Mexico slaps limits on foreign crew

Cap requires as many locals as foreigners

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s largest film union signed an accord with the government Wednesday limiting the number of foreign workers that can work on productions.

Labor cap requires that foreign productions employ at least as many Mexicans as foreigners.

The Cinematographic Production Workers Union (STPC) hopes it will stop undocumented workers coming into Mexico, a phenomenon that irks locals.

Several recent U.S. productions have stoked anger, including last year’s HBO movie “And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself.” Eighteen technical crew members fired during the shoot sued the production for nearly $100,000, claiming that they were replaced by U.S. techs who entered Mexico on tourist visas.

Now, labor deals struck between productions and the STPC — which reps directors, screenwriters, musicians, technicians and manual laborers — will be a formalized matter of law.

“If a film doesn’t want more Mexicans, then I can complain to the Immigration Dept.,” said David Negrete Silva, head of the technicians branch of the union.

Silva said, however, that the new regulation is not meant to limit foreign, and particularly U.S., production in Mexico. With domestic production almost nonexistent over the past two years, local crews are heavily dependent on foreign shoots. “We aren’t trying to fight with productions from other countries, because we’re gasping for life here.”

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