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Life After Pi (2014)

'Life After Pi' is a short documentary about Rhythm & Hues Studios, the L.A. based Visual Effects company that won an Academy Award for its groundbreaking work on 'Life of Pi' - just two weeks after declaring bankruptcy.



(story), (story)
2 wins. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Lois Anderson ... Herself
Saraswathi Vani Balgam ... Herself
Lee Berger ... Himself
Prashant Buyyala ... Herself
Michael Conelly ... Himself
Amanda Dague ... Herself
Mike Egan ... Himself
Jack Fulmer ... Himself
Keith Goldfarb ... Himself
John Hughes ... Himself
... Himself
... Himself
Scott Ross ... Himself
... Himself
Lulu Simon ... Herself


A documentary about Rhythm & Hues Studios, the L.A. based Visual Effects company that won an Academy Award for its groundbreaking work on "Life of Pi"- just two weeks after declaring bankruptcy. The film explores rapidly changing forces impacting the global VFX community, and the Film Industry as a whole. This 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. Written by Steve Storm

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2014 (USA)  »

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References Iron Man (2008) See more »

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Clear, accessible and well-structured to present its case very well.
14 June 2014 | by See all my reviews

I watched the film Life of Pi recently and, while I understood there was a message there, I thought that the sheer spectacle of the film did rather get in the way of it. This is not a criticism of the effects though, but they were so excellent that the film (for me) became so much about them that I forgot the themes and ideas – something the film did nothing to really help me with. Anyway, I digress. I was so taken by the effects that when I heard there was a film about the company behind them (Rhythm & Hues Studios) I wanted to have a look.

The film opens with the news that the company won the Academy Award for Life of Pi's visual effects, however they did so 11 days after declaring bankruptcy. As we are told very early on, this specific end is not the focus of the film, because it really is a success story that they ran for over a quarter of a century in such a rapidly developing field, however this is the example that we look at as a way of illustrating the bigger picture. That bigger picture is that VFX companies are under a lot of pressure and in return they both deliver wonderful visions of the impossible, but make almost no money doing it. From here the film takes us through the world of VFX; not from a technical point of view but more about the way the industry works, the changing work, the unreasonable expectations, the fixed bids, the tax breaks moving the companies around the world, and so on.

It is not earth-shattering to learn that companies are squeezed to breaking point by other companies so that those other companies can keep more of the money for themselves, however it is interesting in the specifics. It helps that it is really well structured and presented, with a good development to it and good use of contributions from those directly involved. It doesn't present you with answers or really much you can do as a viewer, but while it doesn't do this, it certainly does leave you with the impression that, in a world where so many big films are basically sold on the quality of the VFX, it is incredibly unjust that those involve seem to be profiting so little. It adds to this case well with some well-chosen emotive moments, such as Ang Lee blanking them in his speech and the winners of Best VFX being played off early etc, but it never overeggs the cake or tries to force the viewer to an opinion – it just lays out it pretty evenly and the rest does itself.

While the title and subject links it to Life of Pi, this documentary short is well worth seeing if you have more than a passing interest in the health of the film industry because it is clear, accessible and well-structured to present its case very well.

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