As Entertainment Editor, here’s a fresh take on the recent developments at DNEG, the visual effects giant behind blockbuster hits like the upcoming Dune 2 and Oppenheimer:
In a controversial move that’s making waves in the industry, DNEG is putting its over 10,000 global employees in a tough spot. Facing ongoing strikes from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA, the VFX powerhouse is offering its staff two less-than-ideal financial alternatives: either accept a pay cut ranging from 20-25% for the next seven months or opt into a loan arrangement. Employees have a mere eleven days to make their choice, or risk being shown the door.
The company claims this grim ultimatum is a necessary step to keep as many jobs as possible during these turbulent times. The workers, however, are far from pleased. This isn’t DNEG’s first rodeo with such practices; they pulled similar stunts during the COVID-19 crisis to offload financial stress onto their workforce.
The timing is especially jarring given that the company laid off approximately 7.5% of its staff from its London headquarters back in July. These actions seem particularly hard to swallow when considering DNEG’s booming business; last year, their revenues shot up by 33%, reaching $409 million.
“DNEG is not immune to the impact of the current industry disruption, and we are not alone. These challenges are impacting all filmmaking departments, and our global clients are facing suspension or postponements of projects that represent meaningful revenue to all companies and professionals working in this industry. As a result, we are continuously and proactively reviewing all areas of our business to ensure that we can continue to deliver the highest quality work while protecting as many of our employees’ positions as possible. In order to do that, we’ve asked all employees and team members, including the most senior executives and creative leaders, to assume short-term pay cuts that will enable us to maintain the maximum number of jobs through this period.”
Visual Effects Professionals Push for a Brighter, Fairer Tomorrow
Industry unions like BECTU are stepping into the ring, urging for transparent conversations between DNEG and its staff. The union is set to host a Zoom meeting to discuss future steps and remind employees that these pay reductions can’t legally be imposed without their agreement.
This situation doesn’t exist in a vacuum; the VFX industry at large is grappling with workers’ rights and compensation issues. The Marvel VFX team has already unionized, setting a precedent for an industry-wide push for fairer working conditions.
DNEG is part of a broader, troubling trend in Hollywood, where companies are cutting corners financially at the expense of their employees, even amidst profitable times. Stay tuned as we continue to follow the unfolding drama at DNEG and the larger fight for equitable pay in Hollywood.