A move within Marvel represents a small but significant step in granting VFX workers the same rights and protections as the wider industry.
Here’s some welcome news. For a couple of years now, the state of the VFX industry has been concerning to many. Unrealistic deadlines by studios, punishing crunch, poorly-managed top-down workflow and a lack of rights and protections for VFX workers has resulted in the industry becoming increasingly notorious for creating stressed workers labouring under poor conditions.
In some cases, we’ve even seen the never-ending increase in demand for VFX work manifest into film delays (remember Black Adam?) or poor results on-screen, giving us further insight into how the industry is groaning with demand and the toll that is taking on the human beings who make all of that magic possible.
One of the key problems for VFX workers (in the US at least) is that they aren’t unionised, meaning they don’t have the same collective bargaining power that we’re seeing the actors and writers exercise through strikes right now. However, after lots of work in the background that all looks set to change with the news that 52 members of Marvel’s in-house VFX team have successfully voted to unionise and join the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).
It’s a big moment for the industry, meaning that should workers at other VFX companies follow, artists will finally be able to claim the same benefits as other screen industry workers such as paid overtime and healthcare, not to mention demanding better pay and working conditions.
It’s only 52 members of one VFX house as of right now, but the fact that it is Marvel’s own in-house team that has voted to unionise makes it a high-profile announcement indeed, especially since Marvel Studios is arguably the entity that has the most influence in setting standards in the VFX industry.
Hopefully, the rest of the industry will follow suit and conditions will improve for the many people who work so hard to make the films that we love. Given how reliant many blockbusters are on VFX work these days, collective bargaining power in the industry should give its US workers enough sway to be fairly recompensed for their talents and toil.
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