There have been quite a few statements in the past in regard to how VFX is handled throughout the industry. While a new piece by Vulture, an anonymous member of the VFX industry shares his experiences working on a Marvel project, and the deeply rooted challenges that come with it. It’s been known that they aren’t an easy client going by past statements, but it offers a bit more insight into what exactly the feeling is working for the media giant.
At the tail-end of the article, there’s a point made that this is “universal to every show and every project.” Marvel’s power is that they have a certain hold on the industry with many bidding to get their hands on the next major project. There are even tales of one VFX agency getting blacklisted due to not delivering on a suddenly new third act. One issue highlighted is that Marvel Studios’ directors aren’t well-versed in how to work with visual effects, which slams their departments.
They also are giving those very directors a lot more freedom, which needs up leading to various changes. Marvel simply has the power to demand it and VFX agencies are, at times, desperate enough to make promises that don’t benefit them directly. They highlight how sometimes they don’t have a director of photography involved during post-production, which leads to some last-minute changes; highlighting Black Panther‘s final act.
The demand to see final renders to support those novice directors, who mostly have indie backgrounds, also creates the issue of adding more work to the department. They also are “pixel-fucked” as they state due to nitpicking to ensure every last pixel is perfect, as they also try to change things up late throughout productions. Their demand of wanting changes throughout production, something expected due to their perchance of doing reshoots, is definitely adding to that issue. Something they highlight on how some people experience working on these projects.
I was working seven days a week, averaging 64 hours a week on a good week. Marvel genuinely works you really hard. I’ve had co-workers sit next to me, break down, and start crying. I’ve had people having anxiety attacks on the phone
The big issue lies that VFX houses aren’t unionized and many can demand these sorts of last-minute changes and high-level demands for an affordable price. This isn’t a VFX-specific issue as the entire ad industry is built around that exact same model only with less focus set on it; speaking of experience. An issue is also management trying to keep the client happy, making unrealistic promises that then add pressure to the staff that has to actually realize that very venture.
Marvel is a big brand with Disney backing them, these issues are then also raised due to middle and upper management expectations to appease whatever was set during a pitch process. We have heard many director’s praise the freedom they have working on these projects, and that creative freedom to change and adapt has its price.
One thing is for sure, the work being done is still at a high level; no matter what the internet tends to say. Under the conditions they are working on, the work should not be dragged down. As the article points out, it’s a universal issue and it definitely will not slow down until any further action is taken within the industry. Marvel is not just a big fish; they are the biggest fish at the moment. The best direction is for Marvel to give its creative teams more support in regards to VFX, tighten those productions up to allow fewer last-minute changes, and lastly, that the industry will be able to unionize.