Call it the Steven Soderbergh clause.
The recently approved Hollywood Basic agreement, covering 18 locals and 35,000 below-the-line workers, eliminates the requirement that camera operators be used on features and TV series.
The concession stemmed from the “Ocean’s Twelve” shoot two years ago, when Soderbergh acted as both DP and camera operator, even though Warner Bros. failed to obtain a waiver from Local 600, which reps camera crews.
The union then filed a grievance vs. Warners, leading to a settlement plus the insistence by studios and nets at last year’s contract negotiations that the operator requirement be dropped — ostensibly to give them more flexibility.
But union infighting and a desire to save money are also likely motivators.
The concession has been widely viewed as a rebuke to Local 600 for electing leaders in 2004 who ran on a platform opposing longtime IATSE prexy Tom Short. In a rare show of discord, Local 600’s exec board voted unanimously in January to oppose the deal; Short responded by asserting that a “no” vote on the contract would lead to a strike.