Spotlight : November 1997

The Touchy Issue of Credits
By Todd Vaziri

If you've been reading the VFX HQ for any length of time, you have certainly come across this little phrase within our pages... "Credits Not Complete." Over the past few weeks, as the readership of the VFX HQ continues to grow, this little phrase has been ignored, confused, and misread more than ever before. Plus, the little slogan that periodically changes from time to time on the home page was changed to "Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due." Much like the previous phrase, this slogan has set off a whirlwind of controversy, which I would like to settle right here and now.

On the surface, these two phrases may not seem connected in any way, but believe me, they are. I've been producing the VFX HQ for almost two years now, and one of the reasons I built the site was to give visual effects producers, supervisors, artists and engineers the publicity they deserve. Their accomplishments have dramatically changed the landscape of Hollywood feature films. Visual effects films are more abundant and popular than ever before, and the quality of these effects seem to increase with each movie season.

One of the key parts of the VFX HQ is the huge sections of movie pages. Each page contains a listing of the visual effects providers. For films that have already been released in theatres, the credits are considered "complete." This means that all of the companies that provided effects for the film are listed. This information is gathered from various sources, including the movie's production, or artists, supervisors and firms connected with the film.

The idea of listing the effects firms involved with a movie becomes much more difficult for films that are months away from being released in theatres. In this respect, the list will not be "complete" until the final product has been created. Therefore, I add the tag "Credits Not Complete" to lists that I have not confirmed as being complete.

"If a firm is not listed [in an upcoming film's credits], I simply have not been informed about its involvement in the film."

The problem with this system appears as firms or individuals do not see their name attached to a project that is still in its production stage. This is a necessary evil--if the firm is not listed, I simply have not been informed about its involvement in the film.

Case in point: when I was informed that Rhythm & Hues would be contributing to the visual effects for BABE 2, I created a page for the film, placed it in 1998 Productions, and listed R&H's name as one of the effects producers. Because the firm is a respected effects house, and their work won an Academy Award for the original film, I considered it "news" and put a headline on the home page.

It later came to my attention that other firms are contributing to the effects, as well. The London-based company, The Mill, has been involved with the production since the beginning. I hope that representatives from The Mill were not offended by the omission--I simply didn't know about their involvement. But nothing that I printed was incorrect or misleading, because I added "Credits Not Complete" to the BABE 2 list.

The VFX HQ covers the effects industry, and reports on who is doing what, with the absolute utmost of concern over accuracy. I'm battling studio secrecy, strong competition among houses, and various other obstacles--these situations are bound to occur. I don't believe for one moment that announcing that R&H's work on the picture was innaccurate. The credit list was accurate, but not complete, hence, the "Credits Not Complete" tag.

This particular case, hopefully, did not offend the parties involved. But others have. But what am I to do to avoid these situations? Should I create a page for a film only a week before its release, to ensure that the credits are complete? That would be silly; for example, with that scenario, readers would be able to learn about BABE 2's effects a few days after Thanksgiving 1998!?

"Filmmakers are totally overshadowed by actors in today's Hollwyood, and the visual effects team is near the bottom of the publicity food chain."

I have worked to great lengths not to make the VFX HQ another "cool news" site, where every single shred of information about a film (true or untrue) gets printed. Only accurate, fact-based info is posted, and that is how it should stay. When I am informed that a house is working on a film, I will announce it.

Which is why the "Credits Not Complete" tag is so important. So when you see it in the future, please understand that other houses or individuals may have joined the production team.

As for "Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due", if you disagree with this slogan, please write me and tell me how it isn't true. Show me another newspaper, magazine, television show or web site that gives more credit to the individuals involved with visual effects. Show me another publication that better portrays the industry as a vibrant, exciting, highly charged, creative force in modern entertainment. Show me another source where the people of the industry are more appreciated and respected.

This site is meant to serve as an alternative to such television shows as "ET", networks like E! and even major newspapers and movie magazines that gloss over modern visual effects as being "computer generated," or simply refer to the effects team as "digital wizards." They waste countless hours interviewing celebrities like Kenny Rogers and Charo at a film's premiere, while offhandedly mentioning that the film contains some "dazzling special effects," as they run to get another exciting interview with Patrick Duffy. Filmmakers are totally overshadowed by actors in today's Hollwyood, and the visual effects team is near the bottom of the publicity food chain. Hopefully, the VFX HQ is playing a part in changing that.

If you disagree with me, do yourself, me and the VFX HQ a favor by making your feelings known. I have been considering changing the format of particular sections of the VFX HQ, and I'd like to know how you think things could be improved.

It means a lot to me personally, as well. I hope I'm not working my ass off trying to make the VFX HQ as entertaining and informative as possible, only to piss off the very people I'm trying to publicize.


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