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Why economics and politics ARE important to Cinematography.com


Brian Dzyak
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Actually, it IS because of Milton Friedmanism/Republicans. How so? Because the "global economy" that you do blame it on is BECAUSE OF Milton Friedman/Republicans. Prior to 1980, things were more or less working quite swimmingly. Naturally, there were some minor ups and downs, but for the most part, the US economy was strong because FDR's policies as well as policies enacted afterward, helped build a strong Middle Class. This was primarily achieved by regulating the financial markets and banking.

 

But this approach really irked a lot of very greedy people, so enter guys like Milton Friedman, Thomas Friedman and generations of impressionable youth who read Ayn Rand when they were 14 years old. Socialistic programs were quite popular after FDR rescued our economy from the Republican Great Depression and a strong Middle Class thrived. But for a number of reasons, the idea of "Socialism" became a bad word (guys like McCarthy helped that along) and thirty years of Reagan-like brainwashing resulted in all of this. Manufacturing was encouraged (and still is) to exit stage left and the enormous tax cuts given to the top 1% has resulted in a massive lack of quality jobs in the US and a failing infrastructure do to the lack of adequate tax revenue. Toss in a couple of unpaid-for wars, healthy Corporate Welfare to various Corporations including the Pharmaceutical and Medical industries, thirty years of little to no regulations on financial elements, and it's a recipe for complete economic breakdown. This is the "New World Order" (George Bush's words, not mine) that they wanted to build and we are in the thick of it whether we wanted it or not.

 

 

Not that it matters what I think, but personally, I would have no problem with Globalization if it was an even playing field. Amongst other things, that would mean a single world currency. But at present, that isn't the world we live in so it is unreasonable to expect people in a place with a higher cost of living to reasonably compete with people who live in a place with an inherently lower cost of living. And, earlier, the idea of "highly paid" Union workers was denounced as unsustainable, but there was no mention that allowing CEOs et al to hoard massive amounts of wealth is also unsustainable.

 

I mean, just take a look at these salaries of individuals: http://sickforprofit.com/ceos/ Picking one of them at random, Stephen Hemsley received $13.2 million in compensation in 2007. That's just ONE guy. Earlier, someone blamed Union members for making too much money. Let's say that just one of them makes $80/hr for turning a wrench and he does that five days a week. Let's assume that he's making $4,000/week for that menial task. Now lets pretend that there are fifty of these guys making the same money doing menial jobs. That's $200,000 a week for that factory in labor costs. That's $800,000 per month x 12 = $9,600,000 for 50 people.

 

So ONE guy at the top is taking home $13.2 million per year while 50 people share $9.6 million per year.

 

And people are blaming the workers for earning too much and taking Corporations down? :blink: It doesn't take a genius to see how insanely ridiculous that kind of statement is.

 

But let's play that game and pretend that they are overpaid. So what happens when we cut their wages by half? Now, a worker is bringing home $2,000 a week and out of that he has to pay for rising health care insurance, out of pocket expenses, car insurance, house payments (if he has one, or he is trying to save money for a 20% downpayment), groceries, school supplies and/or tuition, home expenses, and if there's anything left over, entertainment and vacations.

 

So what has cutting his pay accomplished? He now has LESS money to contribute to the economy because he can't buy things because he can't spend money that he doesn't have. Meanwhile, Mr. CEO is sitting on $13.2 million which is likely similar to what he earned the previous five years or so and what he'll earn several years from now. Is Mr. CEO taking his excess to open a new factory to employ fifty more people at $40/hr? Not likely. Why? Because like his own company, other companies are cutting worker wages or just shipping those jobs overseas. Now Mr. CEO's customers aren't buying his products so he has no incentive to open another factory anywhere because there isn't enough demand for his product. But is Mr. CEO's compensation getting cut too because of this? NO. Why? Because he "saved" his company umpteen millions of dollars last quarter by cutting labor costs by shipping those jobs overseas. Even though sales are down, the company profits APPEAR to be up because of the savings in labor. Mr. CEO collects a bigger paycheck and a healthy bonus for looking out for the company no matter the long-term effects to the nation he lives in or the people who live beyond the gates that protect his mansion.

 

This, in a nutshell, IS what has happened to the US over the past thirty years, because evidently, unfettered Free Market Capitalism is the very best economic system in the world. Or so they claim. Like I've said, we can agree or disagree about whether it is the way our world economy should work, but this is the way it IS and why some people are having trouble maintaining a stable life for themselves and their families while those at the top think that everything is just fine. <_<

 

You left out one very important thing: As a result of all the Reagan/Bush-I/Clinton/Bush-II tax cuts and advantages for the super-rich there was a huge amount of money floating around looking for high return investments. So much money that all the legitimate, good investment opportunities dried up since they had already been sold. As a result, Wall Street obliged by creating investments that increasingly were based on shaky ground. Like securities based on the sub-prime mortgage market, credit default swaps, etc. What created the huge fraudulent sub-prime mortgage market itself was Wall Street pushing the mortgage issuers to sell new mortgages to anyone who wasn't legally dead. There was no risk to the mortgage issuers, they took their fees and turned around and sold the mortgages to Wall Street.

 

The final nail in the US financial system's coffin was the Clinton Administration's allowing Congress to remove the individual State's gambling law prohibitions on certain Credit Default Swaps. If I buy a CDS based on GE stock, and I own GE stock, I'm just hedging MY investment. If I'm allowed to buy a CDS based on GE stock but don't own GE, then I'm not hedging an investment, I'm gambling on GE going broke. And until the law changed I wouldn't have been allowed to buy those bare CDS'.

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Hal, shhhhhhsh, don't mention any of the Democrats. We all know that REPUBLICANS are the source of all problems in this country. . . :rolleyes:

 

It's funny you should say that, Bill Clinton is revered in Canada Bush is hated. One of the reasons Canadians site is that Bush supports the death penalty.

 

Apparently every Canadian seems to be unaware that Clinton was ALSO governor of a state that uses the death penalty, and a number of executions where carried out in Arkansas while Clinton was the governor. But it seems to be ok for Clinton.

 

Then there's Al Gore and his list of Inconvenient Truths, as I watched his movie I notice he very CONveniently skipped over the eight years he was VP of the USA when talking about the requirements for improving vehicle emissions. It seems he and Clinton didn't do much of any thing to enforce tougher vehicle emissions when they where in office either.

 

Seems the Clinton/Gore team didn't bring in national health care for the USA either.

 

The list goes on and on. Hey maybe all politicians are corrupt and useless? Hmmm?

 

R,

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You left out one very important thing: As a result of all the Reagan/Bush-I/Clinton/Bush-II tax cuts and advantages for the super-rich there was a huge amount of money floating around looking for high return investments. So much money that all the legitimate, good investment opportunities dried up since they had already been sold. As a result, Wall Street obliged by creating investments that increasingly were based on shaky ground. Like securities based on the sub-prime mortgage market, credit default swaps, etc. What created the huge fraudulent sub-prime mortgage market itself was Wall Street pushing the mortgage issuers to sell new mortgages to anyone who wasn't legally dead. There was no risk to the mortgage issuers, they took their fees and turned around and sold the mortgages to Wall Street.

 

The final nail in the US financial system's coffin was the Clinton Administration's allowing Congress to remove the individual State's gambling law prohibitions on certain Credit Default Swaps. If I buy a CDS based on GE stock, and I own GE stock, I'm just hedging MY investment. If I'm allowed to buy a CDS based on GE stock but don't own GE, then I'm not hedging an investment, I'm gambling on GE going broke. And until the law changed I wouldn't have been allowed to buy those bare CDS'.

 

There's an excellent book on shelves right now called "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis that describes this exact situation http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-marc...0/michael-lewis . The fallacy/lie that the Fox "News" crowd liked to push is that Fanny and Freddie and Nancy Pelosi were to blame for the housing crisis. The fact is that the massive deregulation of just about everything financial was to blame and THAT was indeed encouraged by Conservatives and their undying desire for unfettered markets. They don't want ANY regulation of any kind on anything. So what's most surprising is that anyone was surprised at all. Something clearly was and is wrong and it needs fixed. Harry Markopolos also has a book out and it describes the breakdown at the SEC ( http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-marc...arry-markopolos "No One Would Listen") And yet, despite all the documented problems, no policies have changed and no one has been fired. Why?

 

But as mentioned above, the Clinton administration was clearly guilty of causing considerable damage to the US and world economy too. He was hardly Progressive or Liberal. What we've had in the USA are two Conservative parties... the Democrats have by and large behaved much like the Republican Party of fifty years ago and the modern Republican Party behaves like The John Birch Society. Even Obama isn't truly as Progressive as those who voted him in wish he was. What we need more than anything in the US is a return to the kind of regulation on the financial sector that we had under FDR. We can apply bandaids on the problems all we want to, but until fundamental attitudes toward economic ideology change, then nothing will ever get better for anyone beyond the super-rich and those who know how to manipulate the system.

 

To answer the snarky comment above, it really isn't about Republican or Democratic labels. It's about (sorry Richard!) those who choose to worship the Milton Friedman unfettered Free Market ideology vs those who favor regulations in order to maintain a healthy balance in order to maintain a stable economy for everyone and a true democracy. It just so happens that most of the former choose to call themselves Republicans, though there are those few on the latter side who drink the Kool-Aid too. There's plenty of blame to go around, but mostly, we need to blame ourselves for falling for the lie that wealth "trickles down" if you hand enough of it over to the top.

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http://www.freep.com/article/20100404/COL0...eaks-or-get-out

 

 

Go all-in for film breaks or get out

 

BY TOM WALSH

FREE PRESS COLUMNIST

 

 

BY TOM WALSH

FREE PRESS COLUMNIST

 

Two years ago this week, Michigan began offering the most generous state tax incentives in the nation to make movies here.

 

So, how’s it working?

 

And is it worth it?

 

By any measure, the big tax credits — up to 42% of a film’s production costs and 25% of permanent investments in studios and production houses — have put Michigan on the movie-making map.

 

In 2009, the state signed 59 deals for film productions planning to spend $300 million in the state. That’s up from $2 million in 2007 and $125 million in ‘08, the first year of the film credits.

 

Aside from dollars and cents, there’s the buzz factor. Clint Eastwood filming “Gran Torino” here; George Clooney out at the airport for “Up in the Air”; Drew Barrymore partying with her roller girls on the set of “Whip It!”; Al Pacino in town as Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

High-cost jobs

 

If anyplace was in need of decent buzz the past couple years, it was Michigan, home of auto industry bankruptcies, 15% unemployment and a brain drain threatening to become a stampede of our best-educated young people.

 

Gov. Jennifer Granholm, in her weekly radio address, said the film activity has created more than 6,700 jobs in two years. Many of those are temporary, of course, and no matter how you crunch the numbers, Michigan is shelling out a bundle in tax breaks for every job created.

 

Using the state’s number of $136 million in projected 2009 tax credits for film projects and dividing by its estimate of 1,833 related full-time-equivalent jobs, it appears the cost per job is about $74,000. That’s a mighty big number, so it’s not surprising in this era of budget constraints that there’s been talk of capping or reducing the size of the film incentives.

 

Seems to me, though, that this is a game where you go all-in or you don’t go at all.

 

Be the film-friendliest state and vow to stay that way for the long haul. It’s the only way investors will put big studios and year-round jobs here. It’s the best chance to attract TV series as well as one-shot movies, and for eventually expanding the state’s role in making commercials and video games.

Priceless pork

 

Potential spin-off business is considerable. At a seminar last week, for example, I discovered that the George B. Ford Agency in Novi has a film industry specialist, Edie Derusha, writing insurance policies to cover props, wardrobes, cast members, even animals on the sets.

 

And then there are benefits no one ever dreamed of, like the 22-foot-long Styrofoam pig left behind in Birch Run by the makers of “Whip It!”

 

In the movie, the big pink pig sat atop a diner named the “Oink Joint,” where Ellen Page’s character worked as a waitress before pursuing her dream to be a roller derby star.

 

The unsightly porker no longer adorns the diner. But it now makes periodic appearances around town, for charity events or surprise gags — it turned up on the Birch Run village manager’s lawn on Valentine’s Day.

 

How do you put a value on that?

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As usual, I'm with Mr. Mullen on this issue. What good is a pile of gold in a swiss bank? Does a lumpy mattress serve anyone well? Do CEOs really work a million times harder per hour than the guy on the assembly line? The definition of a "healthy economy" is one that is stable enough to allow the PURSUIT of life, liberty and happiness for all the citizens.

 

Unfortunately, Mr. Lowe, we do have a pretty good constitution here in the USA based on "rugged individualism" etc but it was used primarily as a cover for things like the slave trade, the genocide of the indigenous population and the ruin of the continent's national resources whenever people weren't fighting in the streets and courts to make it live up to what it should be. And the larder of easy profits has been raided to a point where it's a lot harder now to pick up a bird's nest off the ground, as the saying goes. So the beast that is Accumulation of Wealth for wealth's sake has turned to the middle class as the latest source of easy money.

 

The trend towards greater social justice is what the founding fathers built into the constitution and what has served our nation and the world at large better than the parts about personal property. The popular election of a moderate progressive tends to prove that this is the trend that we're on now, and the Reagan era is dead, dead, dead. The passage of health care reform was the final nail in his coffin, like it or not. God bless Obama Death Panels. Industry desperately needs to no longer be responsible for sustaining a bloated health care network where half of every dollar goes to an administrator. That $75 an hour wrench turner was paying for the retirement and health care of the baby boom generation, at the tune of $50 dollars an hour, and trying to compete with a japanese worker making $25 dollars an hour, who happened to be making a better product in a modern nation with socialized medicine. Guess who won? It wasn't the CEO of GM, or Jimmy Hoffa either. It was the guy in the nation with a modern constitution, albeit one modeled on our own, with a more social democratic bent to it.

 

Here's what I know about the future: we're all going to have to live a lot more like one another, and that means Thai grips will make a salary close to what grips in Kansas make. Korean movie stars will make something more like American movie stars, believe it or not. (Their cinema is already more artistically vibrant than US cinema in many ways, and ascending while ours is in decline.) Producers in India will continue to make more product, and that means a larger economy and a more educated and sophisticated audience demanding higher production values. That is already leading to higher salaries and bigger production costs. Etc etc. Teh cinema of the EU is a good middle ground to examine, and it comes from nations that fund the arts and artists, like it or not. Indie film makers in america are competing on an unfair playing field at present because a film made in Sweden, for example has already paid the cast and crew a living wage from a subsidy whereas the Yank is hoping to recoup costs and pay deferred salaries from the sale to a distributor. But they both are offered the same advance....

 

So again, the future is going to be a game about leveling the playing field. If you think that means passenger van drivers in Latvia are going to get bass boats in their driveways next year, think again.

 

The future will also be more progressive, and green, or else it will cease to exist. If we keep acting selfishly, the planet wont survive. Period.

 

It will also be more sustainable, or else it will devolve into an open war between the haves and the have nots, and trust me, the have nots outnumber the haves. And it won't be pretty when they figure that out.

 

Niche marketing, mumblecore and DIY cinema, whatever survives of the ashes of so-called indie cinema, digital distribution, the breakdown of the broadcast networks, and a million other things like the rise of social media is going to do a lot more to the future of "the film industry" than runaway productions and the "shut the gate because the horse has already fled the barn" decisions of some outmoded but valiant labor unions, anyway. Am I the only one who noticed that all the stars at the academy awards were pushing fifty, and there didn't seem to be a viable younger generation stepping in to replace them? (Sorry Mylie Cyrus or whatever your name is) Or that every film that had some smidgen of indie productio to it did a lot better than AVATAR?

 

We're in the process of creating a gulf in the middle where only two types of films are being made in America - Spiderman Five and "Johnny's Earnest Indie he made with his summer job money on his cell phone, now playing on YouTube" Someone is going to step into that gulf and entertain the masses on a weekly basis and deliver the content to them simply, cheaply and on a mass level. Right now that is called cable teevee, but that still leaves empty seats at the local cinemaplex. Me, I'm interested in what is going to fill THAT gap because it may not get made here in the USA unless we straighten some things out quickly. These are the jobs that will employ, sustain and INSPIRE my generation and the artists I am moved by.

 

That, for me personally is the positive, sustainable and equitable solution I'm working towards.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Complaining that stars make too much is ridiculous. Are you complaining that NBA stars make too much while the guys selling hot dogs only make 15 bucks an hour? I rarely hear that. Those stars bring in huge audiences, which is why they make the bucks. Do you think the guy driving the grip truck can bring in an extra 10 million dollars in opening-weekend box office like Brad Pitt can? Do you think the guy selling hot dogs at the Lakers game is why people pay $100 for a ticket to attend?

 

That "Star Power" is having less and less effect on why people go to movies (yes for sports, but no longer for movies). There have been enough flops with big stars getting multi-million dollar paychecks, that a sort of backlash has developed. As ticket prices go up, and movies don't get any better, the public sees the high salaries the same way they see overpaid CEOs. Right or wrong, that's the general perception. Not so surprisingly, the public has become very sensitive to the fact that while those stars are making big bucks, American crews are getting put out of work.

 

 

And Brian...I'll be part of a production shooting this summer in VA/MD with no tax credits and locally/self (meaning several of us) financed. Because we just want to make movies.

We LOVE making movies. We have fun making movies, and we don't need you.

Our fist few efforts sucked, but we learn and we get better. We hire professional actors, just not big names. We pay decent wages, just not exorbitant ones. All of us on the below the line, plus directors, have regular day jobs. I'm not anti union, I'm anti extortion. We have already found most distributors are greedy slime and are learning to setup our own distribution systems. Our budgets are too low for unions to be interested in us anyway. While we may premier in a theater digitally projected, we are not going for theatrical release, so SAG or any other union can't blackmail us. I hire SAG, because of the talent pool and am willing to pay more, but technically we don't qualify because we are not going for theatrical release. Good thing, every place in America except TMZ is a right to work place.

Maybe some day we will do well enough to afford to hire top quality below the line talent, but until then, we will just keep on keeping on.

 

I'm glad I don't have to uproot my family and move to SoCal to make a movie. If I was open to moving...I'd rather take a crew and shoot in France, but hey, can't have everything :P .

Glad I live in country where people in SoCal can't determine what I can and can't do.

I'm sure actors and crew in Wilmington NC feel the same way, and Austin TX and Santa Fe NM, and Boise ID, and Portland Maine,and Miami Fl,etc....

 

Brian, you will have to wake up to the reality that SoCal is no longer the center of the Universe for production. It never will be again. It is now, simply put, just one option among many.

 

Talking about other states as if they are poor 3rd world nations will simply increase the overall negative attitude people have toward CA in the first place.

Most people outside of CA have contempt for it. The film industry in particular, with it's perceived excesses and avarice,it's undeserved sense of entitlement. You don't give a crap about us, whey should we care about you? Did you think people in Hollywood could be condescending snobs to the rest of the country and we would forever just sit there and take it? With affordable tools, we don't have to anymore. The only thing I"m actually having a problem with, is finding a good script for my next project.

 

Even if all film credits were eliminated, we would still not need Hollywood to make movies. With technology, that cat's out of the bag. There are plenty of places in the USA where 20.00hr is a respectable wage, where 500.00 a day makes you feel rich. As for others using words like 'rape', you are alienating the very people you are trying to convince and insulting the women and men who have been victims of it.

 

 

I'm glad Hollywood has become an option, not a requirement.

In case you are wondering..I'm definitely not a conservative and favor financial regulation reform. I sincerely hope the SEC breaks Goldman Sachs back.

 

Anyway Brian, thanks for having the courage to bring this subject up.

Edited by Joe Carney
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  • 3 weeks later...
You left out one very important thing: As a result of all the Reagan/Bush-I/Clinton/Bush-II tax cuts and advantages for the super-rich there was a huge amount of money floating around looking for high return investments. So much money that all the legitimate, good investment opportunities dried up since they had already been sold. As a result, Wall Street obliged by creating investments that increasingly were based on shaky ground.

 

Interesting point. You could argue that income inequality created the economic crash since there wasn't enough 'working' capital being spent on actual goods and services to create the companies which provide sound investments.

 

Investing in an investment of an investment is what happens when nobody is actually creating value anymore. I've always thought I was a poor target for tax cuts. Sure I'll buy computers, cameras and lenses but I'm also pretty frugal and save a lot. Give it to me and it'll sit in a bank account. Give it to someone poorer and they'll almost immediately put it back into the economy by buying goods and services.

 

Bringing it back to the original post, I feel like this is the attitude that a number of businesses have engaged in which is short sighted and ultimate doomed. Instead of focusing on creating products which consumers want to purchase they invest all of their energy in cutting costs. It's always important to be efficient but if you create a quality product that people want to buy then you can spend what it costs to create quality. I would hold up the example of Pixar. They hired people who understood the market, how to create a quality product and invested in making something people actually want to purchase. As a result they've been incredibly successful. Compare that to Disney which had focused on cutting production expenses, hired accountants to run the studio and failed to foster talent and development collapsed.

 

It doesn't matter how inexpensive you can make a widget if nobody wants to buy it. Yes you have to be able to afford to manufacture it and you have to be sensible. I'm not suggesting spending $1B on a romantic comedy but seeing as the vast majority of spending seems to be on above the line talent or VFX today I don't see how moving production would make a dramatic change in budget.

 

Here is how I read that blog post:

 

"I used to be able to take a $500k cut of every film I made. Now the only way I can make $500k per film as a producer is to take the film overseas. I can't help myself. If I used Union labor I would only make $250k. I can't live on that kind of money. That's why I pay people $5 a day. If people in LA would work for $5 a day I would come back."

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Complaining that stars make too much is ridiculous. Are you complaining that NBA stars make too much while the guys selling hot dogs only make 15 bucks an hour? I rarely hear that. Those stars bring in huge audiences, which is why they make the bucks. Do you think the guy driving the grip truck can bring in an extra 10 million dollars in opening-weekend box office like Brad Pitt can? Do you think the guy selling hot dogs at the Lakers game is why people pay $100 for a ticket to attend?

 

No. But if you took 5% of the wages of the players and gave it to the people who clean the stadium, sell the hot dogs and run the scoreboards it would make a huge impact on their lives. The players meanwhile wouldn't probably notice.

 

What's the difference between making 3.5 million and 3.325 million? Nothing. My spending probably fluctuates on average by about 20-30% per month based almost completely randomly. If I made 3.5 million or even 3 million I highly doubt I would notice any impact on my life. So why should the players agree to that? They won't. But if you form a union for all stadiums and have some bargaining power then I would like to see those players collect the $100 tickets at the door themselves.

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Interesting point. You could argue that income inequality created the economic crash since there wasn't enough 'working' capital being spent on actual goods and services to create the companies which provide sound investments.

 

Investing in an investment of an investment is what happens when nobody is actually creating value anymore. I've always thought I was a poor target for tax cuts. Sure I'll buy computers, cameras and lenses but I'm also pretty frugal and save a lot. Give it to me and it'll sit in a bank account. Give it to someone poorer and they'll almost immediately put it back into the economy by buying goods and services.

 

Bringing it back to the original post, I feel like this is the attitude that a number of businesses have engaged in which is short sighted and ultimate doomed. Instead of focusing on creating products which consumers want to purchase they invest all of their energy in cutting costs. It's always important to be efficient but if you create a quality product that people want to buy then you can spend what it costs to create quality. I would hold up the example of Pixar. They hired people who understood the market, how to create a quality product and invested in making something people actually want to purchase. As a result they've been incredibly successful. Compare that to Disney which had focused on cutting production expenses, hired accountants to run the studio and failed to foster talent and development collapsed.

 

It doesn't matter how inexpensive you can make a widget if nobody wants to buy it. Yes you have to be able to afford to manufacture it and you have to be sensible. I'm not suggesting spending $1B on a romantic comedy but seeing as the vast majority of spending seems to be on above the line talent or VFX today I don't see how moving production would make a dramatic change in budget.

 

Here is how I read that blog post:

 

"I used to be able to take a $500k cut of every film I made. Now the only way I can make $500k per film as a producer is to take the film overseas. I can't help myself. If I used Union labor I would only make $250k. I can't live on that kind of money. That's why I pay people $5 a day. If people in LA would work for $5 a day I would come back."

I think the flipside is that if your company is more focused on market analysis, then you could wind up in the same boat as the production company that hired the "bean counters". The whole reason films are a chancy investment is because you're banking on someone's reliability to be a creative genius. When that doesn't succeed you hire marketers to do test market screenings, and have audiences fill out questionnaires to see what they liked and what they didn't like.

 

What you wind up with is a lot of crap that's allegedly focused on target audiences, but which ultimately fails on all levels; ticket sales most notably, but also expected sales and general appreciation. One of the classic examples is a film that came out 7 years ago; "Legally Blonde 2". It had a bankable actress, was test marketed to to no end to target audiences, young girls (pre-teen to mid 20s), was given a huge budget, and, from all sound business sense, should have made more on its investment.

 

The problem was that for all the money dumped into safety valves to see that the film wouldn't fail, it bombed anyway. It eventually recouped its cost, but you never saw nor heard talk of a "Legally Blonde 3".

 

For argument's sake, say you were a studio exec placed in charge of making an LB3. How would you do it? Well, you'd probably cut the budget. This means ditching Reese Witherspoon in favor of some other actress, tell the writers to make this new girl Reese's cousin or something, then shoot it in Bangkok, South Africa, or someplace really cheap to cut costs. It's the safe thing to do, because the "Legally Blonde" franchise is seen as bankable, but only marginally. That is it's enough of an investment to make another Legally Blonde movie, but the expected return dictates that it be a film done on the cheap.

 

Now, to confuse things even more, what if you put some first time director on the project who turns out to be very gifted and talented? And say LB3 turns out to be a huge success with this new director at the helm. What to do? Why, you go ahead and make another LB movie (Legally Blonde 4; milking a franchise), but yank that director off the film and put him on bigger budgeted projects, and put some other B-grade director on the new film.

 

It's the financially safe thing to do, and studios are businesses like everything else.

 

From a sole proprietorship perspective, the smart thing to do would be to throw that director back onto another LB sequel, give him a slightly bigger budget, then move him onto an entirely different project. But, the key here is to keep investing in what's good and what works.

 

I could go on with this stuff, but I'll stop here. Needless to say from the money-people's standpoint it's all about the dollar. From the creative peoples' standpoint, it's all about making the product the best they can. The trick is to make sure you got the talent so that both aspects either even themselves out or synergize to make something good.

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Needless to say from the money-people's standpoint it's all about the dollar.

 

 

Which is why, prior to 1980 in the US, we had very strict trade regulations in place to protect workers and their wages. FDR's policies helped build a strong economy and strong Middle Class.

 

But, after that, a new sheriff came to town to undo all of the protections that kept the US "strong" and built a relatively strong Middle Class. People used to be able to work "normal" hours to buy homes and provide for their families. Post 1980, all of that began to be undone so that financial policy favored the superrich and Corporations more. It's not even a fight over creativity. It's a never-ending battle between the majority of people just looking to earn a decent wage to have a "happy" life and those for whom enough is never enough. And that second group doesn't care about the lives of others or about silly ideas like "democracy" or "liberties" or "human rights" or "nations." None of that matters when there's a buck to be made.

 

So, people at the "top" continue to rake it in, but then claim "poverty" to justify needing tax incentives bribes from governments and to justify breaking up unions in order to pay lower wages. It's not in the name of building an industry or to make better movies... it's purely about short-term profits so that WHEN those people at the top are fired or aren't "bankable" anymore, they'll have their personal treasure chest and they'll never have to worry whether they'll lose their home or if they can afford to get the kids the school supplies they need.

 

The bottom line is that the lack of borders (for Corporations) and the continued bribery on the part of governments toward all Corporations only serves to enrich a few at the top while driving living conditions lower for everyone else. They play the "Free Market" card, but know that this isn't truly a free market. If it was, there would be a single world currency and absolutely no border restrictions for labor (that's us) or goods and services. Corporations are free to cross borders without penalty and with Tax Incentives, they are encouraged to do so. But people CAN'T! Toss in uneven currency exchange rates and varying costs-of-living and this is FAR from a flat Global Free Market. And they like it that way.

 

So, "they" get wealthier at the top and the rest of us argue over the scraps of projects as they pit workers against each other. If ever there was a time for a WORLD UNION of filmmakers/workers, now is it. If the Corporatists want to play the Globalization game, then everyone in the professional film industry has to go global as well. If a Camera Operator in the UK makes 50 pounds an hour, then the Camera Operator in the USA makes $100 dollars an hour (varying due to daily exchange rates). And our industry MUST force local and national governments to STOP using tax dollars to bribe Corporations that are already wealthy. It's like giving Bill Gates a million tax dollars so that he'll build a new computer ONLY for you. It makes no sense. And that computer will die in three months. It still makes no sense. :blink:

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If a Camera Operator in the UK makes 50 pounds an hour

 

Oh, the tears of derisory mirth running down my cheeks...

 

I have the feeling that most local 600 members make more in a week than I do in a year.

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