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Clipshow – Jackson’s bad faith posturing

Written By: - Date published: 10:37 am, December 29th, 2010 - 12 comments
Categories: capitalism, clipshow, film, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

First published, 21st October 2010, after Peter Jackson first claimed the Actors’ Equity blacklisting of the Hobbit had created a serious risk that the production would move abroad.

Over the last couple of weeks Actors Equity has been quietly negotiating for a minimum standards contract for the Hobbit.

Things were looking good. So good in fact that the union had agreed to withdraw advice to their members that they don’t sign. They even drew up a joint statement to announce this. A statement that was drawn up with the producers, finalised last Sunday and was to be released early this week. As I understand it this statement was co-written with Peter Jackson himself.

Last night Jackson, and other employer reps decided to launch a broadside attack on the union claiming they had single handedly destroyed the New Zealand film industry and that the film is likely to go overseas. These claims have been widely reported verbatim.

But as Gordon Campbell points out, the real issue is much bigger than a few local actors wanting conditions in line with those of the overseas workers they’ll be working alongside. It’s about the tax breaks available to the industry – tax breaks that are half of some of those being offered by competing countries.

Unsurprisingly Gerry Brownlee, who has had been party to the negotiations, sounded sick on Morning Report this morning. He had a weak crack at claiming our “flexible” labour laws were what attracted the film industry here and avoided the tax question quite obviously. But, unusually for Brownlee, he didn’t even sound like he believed his own words.

AE is a small union up against a powerful corporation and they could have done a better job of a lot of things including getting their message out but the kind of bad faith and aggression that has been shown by Jackson and his team is astounding and cynical and sets a new low for employment relations in New Zealand.

12 comments on “Clipshow – Jackson’s bad faith posturing”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    It would be nice if this, and other clipshow posts had a line at the top that said the original publication date, and perhaps a note on any other pertinent framing context, eg “this was published after event X but before event Y happened”.

  2. nilats 2

    Spin all you like, the union action put the filming in danger to an extent that Hollywood could flex their muscles.

    • Talk about spin …

      BTW there is this really good bridge I am trying to sell. Much of Auckland’s population goes over it every day. Want to have a look?

    • Frank Macskasy 2.2

      nilats 2 – “Spin all you like, the union action put the filming in danger to an extent that Hollywood could flex their muscles.”

      You really believe the anti-Union spin and propaganda that came out from Warner Bros, Peter Jackson, and National?

      Oh my.

      Perhaps you might re-think your naive beliefs if you consider Jackson’s own words;

      “…on October 18, Sir Peter said the boycott had nothing to do with the movies potentially moving overseas.

      “There is no connection between the blacklist (and it’s eventual retraction) and the choice of production base for The Hobbit,” he wrote.

      “What Warners requires for The Hobbit is the certainty of a stable employment environment and the ability to conduct its business in such as way that it feels its $500 million investment is as secure as possible.”” – More: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10695662

      The truth is that, as a nation, we were played like chumps. And what is more saddening is that New Zealanders aided and abetted a foreign corporation in our own shafting.

  3. We now know Jackson was lying to extort more money and a law change but Irish called it at the time

    We now know Jackson lied to bring in a good couple hundred million into the local economy, keep film workers off the dole for a few years while clearing up the grey areas between contractors and employees on film sets and guaranteeing NZ is still a first choice option for big budget movies…

    …oh and give the slack unions a bit of a wake up call in getting their shit together before turning up to a knifefight with a spoon

    the end justified the means

    FIFY… :P

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      lolz mate. Good points. Nevertheless I think you missed the obvious point: tax payers are now further subsiding the business activities of a half billionaire when The Hobbit – and hence many of the benefits you mentioned – wasn’t realistically going anywhere. Despite the PR spin (lies?) from Jackson et al.

      I do agree with you though – I believe that the incident will eventually prove to be a helpful short sharp shock for the union movement, and specifically for Actors Equity.

    • We now know Jackson lied to bring in a good couple hundred million into the local economy, keep film workers off the dole for a few years while clearing up the grey areas between contractors and employees on film sets and guaranteeing NZ is still a first choice option for big budget movies

      Nah he just lied so he and his Warner mates could get more money. And Brownlee and Key lied so they could remain popular. The film was not going to move. Please read the Jackson to Brownlee email and understand it, especially the bit where Jackson says

      “There is no connection between the blacklist (and it’s eventual retraction) and the choice of production base for The Hobbit … ”

      Aren’t you even slightly upset?

      • pollywog 3.2.1

        “There is no connection between the blacklist (and it’s eventual retraction) and the choice of production base for The Hobbit … ”

        Aren’t you even slightly upset?

        From that, I understand the production base was never in doubt, but the movie going ahead was. It was just expedient to push the ‘moving offshore’ angle.

        and no, not even the slightest bit upset…why should i be ?

        Seems like you’re more than slightly envious though. Why is that ?

  4. i still reckon the return is worth the subsidy if only in cultural capital and yep…that Sir P of J should spread his wealth around a bit more than he has. Plenty of time for that though.

    when you think of how many times the hobbit has dodged a bullet in finally getting green lighted, it’s a wonder it’s getting made at all…must have been a close call for warners not to cut their losses ?

    and fuck those slimy fork tongued devils Gerry the Hut and Smile ‘n’ Wave, conspiring behind the scenes to upstage the unions and further promote brand Key…a pox on both of them !!!

  5. Drakula 5

    Were Warner Brothers really going to move overseas ? or was it a bit of a pantomime? And what about mining the national parks? Was that a bit of a pantomime? Similar stratigies don’t you think? You know the old text book; thesis vs antithesis = Synthesis.

    A pity Wikileaks didn’t get the Jackson/Key cables isn’t it.

    Actors Equity would be well and truely vindicated!!!!!!

  6. tc 6

    Fundamentally this is about the chief dealer clocking up a few more smile’n wave points by getting to toss other peoples rhetoric around like he understands those grown up words and tossing in other peoples money (ours) to his good old mates in big business so no change there, business as usual.

  7. Marjorie Dawe 7

    I just found this really interesting opinion piece in The Herald today. John Drinnan has recognised that the media and their “role in reporting that battle – and their one-sided, naive and simplistic coverage of the dispute was shameful.

    With a few honourable exceptions – notably this paper – many in the media unquestioningly backed producers’ versions of events and whipped up hysteria in a manner reminiscent of the 1951 waterfront dispute. Not the media’s finest hour.”
    Here is the link for the article.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10697724

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