Hundreds Gather For Pre-Oscar Protest Over Runaway Film Production

Visual effects artists protested the tax incentive arms race in which countries and states offer subsidies to lure production away from Hollywood. “It’s a race to the bottom,” said organizer Daniel Lay.

1. More than 300 visual effects artists, their families and supporters protested Sunday at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine, a mile from the Dolby Theater where the Oscars are being held.

BuzzFeed / Hunter Schwarz

2. The man who plays Superman and takes pictures with tourists on Hollywood Blvd. was even there.

BuzzFeed / Hunter Schwarz

3. They wore green symbolizing green screens. “Without visual effects, this is what you’re going see: people in front of green screens,” Daniel Lay, protest organizer and founder of visual effects group ADAPT said.

BuzzFeed / Hunter Schwarz

4. Protestors are upset over the tax incentives arms race. For more than a decade, states and countries have offered studios subsidies and tax incentives to pursuade them to leave California to film.

BuzzFeed / Hunter Schwarz

5. California currently offers $100 million in tax incentives annually, less than states like New York, Louisiana, Georgia, and Massachusetts. Lawmakers have introduced a bill expanding California’s incentive program.

Office of Assemblyman Mike Gatto

Assemblymembers Raul Bocanegra (center) and Mike Gatto (right) introducing the Expanded Film and Television Job Creation Act in February.

6. But Lay called tax incentives “a race to the bottom.”

BuzzFed / Hunter Schwarz

Lay speaking with press at the protest.

“It’s not going to be effective,” Lay told BuzzFeed when asked about the proposed expansion to California’s incentive program. “I think ultimately it’s going to be whittled down.”

While proponents of tax incentives argue they’re crucial to protecting middle class jobs for those who work in the entertainment industry, Lay characterized them as unsustainable and as a way for studios to drive down their costs with taxpayer money.

“It’s not about the middle class,” Lay said. “It’s about gaming the system. [Studios] want this war. It’s their own self-made disaster.”

8. As studios chase subsidies and chose to film in places like Canada, many entertainment industry professionals have been laid off or had to move to find work.

BuzzFeed / Hunter Schwarz

10. “We would rather have a subsidy-free world,” said protester Dave Rand. “It’s just politicians buying votes. It’s bullshit.”

BuzzFeed / Hunter Schwarz

11. Lay said his group is pushing legal efforts in hopes of imposing tariffs on films that benefit from incentives.

BuzzFeed / Hunter Schwarz

12. “This is about leveling the playing field,” he said.

BuzzFeed / Hunter Schwarz

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