Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Hobbit Wars

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  • Peter Cox,

    Seeing as everyone missed the vital line in the link I posted yesterday...

    http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/newsdetail1.asp?storyid=183377

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Seeing as everyone missed the vital line in the link I posted yesterday...

    @Peter: I didn't say anything in the hope that local media would get around to reading the story they're citing:

    The one remaining hurdle is getting an official go-ahead from MGM, which for more than a year has been virtually out of cash and whose debt holders have been trying to decide upon a plan for reorganization. Under a long-standing agreement, MGM owns half the rights and controls international distribution. MGM is eager to co-finance the films, people close to the situation said, and could give Warner Bros. the official OK in the next few days.

    The studio partners also have nearly finalized a deal with director, producer and co-writer Peter Jackson to make the two movies and have resolved most other key issues that have long held up the project, including those related to underlying rights from the estate of author J.R.R. Tolkien.

    I'm sure everyone will breath a sigh of relief when the horribly tangled financing, distribution and underlying rights questions get sorted (and that's far from a done deal), but that's an entirely separate issue from what's going on here, As far as the employment dispute goes, I'd put a great big red flag on a single sentence in a lengthy story with one unnamed source.

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

  • Peter Cox,

    my original link on page 12, paragraphs 11 & 12 :)

    Sorry, didn't mean to imply I was talking about the same story.

    (ps didn't like the earlier version of that one so much ;))

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And one for the Why Am I Still Surprised? File: Herald runs a flatout misleading headline:

    Hobbit deal near with unions, studios - report

    Not quite what the following NZPA story -- or the anonymously sourced LA Times story -- said. Never mind...

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

  • Russell Brown,

    Correction: I've just heard from a reliable source that SPADA extended an invitation to meet Friday evening and have heard nothing from Equity all weekend ...

    Ball is falling more and more roundly in their court ... and they won't play.

    People. Just get in a position you can call a win while you have an option.

    The hard-to-reach style of AE is not helping here. There are people with livelihoods on the line, and this project is clearly at an achingly delicate point.

    I'm grateful that Helen Kelly is there talking. I should note again that but for an irritating password issue, Helen would have been here earlier. I appreciate her attention to communicating here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    The petition now stands at 1501

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Shand,

    Here's some hopefully useful info on NZ unions from an essay I wrote 2 years ago for my World of Work 300 level sociology paper.

    The employability ethic and the decline of union density in New Zealand

    Please note that I am pro-union and wrote this essay in an effort to understand why they had declined.

    “The decline of trade union membership matters because trade unions have the potential to affect output, employment, productivity, investment and the distribution of earnings, for good or ill (Freeman and Medoff, 1984; Metcalf, 2003; Pencavel, 2003; Charwood and Haynes, 2008).”

    ++++++

    Forming a union is relatively easy as it entails establishing an incorporated society through following simple government guidelines accessible online. The minimum number of members required for an incorporated society is fifteen, fifteen people becomes by de facto the smallest union allowable in New Zealand today. Managing union compliance issues are therefore uncomplicated and straightforward after the initial establishment following government guidelines. This can account for some of the near tripling in numbers of 181 unions active in 2003 from the 66 that were active in 1991 in New Zealand. This sharp rise in the overall number active unions also occurred in relation to rapid job diversification of the information age. However the increase in available unions did not prevent an overall 50% drop in union membership.

    ++++++

    The Journal of Industrial Relations published an article in February 2008 titled Union Membership Decline in New Zealand, 1990 – 2002. The article identified New Zealand’s disproportionate decline in union density to other OCED countries but did not specify or speculate from an ideological perspective as to why this occurred. The analysis undertaken by Charwood and Haynes concluded that within-group behaviour changed significantly.

    “Most of the decline in density explained in this analysis can be attributed to within-group behavioural change. (Charwood and Hanyes, 2008)”

    Yet within-group behaviour refers only to actual the decision of workers not to be a union member and doesn’t inform us why it was that so many made this decision. As the period of 1991 to 2002 co-insides with the ideological shift in the responsibility for employability in New Zealand, it can then be tentatively argued that the two are connected.

    In short - As we are responsible for our own employability (i.e. paying for our training), we look after ourselves and do it well ..... if we have sufficient knowledge and competence to do so.

    auck • Since Aug 2008 • 79 posts Report Reply

  • Jonathan King,

    ... this project is clearly at an achingly delicate point.

    I've also heard from a reliable source that now that The Hobbit is 'on the market' -- potentially looking around for a 'film friendly' home to shoot in -- the studio is being aggressively courted by nations that would be delighted to have this multi multi million dollar film set up there. Every day this goes unresolved the pressure goes up for the project to be safely berthed somewhere and moving ahead (er, you know what I mean) ... as does the likelihood that it does move.

    Once the film is greenlit (which reports say is close) they will want to hit the ground running. They will NOT twiddle their thumbs waiting for this game of chicken to play out here.

    Since Sep 2010 • 185 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Anybody done an exacting accounting process? How much tax money/grandiose government support et all went into the LOTR? How much money went into people's pockets here? How much gst was derived and how much REAL tax was paid at the end of the day?

    I'd love to see actual figures...

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

  • Islander,

    If "The Hobbit" ( all two films, most of which will not be based on Tolkien's work) fell over-

    who truly loses?

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

  • Joe Wylie,

    I've also heard from a reliable source that now that The Hobbit is 'on the market' -- potentially looking around for a 'film friendly' home to shoot in -- the studio is being aggressively courted by nations that would be delighted to have this multi multi million dollar film set up there.

    Earlier this year I was present at a meeting where an assessor for the local Hospital Board attempted to determine an elderly relative's suitability for full-time care. I was told that such care now needed to be rationed, and was a little taken aback to be told that, in the supposedly politically impartial assessor's view, this was largely Labour's fault, as they'd been overly generous in allocating such care in the past.

    As the shortfall that she cited in the local health budget was rather minuscule compared to the then recently revealed amount of Government assistance to the producers of Avatar, I was rather underwhelmed by her argument. In light of that, it's a little hard to get worked up over the fate of The Hobbit.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Joe Wylie - yup.

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

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Jesus, Russell, what have you been doing?

    I understand that you are looking for a reason to justify your anti-union position in this affair but frankly trying to imply the unions or even the labour party would agree with your view on this does you no favours.

    Could you invite him to make a guest post here, and actually engage with anything you actually said? (And perhaps even engage in a civil, reality-based discussion in a troll-free environment.) The passive-aggressive character assassination is just getting silly.

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

  • Sacha,

    Joe, that is happening all over the country. People who have played by the rules their whole life are having essential services cut for piffling savings so that DHBs can spend more of their money on expensive hospitals and doctors and the govt can give a rich few a tax cut instead. It is a deliberate decision and it's evil.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Yet media are more interested in reporting the colour of the Minister's tie than fisking claims like this that ignore inflation and population changes:

    Well, we've put more money into district health boards this year, and we've put more money in last year, so they are getting a generous increase.

    Thank goodness for Helen Kelly standing up to shamelessly biased cheerleader Paul Holmes as he gives his kneepads a workout (how's my Ranapia channelling):

    [HELEN] ...the reality is that that cuts in public services have been right across the board. We've seen $400 million taken out of early-childhood teaching services. We've seen 500 hours at Capital & Coast health cut from old-people's care. We've seen mental-health services cut in Canterbury. This isn't a reinvestment strategy, cutting in one place and shifting to the front line. This is pure cuts.

    ...


    PAUL You can overburden your country with public servants.

    HELEN It's pure ideology.

    PAUL But you've got to have a good public service.

    HELEN Yeah, no, it's pure ideology. This government believes in privatising services.

    PAUL Nothing wrong with a bit of ideology, is there?

    HELEN No, well, there's nothing wrong with it, except when it starts interfering with child safety and health services and early-childhood education, and then there is a problem with it.

    ...

    HELEN Yeah, but, actually, there's also this fixation, and I am concerned about doctor recruitment and doctor retention, but it's also this fixation with that level, when a hell of a lot of staff work underneath that and are able to save doctors time and support that work and treat patients. You know, we've got highly qualified nurses here. We've got highly qualified clerical staff...

    ...

    HELEN That's a myth that they're moving it to the front line. They're cutting. The budget said they want to save this money. This is not money that they're cutting. I work with the Ministry of Health a lot. They're the most amazing team of people look at international research, designing policy initiatives here that save money, that remove duplication. Once you start cutting those - and massive cuts he talked about to the Ministry of Health - you start wasting money in the public service. You start having to use consultants. You start having to use contractors.

    PAUL Yeah, but there's another factor, isn't there? There is another factor - every dollar we spend had got to be maximised. The country is broke, for God's sake. The other person I'd like to ask&

    HELEN We had $460 million worth of tax cuts, Paul. The country is not broke. If we can afford to give you your extra 200 bucks a week&

    PAUL I hardly think it's that much.

    HELEN &we can afford to retain good policy services.

    4 minute clip in all. The towering intellect manages to bring it back on topic in the end though:

    PAUL How many doctors do they keep on the set of The Hobbit, by the way? Therefore, if The Hobbit goes to the Czech Republic, how many doctors will not be employed?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Jonathan King,

    ... In light of that, it's a little hard to get worked up over the fate of The Hobbit.

    Do I think we need fully effective public health for all? I 100% do.

    But do I want to see an industry that employs thousands of people collapse (and have them going on the dole)? No I don't, and don't see that helping our public services either.

    Since Sep 2010 • 185 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    If "The Hobbit" ( all two films, most of which will not be based on Tolkien's work) fell over-

    who truly loses?

    A lot of people who practice film-related crafts, especially in Wellington. They would stand to lose a lot.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    There's a lot of other people who stand to lose as well - non-film related industries also gain economic benefit from major productions, e.g. accommodation, hospitality, taxi drivers, schools (film often travel with their families, especially production people who may be here for years).

    It all mounts up, especially in an economy the size of ours. If Warners or the like decide to forego NZ as a location, we all stand to lose. A major production can funnel a significant amount of overseas-sourced capital into NZ, and we simply do not have the capacity to bridge that gap internally.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    (how's my Ranapia channelling)

    Not bad, my little Padiwan-learner. :)

    If "The Hobbit" ( all two films, most of which will not be based on Tolkien's work) fell over-

    who truly loses?

    I've never been a unqualified fan of things like the Large Budget Screen Production Grant Scheme, and I agree with Islander that it isn't easy finding hard data in the hype and PR. But let's walk out the reductio ad absurdum. Who'd "truly lose" if the Public Lending Right Scheme was abolished and the savings folded into vote health or a million other more "worthy" areas? Not me, but Islander and FOPA Emily Perkins might have something to say about it. And I sure hope Greater Auckland won't be gutting arts/cultural support for more worthy causes -- like "social housing". (Full disclosure: I'm secretary of the Auckland Film Society, which had received modest but critical financial support from Auckland City Council in the past.)

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

  • Mick Rose,

    Russell,

    There has been much that has been unhelpful in this standoff, including, I'd argue, much of the commentary posted on this site (15 pages so far), a good portion of which has been simply noise and indignant WTFing.

    I understand your frustration at Equity's sometimes haphazard communication but you might like to reflect on the vastly different resources available to the parties to this conflict and the differing mechanisms by which decisions are made. Nor is the flow of information to this site, Helen Kelly's contribution aside, necessarily a good indication of the efforts being made towards resolution.

    Galling though it may be to the habitués on this forum, the dispute won't be brokered on these pages; nonetheless, it appears that progress is being made.

    Given, as you say, that things are at an achingly delicate point, perhaps the most useful thing we can all do now is to breathe deeply, resist the urge to broadcast righteous outrage, and await developments…

    Mick Rose (actor & longstanding Equity member)

    Since Oct 2010 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    . . . do I want to see an industry that employs thousands of people collapse (and have them going on the dole)? No I don't, and don't see that helping our public services either.

    I think you've already made that pretty plain. Industries always collapse locally when they go elsewhere. I know, it's happened to me. Having got to know and helped to train some of my low-wage replacements, I had no appetite left for a pointless tribal stoush. Seriously, if this comes down to a Kiwi vs. Czech (or whoever) race to the bottom, shouldn't all those thousands who'll benefit should the local industry win this round be looking to some kind of longer-term alternative once production's over?

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I understand your frustration at Equity's sometimes haphazard communication but you might like to reflect on the vastly different resources available to the parties to this conflict and the differing mechanisms by which decisions are made.

    @Mick: With all due (and sincere) respect, you should be fucking outraged that your union let's it legal registration lapse -- something other small unions (and hundreds of incorporated societies) appear to manage without much difficulty . You might also want to hold your union accountable for the mixed messages and flat out untruths that have been put out in the public sphere on its behalf.

    Or not -- your call.

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

  • Ian Dalziel,

    that's another fine mesh we're in...

    There's a lot of other people who stand to lose as well - non-film related industries also gain economic benefit from major productions, e.g. accommodation, hospitality, taxi drivers...

    as has just happened in Chch with the cancelling
    of both the Writers and Body (Dance) festivals - destructive ripples in small ponds...
    ...but then nothing is certain in this life -
    potential is only ever realised in hindsight!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7892 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Mick, bear in mind, we ain't out to change the world, here. This forum is actually an online community, and all the conversations are often just that. Conversations. Like at a dinner party but prone to eavesdroppers. Lots of them. And sometimes some of them report our conversations. In the end, though, that's all they are.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    I've been looking at the petition (1679) and one of the comments struck me:

    While I support the actors in spirit (their cause has been somewhat distorted in the popular press) this boycott is a regrettable strategy that undermines itself with its own cynicism. Why, one may ask, was there no industrial action taken in conjunction with the 2008/09 SAG strike that sent so much work down this way? Surely that would have been as good a time as any for actors to show solidarity especially since evidently the MEAA have been set up here since 2006. Time to step back from all this hysteria and take a more reasoned approach

    Care to take a shot at that, Mick?

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

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