Oz thesps get foreign aid

Performers vow campaign if producers reject offer

SYDNEY — Australia’s actors have enlisted the support of their sister guilds in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. in an escalating dispute with producers about overseas-commissioned TV commercials shot locally.

At a meeting Friday, Oz performers vowed to start a campaign — which could include picket lines at casting agents’ offices and production shoots that use actors who work outside the union agreement — if producers do not accept a revised offer.

The thesps rejected a counter-proposal from the Screen Producers Assn. of Australia.

On Nov. 11, SPAA gave notice it would terminate an agreement on pay and conditions for thesps working in offshore-sourced commercials effective Dec. 12 because it has made Oz uncompetitive (Daily Variety, Nov. 11).

SPAA officials indicated their chief concern was that the deal calls for thesps to be paid on hiring, whereas many offshore clients want to film multiple performers, but pay only those who are used in the final cut.

Actors repped by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance say they will not work on the terms proposed by SPAA.

MEAA national director Simon Whipp told Daily Variety the actors guilds in North America and the U.K. have indicated they will instruct their members not to work on any commercials in Oz if a strike occurs.

The Alliance blames the slump in offshore-sourced commercials on the strengthening of the Oz dollar vs. the greenback, a decision by marketing agency Ausfilm to cease efforts to attract commercials to Australia, and a general downturn in commercial production internationally.

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