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Q&A with John Textor – CEO of Digital Domain

Last updated on April 12, 2012

Can someone photoshop some scary lightning shooting from these fingertips?

Editor’s Note: We’ve been running coverage following the reveal that Digital Domain is setting up a school, using government funding, to enable students to pay tuition for the “privilege” of working on their upcoming animated features.  The bit that really lit the fire was a villainous address by their CEO, Joh Textor, to a group of potential investors where he laid it out as such.  30 {f2e86ea6af82e2bb048871abf045622abf0ed27fb513932dc1ee8c05a54cbefd} of their work force would not only be free labour, but labour that actually pays to work.  It’s fucking brilliant, from a business standpoint, and equally scary.  I had it pointed out to me on VFX soldier by our Social Media Ninja, and now resident Firecracker, Rebecca David.  Rebecca really latched onto the story and wrote a great piece about it from her own perspective, one I think is particularly valid under these circumstances.  Rebecca is relatively new to our industry, out of school barely a year.  Rebecca practically IS one of the potential students Textor is talking about.  Since then, the conversation has been ongoing in our comments section, over at Cartoon Brew, and at ground zero, VFX Soldier, where Textor himself has entered the dialogue.  John Textor has made himself remarkably available, and we’re going to take him up on it.  It’s her story, so Rebecca’s going to run with it.  She’s scheduling a phone call later this week, and we want to make this conversation available to you guys as well.  So if you have any questions, any REAL questions, let us have them, and we’ll ask.

Here’s Rebecca saying much the same, but shorter and sweeter and with more better links.

Last week Digital Domain’s CEO was actively answering questions on VFXSoldier’s website in the comments section and offered up his time if anyone wanted to talk to him.

So we’ve taken him up on that.

If you have any questions that you would like us to ask Mr. Textor, please leave them in the comments section and we will hopefully be able to include it in our interview.

Some videos and literature on the subject:

Editorial  – Working = Money, right? 

John Textor Video – Free Labour is Better than Cheap Labour

Digital Domain Institute – The school in question

LA Times Article – with statements from Textor and the Dean of FSU



  1. Potential DD Employee Potential DD Employee April 10, 2012


    I would like to know how Textor wants to ensure, that the Quality of the work still is on feature level. 30% is a huge amount of “interns” someone would have to control their work… does he think that the other (seasoned) artists will have to mentor them?

  2. Paul Paul April 11, 2012

    I’d like to know how they plan on enforcing NDA’s? These students are paying customers, technically not employees on salary who don’t want to lose their job if they don’t comply.

    Sure they could expel the student from the program, but then they have to return their tuition money, which would take away from the film’s budget until a new student replaces them.

    Which brings up another question: How bad does a student have to screw-up, before their performance begins to cost more than their tuition money?

    Realistically, they could string a mediocre student along for the duration of the program; let them graduate and then say “Sorry kid, you’re stuff just isn’t good enough to work here long-term, but good luck working at Home Depot, and thanks for the $100 000.”

    What about the kids that crack under the pressure? Most of them get weeded out before they make it into a studio. What kind of provisions do they plan on putting into place to prevent one or more students from trashing the servers and potentially erasing months of work?

    But my biggest question is:
    How do they plan on preventing their interns from being blacklisted at other studios who oppose the practice?

    With this much uproar within the community, there is bound to be some backlash, and unfortunately, it’s usually the animators and designers that pay the price, instead of the policy makers.

  3. Eric Eric April 11, 2012

    How about asking him to create a clone so he could go fuck himself.

    • Rebecca David Rebecca David Post author | April 11, 2012

      I don’t think that would be very helpful to anyone.

  4. Eric Eric April 12, 2012

    I appreciate the coverage this is getting but I don’t think questioning Textor does any good. He’s a politician, and he’ll say pretty much anything in order to try and smooth things over.

    What’s important is his (and DD’s management) actions are working to make things worse for VFX artists and the industry as a whole.

    What does help people is coverage of things like this and info on the union situation so we’re all informed to make the best decisions. Which are hopefully to stand up for ourselves!

    Thanks for the articles,


    • Rebecca David Rebecca David Post author | April 12, 2012

      I completely agree that Textor’s primary job is to be the ‘yes man’ and smooth things over for everyone. But with an uproar like this, there’s plenty of misinformation going around and by going directly to the source I’m hoping to smooth out some wrinkles and confusion that’s been kicked up lately.

      Moreover, we can’t possibly over-document this. The more information and quotes we have taken down and squirreled away, the more ammunition we have for the future.

      Like you said, you appreciate the coverage. It’s harder for something like this to slip away quietly when everyone keeps looking at it.

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