Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

On the Latest stage of The Hobbit drama

October 22nd, 2010

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. Judging by what Minister of Economic Development Gerry Brownlee was saying on RNZ this morning, the government is considering taking the draconian measures contained in our “Major Event” legislation (meant to protect the commercial interests behind the Rugby World Cup) and applying them to the 18 months period of filming The Hobbit.

So, having earlier rewritten our tax laws around the shooting schedule for Lord of the Rings, we seem willing to suspend our employment laws this time around. In particular, Brownlee seems willing to circumvent the Supreme Court ruling in the Bryson case. That case established that some workers – regardless of the contracts they may have signed, or were induced to sign, defining themselves as independent contractors – will qualify for the rights and conditions of employees if it can be shown that their actual and ongoing work situation is that of an employee. Apparently, Brownlee is considering suspending that ruling.

There’s a term for this hyperactive way of doing business, one that Hollywood would readily understand: Mickey Mouse. The reality is that in the UK, in the US, In Ireland and almost everywhere else in the developed world where films are made, studios routinely negotiate with unions on wages and conditions of work. I’m sure the self-imposed shooting schedule for The Hobbit is now so tightly stretched that Jackson and Warners must be feeling highly stressed about they time pressure they’re under – but if they feel they have no time left now to negotiate properly, then let them be upfront and say so, rather than demonise the attempt to negotiate at all.
As things currently stand, Warners are coming down to New Zealand next week to talk about the prospects of moving the location shoot offshore. According to both Brownlee today (and Penelope Borland of SPADA used the same term yesterday on RNZ) the level of production subsidies available in New Zealand is a ‘red herring’ and allegedly of no interest to Warners. Interesting. Only two months ago, Jackson was writing in his review of the NZ Film Commission that these subsidies are crucial to films being made here. Now mysteriously, they’re an irrelevance.

Quite some herring, though. If as rumoured, Ireland is now a prime contender for the location shoot, keep in mind that in July Peter Jackson wrote in his Film Commission review (page 68) that Ireland is offering ‘up to 28%’ rebates on local spend by major film productions as compared to the 15% available here. Back then, Jackson saw that as being a worry for New Zealand. As well he might.

Theoretically, how might the difference play out? On a $US500 million production that The Hobbit is reputed to be, it means that Warners/MGM could conceivably get a rebate of “up to” $US140 million in Ireland, as opposed to a maximum here of $US75 million. And we are supposed to believe that local unions merely asking for a collective wage agreement have somehow over-ridden a potential $US65 million difference in the bids? Yeah right.

Did I mention that the Irish film industry– less than a month ago – negotiated a collective agreement for actors?

Logically, why would the mere prospect of such an agreement in New Zealand be sufficient to derail the project here, when the signing of one in Ireland has apparently turned Ireland into a more attractive destination? Could it be that having a collective agreement in the local film industry is almost entirely irrelevant to the decisions on The Hobbit that are being made in Hollywood?

If The Hobbit location shoot does move to Ireland for the exteriors and to England for the interiors, England seems unlikely to be any more production-friendly, when it comes to a deal on wages and conditions. Ever since the days of Stanley Kubrick, studios such as Pinewood have been renowned for their high levels of union organisation – leading to, as I mentioned in an earlier article, to major confrontations on the Aliens set between director James Cameron and the British crew. According to Rebecca Keegan’s fascinating Cameron biography The Futurist, this culminated on the final day with Cameron giving a speech to the crew that while things had been tough, what cheered him up was the thought that he could now get in his car and drive out the gates and never come back, but you sorry bastards will still be here. Memo to Jackson: their modern equivalents are probably still there too, wherever in England he may be considering shooting the interiors.

Unless John Key sees fit to intervene with a sweetener next week – and he should, given that he’s willing to spend upwards of $30 million on the Rugby World Cup and still budget for a loss on it – New Zealand’s bid will be almost certainly be tens of millions short of what is on offer elsewhere. How big is such a difference likely to be? My example above was purely illustrative. In reality, the cost of The Hobbit production will be broken down between (a) pre-production (b) a location shoot, divided between exteriors and interiors and (c) post production. (New Zealand stands at risk of losing (b) the location shoot segment, just as we ‘lost’ part of the location shoot for The Lovely Bones to Pennsylvania, without any of the current hysteria.)

The higher subsidies elsewhere are relevant only with respect to the location shoot. I have no idea of the actual breakdown of these three primary elements. Let’s suppose though, there’s something like a 20% pre production, 40% location shoot and a 40% post production split, which sounds reasonable. The difference between what New Zealand can currently offer and what the Irish could offer is still “up to” $US26 million. That may be small potatoes to Penelope Borland, but it looks like quite a lot to me.

For that reason, wouldn’t be helpful if Jackson, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh could advise what ratio of The Hobbit’s $500 million budget is potentially headed overseas? As taxpayers, we’re entitled to an estimate on that one. Among other things, this would enable New Zealanders to gauge what we will be giving back to the production via the Large Budget Screen Production Grants Scheme, Because even though we may end up losing the The Hobbit location shoot, we can still expect to paying out a bundle on the rest of it – which I’d estimate at 50-60% of the overall budget.

Put it this way. How many jobs at the Miramar complex – whether that be at Weta Digital or in Richard Taylor’s workshop – would be lost if The Hobbit were to be moved overseas? My hunch would be : almost none. Pre and post production work on The Hobbit is relatively secure. The people who would lose out would be those ‘independent contractors’ actors and technicians, and I’m not downplaying their loss. What I’m saying is that there still an obvious way that their jobs and the benefits they bring to the economy can be saved – and that it is through the government boosting the LBSPGS subsidy levels. Yet on RNZ this morning, Brownlee ruled that out. Why? Because Brownlee and Treasury share a near-religious aversion to the kind of film industry subsidies common elsewhere in the sinful world – and quite justifiably, Jackson attacked that complacency within his Film Commission review. But hey, that reality has now been conveniently erased.

Instead, what Brownlee and Prime Minister John Key maintain is that Hollywood studios should come here for the scenery, the exchange rate, and the skilled and “flexible” (ie compliant) work force. They seem quite willing to sacrifice The Hobbit if the service of that belief.
Unfortunately, Helen Kelly of the Council of the Trade Unions has her own ideological blindspot. To her, this is a case of Hollywood studios bullying New Zealand to cough up bigger tax incentives. It is a conspiracy, and a race to the bottom. I disagree. For starters, neither the LBSPGS nor the relevant Irish incentives are ‘tax incentives’ of the kind common here in the early 1980s – and they don’t resemble the variation on a ‘sale and leaseback’ tax deal that underpinned Lord of the Rings, either. Potentially, those arrangements could be used as tax avoidance vehicles that raided the revenues of the state – which is why they were phased out ASAP once LOTR was completed. These new rebates are different. They are “after spend” grants, triggered after the qualifying economic activity has occurred. (True, the Irish ones are somewhat less pure – in that they allegedly offer their ‘after spend’ rebates from the first day of principal photography, which must mean that clawback occurs if the spend doesn’t eventuate.)

Point being, there would be no raid on the revenue if the LBSPGS was raised when Warners come calling next week. There is no race to the bottom involved, if that is taken to mean a lowering of standards and conditions to attract multinationals. These rebates were designed on Jim Anderton’s watch in the early 2000s precisely to defuse the kind of tax breaks available on LOTR. ( Yes, the LOTR production also created virtuous economic activity and upskilling as well, though we have never been told by either the government or by Jackson what the net amounts and benefits actually were.)

To repeat : the LOTR sale/leaseback mechanisms carried an inherent potential for tax avoidance The rebates don’t. There is no race to the bottom because the winner genuinely wins, while the losers lose only the opportunity – and the films in question couldn’t be made (on such a scale, anyway) without such rebates. Jackson spelled out the logic for production subsidies very eloquently in his Film Commission review, and perhaps Kelly and Brownlee should both read it.

The Boyens argument is that everything was hunky dory from her perspective, until the unions intervened a few weeks ago. If that was true for her, it wasn’t for Warners. At the beginning of September, Warners thought that a deal for MGM – their co-partner in The Hobbit – was in the bag, with Spyglass at the helm. Currently, it isn’t. The situation won’t become clear until October 29, when the MGM creditors vote on it. Currently, Warners faces a raft of new headaches, including the genuine prospect of its partner (a) contracting with it under a Spyglass run regime to market and distribute The Hobbit or (b) entering a deal with Lionsgate where the new MGM will probably have to buy out maverick investor Carl Icahn. Both options will reverberate and affect the numbers on The Hobbit, Both make the level of production subsidies available on The Hobbit anything but a red herring.

Only Warners know how those numbers are currently shaking down. Hopefully by the time their executives arrive next week, Jackson will have stopped behaving like Thorin Oakenshield, having a hissy fit over the Arkenstone.

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    1. 28 Responses to “On the Latest stage of The Hobbit drama”

    2. By Rosie on Oct 22, 2010 | Reply

      Thanks, good information.

    3. By Russell Brown on Oct 22, 2010 | Reply

      Did I mention that the Irish film industry– less than a month ago – negotiated a collective agreement for actors?

      No, you didn’t. And I’m not clear on whether you really read the story you linked to.

      The point of the story is that Irish Equity, through patient lobbying, has won a change to competition law that enshrines the right of actors in Ireland (who, as here, work as independent contractors) to collective bargaining. Not “a collective agreement” but the right to collective bargaining as independent contractors.

      As I pointed out yesterday, an even minimally competent NZ Equity could have been pursuing could have been pursuing such legislative change for years. It would have been more productive than the disastrous strategy of aggressively targeting high-profile productions to see what shakes out.

    4. By Gordon Campbell on Oct 22, 2010 | Reply

      Point taken Russell, but its one of the angels on pinheads variety. Yes, the right to collective bargaining by independent contractors is different to a collective agreement between employees – unless in practice, as the Supreme Court found, those ‘independent contractors’ are ducks that walk, talk and act like employees, in which case they are to be considered to be, actually, employees. That’s precisely why Brownlee is now offering to effectively over-ride the Court’s Bryson decision.

      Given that we live on a planet where Jackson has effectively demanded compliance with the independent contractor status, and where the current government has regularly argued that the labour force in the New Zealand film industry should be made even MORE flexible, I’ve been amazed that your priority has been to beat up on the union for not campaigning in a more sustained fashion for “legislative change” that would allow them to organise collectively as independent contractors.
      When have Peter Jackson or Gerry Brownlee ever indicated that would be desirable, or acceptable to them ? Where is the evidence that such a campaign would be responded to in good faith, and with a readiness to compromise? Hardball tactics generate hardball responses. That’s the lesson of this sorry episode – but I’d argue that those with the money always have more room to move. How did Spidey put it ? With great power comes great responsibility. Yet all we’ve seen so far on that side of the table have been temper tantrums.

    5. By Gosman on Oct 22, 2010 | Reply

      Gordon, are you going to come out and demonise Peter Jackson directly or just continue to do this indirectly by claiming that this is all some underhand plot to get more Government support for the film?

      Peter Jackson and Warner Bros have stated this has nothing to do with Government support. Do you think they are lying?

    6. By hartyboy on Oct 22, 2010 | Reply

      I think the problem is that until yesterday the union said it would withdraw the blacklist but only if negotiations would take place. Jackson said they couldn’t agree as that would be in breach of NZ law e independent contractors. therefore they could not accept the lifting of the blacklist on those terms.

      Then the second problem arose – while looking around for possible alternatives if the labour dispute could not be sorted Warners actually found some sweet deals elsewhere and they are thinking of taking them now even though compliant labour is now promised.

      So both sides are right about what is happening right now but unfortunately one thing allowed the other possibility to arise it seems.

    7. By Bronwen Summers on Oct 22, 2010 | Reply

      Such a good piece! Thanks Gordon.

      Unfortunatekly most people get their news, even their in-depth news from the box (LOL)or from tabloid type websites or newspapers.

      Talking of tabloid, the Herald seems to have sold it self down that path more recently, endless sensational stories.

    8. By John on Oct 22, 2010 | Reply

      If no jobs were going to be effected in WETA Digital or Weta Workshop why were all the big boys out in force the other day for Technicians protest against the boycott of the Hobbit…i have met Richard Taylor and Others in the Weta workshop and can honestly say these people are the most talented and nicest people in the business…this will effect them for future productions …Directors , producers and companies such as MGM will shy away from New Zealand because of these problems …the damage is already done by the Actors Equity now its time for Technicians and others who are dedicated to making this film to be heard …New Zealand is Middle Earth …not Ireland……From a Irish Person

    9. By Rohan Satyanand on Oct 22, 2010 | Reply

      Hi Gordon and Russell

      I am a Wellington-based contractor, a technician with a job on The Hobbit as long as it is filmed in NZ. I marched with the other techs on Wednesday. While I am concerned deeply about my livelihood for the next two years, I am probably more concerned about the state of the industry. I would like to make a few points:

      Gordon I agree completely that the government has been completely flat-footed on this issue, never even considering upping the tax breaks until now. This is scarily complacent, given how much is at stake for NZ economically. Unfortunately, this government seems to not want to make any decisions until they see what public opinion says on an issue, and then step in for their photo op (and no, I don’t think that just because they’re on the right). As you correctly point out “There’s a term for this hyperactive way of doing business, one that Hollywood would readily understand: Mickey Mouse.” As you have been pointing out all along, they should have acted decisively a long time ago.

      Russell, you are absolutely correct in your incisive characterisation of NZ Actor’s Equity’s naivete and clumsiness in this matter. They have simply climbed into the deep end without any swimming lessons or flotation devices. Most of them are Auckland-based (which has a very different filmmaking climate than Wellington) and with little-to-no experience of Miramar. Mere ignorance (and a little self-absorption mixed in) made them prime targets for manipulation by the MEAA.

      Now I am not anti-union at all. They are hugely important in protecting the rights of oppressed employees. Even in the film industry, they have been vital for maintaining and improving the rights of performers and technicians in Hollywood. However the difference between Hollywood and Miramar is huge. Hollywood has dozens of movies on the go at any one time, and there is a real history of exploitation by the studios there before the unions came. However now in Hollywood, the union control is so overbearing that if a soundie helps a camera assistant to lift a camera case, they both face huge penalties from their unions. Miramar gets one big movie, once in a blue moon. Contractors have always been treated with respect, had excellent conditions, and compensated amply. There is real pride in being self-employed, independent, beholden to none. People stick to their professions out of respect for each other, and help each other out when needed, based on that same respect. There are guilds and unions already who have been fantastic negotiating pink, blue and white books. However they are generally run by the people who work in the industry as contractors themselves, people who understand the community and how it works here.

      I believe that the MEAA would like to turn NZ into a situation like they have in Australia and Hollywood. Their interests and motives are two-fold. First, they would like a slice of the financial action. Second (and more importantly), they would like to wield power- power over the workers and the studios, power to decide which productions come here, and which don’t. They are not wanted by anybody actually involved in the film industry: actors, studios, technicians, runners- nobody. Jackson and co, despite what many have been saying, are not arguing from a financial perspective. Jackson, Walsh, Boyens and Taylor will get paid no matter where the films are made. They are fighting on behalf of their colleagues who may lose their livelihoods, and on behalf of our fragile, unique culture of filmmaking which has taken so much time and effort from so many.

      I am not saying any of this from a left or right perspective, and I congratulate both Russell and Gordon for conducting well-researched and generally non-partisan arguments. I believe the politicisation, and polarisation of this issue is harmful to constructive debate, and there being the outcome that everyone wants: The Hobbit gets made here. The right jump up and start union-bashing, the left jumps up and starts complaining of union-bashing. Both sides have conspiracy theories. But all of it serves to drown out the voices of those who are directly affected.

      (And, before you ask, yes thats my real name… As someone again directly affected by our other domestic October headline, I have a lot to say on the issue… but not here. Suffice to say that I am completely worn out- October 2010 has been an emotional month).

    10. By V on Oct 22, 2010 | Reply

      The simple reality is having the jobs and flow on spending from the movie, is better than having nothing if the movie was to leave.

      All this garbage about it ‘costing’ the taxpayer is a nonsense. Would you rather tax a reduced amount of something or the full amount of nothing?

      Of course PJ in the past has talked generally about tax incentives being important, as in any industry we need to remain internationally competitive. You speak as if there is some god given right for movies to be filmed in NZ?

      In my opinion all business should pay 0% tax, these are the organisations that create employment, why do we tax them?

    11. By Tim Ellis on Oct 22, 2010 | Reply

      Gordon you clearly don’t understand business.

      Ireland needs to offer 28% tax rebates because it is horrendously expensive to operate a business in Ireland. Even with a 28% rebate against a 15% rebate in New Zealand, it is still cheaper to run a major production in New Zealand.

      Film companies take into account a range of factors when deciding locations for films. Total cost of production (NZ being cheaper than Oz or Ireland, even with rebates, a key advantage). Eastern Europe is obviously cheaper than NZ.

      Local film infrastructure and talent. Oz and Ireland have better infrastructure than NZ, but NZ’s infrastructure is better than Eastern Europe.

      Talent stability: NZ was a stable environment to run a production. Ireland has always been stable. Australia has become less so. Eastern Europe has no local talent so it all needs to be imported. It has nothing to do with whether an industry is unionised.

      Actors Equity lost New Zealand’s key advantage by encouraging a global boycott of the Hobbit. In the Australian unions’ greed, and the socialist naivety of Robyn Malcolm and the rest of Actors Equity, they have caused massive damage to the NZ film industry.

      What you lefties including the CTU have failed to understand is that major film productions are foreign investment. Foreign investment takes into account market risks. By upping the ante you have raised the risks and potentially destroyed thousands of NZ jobs.

    12. By RJ on Oct 22, 2010 | Reply

      Nobody wants to say this is all about money, but it is. And really if you were going to invest half a billion dollars in a small island at the bottom of the world wouldn’t you want some assurances too?

      Whoever you side with over this issue is now redundant to the fact that in the eyes of overseas investors, our film industry looks like it might not be worth the effort.

    13. By shamanaccounts on Oct 22, 2010 | Reply

      A good negotiation is highly recommended for both parties. Leaving NZ isn’t a great idea to push with cause it would mean lose-lose game between NZ actors and the production the movie. Also boycott the movie was too irrational for the union to do so, they just adding fuel to fire.

    14. By Leo on Oct 22, 2010 | Reply

      What strikes me about Jackson’s conduct during this saga is the way he has used storytelling techniques as a way of attempting (with considerable success) to influence popular opinion.

      In his initial press release, MEAA was “an Australian bully kicking sand in our face.”

      In his latest statement (released yesterday) he writes: “…the MEAA, urged several international actor’s unions to gang up on our production in an attempt to bully us…”

      Is this a press release or a movie pitch?

      What’s really disturbing is how readily the DomPost has picked up the narratives Jackson is peddling.

      He rounds off his latest statement with this gem:

      “Why she has suddenly become the NZ Equity spokesperson is unclear, it appears to be a case of the blind being lead by the even-more-blind.”

      That sentence doesn’t even make sense. Jackass.

    15. By IrishBill on Oct 22, 2010 | Reply

      I think it’s important to note that on Thursday when Jackson talked up the dispute as the reason the film might leave, the dispute had been settled for nearly a week with the direct knowledge and input of warners.

      That’s an astounding act of bad faith that makes absolutely no sense. Especially when he’s trying to claim it’s industrial uncertainty that is driving the concerns about the location.

    16. By Ben Morgan on Oct 23, 2010 | Reply

      IrishBill, the dispute had been settled for nearly a week? My god you’re a bigger exaggerator than Helen Kelly! In fact despite Helen Kelly stating the agreement to drop the blacklist had been in place since Sunday (which is still comfortably under “nearly a week” in my book), when prompted to produce evidence of that fact the best they could manage was emails dated Monday US time. Which unless the earth has flipped axis in the last 7 days, is Tuesday New Zealand time. However, no-one actually released this information until Thursday.

      I’m afraid I lack psychic ability, and I’m not sure I could make head or tail of anything that goes on in Helen Kelly’s befuddled head even if I had those abilities.

    17. By Ben Morgan on Oct 23, 2010 | Reply

      A word on how much of the post production would take place at Weta if The Hobbit were filmed abroad. I don’t know where you get your info but having worked in post production in both the UK and NZ, if The Hobbit is filmed in England then Warners would stand to make major tax rebates from having the post production work done by London Visual Effects houses as well. I may be wrong but my understanding of the NZ tax rebate rules is that the production would have to take place here for the post production to qualify for tax rebates as well.

      It’s not like London houses would be incapable of the work either. That wouldn’t worry Warner’s at all. The majority of their post production work these days seems to take place in London. So I can’t agree with your assertion the loss of Production on the Hobbit wouldn’t affect post production in New Zealand. I think it depends where The Hobbit may end up being shot. If it’s Eastern Europe it will probably find it’s way back here. If it’s Canada it’d probably be mostly here with some in Vancouver. If it’s shot in England? The majority would likely be done at a variety of London VFX houses, who have an excellent reputation.

    18. By Gosman on Oct 23, 2010 | Reply

      That was an astonishingly good piece of acting he put on for the cameras on Thursday night then. Also deciding to not get enough sleep for a number of days just before hand was a master stroke wouldn’t you say. The guy must be pure ‘evil’ wouldn’t you say?

      Funny then that Robyn Malcolm isn’t more angry with him. I mean last night she positively apologised to the guy. Why would she apologise to someone who is manipulating her IrishBill?

    19. By Myles Thomas on Oct 23, 2010 | Reply

      The lies, the stupidity and the bullshit! It’s off the scale so many thanks Gordon, Russell, Rohan et al for making sense in a sea of urea.

    20. By simbit on Oct 23, 2010 | Reply

      I saw the interview and my gut reaction was Sir PJ was lying. Sorry, just how he looked…which makes sense if the dispute was settled when the union says it was.

      Also, exchange rate for US$ in 1999 when LoTR began filming: $1.97. Exchange rate last week? $1.33-ish and increasingly poor for US international players (given they’re about to print some more US$$$$$).

      Warners can add, subtract, multiply and divide.

    21. By matty.j on Oct 24, 2010 | Reply

      Also important to note: When it comes to shooting the interiors, the bulk of the cost is spent on sound stages and equipment (lights, props etc). For those film companies that have the capital, outright ownership of these facilities saves a huge amount of money on hirage fees. In Wellington, Sir Peter and various partners own those facilities. In the UK, Warners own their own sound stages and equipment houses. Why film in NZ and pay someone else when Warners can film in the UK and use their own facilities? If the film does move to the U.K (a territory where actors, technicians and support services cost more and unions are long established and influential) Sir Peter and his business partners will lose a substantial portion of their income. Warners will gain – big time.

    22. By Gobshite on Oct 24, 2010 | Reply

      Gordon I am greatly enjoying your take on this saga but I believe you have incorrectly calculated the Irish benefit. You say that it could be worth up to US140,000,000 based on the budget of US500-million. However the Irish benefit is based on 80% of the total qualifying spend which, assuming the whole budget was spent in Ireland as you have, makes for a benefit of US$112-million on 400-million.

      Applying this to your later scenario of a 60 percent NZ and 40 percent Irish production split
      it means: Ireland 44.8mill NZ 45-mill (based on 60 percent of 500-mill) then leaves only an extra 14.8 mill above the potential total NZ benefit of 75mill. And that ignores the fact that Ireland’s benefit may not be 28% as there is an assessment of number of EU crew members etc to decide the total.
      And then there’s the issue of Irish work practices which I understand include union nomination of a proportion of crew positions.
      I think Ireland is a red herring and the leprechauns will be safe from an invasion of hobbits …

    23. By Chris White on Oct 25, 2010 | Reply

      I wasn’t going to comment, but really the line that “the dispute had been settled for nearly a week” posted by IrishBill here and elsewhere needs to be challenged. Essentially the argument is, is that if one side calls a truce then the battle is over. Of course that makes no sense at all despite how many times I hear it.

      If I cheat on my wife publicly and this causes an dispute, does my decision to end the affair resolve it? Or is it more likely that I have caused real damage to the relationship?

      Until the unions step up and admit that their hard ball approach here has caused real damage and they are willing to do what it takes to resolve it in a way that benefits all parties, then the future of the industry here in NZ is called into real doubt.

      Cheers, Chris W.

    24. By jane on Oct 25, 2010 | Reply

      Labour day…how ironic that the Government is wanting to suspend the employment laws at a time when we remember the fight for an 8 hour working day.

    25. By IrishBill on Oct 25, 2010 | Reply

      Essentially the argument is, is that if one side calls a truce then the battle is over. Of course that makes no sense at all despite how many times I hear it.

      No, the argument is both sides called a truce and then one side disregarded it. Jackson and Warners were well aware of the memorandum of understanding signed on Wednesday and ratified on Sunday.

      The timeline is here:

    26. By Erica on Oct 25, 2010 | Reply

      Won’t we be glad when this is all over and when the dust settles there will still be a NZ Film Industry putting great stories on screen for audiences to enjoy, like “Whale Rider”, “Boy” and “Insatiable Moon” to name a few, not mega budget, but made with affection that we all feel good about – I doubt I will want to go and see ‘The Hobbit” not in 3-D, not in anything, such a foul taste left in the mouth with all of the bile. It will be people like Rohan will get the industry through this.

    27. By Graham Dunster on Oct 25, 2010 | Reply

      It is easier, cheaper, more efficient and productive to fix problems before they become too big. This is a mantra for business. The drama production industry has known for years of actors’ dissatisfaction with the way that they perceive they are treated. This dissatisfaction is why NZ Equity opted to join the MEAA. It is why there were recent requests for discussions on contracts for actors working on Outrageous Fortune 6, The Cult, This Is Not My Life. It is why there has been a long standing request to meet with SPADA to mutually agree minimum terms and conditions for drama actors.

      The current situation is a direct result of decisions taken not to engage with Equity over the past years. The request to meet with the producers of The Hobbit was simply the latest in a series of chances for the industry to sit down with Equity and discuss the situation. Instead of dialogue, cant and vitriol were heaped on the actors, at first collectively and now individually.

      There have been mutually agreed minimum terms and conditions for actors working on television commercials for decades, which has created an ongoing positive working environment for all parties.

      Now that SPADA has finally agreed to talk to Equity over how to replace the existing unenforceable ‘Pink Book’ guidelines, perhaps we can move forward, accepting that at long last the producer/actor problem will be addressed in a constructive way and become an inclusive section of the entertainment industry.

    28. By Gosman on Oct 25, 2010 | Reply

      So if the paranoid delusions of some on the left, (e.g. Irish Bill), are correct then Peter Jackson is one evil Mofo who has been colluding with a foreign owned company to screw not only the workers of New Zealand but also the Tax payers.

      Given this awful ‘truth’ why aren’t Robyn Malcolm and Helen Kelly more upset NOW than they were when Helen Kelly called Peter Jackson a ‘Spoiled Brat’? Jeeze, Peter Jackson and Warner’s have played the Union like a cheap Violin yet both of these defenders of workers rights are now bending over backwards to placate this cpaitalist running dog.

      Face facts, (and this goes to you as well Gordon), if your view of the situation is correct then the Union would have the moral authority to call Peter Jackson much, much worse than spoiled brat and the blacklist of the Hobbit should be immediately reestablished. Somehow I doubt very much that this will happen though. Why not?

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