VES Awards celebrate craft with a nod to tough times in California


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The occasion was celebratory, but no one was under the illusion that all is well in California’s visual effects industry.

During the 9th Annual VES Awards at the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday night, Visual Effects Society Executive Director Eric Roth touted the industry’s accomplishments but also highlighted some of the steep challenges facing California’s visual effects industry.


‘Our industry is in transition,’ Roth said in opening remarks. ‘While visual effects is a growing business worldwide, here in California visual effects facilities have had to pay even more attention to their shrinking profit margins or risk finding themselves on the endangered species list, as was mentioned in today’s L.A. Times.’

Roth was referring to a story in The Times about the bleak landscape facing California visual effects companies, several of which have shut down in recent years in the face of rising competition from foreign rivals armed with steep tax incentives and low-cost labor.

‘At the artist level there’s a lot of talk about whether or not to form a union,’’ Roth added, referring to an effort by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees to extend its reach into one of the only remaining crafts in Hollywood that remains nonunion. ‘Whether you think one should be formed or not, most people agree it’s time working conditions no longer forced artists to work crazy hours, that everyone should have access to group healthcare and that visual effects and credits should be located in a more respectful place in the crawl -- and not beneath the caterer.’

Drawing some applause from the 1,000-plus people in the audience, Roth then switched to a more upbeat message about honoring the industry’s best visual effects work. Top of the list was Christopher Nolan’s thriller ‘Inception,’ which won four awards at the event, hosted by comic Patton Oswalt, the voice of the rat in Pixar’s ‘Ratatouille.’

-- Richard Verrier

Top photo: Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Arthur in Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ ‘Inception.’ Credit: Warner Bros. Lower photo: Visual Effects Society Executive Director Eric Roth. Credit: Visual Effects Society