Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Hobbit Wars

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  • Geoff Lealand,

    An interesting debate. The current ding-dong reminds me a little of the MEAA's role in the Project Blue Sky row between Australia and New Zealand--a situation when both sides had a good case.

    I wonder if I need to revisit the chapter I wrote on Jackson (and 'The Jackson Effect') for the forthcoming New Zealand Film: An Illustrated History (Te Papa Press). I did stress that PJ is not a New Zealand film director/producer per se, but a film-maker making films in NZ for a global market, in an environment where overseas/runaway productions are greatly advantaged by our de-unionised labour market.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2562 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Dragon sleighers...

    Bogans!

    surely you mean toboggans
    or in other words, just more Aussie sledging!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Shand,

    Hobbits are very resilient. They do not succumb so easily.

    auck • Since Aug 2008 • 79 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I think we are seeing not just the death throws of a union (and speaking as a unionist the lack of a clear, coherent response to the Wellington actor's question "Why aren't Auckland actors targeting the American T.V. serieses filming in Auckland?" says lack of strategic campaign collective sharing of struggle planning to me)

    Really? Good grief. Because that's, like, a very relevant question. This really is incoherent.

    but also the death of a movie, as this situation is getting so P-addled-snake-pit I am having trouble seeing a way forward (particularly using international talent) whatever country it might be filmed in.

    Apparently a hell of a lot went on last night, involving MPs from both sides of the House, among others. Today looks to be crunch day.

    There is an actual, real, imminent Plan B to move the production elsewhere. If "elsewhere" turns out to be Australia, the backlash is going to be very, very ugly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Really? Good grief. Because that's, like, a very relevant question.

    Oh, I'm sure the usual suspects are figuring out a way to blame Peter Jackson and Chris Finlayson for Andy Whitfield's cancer not being in remission, as first thought...

    OK, sorry if that was tasteless but how about giving Starz and producer Rob Tappert some fucking credit for bringing Spartacus: Blood and Sand here in the first place (in the face of muttering about "runaway productions" BTW) and setting up a prequel at very short notice rather than shutting down after the lead actor's cancer diagnosis.

    I'm sure we're all sending our very best positive vibes to Whitfield for a speedy recovery (and best wishes to his family and friends), and it's unlikely that Starz are going to shutter their biggest buzz-generating hit. But I understand nobody is assuming anything right now.

    (I've also heard whispers that various folks in the US aren't at all happy that Starz/BBC Worldwide co-production Torchwood: The New World is going to be based out of Cardiff. It seems the Beeb, RTD and Julie Gardner really went to bat on that.)

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

  • Max Call,

    Apologies if this has already been brought up as I haven't read this post and its comments for a day or so now but I saw this on my FB page (written by Robyn Malcolm) and got confused....

    Robyn Malcolm (official) Phil its the NZ Actors Equity. Not the Aussies. Run by NZ actors for NZ actors. This Aussie bully boy beef up is simply not the truth and we absolutely do have legal status. It is simply about getting a bottom line for all actors' employmen...t status in NZ which is fair and equitable with the rest of the industry on world terms. It won't hurt the industry, it will improve it for all performers if PJ agrees to discuss and negotiate. There is no intention to hurt the industry or The Hobbit by actors in any sense. With all the very best due respect to Chris and Barney, they are producers, not actors.

    Fruit Bowl of New Zealand… • Since Jun 2007 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Robyn Malcolm (official) Phil its the NZ Actors Equity. Not the Aussies. Run by NZ actors for NZ actors. This Aussie bully boy beef up is simply not the truth and we absolutely do have legal status.

    Then could Robyn please link to Actors Equity's listing on the Register of Incorporated Societies (which is required as per the Employment Relations Act)? I can't find it, and God knows I've looked.

    ETA: I can't find Actor's Equity on the list of registered unions on the Labour Department website either:

    http://www.ers.dol.govt.nz/union/unions-registered.html

    Cheryl, stop fucking around - break out of prison, come home and sort this shit out!

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

  • Ian Dalziel,

    The Wales Rider...

    (I've also heard whispers that various folks in the US aren't at all happy that Starz/BBC Worldwide co-production Torchwood: The New World is going to be based out of Cardiff. It seems the Beeb, RTD and Julie Gardner really went to bat on that.)

    as it should be, Cardiff is the spiritual home of Torchwood, they don't wanna widen that rift!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Then could Robyn please link to Actors Equity's listing on the Register of Incorporated Societies (which is required as per the Employment Relations Act)? I can't find it, and God knows I've looked.

    ETA: I can't find Actor's Equity on the list of registered unions on the Labour Department website either:

    This is nuts. I just don't understand what they're doing.

    I did get a result on a whois for actorsequity.org.nz, the domain name of the Actors Equity New Zealand website:

    Admin Contact Name Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance
    Admin Contact Address1 245 Chalmers Street
    Admin Contact City Redfern
    Admin Contact Province NSW
    Admin Contact Postalcode 2016
    Admin Contact Country AU (AUSTRALIA)
    Admin Contact Phone +61 293330974
    Admin Contact Fax +61 93330933
    Admin Contact Email webdev@alliance.org.au

    But that would be a toll call ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Max Call,

    also clarification to DeepRed

    If 'National Standards' is merely a Trojan horse to crush the PPTA, why be so secret about it?

    PPTA is for post primary and the National Standards are being implemented at primary level.

    But you're right about it being messy.

    I am currently feeling very disillusioned about having retrained to teach. In my previous career I worked less hours (37.5 hours per week), earned more and TBH it was pretty cruisy. Now as a secondary school teacher I work more hours (averaged over the year), earn less and work WAY harder. However, I knew and accepted it would be this way when I retrained (one year study). What I am now finding absolutely disheartening is the way people like John Key and Anne Tolley are talking about ME - yes I do take it personally!

    Fruit Bowl of New Zealand… • Since Jun 2007 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Peter Jackson's latest [link updated, no longer onering.net's version]

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Shand,

    Steven Colbard's rebuttal of PJ's facts on infonews.co.nz
    proclaims NZ Actors Equity has excess of 400 members. Steven's source is an NZ Actors Equity national committee member which is far less transparant than AGM minutes and audit documents.

    auck • Since Aug 2008 • 79 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    But that would be a toll call ...

    If I was Jennifer Ward-Leland, I'd be making that toll call and getting the entire MEAA executive on the line for an arsehole ripping. I'd also be putting a call in to Helen Kelly, and seeking to affiliate with a local union that isn't run by clown school drop outs. FFS, if Kelly was responsible for such basic competence fails at the CTU she'd be strung up with the nearest red flag.

    I think we can all agree there are legitimate - and complex - issues here. But that makes it all the more important that actors get the serious representation they deserve.

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

  • Ian Dalziel,

    psychoparthenogenesis...
    I am at a loss to really fathom where this whole crusade is coming from...

    if, as I understand it, it stems from SAG reiterating in 2009 that their "Global Rule 1" enacted in 2002 does include Australia and NZ - Then why didn't this stoush erupt with King Kong or The Lovely Bones?
    (I am assuming that the original LOTR movies were all pretty much shot before this "Global edict" was issued.)

    So what changed? It doesn't sound like the discussion (between Jackson and potential actors) has been held so everyone is angsting about imagined outcomes.

    A step back and some deep breaths are called for...

    If is this addressed only at The Hobbit movie, maybe it's the continuing curse of New Line Cinema's (then) head, Robert Shaye (who) said that Jackson "will never make any movie with New Line Cinema again while I'm still working for the company." - he retired in 2008 when Warners took over New Line.

    One also wonders what happens to the undistributed residuals that SAG collects,
    their FAQ doesn't address that...
    and are New Zealand actors privy to their much vaunted Health and Pension plans...

    ... and in this new Global control environment I wonder how SAG's Bollywood and Hong Kong branches are going?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I don't see how the Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister seeking Crown Law advice on a matter directly relating to his portfolio is "taking sides".

    I didn't like that. The government doesn't tend to jump in and offer legal opinions on other disputes between unions and private parties. No doubt he did so because it was a public issue that many ordinary NZers felt invested in so it seemed like good politics.

    But in negotiations between private employers and employees (contractors) the most useful role the government can play is neutral mediator. That becomes a lot more difficult when they've already made statements which come down on one side.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Robert Shaye (who) said that Jackson "will never make any movie with New Line Cinema again while I'm still

    ....(I wish he'd said alive)

    Minor megalomania is a common enough human trait. And no, I don't think it is over represented in the Fil-em industry.
    Tho' finally someone's noticing parenting.
    So I dont know if this is a good idea
    But yeah hobbits hmmm.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report Reply

  • Jonathan King,

    The venerable Pattrick Smellie seems to have a level head on the matter.

    Hey, COOL -- I think I got called a "local film industry baron". Sweeet.

    Since Sep 2010 • 185 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    That becomes a lot more difficult when they've already made statements which come down on one side.

    I take your point as far as it goes, but was there anything in the Crown Law advice that was actually wrong on the facts, and to be fair wouldn't Finlayson have be double fucked if he'd suppressed the advice he'd asked for?

    Robert Shaye (who) said that Jackson "will never make any movie with New Line Cinema again while I'm still working for the company."

    Well, yes. Then again, James Cameron relationship with Fox during the production of Titanic could most politely be described as "high maintenance" -- and there are plenty of people who'd say, mostly off the record, that he has the people skills of Attila The Hun on PCP. But I suspect it took Fox executives a nano-second to swallow their pride and sign up for Avatar. Funny how much crap you can swallow from someone who handed you two multi-billion dollar pay days in a row.

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

  • Kumara Republic,

    I didn't like that. The government doesn't tend to jump in and offer legal opinions on other disputes between unions and private parties. No doubt he did so because it was a public issue that many ordinary NZers felt invested in so it seemed like good politics.

    But in negotiations between private employers and employees (contractors) the most useful role the government can play is neutral mediator. That becomes a lot more difficult when they've already made statements which come down on one side.

    @Kyle M: Again it highlights the inconsistency of state-imposed arbitration. All it did was to help stoke the industrial turmoil of a generation ago, and only started receding when the state stepped back.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Shand,

    Hey, COOL -- I think I got called a "local film industry baron". Sweeet.

    being a film industry baron could have sweet perks if NZ weren't so yokel

    auck • Since Aug 2008 • 79 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    I feel very sorry for Jennifer Ward-Lealand, who I've worked with and respect and admire as an actor and a person, and the other members of NZ Actor's Equity. I think they're very much in the role of "football" here, and I don't think they auditioned for it.

    This is pretty much what I foresaw when the vote was called for to affiliate with MEAA - a friend who is a local organiser, spent the best part of an evening telling me why it was a good idea, but couldn't go much beyond "they've got more resources than we do so it will be good for us, and we'll get a foothold in the Australian market". He was trying to persuade me to sign up, knowing I was a union guy from way back, and he wanted any shows we did together to be "Equity shows". I said to him then "But what does the MEAA get out of it? Follow the money. Who benefits?"

    I haven't seen a flood of NZers getting more work in Aussie and I haven't seen NZer's getting more protection here - less, in fact, if the info about failed "Pink Book" negotiations is correct.

    Peronally, I think this is coming out of SAG as a matter of policy, under their "runaway productions" concept, and Mr Whipp and the MEAA have overplayed their part. Sadly, it's the NZ industry that stands to lose (which I can't see troubling the Australian or US markets a whit).

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2937 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I take your point as far as it goes, but was there anything in the Crown Law advice that was actually wrong on the facts, and to be fair wouldn't Finlayson have be double fucked if he'd suppressed the advice he'd asked for?

    I think it was asking for the advice that was the problem, thought certainly his intention was to release the advice - I don't think he was just curious as an intellectual exercise.

    No doubt lawyers on the production side could have made the same points, so he hasn't added anything to the debate. If he'd felt the need to poke his nose in, independent mediator would have been a much more useful role for the government to play to try and keep the production here. He's made it less likely that the actors will be happy with the government doing that.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Shand,

    Peronally, I think this is coming out of SAG as a matter of policy, under their "runaway productions" concept

    Seems to me there are now a lot of reasonable people paying close attention to this drama. The residual effect of this will be a greater understanding of the issues.

    auck • Since Aug 2008 • 79 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Peronally, I think this is coming out of SAG as a matter of policy, under their "runaway productions" concept, and Mr Whipp and the MEAA have overplayed their part. Sadly, it's the NZ industry that stands to lose (which I can't see troubling the Australian or US markets a whit).

    The SAG letter I linked to demands that all screen actors in NZ will have to work under either SAG or MEAA contracts, as part of Global Rule One.

    But that's not what the actors asked for after their meeting. And Helen Kelly specifically told me they're not seeking a collective agreement.

    Confused? Me too.

    NB: I don't know Jennifer Ward-Lealand well, but she has always struck me as a decent person. I hope this doesn't rebound on her.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

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