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Union Sabotage?


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#1 Lauren Chamberlin

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 01:01 AM

I'm curious to know what everyone's opinions of the unions are. I've heard quite a few stories of cinematographers just starting out that have their equipment and sites trashed by union members when they don't join. Has this happened to anyone else? Is it normal? From what i've heard, joining a union could be really hard and expensive, so is getting in really worth it?
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 06:31 AM

Can't say I've ever heard of that. . . In this business the Union falls into one budget bracket whereas the non union falls into another, so I don't think they'd have much of a reason to trash equipment for a DP doing a music video with budget of say $3000. Hell, that's as much as some Makeup Artists I know make in a few days! Certainly not worth their time.
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 12:33 PM

I've never heard of anything like that Lauren. I think any union member (which I will be after today, and many here already are) would tell you that methods like that are just not acceptable and would not want to be a member of an organization like that.
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 12:45 PM

Congrats on going Union Chris!
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#5 Lauren Chamberlin

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 01:07 PM

thanks. Yeah, i'm just starting out in my cinematography classes and i was just curious about what people have been saying. And congrats on being a union member :D
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#6 shootist

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 07:04 AM

I'm curious to know what everyone's opinions of the unions are. I've heard quite a few stories of cinematographers just starting out that have their equipment and sites trashed by union members when they don't join. Has this happened to anyone else? Is it normal? From what i've heard, joining a union could be really hard and expensive, so is getting in really worth it?


I resigned about 10 years ago. I won't go into the reasons, but it had to do with the business agents.
I've had no issues with the membership. A few questioned why I left but most didn't care. I've been working regularly since then, sometimes busier than the local union members and never anything close to what you suggest. Union members are people too, so I'm sure there are a few jerks capable of doing what you say but it's not a widespread issue. Unless the business agents start passing lies about you and try to stir up trouble!!
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#7 timHealy

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 10:26 AM

In this business the Union falls into one budget bracket whereas the non union falls into another


That is not quite correct Adrian. IA Local 52 in NY has a few contracts and "budget Brackets" to work with filmmakers. They have their independent contract, majors contract, and they have several "Tier" contracts for films under 6 million or so. I am not sure how it is now, but a number of years ago one could have a very large budgeted movie non union film, 30 million or so, in LA where as that would never happen in NYC.

perhaps other locals have several contracts as well.

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Tim
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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 02:04 PM

Oh no, Tim, i realize the unions like SAG tier their productions; but I was referring to the lowest end- just when you start to get "some pay" as opposed to "copy credit meals."
While unions may be equipped to deal with a shoot like that (though I'm not sure how low of pay the union contract allows?), I was trying to make the point that if the union were "busting up equipment," it would be on those types of smaller shoots, which of course makes no sense for them as a union-- if that explanation makes sense?
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#9 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 05:32 PM

I am not sure how it is now, but a number of years ago one could have a very large budgeted movie non union film, 30 million or so, in LA where as that would never happen in NYC.

Best

Tim

I think you're mistaken about this. From what I understand, Pulp Fiction is considered to be the largest budgeted non union movie to ever shoot in LA at $8 million. I obviously can't confirm that as a hard fact, but this is widely believed to be true...at least by the circles of people I know.
It's only been about 15 or 20 years since $30 million was considered to be a pretty big budget movie.
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#10 Michele Peterson

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Posted 08 May 2009 - 03:14 PM

I'm curious to know what everyone's opinions of the unions are. I've heard quite a few stories of cinematographers just starting out that have their equipment and sites trashed by union members when they don't join. Has this happened to anyone else? Is it normal? From what i've heard, joining a union could be really hard and expensive, so is getting in really worth it?



I've heard a lot of random urban legends from non-union people who have gotten the wrong idea that union people are out get non-union people. I even worked with a producer of a very small non-union cable show when I first started and was very niave, who was convinced that the unions would hunt her down, stop the show and put us all out of work. The show's budget for a whole season was $50k. From the union business agents I have met since then, I have learned that they wouldn't even waste much time going after a show like that because the crew didn't want to turn, the producers didn't want to turn, there was not enough money to turn. Yet, she helped propelled these misconceptions to us newbies working on the show (and a show with that budget only had newbies) that we all had to be afraid of the unions. I have no idea whom she learned that from. Some people who don't understand it are afraid or maybe even jealous of it.

Edited by Michele Peterson, 08 May 2009 - 03:15 PM.

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#11 Chris Keth

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 04:33 PM

I have no idea whom she learned that from. Some people who don't understand it are afraid or maybe even jealous of it.


I think there's some belief that unions are going to destroy the creative bastion of indy filmmaking and try to turn it all into gajillion-dollar blockbusters with no soul....or something. :lol:
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