Acting : Unions Are Biggest Obstacle In Indie Film Production, Film Execs Say by Andrew Heard

Andrew Heard

Unions Are Biggest Obstacle In Indie Film Production, Film Execs Say

Do you think they get in the way?

Stephen J. Jacobs

That sounds like the same malignant logic used by the Internet Tech Giants who facilitate Copy write Infringement, Theft of Intellectual property, hacking and illegal file sharing for their own great profit, while blaming all of us Creators for wanting a fair piece of the profit. As flawed and corrupt as Unions and Guilds can also be, at least they offer some stability, regulated income and protection for the Artists, Performers and Crews working under contract.

Andrew Heard

They don't suggest getting rid of the unions, only that the unions need to reevaluate their profit model. The article says that there are costs which the unions insist on that can't be justified by the market.

Robert David Kelso

The residuals that these reports are talking about were there originally for artists/crew who like most are jobbing actors/crew members. They don't get big money and as such rely on these remuneration models to make a living. You can never tell when the work will come. However these shouldn't be paid in a bond ahead of production as no one knows how well the film will do or which medium it is going to be played on. When it comes to unions and the multinational film companies, as well as indie film producers there is and always will be arguments. Maybe the Unions would think about looking into helping smaller indie productions as they could never compete with the clout the major studios have. Even though an agreement was found towards the New Zealand hobbit argument laws were still changed for the production to take place for Warner Brothers, and also give money towards big budget productions. Is there any wonder that unions seem dubious about film companies when these type of agreements take place. Weirdly enough many countries seem to have money for films to be produced in their respective countries and in some cases like here in the UK some areas will match the film companies contribution with the same amount which is more of a loan type deal but helps films to be made and only then when it is finished and sold on does the money need to be paid back to be used for more productions. Wow I think I got what I wanted to say in there even though it did go off the rails a bit.

Stephen J. Jacobs

Interesting points, Robert. Does the Film/TV/Crews/SAG, etc., Unions have small scale agreements for little or indie productions? The Musician's Union AFM has such a Recording Agreement for small scale recordings. On the other hand, financing and making a movie or TV show is a gamble no matter who makes it. There is no guarantee it will succeed. It seems to me that union pay for union work should should just be automatically calculated into any proposed budget as a cost of doing business. That implies an understanding of no con, games, tricks or cheating by both Management and Labor.

Katie Taylor

"Union pay for union work" is one thing. What SAG is doing is nothing less than extortion. Having to pay deposits for distribution that may never happen is simply bad faith on the part of a union gone wild. These crooks need to be stopped, and if their own membership isn't up to the task, then the people they are taking advantage of will have to. It's very unfortunate that the Department of Justice and the Federal Labor Relations Board are uninterested in cleaning up these sharp practices. Totally agree with the article - SAG is killing indie filmmaking efforts. Just ask any producer who has had to deal with them and their never-ending stream of "deposits" that never get refunded, even when the events for which you deposited money never actually transpire.

James Durward

I use only non-union actors as the union in Canada is obstructive to the highest degree. For one thing, they demand guarantees and they provide no guarantees. There should be a "budget number", under which the union rules do not apply.

Katie Taylor

The entire entertainment union contract model turns labor relations on its head, and it never ceases to amaze me that there hasn't been litigation over it or a government watchdog swooping in to stop it. The U.S. labor relations laws that gave rise to unions were based on the notion of employees bargaining collectively with their employer. And that's easy enough to do and understand. But in the film industry, somehow unions have gotten permission to bargain with only a few key employers - i.e., the major studios - and to make everyone else sign a contract of adhesion based on the studio agreement if they want to employ any union talent. What has actually happened is that, in entertainment, we have gone from a situation where individual employees needed help banding together to negotiate with a major power (the studios) to a situation in which small employers now have a dire need to band together to tame a major power (the union). Basically, the unions have gotten so strong in Hollywood that they are the perpetrators of the kind of injustices that unions generally were founded to combat.

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