'Bohemian Rhapsody's VFX team left being 'owed thousands' after company goes into liquidation

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Bohemian Rhapsody (Credit: Twentieth Century Fox)

The team behind Bohemian Rhapsody’s special effects are thousands of pounds out of pocket after the company that worked on the film went into liquidation.

The movie won Best Actor for its star Rami Malek, and as well as the Film Editing award and two more for its sound.

But despite producing memorable scenes like the film’s climax, which features Queen playing at Live Aid, the visual effects team have been left unpaid, according to media and entertainment union BECTU.

It says that it’s handling cases worth £53,000 after Halo VFX went bust, and is calling for a new industry code of practice to protect freelance workers when businesses go into administration.

BECTU’s assistant national secretary Paul Evans said: “I’ve never had a situation where individual BECTU members have been hit this badly and it is not something we can’t just shrug our shoulders and move on from.

“This is a hugely profitable industry and the productions that our members worked on were successful. It’s not acceptable for VFX artists who have contributed to the success of multi-million pound features to be the ones to carry risk and to go unpaid for their hard work and talent.

“The incentives are all wrong in VFX. A lot of the risks end up on the shoulders of freelance workers who have to cushion the industry by accepting long periods of unpaid overtime work and working-hours that are very sub-optimal in terms of creativity and productivity.

“It’s an industry that drives talented people out. The gender ratio is particularly male-heavy because women often can’t stay in an industry that expects almost unlimited unpaid overtime as short notice.”

It’s not the first time that a VFX firm celebrated at the highest levels of the movie industry has gone out of business.

In 2013, Rhythm & Hues won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects for Life of Pi, only 11 days after going bankrupt, and despite having worked on other high profile movies like The Bourne Legacy and Game of Thrones.

The company folding caused a wave of condemnation from VFX workers, who complain that studios which depend on visual effects for their movies to exist – Life of Pi’s effects were notably pivotal – still refuse to pay those who provide them fairly.

More than 400 VFX artists protested outside the 2013 ceremony, in the wake of the company’s shut down.

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