Episode 19: Starting over in a “Green field” revisited.

We originally talked about the concept of starting over in production with a Green field – no established starting points – in episode 11. In this episode we take it a little deeper as Terry and Philip revisit the subject.

Another longish show, so put on a render, pull out the snow blower or take a long walk.

5 thoughts on “Episode 19: Starting over in a “Green field” revisited.

  1. All this talk about green fields (2eps already!) leads me to ask you guys about the prospects of a “green union”. Under the current system, the mere mention of ‘unions’ brings fright to a producer. Since the producers want to hire workers, and workers want to be hired, we should rethink any institution which quite literally makes the employer look the door to their office, or move a production to another city. To a producer, unions mean more money, more paper work, more headaches with little on the positive side.

    Back in the day when unions were trying eliminate grievances like child slavery, and truly unsafe working conditions, thuggish methods like strikes, shame rallies, and protests were effective. I would argue that those methods are simply not effective anymore because workers (and the unions that support them) are not facing the same challenges.

    Our challenge, frankly, is unemployment. In entertainment, only a small % of people in unions actually work on union shows. Most people clammer for those few positions and those positions, which are evaporating anyway right along with the arcane business models that support them; for example networks.

    However, imagine a world where no one knew what a union was (green field). Image if an organization of workers formed with two goals in mind; to always be employed with fair wages and benefits, AND to help producers of that content be successful.

    How can they help? First off all, eliminate or greatly reduce the transaction costs. There is little excuse for paperwork, and job specific roles. A company should be able to complete a contract negotiation in a phone call and signature.

    Secondly, unions are a group of people who have collective bargaining power in general. Why not offer producers; free screening rooms at the guild, have subsidized edit bays available, have subsidized equipment rentals, help with distribution of projects via promotions (agencies do this for their starts), and the list goes on.

    I guess my point is, unions should find a way that they can introduce value into a production and not just act as a market distortion.

    My question is; how would you guys rebuild the unions?

    1. How would we rebuild unions? In the show we talk about it, really making similar points to you: our putative “green field” studio would probably not need unions because people were paid a fair wage/salary, with benefits and all would be working on the same team. Personally I’d advocate a “real” profit sharing deal and even equity – at least equity in programs they work on.

      And if we keep unions then I like your ideas.

  2. Profit sharing sounds good, but how do you police it? Look at the abysmal studio accounting practices that we have now. No one wants to work for points.

  3. Thanks for the responses!

    Phillip, I don’t think it’s a question of “needing” unions. I think it’s a question of unions making their “services” appealing to a producer.

    It’s possible “green fields” could even encourage the formation of unions. Instead of the traditional hiring of a freelancer, a producer would be hiring a freelancer with a community of support and services behind them, who want to help their productions.

    For example: Our Avid crashed and I, the person you hired, could not fix the problem (happens to the best of us). However, because we I’m in a union I have access to 24 hour tech support from someone working at the Local 700 office.

    If a producer or post supervisor knew about this freelancer’s ‘union benefit’ when they walked into the job interview, I bet they’d be more likely to be hired and less likely to have the door slammed on them for fear of being organized.

    This is fun 🙂

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