Walt Disney Studios visual effects designers are the latest group within Hollywood to take a step toward unionization, joining Marvel Studios’ artists in a broader push to seek better compensation and other benefits from studios.
Variety reports that a supermajority of 18 in-house VFX crew members signaled their design to unionize in a filling with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Their work encompasses a host of live-action Disney movies, including the recently-released Little Mermaid, which have counted among Disney’s most successful projects in recent years.
This marks only the second time in history VFX pros have joined together, with the first being earlier just this month. pic.twitter.com/9PCUSMJ6YS
— IATSE // #IASolidarity (@IATSE) August 28, 2023
Organizer Matt Patch wrote in a statement, “Today, courageous Visual Effects workers at Walt Disney Pictures overcame the fear and silence that have kept our community from having a voice on the job for decades. With an overwhelming supermajority of these crews demanding an end to ‘the way VFX has always been,’ this is a clear sign that our campaign is not about one studio or corporation. It’s about VFX workers across the industry using the tools at our disposal to uplift ourselves and forge a better path forward.”
VFX artists across Hollywood have complained of low pay, long hours, and increased demands amid a major glut of blockbusters on both film and television. This has translated to lower-quality visual effects overall, which have become increasingly obvious to viewers of films like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Speaking with IGN, Marvel VFX artists talked about the challenges they face as they try to unionize.
“Every shot that we had previously finaled has to now go through the pipeline, get redone, resurfaced, retextured, new renders, put on top, track that, animate, track, and then it’s a whole new set of rework,” said James Dornoff, who has worked on everything from Doctor Strange to Captain America: The Winer Soldier. “That still has to be done in that same timeline. The timeline doesn’t change, because, again, in the press, they are expecting May 4th, Captain America comes out. Those timelines don’t change, but it’s us. We’re the ones that have to take all that work and redo it.”
The next step for Disney VFX’s artists is to vote on whether or not they wish to unionize. Elsewhere, Hollywood writers and actors are currently on strike, delaying a multitude of projects as the industry grapples with its “hot labor summer.” With VFX artists now pushing to unionize as well, it doesn’t seem as if that summer will end any time soon.
Kat Bailey is IGN’s News Director as well as co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Have a tip? Send her a DM at @the_katbot.