at R&H who suffered as a result of the bankruptcy. The competition for work should be based on talent and capability, not government handouts. These talented artists should not have to become nomads to work. And the work should be adequately compensated for.
Is it a perfect documentary? No. I have many issues with the omission of R&H’s own culpability in its demise. Was there a “perfect storm” that hit the studio in delayed and massively changed scope of work? Yes. But that’s a simplification. 30 minutes isn’t enough time to deal with the full story for sure. I understand this is as much as anything a call to action, so it’s been carefully crafted in support of that call. As a result, I think there’s a bit of whitewashing going on. I blame some specific people more than others. And in the industry in general, there’s a lot of people who wont admit how much of this situation has been self-inflicted. But most of Life After Pi is quite good.
I highly recommend you watch it for yourself. And act. It’s been a year already. Not enough has changed. Many things have gotten worse.
Are you content with it continuing until you’re next?