European producers at the Berlin fest got a crash practical course in the Teamsters union — in case they missed “Hoffa” unspooling in competition — as well as learning about social realities of Gotham. The occasion was a “Shooting in New York” panel moderated by Big Apple’s new film commish, Richard Brick.Brick promised his audience that things were going to be different under his regime, especially as far as unions were concerned. Indie panelists ranging from director Spike Lee to no-budget producer James Shamus shared tales of union woe that could well have scared away potential Gotham lensers, if they were hip enough to understand what the Teamsters are and how they work. More Teamster flexibility in multiracial staffing was lauded, but, panelists agreed, there is still progress to be made. “You have to be Irish and read the New York Post,” was how Lee profiled the typical Teamster. The union’s rigid fee schedule was often cited as NYC’s biggest detriment. If union woes weren’t off-putting enough to the assembled, indie docu maker John Valadez spun a terrifying personal horror story of police brutality, false arrest and a confiscated camera during his attempt to shoot a sequence for “Passin’ It On” on N.Y. streets the day the Rodney King verdict was handed down.
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