For decades, the United States has gone around the world signing Free Trade Agreements in a definite effort to export and generalize free market policies around the World. These policies have enormously painful social repercussions, driving entire industries out of business within and outside of the US. The American VFX industry is one of the latest, most vocal casualties; and its latest efforts to legally battle the effects of globalized VFX production has significant implications to the Entertainment industry as a whole.
The truth is that the legal strategy of the US VFX community is harmful to the business of the international VFX community. The intention is to discourage the outsourcing of VFX work to overseas studios, looking to neutralize the subsidies that are essential to the existence of most international VFX providers and their efforts to develop a local film industry. That escalates the confrontation between the US and the international VFX houses in a battle for the business of the Hollywood studios. Any measure taken to protect the US VFX houses could be described as protectionism and opposed to free market; and would be a terrible blow to the existence of VFX companies in many other countries because these VFX companies cannot survive only servicing their local, underdeveloped markets. So, because it is a fight for survival it is bitter and relentless. And while we might feel the urge to jump at each others throat, we are failing to pinpoint the culprit: The existence of an entertainment cartel. When 6-8 conglomerates control the way films and television are made and marketed in the entire World, economic anomalies start to appear. Such a dominating position allows them to force fixed bidding upon VFX service providers, as well as prevent effectively the development of local film industries through lobbying and the flooding of content that frequently wipes out local productions at the B.O.
The MPAA is the common adversary of the US VFX houses and every emerging international film industry. Their job is to push for policies favorable to the Big Six’s domination of the global film and TV market. So, they will fight any attempt that might harm their ability to dictate the terms of how VFX services are handled, as well as fight any attempts or measures to give a fighting chance to the emergence of local film industries in other countries through screen quotas, etc. They would have fought subsidies, if they hadn’t found a way to abuse them in their favor.
Should an international VFX professional hope for the MPAA to defeat the legal argument that the US VFX community is raising, prolonging the race to the bottom?
I certainly cannot make peace with such a stance. I would rather consider a crazy alternative: This might be the time to open up as many legal fronts on the MPAA as possible, in the hopes of enabling the development of other film industries that eventually might increase the client list of all VFX houses. If the VFX community of each country teams up with their local film producers association and make a lobbying push to regulate in favor of the development of their local film industries; maybe a slight possibility for change could open up. But the cynic in me tells me that this might be some Ender’s Game bullshit idea, he also insists that perhaps it would be easier to just jump at each others throat.