Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Anatomy of a Shambles

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  • Andre Alessi,

    This is a project that's already lost a director, it's not beyond business decorum to rebid. Hobbit 2 and 3 should be easier to make, ya wont have to pay off the Tolkeins.

    The rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings aren't owned by the Tolkien family FYI, they're held by the Saul Zaentz Company. The Tolkeins don't get paid a thing for movies, games, etc based on those two works. However they still hold the rights to characters and works from J.R.R. Tolkein's other works, particularly The Silmarillion.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 862 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Unions have always had a commitment to cross borders if needs be, they are worker conscious , not fundamentally nationalistic.

    Bollocks. They're made of people, and have all of the same qualities.

    >I don't say this in the nationalistic sense, but rather that in my experiences many Australians aren't attuned the differences between us.

    My experience in Australia, albeit in a very different industry, is consistent with your observations Tinshed.

    Aye, mine too. They really don't care much about NZ at all, actually. They're happy to assimilate us, is about as charitable on the subject as I can get.

    At which point John Key gets to be the hero. Awesome!

    Right now, he's the last hope. Losing The Hobbit would be an epic fail for National too. TBH, it's a tax break I can handle, considering how fucking obvious it is that it causes a positive tax balance at the end.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • Eleanor,

    hamishm, you do not have a grip on the facts it is clear! The production has been held up for the past month (wasting many, many, many thousands of dollars) because NO CASTING COULD BE DONE WHILE THE MEAA BOYCOTT WAS IN PLACE. This was completely instigated by the union. Actors themselves were hamstrung. An entire pre-production was wastefully and expensively halted, for a flimsy and miniscule cause that the union could not seem to articulate clearly to anyone, at any point.

    wellington • Since May 2007 • 81 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    They're made of people, and have all of the same qualities.

    Of course Ben, i had this wild idea people may give a shit, sorry.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Actors themselves were hamstrung. An entire pre-production was wastefully and expensively halted, for a flimsy and miniscule cause that the union could not seem to articulate clearly to anyone, at any point.

    Least of all to themselves.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Eleanor,

    True that Gio.

    wellington • Since May 2007 • 81 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    A statement sent to me by an actor who prefers to remain nameless:

    As an actor, this Hobbit debacle is ridiculous to me. Having worked on several US productions here, I've been paid reasonably well in comparison to, say, a bricklayer who sweats it out working their arse off in the hot sun. We're independent contractors who have the choice to say yes or no to a job.

    NZ Eq have been coerced by MEAA to be the scapegoat for Australasian actors plight to be on par with the US. Sorry, but until NZ can afford to invest more money into local films, that's not going to happen.

    Unfortunately, there is a reason why the US come here to film (we all know that) and, quite frankly, MEAA/NZ Eq are screwing that up. I used to be in support of NZ Eq a couple of years ago until they started making disagreeable decisions on "the behalf of the NZ Acting community".

    Had the US not come here, there is no way I could ever have put several Hollywood films on my CV, nor would certain NZ actors like Karl Urban be earning plenty overseas, or other NZ LOTR actors be traveling the world for free & be making their "residuals" at conventions.

    It needs to be known that NZ Eq only represents a very small percentage of NZ Actors - this is highlighted by the number of paid memberships. Not. Very. Many.

    Anyway, just wanted to let you know that not all actors are being dicks.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18970 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    However they still hold the rights to characters and works from J.R.R. Tolkein's other works, particularly The Silmarillion.

    Yes, they do stand in the much longer run to still make a huge profit from those books. Please note, however that J.R.R Tolkien did not write The Silmarillion. His son Christopher did, based on his father's notes. There could actually be some pretty cools stories lifted from it, which would be radically different from both LOTR and The Hobbit. At least half of it is tragic. Having immortal characters is rather neat for bridging purposes. Elrond, Galadriel, and Sauron all make appearances. I think Thranduil's in there too (who we shall meet in The Hobbit). That's just the stuff that isn't in any way covered in LOTR appendices. Beren & Luthien is probably the most personal story to Tolkien, and bridges nicely to the Aragorn/Arwen conclusion. But my favorite character (in a mostly dull story) will always be Feanor, the creator of the Silmarils.

    It would probably work best as a TV series - there's just far too much content for even a string of movies.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    An actor who wishes to remain nameless. Now I've seen everything.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    I bet it's the briscoe lady.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    I think Thranduil's in there too (who we shall meet in The Hobbit).

    Only mentioned very much in passing, as the ruler of the Woodland realm in Greenwood, which later became Mirkwood. A bit like the female characters in The Hobbit. Mentioned in passing, with not a word to speak nor an action to take.

    /running away before my nerdery becomes too obvious

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1323 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Stevens,

    We are all hobbits now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 229 posts Report Reply

  • Graham Dunster,

    <I've obtained and uploaded a PDF of the backgrounder that the film techs were given at yesterday's meeting at Weta, here.>

    Russell, the document you've posted is the statement - unattributed you'll notice - that Jed Brophy asked to read at the original Equity meeting in Wellington some weeks back. He was not shouted down, he was invited to finish but baulked at reading the defamatory accusations against Jennifer and Michael.

    In a similar fashion I have received abusive emails from John Barnett and Murray Francis for my support of actors to participate in their own lives and careers.

    Until today Equity has chosen to pursue its request without fighting the battle in the media and the court of public opinion. As a result of the statements made by the Hobbit producers on National Radio this morning this strategy has had to change and I am hopeful that the many unsubstantiated accusations levelled against actors, both individually and collectively, will now be able to be answered.

    I am unclear how the current actions of technicians can help the situation.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    It would probably work best as a TV series - there's just far too much content for even a string of movies.

    And therein lies the rub: the Tolkein estate has so far absolutely refused to allow any of that material to be depicted or developed in other media. SZC is obviously much keener to exploit the material it owns the right to.

    Interestingly, the formerly independent game developer Turbine, was acquired by Warner last year. Their flagship product is the MMO Lord of the Rings Online.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 862 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    He was not shouted down, he was invited to finish but baulked at reading the defamatory accusations against Jennifer and Michael.

    You're saying he hadn't read it himself before reading it out in the meeting, and so when he got to that part he stopped and refused to go on?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Sue,

    what about bard and all the people of Lake-town
    and the elven king and the Wood-elves

    and then assuming it goes nto the time between the hobbit and the start of LOTR then you are open to a whole other pile of characters

    @deborah embrace the nerdery, hell i studied tolkien at uni so i am queen of the nerds, except for not speaking elvish

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 493 posts Report Reply

  • mike.riversdale,

    LOL - the "I'm Alright Jack" video is spot on

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Sue,

    Until today Equity has chosen to pursue its request without fighting the battle in the media and the court of public opinion.

    how do you explain the Campbell live appearance?
    and Frances Walsh's comments, which some i think came from press releases?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 493 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    Until today Equity has chosen to pursue its request without fighting the battle in the media and the court of public opinion.

    Not to state the obvious or anything, but that's the job of a union. Unions exist to advocate for their members in every relevant context. How anyone involved in this process could think that media management and public perception weren't relevant is beyond me.

    The idea that they "chose not to" is either hopelessly naive or simply dishonest.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 862 posts Report Reply

  • Graham Dunster,

    <He was not shouted down, he was invited to finish but baulked at reading the defamatory accusations against Jennifer and Michael.>

    <You're saying he hadn't read it himself before reading it out in the meeting, and so when he got to that part he stopped and refused to go on?>

    Yes, Peter, that's what I'm saying.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    Interesting, thanks Graham.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • stever@cs.waikato.ac.nz,

    Given that John Key has stepped in, I assume it's already privately decided that the films will be made here. I guess PRs have been talking to PRs to set it all up for him. They'd never have let him near it otherwise, surely?

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    I'm finding what the government is saying about this pretty ridiculous now. What I have heard from people very much in the know is that no offers from other countries appeared until the word 'boycott' appeared. So yes, the unions actions are to blame for starting that ball rolling, that is clear.

    Now it seems pretty clear that Warners will only be interested in the money aspect of it. Wether the govt changes the tax break percentages or not is a completely separate issue, but unfortunately it is now most likely issue that will decide where the film is shot.

    Any claims that Wingnut have overblown the actors actions to leverage govt policy are insane as the need to do so did not exist until the boycott. They were building sets already, I think we can assume Warners weren't considering Ireland, Czechoslovakia or Tasmania until the governments of those countries got a sniff of trouble.

    National, seem to be determined to squeeze as much anti-union sentiment out of all of this as they can....which probably wont be that hard.

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 300 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Given that John Key has stepped in, I assume it's already privately decided that the films will be made here. I guess PRs have been talking to PRs to set it all up for him. They'd never have let him near it otherwise, surely?

    Maybe. Key does have a history of announcing that he has solutions to topical problems (whaling in the southern oceans, for example) that he does not, in fact, have a solution for.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 902 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    Maybe. Key does have a history of announcing that he has solutions to topical problems (whaling in the southern oceans, for example) that he does not, in fact, have a solution for.

    Yeah, but it's not like he's ever going to be held to account for not keeping his word, is he?

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 862 posts Report Reply

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