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Robert Altman and USA Runaway production


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#1 David Allen Grove

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 02:41 PM

Kudos to Robert Altman!

(nothing personal to our steadi friends up north.)

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IN BRIEF: Altman attacks runaway productions, and more
Last Updated Mon, 29 Dec 2003


CBC News Online

Moving film production to Canada 'obscene,' says Altman

CHICAGO - Veteran director Robert Altman has joined the list of U.S. filmmakers who oppose "runaway productions" to Canada and other locations.

In an interview with film critic Roger Ebert, published in the Chicago Sun-Times, the 78-year-old director says it's obscene to move film production to Canada just to take advantage of tax breaks.

"There's no reason to let a political decision decide where a picture is shot," he said. "Why was (the musical) Chicago made in Toronto? To save a couple of million dollars, which, of course, DOESN'T GO TO THE ARTISTS. On moral grounds, I won't do it."

Altman, director of such acclaimed films as MASH, Nashville and Gosford Park, recounted how he was set to make a Paul Newman film when producer Harvey Weinstein decided to move the film to Canada to save $2 million.

"I said, 'Fellas, goodbye,'" he told Ebert.

Article source: http://www.cbc.ca/ar...quickhits291203
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#2 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 03:03 PM

I'll have the cajones to say it...NICE! I'm now going to go see "The Company" just to support Mr. Altman's film!

Now if we can just get a few big name actors to say the same, then a few HUGE corporations to speak out against "outsourcing" and get others to follow suit then, we might actually be able to save the film industry in it's "homeland" and save the middle class in America!
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#3 Fluidmo

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 05:31 PM

cajones, or just ever present protectionist ignorance? Why do some people fool themselves into believing that ALL films should be shot in California? I can't wait to see how many films up for oscars are not shot in California. Hey, maybe other people can make great movies too. hmmm. As said in the last e.mail ((nothing personal to our steadi friends down south), I for one do believe that per capita hollywood has some of the best technitions with the greatest resumes. Why can't we all just do our jobs the best we can and wish well upon everyone else. If a movie goes to New Zealand well congrats to those people in New Zealand who get to put supper on their tables. If the next movie of the week from ABC gets shot in Oakland well then congrats to those in Oakland. I don't want to start anything with this post but I would like to everyone support all films, regardless of where they are made.
peter.
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#4 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 01:41 AM

I've enclosed my responses in ***



cajones, or just ever present protectionist ignorance?  Why do some people fool themselves into believing that ALL films should be shot in California? 

***Never said that Peter, never implied it either.***


I can't wait to see how many films up for oscars are not shot in California.  Hey, maybe other people can make great movies too.  hmmm. 

***Yeah, and maybe they could write their own scripts, use their own directors, their own actors, rather than "luring" other people and their jobs away to do it.  Hmmm***


As said in the last e.mail  ((nothing personal to our steadi friends down south), I for one do believe that per capita hollywood has some of the best technitions with the greatest resumes.  Why can't we all just do our jobs the best we can and wish well upon everyone else. 

***We do.  But we wish you to do your jobs, not ours.  Not the jobs that were created here, written here, pre-produced here, story that takes place here, but shot there.  We wish you to work till your hearts are content.  Just on your OWN projects.  Then release them in America and worldwide.***


If a movie goes to New Zealand well congrats to those people in New Zealand who get to put supper on their tables. 

***I guess you forget to think of the film crew members here with 3, 4, 5 times the experience who have to sell their homes, while the guy in New Zealand who just got out of film school is taking our jobs.  Guess we don't have to eat huh?***


If the next movie of the week from ABC gets shot in Oakland well then congrats to those in Oakland.  I don't want to start anything with this post but I would like to everyone support all films, regardless of where they are made.
peter.


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***Again, Peter, I don't want to start anything either, but it's easy to be at the receiving end of BILLIONS of dollars in GIFTS, and the like, and not truly understand the issue.
Many of the film workers in Canada (and the other places where runaway production has flourished in the past few years) didn't do those jobs 5 or 6 years ago.  They got into the business because they saw and grabbed onto an opportunity.  Meanwhile, in the past 5 ot 6 years, THOUSANDS of film workers in America have lost their jobs.  People who's father and grandfather's have worked in the business, and for the past 20 years, so have they.  But, they've had to sell their homes, sell their $30K cars for $15K econo-cars.  They've had to take work as carpenters, waiters, used car salesman just to make ends meet.  These are people who were making films when many of those in Canada (possibly like yourself) who are now taking our jobs were learning to count in preschool!

I have a close friend in Toronto.  I've known him since 2nd grade.  I have a female friend in Vancouver I've known for 8 years.  We don't want the film community in Canada to die, we just don't want OUR, yes, OUR jobs to go there so many of our film people don't have to wonder how they are going to pay the mortgage or rent each month.

Trust me, if the roles were reversed, and at times you, and many of those you know were losing work to America because we were TAKING your jobs, you wouldn't be so like, "oh well, good for them, hope they are doing just great with our jobs."
I personally lost 4 jobs to Canada last year.  And that's just the ones I know of.  Meaning, the one's where the DP called me and said, "I'm doing a film that I'd love to get you on, but we're going to Canada."  I don't even know how many others I might have gotten the call for, but didn't simply because they didn't bother calling me to tell me in the first place."

2003 was only a "decent" year work wise for me.  Had I gotten those 4 jobs (and maybe one or two others I didn't know about) it would of been an excellent year work wise.

All that being said, I hope every Canadian film worker has a terrific work year this year.  But I hope it's because there is a HUGE uprising of Canadian based movies, TV shows, commercials, etc.
And, I hope all the American based shows stay here in America so we all too can have a terrific year work wise!

Ignorance stems from a lack of knowledge, in this case it's knowing that we can save our jobs by speaking out and making a change rather than standing by and then latering wondering why we didn't do something about it sooner.***

Take care,

Michael

I've made some responses enclosed in ***
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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 03:46 PM

Hi,

> Then release them in America and worldwide

Americans will not watch foreign films. Ancient fact.

The only caveat to this is that it must now be a prerequisite for Canadian actors to be able to sound like Americans.

If it's any consolation, the long-talked-about (and possibly still vapourware) Red Dwarf movie has been mooted as shooting in Australia, because apparently they can't get a stage to do it on in the UK. I muffle my derisive laughter!

Phil
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#6 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 12:02 AM

Americans will not watch foreign films. Ancient fact.

You have got to be kidding me, Ever heard of "Lord of the Rings"? How about Harry Potter? Star Wars, The Matrix....


Shall I go on?


I like SAG's idea, for the oscars if it's not made in the states then it's a foriegn film.....
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 09:34 AM

Hi,

"The Matrix" is not an American movie? Financed by Americans, American cast, American directors and principal crew? Star Wars ditto? Lord of the Rings ditto?

Phil
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#8 ericoh

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 02:49 PM

I have to agree with Peter in wishing ALL film people EVERYWHERE success for this year and the years to come...

Now let me pose this question and forgive me if this sounds naive. Isn't "Film" an industry/business? Saying that, haven't American corporations been taking their manufacturing industries out of America so that their citizens can get their manufactured goods at the lowest possible prices? How many boycott Nike or Ralph Lauren because their manufacturing plants are in other countries like China, Mexico, Malaysia, or Vietnam? The way I see it, filmmaking during the production phase can be equated to the manufacturing of a product...

How about all the runaway productions going to South Africa, Prague, Argentina, Brazil, etc? I understand the need to preserve the film industry in the US but laying all the blame on Canada for runaway productions just seems a little unfair. Just my 2¢.
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#9 Matias Mesa

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 06:59 PM

I agree with Eric, This is what´s called Globalization (or however you spell it) All those big US companies are supporting this kind of practice because they need to give the US people better prices for the good they manufacture( shoes, movies, electronics,clothes,etc; not cars because they cost too much to ship, but they get special tax packages). Same thing with movies, how much more would Lord of the Rings have cost if it was shot in the US, I guess more than double, How much more your latest model of Nike shoes would cost if they were manufactured in Wisconsin instead of Vietnam? Every US industry suffers from the same problem, all the headquarters are in the US ,were they design, write scripts and then they send they proyect to be shot, manufactured somewere else,and they manufacture everywere else.
Wy do you think the headquarters for Nike, Columbia, and a lot of companies are based in Oregon, because sale taxes exemption and other finacial reasons, and how many people do they employ over there, why isn´t the people fron North Dakota complaining about this unequal situation. Because its allways better to blame it on the pig not on who feeds him. Ask Mr Bush about this.

My opinion, no offence to any worker in the world

Matias Mesa
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#10 JamieSilverstein

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 03:15 PM

This is a very tricky topic...... One that has people in the Unions all over the US, Canada and elsewhere in heated arguments over how to deal with the loss of work to other nations. I know the debate is heated because I am an Executive Board member of IATSE Local 600, which is the National Guild for camera people in the US.
First of all understand this, ITS NOT ABOUT THE WORKERS, ITS ABOUT THE PRODUCERS. None of us begrude the fantastic technicians all over the world the right to work and work for a living wage, under safe conditions. HOWEVER, if producers decide to go to the cheapest place available without any conscience towards people and communities that they have employed in the past, then we all as Steadicam operators are in grave danger of losing our livelyhood, whereever we live. Remember they can always go to the next place to shoot, as long as its cheaper, so none of us is safe from Runaway Production. There are always people out there willing to work for less. Are you?
Runaway Production is not soley an American problem, its a global workers problem. There is nothing socialist or communist about that last statement, we are all workers, well compensated, but workers nonetheless, and as such Runaway Production threatens all of us all over the world.
Please don't fight amongst oursleves about this, there are better arguments for us, like which is better back mounted or front mounted. Rather, we must figure out ways to fight producers who are more than willing to abandon any place to find the next cheapest country, and labor force.
I hope this helps to clarify to issue and helps people understand why I for one support Robert Altman's sentiments
Peace.
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#11 Erwin Landau

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 04:11 PM

Producers...

Yes, as long as a producer is willing to pay 20 or 30 or what is it already up to 40 Million for a single Actor, but will safe on the crew he will also look for the cheapest place to shot.

Why should somebody make 20 Million for 3 months worth of work? Okay usually there name will attract and put butts in the Movie theaters. But were is the money coming from? From Below the Line... or anywhere else.

I shot on a Feature where 40% of the budget went to a single Actor for six 6 hour days. There is a Feature about to start where 2/3 of the total budget goes to a single actor... come on!!!!

I'm fighting for a couple of 100 bucks for my rental, the same day the main actor get's a Porsche as a gift as "a token of apprechiation" from the Studio...

Shouldn't there be a cap for Actor salaries?

SAG is fighting all the time for better wages, yes because 90% of the SAG Actors just barely make the month... like us. But at the same time the 1% of the 20 Million a movie guy are also the problem.

There is nothing sweeter as when a big budget, big name Feature tanks at the box office... because the story was crap and it proves that names alone don't make for a good movie.

Also "Our" Union didn't do much to impove the situation but give in into ever dwingling "minimum wages"...

And of course if you pay 20 Millions of your 30 Million Budget to an actor you have to shoot in Canada, because you can pay the crew less, the rentals will be less, etc.

Just Imagine how many people's salaries could be better if the Hotel room for the star wouldn't be $1200 a night...

How about slapping the Producers Hand for a change then slicing each others throught?

Sorry for the rambling...

Erwin"How about $300 for 14 on a 7 day/week and no rental"Landau, SOC
www.landaucamera.com
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#12 ericoh

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Posted 17 January 2004 - 04:29 PM

I'm fighting for a couple of 100 bucks for my rental, the same day the main actor get's a Porsche as a gift as "a token of apprechiation" from the Studio...

Shouldn't there be a cap for Actor salaries?

SAG is fighting all the time for better wages, yes because 90% of the SAG Actors just barely make the month... like us. But at the same time the 1% of the 20 Million a movie guy are also the problem.

Just Imagine how many people's salaries could be better if the Hotel room for the star wouldn't be $1200 a night...

How about slapping the Producers Hand for a change then slicing each others throught?

Hear, hear. I'm with you on that, Erwin. :)
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#13 Anthony Hardwick

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Posted 19 January 2004 - 12:23 PM

Posted by Phil Rhodes:

"Americans will not watch foreign films. Ancient fact."

You really are a moron, aren't you? I don't have room to list the numerous foreign films that have been SMASH hits in the U.S. from a box office AND critical perspective.

Furthermore, this statement is about as true as saying, "All Brits have fokked up teeth a la Mike Myers in Austen Powers. Ancient fact."

For the record I don't think this... I'm making a point that will hopefully be understood by any morons who might not understand my initial paragraph response.

Cheers mate.
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#14 SoCalCat

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Posted 20 January 2004 - 05:15 PM

I applaud Mr.Altman's comments, in the sense that there are only a few directors like him who've taken much of a public stand on this issue in the face of producers and executives who have been pressuring filmmakers to take their shoots out of the country.

The effect of globalization has had a noticeable effect on the dynamics of the industry the last ten years. Canada pretty much started the trend with the aggressive tax incentives (put less politely, bribes) to producers to shoot up north; the objective was, quite blatantly, to grab as much US production as possible. Money talks; last year Ottawa drastically cut its funding to local, Canadian-made programming while upping tax credits to foreign production shooting in the province---when it came down to a question of profiteering over encouraging local cultural product, guess which side the toast got buttered?

Funny thing is, not even the much-vaunted Canadian film industry's safe from being undercut by cheaper possibilities. With movie producers acting like junkies trotting the globe in search of cheaper labor, more generous tax breaks and lower currency exchanges, Canada's lost out on projects like "Cold Mountain" (which Miramax once tried to cajole Anthony Minghella into moving to Canada, after the U.S. was completely written out of the equation) to Eastern Europe where considerations like a living wage and union regulations are almost non-issues for a good majority of the labor hired for a production. The fast-rising Canadian dollar also closed much of the gap in 2003-2004, so producers are now flocking to Australia and New Zealand since it's now seen as both cheaper and fashionable to relocate Down Under for big-budget productions.

That said, the best thing American film workers can do is lobby harder than ever for federal tax incentives, in order to stay competitive in the world market---New Mexico and Louisiana have done this very aggressively and have made themselves very competitive places to shoot. The rules, like it or not, have changed and instead of wasting time waiting for random actors and directors with clout to move shoots back to the US on American workers' behalf, or trying to turn back the clock, our effort should be directed at lobbying Washington to show a little love (and if they can throw $87billion+ at the Iraq war effort, some little tax incentives for the tv/movie industry should be a drop in the bucket)....
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#15 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 07:34 AM

Hi,

> You really are a moron, aren't you?

Ah, well. It's nice to know that my negative opinion of overpaid, arrogant, pseudosocialistic right-wing Americans has been so horribly misconstrued this whole time.

> I don't have room to list the numerous foreign films that have been SMASH hits
> in the U.S. from a box office AND critical perspective.

Sure. But then, you really haven't looked at a movie magazine in the UK for a while, have you? It is not unusual for a cinema her to show NOTHING BUT American film. For months. And months. And months. Not one single local product.

Now I don't have a particular problem with this on some levels. British films get no money spent on them, and almost universally suck eggs, or are hopeless remakes of the one idea that Working Title seem to have. I wouldn't expect people to want to see these films. But here's the kicker: American film has much the same problem, for the most part, and yet they do well in the US simply because people like to fly the flag.

But this is all an aside. For whatever reason, Americans will not watch British film, certainly not at anything like the rate the reverse happens. As I say there are mitigating factors here, but frankly, it's affecting my ability to get a mortgage, and I find that inconvenient.

Phil
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