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Trade group head calls for improved benefits and conditions for VFX artists

Visual-effects artists don't get enough respect -- or health insurance benefits.

So says Eric Roth, executive director of the Visual Effects Society, in an unusually pointed open letter to the industry posted on the group's website Tuesday afternoon.

"The work we do helps a lot of people make money, but it's not being shared on an equal basis, nor is the respect that's due us, especially considering 44 of the top 50 films of all time are visual effects driven,'' Roth wrote in his letter, which was emailed to the trade group's 2,400 members. "For VFX artists (NOT computer geeks, NOT nerds), we do not receive the kind of respect that measure up to the role visual effects play in the bottom line."Ericroth

Roth wrote that most visual-effects artists in the U.S. do not get proper credit for their work, lack health insurance benefits and often work grueling hours, as much as 70 to 100 hours a week to meet a date for delivering a project. 

Although Roth stopped short of specifically supporting an ongoing effort by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees to unionize workers, he appeared sympathetic to the goal of improving working conditions for visual-effects artists, many of whom work as freelancers without the benefits shared by many of their fellow workers in Hollywood.

"Artists and visual effects companies are working long hours for less income, delivering more amazing VFX under ever diminishing schedules, carrying large financial burdens while others are profiting greatly from our work,'' he continued.

Roth's letter comes at a time when many small- to medium-sized companies in California are struggling to stay in business thanks to increased global competition and pressure on their bottom lines.

In an interview, Roth said the VES wanted to start a dialogue in the industry to address issues raised by many of the group's members, who include producers, supervisors and artists in 23 countries.

"We don't have collective bargaining rights,'' he said. "What we do have is the ability to shed a spotlight on these issues."

For read the full letter, go to VES website: http://www.visualeffectssociety.com/node/2425

-- Richard Verrier

Photo: Eric Roth, executive director of the Visual Effects Society. Credit: Visual Effects Society.

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