Friday, August 7, 2009

Now what?

So the Equity and PACT negotiations ended with a stunning affirmation of the status quo. Nothing changes for Year 1 and then a pay increase of 1% in Year 2 and 2% in Year 3. Nothing else changes.
How could this happen? With a host of issues that are all hanging fire nothing was resolved.

At the heart of all this is a profound difference of opinion on the way this industry should look going forward.

Now being on both sides I get the buzz from both directions and it’s always a treat to see how things are viewed differently.
I think that both sides feel that they can gain the advantage by waiting for the next negotiating round. But I do not believe that with the limited amount time available there will be room for any substantive change. Nobody is working on negotiations full time. Yes, both sides get input from their members and compile a wish list but the actual talking between the sides doesn’t happen until the last 6 months.

Obsidian abstained from ratification at the PACT AGM and I am abstaining from the Equity vote because I think that the agreement should be rejected and that negotiations should continue until there is a meeting of minds. This, however, will probably not happen with the prevailing mindsets in place.

I am reminded of a story that said that forest fires are so bad now because they have been so assiduously fought that the deadfalls and underbrush were allowed to grow without check. So now the amount of deadwood pushes the fires out of control in a nonce. The only way to get back to a healthy forest is either by ongoing controlled cutting or to let it burn.

The current approaches are not working. We need to change the way we are looking at this industry and find better ways of safeguarding the creators as well as being open to current realities.
This is not a perpetual growth industry. Ticket prices have stalled for the majority of theatres, the audience is aging and grants by and large are plateau-ing.

There will be a winnowing that’s for sure. What we have to do is find the courage to imagine and create a new vision for the future.

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