A quintet of producer orgs have launched an assault on SAG in Cannes.
Producer groups from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the U.K. targeted SAG’s 3-week-old Global Rule One campaign, contending the push represents an illegal expansion of SAG’s jurisdiction. In an announcement Friday at the Cannes Intl. Film Festival, the groups told fellow producers to ignore the push for SAG members to work under SAG contracts outside the U.S.
“These producers groups stand united in recognition that a healthy, sustainable film and TV industry is significantly dependent upon their relationships with domestic performers’ unions,” the announcement said. “SAG’s attempt to expand Rule One outside of the U.S. is a direct threat to established collective agreements and could have a serious impact on the film and television economies in these countries.”
SAG stuck by its guns, insisting it will not back down and arguing that the producers have no right to intrude on the U.S. union’s handling of its internal affairs.
“Global Rule One is not a collective bargaining issue but an internal policy designed to ensure that SAG members have the benefit of SAG contract provisions wherever they work,” said guild CEO Robert Pisano. “Global Rule One will be vigorously enforced wherever and whenever our members are employed.”
The groups’ move came a month after the Canadian Film & Television Production Assn. issued a broadside against the Global Rule One initiative, threatening a court challenge against what it called an assault on Canadian sovereignty and an attempt to undermine last fall’s deal between Canuck actors and producers and promising a court challenge. The Canuck producers also say the move by SAG will boost the cost of shooting in Canada.
The other producer groups are the U.K.’s Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television, Film Makers Ireland, the Screen Producers Assn. of Australia and the Screen Producers and Directors Association of New Zealand.
The Los Angeles-based Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers has also warned it may sue SAG over the campaign for alleged illegal expansion of its jurisdiction, although reps of SAG and AMPTP have attempted to resolve the dispute.
SAG’s national board voted unanimously last October to set a May 1 enforcement date for the initiative, under which members will face disciplinary action if they work for non-signatory producers on foreign projects aimed at the U.S. market.
SAG spokeswoman Ilyanne Kichaven said several producers have agreed recently to provide SAG contracts to performers on foreign shoots, but did not identify specific projects. SAG has estimated that such a step will add an average of 3% to overall budgets, a figure disputed as too low by AMPTP prexy Nick Counter.
SAG has also been meeting recently with reps of foreign actor unions to resolve potential disputes over jurisdiction, particularly if the performer belongs to both unions. Kichaven said SAG has been attempting to address that issue by requiring a side letter — signed by SAG and the entity engaging the performer — that promises adherence to terms and conditions of the SAG contract.
“SAG members are still to be under jurisdiction of the foreign union in that situation,” Kichaven said.
The Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists has insisted that shoots within Canada fall under ACTRA jurisdiction but has also asserted that it will continue to permit SAG members to work in Canada with individual contracts incorporating SAG’s terms and conditions. And ACTRA prexy Thor Bishopric tweaked the producers last week for trying to drive a wedge between SAG and ACTRA.
“The CFPTA is spending a lot of time and effort puffing hot air on the issue,” said Bishopric in a message to members last week. “The CFTPA doesn’t agree with our position, and they’re trying to make life difficult for us as a result — threatening to sue if a situation arises where they deem us to give away our jurisdiction, which we have clearly stated we do not intend to do.”
SAG has argued that the enforcement of Rule One is critical to provide funds to the SAG-industry health plan, claiming that potential contributions to the plan have fallen $23 million short in the last five years due to SAG members’ work on non-union contracts overseas.
The Hollywood Entertainment Labor Council issued a statement of support on Friday, citing the increased importance of protections in a global economy.
“It is every union’s right and responsibility to protect its members,” wrote council prexy Scott Roth. “SAG members have lost residual payments, important safety provisions and substantial contributions to its pension and health funds because of work done out of the country using SAG talent where SAG contracts have been avoided. Both the Directors Guild and the Writers Guild have had a similar rule in place for many years. We know that SAG only wants what these unions already have.”