The sad news this morning is that Rhythm and Hues can’t make payroll and is filing for bankruptcy. For the many hundreds of VFX artists who are losing their jobs at this moment, this is devastating. R&H is one of the biggest, oldest and, we thought, one of the most stable VFX houses. When DD went bankrupt last year it was a shock, but the big difference is that while DD was attempting a massive expansion into new territories, Rhythm was just doing what it has always been doing. Not only that, the last few days they’ve been celebrated for their exceptional work on Life of Pi, for which they won several VES awards and a BAFTA. They’re expected to win the oscar, and the tragedy is that if they do receive that award, amidst the glitz and glamour of the red carpet, they’re not going to have a studio to go home to and put it in.
This is maddening, and the irony of the timing makes it even more poignant. Life of Pi is one of the most critically acclaimed movies of this season, and without these artists, it would have just been a story about a guy standing in front of a green screen looking at a tennis ball. VFX is the cornerstone of almost all major blockbusters these days. Just look at the top grossing movies of all time, and you have to go pretty far down the list before you find anything that didn’t rely on visual effects. These films are incredibly valuable, and yet the facilities that are hired to take them across the finish line are struggling and failing.
If you work in this industry, or your goal is to work in this industry, my advice is that you should be interested and concerned about what’s going on right now, because it’s obviously not sustainable. Good sources of news and information are VFX Soldier, VFX Law, Scott Squires. There’s a new Facebook page this morning, which may end up being a good place to share as well.
Condolences to anyone at R&H who has found yourself out of a job this morning, and best luck finding work.