Hard News by Russell Brown

Read Post

Hard News: Hobbit Wars

542 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 22 Newer→ Last

  • Russell Brown,

    Contrary to your imagination, the CGI shit gets coded and rasturbated by real people. Who also get paid peanuts on the whole.

    A friend of mine did CGI work for all the LOTR films. I don't know exactly what he earned, but it certainly wasn't peanuts. It was quite a lot of money. Mind you, he didn't have a life for a few years.

    I think this comes down to a conflict between those who want to do cool stuff and aren't worried about money (the trust fund helps, eh) and those that need to earn a living. I think the acting unions are working for those on the "need to earn a living" side.

    That's really inaccurate.

    The status of screen actors as contractors is based on an agreement in 2005 between SPADA and Actors' Equity. Actors aren't without representation -- they all have agents working to get them the best rewards possible.

    And that's not hobby wages -- the lead cast members of Outrageous Fortune, for example, earn $200,000 a year, and actors in international productions have done well too. There has never been a better time to be a screen actor in New Zealand than the last decade.

    They do have a right to push for a collective agreement and bigger residuals, but the conduct of the MEAA has been as big a problem as producers' obstinacy. And the fact is, lower costs have been a big factor in bringing productions here. Maybe they'd keep coming or maybe (and Australia's example is a bit worrying) they wouldn't.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    on the bus to nowhere...

    Ctrl+alt+delete
    the ultimate contract negotiation technique.

    doesn't that just kill the directory information?
    and the data still exists until overwritten...

    Contrary to your imagination, the CGI shit gets coded and rasturbated by real people.

    Dang! - you mean Tron is fiction!!?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7480 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Contrary to your imagination, the CGI shit gets coded and rasturbated by real people.

    I'd say what I thought I saw when I first glanced at that but I don't want to go lowering the tone.

    Suspect it's a nasty mental association from that blue (on multiple levels) Avatar parody that's being talked about elsewhere on the web.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1607 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    A friend of mine did CGI work for all the LOTR films. I don't know exactly what he earned, but it certainly wasn't peanuts. It was quite a lot of money. Mind you, he didn't have a life for a few years.

    True enough -- and Weta doesn't attract the talent (and contracts) it does on Peter Jackson's name alone. For that matter, it couldn't keep the doors open on Jackson's films alone. I'm sure George Lucas and every other US-based FX house would love it if outfits like Weta, Aardman and Animal Logic fucked off and died, But why should they?

    I think this comes down to a conflict between those who want to do cool stuff and aren't worried about money (the trust fund helps, eh) and those that need to earn a living.

    Excuse me? If you want to go there, I suspect NZ Actors Equity president Jennifer Ward-Leland isn't doing too badly out of her commercial residues, voice-over and directing work. And if you want to be that fucking condescending, I don't recall Jennifer and her husband having a trust fund to pay the bills back in the Theatre Corporate days.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12359 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And if I wanted to get into a totally uncalled for level of bitchitude, I could suggest that it's frightfully easy for Karl Urban to get militant. If The Hobbit falls over, he's got two big-budget high-profile films locked: Dredd and the next Star Trek flick.

    And good on him for that -- he's worked very hard for a long time to get where he is but he's a damn sight more secure than most in this industry.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12359 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Yet behind this is the Supreme Court's 2006 decision on the case of miniature model maker James Bryson, which reversed the Court of Appeal's earlier decision, and found that Bryson was in fact an employee...and not merely a contractor. The screen industry is full of contractors – I'm one – and there was a wide range of opinion about that case. The extent to which the Supreme Court's decision on Bryson can be applied to actors would, I'm sure, be equally hotly debated.

    Note that the employee/contractor question is almost exclusively raised in cases around the applicability of ERA protections on holiday pay, sick leave, notice of termination, etc. When we looked at the distinction in tax law, the lecturer said that most of the authoritative cases on the distinction are employment law cases not tax law cases, even though it's much important for tax purposes to establish if you're a contractor or an employee.
    The other thing that she told us was that these decisions normally hinge on the specific facts. Bryson's facts were pretty narrow, and general applicability to the rest of the film industry, especially to "talent", isn't terribly likely.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4090 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    Sorry, this is to a post a while back, but just to reply to:

    Jonathan King:

    "Oh, and say what you will about SPADA, at least they've made a clear statement on this issue. The Directors Guild and Writers Guild have remained silent on this, the most significant labour issue to affect our industry (er, other than to say that they have no postion. And that an announcement to say they support pay parity for directors is a hoax)."

    To be frank, charging out with public statements is not not necessarily the best way to approach an issue like this.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr,

    Cris de Coeur Russell!

    Sorry to disagree with so many of you - but I don't know any architects, lawyers, or doctors who would work for inferior rates in order to show how patriotic they were.

    Actors, writers - creative workers - have always been seen as easy targets - and have always been fed scary stories about what will happen if they don't accept slave wages. I remember clearly being offered wonderful opportunities to work for a pittance because of all the well-paid work I would be sure to pick up afterwards.

    I also think that nobody in this thread has taken into account the effect of the Employment Contracts Act on small unions such as Actors Equity. It has quite a long, proud and interesting history in this country and it's a miracle it survived at all and that it still represents such a large number of actors (if the the 'Standard's' version is to be believed). Thirty-odd years ago it certainly represented the bulk of actors (and models and even, at once stage, massage parlour workers).

    Robert Bruce did indeed work to raise conditions and wages for actors - but perhaps you need to take into account the possibility that his interests may have changed with his situation - as is often the case with people who suddenly find themselves on the employing side of the equation.

    Peter Jackson has not recently been prepared to make personal sacrifices. The taxpayer has rewarded him handsomely for his hard work. I found his repetitive statements about the 'small minority' who are holding him to ransom a little tedious and even hypocritical.

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 395 posts Report Reply

  • Jamie Anstice,

    @Dave:
    Ctrl+alt+delete
    the ultimate contract negotiation technique.

    I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Jan - My impression is that anyone (be they architects, lawyers, doctors, actors, or others) who works in New Zealand is working at an inferior rate to the rest of the OECD.
    While I would like to see wages higher in NZ, for actors and all others, I'm far from convinced that the actions of the MEAA and the SAG have been in the best interest of the New Zealand workforce, particularly where those interests collide with those of their own local constituencies.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1441 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    If we lose The Hobbit, it won't help NZ actors. No actor is going to be forced to work on it. Every actor who appears in it gets face-time in something that will be seen by millions of people.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10488 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Peter Jackson has not recently been prepared to make personal sacrifices. The taxpayer has rewarded him handsomely for his hard work.

    Fact check on aisle six -- how exactly did the "taxpayer" reward Jackson? Unless I really missed something, if you're talking about the tax breaks I've been highly critical of they went straight to Warner Brothers and Disney (the corporate parents of Miramax and New Line).

    I'm hardly a life member of the Peter Jackson Squee Squad -- and I agree with Russell that it's wise to take everything said by both parties with a pound of salt. But let's not get into truthiness here.

    I'm far from convinced that the actions of the MEAA and the SAG have been in the best interest of the New Zealand workforce, particularly where those interests collide with those of their own local constituencies.

    I'd also be seriously rethinking my membership in a union that appears to be incapable of keeping its registration up to code. That's just basic competence.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12359 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    My impression is that anyone (be they architects, lawyers, doctors, actors, or others) who works in New Zealand is working at an inferior rate to the rest of the OECD.

    Yup. For science it's variable but equivalent roles in Aussie are paid 25-100% more. Just a part of choosing to live in New Zealand.

    Is it my misunderstanding or is SAG simply a US union and mostly Californian union that is trying to dictate wages in New Zealand? That really seems very odd indeed. Why would New Zealand actors want to join a union based in, and clearly only interested in, another country? Same applies to the MEAA.

    Just weird.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4354 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr,

    I think I need to clarify my statement about agents. They're not employers - but they occupy a no-man's-land between employers and workers and the existence of a strong union could make them irrelevant.

    David - my father died a while back and if his lawyer was poorly paid for the appalling and minimal job she did of looking after his will, then the rest of the OECD are doing obscenely well, thank you.

    Another point that needs to be made is the particularly vulnerable nature of actor's work. They are employed afresh for each job. They can easily be undercut by non-union labour - as Peter Jackson, John Barnett and others are threatening to do by replacing them with East European labour - although I do agree with others who have pointed out the difficulties inherent in actually doing this.

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 395 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    IIRC, he's a member of three unions in the United States: The Directors, Writers and Producers Guilds.

    He might be good for some union backing then.

    Go to his union(s), make a complaint that he is being unfairly targeted for exploitation by a gang of thieving Aussie bastards called the MEAA. Perhaps having all Directors, Writers and Producers notify the world they shall withdraw their labour from projects involving an MEAA member in the near future might be a good retaliation.

    A - it might work

    &

    B - I'd really love to see the union paid writers at The Standard up in arms against the actions of a global union of writers.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr,

    if you're talking about the tax breaks I've been highly critical of they went straight to Warner Brothers and Disney (the corporate parents of Miramax and New Line

    Really Craig. Sorry if I'm mistaken, but I thought they were tax breaks for the film industry; tax breaks which Peter Jackson fought extremely hard for; for an industry in which he works, and from which he does rather well.

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 395 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Go to his union(s), make a complaint that he is being unfairly targeted for exploitation by a gang of thieving Aussie bastards called the MEAA.

    Honestly, who'd notice? I think it's fair comment to say there's no love to lose between the various trade guilds in the US. The writers hate the directors, the actors hate the producers, everyone else ignores the writers and everyone hates Harvey Weinstein out of pure force of habit.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12359 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr,

    Every actor who appears in it gets face-time in something that will be seen by millions of people.

    Most people can't eat that kind of stuff.

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 395 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Actors, writers - creative workers - have always been seen as easy targets - and have always been fed scary stories about what will happen if they don't accept slave wages. I remember clearly being offered wonderful opportunities to work for a pittance because of all the well-paid work I would be sure to pick up afterwards.

    The last Australian show that I worked on was the pilot episodes for Mr. Bean: The Animated Series back in 2002. Only when everyone had knocked themselves out establishing the production method of the show was it revealed that the intention all along had been to eventually produce in Hungary. While direction was done from London it was very hands-on, with Rowan Atkinson taking a very detailed interest in how his character was realised. Most scenes were painstakingly re-animated until the desired look and feel was achieved.*

    Once the tooling-up phase was done, mostly at a fixed contractual fee, the pilot episodes were used as a model for the non-English speaking team who produced the bulk of the series. Most of those involved were industry veterans, and ruefully admitted that it wasn't the first time they'd been in that kind of situation. The same studio had produced the initial clip for Gorillaz a while earlier, only to see the subsequent spots go to a European studio that profited from their painstaking development work.


    *Craftspeople can be real suckers for that kind of thing. Even if they're not paid for reshoots, they still fancy that their efforts are somehow being appreciated.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4512 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Most people can't eat that kind of stuff.

    Yes, but they might value it nonetheless.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10488 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Yes, but they might value it nonetheless.

    When the giggling and farting of the rats in the ceiling starts to get on your nerves you can always bring up your entry in the IMDb.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4512 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Sorry to disagree with so many of you - but I don't know any architects, lawyers, or doctors who would work for inferior rates in order to show how patriotic they were.

    I know lots of journalists -- including me -- who accept a fraction of what they might get overseas, for the privilege of living in New Zealand. Seriously, the gulf between print freelance rates here and in the US dwarfs anything that might be in the actors' scales.

    Robert Bruce did indeed work to raise conditions and wages for actors - but perhaps you need to take into account the possibility that his interests may have changed with his situation - as is often the case with people who suddenly find themselves on the employing side of the equation.

    There's something in that, in the sense that he was in the business of representation, the same one as the union. But he did manage to work happily with Equity for many years before he spoke out about the MEAA coming in.

    Peter Jackson has not recently been prepared to make personal sacrifices. The taxpayer has rewarded him handsomely for his hard work. I found his repetitive statements about the 'small minority' who are holding him to ransom a little tedious and even hypocritical.

    The weird thing is that for all that he's being demonised (and they've been pretty OTT at The Standard), Jackson's not the guy who eventually makes this decision. It's Warners, who are putting up the money, who actually pay the contractors.

    TBH, I feel weird finding fault with people's recourse to their union, more so given that I actually know a bunch of people on the actors' side of the dispute. But I just don't think that this answers well to a reflexive response, and that it's more complex than that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    Is it my misunderstanding or is SAG simply a US union and mostly Californian union that is trying to dictate wages in New Zealand? That really seems very odd indeed. Why would New Zealand actors want to join a union based in, and clearly only interested in, another country? Same applies to the MEAA.

    My uninformed, shoot-from-the-hip opinion is that it's really a case of the SAG trying to ensure actors in other countries receive fair representation, but not doing enough research about local conditions to back the right horse in this case. I'm guessing that either the MEAA did a bit of lobbying to put themselves out in front, or else the SAG folks just decided that New Zealand was "close enough" to Australia for it not to matter.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    @Dave:
    Ctrl+alt+delete
    the ultimate contract negotiation technique.


    I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

    I don't think that character could negotiate

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Most people can't eat that kind of stuff.

    Yes, but they might value it nonetheless.

    They might also get an SAG membership and more work out of it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 22 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.