Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Yet More Hobbit

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  • Jonathan King,

    Mad Max has been "postponed" for a year + ... so the healthy, vibrant Australian international film production industry NZ Equity were pointing to is now ... er, Happy Feet 2.

    (There was, of course, some irony in Equity citing Mad Max and Happy Feet as [their only] examples of how things were fine in Aus: they were what George Miller turned to when his Justice League was killed off -- in part due to MEAA's vocal opposition to it qualifying for the local production grant.)

    The Australian newspaper: "Executives told The Weekend Australian the NZ imbroglio reflected poorly on the film industry at a time when the key Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Coast film studios were empty and the rising dollar scuppered hopes of other international productions."

    Since Sep 2010 • 174 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/4215769/NZ-film-stuck-in-muddle-earth</quote>

    Talk about the caption not matching the photo. Unless Bernard Hill suddenly got elected to be our PM.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6217 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    . . . so the healthy, vibrant Australian international film production industry NZ Equity were pointing to is now ... er, Happy Feet 2.

    As the kind of movie that doesn't require any kind of 1st-world heritage, i.e. cutting-edge technology or hordes of caucasian spear-carriers, the Happy Feet X franchise could easily have the bulk of its production moved pretty much anywhere.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3595 posts Report Reply

  • Jonathan King,

    Hey Joe, just (re)acquired a copy of Captain Sunshine last week -- saw your name in relation to the exquisite colours ...

    Since Sep 2010 • 174 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Jeez Jonathan, you found a real one? They're almost as rare as the solar-powered sundial watches. But truly, my role in that pioneering Colin Wilson project was pretty minor.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3595 posts Report Reply

  • Jonathan King,

    They're almost as rare as the solar-powered sundial watches.

    Still holding out hope to reacquire one of those!

    Since Sep 2010 • 174 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    As the kind of movie that doesn't require any kind of 1st-world heritage, i.e. cutting-edge technology or hordes of caucasian spear-carriers, the Happy Feet X franchise could easily have the bulk of its production moved pretty much anywhere.

    Hint: happy feet 2 does not require any actors...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    In all fairness though, Mad Max has more problems going for it than the unionisation of the Australian film industry...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    Sorry, I'm doing this again, but the ondemand version of the The Court Report has just come out (dealing with the Legal aspects of the hobbit)

    I'd recommend everyone involved have a look, and maybe also have a listen to Rod Oram's interview on RNZ last week (which I just came across):

    http://tvnz.co.nz/the-court-report/court-report-s2010-e12-video-3824930

    Listening to The Court Report, I'm reminded of a point Rod Oram and Simon Bennett makes, that really the issue is the strength of the Pink Book, and the responsibility of everyone in the industry, including SPADA and the other guilds (including the NZWG, for example) in making it work for the actors. This level of resentment should never have never built to the level it has to begin with.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    I didn't get to the meeting tonight,(fucking democracy got in the way) so if anyone did, I'd love to hear how it went.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2190 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Bennett,

    A meeting of Wellington actors resolves not to support Equity/MEAA-led boycott of The Hobbit:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/4222575/Wellington-actors-oppose-boycott

    And Philippa Boyens' account:

    http://www.theonering.net/torwp/2010/10/11/39046-philippa-boyens-the-hobbit-wingnut-films-media-release/

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 143 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Bennett,

    The resolution from Monday's meeting of Wellington actors:

    http://www.theatreview.org.nz/news/news.php?id=678

    I note that NZ Actors Equity chose not to attend.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 143 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    Just on a slightly different tangent (sorry Simon), and I realise I'm being extremely optimistic about getting a response here, but does anyone who knows about this sort of thing tell me if these provisions in the Trade Union Act 1908 are relevant here??:

    Criminal provisions
    3 Trade union not criminal
    The purposes of any trade union shall not, by reason merely
    that they are in restraint of trade, be deemed to be unlawful so
    as to render any member of such trade union liable to criminal
    prosecution for conspiracy or otherwise.

    4 Trade union not unlawful
    The purposes of any trade union shall not, by reason merely
    that they are in restraint of trade, be unlawful so as to render
    void or voidable any agreement or trust.

    Excuse my amateur lawyering (I'm having trouble getting my head around the basic language even) but it seems to suggest that the Commerce Act (in terms of price fixing laws) should not be allowed to intrude on an agreement between a union and and another employer, whether it be SPADA, The Hobbit, MGM or whatever? Or has the whole Trade Union Act (or even just that part, really) become irrelevant because of provisions in the ECA and the ERA?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Graham Dunster,

    http://www.encoremagazine.com.au/jackson-disney-is-not-avoiding-australia-rich-ross-5198

    Note to Jackson: Disney is not avoiding Australia
    Rich Ross, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, dismissed claims by New Zealand director Peter Jackson that Disney is avoiding bringing its productions to Australia due to problems with unions, but admitted that it is “challenging” due to the exchange rate.
    “It’s not the case [that Disney is not bringing productions due to the MEAA], and I’m not sure why anybody would talk about somebody else’s company. I’m not sure why he said it; we go where it makes sense,” Ross told Encore.
    In one of his public statements (dated September 28), Jackson said: “I’ve been told that Disney are no longer bring movies to Australia because of their frustration with the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance”.
    Ross said that choosing Australia as a shooting location would happen “when we have the right film and it makes sense for us to come here”, from a creative and financial point of view.
    The LA-based executive admitted that due to the current exchange rate, shooting in Australia is “pricey right now for us”.
    “We certainly go all over the world and Australia has an incredible film base and expertise [...] The economics, from the exchange rate to access to Government incentives, do influence where we go. We currently have four projects shooting in the UK; they’re being very aggressive about bringing production in.
    “The situation in Australia makes it more challenging. There are many variables,” admitted Ross.
    During his visit to Sydney, Ross also discussed the company’s plans for the distribution of local films: “We are interested in local production. It’s about doing global business, delivered in a local way.”
    Questioned about the strategy moving forward, following the disappointing results of their local titles Two Fists, One Heart and Subdivision in 2009, Ross said that acquisitions will be made “when it makes sense”.
    “Our approach is not opportunistic, and it’s not investment-based, but about properties that can help build our brand,” he explained.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 143 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    Interesting. I'd note that he says in his original statement:

    I've been told that Disney are no longer bring movies to Australia because of their frustration with the MEAA.

    So I wonder who told him that? Safe bet it was the Studio of course...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    Great open letter here from Holly Shanahan:

    http://www.theatreview.org.nz/news/news.php?id=677

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Yeah. Rather felt someone needed to say that. Thanks Peter and Holly.
    What it comes down to is collective bargaining for actors. That's been fairly clearly, consistently and concisely what NZAE say they want.
    We're a little out of step on this. NZ was the darling of the 'new right' in the 80s, simply because we took the 'economic experiment' further than anyone else. Now most unions have fairly low membership, and thus are pretty weak. NZEA included.
    And surprise surprise: the gap between rich and poor has grown immensely.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1582 posts Report Reply

  • Sonal Patel,

    Brisvegas • Since Nov 2006 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    @Rob:

    What it comes down to is collective bargaining for actors. That's been fairly clearly, consistently and concisely what NZAE say they want.

    Jennifer Ward-Lealand on The Nation, Oct 2:

    JENNIFER Well let's talk about the law here. So the Commerce Act says you cannot collectively bargain, absolutely, and we've never asked for that.

    Helen Kelly also told me in an email that a collective agreement wasn't being sought. There have, of course, been a number of statements to the contrary.

    I don't think NZAE have been very consistent on this at all.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Since Nov 2006 • 6217 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The text of their statement, my emphasis:

    Statement on behalf of SPADA, Actors’ Equity and CTU

    The Screen Production and Development Association (SPADA), Actors’ Equity, and Council of Trade Unions representatives met today, in a meeting facilitated by Minister for Economic Development Gerry Brownlee.
    It was a useful and productive discussion.

    The parties have agreed to work together to update the conditions of engagement for performers in the New Zealand screen production industry.

    The parties believe this process will help to ensure New Zealand remains an attractive screen production environment.

    No further comment will be made.
    · SPADA
    · Actors’ Equity
    · Council of Trade Unions

    So they're basically -- finally -- going to renegotiate the Pink Book. It's hard not to see this as an Equity climbdown, but it's good news on the face of it

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Bennett,

    Yes, good news.

    I wonder if SAG and MEAA have been advised by NZAE to withdraw the 'do not work' notice. Or are discussions proceeding with that particular loaded gun still aimed at The Hobbit?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 143 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Interesting. If you search on "hobbit" on the MEAA site, you won't spot the notice, though you can still find Equity's version on their site. (even more interesting, the letters referenced in the "Hobbit Fact Sheet" are still on the site, but don't show up in the search)

    BUT if you look at SAG's site, you can still find it (eventually) under "Hot News" but not under Member Alerts, which is where you'd expect it to be, along with other Do Not Work notices. Looks to me like everyone's pulling their heads in a bit, but no-one's going so far as to formally lift the advisory/ban.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2190 posts Report Reply

  • Jonathan King,

    Interesting. If you search on "hobbit" on the MEAA site, you won't spot the notice, though you can still find Equity's version on their site. (even more interesting, the letters referenced in the "Hobbit Fact Sheet" are still on the site, but don't show up in the search)

    "We never said anyone should boycott the film, we just suggested that people might like to hold off on signing their contract until they've considered the issues. And, in other news, we have always been at war with Eastasia ..."

    Since Sep 2010 • 174 posts Report Reply

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