Effect of Covid19 on the VFX industry -Mass layoffs, critical financial situation, lack of communication

Effect of Covid19 on the VFX industry -Mass layoffs, critical financial situation, lack of communication

Mass layoffs, critical financial situation, lack of communication, fear of getting a job, how long this will last? How to have clarity of this situation?

        As we all know we are going through by far the most difficult times in our lifetime. Lots of chaos, lots of misinformation, lots of misunderstanding, lots of fear, lots of anger. Visual effects artists and studios around the world are massively hit by the pandemic. Due to lack of projects many major and small visual effects studios have laid off a large number of artists, shutdown temporary and even permanently. This created fear and anger in artists around the world.

    Artists are now facing a very critical financial situation in every possible way. An artist says “Due to sudden drop in my income causing a lot of problems like monthly EMI, couldn’t afford basic groceries and food, rent for my PG and no information from the company about salary or work from home or anything”. This situation is heavily effected by artists with family. An artist says “I’m married and having a family we are living away from our home town due to my work. Due to sudden layoff and no compensation we are having a tough time, thou we didn’t pay rent for 2 months now we are asked to vacate the house due to lockdown there is no transport to go back home or find a new place to move. Nothing happens without money.”

   Tens and thousands of artists are emotionally hurt due to the emails they received from their company when they wake up the morning saying that “You may not report to work once the lockdown is lifted or restrictions are eased. In the unlikely event should any work come in the interim and until your last employment date, which is relevant to your skill and experience, we will get in touch with you and request you to attend to such work. Please take your personal belongings when you exit the company’s premises on such last working date”.

   Artists dedicate their life to their passion and try to give the best possible results even in unrealistic deadlines. Companies should pay them some level of respect to appreciate these hard working artists.

     Few companies responded Reduced movement of people, closing down of cinema halls, public transport, offices along with the psychological fear of returning to work in the absence of a vaccine all contribute to our biggest hurdles of operating normally during these times. This will by far be the biggest hurdle we have to conquer to restore situational normalcy. 

    Although situational normalcy might be achieved very quickly at the end of the lockdown period with free movement of people, business normalcy is going to take much longer for our industry as this is dependent on a multitude of factors. 

   New productions and shoots have come to a complete standstill and they are absolutely essential to feed the pipe with continuous projects. Only those projects that have already been shot are coming to post and there is huge competition for that chunk of work too with budgets shrinking due to the pandemic crisis. There are also delayed payments as studios are grappling to keep their cash positions intact with no new projects in sight. Artists often don’t have access to work from home infrastructure in their homes in India and this makes it harder to keep everyone busy. 

But every crisis presents an opportunity – for long VFX has been insulated on purpose from working from home. This has given the industry, production houses, and all artists a new perspective of delivering VFX through remote working tools. There will be obviously lessons learned and things we could do better but once this has all ended, WFH for VFX should still be considered as a project to experiment, glitches ironed out so this can potentially not be a crisis response but also business as usual.”

  Some companies are letting remaining artists work from home. But artists concerned that the work they are doing is the remaining work of pre-pandemic and no new projects. Remaining works might last 2-3 weeks and what’s after that?

On the other side, companies whether, small, medium, or large struggling to getting the projects, (fishing projects in the empty vessel), not able to sustain even for a couple of months.

Data protection – Companies are tightening the security protocol never like before.

Employers are also facing new Challenges. Employees also need to find ways to support the company. Even a spark would way to a huge/alternative pipeline.

Finally, it’s not pandemic or any other general critical situation, employers should treat employees with full respect, and should be the same from the employees to the company.

A famous quote says: you will understand the real character of a person only in difficult times”. Beyond survival or Business, treating others with humanity and morality will make you a respectful person /company.


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