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Trying to get into the union...


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#1 james hill

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 08:01 PM

Hello,
My Brother is directing and producing a movie here in new orleans that starts shooting in a week, 5 years ago i came on board as still photographer but now the union is saying that he will be penalized five hundred dollars a day for hiring me since im none union.. i was hoping that someone here might be able in help by giving me any ideas or perhaps any loop holes they may know about in how i could work on this film without being penalized.
thank you!!!
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#2 K Borowski

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 08:31 PM

Well, it sounds like you can prove experience if you've been working five years. I believe NO is in the Central region. You want to get in touch with this office, not necessarily John Hilsman:

John Hilsman, Central Regional Director
Chicago Address:
1411 Peterson Avenue, Suite 102
Park Ridge, IL 60068
847-692-9900
Fax: 847-692-5607
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 11:10 AM

If you have the experience, you may see about joining local 600. Alternately if the production can prove that no qualified union members are available, they can hire you without penalty.
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#4 Richard Boddington

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 11:17 AM

but now the union is saying that he will be penalized five hundred dollars a day for hiring me since im none union..


Eh? A producer can hire any one he wants, since when do the unions decide who gets hired and who does not? Your brother can't buy a permit for you?

That's how IATSE works in Canada. The producer can buy a permit for any non union worker he chooses to hire.

This sort of stuff makes my blood boil, when the unions start using their own money to finance movies then they can start dictating who gets on the crew sheet. Until then they can shut the *$@*^% up!!

If I was your brother I would pay the $500.00/day out of spite.

R,
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#5 Mark Dunn

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 12:07 PM

In this country, courts impose fines, not trade unions. Can someone explain?
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#6 Chris Keth

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 01:31 PM

The union isn't saying that the production can't hire anybody they want. They are saying, since he apparently signed a contract with IATSE, that he is in breach of contract by hiring a non-union stills photographer and they are levying a contractual penalty.
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#7 K Borowski

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 02:43 PM

Unions can only impose fines on union productions and members that violate union rules.



It's not as if they can levy them on anyone shooting a movie.
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#8 Bruce Greene

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 03:05 PM

Hello,
My Brother is directing and producing a movie here in new orleans that starts shooting in a week, 5 years ago i came on board as still photographer but now the union is saying that he will be penalized five hundred dollars a day for hiring me since im none union.. i was hoping that someone here might be able in help by giving me any ideas or perhaps any loop holes they may know about in how i could work on this film without being penalized.
thank you!!!


I believe you don't have to be a union member, but you do have to be on the "Industry Experience Roster".

To get on the roster you must prove that you've worked 100 days in your occupation as a still photographer on non-union films within a 3 year period. So, collect copies of your pay stubs and submit them to the "Contract Services Administration" (google it) to get on the roster.

After you've worked 30 union days, you'll be required to join the union. The initiation dues will be about $7000 I think. They may let you pay this in installments. You might want to join the Union as soon as you get the job to start your hours for health insurance and pension benefits.

If I've made some error here, anyone please feel free to correct me :)
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#9 K Borowski

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 03:13 PM

Bruce: I am not sure if the Roster is used in the Central region. The three regions of IA 600 were separate unions prior to 1996 and, as such, have maintained slightly different procedures and rules.
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#10 Richard Boddington

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 03:23 PM

The union isn't saying that the production can't hire anybody they want. They are saying, since he apparently signed a contract with IATSE, that he is in breach of contract by hiring a non-union stills photographer and they are levying a contractual penalty.


Then it should be a simple process of the production buying a permit for this guy. The very fact that this guy has to come on here and ask for advice leads me to believe that IATSE is either not being forthcoming with the information that they will allow him to work on a permit, the producers don't know the IATSE rule book very well, or there isn't a permit system available via whatever IATSE local covers New Orleans?

If there is no permit available to buy then it's clearly just another case of a union trying to ensure that their members are the only ones considered for any on set positions.

How a stills photographer falls under the confines of a union contract is beyond me anyway? They show up on set as self employed individuals and bring their own gear.

Plus what stops members of the crew from taking their own pictures on set and then giving them to the production?

I have heard horror stories of film crew members having their cameras slapped out of their hands by a union rep on set. I can tell you if that ever happened on one of my sets that union rep would be off the set in two seconds and my next phone call would be to the police to have the rep arrested for destruction of property.

R,
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#11 K Borowski

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 03:31 PM

Richard, you make IATSE 600 sound like "La Cosa Nostra;" I assure you, it's not.


I think by saying "take their own pictures on the set" you think that it should be the job of the crew to replace the job of the set photographer? I don't know about that one. Set Photographers don't have a cake walk job. They are very busy, maybe busier that some of the other positions in the camera department, even.
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#12 Richard Boddington

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 06:11 PM

On my next shoot I am hiring my own personal photographer to only take pictures of me. :D

R,
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#13 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 04:10 AM

If there is no permit available to buy then it's clearly just another case of a union trying to ensure that their members are the only ones considered for any on set positions.

Oh really? Seems to me it's clearly a case of the producers signing a deal and then trying to get around the terms of the deal. If they didn't want to hire union people, why did they sign a contract with the union saying that they would hire union people?

How a stills photographer falls under the confines of a union contract is beyond me anyway? They show up on set as self employed individuals and bring their own gear.

No they don't. They show up on set as an employee of the company producing the film. They may rent their gear to production, but that is completely separate from their employment with the company.

Plus what stops members of the crew from taking their own pictures on set and then giving them to the production?

Well in most cases people are smart enough to know that if a producer or actor doesn't want them taking un-authorized pictures on set (which they very rarely do) then they shouldn't do it unless they don't want to keep their job.
I was day playing on a movie the other day and the paparazzi was all around and the grip dept. had to hang a bunch of 12x12 solids to block access. How do you think it would have gone over if I had taken my still camera out and started snapping pictures on set?

I have heard horror stories of film crew members having their cameras slapped out of their hands by a union rep on set. I can tell you if that ever happened on one of my sets that union rep would be off the set in two seconds and my next phone call would be to the police to have the rep arrested for destruction of property.

R,


Do you ever actually see any of these things happen? You seem to hear a lot of stories...
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#14 Mark Dunn

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 12:19 PM

he is in breach of contract by hiring a non-union stills photographer and they are levying a contractual penalty.

A contractual term such as that would be unenforceable here, I think, as unfair and a restraint of trade.
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#15 Richard Boddington

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 12:37 PM

Do you ever actually see any of these things happen? You seem to hear a lot of stories...


This did actually happen on an IATSE shoot in Toronto. The union on set photog slapped a small camera out of the hands of a crew member who was going to take a picture.

Again, if that happened on one of my sets the photog would be gone in two seconds and I would demand IATSE remove him from the union.

I know you're Mr. Pro Union Brad, but you should seriously try being a producer and have to raise money and sign cheques. Then you'll suddenly see the unions from a whole new perspective. And no....I don't need to go through the process of working as a camera operator on a non-union show, and then a union show, in order to appreciate unions.

R,
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#16 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 02:06 PM

On a UNION (IATSE) set, the Unit Still Photographer A) should be on the Roster and B ) IS the only one truly authorized to be snapping stills on set.

The reality is that there is no true enforcement of this. Union Representatives are RARELY on set or even aware of who is hired on any particular movie... and the Unit Publicists don't generally care so long as the "product" it obtained (whether or not the photographer is union or not) .... I just came off of a movie where I was frequently competing with crew people for space to cover a shot/stunt and I WAS that authorized EPK guy. The authorized Still Photographer ALSO was fighting for space with crew members AND one of the actor's "personal photographers."

It's ridiculous.

SO, if the crew TRULY cares, then it means doing this:

1) get the name of the guy/gal who is shooting stills on set
2) contact CONTRACT SERVICES to inquire about that name and whether that person is A) on the roster and B ) a member of IATSE Local 600.
3) VERIFY that this person is being paid per the IATSE contract AND that that person's HOURS are being reported properly to the http://www.mpiphp.org.

Simply ASKING someone on set if they are part of the union isn't good enough. This includes the EPK Cameraman. If you REALLY care about union issues, then it means asking the RIGHT question and VERIFYING the facts. If you don't care enough to verify, then don't waste anyone's time.
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#17 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 06:55 PM

This did actually happen on an IATSE shoot in Toronto. The union on set photog slapped a small camera out of the hands of a crew member who was going to take a picture.
Again, if that happened on one of my sets the photog would be gone in two seconds and I would demand IATSE remove him from the union.

Obviously, no one should be slapping cameras out of peoples hands. What did you say to the guy when you saw him do it?

I know you're Mr. Pro Union Brad,

Since when am I "Mr. Pro Union"? Just because I disagree with some of the things you say and correct you when you write things that are inaccurate doesn't make me for or against unions.

but you should seriously try being a producer and have to raise money and sign cheques. Then you'll suddenly see the unions from a whole new perspective. And no....I don't need to go through the process of working as a camera operator on a non-union show, and then a union show, in order to appreciate unions.

R,

So you don't need to work as a crew member to appreciate unions, but I have to work as a producer in order to understand unions? So you know everything, and I don't? Got it.
I'd be willing to bet that I've seen a lot more union contracts than you have Richard, and I understand the issues from both sides. I'm not anti-producer, I'm pro producer. But I am anti-lying-cheating-stealing producer, and I've seen more than my share of those.
I'll tell you what, I'll try raising money and signing checks sometime, and you can try flying 75lbs of gear around for 15 hours and then not getting paid for months.
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#18 Richard Boddington

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 08:04 PM

you can try flying 75lbs of gear around for 15 hours and then not getting paid for months.


I'm 6'4" 240 lbs, so handling the steady cam rig last time I had it on was not that big of a deal. Of course you are not standing with the rig on for 15 hours straight, you sit down between takes, take breaks etc. :) That said, steady cam op is a tough job, and I admire those that do it well as I'm sure you do.

You should not have to wait months to get paid, no one should.

My main beef with the unions is their attempts to tell me who I can and cannot hire. I say again, if the union raises the money for a film then they can call the shots. If I raise the money, I make the decisions.....period.

R,
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#19 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 18 November 2010 - 05:47 AM

My main beef with the unions is their attempts to tell me who I can and cannot hire. I say again, if the union raises the money for a film then they can call the shots. If I raise the money, I make the decisions.....period.

R,

I completely understand where you're coming from regarding raising the money. It makes sense to me as well. But if you sign a deal with a union and then try to do things outside of the contract you signed, then it's your own fault if you have problems with the union. Why sign a contract if you don't like the terms? It just doesn't make much sense to me.
It's unfortunate that unions are necessary, but they are. There are some producers that always take good care of their crew, no matter what. But there are many more that would screw everyone that works for them as often as possible, every chance they got, which is why we have to stick together.
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