About 400 protestors gathered outside the Dolby Theatre on Hollywoodâs biggest night in movies, to bring awareness to Rhythm & Hues’ financial woes, the digital effects company now best known for the impressive animated tiger in Life of Pi. The company has laid off 254 people despite its Academy Award winning work on the massively successful film, which has raked in more than $110 million at the box office to-date.
The onsite protest at the Oscars came from online act of unity on Facebook, where the page VFX Solidarity International was set up a couple of weeks before the show. Now, protest organizers are looking to use Facebook to further broaden support for a call for unionization of the visual effects industry. Theyâve asked colleagues and other supporters to replace their profile photos with a solid bright green image. The image symbolizes what movies would look like without special effects by mimicking a green screen.
OnÂ Twitter, congratulatory tweets directed atÂ Life of Piâs visual effects award have been quickly met with acerbic messages about the protest, and spawning the hashtag #VFXprotest.
Even the Wall Street Journal has joined the ruckus, creating an interactive microsite depicting scenes from serveral films as they would appear without the work of visual effects by artists.
The movement may have received its best call to arms from the way the Academy Awards treated winning effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer. Â His acceptance speech was cut short with the theme music from Jaws as soon as he attempted to remind the audience of Rhythm & Hues’ financial difficulties. Afterwards, cameras caught actress Nicole Kidman mouthing âpoor thing.â Almost immediately, appalled users on Twitter took to the hashtag #VFXprotest to comment on the snub.