marvel vfx

Marvel Entertainment/YouTube

Marvel VFX artists take the first step toward unionizing, signaling far-reaching effects across entertainment and media

Should all creative laborers just go on strike? Let’s discuss.


Lon Harris


Posted on Aug 10, 2023


In this edition of Lon Harris’ weekly Passionfruit column, we’re exploring how Marvel VFX artists are pushing to join a union, and what creators can learn from their organizing efforts.

Earlier this week, visual effects crews (aka VFX artists) working for Marvel Studios announced their intention to join the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees or IATSE. That’s the entertainment industry union that represents North American crew members working in film, TV, and live theater, including technicians, artisans, craftspeople, and stagehands. 

While it’s the latest significant development in what’s now being called the entertainment industry’s “hot labor summer,” this is not an entirely surprising move. Visual effects artists have faced a number of challenges over the course of the “Peak TV” era when complaints about extremely tight deadlines, smaller-than-expected teams, and chronic underpayment have become the norm.

The glut of VFX-heavy streaming shows and films produced quickly by ever-shrinking teams has given rise to a new term, “pixel-f*cking,” used to describe entertainment executives making excessive demands despite not fully understanding how VFX work is actually completed.

There have also been numerous reports over the last few years about the increasingly toxic and abusive work environment faced by staffers at VFX studios. Increasingly tight budgets, thin margins, unrealistic deadlines, and a “broken” bidding process drove some companies out of business entirely. Those that remain survived by burning out their staff and working employees into the ground.  …

In Body Image

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*First Published: Aug 10, 2023, 12:20 pm CDT