Production locations, unions detrimental to creative worker

31Oct11

In Chapter 13 of MMW, Perren (2011) discusses the role film and television unions or guilds play in the job structure of creatives working in the film and television industry. What was interesting in this section was the fact that AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers), an organization representing the interests of major media conglomerates, has taken advantage of the project-based structure of the film and TV industry in order to weaken the power of unions and their members. This article from The Wrap discusses how the unions are actually further hindering members as well. In Chapter 6 of Media Work, Deuze discusses the traditional locations or hubs of film and TV production are shifting from California to states and countries offering enormous tax breaks to movie producers. As a result, members of unions located in California have signed contracts forcing them to stay in LA as opposed to following the production work wherever it may go. Because of the shift in production locations, media organizations have gained even more ground at weakening the power unions or guilds may have once played in determining more structure in an industry comprised mostly of project-based freelancers.

For example, the article quotes an anonymous unit production manager (UPM) who states, “I’ve got a relationship with a sound mixer, who’s saying, I’m dying to work. I will come to Louisiana, and I will work for you at any rate that you want, but he can’t. If you are tied to a West Coast local you cannot go to another place and be hired as a local. Your contract will follow you, and that contract reads that you must be on a distant location rate and you must get hotel and per diem, and you must work at the minimum rates provided for in your local contract,” (Schruers, 2011). The anonymous UPM ultimately concludes with one of the many important themes of this week’s assigned reading proclaim: regardless of location, creative workers in the film and TV industries are freelancers who work on a project-by-project basis without protection from a strong union or long-term contract. He continues, “Union contracts are structured so that people are hired on a daily basis so that you have the ability to fire them anytime you want to during the day before 4 o’clock in the afternoon. That gives them enough to time to get another job the next day. That’s how contracts are written.”

-Chris G

Source: Schruers, F. (2011, October 23). Production Manager: ‘I Used to Wander Through Musso & Frank’s to Get Work. Not Today’. TheWrap.com. Retrieved October 31, 2011, from http://www.thewrap.com/movies/article/film-production-manager-jobs-dearth-virtually-no-pictures-being-shot-locally-31988.

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