It’s Labor Day weekend – a time when most people frolic in the swimming pool, get drunk, barbeque and enjoy the last throes of summer before the rigors of school and work catch up with them. But did you know that without unions, we wouldn’t have this three-day-weekend to celebrate? I want to take time this weekend to talk about exploitation, and what led to the creation of these unions. Working in the film industry, you may encounter lots of different types of jobs – some union, and others, non-union. You need to be very, VERY aware of your rights if you work on non-union projects. Whereas the union has rules and regulations in place to protect you in the workplace, non-union work has practically nothing. You need to be forewarned about some of the shenanigans that people will try to pull – to know what is legal, and what is not! I will do my best to spell it out for you here.
Continue reading ‘Exploitation, or Have You Hugged Your Union Today?’
Painting by Poucher
Frocktalkers, in this industry, the easiest way to meet people and to make connections while you’re in school is to INTERN. This usually means working unpaid, for school credit, and doing all kinds of menial jobs while observing the way filmmaking works. I interned. Everyone I know interned. You suck it up and pay your dues for a few weeks or months, and you leave with an address book full of potential job contacts. Most people don’t complain about this, knowing that it is part of a long-standing system in our culture. Well, a couple of interns from the acclaimed film Black Swan have now filed a lawsuit against Fox Searchlight claiming that they should have been paid for their time, and that the work they did should have been done by paid employees of Fox… and according to Nikki Finke, they are turning it into a class-action lawsuit, encompassing more than 100 former unpaid Fox Searchlight interns.
To say that this is a bad idea for their future entertainment careers is one thing. What they might fail to realize is that by bringing this suit to court, they may well be thwarting the growth and development of hundreds of other students, eager for legitimate experience in the industry. Do you honestly think Fox or any of its affiliates will ever again allow interns? Not likely – and who could blame them?! If other studios and production companies follow suit, it could be disastrous for college students wanting some summer experience. Keep in mind that the people filing the suit took these intern jobs of their own volition – no one forced them to work for free. They volunteered. To punish Fox (and by extension, potentially hundreds or thousands of aspiring filmmakers) for a personal decision they now regret is completely convoluted. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.
What do you think?
UPDATE: Fox Searchlight responds with, “And you are…???”