Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Anatomy of a Shambles

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  • rodgerd,

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report

  • Sacha,

    Can I clarify that I'm in favour of public contributions to economic development - just with more even-handedness and clearer alignment with future opportunities for our nation, cities and regions.

    Our screen industry is important. Brownlee sounded more reasonable about that that I expected in that RNZ interview this morning - worth listening to the clip.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • SteveH,

    Looks like Warner Bros have been "disingenuous" (as they say in Parliament).

    Perhaps, but the wording is interesting: "the film studio ... knew five days ago a union boycott would be ended", "It says it was not until Thursday night that confirmation of the boycott being lifted was received" (emphasis mine).
    There is a difference between discussing the end of the boycott and knowing for sure that boycott has ended. The story may imply that Warner Bros has been disingenuous but it doesn't actually provide any evidence to that effect. The real kicker is this:

    "It remains unclear why the statement was not released, and at exactly what point it faltered."

    So RNZ have seen the emails but still can't say who is at fault for not announcing the end of the boycott. Seems premature to blame the studio then.

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report

  • SodaPop,

    "Guillermo del Toro is Mexican, as is Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
    Out of interest -- when was the last time one of the above directed a film shot in Mexico?"

    My point re the mexican film makers has taken a bit of a tangent. It was that the cliche - "mexicans with cellphones" is bizarre, outdated and kinda insulting to all concerned. Mexico has a large, highly skilled workforce of film crew. I would say the majority of them own cellphones.... Have a look on IMDB at how many sizeable films are being made there compared to NZ. Their busy film industry gives opportunity for talent such as the directors mentioned, to come through the ranks.

    Since Oct 2010 • 4 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Bleachers on Highway 61...

    ... do some dishes in the sunshine.

    they say sunshine is the best disinfectant

    I may take a break now, too, and go flick thru an interesting looking historic overview of The Story of Sunlight Soap - from Lancashire to Unilever.

    @petra in your search for funding to industry groups
    places like NZ Venture Investment Fund might be worth a look, as well as Ministry of Economic Development and NZ Trade and Enterprise if you haven't already

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Peter Cox,

    Sorry for the long post: Couple of comments related to Gordon's article and the situation with the Irish Actor's Guild.

    First, I think Gordon is missing the essential point of PJ's argument - that the NZ Labour Laws do not allow a Legally Binding Collective Agreement that would protect both the Studio and the Union. Therefore, either party could change the 'standard agreement' at any time, which, naturally would make the Studio nervous, because Industrial Action makes the studio lose money (largely, the point in strike actions). Anywhere else, this wouldn't be a problem because there'd be a collective agreement in place protecting both sides. The Americans in particular would have terrible problems understanding why that's not happening here.

    The short answer to that the Union has not convinced the actors that becoming employees as opposed to independent contractors will be better for them. Not saying that to blame either side, just as a matter of clarification.

    So not to defend Gery Brownlee of course, who I wouldn't trust any more than the Studios, but the point is that the Studio need to feel that there can't be the constant threat of industrial action.

    Anyway, the second related point is: I'm not terrible familiar with the Irish Actor's Guild, nor Irish Employment Law (at least in how it would apply to Actors as opposed to Writers) but if the film were to move to Ireland, I believe they would be classed as Employees as opposed to Independent Contractors, so the new law change they've brought in wouldn't have made much difference to that. From what I can understand, that new legislation is more to do with getting them negotiating rights for commercials and radio voice overs - which is obvious more of an independent contractor situation than film/television work.

    I would guess that basically the Irish Actors choose to mainly class themselves as employees in tv/film work because they believe the advantages of collective bargaining outweigh the tax breaks they might otherwise receive? It's debatable if that would be worthwhile to NZ actors. Although, obviously also in Ireland they had the 'pay no tax if you're an artist' law until recently which probably helped.

    Anyway, again, the point I'm making is that the argument is the only way the Studio will feel like the risk is lessened is for the Union and Studio to be legally bound by whatever agreement they form, and currently that's not on the table at all.

    So when Gordon writes:

    So, according to Sir Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens all that Warners are asking for in an uncertain world is certainty. A surety that no sudden outburst of labour unrest will plague The Hobbit in the coming eighteen months. Since the union has given that assurance and lifted its threat of a boycott – according to them, this happened last weekend though others demur – then that should mean everything’s alright, then? No, because it seems, no conceivable assurance can now possibly appease Sir Peter Jackson and the studios.

    Incredibly, the government is now talking about suspending our employment laws for the duration of the filming.

    He's sort of missing the point. The fact that they've removed the boycott now doesn't mean they can't put it back on at a later date.

    I also don't think equating PJ with the Studios helps. It's not PJ that needs convincing that there won't be another strike action. If PJ believed there wouldn't be another boycott, that wouldn't help unless he could prove it. It's not Peter Jackson that needs convincing. And in fact that's exactly the point PJ made in his interviews:

    "I've been racking my brains to come up with a way to convince them this won't happen again"

    You could say that the if the Studio meets SAG minimums then the SAG couldn't enact global rule one again, but that's not strictly true: if the MEAA decided it wanted more, it could threaten industrial again, and that's what worries the studios.

    Everywhere in the world, you can sign a collective agreement with actors that makes further industrial action impossible. Not here. That's the problem.

    As for the Studio's dis-ingenuity, well of course - what was anyone expecting? I'm not sure if they were outrightly lying though - the actual confirmation of the ban being lifted didn't happen on Sunday. The MEAA promising something doesn't mean anything to the Studio, anymore than the Studio promising something should mean anything to the MEAA. And nor should it.

    But either way let's be clear: the Studio is not Peter Jackson. That's obvious to most, but a great many people seem to be having trouble with that distinction. No one can say for certainty he or Richard Taylor saw those emails and were deliberately destructive. That line of thinking is not helpful.

    So yes, if all that's the case then there's a problem with the law somewhere. We should all be less than thrilled about Gery Brownlee being the one 'fixing' that problem though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 312 posts Report

  • Raymond A Francis,

    This has been nagging at me for some time
    Since when has the business that is being black listed been the one that breaks the news that the black list has been listed
    I can't believe that the sort of people who post at "The Standard" just to give an example of the Trade Union mind set, would ever believe a notice like that from the boss/tory class

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 578 posts Report

  • Andre Alessi,

    The Lynch Mob.

    The Passionless People, indeed.

    Love the comments on that video.

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

  • SteveH,

    I bet my left nut Simon Whipp added some "riders" of his own to Warners on separate emails. Warners have said as much, except specifically who added the riders.

    There's nothing in their statement to that effect. I believe this is the entire statement:

    Recent reports that the boycott of The Hobbit was lifted by unions a number of days ago and that Warner Bros asked to delay this announcement are false. It was not until last night that we received confirmation of the retractions from SAG, NZ Equity and AFTRA through press reports. We are still awaiting retractions from the other guilds. While we have been attempting to receive an unconditional retraction of the improper Do Not Work Orders for almost a month, NZ Equity/MEAA continued to demand, as a condition of the retractions, that we participate in union negotiations with the independent contractor performers, which negotiations are illegal in the opinion of the New Zealand Attorney General. We have refused to do so, and will continue to refuse to do so. The actions of these unions have caused us substantial damage and disruption and forced us to consider other filming locations for the first time. Alternative locations are still being considered.

    Have they said anything else at all?

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    see the 7 seas, join the naivety...


    let's not diss ingenuity
    it's meant to be a kiwi trait...
    even though we are still ingénues
    on the world stage...
    (what is the male version of that?)

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Greg Sands,

    Oops - looks like PA is being censured.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 8 posts Report

  • Peter Cox,

    Good to see Chris doing his bit to not let the rhetoric get out of control. Thanks mate. Does that make me a scab too? Please do explain it to me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 312 posts Report

  • Andre Alessi,

    Oops - looks like PA is being censured.

    Once more, Chris Trotter shows a nuanced understanding of the issues at stake and responds with the gravitas of an elder statesman of New Zealand punditry.

    lol jk he's a cock

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

  • Carol Stewart,

    Oops - looks like PA is being censured.

    Don't scab??
    Oh please - it's not like most PA readers are anti-union per se.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 830 posts Report

  • Sam F,

    Oops - looks like PA is being censured.

    Oh dear.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1611 posts Report

  • Ben Allan,

    If anything, I worry about what damage this whole thing is doing to the union movement. I'm sure teachers privately wish it would get sorted quickly.

    Since Oct 2010 • 4 posts Report

  • st ephen,

    To be fair, Trotter does use that blog for what he calls his "more ruminative...impulses".
    Splattering bullshit around would qualify, I guess.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report

  • Ross Mason,

    As I said above, a classic union / employer stoush.

    some Actors consider splitting from union NZAE on the basis that the "union doesn't speak for them, and doesn't even speak for all its own members."

    The classic divde and conquer. Get a few deserters and they make the rest an easier target.

    Aside: Why isn't union sayed like onion???

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report

  • nzlemming,

    Did someone post this from Stuff?

    Warner Bros has confirmed it is considering offshore locations for The Hobbit movies.

    In a statement issued on Friday morning, the studio said the actions of unions had caused it substantial disruption and damage and forced it to consider other options.


    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2937 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Standard, mean and average...

    I can't believe that the sort of people who post at "The Standard" ...

    me neither - went there for the first time today
    and they were ripping into Russell Brown summat fierce - I note Pollywog popping up opining that he "doubted Russell had ever done a hard days work in his life" and other similar comments in his aggressive style that he uses on sites his kids don't read...
    I don't think I'll bother going there again.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Andre Alessi,

    Aside: Why isn't union sayed like onion???

    Why isn't "said" sayed like "said"?

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

  • vangam,

    What union worth its own salt forfeits the right to take industrial action? It's the only weapon most of them have.

    Rangiora • Since Jun 2007 • 103 posts Report

  • Andre Alessi,

    What union worth its own salt forfeits the right to take industrial action? It's the only weapon most of them have.

    Noone's disputing that right in the abstract, but the context is rather important. Ill-considered threats of industrial action that end up driving an employer out of the country don't benefit anyone.

    You'll notice that the union that did take industrial action this week has recieved nothing but praise from 95% of PAS posters.

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

  • simon g,

    The initial 'Hobbit' cast has been announced:


    Several New Zealanders. Does Martin Freeman have a UK Equity card?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1333 posts Report

  • Sam F,

    I note Pollywog popping up opining that he "doubted Russell had ever done a hard days work in his life" and other similar comments in his aggressive style that he uses on sites his kids don't read...

    He does that anyplace they'll let his comments stand. Dude has a serious chip on his shoulder.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1611 posts Report

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