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Paying To Work For Free

(Originally posted at Motionographer)

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Last week VFX Soldier exposed a scheme by Digital Domain to offer students at their taxpayer-subsidized university program the opportunity to work for free on their commercial production. In a November speech to investors to raise money for an IPO, Digital Domain CEO John Textor explains their plan this way:

30% of the workforce at our digital studio down in Florida is not only going to be free, with student labor, it’s going to be labor that’s actually paying us for the privilege of working on our films.

Now I know that you are shocked, absolutely shocked! by these sort of goings-on in the movie business. But the horse has left the barn. The cat is out of the bag. The fat lady sang. No amount of collective smacking our heads, moaning and groaning and rage as we sit in front of our computer screens will stop this from happening now. Digital Domain has already convinced Florida State University and The Department of Education that somehow this is NOT “taking advantage of the students,” and they’ve gotten an $80 Million subsidy from the City of Port St. Lucie and the State of Florida — all on their promise of high-tech jobs.

But does anyone really think that this is the first lesson we should teach future film students?

Some more info:
The Animation Guild: DD Finds New Revenue Stream … Students!
Cartoon Brew: Digital Domain’s John Textor Brags to Investors about Exploiting Animation Student Labor
Canadian Animation Resources: Editorial: Working = Money, right?
Occupy VFX: Shame on Digital Domain
Scott Benson: Paid Internships … The Other Kind
LA Times: Digital Effects Firm’s Partnership With College Draws Artists’ Ire
NY Times: The Unpaid Intern, Legal or Not
US Department of Labor: Internships Under the Fair Labor Standards Act

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