Rumor: Marvel’s Ridiculous Asks Of a VFX Artist And The Terrible Working Conditions Leading to Unionization

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More information is coming out about the ridiculous asks, low pay and “brutal working conditions” for Hollywood VFX artists, especially in regards to Marvel. If true, it’s not a good look for Marvel or Disney. It’s gotten so bad unionization might be coming.

VFX work is highly specialized and time consuming. Feature quality (theatrical run film quality) is being expected on not only films going to the theater, but also Disney+ shows. But Marvel allegedly pays 20% less than other studios, it also seems to have some hefty demands as well.

In an article Vulture talks about a veteran, visual-effects technician, who worked on some bigger films. He was offered a “short-term position” on a Marvel series for Disney+ but right off the bat Marvel wanted to pay him less than his going rate and even demanded to see a paystub from another film! Even after that they allegedly offered him far less.

… he says the studio balked at paying him his going rate — demanding to first see a pay stub from his work on Tenet proving his market value, then undershooting Patch’s quote by several hundred dollars a week.

Then they wanted him to agree to not post to social media or indicate he was on a Marvel project and agree an non-disclosure (NDA) which is standard there.

But they wanted almost twice the amount of visual effects work for a “ten-hour show,” that would likely be 18-hour days, seven days a week, for three months.

While an average feature-length superhero or sci-fi movie might have 1,600 visual effects, he says this ten-hour show (which he cannot specifically name per a nondisclosure agreement he signed) would require around 3,000 VFX shots to be completed on a much shorter timeline. Nonetheless, feature-quality work was expected, which could include anything from replacing actors’ faces to rendering entire CG sequences from scratch.

At this point the VFX technician passed on the project and Marvel asked him about working on another show, that he also refused. Who can blame him. Several hundred under his regular rate, for twice the shots, 18 hour days, seven days a week for three months. I would say “no” too.

This person isn’t alone.

Other VFX people have apparently told Vulture they not only get paid less at Marvel, but they are doing “approximately four times the amount of work they are being paid for.” After this project they will not be returning to the studio.

Disney has a Marvel problem it seems. They want blockbuster profits, but they don’t want to pay the VFX people fairly. This is on top of the ridiculous turn around demands.

According to the article “VFX-IATSE estimates that Marvel hires one VFX artist for every three such specialists another studio might for an equivalent job.

Which raises the question. If someone is doing the work of three-four people why can’t they be paid the fair industry rate or even double that? Marvel would still be saving the amount of one-two VFX techs.

This is where unionization comes in. If VGX-IATSE can a collective-bargaining agreement it might help many VFX workers moving forward.

The campaign’s ultimate goal is the unionization of an entire effects production house or studio and the creation of a collective-bargaining agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers that could serve as a template for other contract and staff VFX workers across the industry.

You can read much more about this issue and the problems facing VFX artists and studios HERE. There is a lot going on and a lot to unpack.

What do you think? Comment and let us know!


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