Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly doesn’t seem to approve of last night’s pro-Hobbit demonstration by film workers in central Wellington. “Richard Taylor … has obviously wound them up like springs,” she said.
Winding them up? Consider her speech at Parliament earlier in the day. “The government has turned its back on Kiwi workers and their families … the government thinks its okay to kick working people again … “ She obviously knows a thing or two about winding people up.
Even less credible is her explanation of why last night’s Actors Equity meeting was called off. “It was too dangerous,” she said. She says the demonstrating filmmakers “were in lynch-mob mood.” Talk about winding them up. The DomPost photo shows a lineup of smiling marchers, though they can’t have been particularly cheerful with the thought of jobs being lost if the Hobbit moves its shoot to another country.
The DomPost reports this morning that the actors have lifted their threatened boycott of the two Hobbit features, but suggests this may too late. And the Minister of Economic Development gives another reason for last night’s actors’ meeting being called off: “That … ban got lifted last night in a state of absolute panic because the union … meeting in Wellington was going to be picketed by people telling them that they didn’t support them.”
Pattrick Smellie writes in Business.Scoop this morning that 500 filmworkers marched through the CBD last night; he says a far smaller crowd marched earlier in the day in support of the CTU’s trade union day of action. While these figures may be debatable – photos from Parliament show several thousand at the CTU stopwork – the film community’s demonstration was impressive because it took place with only a few hours’ notice.
Sir Richard Taylor, co-founder of Weta Workshop and winner of multi-Academy Awards, went public with his concern about the threatened actors’ boycott by calling a meeting at Stone Street Studios in Miramar. Then the participants (estimated as more than 1500 by the DomPost) moved into the city to picket outside the actors’ meeting. When that was called off, they marched down Willis Street and Lambton Quay – led by Sir Richard – to the Cenotaph, where he again spoke to them.
Ms Kelly says unconvincingly that union members won’t be to blame if The Hobbit shoot moves to another country. She should realise that there wasn’t any problem till the actors started making threats.
Re-construction of Hobbiton was under way outside Matamata. And Peter Jackson was committed to a shoot in New Zealand. On the Weta website (in an undated post) he says: It is unlikely we will need any locations outside of NZ which has always been the perfect Middle Earth. there is nothing yet that Tolkien has described that we haven’t managed to find in this amazing little country and I expect the Hobbit to be no different.
But this morning things may have changed. A press release from Peter Jackson’s WingNut Films in Miramar says: “”The damage inflicted on our film industry by [the actors' unions] is long since done.”
The press release includes a statement that WingNut will continue the fight to keep the films in New Zealand. But this hope is not reflected in international coverage, as shown in the latest edition of the Hollywood Reporter.