That is not a compliment.
While I have only worked in the industry for a couple of years, I have followed it for a couple of years longer and have talked to quite a few seasoned people by now. And both my own impressions as well as what they say paint a picture of an industry that is spiraling downwards, with people having to work increasingly crazy amounts of overtime for lower wages. Although it seems to depend on country, company size and "sub field" (feature film, TV, advertising, etc.) how bad it is. At any rate, based on what is in this "book", it seems to me that the author is one of the people who try to make sure that an overall bad work environment stays in the shape it is in.
"Better than having to eat out of the trash", some people might say. Instead of wondering whether it is fair that people make millions off of the work they may do 60, 70 hours per week for much, much less money.
I thought I might find some tips in here of how to make the best of it for me. You know, work the system. Instead, what this guide teaches one is how to best let oneself get worked by the system.
To quote: "conformity is 'in', eccentricity is 'out'"
She got that right. Spineless conformists are in high demand these days. And many are willing to supply. Hence the title/intro of this review.
Furthermore, I didn't appreciate the arrogant attitude she sometimes possesses. There is for instance a passage in which she states that people who "are still arguing about poor scripts with no storylines and bad acting" don't understand the true purpose of film. Instead, "Film is about entertainment."
In my opinion, it is actually not the arrogance, the way in which she writes as if her opinion was fact, that makes this so awful. It is the combination of arrogance and ignorance. Because what she apparently fails to understand is that realizing that film generally is about entertainment and arguing about poor scripts with no storylines and bad acting is not contradictory. Although I suppose it would make sense if one lived a world where everything that is the norm is automatically good and must not be questioned. Conformity is 'in', eccentricity is 'out'.
Why did I write the word "book" in quotes before?
Because it really reads more like a blog or something that could have been some 20 page magazine special, if one wouldn't waste such ridiculous amounts of space (to be fair - you can take a "look inside" here, which I unfortunately for some reason failed to notice). In fact, if you were to print all of the postings of vfxsoldier with the same huge font and spacing, you would probably get some 1000 pages thick monstrosity. But a monstrosity that would be a much more valuable read. Which reminds me that oddly enough, Cermak does very briefly touch on unionization in her book in a positive manner. And on her blog, she talks about vfxsoldier's blog as something people in the industry should pay attention to. I don't know what to make of it because it contradicts so many of the other things she writes. And it is not like she ever goes "This is how things are, I may not like it but that's just how it is. Oh and by the way, here is what you can do to at least try to change it: ...".
Despite my comparably brief time in the industry, I have already witnessed multiple companies who had difficulties finding artists for projects because of their reputation. And I currently work at a feature film studio where supervisors basically beg the artists to stay. Presumably because they realize that the working conditions are inadequate and words are all they themselves can offer.
So, people, recognize the power you have. Companies often act like everybody would be so easily replaceable but depending on your precise field, skills and experience (and of course also the reputation of the company), that is obviously not always as easy as they make it seem.
There is more than enough money at least in the movie business that it would be possible to pay everybody, pay them on time and hire enough artists to avoid crunch times unless half of the team gets sick. Which is exactly what people with at least some experience (because I realize that one often doesn't have options when one is just starting) can and should demand. And take their work force to a competitor or maybe a different field (as in e.g. from feature film to TV) or even a different country (if you are willing to go that far), until the respective companies are willing to improve working conditions. (You of course cannot demand the hiring of artists but you can for instance demand astronomic rates for overtime after a certain amount of hours, so that there is a really strong incentive for the company to never have you work that long.)
But those are just my two cents. And a plea to fellow artists who either think about buying this book or who have read it.
I give this book two stars because while I feel that most of her career advice is very damaging to the industry at least for artists (I'm sure company owners and the clients of those companies are rubbing their hands), I found the chapters that are about providing an overview of the industry to actually be pretty decent, since most of the things I have read about the industry so far were often too specific or too general. And I feel like her breakdown gives a great impression by being in the middle of those two approaches.