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Q&A on The Hobbit

Written By: - Date published: 11:30 am, October 28th, 2010 - 83 comments
Categories: business, tax, Unions, workers' rights - Tags: , , ,

Q. What were the actors asking for?

A. Actors in NZ are usually employed as independent contractors. They have a set of guidelines (The Pink Book) which set out the standard conditions for the employment of actors, but this is a guideline only and not enforceable.

Actor’s Equity have outlined the following areas as causes of concern: minimum fees, conditions of engagement, professional protections and residuals.

In lay terms, there is no minimum that you can pay a NZ actor and no minimum working conditions. A contract can be terminated at any time with no obligation to pay out the contract. ‘Residuals’ are a bit like royalties – they are payments to someone for their work when it is used again after the original showing (such as releasing a movie on DVD).

For the most part, the Kiwi industry is made up of low-budget, no-budget and modest-budget productions, so these conventions have worked for actors for some time. But things are changing. Big budget international productions have been filming more and more in NZ – examples being LOTR, The Last Samurai, Spartacus and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

It’s not so acceptable for these large budget productions to play by the same rules as a modest-budget Kiwi production. Especially when they employ international actors on much better conditions to do similar work on the same production.

Actor’s Equity wanted to address these issues with the makers of The Hobbit. The producers came out saying that the union was not registered in NZ and that contractors can’t bargain collectively. That didn’t need to be an obstacle however.

From Actor’s Equity on 1 October 2010 below:

“Advice we have received today from Miriam Dean QC, a senior barrister specialising in competition law, confirms our views that:
•       “There’s no legal impediment to negotiating fair wages and terms for actors taken on as employees.
•       “Nothing in the Act prohibits us from having some meaningful engagement with the producers on non-price terms for actors taken on as independent contractors, such as rolling credits to acknowledge New Zealand actors’ input into the movie.
•       “Nor does the Act prohibit us from discussing pricing in general terms with the producers to enable us to help our independent contractor members in their individual negotiations with producers.  The Union accepts that these could only be recommended prices – nothing more.”

The union accepted that there would be no formal collective agreement bargained by the union. As they point out, there is nothing in the law to stop the union having a meeting with the producers to argue their piece and have the producers voluntarily offer improved conditions to the actors.

Q. How did it all go so wrong?

A. The first approaches to the producers appear to have been through FIA (The International Federation of Actors) an international collective of actor’s collectives from around the world. The letters they sent to the production company do demand a union-negotiated collective agreement or a blacklist will apply. These demands don’t sit easily with NZ’s situation, where most actors are contractors and are not allowed to bargain collectively. What FIA was asking for seems to have been nothing short of bringing NZ fully into line with the situation in other countries, where film industry work is highly unionized.

However, if the producers had discussed the situation with the union, then the issues could have been clarified and worked through a lot earlier.

Q. Was the dispute ever a credible threat to the production going ahead?

A. In the early stages, yes. The support of international unions including the US Screen Actors Guild for the blacklisting meant that the dispute could have halted the production of The Hobbit.

However, the international blacklist has been lifted. Actor’s Equity have resolved their dispute and have guaranteed that no further industrial action will disrupt The Hobbit.

There seemed to be an agreement between Warner Bros and Actor’s Equity that it was all settled, until Peter Jackson announced that the studio was thinking of moving the production overseas due to the now-settled dispute.

Q. How scared could Warner Bros really be of a small Kiwi union?

A. Warner Bros has been engaged in industrial action with much bigger, scarier unions than NZ. The most recent major action being the Writer’s Guild strike in America in 2008, which was also about residuals.

These are some of the other major strikes engaged in by the US film industry:
•  2000 Commercial actors strike, almost six months.
•  1988 Writers Guild of America strike, 22 weeks.
•  1987 Directors strike, 3 hours and 5 minutes.
•  1985 Writers strike, two weeks.
•  1981 Writers Guild of America strike, three months.
•  1980 Actors strike, three months.
•  1960 Actors strike, led by SAG President Ronald Reagan, six weeks.
•  1952 Actors strike, two and a half months.
•  1945 Set decorators Hollywood Black Friday strike, six months.
•  1942–44 Musicians’ strike, thirteen months plus.
•  1941 Disney animators’ strike, five weeks.

During the Writer’s Guild strike, the financial impact on the studios of accepting the writer’s demands was assessed as ‘negligible’ and that the studios were afraid that a settlement would ’embolden directors and actors in their coming renegotiations’.

The American alliance of producers, AMPTP used the following strategy:

“Fabiani & Lehane’s strategy appeared to be to try to weaken the WGA membership’s resolve and foment resentment and doubt regarding WGA leadership within its ranks and in the film industry at large, especially with below-the-line workers [technical crew], by framing the strike as “havoc… wreaked… by the WGA’s actions” (paraphrased) and by blaming the WGA for “start[ing] this strike”.”

A major difference in the WGA strike appears to be that the public actually supported the writers, rather than the studios:

“One national survey conducted by Pepperdine University from November 7 to November 9 found that…nearly two-thirds of the sample sided with the writers, one third was unsure, and only four percent sympathized with the AMPTP (1,000 American adults participated). A second regional poll conducted by SurveyUSA on November 11 of Los Angeles residents indicated that eight percent supported the studios with sixty-nine percent supporting the writers (550 American adults participated, with 482 identifying themselves as being familiar with the strike).”

Q. Was the Warner Bros decision to consider other locations the result of the NZ actor’s industrial action?

A. The issues that Warner Bros took to the NZ Govt appear to have been the following:

* Clarification over the Bryson case – where a contractor successfully claimed to have actually been an employee and entitled to the protections given to employees.
* The appreciation of the NZ dollar against the US dollar, which makes it more expensive to film in NZ
* The size of the tax breaks given by the Government to big budget film productions.

The first point is only tangentially relevant to the Actor’s Equity dispute, and the other two points are completely unrelated.

Q. Did the actor’s industrial dispute give Warner Bros an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have had to renegotiate tax breaks?

A. Warner Bros could already have been agitating behind the scenes for increased tax breaks, but the actor’s industrial dispute unquestionably gave them the opportunity to increase their leverage by threatening to leave NZ if they didn’t get what they wanted.

However, the actors cannot be blamed for this. Warner Bros exploiting them to gain an advantage is not their fault.

– Blue

83 comments on “Q&A on The Hobbit”

  1. Sufi Safari 1

    I disagree with you on the final point. Perhaps not the actors, but NZAE and MEAA should absolutely be blamed for giving Warner Bros an opportunity to improve their position. It was clear from day one of the boycott hitting the front pages that it was a bad option, and if NZAE and MEAA had been at all competent it should have been pretty clear to them that it was a bad option before they took it.

    I have no love for exploitative industry, but at the same time as decrying Warner Bros we should be holding NZAE and MEAA to account for their amateur hour approach to playing hard ball with a major studio. With any luck they’ll learn their lesson from the debacle and will end up better equipped to negotiate with SPADA, lobby the Government and Opposition and be an effective voice for their members.

  2. smhead 2

    New game for today: Let’s count how many times a leftie calls it an “already settled labour dispute”.

    You guys need to hire Crosby Textor. If you are going to use blatant propaganda like that at least get the experts in to finesse it a little.

    • SMhead.

      Guest post presents a reasoned analysis backed by considerable factual information and you brand it as “blatant propaganda”.

      Is there a chance that you could indicate which facts are not admitted and why an alternative analysis is appropriate?

      Or are you just trolling?

    • Colonial Viper 2.2

      It was all about tax breaks and breaking the union. Nothing more, nothing less.

      NZ workers deserve the same rights to negotiate as workers in successful, established film making countries like Australia, US, Canada, UK and Ireland.

      Instead we got ourselves a sell out corporately complicit Government.

      • Joe Bloggs 2.2.1

        what a complete misrepresentation Wormtongue – disingenuous mischievous nonsense – and typical of a species that spends its whole life crawling on its belly.

        • Colonial Viper 2.2.1.1

          Australia, US, Canada, UK and Ireland have successful longstanding film industries.

          Our workers deserve the same rights to negotiate as workers in those countries, if not more.

          Perhaps you should back your fellow NZ workers for a change instead of backing the foreign money.

          • Joe Bloggs 2.2.1.1.1

            Australia, US, Canada, UK and Ireland have successful longstanding film industries.

            Colonial Viper’s raised this smokescreen a few times now – successful, longstanding film industries.

            Take a moment to look at each in turn:

            Canada, a country of 33.3m people produces around C$3.3bn in film and television programmes. That’s around NZ$130 a year for every man, woman and child. The Canadian industry faces huge financing problems and the output of productions has dropped by nearly 50% in the past 50 years. The CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival believes the industry is financially unviable

            UK value their industry at 4.3bn stg – including revenues, merchandising and tourism. That’s NZ$149 per man, woman and child – but includes the value of merchandising and tourism on top of production revenues. According to the UK Film Council the industry is underfinanced, under-resourced, suffers from poor quality outputs and doesn’t investment in new talent.

            The Irish industry is worth 550m euros and is the only country from CV’s list that remotely approaches NZ’s industry. The Irish industry generates NZ$230 a year per capita. This is the only significant success story of the Western European film industries.

            The much-vaunted Australian industry is in a crisis. It generates A$2bn a year in revenues, less than NZ$125 a year per capita. SPAA notes that the industry is devoid of artistic merit in its productions, significantly underfinanced, and suffers from a destabilised workforce.

            At $2.9bn in 2009, the NZ industry generates $675 per man, woman and child in NZ. In the group singled out by CV NZ stands, head, shoulders, and chest above the rest.

            That’s why I back the foreign money – because it brings a shitload more to NZ than to other countries – and that’s why I support the workers who benefit from filming continuing to be based in NZ – because the workers benefit.

            And that’s why I think the unions have behaved like a large bunch of burst arseholes throughout this fiasco – because they seriously jeopardised the successful, longstanding local industry with their ideological brain-fart of a boycott.

            captcha: owed – an apology from Simon “Washed my hands of the whole sordid affair and scuttled back to Australia” Whipp

            • The Baron 2.2.1.1.1.1

              Thanks Joe for adding to the relatively impartial analysis above with some real hard facts, instead of the vacant fanboyism of Gleg and CV.

              Really guys, just cos a Union said it, doesn’t meant its true.

              And as for this “supporting NZ workers” meme of yours, CV – I’m supporting the 1,500 non union members that the 80 member Actors Equity wouldn’t side with. Looks like you support the team more than the players – bit of a shame your such a hypocrite really.

        • Jim Nald 2.2.1.2

          Yup, agree that Wormtongue reference sums up the current prime ministership.

    • The Voice of Reason 2.3

      Yeah, CT are the experts all right, Smeggy. They’re that good they managed to lose John Howard not only an election, but his own blue ribbon seat. Blue has done a great summary of the situation, have you got anything intelligent to say about the post or are just into public self abuse?

  3. tsmithfield 3

    Only two words for the unions on this one.

    Own Goal.

    • Joe Bloggs 3.1

      and three words for the next elections:

      Remember The Hobbit

    • And one word for Warners/Jackson

      Caching

    • Colonial Viper 3.3

      I guess thats what you get when Jackson blackmails his own country for more taxpayers money, and Key sees an opportunity to break down our employment law for foreign interests. The meeting of like minds.

      As if Warners was ever going to film the Hobbit in the middle of a frigid Irish winter, instead of in in NZ brilliant summer light. We got sold down the river.

  4. Joe Bloggs 4

    SPADA’s illuminating email on MEAA – Liars, damned liars and Simon Whipp:

    http://thestandard.org.nz/the-price-of-our-hysteria/#comment-264668

    now this makes for illuminating reading – a comprehensive 11 point arsehole ripping of the MEAA’s inflamatory actions and barefaced lies. Should be obligatory reading for those who seek to defend the MEAA.

    Hattip to Infused

  5. Speaking Sense to Unions 5

    “As if Warners was ever going to film the Hobbit in the middle of a frigid Irish winter, instead of in in NZ brilliant summer light.”

    I think even in the Northern Hemisphere summer follows winter and if you knew anything about film making you might know that NZ’s ever-changing light makes shooting here quite challenging.

    There’s also things called “studios” and “green screens”, they probably have them in Ireland.

  6. tsmithfield 6

    Great link Joe. Just shows exactly why Warners had justifiable reasons not to want to deal with these people.

  7. The Voice of Reason 7

    Thanks for the summary, Blue, it’s a good read. I was struck by the similarity of the bosses response to the ’88 writers strike to the response here. Undermine the union, lie about the facts. Add to that breaching good faith agreements, publicly dissing your bargaining partners, and, particularly, exaggerate the threat to the economy from the workers actions, even though you are the group making the threat. Add in a compliant Government and it’s an effective industrial coup. It’s classic stuff really.

    Out of all of this, I can’t help thinking that if the Actors had gone to a more mature and thinking union for advice and support, they would not have been done over like this. At the very least, a union like the EPMU would have had a bailout strategy for the possibility of the dispute going off the rails. And I don’t think they would have straight to the strike option without mounting a more engaging campaign first, both within the industry and with the wider public..

    • Anne 7.1

      @TvoR
      “… I can’t help thinking that if the Actors had gone to a more mature and thinking union for advice and support, they would not have been done over like this.”

      Andrew Little and Co. from the EPMU would never have fallen into the same trap. I hope it’s a big lesson for the Actors – and other related groups.

      It’s time another of the current establishment players was ‘done over’. I refer to John Barnett. Heard him on Nat Radio this morning describing AE as “those bloody actors who caused the whole thing”. What an arrogant bastard. They’re all coming out of the woodwork under NAct!

      • SHG 7.1.1

        AE did cause the whole thing. AE, through its representative Simon Whipp, called an international boycott on the Hobbit before requesting an illegal meeting.

  8. TightyRighty 8

    Sorry blue, who are you? and what the hell do you know? this isn’t a reputable post, this is just pro-union anti-employer spin. Why won’t you just accept the fact the unions and their puppets got smashed in the face with the big stick the unions usually like to wield? no one sees the unions or the actors represnting them as the victims in this, except of course the actors and unions the unions they represent.

  9. I see are studiously avoiding commenting on the contents of Blue’s post.

    Much easier to have a stab at ill informed and unmeasured “public perception” and rely on that.

  10. SHG 10

    The letters they sent to the production company do demand a union-negotiated collective agreement or a blacklist will apply

    Incorrect. The letters stated that A BLACKLIST WAS ALREADY IN EFFECT.

    Resolved, that the International Federation of Actors urges each of its affiliates to adopt instructions to their members that no member of any FIA affiliate will agree to act in the theatrical film The Hobbit until such time as the producer has entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance

    Resolution to impose boycott: fail

    Requirement for illegal collective bargaining: fail

    Requirement to deal with an unregistered union (MEAA) with no legal right to negotiate: fail

    • The Baron 10.1

      Yup, why keep going when there’s a lie right up front. is that enough analysis for you Greg?

      • Richard 10.1.1

        If the unions were relevant to the negotiation they would have been at the negotiation table.

        The important negotiation was that between Warners and the government. The fact that the unions were not invited goes to show that they had sod all to do with it. The union was just a pretext.

  11. Bart 11

    Colonial viper, you idiot, do you really think natural light is what a movie\’s location is based on, or are all those lighting credits at the end of a movie just made up, like the unions arguements about this whole sorry saga!

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      Bart, you work in a cartoon, and as such I don’t expect you to know anything about natural light, or filming in fog/snow/winter storms in Ireland/UK as compared to the brilliant long summer hours of NZ daylight.

      • Speaking Sense to Unions 11.1.1

        CV, which movies have you done lighting on?

        You might be surprised to find they do actually make films in Ireland. A lot of the exterior material for Saving Private Ryan was shot there. I suppose Speilberg did make a huge mistake.

        Dealing with weather is not a new problem for the film industry and you might find that after winter comes summer plus on rain days they have back-up studio shoots.

        • lprent 11.1.1.1

          That was because a large portion of the scenes required dull and overcast weather. After all that is what most of the weather was like just after d-day.

          Why bother making such an silly statement? It is pretty nonsensical.

          • Speaking Sense to Unions 11.1.1.1.1

            you might find that they can shoot films in Ireland with sunshine as well. The sun does shine there. But how many films have you and CV done lighting on?

            Quick question – what sort of day is easier to shoot on, overcast or bright sunlight?

            • Roflcopter 11.1.1.1.1.1

              Much easier to shoot on an overcast day. It’s easier to add light than remove it.

              And Ireland/UK have some of the biggest and best sound stages available.

          • luva 11.1.1.1.2

            lprent…what makes you think The Hobbit will need bright sunshine as opposed to D-day type conditions

            • lprent 11.1.1.1.2.1

              Because it is easier to put filters on than it is to setup lights. That leaves more shooting time. The cameras themselves tend to capture less light than is available (pretty obvious if you think of the mechanics). When you get to post you can only fiddle with the recorded detail on the images. The more detail on the images you have, the easier it is to manipulate to what is required.

              Especially when you are going through those tedious transcriptions to all of the various formats with all of the various frame rates and colour transforms. Lyn has (from memory) about 8 different formats flying around the world to festivals based on what they can display. Each is a nightmare in it’s own right..

              Basically no one who has been near a edit suite or transcribing from masters wants anything less than the best light available. Articifical light is good, and really good at highlighting shadow features. But full on natural sunlight is cheap and usually more powerful here for overall lighting.

              Incidentially, in my personal view, directors are obsessional and producers are almost as bad (usually about the director)

              Besides, have you read the hobbit? There are some dark sections, but a lot is in sunlight.

  12. James 12

    “However, if the producers had discussed the situation with the union, then the issues could have been clarified and worked through a lot earlier.”

    This is incorrect. The VERY FIRST request for a meeting with Peter Jackson was made on the 17th August AFTER the boycott had already been enacted.

    This has been confirmed, in writing on the MEAA’s own ‘hobbit factsheet’ which is on their website.

    How could they work through the situation before that when no one had EVER actually asked for a meeting first?

    The Union never bothered working through the legal issues, they just charged right out and did it.

    It’s crazy. And that’s why this whole horrible mess happened.

    If you want to blame anyone, the Actor’s Union deserves a VERY large portion of it.

    Oh, and from the MEAA’s latest email to their members, they seem to be lying to their members about it as well.

    Nice.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      This has been confirmed, in writing on the MEAA’s own ‘hobbit factsheet’ which is on their website.

      No link, no truth. Please point us the way good James.

      • James 12.1.1

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

        Read the August 17 letter VERY CAREFULLY. The boycott was in effect, before the first letter on August 17th.

        There are emails out in the public between Frances Walsh of AE and Peter Jackson confirming that the August 17th letter was their first communication with Peter Jackson or his company. It is also confirmed in a letter from the MEAA/AE to its members that was leaked 2 days ago:

        http://publicaddress.net/system/topic,2769,hard-news-anatomy-of-a-shambles.sm?p=187587#post187587

        This email has been confirmed to be legitimate. You can probably request a copy if you want to try. I know SPADA have one, but you might be able to get it direct from Actor’s Equity.

        The emails between Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh of Actor’s Equity were first leaked here:

        http://publicaddress.net/system/topic,2769,hard-news-anatomy-of-a-shambles.sm?p=187715#post187715

        FW is indicating in the ‘over a month ago’ line confirms the first letter was 17th August.

        • Colonial Viper 12.1.1.1

          I don’t quite get your time line here. It clashes with many reports which say the boycott was activated by the SAG and other unions on Sept 24, essentially 5 weeks *after* your claim of a pre Aug 17 activation e.g.:

          Variety magazine says the boycott was initiated Sept 24.
          http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118026048.html?categoryid=13&cs=1&nid=2562

          This Sept 26 Reuters article announces the boycott as new news.
          http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE68Q03820100927

          The LA Times writes on Sept 27 that an industrial dispute has ‘erupted’
          http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2010/09/labor-dispute-erupts-over-the-hobbit.html

          Basically the union was stonewalled for at least 5 weeks by the studios and/or Jackson before the global boycott actually came into effect.

          Read the August 17 letter VERY CAREFULLY. The boycott was in effect, before the first letter on August 17th.

          In conclusion, no it wasn’t, you are wrong.

          • SHG 12.1.1.1.1

            DATE: 17 August 2010
            TO: Directors, 3 Foot 7 Limited
            FROM: International Federation of Actors
            (…)
            Recently, The International Federation of Actors (FIA) became aware that the production of “The Hobbit” intends to hire performers under non-union contracts.

            For this reason FIA, at its most recent meeting, unanimously passed the following motion: “Resolved, that the International Federation of Actors urges each of its affiliates to adopt instructions to their members that no member of any FIA affiliate will agree to act in the theatrical feature film “The Hobbit” until such time as the producer has entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance for production in New Zealand providing for satisfactory terms and conditions for all performers employed on the production”.

            FIA therefore encourages you to meet immediately with representatives of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance in order to reach an agreement covering all performers engaged on this production.

            In the first instance could you please make contact with Simon Whipp of the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance on 612 9333 0999 or via email: simon.whipp@alliance.org.au
            (…)

            Full text: http://www.scribd.com/doc/40284396/FIA-17-VIII-10-en

            That’s the union saying on August 17 that at its previous meeting it passed a boycott resolution. A meeting some time before August 17.

            • Speaking Sense to Unions 12.1.1.1.1.1

              don’t distract them with more facts, they’re still pondering whether or not the northern hemisphere has a summer.

              • lprent

                The northern hemisphere does have a summer.

                But the quality of light here is far more intense than it is in any continental or near continental climate. There is less airborne dust. It is the same reason why the sunburn times here are a *lot* shorter than anywhere near a continental area.

                Before you start being stupid and going off into the usual irrelevant fallacies. The ozone hole has no appreciable effect anywhere above the lower south island and lets through more UV with little difference to visible light. Tropical areas have a lot of moisture in the air which adsorbs a lot of UV and some visible light.

                The vast ocean around NZ makes the light here a lot sharper and clearer on film. It means quite a lot of difference when you’re shooting.

                Perhaps you should actually understand what you’re talking about before sprouting your nonsense.

                • Speaking Sense to Unions

                  how many films have you done lighting on?

                  you’re arguing that Warners would never shift the film to Ireland because of the weather, I’m curious about what you base that on.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Being intelligent? Not just having a brain but using it too?

                    you’re arguing that Warners would never shift the film to Ireland

                    Not never, just not in the next 6-8 months during the Irish winter, sleet, snow, storms, short murky daylight,…

                    • Speaking Sense to Unions

                      you know that a studio often has a roof?

                    • Speaking Sense to Unions

                      ok, you’ve got a brain

                      you’re on set and you’ve got 60 sec to make this decision:

                      it’s an interior day location shoot. Overcast skies and about to roll but the director now wants a shaft of sunlight.

                      The genny’s down, do you call for a diva, a source 4 or a 10k. The director also wants even exposure over a large room. How do you respond?

                  • lprent

                    None. But I have a degree in earth sciences so I understand climate factors. Of course my partner is a filmmaker who spends a large chunk of her time behind a camera.

                    • Speaking Sense to Unions

                      so your argument that Warner’s couldn’t relocate in time is based on knowldge of the film indusrty and that is what exactly? You haven’t said.

                • Speaking Sense to Unions

                  “…and lets through more UV with little difference to visible light.”

                  so you wouldn’t factor in UV light for a scenic long shot?

                  • lprent

                    The equipment doesn’t have UV capabilities. For some reason if we can’t see it then the film makers don’t think it is worth recording.

                    • Speaking Sense to Unions

                      film is actually sensitve to UV. If you want less haze you use a UV filter. If you want more you don’t.

                      we can’t see IR either but it is something film makers have to consider, hence hot mirrors.

                      So your argument is…?

                    • lprent []

                      As I said, filmmakers aren’t interested in shooting uv. Their equipment is designed to exclude it. Especially from film

                      So your point is? More nonsense from an fool trying sidetrack using antiqitated troll techniques from ACToid central as far as I can see…do you actually have anything substantive to say, or should I just ignore you as being too stupid to debate with?

                    • Speaking Sense to Unions

                      “As I said, filmmakers aren’t interested in shooting uv. Their equipment is designed to exclude it.’

                      well you actually said –

                      “The equipment doesn’t have UV capabilities.”

                      which is quite different.

                      The “equipment” does have UV “capabilities” because film is sensitive to UV. A film maker can decide to make an aesthetic choice of using the UV or not using it. It makes a significant differnce on how some scenic wide and long shots look.

                      some filters are designed exclude UV, cameras and lens are not and some film makers will use UV to give a certain quality to some shots.

                      If you have some argument that for logistical and/or aesthtic lighting reasons Warners could not reloacte in time then put it forward. So far you have shown no understanding of any of this.

                    • lprent []

                      I was referring to digital camera equipment. I haven’t seen anyone shoot on film for a quite a while. I notice you ignored my rather pointed reference to that and didn’t quote it? Why was that?

                      You haven’t shown yourself to be a person worth debating at this point. But consider this. One of the crucial features to getting a workable shooting schedule is to know before the start of the project where and when you are likely to be shooting. That takes time, and the pre has probably been going on here for quite some time. Quite a lot of it is required from what i understand for a feature film. As I understand it they haven’t started doing more than starting to look outside nz, and shooting is meant to be starting mere months away.

                    • Speaking Sense to Unions

                      digital equipment is also sensituve to UV, they have to have UV filters if you don’t want it.

                      Film making – “film”. Yes more is done on digital but still a lot is done on film and in both cases film makers have to make allowances for UV. In the case of digital they also have to make allowances for IR.

                      your quote –

                      “For some reason if we can’t see it then the film makers don’t think it is worth recording.”

                      completely wrong. Not just landscapes but flowers and clothing – with both film and digital equipment.

                    • Speaking Sense to Unions

                      Ok, so you don’t know very much about film lighting, camera equipment etc so now your agument is not about light but about organisational logistics and all it amounts to is your assertion that it couldn’t possibly be done.

                      Film is all about planning. Planning for the unexpected, weather, location changes. It’s all part of what film people do everyday. Large numbers of people are paid very well to make sure things happen on time. However you think you can make a judgement call on the basis of wild speculation.

                      Much like Helen Kelly you don’t know much about the film industry and that lack of knowledge had contributed to this disaster for the unions.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Film is all about planning. Planning for the unexpected, weather, location changes.

                    Jackson was never going to film The Hobbit in wintery, freezing Europe. Neither was Warner going to agree to a 6-8 month delay in shooting. As a country we were had, even if you argue that Jackson would have happily planned to film in Irish sleet as opposed to a brilliant clear NZ summer, in scenary which is a perfect match to the LOTR.

                    Much like Helen Kelly you don’t know much about the film industry and that lack of knowledge had contributed to this disaster for the unions.

                    Uh, just because its possible to technically overcome filming in snow or fog, does not mean that it is desirable.

                    Fact of the matter is we were had, and Jackson and Key double teamed the tax payer who got screwed proper.

                    • Speaking Sense to Unions

                      I’ll take you through things slowly.

                      In Europe you have winter, followed by spring followed by summer. In Ireland they have what are called in the film industry “studios”. A lot of the production will be done in studios and they will orgainise their shooting schedule so that when they can’t get the exterior locations they want they’ll shoot indoors.

                      When they need to shoot scenes that demand summer – not all of The Hobbit is set in summer – then they will shoot that in the European summer.

                      If they want specific NZ scenery they’ll use a B unit. No big deal.

                      NZ has a special quality of light but talk to some DOPs and they will tell you it can be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on what you want. It’s often dust in the atmosphere that they want to give an extra glow to sunsets.

                      And they’ll be using a DOP who has spent their career dealing with such issues, they get paid the big bucks to deal with light.

                      Where do you get this 6-8 months from?

                • Speaking Sense to Unions

                  Any advice for Andrew Lesnie on hot mirrors?

              • Colonial Viper

                Hey yeah it does, if Jackson and Warner Bros want to push back the release of their blockbuster by 6-8 months 😛

                • Speaking Sense to Unions

                  ?

                  They just reschedule if they have to. Shoot more location in the summer and more studio in the winter. They would have to do that in NZ. There’s always plans for poor weather on any movie with locations.

                  Working around the weather is not a new skill in the film industry and in NZ it is a particular problem because of the 4 seasons in 1 day nature of a lot of our weather.

                  Where do you get the 6-8 months from? Have you seen their shooting schedule?

                  • Colonial Viper

                    LOLz mate yeah ‘reschedule’ on a mmovie late already they would make it more late by 6-8 months?

                    I guess they could shoot indoors in Ireland through the whole of the european winter but *shrug* it was never on the cards except to blackmail the NZ tax payer.

                    Give up the brilliant long NZ summer light, and settings exactly the same as LOTR for an Irish fog which looks nothing like it? Never was gonna happen.

                    • Speaking Sense to Unions

                      Where do you get this 6-8 months from?

                      Are you aware of what portion of the film will be shot on location and what in studio? Are you aware that Ireland does have a summer when they can shoot the exterior location scenes?

                      And I presume you do know that quite a bit of what appears to be an exterior location actually isn’t or that if it is a lot of it has CGI.

            • Colonial Viper 12.1.1.1.1.2

              Hahaha urges a boycott != a boycott.

              Boycott did not occur for another 5 weeks during which time Jackson et al proved intractable in their corporate brinksmanship.

          • James 12.1.1.1.2

            You absolutely MUST be kidding. The letter on the MEAA website, sent by the MEAA on the 17 August says they’s instited the boycott, and you still won’t accept it.

            That’s just… you’re insane, right? You do realise that. IT’S RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU.

            And now we’re talking about the fucking weather in Ireland now, almost as if avoiding the issue. That’s all just… ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

            If people like you have anything to do with the Union movement, no wonder it’s f***ed.

            • IrishBill 12.1.1.1.2.1

              I think you need to take a couple of deep breaths there Jimmy.

            • Colonial Viper 12.1.1.1.2.2

              No boycott occurred until Sept 24. The letter is posturing to try and get Jackson to listen.

              Good frakin luck with that as we foubnd out.

              • James

                I’m sorry, but you’re wrong and you know it. It’s right there in black and white. You should be ashamed of yourself.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Sept 24th is the earliest entertainment media announcement of the global boycott having gone into actual effect.

                  As opposed to having been bandied around as a negotiation tactic.

                  You should be ashamed of yourself.

                  Meh, what does the self-moralising Right know?

                • Speaking Sense to Unions

                  James, it’s honestly not worth the effort. Most people have give up on The Standard as some sort of honest and intelligent Left-wing discusion forum. I only mess with them coz its morbidly funny.

                  Go over to Public Address and save your sanity.

                  If you’re Left-wing you’ll cheer up by mixing with nicer and brighter people, if you’re Right-wing you’ll actually debate people who appreciate facts.

      • The Baron 12.1.2

        Backing down now, CV? Or can you still spin this to suit your beloved Union, even though there were more real workers protesting against that Union than they have members?

        • Colonial Viper 12.1.2.1

          Oh, and you are wrong too.

          • The Baron 12.1.2.1.1

            Tally ho – am I also wrong about you supporting an 80 member union over 1,500 real workers – then claiming that you’re the one who is pro worker?

            No, you haven’t addressed that yet, have you. Sounds to me like your support for hard working kiwis really means support for lazy union bosses, who like to nosh it up at expensive restaurants and not actually respond to the people they purport to represent.

            Pigs in a trough, ruining jobs and lives. And that’s who you back over the real working men and women. Shame CV, shame.

            • Colonial Viper 12.1.2.1.1.1

              Good to see you backing foreign corporates and hundred millionaires over basic workers’ rights Baron. Nothing if not consistent.

              Equity an 80 member union? Meeep! Wrong AGAIN. This time only by a factor of 7, mind you.

              Last night, NZ Actors’ Equity, which has about 600 members, cancelled its Auckland meetings for safety reasons

              http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10682244

              Pigs in a trough, ruining jobs and lives.

              My friend, are you referring to the true fat NAT cats? Because a union organiser is a pretty averagely paid job and most of them do it because they are passionate about helping ordinary workers through difficult disadvantaged situations.

              And before I forget – gosh darn it, you are WRONG again.

  13. The bill is out and there is a major bug as identified by Charles Chauvel. He was incidentally one of the counsel involved in the Bryson case.

    Clause 4(2) of the bill says that the deeming provision (that film workers are contractors) does not apply “if the person is a party to, or covered by an employment agreement that provides that person is an enmployee”.

    So you still need to analyse the contract to see if it is an employment contract or not and if it is an employment then the amendment does not apply.

    If this argument holds the bill is toothless and does no more than reflect current law.

    The trouble is that when you rush things you invariably stuff it up.

    • The Baron 13.1

      Quick Greg, get on the wires – you and Charles have a scoop! Hell, if you ever get into the big house you could even pat him on the back for his good work, then go back to sitting on Goff’s lap like a good little dog.

      • mickysavage 13.1.1

        TB

        Before your lot trash parliamentary custom and muck around with employment law and use urgency again when it is not warranted you should at least make sure that what you are doing actually achieves what you intend to do.

        This is why the select committee process is so important. The problems could be sorted out.

        But this tory born to rule we know better stuff is a recipe for disaster.

        Watch lawyers rub their hands as a new avenue for litigation is opened up.

        And BTW you could address the points rather than engage in personal abuse.

        • ianmac 13.1.1.1

          Yes Micky. The abuse from some is in inverse proportion to the discussion of the issues. Must be important for the political game to have so many visitors here. Wonder why?

          • Jim Nald 13.1.1.1.1

            The tory spin machine is in overdrive to try to counteract the emerging true facts. The polls are telling them that Jonkey is looking shakey.

            • wtl 13.1.1.1.1.1

              And they continue do go on about how everyone in NZ supports the move by the government, even though opt-in polls, that are usually right-leaning, suggest people are very split on this issue. Perhaps they think that if they keep repeating to themselves that it is a clear win, it will come true.

            • Armchair Critic 13.1.1.1.1.2

              Ultimately this National government will come unstuck on its own contradictions, which are really starting to accumulate.

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  • Disability sector is in a ‘slow burning crisis’
    Disability advocates say the sector is in crisis and broken, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.  “A roundtable at Parliament organised by the Labour Party, heard today how National has left disability services chronically underfunded. ...
    10 hours ago
  • NZ fisheries depend on the environment – they should protect it
    The attitude of the fishing industry and the National Government to our oceans, and the life within it, still amazes me. Like many New Zealanders, I find it perplexing that an industry which depends entirely on the long-term health of ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    10 hours ago
  • Bigger is not always better with local government reform
    I have written previously about the overwhelming opposition expressed by local councils and community members to the latest Local Government reforms.  The Select Committee heard more submissions this week, specifically about some of the unintended consequences that may arise from ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    11 hours ago
  • Labour calls for state of emergency on homelessness
    Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford is calling on the Government to declare a state of emergency over the nation’s homelessness crisis. “There are 42,000 people homeless and living in severe housing stress while the National Government behaves like a possum ...
    1 day ago
  • Labour calls for state of emergency on homelessness
    Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford is calling on the Government to declare a state of emergency over the nation’s homelessness crisis. “There are 42,000 people homeless and living in severe housing stress while the National Government behaves like a possum ...
    1 day ago
  • Government must review state sector retirement investment
    The State Sector Retirement Savings Scheme has no business investing in companies which manufacture cluster bombs, anti-personnel mines and nuclear weapons, Labour MP and Parliamentarians for Global Action executive member Su’a William Sio says. “I endorse the call made by the ...
    3 days ago
  • Councils shouldn’t rush into Easter Trading
    City and district councils must ensure they don’t rush into trading on Easter Sunday ahead of local body elections next month, Labour’s Pacific Islands Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio says. “This decision must be taken seriously and only after extensive ...
    3 days ago
  • Minister can’t wash hands of illegal KiwiSaver investments
    The Minister responsible for appointing default KiwiSaver providers should take responsibility for ensuring they act legally, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The National Government has now had confirmed what they were told more than a week ago – that ...
    3 days ago
  • Fixing our broken economy
    Globally, the “neo-liberal” consensus is rapidly vanishing (I use quotation marks because there are some in Aotearoa who deny such a thing as neo-liberalism exists). Regardless of the debate around its meaning, neo-liberal is a useful descriptor for the general ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter
    3 days ago
  • Fixing our broken economy
    Globally, the “neo-liberal” consensus is rapidly vanishing (I use quotation marks because there are some in Aotearoa who deny such a thing as neo-liberalism exists). Regardless of the debate around its meaning, neo-liberal is a useful descriptor for the general ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter
    3 days ago
  • Government railroading Maori Land Bill through
    Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell seems determined to railroad his Te Ture Whenua Maori Bill through despite the large number of submitters in opposition to the bill, says MP Meka Whaitiri, whose Ikaroa-Rāwhiti electorate contains nearly 30 per cent ...
    3 days ago
  • A national day to commemorate NZ land wars
    It’s fantastic that the government has agreed to a hold a national day commemorating the New Zealand land wars. Announced at Kingi Tūheitia’s 10th koroneihana celebrations, alongside the return of Rangiriri Pā to the Kingitanga, the news marked a significant ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    4 days ago
  • A national day to commemorate NZ land wars
    It’s fantastic that the government has agreed to a hold a national day commemorating the New Zealand land wars. Announced at Kingi Tūheitia’s 10th koroneihana celebrations, alongside the return of Rangiriri Pā to the Kingitanga, the news marked a significant ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    4 days ago
  • Government turns a blind eye to struggling sole parents
    Social Development Minister Anne Tolley’s claims that her Government’s work with sole parents is her biggest success are in tatters after a major increase in homelessness amongst that group, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “Anne Tolley is seriously ...
    4 days ago
  • Time has come for state apology on abuse
    Labour is today calling on the Government to issue an apology for historic abuse in state institutions. Speaking after the launch of Elizabeth Stanley’s book “The Road to Hell; state violence against Children in Post-war New Zealand”, Labour’s Justice spokesperson ...
    4 days ago
  • It’s OK to have a few slaves, just not too many? Minimum wage loophole hasn’t gone away
    New Zealand still needs legislation to ensure adult New Zealanders are not exploited by being taken on as contractors for less than the equivalent of the minimum wage, says Labour list MP David Parker.  “My Minimum Wage (Contractor Remuneration) Amendment ...
    4 days ago
  • Lessons from the Future of Work Commission: Building Wealth from the Ground Up
    Good morning, and thank you for attending today’s Future of Work Seminar here in Wellington. I want to particularly acknowledge Beth Houston who has spent many hours pulling together the programme for today’s event, and to Olivier and the staff ...
    4 days ago
  • Cooking 4 Change at the Auckland City Mission
    On Tuesday evening I participated in the launch of the ‘Cooking 4 Change’ recipe book, which Metiria and I both contributed our favourite recipes to. Along with Dick Frizzell, Trelise Cooper, Tiki Taane, Erin Simpson, Jono & Ben, Colin Mathura-Jeffree, a couple ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    4 days ago
  • Cooking 4 Change at the Auckland City Mission
    On Tuesday evening I participated in the launch of the ‘Cooking 4 Change’ recipe book, which Metiria and I both contributed our favourite recipes to. Along with Dick Frizzell, Trelise Cooper, Tiki Taane, Erin Simpson, Jono & Ben, Colin Mathura-Jeffree, a couple ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    4 days ago
  • Backbencher Matt’s Bill is a Doocey
    The latest National Member’s Bill pulled from the ballot is yet another waste of Parliament’s time and shows the Government’s contempt for the House and the public with much more important issues needing debate, says Labour’s Shadow Leader of the ...
    5 days ago
  • Gun laws creaking under the strain
     Questions have to be asked  after surprising revelations at the Law and Order Select Committee about the police and their ability to manage the gun problem in New Zealand, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash.  “The lack of resources is ...
    5 days ago
  • Most homeless are working poor – Otago Uni
    The finding by Otago University researcher Dr Kate Amore that most homeless people are in work or study is one of the most shocking aspects of the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Social service agencies report many ...
    5 days ago
  • Māori seats entrenched by Tirikatene Bill
    National and the Māori Party need to support my member’s Bill which is designed to entrench the Māori electorate seats in Parliament, Labour’s Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene says. “Under the Electoral Act the provisions establishing the general electorates ...
    5 days ago
  • Trade dumping bill could hurt NZ industries
    The Commerce Select Committee is currently hearing submissions on the Trade (Anti-dumping and Countervailing Duties) Amendment Bill. This bill worries me. I flagged some major concerns during its first reading.   I am now reading submissions from NZ Steel, ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    5 days ago
  • Just 8 per cent of work visas for skills shortages
    Just 16,000 – or 8 per cent – of the 209,000 work visas issued last year were for occupations for which there is an identified skills shortage, says Labour Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “The overwhelming majority of the record number ...
    5 days ago
  • Hard won agreement shouldn’t be thrown away
    The Government should ignore talk across the Tasman about doing away with the labelling of GM free products, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King. “Labelling of genetically modified products was a hard won agreement in 2001 by Australian and the ...
    5 days ago
  • National’s privatisation Trojan horse
     The National government is using the need to modernise the school system as a Trojan horse for privatisation and an end to free public education as we know it, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.  “There is no doubt that ...
    5 days ago
  • Shameless land-banking ads show need for crackdown
    The fact that more than 300 sections are shamelessly being advertised on Trade Me as land-banking opportunities during a housing crisis shows the need for a crackdown on property speculators, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “Of the 328 ...
    5 days ago
  • Standard and Poor’s warning of housing crisis impact on banks
    The National Government’s failure to address the housing crisis is leading to dire warnings from ratings agency Standard and Poor’s about the impact on the strength of the economy and New Zealand banks, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Standard ...
    6 days ago
  • Ihumatao needs action not sympathy
    The Petition of Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) calling on Parliament to revoke Special Housing Area 62 in order to protect the Ihumatao Peninsula and Stonefields, has fallen on deaf ears, says the Labour MP for Mangere Su’a William Sio.  ...
    6 days ago
  • Another delay to justice system reform for victims of sexual violence
    I believe most, if not all, New Zealanders would expect our court system to uphold the dignity of complainants, hold perpetrators to account for crimes including sexual and domestic violence and uphold the crucial right to a fair trial. Yet ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    6 days ago
  • Another delay to justice system reform for victims of sexual violence
    I believe most, if not all, New Zealanders would expect our court system to uphold the dignity of complainants, hold perpetrators to account for crimes including sexual and domestic violence and uphold the crucial right to a fair trial. Yet ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    6 days ago
  • Student visa fraud & exploitation must stop
    The Government must act immediately to end fraud and exploitation of international students that threatens to damage New Zealand’s reputation, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. ...
    6 days ago
  • Government needs to show leadership in reviewing monetary policy
    The Reserve Bank’s struggles to meet its inflation target, the rising exchange rate and the continued housing crisis shows current monetary policy needs to be reviewed - with amendments to the policy targets agreement a bare minimum, says Labour’s Finance ...
    7 days ago
  • Local democracy under threat
    The National Government is in the process of gutting our local democracy through it’s Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2). We’ve been hearing submissions from councils, and a few community members, all around the country who are deeply ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    7 days ago
  • Local democracy under threat
    The National Government is in the process of gutting our local democracy through it’s Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2). We’ve been hearing submissions from councils, and a few community members, all around the country who are deeply ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    7 days ago
  • Slash and burn of special education support
    Slashing the support for school age children with special needs is no way to fund earlier intervention, Labour’s Education Spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.  “National’s latest plan to slash funding for children with special needs over the age of 7 in ...
    1 week ago
  • National’s Pasifika MPs must have free vote
      Pacific people will not take kindly to the Government whipping their Pacific MPs to vote in favour of a  Bill that will allow Sunday trading  at Easter, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio.  “We are seeing ...
    1 week ago
  • Maritime Crimes Bill – balancing security and free speech
    Parliament is currently considering the Maritime Crimes Amendment Bill, which would bring New Zealand up to date with current international rules about maritime security. The debate around the Bill reflects two valid issues: legitimate counter-terrorism measures and the right to ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham
    1 week ago
  • Rio Olympics captioning – setting the record straight
    In the House on Thursday, my colleague, Labour Party spokesperson on Disability Issues, Poto Williams asked a great question. After which the Minister, Nicky Wagner, stood up and finally publicly acknowledged the National Foundation for the Deaf for funding the ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    2 weeks ago
  • Rio Olympics captioning – setting the record straight
    In the House on Thursday, my colleague, Labour Party spokesperson on Disability Issues, Poto Williams asked a great question. After which the Minister, Nicky Wagner, stood up and finally publicly acknowledged the National Foundation for the Deaf for funding the ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    2 weeks ago
  • Teachers’ low wages at the centre of shortages
      Figures that show teachers’ wages have grown the slowest of all occupations is at the heart of the current teacher shortage, says Labour’s Education Spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  In the latest Labour Cost Index, education professionals saw their wages grow ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government’s Tax Law undermines common law principles
    A tax amendment being snuck in under the radar allows changes to tax issues to be driven through by the Government without Parliamentary scrutiny, says Labour’s Revenue spokesman Stuart Nash. “The amendment allows any part of the Tax Administration Act ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government slippery about caption funding
      The Government has refused to apologise for taking the credit for funding Olympic Games captioning when the National Foundation for the Deaf  was responsible, says Labour’s spokesperson on Disability Issues Poto Williams.  “This shameful act of grandstanding by Ministers ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Default KiwiSaver investments should be reviewed
    The investments of the default KiwiSaver providers should be reviewed to make sure they are in line with New Zealanders’ values and expectations, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Most New Zealanders would be appalled that their KiwiSaver funds are ...
    2 weeks ago
  • New ministry should look after all children
    The Government has today shunned well founded pleas by experts not to call its new agency the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Labour’s Spokesperson for Children Jacinda Ardern says.  “Well respected organisations and individuals such as Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Triclosan – nasty chemical will be reassessed
    Last week my campaign for this chemical to be reassessed by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) took another step forward. After many months of waiting, the EPA have agreed that triclosan needs to be reassessed. Triclosan is an ingredient in many ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Triclosan – nasty chemical will be reassessed
    Last week my campaign for this chemical to be reassessed by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) took another step forward. After many months of waiting, the EPA have agreed that triclosan needs to be reassessed. Triclosan is an ingredient in many ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Ratification okay but we need action
    Today’s decision to ratify the Paris agreement on Climate Change by the end of the year is all well and good but where is the plan, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods.  “The Government’s failure to plan is planning ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Stats changes can’t hide unemployment reality
    Today’s minor drop in unemployment numbers is nothing to celebrate given the changes made to the official numbers that cut thousands of people looking for work out of the jobless rate, says Labour’s Employment spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Making any comparisons ...
    2 weeks ago

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