Trailer: “Life After Pi” Documents the Collapse of Rhythm & Hues Studios

“It was like a perfect storm of crap happening all at the same time,” says Rhythm & Hues president Lee Berger in the trailer for Rhythm & Hues: Life After Pi. The short documentary recounts the amazing sequence of events that occurred last spring when visual effects studio Rhythm & Hues declared banruptcy just before winning the Oscar for its work on Ang Lee’s The Life of Pi. The film was shot on location at the studio in the weeks following the bankruptcy. It will be released online on February 25.

According to the film’s website, this short is “only the first chapter of an upcoming feature-length documentary Hollywood Ending, that delves into the larger, complex challenges facing the US film industry and the many professionals working within it, whose fates and livelihood are intertwined.”


  • Teekers

    Life of Pi was my favourite film of 2012, but I’ll always feel slightly dirty for having that opinion, since the movie resulted in the end of an amazingly accomplished studio, along with the livelihoods of some extremely talented artists and engineers. That movie is truly a microcosm of the best and worst of the VFX industry.

    • used to work there

      well I think you can still like the movie. It in and of itself was not what caused R&H to go under, it was myriad of other factors relating to other shows that caused a cascade of misfortune

      • SarahJesness

        Yeah, the studio probably would’ve gone down regardless of whether or not they worked on this film. If nothing else, at least we can say they went out on a good note? Still really sucks, though. R&H was pretty awesome, they were especially great with animals, which are really hard to do.

  • TStevens

    I honestly don’t know how the feature film VFX industry surives with the amount of people in the business and the relatively few number of clients. Outside of the big 8 or 10 studios the demand for this type of product is relatively small. That means that the studios are basically running the game. As I’ve mentioned before, the business model seems to be better for smaller studios that have very lean staffs of maybe 20 or 30 that can grow and shrink rapidly doing piece work on multiple projects.

  • https://vimeo.com/channels/wharton Brett Wharton

    Not the overseas units.

    • used to work there

      nope,The studio itself is in operation under new ownership since last April/may. The over sea’s units were recently shut down absorbed into the new parent company. The Los Angeles and Vancouver units are still there, just at a greatly decimated rank.

  • USfilmguy

    The trailer for Life After Pi looks terrific. Christina Lee is a
    passionate documentary film maker, and former manager at R&H. What
    I’m afraid won’t be told in this documentary is that John Hughes walked
    away with over $1M while many, many lives were ruined–and work unpaid.
    And to hear smug Lee Berger say ”…like a perfect storm of crap”. How
    articulate. Berger got to keep his job at R&H, which is a mystery
    to most studio and industry people.

    I stand by my comments below from February 11, 2013 in Rhythm & Hues
    Chapter 11? subject/thread:

    “Yes, the tax incentives do play a role in all this but there was
    chronic mismanagement at R&H for the last seven years. I see these
    posts about “Poor John Hughes”–John was complacent. He allowed
    incompetent amateurs (their initials are : DW, LSB, EWB, JDD, BT…to name
    a few) to “run” the place. Employees went to him often with their
    concerns about how the company was being poorly mismanaged, and while he listened—he did nothing to correct it. What VFX company has two
    presidents, two executive producers, a production executive a.k.a bidder
    all in one office under the same roof? It was a free-for-all for those
    managers making high salaries with expense accounts while receiving
    terrific health benefits. It should also be mentioned that the two
    executive producers worked 3.5 day weeks each and pulled in FULL
    salaries. Furthermore it is a ghost town in the executive offices after
    6:30pm on any given night.

    The writing was on the wall about the subsidies and tax incentives
    years ago. R&H jumped on the band wagon in 2004/2005, and opened the
    India offices. Richard Hollander (former President of the Features
    Division at R&H), in a company meeting in May 2006, made the
    unfortunate statement: “No LA jobs will be lost because of India”…That
    worked well. What didn’t work was that while R&H opened India,
    Malaysia, Vancouver they kept LA at status quo, when they should have
    been restructuring the overhead in LA. In fact, they added an additional
    executive producer and brought back the lame-duck additional president
    within the last year and a half. It was described to employees that the
    additional executive producer and additional president were brought in
    to help manage R&H’s expanding global presence. HOG WASH! There were
    already highly competent and effects managers in the LA in place for
    years who specifically handled India and later Malaysia.

    Sour grapes? NO. Tax Incentives and subsidies? YES, partly so. A
    poorly run company with greedy, ineffective and lazy
    executives…ABSOLUTELY!”

  • Disgruntled

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  • SarahJesness

    Pff. It’s so obvious that the movie used a real tiger and Rhythm & Hues only said it was CGI so they could get an award. Those liars deserved to go bankrupt!

    In all seriousness, I’m looking forward to this film. When news of the bankruptcy broke I was surprised to learn how messed up this part of the entertainment industry was. After all, lots of movies today rely pretty heavily on CGI, with many (including Life of Pi) using it as a selling point. Lots of movies (perhaps even Life of Pi) could never have been reasonably made without artists doing this work. It’s pretty messed up that the industry has so many problems.

  • Pedro Nakama

    It’s bad management/weak vfx producers. If the management or producers were any good they would have bounced back. The bad part is the artists or the low men on the totem pole take the blame.