Hobbit protest 'march of the patsies'
Wed, 27 Feb 2013 8:20a.m.
By Dan Satherley
An actors' representative says a protest held to keep the filming of Sir Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy in New Zealand was a "march of the patsies".
Phil Darkins, an organiser with New Zealand Actors Equity, says an agreement between the union and movie studio Warner Brothers had already been reached – several days before thousands took to the streets in October 2010 to protest against an Australian union-led boycott of the film that could have seen production taken off-shore.
Mr Darkins told Firstline this morning the union was advised not to comment publicly on the deal until it was official, and instead wait for Warner Brothers to make the announcement – which never came.
"And then we ended up with a march to Parliament," says Mr Darkins, "which I'm calling the 'march of the patsies', because unfortunately those people who marched that day were being played for patsies by people who, based here in Wellington, knew precisely what was going on, and that the dispute was in fact over."
He says the union was "aghast" when Hobbit fans took to the streets, accusing Kiwi actors and unions of jeopardising the film's production.
"We were sitting there aghast with what was going on, and wondering what the real game was," says Mr Darkins.
"I think now, looking back, we do understand what the real game was… somebody was trying to get a better deal out of the New Zealand Government."
In the union's view, there was never any credible threat of the production going off-shore.
"The Hobbit was never going off-shore, that is a ridiculous notion... Originally they said they were going to go to eastern Europe. When that sounded a little unplausible (sic) they decided no, actually we're going to go to the UK, and when that started to sound unplausible, now we see, in these documents, that no, actually they were going to go to New South Wales.
"Well we've actually spoken to people in New South Wales who would have been approached if that had been the case – no such approach was made by Warner Brothers during that period."
He says part of the blame rests with Sir Peter, who should not have intervened.
"I'm not having a go at Sir Peter here, I'm just saying that had he actually stayed out of the argument and not jumped in there so quickly and taken it so personally, the whole thing would have been over very, very quickly."
The Government changed employment laws under urgency to satisfy Warner Brothers and protect the industry, but Mr Darkins says it has backfired, costing Kiwis their jobs.
"When an actor performs in a screen production, quite often that will be a very short period of filming. There might be a lot of preparation required beforehand, but the filming itself will take a very short period of time.
"So now what the Government has done is they've changed the immigration law so that any actor from anywhere in the world can come to New Zealand as long as they're not here for longer than 14 days. To give you an example, Dame Judi Dench won an Oscar on a performance that took a day-and-a-half to shoot. There's an example of what it means to work in the film industry.
"So allowing actors to come into New Zealand for no more than 14 days is taking jobs. It's taking many jobs off New Zealand performers. It is taking Kiwi jobs."
The Government says keeping The Hobbit in New Zealand created 3000 jobs.
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3/03/2013 2:43:35 p.m.
@MARKUS. For your information, there were actually more than 5000 new or saved NZ jobs involved in the skilful Key initiated negotiations to save the filming of the Hobbit for NZ. Not only actors and extras who were employed specifically for the filming, but onsite support staff, off site support staff and staff employed with other associated industries who would not have retained their paid positions if the filming was lost to NZ. The jobs are all well documented and easy to verify if you take the time to look up the recorded facts that prove how wrong you are. But as no-one likes being proved wrong, I guess that's unlikely to happen. As such, I respectfully suggest you eat humble pie, look at the facts and advantages achieved by having the filming done here. If however the unions had had their way, everyone would have lost out except the union bosses who would have been the only ones to retain their cushy jobs. Self preservation is the only reason union bosses got involved.
27/02/2013 8:24:21 p.m.
suck it up losers...labour lost 3-4% in polls after that union hi jack, helen kelly is now a lost cause for labour!...they know the majority of NZ voters hate unions and the Greens 'anti business' keep it up, keep it up! delicious.
27/02/2013 5:01:44 p.m.
The govt claimed they created 3000 jobs. They need to SHOW US THE JOBS that their murky back room deals and subsidies supposedly created for NZers.
27/02/2013 4:27:31 p.m.
The resulting law seems absolutely fine in my opinion. If the producers want actors from overseas, they can now use them. and film here more often, putting more money (overall) into the economy. Do our actors really need to hide behind protectionist law to compete?
Seem's like a case of law - for the greater good, which is the only to do things.
Personally, I don't know why the government just doesn't stand up and make their case, there was never a need to lie.
27/02/2013 3:58:16 p.m.
Clearly John Key wanted to have his red carpet moment in Hollywood and was prepared to bend over backwards to keep his rich mates happy, irrespective of the rights of NZers. As for the claimed 3000 jobs.... Tui time again.
27/02/2013 1:53:09 p.m.
Michael McCook wrote:
What is an Aussie union doing over here
Probably trying to get jobs for its members
Cant trust the Unions
27/02/2013 1:52:28 p.m.
The unions and Labour wont front with their emails.Why?Because they were up to their necks in backroom deals and fronting for overseas interests that were not for NZ benefit.Till Labour Party and the Unions front their emails, we can only assume they have more to hide than the govt, Peter Jackson, and Warners. Are we likely to see their emails? Hardly, as Peter Jackson calling one of them a snake is subjued to what would be in the the Unions and Labour party emails.How much did the union stand to reap in union dues if they had forced this through? Lets have the unions own year projections and 10 year projections. The Union tells us it wasn't about the money, so lets have the emails of thier cashflow projections. If we dont see the projections the union are again just hiding the truth.
27/02/2013 12:02:38 p.m.
Its true about it employing foreigners rather than locals, I saw it first hand in Mirimar. Whup I better run there will be a Warner Bros/Weta drone homing in on my position now..
27/02/2013 11:05:44 a.m.
I have no about confidence in the National Party, they have lied right throughout this second term. From Cup a gate n Charter Schols, Bobbits, educational failures. Its all just a pantomime, who really is making Natinal wiggle, the tax payers aint the puppet marsters.
27/02/2013 10:08:07 a.m.
The Hobbit was a travesty from the very beginning. One could only wonder if it had been another director besides His Royal NZ Highness and St. Jackson whether such a stink would have been made. People lost jobs, actors lost hard earned rights, animals died because of uncaring admin. (Yes, we know they didn't die on the set so that makes it all right), and finally God stepped in with his retribution. . . not one Oscar and St. Jackson will have to descend back to the world's of us mere mortals.
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