As fans of The Hobbit scanned the red carpet at the film’s premiere in Wellington last night, some New Zealand activists are still bitter about the outcome of a failed unionization attempt in 2010, even as NZ Actors Equity is finally making progress in negotiations with the country’s producers association.
Meanwhile, the government continues to resist publicly disclosing a key legal report, despite having apparently provided copies to Warner Bros. and producer/director Peter Jackson’s Wingnut Films. That stance may change, as government officials are meeting on the matter December 5, according to a local press report.
“I’m bloody angry,” said NZAE vice president Phil Darkins at a conference last week at Victoria University. Referring to New Zealand’s uniquely non-unionized film industry, he said caustically “New Zealand is the only English speaking nation on the planet where professional performers ply their trade at the mercy of their lords and masters. And they are supposed to do this feeling nothing but enormous gratitude for the fact that there is even work available.”
In an email to The Hollywood Reporter, a NZAE organizer struck a different note. “We're having productive discussions with SPADA,” said Anna Majavu, referring to the country’s Screen Production and Development Association, “and look forward to reaching a mutually-agreeable conclusion.”
Details: The Hollywood Reporter.
New! Check out “The New Zealand Hobbit Crisis,” available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about entertainment labor. You can also follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook. If you work in tech, take a look at my book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Posted by Jonathan Handel at 8:21 PM
Sunday, November 25, 2012
My new book, The New Zealand Hobbit Crisis, is out on Amazon in paper (http://amzn.to/SiHUX2) and Kindle (http://amzn.to/UG7q7F). Check it out. Here's the description:
Essential reading for Hobbit fans and labor/globalization academics alike, THE NEW ZEALAND HOBBIT CRISIS looks back at an attempt to unionize actors on The Hobbit that blew up into a national crisis, driving down the NZ dollar and leading the Prime Minister and Parliament to dance to a Hollywood tune.
All was not well in Middle-earth . . .
After the third Lord of the Rings movie premiered in 2003, fans of the series eagerly anticipated production and release of its prequel, The Hobbit. It turned out they had a while to wait, as a series of troubles delayed production for years: lawsuits, studio bankruptcy, and ejection of producer/director Peter Jackson.
Then, in September 2010, when almost everything seemed resolved, U.S. and international actors unions issued a public alert advising their members “not to accept work on this non-union production.”
In THE NEW ZEALAND HOBBIT CRISIS (Hollywood Analytics; Nov. 22, 2012; paper USD $7.99; Kindle USD $4.99), entertainment attorney and Hollywood Reporter journalist Jonathan Handel shows how the two-month affair that began with local actors attempting to organize The Hobbit ended with a smackdown from U.S.-based Warner Bros. The studio managed to . . . well, let’s not spoil what for many will be a surprise. Suffice it to say that by the end, one member of Parliament said that Warners had “reduced New Zealand to a client state of a U.S. movie studio” while another said the country had become victim of a “shakedown.”
But how did an American multinational company all but subjugate a sovereign nation? THE NEW ZEALAND HOBBIT CRISIS tells the tale. Warner Bros. threatened to rip the troubled production from the country and events quickly spiraled out of control. New Zealand plunged into crisis. Saving the Hobbit was do or die for the local film industry, and the government scrambled to avoid disaster.
Protests and rallies erupted and the island nation’s currency fell on the possibility of losing the half-billion dollar project. Director Peter Jackson vowed to “fight like hell” to keep the shoot in New Zealand. But then studio executives flew in from Los Angeles like colonial masters ready to bring down the hammer.
What happened next was almost unbelievable – and proved, if nothing else, that not all Hollywood drama is on the screen.
Also check out “Hollywood on Strike!,” available on Amazon in pb and Kindle. Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about entertainment labor. You can also follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook. If you work in tech, take a look at my book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets. -->
Posted by Jonathan Handel at 2:14 AM
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
VFX artist Luis Pages says Lucasfilm Singapore promised inaccurately that he’d have broad medical insurance if he relocated to Singapore for a job with the company – but then fired him without explanation after his wife’s pregnancy turned medically difficult, and withheld salary.
“I think they fired me because of my wife's pregnancy and because of how upset sending her away made me and my co workers feel,” Pages told The Hollywood Reporter.
It’s not the first time Lucasfilm has faced an accusation involving pregnancy: in 2010, the company lost a pregnancy discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit in Marin County. A company spokesman told THR the case is currently being appealed.
In addition, Pages says he’s heard even worse experiences than his own, of Lucasfilm Singapore employees going bankrupt due to pregnancy-related complications that ignite multi-hundred thousand dollar medical bills.
Details: The Hollywood Reporter.
Check out “Hollywood on Strike!,” available on Amazon in pb and Kindle. Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about entertainment labor. You can also follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook. If you work in tech, take a look at my book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets. -->
Posted by Jonathan Handel at 12:05 AM