Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Anatomy of a Shambles

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  • DexterX,

    I agree there are - strong competent unions operating with transparency to achieve improved conditions that benefit both employees and employers.

    But this is not one of thse siituations which is the essence the crux of the problem.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Jaymax,

    Actor's Equity starting to make the right kind of noises now:

    http://static.radionz.net.nz/assets/audio_item/0004/2424865/art-20101024-1240-The_Hobbit_Saga-m048.asx

    After listening to that, it really sounds like Robyn Malcolm is finding her feet after a very steep learning curve. I'm still a concerned over the 'police escort' nonsense, but I do wonder if she might not actually become a very effective AE leader (For an AE divorced from MEAA) in the near future.

    I get the impression she volunteered to be thrown in the deep end, and couldn't swim as well as she thought - but has pretty much got it right by the time she reached the shallows. If I'm right, I hope she can recover what has been lost from the early flailing.

    In particular, (reading between the lines) she seems to recognise now that standardisation is what they need, and that standardisation means working with SPADA, not productions. To me that strongly suggests she also understands WHY the strategy was poor; and I'm pretty sure she's better informed than most of us about how that strategy came to be.

    The other thing that struck me (in the latter part of the recording) is that, despite the deep mutual respect, techs still don't get actors, and actors still don't get techs (I know this is a very gross generalisation) - they have very different needs, and aspects on life - and comparing their contractual expectations is going to be a bit futile. Again, acknowledging the deep mutual respect, and the co-dependence that exists between the two sides.

    ----

    Side note: Where have the agents been in all of this? Have I missed something? In a fracas over actors contracts and contract negotiations I would have thought there'd have been something - or do they still miss the point that they solely represent their actors, and not whoever happens to be currently hiring? Maybe it was just a case of keeping heads low to avoid flying objects.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2010 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    The lack of transparency and voting in the original part of the saga, and the suggestion dug up here that there is still basically no requirement for the membership to be balloted, and possibly no way for the membership to hold the executive to account gives me the shits.

    I would hope not a single person here who was outraged by the "Dictator Brownlee" is anything less that furious about this.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    My mother had some interesting thoughts about this yesterday. She opined that perhaps PJ stirred up some stuff so that he could get the Gummint to pay for more of his film.

    Oh for fecks sake if the guy wants to lobby for an increase in film production tax breaks there are ways to do it besides a cluster-fuck that got The Hobbit global press for all the wrong reasons...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Which is no more ridiculous than the apparently global conspiracy where a US film studio and the National Party have been working together to make AE do a bunch of dumb stuff to advance both their agendas.

    And all that's missing is for our old friend Trev Loudon to link the NZCTU to the Venezuelan Chavezistas and the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5418 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Which is no more ridiculous than the apparently global conspiracy where a US film studio and the National Party have been working together to make AE do a bunch of dumb stuff to advance both their agendas.

    No, sorry, much as that is very dumb, "I would not have supported Len Brown if I had known about the blacklisting of the Hobbit" is actually dumber. Amazing, I know.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Shand,

    no way for the membership to hold the executive to account gives me the shits.

    oh there is a very simple way for the EA membership to sort this committee out. They resign and add their names to the formation of a new union.

    There are plenty of non Equity actors now motivated do the same. When the new union clearly represents a far more credible % of NZ actors than EA has ever claimed, the committee will be confronted with the true limits of their mandate.

    auck • Since Aug 2008 • 79 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    I get the impression she volunteered to be thrown in the deep end

    Keeping in mind that Actor's Equity is (was?) a tiny union it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the public fronting was being done by whoever happened to volunteer.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1443 posts Report Reply

  • SHG,

    nup • Since Oct 2010 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    ...if by extraordinary extrapolation you mean that I wouldn't allow NZAE to work on my car because they are likely too stoned??

    If this is metaphorplay
    we is, well, shafted...
    ...this is how I trolls!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7889 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    The Super City result is touted as fundamental shit of the wider electorate to the left - the beginning of the new left renaissance and the end of the Nat honeymoon.

    Unionists turn to Brown in hope -
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10682008

    Had the Hobbit blacklisting been hitting the fan in the run up to the Super City election I consider it would have had an effect on voting. Personally I would not have voted for Brown and also not made the effort to go out and encourage others to vote and support him as I did.

    I don’t think that is dumb, I wanted something different something more constructive - this debacle indicates to me nothing has changed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    'a fundamental shit'

    Freudian slip anyone?

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    ...but when the film making begins again,
    can we get someone to tighten up the rules
    in the Continuity Guild
    - having just watched Narnia TLTW&TW
    I am confused as to how the beaver gives Lucy
    back the handkerchief she gave Mr Tumnus, saying Tumnus gave it to him before the faun was captured.
    Then in the scene when Aslan is walking away near the end Tumnus gives the same handkerchief back to Lucy saying "she needed it more"
    - huh?

    oh I know it's a fantasy,
    and I shouldn't expect logic

    still the Castle Hill area looked good...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7889 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    Oh Crap - timing is everything - shoud have caught that - perhaps not.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Shand,

    'fundamental shit of the wider ....'

    has broader Freudian potential me thinks Islander

    auck • Since Aug 2008 • 79 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Duignan,

    This story:

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/film/mega-movie-refused-rebate/2008/03/18/1205602383792.html

    I can't figure this one out. Why would Simon Whipp care if Oz actors have to speak in an American accent? I mean he is literally working to get the film NOT made in Australia; to reduce the amount of work for Australian actors. Thats not irresponsible; it seems like acting directly against the interests of the unions members to me.

    The only way that action makes any sense is it MEAA is so completely in the pocket of SAG that it is doing its bidding within Australia. Am I missing something there? Does anybody have another explanation?

    Since Oct 2010 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    I can't figure this one out. Why would Simon Whipp care if Oz actors have to speak in an American accent?

    The only way that action makes any sense is it MEAA is so completely in the pocket of SAG that it is doing its bidding within Australia. Am I missing something there? Does anybody have another explanation?

    There's been a few people who have opined in the PA threads that Jackson's worthless to New Zealand because he doesn't make "authentic" New Zealand films[1]. It strikes me as a frankly bizarre idea, but it's not unique.

    Beyond that one can only guess at motivations. Cluelessness? Maintaining power being more important that working for actors? Who knows?

    There are plenty of non Equity actors now motivated do the same. When the new union clearly represents a far more credible % of NZ actors than EA has ever claimed, the committee will be confronted with the true limits of their mandate.

    That's great, but so long as AE are the outfit that international unions will (apparently without question) blacklist productions for, the go-to guys for working Visas, and get to be the ones to control and ticket-clip residuals, the latter of which have been indicated is the case presently, it doesn't really matter what the actors themselves think; the AE executive will be what matter.

    From a link posted in t'other thread:

    For them direct action had been a reckless adventure resulting in lost wages, criticism in the rural press, and diluted employment options. Many of these resigned from the union because of the inept manner in which the dispute was handled.

    Hmm.

    [1] Whatever they are.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Jaymax,

    They resign and add their names to the formation of a new union.

    How is that different to re-reforming AE as a NZ union under different leadership? Serious question. The number of people expressing interest in a new guild would likely be sufficient to make the necessary changes, even without the support of disgruntled AE members.

    One possible track: We see a new guild formed; a few months down the track, AE dump MEAA and some time subsequent the two merge, under the 'brand' AE. In the meantime, SPADA is frustrated at having to deal with two entities, and actors are put in opposition to each other by being forced to choose sides.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2010 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    Jaymax said - "SPADA is frustrated at having to deal with two entities, and actors are put in opposition to each other by being forced to choose sides."

    SPADA could deal with the two talent unions as either a multi party negotiation with both union bargaining teams at the table or the larger union first and the smaller union later.

    It happens in multi party - collective bargaining.

    What would likely be first dealt with would be blanket "terms of conditions" of the prospective employment contracts to be used.

    Next the broad range of occupations classes to be covered.

    There would also be the need for the employer to engage independent non-unionised contractors/labour – though this is no different than what is already happening.

    Then a guideline for a tender (appointment process) for who worked on what project and this would prevent the arrangement running fowl of the price fixing legislation in the Commerce Act that is there to prevent the formation of a cartel – monopoly – duopoly price fixing situation.

    With the residuals you would not want the unions involved in collecting and distributing these – this would make the union less likely to focus on the prime role of representing members.

    The collection and distribution of residuals could be either through a fund/super manager or a cross industry board with representative from both sides.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Jaymax,

    With the residuals you would not want the unions involved in collecting and distributing these

    Residuals, as part of the contract financials, shoud be handled (I would think) by the actors' agents - they have a justified financial interest in making sure it gets paid. I agree the union needs to be separate from it so they can properly wield clout when there are problems.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2010 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    I can't figure this one out. Why would Simon Whipp care if Oz actors have to speak in an American accent?

    Whipp's interests aren't so much in the working conditions of actors but rather in becoming a major industry player who gets to decide what movies get made where.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Bennett,

    And how would the many agents sort this out among themselves? How much gets paid to whom? Who audits the producers' financial statements? At the very least the agents would have to engage an accountant/lawyer and set up some sort of semi-independant trust fund. This would cost: therefore fewer $$ for actors.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • SHG,

    Neil: ...which would explain:


    SYDNEY -- Film company MOD Films, employing Creative Commons licensing, was refused any dispensation from the Australian Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) to contract local actors to an interactive re-mixable sci-fi film called Sanctuary. The decision on Wednesday brings to a halt an AU$100,000 short film shoot scheduled this month by preventing actors from being contracted under the MEAA award, despite letters of support from all the principal actors.

    The MEAA Board decided that it could grant none of the dispensations sought by MOD Films, on the grounds that these would be “inappropriate”. The production had asked for dispensations and support for its world-first plans to employ professional actors in a film with only “Some Rights Reserved” by the production company. The company intends to permit non-commercial use and re-voicing of the film by the audience. The MEAA also rejected the option of any further negotiations with MOD Films.


    http://rights.apc.org.au/culture/2005/03/meaa_halts_worldfirst_film_project_in_australia.php

    Summary: MEAA shuts down a film because it's a Creative Commons project intended for remixing and adaptation by the Australian short film community. See SIMON WHIPP decides how a film is produced and shown, not some goddamn Open Source fruits.

    nup • Since Oct 2010 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Uh, wouldn't that one be about residuals?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Jaymax,

    Sacha, not under Creative Commons, no. If the work is in the commons, it's in the commons. Just like a novel, or a photograph, or whatever. But sometimes artists choose to put their work into the commons.

    So I guess it is about residuals, in that it's a specific statement that for this novel and groundbreaking work, there won't be any, ever (at least within the scope of the original performance - it's possible to reserve rights - no commercial reuse is mentioned - or like say creating merchandise in the likeness of a character).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_Commons_licenses

    Auckland • Since Oct 2010 • 25 posts Report Reply

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