Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: A few (more) words on The Hobbit

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  • Heather W.,

    RE Spada responds to MEAA's newsletter to members:

    The later message dated the 28th October on the NZ Actors Equity website appears way more reasonable than that MEAA newsletter.

    President Jennifer Ward-Lealand expressed her gratitude on behalf of New Zealand performers for the Government’s leadership over the past two days toward negotiating a positive outcome with the studio executives and producers.

    "I think in many ways, the issue has helped build public awareness of the importance of the film industry to New Zealand, and the industry will be stronger as a result".

    “Actors Equity, will take time now to reflect on the events of the past few weeks, and to review these with members, and our colleagues across the production spectrum”.

    North Shore • Since Nov 2008 • 187 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    The later message dated the 28th October on the NZ Actors Equity website appears way more reasonable than that MEAA newsletter.

    It is indeed. I think it's safe to say most people's beef is with the MEAA and not AE, which is not to suggest AE are pawns or whatever, but simply that the far better resourced MEAA should have done a far better job, and were ultimately quite irresponsible in the way that their actions effected the NZ industry. It's not AE's fault, but the MEAA should have known better before it hauled out the big guns. They wouldn't have bloody run it like that in Australia. Why to the NZ Industry and AE members not get the same respect?

    Nor is blatantly disguising the truth of their actions to their own members, in an obvious bid to cover their own asses, something that is going to endear the MEAA to the rest of the NZ industry, nor, in the long run, their own members, one would imagine.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Bennett,

    From what I'm hearing, the version of events described in the MEAA newsletter is the one subscribed to by a large number of actors.

    The SPADA response will be seen as spin, and further bolster the bogey-man image of fat-cat producers among many actors.

    Doesn't bode particularly well for 'good faith' discussions of the Pink Book.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 143 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    From what I'm hearing, the version of events described in the MEAA newsletter is the one subscribed to by a large number of actors.

    It's early days yet. I'm sure the actors feel very hard done by in this whole thing. I'll bet some aren't terribly fond of some comments made around here also, but, unlike Paul Holmes, I don't think they're stupid, just under-resourced and thrown in the deep end by the MEAA.

    I think when they sit down with their fellow industry unions they'll see that we're more than happy to help them and things will start to improve. I for one though, am not at all impressed with the MEAA and how they've handled things. I'm glad for their support of an under-resourced NZ Union, but the AE would probably be well served by asserting their independence and negotiating themselves and in unison with their fellow nz guilds for reasonable standards, such as is done very effectively in the US.

    The MEAA don't seem to care less for the other NZ Unions. If they did, this would have played out very differently.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    They wouldn't have bloody run it like that in Australia.

    Some of us speculated that they probably would have, actually - and that failure to adjust for local industrial relations culture may have contributed to the problems.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    In all this hoo-haa about The Hoobit and Warners, no one seems to have noticed that the Commerce Committee has reported back on the TVNZ Amendment Bill 2010, with conclusions which seem to have ignored the majority of submissions.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2318 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Bennett,

    @Peter Cox - agreed. I hope Equity do meet with and forge relationships with the other NZ industry unions.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 143 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    'm sure the actors feel very hard done by in this whole thing. I'll bet some aren't terribly fond of some comments made around here

    What? That their *union* did a poor job? Have I missed someone bagging actors in general?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    Some of us speculated that they probably would have, actually - and that failure to adjust for local industrial relations culture may have contributed to the problems.

    I find it extremely unlikely they would have never balloted their members until after the fact, nor consulted with their other industry unions.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    with conclusions which seem to have ignored the majority of submissions

    Business as usual, then

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I find it extremely unlikely they would have never balloted their members until after the fact, nor consulted with their other industry guilds.

    Fair point. I recall talking about them going in with guns blazing, but you're right they would have rallied support first.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    What? That their *union* did a poor job? Have I missed someone bagging actors in general?

    I suspect they feel somewhat ripped by the broader NZ media, who did go pretty over the top at times, and it felt like 'union bashing', frankly. By the same token Chris Trotter's 'Peter Jackson is evil and anyone who doesn't agree is a scab', apparently including me, didn't help either. I it was a bit concerning to see his first article officially endorsed by Roy Billing as a board member of the MEAA. Not cool, Roy, not cool at all. Nice of you to drive a wedge into the NZ industry from your comfortable spot in Aus, far away from the fallout.

    Anyway, as for the Paul Holmes/Michael Laws part: it wouldn't surprise me if much of the (one would hope, constructive) criticism of the MEAA's handling of this thing would get mixed in with that kind of 'actor's are stupid' type rhetoric.

    But time heals all wounds as they say. I don't think these ones are terribly deep in the end though, anyway.

    Everyone in this, including the leaders of AE are very intelligent, decent people with a great deal of passion and desire for the success of the NZ industry. They're as big a fans of PJ as anyone else I'm sure. I, for one, am optimistic that this will turn out for the best for everyone and the NZ industry will actually be stronger as a result.

    Really glad the Hobbit stayed though, phew.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn,

    Oh-oh. I'm probably late on this, but my agent sent me an email with a link to the new union's Facebook page.

    It's like someone saying "I don't like the way the country is run, so I'm going to start a new way over here."

    There were some pretty snide comments about actors during this debacle - reminded me of a flatmate of mine who rose from floor manager to producer over the years. His opinion (hopefully not based on what he thought of me) was that actors were a bloody liability - weren't much use for anything. (I think he changed his tune somewhat when a couple of US actors, in two different films, savaged him over his disregard for their need to sleep, as well as learn their lines, for the next day's shoot.) But one of my colleagues, when we were discussing employers' attitudes to actors in soap operas, said in his opinion actors were regarded as "always the fly in the ointment, and if it wasn't for them, this programme would be really good."

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    Having just ripped into Roy Billing, I should point out, he was genuinely trying to stick up for the rights of NZ Actors, and I shouldn't dump on him for that. I'm sure he's a good guy. But there's definitely a line between support and outright interference that's been crossed there, and he should have known better, particularly if he's going to start joining in with the PJ is some sort of evil overlord rhetoric. That sort of s**t has actually wound up causing a great deal of damage to AE's cause.

    But one of my colleagues, when we were discussing employers' attitudes to actors in soap operas, said in his opinion actors were regarded as "always the fly in the ointment, and if it wasn't for them, this programme would be really good.

    Yeah, that attitude has always made me angry too. I hear people harassing Shortland Street acting sometimes, and I always inform them of the kind of ridiculous turnaround they have. It takes a brilliant actor even to look half competent under those kind of conditions. They don't rehearse the same way they would in any other type of TV drama, or film, let alone theatre.

    That's always been the sign of a good director too - the ability to recognise where actors need to be in order to give a performance. I've always felt the best writing came from actors too, or at least people also trained to be actors: Harold Pinter, for example, who I spent a good 2 years blatantly trying to reproduce before I figured out I wasn't angry, jewish or living in london in the 60s.

    Also Sam Shepard. Kind of bummed I missed True West that was put on recently. Damn great play.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    To continue the Tarzan and 'what sci-fi film would you like to see made?' theme, some of you might be interested to know that 'John Carter of Mars' is due for a 2012 release.

    Gio will be especially thrilled to know that the original story is cited as one of the inspirations for 'Avatar'.

    Metal Fist

    Awesome, Sir Peter dude! Top it off with some umlauts!

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    @Peter Cox - agreed. I hope Equity do meet with and forge relationships with the other NZ industry unions.

    Yeah, it's not completely their fault, though. Everyone's working on it. I'm feeling optimistic.

    I wouldn't mind seeing a more clear line of exactly where the MEAA stops and AE starts though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Bugger Bilbo, what about Oblio...

    ps. it's "Nilsson", not "Nillson")

    Point taken...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5060 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn,

    Is that Ringo?

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    Oh, and the point I never actually managed to make with this:

    I suspect they feel somewhat ripped by the broader NZ media, who did go pretty over the top at times, and it felt like 'union bashing', frankly.

    Was that the actors probably feel attacked from all sides at the moment, but in time I think they'll feel less so, and the various people who have criticised this particular campaign are not necessarily to be lumped in with the Laws/Holmes/Kiwiblog crowd, and are completely prepared to lend support to the overall cause itself.

    Okay, that's my ramble for the day; back to work ;)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    It takes a brilliant actor even to look half competent under those kind of conditions.

    ...it must be a really rapid turnaround on Spartacus then, I saw about 10 minutes of it last night it was like they were just woodenly reading their lines... couldn't watch any more.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5060 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Is that Ringo?

    yep, he also appeared with Nilsson in the lamentable Son of Dracula (1974) that Apple Records produced, abetted by Keith Moon, John Bonham, Peter Frampton, Nicky Hopkins and Beatles-pal Klaus Voorman, amongst others...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5060 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    There were lines? :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    By the same token Chris Trotter's 'Peter Jackson is evil and anyone who doesn't agree is a scab', apparently including me, didn't help either. I it was a bit concerning to see his first article officially endorsed by Roy Billing as a board member of the MEAA.

    I had a brief email discussion with Peter Elliot after he forwarded me that Trotter column as part of a mass email.

    I pointed out that as well as being crazy and unhelpful, it was wrong in fact. He disagreed, and said he was also appreciative of what The Standard was writing.

    I invited him to come and discuss it here, but he said he didn't want to add to the "emotional inflammation" of the issue. I greatly respect Peter, but given what he'd just sent out from his email address, I found his position really hard to reconcile.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18969 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    Yeah, I was kind of disappointed not to see an actor or two engage a bit more with us on that. But a lot of them are genuinely concerned if they get too stuck in behind this action, they'll get a bad rep and producers will be less inclined to want to cast them as a result, which is something I can fully commiserate with.

    This is where I feel some actors might have some gratitude to Trotter/The Standard etc - because they've been so vocally sticking up for them. I'm not sure I'd feel any different in their position, at least when this thing was at full invective a month back or so. I'd probably also take one look at 'publicaddress' and think 'bastards not helping', and not want to engage either. I have casting decisions over actors for a start. It's concerning, but I think it'll be something that'll fade when people don't feel so heavily on the firing line with all this. Still, would have been nice for Graham Dunster to bother answering some questions in regards to the statements he's made on here.

    Problem is, when you see emails like that from the MEAA, it's hard not to attack the MEAA for blatantly disguising the facts to cover their asses, and the NZ Actors feel like you're attacking them, or even that we're simply 'deluded by the mass media' or similar kinds of things that get said by Trotter/The Standard, and reinforced by the antics of Holmes.

    That's why I'm a lot more sympathetic to Robyn Malcolm & Helen Kelly than certain other people around the place. I suspect she knew she was going to take it on the chin, but simply saw some people who felt too threatened to go into the public forum, against some big, powerful people, and stuck up for them.

    But by the same token I get equally furious at the MEAA for creating the situation and continuing to cover up their mistakes to cover their own foolish mistakes. To save face in public is one thing... but to try and disguise the situation to your own members...

    I get angry just thinking about it.

    Tough situation all round...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I suspect they feel somewhat ripped by the broader NZ media, who did go pretty over the top at times, and it felt like 'union bashing', frankly.

    Meh... Deborah Coddington tried playing the victim over the totally justified Asian Angst backlash, and I wasn't buying that either. It would be easier to feel sympathetic to the unions if they weren't busy mounting a lavish, all-star production of Brain-Death on The Denial.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

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