Unionization and the creation of a trade association topped the priorities at a visual effects biz town hall meeting Thursday in Los Angeles where hundreds of VFX professionals gathered to discuss the state of their troubled industry. Despite calls for solidarity within the global community and a general sense of accord, a tense volley of boos erupted halfway through the panel when Visual Effects Society rep Mike Chambers took the mic and mentioned the organization’s call for larger California subsidies made in an open letter last month. In the letter the VES had announced plans to hold a VFX Congress, which has yet to materialize. “What are you going to do?” shouted one audience member to Chambers, who had no answer for his group.
Related: VFX Oscar Protesters Grow To 400 As Pros Plead Their Case
The exchange highlighted the most crippling challenge currently facing VFX workers: With no organized body other than the strictly honorary VES, artists have no leverage as the current system continues to squeeze their employers for slim profit margins. Among the industry wide issues identified by keynote speaker Scott Squires: A flawed studio-VFX house business model, too much competition, and job-migrating subsidies. Panelists and audience members also decried the strains on health and home life endured by individual VFX artists at the bottom of the VFX food chain. Unpaid overtime, long work weeks and a lack of healthcare benefits are common for visual artists, who comprise one of the last remaining sectors in Hollywood that is not yet unionized.
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Striking editors on the History Channel‘s Swamp People have reached an agreement, according to Motion Picture Editors Guild statements posted on Facebook and Twitter. “We have successfully resolved the Swamp People strike. After a work stoppage of four days, the crew of the History Channel’s docu-reality series will return to work with a union contract” read the statement on Facebook. The Twitter message said The @MPEG700 crew of #SwampPeople has a deal to end the #strike! Back to work under an @IATSE contract. The editors walked off the job Tuesday in protest against producers trying to stymie union organizing. Approximately 16 people were involved in the walkout.
Post-production editors on History’s Swamp People walked off the job today in protest over producers trying to stymie union organizing. #STRIKE! Until further notice, Editors Guild and potential members are instructed not to service the production #SwampPeople for @History,” tweeted the Motion Pictures Editors Guild this morning. The dispute between the union and producers Original Media escalated after the company allegedly was “interrogating employees about union organizing activity,” according to a post on the union’s website. Approximately 16 people walked off the job today at Hollywood Production Center. That effectively shuts down fourth-season post-production on the reality series, a source close to events tells me. The editorial crew on Swamp People is not part of the guild, but they had been talking about joining the IATSE union, the source says. “We don’t have a line out right now but that could happen soon depending on how the situation with Original evolves,” added the source. Swamp People, which follows a group of alligator hunters in Louisiana, premiered its fourth season Thursday.
The union and the sports network agreed today to meet and discuss all issues between IATSE and PAC-12, Deadline has learned. This means “an immediate cessation of all strike activities, picket lines, etc,” said IATSE Director Broadcast Department Sandra England in an email to members Tuesday. IATSE and a PAC-12 representative are scheduled to speak on January 8th to set a date for a face-to-face meeting.
Calling the network “an unfair employer” that uses non-union workers in union areas, IATSE began its action against the recently launched regional sports network December 7, and the union has had members out on lines at Pac-12 broadcasts ever since. Pac-12 Network said earlier in a statement that it respects the right for workers to decide on union representation and intended to continue its practice of maintaining “an exciting and creative work environment.” The Pac-12 Network has contracts with Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Dish Network and Bright House Networks, among others, though it has yet to strike a carriage deal with DirecTV.
The dispute between the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the Pac-12 Network shows no sign of slowing down. IATSE says it plans to set up picket lines again during basketball games Tuesday at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion and Thursday outside USC’s Galen Center, Variety reports. It also plans to picket Saturday’s game at UCLA. Calling the network “an unfair employer” that uses non-union workers in union areas, IATSE began its action against the recently launched regional sports network December 7, and the union has had members out on lines at Pac-12 broadcasts ever since. Pac-12 Network said earlier in a statement that it respects the right for workers to decide on union representation and intended to continue its practice of maintaining “an exciting and creative work environment.” The Pac-12 Network has contracts with Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Dish Network and Bright House Networks, among others, though it has yet to strike a carriage deal with DirecTV.
As it did last weekend, IATSE will picket against the Pac-12 Network beginning tomorrow. The union plans strike lines during basketball games at USC’s Galen Center and UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. Picketing is also scheduled at the University of Washington, Arizona State and UC Berkeley among others. Calling the network “an unfair employer” that uses non-union workers in union areas, IATSE began its action against the recently launched regional sports network December 7, and the union has had members out on lines at Pac-12 broadcasts ever since. Pac-12 Network said in a statement after IATSE declared the strike last week that it respects the right for workers to decide on union representation and intended to continue its practice of maintaining “an exciting and creative work environment.” The Pac-12 Network has contracts with Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Dish Network and Bright House Networks, among others, though it has yet to strike a carriage deal with DirecTV.
UPDATE: The PAC 12 sports network has responded to a strike action and picketing by IATSE members outside USC and other conference member schools. The network said it respects the right for workers to decide on union representation and pledged to continue maintain “an exciting and creative work environment”. IATSE said earlier today it had set up pickets at USC in Los Angeles and several other schools on the West Coast and in Arizona because PAC 12 Network is “an unfair employer” that uses non-union workers in areas covered by IATSE. PAC 12 Network has contracts with Time Warner Cable, Comcast, DISH Network, Bright House Networks, among others, to show non-pro sports out of the Western U.S. Read More »
The union and producers Magical Elves reached an agreement over health and pension benefits last night, Deadline has learned. The crew of Fashion Star, on strike since Saturday, will return to work today. There will be no more picketing at Hollywood Center Studios and the producers’ offices. Also, today’s 1:30 PM taping in front of an audience of the NBC reality show will now go ahead as scheduled. The agreement comes after IATSE representatives met with Magical Elves executives Tuesday afternoon to discuss an offer the union put on the table Monday. The union plans to meet with the approximately 70 crew members on the show later this afternoon to brief them on the details of the deal. Read More »
2ND UPDATE, 4:48 PM: IATSE has been called to a meeting with Fashion Star producers Magical Elves this afternoon, Deadline has learned. The face-to-face comes after the union put an offer before the producers of the NBC reality show to settle a labor dispute that started Saturday. “Talks are ongoing. The ball is in their court,” an IATSE spokesperson told Deadline earlier Tuesday. “We are still on strike.” Fashion Star is scheduled to resume taping tomorrow at 1:30 PM at Hollywood Center Studios. The union began discussions with Magical Elves yesterday. Four days after the crew walked off the job over health and pension benefits, picketing today was mainly centered on the De Longpre Avenue offices of the show in Hollywood. As of Tuesday afternoon, IATSE say they intend to be picketing tomorrow at Hollywood Center and the Magical Elves offices on Sunset. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Editors Guild National Organizer Rob Callahan told Deadline tonight that editors for Mission Control Media-produced Hot Set who walked off the job because they wanted to an Editors Guild/IATSE Local 700 union contract have settled. The deal came just as the new reality show was facing an air date on Syfy of September 18th so any more delays beyond the 3 days were going to affect the premiere. Callahan said the editors were employed by Burbank-based Blueprint Post Production without health or retirement benefits. Also, assistant editors were receiving pay rates well below union scale, Callahan said. A picket line for the 11-member crew was set up outside Blueprint’s offices for 3 days and production was halted on the show. In addition editors who work under an IATSE Local 700 union contract on another Mission Control show, Face Off, refused to cross the picket line and delayed their show, too. Tonight, Callahan issued this statement about the settlement:
The courageous sisters and brothers of the Hot Set editorial crew will return to work on Monday with employer-paid health and retirement benefits! They walked off their jobs at Blueprint Post on Wednesday, and, after three days of picketing in the Burbank sun, won an agreement to ensure that postproduction on Hot Set will be done union. Kudos to the crew for the bravery they demonstrated in this fight. They stood
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A group of IATSE specialized projectionists known as film revisors have begun informational picketing outside the Toronto International Film Festival‘s Bell Lightbox headquarters over the outsourcing of digital cinema file revisions for the September 6-16 event. Pickets are also set up at Deluxe Entertainment Services Group in Toronto, which has been contracted to handle revisions of digital movie files for the festival. If the labor action continues — it’s not a strike — festival attendees may have to cross picket lines to attend screenings or red-carpet galas. With most festivals shifting from film to digital prints, work formerly performed on film — inspecting, repairing and splicing segments into complete, seamless programs — now involves editing computer files. “This is not work that can be performed in-house,” festival VP of communications and content management Jennifer Bell told the Toronto Globe & Mail via e-mail. IATSE Local 58, which represents the seven film revisors affected by the outsourcing, responded that TIFF is contractually obligated to use its workers. Read More »
An extension of California’s $100 million annual film and television tax credit program leaped through another legislative hurdle today. With a 32-3 vote in Sacramento, the state Senate approved extending the program two more years. The measure, sponsored by Senator Ron Calderon, now heads over to the Assembly for a vote there. “As a coalition of unions, guilds and associations representing hundreds of thousands of men and women whose livelihoods depend on the strength of the California entertainment industry, we applaud the passage of SB 1167 by the California State Senate,” said SAG-AFTRA, the Teamsters, IATSE, the Director’s Guild and others in a joint statement after the vote Tuesday. The state Assembly passed a version of the extension legislation in a 70-4 vote on August 16. Eventually, the two bodies will have to work out a joint version of the extension. The current tax credit is set to end in 2015 if the latest proposed extension does not become law. The tax credit program was put in place in 2009 to help halt the exodus of production from California to other states and to Canadian provinces that offer strong incentives to TV shows and feature films. In early June, 28 projects were picked by lottery to be allocated this year’s $100 million. Among those projects that got the lucky tickets were the relocating television series Teen Wolf, as well as Pretty Little Liars and Justified.
IATSE‘s general executive committee unanimously voted Local 478 President Phil Locicero to take over Friday, July 27 as International VP and Co-Director of Stagecraft after Brian J. Lawlor announced his resignation Thursday afternoon at the union’s general executive meeting in Vancouver, B.C. Locicero has been an IA member since 1989 and served as president of Local 478 since 1994. Lawlor, who was elected to the union’s executive board in the winter of 2004, has been a full time rep of the IA since 2000. Lawlor will remain in the general office thru the end of August 2012, then move back to his hometown of Orlando, Florida. He will continue working as a representative at the direction of International President Matt Loeb and reporting to the Stagecraft Department. Lawlor said he has been contemplating this move for over a year. Loeb praised Locicero’s “steadfast support of the members, be it on picket lines, in negotiations and in numerous other ways. Phil is a leader and a welcome addition to the GEB.” International VPs Dan DiTolla and Tony DePaulo remain co-directors of the Stagecraft Department.
William Gearns Jr is a 44-year member of IATSE and was unanimously elected International VP by the union’s General Executive Board during its mid-summer meeting in Vancouver. The Indianapolis native fills the vacancy created by the death of International VP Timothy Magee on July 6.