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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
TORn interviews NZ actor as Kiwi film industry petitions to have 'Hobbit' boycott dropped
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News from Bree
spymaster@theonering.net

Oct 1 2010, 7:36pm

Post #1 of 30 (1567 views)
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TORn interviews NZ actor as Kiwi film industry petitions to have 'Hobbit' boycott dropped Can't Post

A group of New Zealand film industry workers has petitioned to have the boycott against "The Hobbit" dropped. TheOneRing.net went one-on-one with one actor behind its formation, Chaz Harris, to get the viewpoint of somebody involved on the ground in what is becoming a heated atmosphere that is the latest in a long line of obstacles to 'The Hobbit'. Read on for questions and thoughtful answers:

TORn: Why did you start the petition and what effect do you hope it has?

CH: I started the petition because so many of us in the filmmaking community here felt voiceless and powerless to do anything about the situation, this includes many of the actors who are not part of the union (58 of whom have signed the petition so far). There are plenty of actors and crew who are still here, still willing to work.

TORn: Do you feel like the Jackson camp has dealt fairly with you and fairly with actors in the past?

CH: I've never worked for them personally, but I know a lot who have and still do. I have never heard any stories of wrongdoing or unfair treatment for actors or crew on any of their productions - quite the opposite.

However, NZEA/MEAA have not said actors have been treated unfairly by the producers involved with The Hobbit, but they have created that assumption through the international blacklisting of the film.

I have never heard a bad word said about work conditions on Jackson productions, only that they are very loyal and hard-working people who expect the same in return. That is not dissimilar to the film industry anywhere else in the world and many feel they have been wrongly targeted.

TORn: Has the media reported facts clearly so far in this dispute? If not, what details have been lost?

CH: I think the media coverage has been selective and the full statements made by both parties as well as SPADA's are what everyone should read to be fully informed.

Initially, I think many people perceived it as "the rich and powerful Sir Peter Jackson" attacking the actors. Producers' alliance SPADA have been trying to meet with the union for months and stated on their website on Monday that these meetings were rebuffed in favour of an unlawful collective bargaining agreement. Collective bargaining agreements for contractors are illegal under New Zealand law and the MEAA was struck off the companies register recently after failing to file any company returns, so it has no legal standing here.

It's important to note this is not so much a dispute about pay for actors though, it is about conditions and getting a standard contract for them. There are already minimum conditions listed in SPADA's Pink Book that govern these, so this is really about a re-negotiation of those terms to include a standard contract. Therefore, it should be SPADA they are putting pressure on for a meeting, not the producers of The Hobbit. Peter Jackson and team cannot negotiate a standard "contract-for-all" because they do not represent all producers in New Zealand and any deal they might do could cripple smaller productions trying to meet the same demands.

The initial statement from Peter Jackson was clearly provoked by The Hobbit and his name (by default) being blacklisted in front of every actor he has or might in future get to work with. Once that shred of doubt is cast overseas about work conditions in New Zealand, it just snowballs and it's an unfair perception to create when it impacts all the other hardworking NZ actors, artists, crews and filmmakers.

TORn: Do you or other actors agree with the sentiment that the Australian Union is making a power play to get a piece of the NZ actor's action?


CH: I know some actors agree with this and at first I thought that was a little drastic. I don't know what the truth of the matter is, but the reality is that these actions have put the future and livelihoods of the entire industry under threat and you really have to ask, is that really going to be for the greater good?

I would like to see all the international acting unions/guilds drop this blacklist and admit it was unlawful (which MEAA/NZEA have done so themselves) and let good faith negotiations be conducted with SPADA, not the producers of The Hobbit who shouldn't even have been involved over this issue.

The petition can be found here and reads:


To: All film practitioners in New Zealand

By signing this petition, I confirm that I do not support MEAA/New Zealand Actors' Equity in their international boycott of "The Hobbit" film production.

Furthermore, I request that this boycott be removed and rescinded immediately to avoid more damageto New Zealand's reputation internationally as a film-friendly and flexible place to make films.

**When signing this petition, please include a comment stating your involvement in the New Zealand Film community below along with your location** i.e. : "I am an ACTOR from WELLINGTON"

Sincerely,

The Undersigned




cameragod
Lorien


Oct 2 2010, 1:57am

Post #2 of 30 (963 views)
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Thanks... [In reply to] Can't Post

I feel very grateful to Chaz and Richard for starting this petition and giving many others of us in the Wellington/New Zealand film industry a chance to be heard.

All artists are prepared to suffer for their work, but why are so few prepared to learn to draw? :BANKSY


"A Cameraman without a camera is just a man." Stephen Press


Tim
Tol Eressea


Oct 2 2010, 2:16am

Post #3 of 30 (946 views)
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Word to my Kiwi actor brotha's and sista's :-D [In reply to] Can't Post

As a fan I hope everything works out for you fine New Zealanders - I want The Hobbit made there.Smile

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


Kangi Ska
Half-elven


Oct 2 2010, 2:19am

Post #4 of 30 (952 views)
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I just found this PDF ststement of MEAA's demands linked on SAG's web site [In reply to] Can't Post

http://www.alliance.org.au/documents/100922_hobbit_factsheet.pdf

Kangi Ska

Make the Hobbit Happen Now!

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Kangi Ska
Half-elven


Oct 2 2010, 2:27am

Post #5 of 30 (963 views)
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Simon Whipp, Director, Actors Equity Australia Email: Sibs let him hear what you think. [In reply to] Can't Post

mail@alliance.org.au

Kangi Ska

Make the Hobbit Happen Now!

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(This post was edited by Kangi Ska on Oct 2 2010, 2:27am)


shadowdog
Rohan

Oct 2 2010, 2:29am

Post #6 of 30 (940 views)
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That is great - except [In reply to] Can't Post

they have no legal standing in NZ; AND the producers of the Hobbit can't comply without violating NZ labor laws if I undertand what has been posted here correctly.


squire
Half-elven


Oct 2 2010, 2:33am

Post #7 of 30 (922 views)
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Very interesting! Thank you. [In reply to] Can't Post

My first reaction on reading that is the same one I had when reading Peter Jackson's statement about his noble and wise goals for non-union actor contracts on The Hobbit:
Almost every word in that statement is dependent on interpretation, by someone whose office is further down the road of negotiation.
I just don't know enough about NZ film acting contracts and conditions to attempt my own interpretation; and even if I did, it would be irrelevant, because the only two interpretations that are going to count are those of the NZ producers (SPADA) and the NZ actors (MEAA - or not).



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Tim
Tol Eressea


Oct 2 2010, 2:37am

Post #8 of 30 (924 views)
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Yeah it's a little behind the times possibly [In reply to] Can't Post

I saw most of what's in that link (thanks by the way Kangi) reported in the earlier reports - the latest reports claim NZ Equity admits the blacklist is illegal. But yes as per this linked .pdf they claim it's not illegal.

There still seem to be contradictory claims about who's trying to contact who and when and yada yada yada. SPADA claims they've tried to start a dialogue now for 18 months.

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


Kangi Ska
Half-elven


Oct 2 2010, 2:41am

Post #9 of 30 (922 views)
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This doccument is still posted on SAG's website as supporting the BOYCOTT [In reply to] Can't Post

Behind times or not it is still active. We want this to go away or be modified to reflect reality.

Kangi Ska

Make the Hobbit Happen Now!

Photobucket


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Oct 2 2010, 4:25am

Post #10 of 30 (940 views)
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Who will see this petition? [In reply to] Can't Post

If handled incorrectly, especially in such a small industry, not having your name on this petition could be bad for your career.

Signing this may be seen by some as a sort of job application or as a way to keep their name off a real "blacklist." Historically, a blacklist was a list employers' groups maintained to keep so-called radicals out of their work places.

While I support any move towards resolving this issue amicably, this sort of petition can be divisive. Petitions such as this -- circulated surreptitiously by management or those sympathetic to management -- have long been considered a form of intimidation under labour relations law.


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Oct 2 2010, 4:31am)


Tim
Tol Eressea


Oct 2 2010, 5:33am

Post #11 of 30 (924 views)
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Who knows? [In reply to] Can't Post

It's not a TORN thing it's a NZ thing and I guess the crew/actors over there want to make a point that they don't all side with the union. We'll probably hear about any fallout (if any) as time goes on.

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


Bond-Of-Blood
Rivendell


Oct 2 2010, 9:52am

Post #12 of 30 (893 views)
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I've signed it... [In reply to] Can't Post

We're close now....Wink


merlwynd
Rivendell


Oct 2 2010, 10:30am

Post #13 of 30 (880 views)
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1237 [In reply to] Can't Post

1237

MERLWYND
Bard's case to Thorin


Bond-Of-Blood
Rivendell


Oct 2 2010, 11:15am

Post #14 of 30 (883 views)
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12** [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
1237


Mwahahahaha... Tongue


Seanwise
The Shire

Oct 2 2010, 5:45pm

Post #15 of 30 (857 views)
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NZ TV news report is hopeful [In reply to] Can't Post

NZ news report says NZEA having top level discussions and resolution is nearing...

http://tvnz.co.nz/entertainment-news/hopes-resolution-in-hobbit-squabble-3815238/video


Tim
Tol Eressea


Oct 2 2010, 5:57pm

Post #16 of 30 (844 views)
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Good report also on the NZ actors not in agreement with the boycott [In reply to] Can't Post

Guess they're not afraid of letting their voices be heard.

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


Kangi Ska
Half-elven


Oct 2 2010, 10:16pm

Post #17 of 30 (836 views)
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Pete & Fran met with NZ Actors Equity Friday [In reply to] Can't Post

http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/film/4192640/Jackson-union-discuss-Hobbit-row

Kangi Ska In 3-D

Make the Hobbit Happen Now please!

Photobucket


squire
Half-elven


Oct 2 2010, 10:41pm

Post #18 of 30 (825 views)
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Not quite [In reply to] Can't Post

If I understand the article, Jackson and Walsh met with the heads of the Council of Trades Unions (CTU), not the New Zealand Actors Equity organization. The CTU, I guess, is New Zealand's equivalent of the US AFL/CIO, a general organization of all unions in the country.

Jackson's position regarding NZ Actors Equity, who say they want to meet with just him about just The Hobbit, is quite right: he won't make precedent-setting agreements for his film alone. If NZ Actors Equity is going to become a real union that represents NZ actors, it will have to make that deal with SPADA, the producers' organization. As Jackson's spokesman notes, not every producer is making a multi-million dollar global blockbuster, and any union contracts with actors will have to accommodate the general run of much smaller productions that give most NZ actors their day-to-day livings.

It is interesting to see the detail about the NZ Actors Equity's 18-month "refusal" to talk to SPADA, which many here had mocked as showing the so-called union's duplicity. It seems that NZAE wanted to discuss a union contract, which would involve the producers recognizing NZAE both as a union, and as one empowered to negotiate for all NZ actors. But SPADA, acknowledging that NZAE actually does represent an important minority of prominent NZ actors, would only discuss alterations or modifications in the existing non-binding "guidelines" that currently govern actors' working conditions in non-union NZ. It seems that both sides "refused" to talk to the other unless on its own terms, with each thus claiming that the other side was acting in bad faith by refusing to talk!

Typical stuff, during a drive by labor to organize an unorganized industry. And indicative of just why NZAE waited to make its next move until The Hobbit actually neared production, knowing that its only leverage to break the deadlock was the international prominence of Jackson's very out-of-the-ordinary film.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Kangi Ska
Half-elven


Oct 3 2010, 12:03am

Post #19 of 30 (824 views)
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Sorry I really did not get to read the article. [In reply to] Can't Post

Came across it just as I was leaving for work and wanted to share it.

Kangi Ska In 3-D

Make the Hobbit Happen Now please!

Photobucket


Patty
Immortal


Oct 3 2010, 12:45am

Post #20 of 30 (808 views)
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Reading the petition signers' comments is interesting... [In reply to] Can't Post

I must need to get a life!Heart


76.Daniel Falconer Film and TV Designer in Wellington - I support our actors seeking parity, they're worth it, but jeopardising all of our livelihoods in this industy like this is not right.

Quote from Daniel Falconer...

Permanent address: Into the West

Must. Have. The Precious! Give us the Blu-ray Ultimate Box Set!



Tim
Tol Eressea


Oct 3 2010, 12:47am

Post #21 of 30 (809 views)
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What's this "Life"? [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes I'm glad all voices are being heard in this.

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


Patty
Immortal


Oct 3 2010, 12:48am

Post #22 of 30 (811 views)
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and another... [In reply to] Can't Post

124.jed brophy please don't do this to our Industry

Permanent address: Into the West

Must. Have. The Precious! Give us the Blu-ray Ultimate Box Set!



Iolite
The Shire

Oct 3 2010, 2:19am

Post #23 of 30 (791 views)
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...and some other notable names... [In reply to] Can't Post

Dan Hennah - Production Designer on the Hobbit
Chris Hennah - Art Dept. Manager on the Hobbit
Phil Ivey - Production Designer on District 9
Kim Sinclair - Art Director and Oscar winner on Avatar
Alex Funke - Miniatures Director of Photography on LOTR and presumably the Hobbit


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Oct 3 2010, 6:27am

Post #24 of 30 (779 views)
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"... seen by some as a sort of job application" [In reply to] Can't Post

From the only page viewed so far:


Quote

1244. ... Im 6'4", 120kgs, fulltime student, if Sir Peter ever needed help Id do it for the food and accomodation. Shortland Street refugees need to get a grip.



Kangi Ska
Half-elven


Oct 3 2010, 6:52am

Post #25 of 30 (761 views)
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Some of us would pay to be on the shoot.// [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Kangi Ska In 3-D

Make the Hobbit Happen Now please!

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