Last night was a rough one for the Visual Effects community.
I was about to embark down the road of writing up the evening’s events, as if I was some kind of journalist.
But I’m not. I’m a director, and a visual effects artist. I’m a fan of film who fantasized about making movies ever since seeing Star Wars at age five. I’m also a survivor of a VFX company bankruptcy.
So I know what it’s like to be an artist who feels overworked and under appreciated.
And I know what it feels like to start your dream company, and see it collapse.
I also know what it feels like to be a director who can’t afford all the VFX I’d like in my own work.
And here’s what I have to say:
Congratulations to the visual effects crew of Life of Pi. I am simply blown away by your work. Your tigers and waves and artistry and technical mastery made me laugh and cry and revel in how wonderful movies can be. I know how hard it is to do what you did, and even though I know exactly how you did it, I have no idea how you pulled it off.
Congratulations to Bill Westenhofer, for your amazing work to be sure, but also for the nonobvious gift of being cut off at the exact right moment to make the experience awful enough for all involved that the world took notice. You did the right thing by starting off with proper acknowledgments, and then the right thing again by jumping right into the controversy. You came off as a class act, and as is so often the case with visual effects and cinema, you’ve captivated the world’s attention with what they didn’t get to see.
Congratulations to Claudio Miranda, who I know in my heart appreciates the hell out of the work that shares the frame with his. Although he failed to mention the VFX crew as their images danced behind him on stage, he later acknowledged it to press backstage.
Congratulations to the 400+ VFX artists who demonstrated in a way that got all the right kinds of attention. That’s not easy. As a nation, we suck at it. As a group of nerdy artists, you nailed it.
Congratulations to Ang Lee, for both your talent behind the lens, and also for the gift that awaits you. You’ve put your foot in your mouth twice now about how you wish visual effects could be less expensive, and in doing so, I dare hope that you’ve made it nearly impossible for yourself to continue to ignore the nuances of the situation. A wonderful education awaits you. Please listen to the thoughts and frustrations of the visual effects artists whose work you presided over so masterfully.
Their stories are true.