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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
From Variety: Unions to thesps:" Don't work on The Hobbit"
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Sep 26 2010, 11:00pm

Post #51 of 330 (3135 views)
hear, hear [In reply to] Can't Post

you won't get any veggies thrown at you from me...i've witnessed the demise of industry via unions here (US) as well...i'm all for fairness and i'm all for workers getting paid for their efforts...but FAIRLY...and its a positive thing that NZ law prohibits this kind of collective bargaining...and so i ask, if the MEAA turns their back on the film...so what? there are plenty of great actors in this world who are not part of the MEAA or SAG (if they are in league) who would want to be part of another Jackson epic...these films will be huge which is the only reason why the unions are trying to get in the mix...the higher wages and benefits for their actors, the higher the dues back into the organizations, the farther they can reach with their cancerous tentacles...maybe i'm minimizing things here, but screw the unions...NZ law has it correct...and i wish the US would take the same route...companies like Hynudai and Honda can set up shop here with minimal union interference (and i do mean interference)..they are foreign based corporations and continue to be successful because they can focus on quality and not having to bend over to union demands...when GM closed one of their manufacturing plants in michigan, a lot of folks went south to louisiana to work for Hyundai...lower pay but no union to stall production or bankrupt the company...my grandfather and father in law were union bound...made them miserable.

Carrot cake, carrot cake, have ye any nuts?
Carrot cake says...NO NUTS!


Sep 26 2010, 11:03pm

Post #52 of 330 (3112 views)
I agree with Tim as well [In reply to] Can't Post

... given Peter Jackson's statement, and the observation that people who have worked for him in the past have been happy with their conditions.

I think 'The Hobbit' has simply been chosen as a high-profile target and to my mind that's unjustified and unjustifiable (and I'd say the same if it was a film I wasn't remotely interested in, just on principle.) If there were something wrong with the agreements actors were being offered for 'The Hobbit' then the unions would have a case. If there isn't then they don't, and to hold an 'innocent' film to ransom in pursuit of a broader political goal just risks hurting the interests of the actors and others involved in that film - which seems to me to negate the whole purpose of having a union. Just my opinion....

(This post was edited by dormouse on Sep 26 2010, 11:09pm)


Sep 26 2010, 11:09pm

Post #53 of 330 (2940 views)
Thank you Squire [In reply to] Can't Post

I appreciate your insight. Some on this message board seem to be bashing the unions, if only for selfish reasons of getting this movie made. Actors do work hard, and after reading about this, it certainly makes me recall how many of the actors in LOTR got shafted: and nevertheless PJ had the gall to sue the movie company for more money. Sean Astin says he really didn't make much money on those movies, and maybe he's speaking the truth. And maybe PJ isn't as "honorable" as many on this board seem to think.

Actors do not deserve to taken advantage of and to the extent that the union is fighting on their behalf, I completely support it.

Worker's of the world unite!


Sep 26 2010, 11:14pm

Post #54 of 330 (2867 views)
So you say [In reply to] Can't Post

So you say as a huge fan!

Justice League

Sep 26 2010, 11:29pm

Post #55 of 330 (2800 views)
Aw c'mon now [In reply to] Can't Post

Let's play nice. Nobody is bashing unions and nobody here doesn't care about the little guy and nobody here is being selfish. We're all observing a situation and trying to make sense out of it. So let's not cast aspersions and question anyone's honor, cool?

King Arthur: Who are you who can summon fire without flint or tinder?
Tim: There are some who call me... Tim.

Justice League

Sep 26 2010, 11:36pm

Post #56 of 330 (2861 views)
Annnnd PJ isn't even in control of the situation [In reply to] Can't Post

New Zealand's laws seem to be the target. So there's not much that can be done except by the New Zealand legislature. But of course that won't be a problem if people go ahead and do the job regardless of the threats - which they probably will if pay is fair.

King Arthur: Who are you who can summon fire without flint or tinder?
Tim: There are some who call me... Tim.


Sep 26 2010, 11:45pm

Post #57 of 330 (2867 views)
Independent contractor ... [In reply to] Can't Post

speaking here, and have made a substantial contribution to making sure that people in any industry I have worked for understand what being 'independent' means - because there are a lot of advantages to being independent and not under a banner of unionisation - the fee's are one thing, but Unions are limited and can be limiting to the point of starvation, not for one but for many - and it doesn't matter what industry you are in, be it arts or labour or any other form of self employed capacity, the act of self determination being an independent can allow more scope and negotiation (and better tax breaks) if you know how to manage yourself in the business you are in. Independents can also legally form co-operatives and collectively bargain - its been done before, and negotiations can be attended to in a less threatening manner with out bullyboy manupulative tactics than having involvement and disruption of every individual in the collective. And collective members have the option to be part of the negotiations or not as well.

Independent Contractors are scarey people. Wink
They are self determining individuals who can negotiate on their own behalf through their own representation - and yes, we are still in work.
and yes, I work in the film industry when Im not doing my other independent contracting work.
And I work in Australia.
And my dream is to work in NZ in the film Industry.
*Rant over*



Sep 26 2010, 11:54pm

Post #58 of 330 (2923 views)
Thanks Kristin [In reply to] Can't Post

For the clarification.
I was thinking if one of these Unions went out on strike or made a decision for others to not work on the film, they would be taking the bull by the horns, and manipulating the major players of the Hobbit films through their membership of the organization.


Sep 27 2010, 12:09am

Post #59 of 330 (2895 views)
sneaky suspicions ... [In reply to] Can't Post

AND I have a sneaky suspicion that something smelly lurks in the corporate woodpile if the unions are suddenly kicking up a stink and making it a very public one at that. I shall be interested to see how this resolves itself. It surely is one helluva mess.


I have my assumptions on this as well, and it started about the time MGM were granted extentions and the delays began to mount. As I mentioned in a previous post, the timing of this new encounter happening is very interesting - there's a wraith in the wings me suspects Smile
I feel it will be resolved, but in saying that, I think as much as the Unions maybe testing their power here - Im not thinking that they will persue it without dragging everyone else down and damaging the industry further without controlled persistance.
So who has got the bigger sword? No doubt we'll find out after the carnage.

(This post was edited by Elven on Sep 27 2010, 12:10am)

Kangi Ska

Sep 27 2010, 12:38am

Post #60 of 330 (2851 views)
Some times it takes a lot of patience [In reply to] Can't Post

to make a great movie. Look up the history of The Wizard of OZ. Movie making is not an industry you want to be in if you are impatience or want a nice stable life.

Kangi Ska

Make the Hobbit Happen Now!


Ainu Laire
Justice League

Sep 27 2010, 12:57am

Post #61 of 330 (2814 views)
Oh boy. [In reply to] Can't Post

I understand why unions came about, but it's unions like these that remind me of my brother's union and are only the business-like type who are more interested in their personal agendas as opposed to their members, or all actors.

Lovely... now I'm worried. :/

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Sep 27 2010, 12:59am

Post #62 of 330 (2774 views)
You go! [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm also independent. Well, actually, kind of a quasi-employee / independent contractor. But, I operate primarily independently because I made it a point to build up and maintain my own clientele. I salute your independence (which is in no way intended to slight anyone who is a permanent 'employee' and/or a union member) and hope that your NZ dream(s) come true (knowing you over the years here, I'm confident they will). Smile

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Sep 27 2010, 1:01am

Post #63 of 330 (2812 views)
Amarth faeg! :S [In reply to] Can't Post

You know what... bring the Hobbit production to Portugal, PJ can do it here, we have beautiful landscapes, forests, lakes, snowy mountains you name it...

Oh and we have a lot of unenployed folks willing to work so here´s my humble sugestion just in case!

I just want to see the damn movie made!


Sep 27 2010, 1:17am

Post #64 of 330 (2946 views)
A move would require another long delay [In reply to] Can't Post

Any move to Europe or anywhere else for that matter would lead to another long delay. Locations and a new Hobbiton would have to be built, another wait for the right season.....spring-summer-fall...would be at a minimum 6 months away. Scenes from the U.K. would be nice...hey, even Christoper Lee could participate.


Sep 27 2010, 2:17am

Post #65 of 330 (2784 views)
As a Union Worker [In reply to] Can't Post

I had a workplace situation where the union stepped in and helped me with a boss who made me work over 90 hours of overtime in a 3 month period and didn't document any of it.

I haven't been able to read through the rest of the posts, but my first thought was that Peter et. al. have probably based their proposal of cost on their LotR experience, with a 10-year adjustment no doubt. To have all of those workers' wages constrained by union guidelines would definitely throw those projected costs of making the film out the window.

I need to read and ruminate on all of the info we've had crash through the ceiling; but I'm initially just heartsick that there's, yet again, another issue that has surfaced at the worst time. Then again, I realize they weren't "officially" casting until now, too. Can't have an issue without an activity, I guess.

It'll all work out... we're just experiencing labor pains ;)

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(This post was edited by grammaboodawg on Sep 27 2010, 2:18am)

Justice League

Sep 27 2010, 3:13am

Post #66 of 330 (2787 views)
Heh heh like I said it's not simple [In reply to] Can't Post

Unions help people like Gramma (a good thing go Gramma!) and they hurt people when they chase jobs overseas like in Hollywood (jobs going to England, Australia, New Zealand, Canada).

I live in Texas a "right to work" state. That means no union can tell someone they can't work at something if they are not one of their members. I assure you I am not rich. I've had some of the crummiest jobs on planet earth. I've been jacked around and yes my employers sometimes have given me the shaft. I KNOW that employers can be crummy and that it's not all on unions.

One time I worked in customer support for an exposition company. I talked directly to companies setting up exhibits at shows all over the country. I can tell you first hand the unions cost people work. Many companies - mainly the smaller one's - were less likely to hire help if it was union because of the extra cost.

What's my point? Some unions should be more careful about pricing themselves out of the market. As a little guy, I'm all for collective bargaining but not at the cost of jobs. As a little guy I put most of the responsibility of what I will and won't put up with on a job on me - I have it within my power to walk away or stay. And yes I do have kids to feed.

I won't even start my rant about teachers unions. Kinda happy about this documentary "Waiting for Superman" coming out - and the teachers unions aren't too happy about it.

So it's a complex problem and yeah I've got mixed feelings on it.

King Arthur: Who are you who can summon fire without flint or tinder?
Tim: There are some who call me... Tim.

Kangi Ska

Sep 27 2010, 3:41am

Post #67 of 330 (2824 views)
Nothing is perfect: [In reply to] Can't Post

Look at history before unions.

Unions made the middle class possible. The destruction of unions & collective bargaining will be the destruction of the same. And , yes Unions are partly to blame but so are the people who do not understand how the work place was changed for the better by unions. It is a long list but I will only mention overtime & a 40 hour work week.

This situation should be evaluated on the facts, not (bad unions/ good businesses) or (Evil Capitalists / Wonderful Unions) both are myths that impede understanding of the truth.

I am glad Peter is in the middle of this. It is good to have a grounded sane human being sorting out the situation. If there is hope it lies with him.

Kangi Ska

Make the Hobbit Happen Now!



Sep 27 2010, 4:47am

Post #68 of 330 (2865 views)
RE: PJ's response [In reply to] Can't Post

As an Australian the actions of the MEAA disgust and embarrass me. Mad

Taking any actions against NZ for their own personal gain, in any respect, is completely against the brotherly "shoulder-to-shoulder" relationship I've always felt between our two countries.

Anyone who sees one countries interests greater than that of the other and uses any means to undermine them doesn't, in my opinion, deserve to live in either of these two great nations.


"A Hobbits Tale"

Galadriel's ring

Sep 27 2010, 5:55am

Post #69 of 330 (2742 views)
Unions are good, [In reply to] Can't Post

because they get the people that they look after better working... stuff (...) and its good that they do all that stuff, but at this rate, the Hobbit will never get made. Ever.

"Speak no evil of the Lady Galadriel!"
"You know not what you say.
There is in her and in this land, no evil, unless
a man bring it hither himself.
Then let him beware!"

Fantastic Four

Sep 27 2010, 6:08am

Post #70 of 330 (2710 views)
unions [In reply to] Can't Post

Tim, my father was in the UAW for over 50 years. the auto industry in this country has been slowly destroyed, in part, by the unions. it's been going on for well over 30 years. it's a shame, really.

Fantastic Four

Sep 27 2010, 6:09am

Post #71 of 330 (2769 views)
I agree with that. just the chosen target of the day. (nft) [In reply to] Can't Post


Justice League

Sep 27 2010, 6:20am

Post #72 of 330 (2757 views)
Europe [In reply to] Can't Post

If this did happen I still don't think it would stop The Hobbit films or even PJ from directing, and if they did shoot in New Zealand they would still have to shoot Christopher Lee's scenes in the UK because he said he won't fly out to New Zealand because of health concerns.

Fantastic Four

Sep 27 2010, 7:00am

Post #73 of 330 (2726 views)
To Unionise or not to Unionise ... [In reply to] Can't Post

... that is the question.

I too watched industries ripped apart by radical unionism here in the UK in the 70s and 80s, and I have always tried to keep a healthy watchful eye out for the zealots who can (and do) wreck the industry they are apparently trying to save. Invariably, they are individuals involved have takern advantage of general unrest in the working population to feather their own nests - and others have found it a way to exert power. Disgraceful behaviour, no matter whether they are 'management' or workers.

But the fundamental need for unions still exists in many ways. Elven, as an independent contractor, has worked with others to bring about good without being subject to any union limitations or demands, and that is to be applauded. Collective bargaining has its plus points. But there are situations where a union is worth its weight in gold, and having been involved in disatisfaction in the workplace, the unions stepped in at the request of an employee to help sort it out - 'help' being the the operative word. But the clout they had made the management sit up and take notice - something that would not have happened otherwise, and the union support made sure everything was done to resolve matters, which is what happened. ALL members of staff were helped, union members or not.

Something in this situation does not sound right - there is more to this than meets the eye, and I'm pretty sure this is not just the unions flexing their muscles and seeing who looks away first.There is a problem here that they saw fit to kick up a stink about, and they've done it in a radical and public manner - something I don't think they would have done if they had any doubts. Why risk reputations for a lightweight cause? Curiouser and curiouser ...



Sep 27 2010, 8:50am

Post #74 of 330 (2716 views)
Hats off to you too... [In reply to] Can't Post

I also agree and quote your words ...


in no way intended to slight anyone who is a permanent 'employee' and/or a union member

... and thanks Altaira for your kind words. Im determined to work in NZ - I love it there.


Sep 27 2010, 9:04am

Post #75 of 330 (2913 views)
What makes me REALLY angry about this... [In reply to] Can't Post

is that a small group of NZ actors (or perhaps more specifically their Australian MEAA backers) are trying to force their agenda onto the New Zealand Film industry to benefit their NZ affiliates (just a few hundred people), but in the process are jeopardising 2-4 years of fulltime work for thousands of other NZ actors and crew, and potentially jeopardising the entire NZ film industry.

I've been waiting for almost two years to work on The Hobbit films as a crew member and if it went overseas as a result of this I would be livid! I wouldn't be the only one either - pretty much everyone in the NZ Film industry would be mad as hell at a relatively small group of NZ actors and particularly at the overseas Unions pushing for a boycott.

Actors here are not on minimum wage nor are they routinely exploited. I'm not saying it never happens, but ultimately actors and crew here have the choice as to whether or not they want to take the job. There's no one holding a gun to their head if they don't like the terms of the contract. In New Zealand the simple fact is that being an actor or a crew member is a difficult path to take: well paying long-term projects are often far and few between. As a result of this actors and crew are probably more likely to accept lower pay rates and less favourable conditions than if they were working overseas - but that is a choice we make and generally speaking the hourly rates are OK to very good when compared to other industries within NZ. Nobody gets paid minimum wage and most in the industry enjoy the majority of the work that they do - in fact many can't imagine doing anything else!

We already have a framework in place called the "Pink Book" which has been successfully used for years to provide a non-binding set of best practices for actors contracts/work conditions and a similar one (called the "Blue Book") for crew members. In my relatively small experience working as a crew member on films, adverts, and TV series I have never felt like I was being exploited. At worst I felt the work was tiring, a bit boring, and the pay rate merely satisfactory. At best I was loving the work and taking home a good pay packet. There was always provision for increased pay if overtime was required and a maximum number of hours that could be worked and a minimum time between working shifts within a 24hr period. The Hobbit promises to be the best work yet, both in pay rate and in job satisfaction/enjoyment (especially since I'm a huge Tolkien fan).

In my opinion the NZ film industry is simply too dependent on offering a cheaper film-making environment for overseas film companies to be able to support unionised actors. If all the actors here were entitled to the same pay rates and conditions as those in the US there wouldn't be enough incentive for big international films to come half way around the world.

By pushing too hard for this the Unions may very well ruin a great opportunity for (and potentially the future acting careers of) the very actors they are allegedly trying to help.

(This post was edited by Iolite on Sep 27 2010, 9:08am)

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