Posted on Friday, February 14th, 2014 by Germain Lussier
February 2013 was a bittersweet month for the visual effects house Rhythm & Hues. Due to the increased cost of effects-based work in Hollywood and the competitive nature of the business, they were forced to declare bankruptcy, fire hundreds of people and close up shop. Two weeks later, the company was given the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for their work in Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. The closing spawned tons of protests around Hollywood. How could the best visual effects house not be making any money?
That question has become a fundamental issue within Hollywood, and Rhythm & Hues employees used the unique and upsetting occasion to make a short documentary called Life After Pi. The trailer is out now and the full length short will be released online February 25. Eventually, it’ll be used in a feature length documentary called Hollywood Ending which explores “why the movie capital of the world is forcing filmmakers to leave.”
On February 25, the short film documenting the closing of Rhythm & Hues will be released online. Later, that footage will be integrated into a larger documentary that’ll explore why Hollywood’s current climate is forcing artists to not make movies in the system. Here’s a description of that film, called Hollywood Ending:
“Life After Pi” is a short documentary about Rhythm & Hues Studios, the L.A. based Visual Effects company that won an Academy Award for its groundbreaking work on “Life of Pi”– just two weeks after declaring bankruptcy. The film explores rapidly changing forces impacting the global VFX community, and the Film Industry as a whole.
This is only the first chapter of an upcoming feature-length documentary “Hollywood Ending,” that delves into the larger, complex challenges facing the US Film Industry and the many professionals working within it, whose fates and livelihood are intertwined.
And here’s more info on Life After Pi:
In February of 2013, John Hughes, founder of Rhythm & Hues Studios, regretfully announced that the company was going bankrupt. With no way to pay his hard working employees, and no other options, hundreds were laid off. Two weeks later, they won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for “Life of Pi.”
These were tragic, ironic times, and as employees, we were compelled to document it. As the bankruptcy finalized and layoffs continued, we began filming – watching helplessly as one of the most prestigious VFX companies in the world crumbled. As we all asked how this could happen, many stood up in outrage, sounding the alarm that this incident was not an isolated event, but a reflection of greater problems.
The old model of the movie business is passing away, yet modern-day Hollywood grips it ever more tightly. VFX companies and artists are treated as mere cogs in the machine, with little regard to creating a sustainable, collaborative working relationship. This will lead not only to the demise of more VFX companies, but to increasing instability industry wide.
Rhythm & Hues reached new heights in visual effects mastery with its stunning work on “Life of Pi,” yet they still fell into bankruptcy.
“Life After Pi” reveals the behind-the-scenes factors that led to this sad and unforgettable moment in the history of Hollywood.