Ross Lincoln is a Deadline contributor.
UPDATE, 4:26 PM: By Deadline’s count over 400 protesters are gathered at the corner of Hollywood and Vine as celebrities and filmmakers walk the Academy Awards red carpet just blocks away at the Dolby Theatre. The grassroots protest is organized by ex- and current employees of bankrupt Life Of Pi VFX house Rhythm & Hues to bring attention to the company’s recent Chapter 11 financial woes, which trickled down this month as over 250 employees were axed without pay.
Even those that remain at Rhythm & Hues working on upcoming tentpoles like Legendary’s Seventh Son have not received a paycheck in weeks. Today’s protest is also tied to a growing effort to unionize the VFX industry under the banner of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). But among today’s protesters the unionization issue has mixed support. One marcher who asked to remain anonymous said he fears that unionization might contribute to the industry’s economic problems. Others lamented the difficulty in unionizing, citing mixed interest in the industry and the need for studio cooperation as potential roadblocks. However, the subsidization of VFX houses abroad, particularly in Canada, was a source of seemingly unanimous criticism. Numerous signs bore witness to the sentiment, with slogans like “Foreign Subsidies = No LA VFX Jobs” and “End The Subsidies War” common.