Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Hobbit Labor Meeting Planned for Thursday

The Hollywood Reporters has posted that a meeting has been scheduled for Thursday to attempt to end the boycott against the $500 million The Hobbit production that was started a few weeks ago by Australia's MEAA/NZ Equity Actors unions with the full support of the very powerful America's Screen Actors Guild that really made this boycott successful. Without SAG, it would not have had any traction.
That meeting, between the NZ Actors Equity and its parent Australia’s Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, and the producers' guild, SPADA -- initially requested by SPADA on October 4 -- will include NZ economic development minister Gerry Brownlee, director of the Actors’ Equity Section of the MEAA Australia Simon Whipp and SPADA CEO Penelope Borland, along with other members of SPADA and Equity. 

SPADA’s Borland said that the guild hopes that the meeting “will resolve the uncertainty and confusion around the engagement of actors in New Zealand." 

One key goal she said is to “lead to the removal of the international boycott on 'The Hobbit,' enabling it to be filmed in New Zealand." “The Hobbit," while waiting to be green lit by Warner Bros and MGM, is the subject of an effective “do not work” order issued by unions led by MEAA, NZ Equity and supported by a number of others actors guilds internationally, pending the outcome of demands for new working condition for actors on the film. 

Borland told THR that the meeting Thursday is the first time that “anyone involved has been able to sit down and talk about the issues” but stressed the urgency for a resolution and removal of the boycott. “We are very seriously close to the wire” to losing the $500-million, two picture-production of “The Hobbit” in New Zealand she said. 

She added that it was inappropriate for NZ Equity to still be calling for a separate meeting with the producers of “The Hobbit,” as Equity did Wednesday. SPADA remains the body through which actors, agents and the union should negotiate any guidelines for work, Borland said.

It should be consistently noted that at no time has MEAA, NZ Equity and SAG explained their position on this issue other than vague declarations that conditions are unfair and unsafe despite the fact that production has yet to actually hire actors nor start filming. They also have failed to explain how conditions are unfair to New Zealand actors considering NZ Equity only represents .05% of the whole and would require The Hobbit to only hire actors that have joined NZ Equity. In addition, MGM and Warner Bros. are already required to meet their obligations to the various unions worldwide so any actors that are already members of the MEAA, SAG, NZ Equity and so forth would receive their full contractional requirements. In effect, they have failed to explain how this action is not an attempt to grow the power base of NZ Equity and how their actions will actually benefit the other 99.95% of New Zealand actors they do not currently represent.

I have said it before and will say it again; actors worldwide need to demand their unions provide an explanation for their boycotts with specifics. As of now your own unions are demanding you turn down a potential paying job on a project that meets your unions' requirements. That alone should make it unacceptable. Actions like this erode confidence in unions and do nothing to forward any cause that might actually have a true benefit in the future. The lack of answers and refusal to discuss anything with the press should be a red flag of serious internal problems with MEAA, NZ Equity and SAG position. A call for a worldwide boycott by a minor union should have faced far more scrutiny than the current blind support they have received so far.

No comments:

Post a Comment