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- Marvel Studios’ VFX artists became the first in their industry to file to unionize on August 7.
- The move comes after allegations that execs perpetuated bullying and grueling work conditions.
- “Turnaround times don’t apply to us, protected hours don’t apply to us, and pay equity doesn’t apply to us,” one artist wrote.
Marvel Studios’ VFX artists on Monday filed for a union election with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists, and Allied Crafts, otherwise known as IATSE. The move comes after a supermajority of Marvel VFX employees — a team of more than 50 people — signed union cards, according to an IATSE press release.
“Turnaround times don’t apply to us, protected hours don’t apply to us, and pay equity doesn’t apply to us,” VFX artist Bella Huffman wrote in the press release. “Visual Effects must become a sustainable and safe department for everyone who’s suffered far too long and for all newcomers who need to know they won’t be exploited.”
“We are witnessing an unprecedented wave of solidarity that’s breaking down old barriers in the industry and proving we’re all in this fight together. That doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” Matthew D. Loeb, IATSE president, wrote in the press release. “Entertainment workers everywhere are sticking up for each other’s rights, that’s what our movement is all about.”
Marvel Studios did not respond to Insider’s request for comment prior to publication.
Rumors of Marvel Studios VFX artists‘ discontent and desire to unionize have been swirling for months. Last summer, current and former Marvel VFX artists posted to social media and contacted news outlets to describe their grueling hours and a workplace culture of bullying.
“When I worked on one movie, it was almost six months of overtime every day,” an anonymous Marvel Studios VFX artist told Vulture in July 2022. “I was working seven days a week, averaging 64 hours a week on a good week.”
These conditions even drove some artists, like Dhruv Govil, to quit the craft completely.
“Working on #Marvel shows is what pushed me to leave the VFX industry,” Govil wrote last summer in a now-deleted tweet. “They’re a horrible client, and I’ve seen way too many colleagues break down after being overworked, while Marvel tightens the purse strings.”
Several VFX artists told Vulture in January that they consider Marvel Studios a “bully” in the industry. The artists said that Victoria Alonso, Marvel Studios’ president of VFX and post-production at the time, cultivated a culture of fear by controlling an industry blacklist.
“She is known in the industry as a kingmaker,” a former Marvel Studios VFX tech told Vulture. “If she likes you, you are going to get work and move up in the industry. If you have pissed her off in any way, you’re going to get frozen out.”
Alonso left her role two months later.