One of the seven VFX houses that worked on Bohemian Rhapsody has gone bust.
Despite recent news from the BFI that the VFX industry contributed one billion pounds to the UK economy, freelance visual effects artists have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket after Halo VFX went bust.
Halo VFX has gone bankrupt after working its freelance and casual staff hard during the final months of production of the Oscar-winning Queen movie, Bohemian Rhapsody. Halo was one of seven companies that won bids for VFX in many of the show’s scenes. The 1985 concert production sequence was recreated for the movie, mostly in CG by these VFX houses, led by DNEG.
BECTU, the UK’s media and entertainment union, released a statement from the assistant national secretary, Paul Evans saying, “I’ve never had a situation where individual BECTU members have been hit this badly. We can’t just shrug and move on. It’s not acceptable for VFX artists who have contributed to the success of multimillion-pound features to be the ones to carry risk and go unpaid for their hard work and talent.”
“Our industry is unsustainable if directors can, effectively, establish an arm of one company, trade unsuccessfully and then leave workers to carry the can,” he continued. “If the industry can’t come up with a way of protecting workers from this kind of catastrophe, we will have to invest in some publicity to warn people against working for any VFX or Post Production company as a limited company, or in any status that doesn’t ensure that they have full employment rights.”
“The incentives are all wrong in VFX. A lot of the risks end up on the shoulders of freelance workers who have to cushion the industry by accepting long periods of unpaid overtime work,” Evans added.
On so many occasions, freelance VFX workers were pushed into working unpaid overtime and antisocial hours. The gender ratio is way out, and the hours drive the talented people out.
Bohemian Rhapsody has made almost a billion dollars at the box office globally so far in its very early returns. It won four major awards at the Academy only a month ago. BECTU is calling for a new industry code of practice to better protect freelance workers when companies go into administration.
BECTU is seeking a meeting with company directors and is writing to union members to advise them against accepting work without guarantees of weekly pay.