Traverse City Record-Eagle


January 3, 2014

As new meccas flourish, artists become nomads

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Even as new filmmaking centers help spread Hollywood’s wealth around the world, the boost to local economies comes at a personal cost to the specialists who must follow the work. As movie production migrates from place to place, friendships get left behind and raising a family can be difficult.

But the life can be exciting for a highly skilled class of adventurers —those not averse to expenses-paid hotel rooms, restaurants and living abroad. Just ask Hiroshi Mori, a 49-year-old pre-visualization artist whose digital scene-setting work has been used in movies such as “The Avengers” and “Men in Black: 3.” In the last several years, the Hawaii native has worked in Sydney, New York and Albuquerque, N.M., not to mention Los Angeles, home of the company he co-owns, The Third Floor.

“If you’re single, it can be a great lifestyle. You’re put up in a hotel. Production pays for it. It’s fun, it’s great,” he says. “Some people love to travel and some people don’t because of very practical reasons. But that is the reality of the business now.”

Still, the inherent uncertainty of filmmaking is compounded by globe-spanning moves every few months or years.

“One day, you might be told to travel to London or Hawaii or somewhere, and all of a sudden, a week later, everything has changed,” says Raffael Dickreuter, a 32-year-old freelance pre-visualization artist who was born in Switzerland but lives in West Hollywood, Calif. “You cannot believe anything until it happens.”

The blog VFX Soldier has become a conduit for film workers frustrations about the chaos caused as locales around the globe compete through tax incentives. “We’re tired of the cycle of displacement,” says Daniel Lay, the 33-year-old hair and cloth special effects director who runs the blog. “The idea that it’s creating a sustainable industry is not true.”

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