Friday, April 6, 2012

A public reply to John Textor and Digital Domain's new business model

A public reply to John Textor and Digital Domain's new business model

Mr. Textor, this is in response to the news that Digital Domain's new business plan is to now have up to 30% of their labor force be unpaid students.

I am a visual effects professional.   I have been both an artist and a visual effects producer.  I understand the economics of the visual effects industry and the extremely thin margin most visual effects studios operate on. I am empathetic to Digital Domain's situation.  It has become increasingly difficult to turn a profit as costs rise and visual effects budgets are slashed.

As a visual effects producer, I cannot condone Digital Domain’s unethical plans to turn a profit.  If the future of Digital Domain is students paying to work for your company, I never want to work with Digital Domain or anyone who continues to associate with Digital Domain.  I will encourage every visual effects professional I meet, artist or producer, to boycott Digital Domain.  And without visual effects professionals, what type of future does Digital Domain have?

Do you believe that students can create the same quality visual effects as professionals?  Do you believe that our years of training, professional experience, and skill can be matched by a student?  If Digital Domain follows through with this plan, then you will have to accept that untrained student work is the best you will ever get.

I will not work for you.

Those I know will not work for you.

No visual effects professional will work with you.

And do you really expect studios, directors, or producers to risk being boycotted as well for working with you?

As a lone individual, I know that I cannot damage your company.  I know that I am just a cog in the multi-billion dollar entertainment industry.

Mr. Textor, when you attack all visual effects professionals’ ability to earn a living and provide for our families, you no longer have one cog to worry about, you should be worried about the entire machine crashing.

So, to every visual effects professional globally, demand what you have earned.  Demand respect for your skills.  Demand your experience be valued.  Demand a fair wage for your skilled work.  Demand to be treated like the professional you are.

And to you Mr. Textor, continue to devalue the work of visual effects professionals.

Continue to believe that you can get by on the cheap on your labor.

Continue to attack and destroy people's professions and livelihoods.

And I will make it my mission to destroy Digital Domain.

Remember Mr. Textor, the years of experience, skills, and tireless efforts of the visual effects professionals that you are trying to drive out of the business have brought your company its awards and accolades.  Do you expect many will want to work with you when Digital Domain does not have any professional artists to create award winning work?

When Digital Domain closes and you move to another shop, it doesn’t matter.  Whatever shop you go to Mr. Textor, we will not work with you.

Any shop you are associated with will close because of you.

You have pushed our backs up against the wall.  We have nothing to lose in this battle, Mr. Textor.  You've shown us your version of the future, and we professionals are not a part of it.  You have a $10 million dollar investment in Digital Domain stock.

By the time we're done, it will be worthless.

Digital Domain will be remembered for their amazing work, and at one time being a studio artists wanted to work for, but every visual effects professional will remember John Textor as the man who tried to destroy the visual effects industry.

visual effects professional


  1. Big words from someone who doesn't even dare man up and sign with your own about you think of the hundreds/thousands of people who actually work at DD now...who are aware of what is going's not like everyone in the damned company can just pick up and leave..people have lives....dumbass..think about us a little bit and not only from your own little perspective.

    Why is suddenly everyone a "vfx soldier"? good job getting your teenage hormones out there, buddy.

  2. So next year when 30% of your fellow employees are replaced by unpaid labor what do you say to them? And when DD turns a profit with this model and decides they can do 50% as unpaid labor, what do you say to those employees that are let go? And when Sony, ILM, Pixar, Dreamworks, and Rhythm & Hues all start realizing that the only way they can compete is to follow suit, what do you say to those formerly employed visual effects artists?

    So, yes, complain that I'm getting my teenage hormones out, or, that out of respect for my current employer, I don't include my name and cause them undo grief since they're trying to stay open in difficult times while still doing right by their artists.

    Maybe if more of us did stand up and speak out about the problems in our industry, the industry would get a little better. So let me ask you, vfxguy, as an employee of Digital Domain, what are you doing about this issue?

  3. I am currently a visual effects student. I was approached by Digital Domain with the possibility of working there as an intern. Having seen this I am very glad I did not accept.

    To have students work at a studio for free, whether they are paying their current school tuition while they are doing so or not, on projects that the studio is receiving money for is blatant exploitation. The company is using a student's fervent desire to have a foot in the door and professional credit on their resume. Then once they are finished with school this credit will mean nothing because they will simply be replaced by the next round of interns and have no hope of actual employment.

    This plan is an affront not only to working professionals who have worked hard to learn and develop the skills to work in the industry but the students and interns trying to do the same. If a VFX house is being paid to produce work then the artists who work on it, professional and intern, deserve to be compensated for their work. Period.

    Adam R Nixon

  4. @vfxguy: Somebody has to be willing to make a sacrifice before this situation will get any better. I *did* pick up and leave the company I worked for because they were implementing policies that were destructive to the industry as a whole, and those didn't come near DD's level of insanity. They've made offers several times since I've left and I've turned them down each time. I've taken a hit in pay and stability, and it hasn't been easy on my family, but I refuse to enable companies to exploit my friends & colleagues even if it costs me personally.

  5. Visual effects are often integral to a movie's story and appeal. Although most visual effects work is completed during post-production, it usually must be carefully planned and choreographed in pre-production and production.

    Alex Frisch

  6. Visual effects are the various processes by which imagery is created and/or manipulated outside the context of a live action shoot. Visual effects involve the integration of live-action footage and generated imagery to create environments which look realistic, but would be dangerous, costly, or simply impossible to capture on film.

    Connie Jordan-Carmichael | Ubiquity Broadcasting Corporation