Film Artist Association AGM Roundup

AslansTableThere is a scene in The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader where the Telmarine Lords are sat at Aslan’s table, covered in the cobwebs which have grown around them.
 
They are there, because when faced with a seemingly unsurmountable enemy, they talked of violence – which is not permitted – and so were frozen in time by the big kitty-cat. Sitting through this years Film Artist Association AGM, I couldn’t help but think a similar fate awaits the Committee.
 
Our industry is in trouble. Deep deep trouble. Paul Kirby put a brave face on a jocular Chairman’s address but no-one would disagree that it’s been a difficult year at best. For those new to this, the AGM is held in March at The Actors Centre – just off Shaftesbury Avenue – and is usually an opportunity to get together with the FAA Committee and other BECTU members to review the year that was.
 
Typically (this follows a familiar pattern), tea/coffee/biscuits are served before registration (ed – nothing quite like standing in a queue for an Supporting Artist!) then a series of addresses, from the FAA Chairman, our BECTU Representative, the FAA Awards Announcements before finishing off with an open Q&A from the floor.
 
FAAAGMFAA Chairman’s Address
 
Paul Kirby has been Chairman of the FAA for as long as I can remember – which I am sure he’d freely admit too. This year, bearing in mind the atrocious weather – the AGM had a slightly smaller turnout, but happily for the first time in memory did have a need for vote counters, as more than 10 people stood for committee election, not counting Paul himself. Yours truly did not stand you will be happy to note, although bringing the average age down by at least 10 years meant I did feel like the young whipper snapper in school – frantically taking notes.
 
Paul’s review set a scene where agents are looking after themselves, negating the wider interests of the industry as a whole. Making matters worse is the fact that confidence has not been received from the ongoing talks with the Governments Head of Business EAS Regulations who has potentially agreed to all book fee’s, even possibly extending the use of them – to the amazement of the FAA team. A joint Equity / FAA Meeting with the same Dept. seemed to fair no better, so it seems, if only for the moment, that there really is not much they feel they can do than work with Gerry Carr, our BECTU Representative and try to enforce the Status Quo.
 

Gerry Carr, BECTU

Gerry Carr, BECTU

BECTU Representative’s Address
 
Gerry Carr took over from long time rep Spencer MacDonald this time last year. His review of 2012 was one of frustration where once it was only ‘Rogue’ Agencies doing deals to undercut the FAA/PACT Agreement, now it’s EVERY agency bar one. The rise of websites, based overseas, advertising no-pay jobs compounds the issue in Gerry’s mind, especially as being based overseas puts them outside of UK jurisdiction. Gerry did establish though that it has not been all doom & gloom with the producers of ITV’s Downton Abbey announcing their decision to back the Union pay agreement instead of deals, although the most sombre update must be the news that PACT (the Producers body that the FAA Committee draw up their Pay Agreement with) is playing hardball, particularly around enforcing it’s existing terms and current negotiations are stalling, so any changes will not be in place until AT LEAST July this year.
 
FAA Awards
 
Roger Evans, FAA Communications Committee Member, announced this years winners – with much applause. With them being;
 
Best Runner – Joel Blake, Holby City
Best Third Assistant Director – Tussy Facchin
Best Second Assistant Director – Ben Howard
Best First Assistant Director – Deborah Saban
Best Production – Skyfall
Best Agency – Ray Knight Casting (4th Year in a row)
 
Roger Evans & Steve Singh

Roger Evans & Steve Singh

At this point, after a brief pause for more tea/coffee/biscuits, and the results of the Committee election – the floor was opened up for Questions and a various set were asked, some even by yours truly. Most though ofcourse enquired about the FAA’s plans to combat the ‘deal’ culture and an industry spiralling out of control. And, although no ‘violence’ was mentioned – probably sidestepping the whole Telmarine Lord cobweb treatment, what seemed obvious was the apparent lack of options available to them. It’s not so much they (the FAA/BECTU) aren’t executing a plan – there is no plan apart from continuing to deal with any violations through the usual channels.
 
In short, they need help and don’t underestimate the situation – if the FAA/PACT Agreement becomes unworkable or worse – with the closure of the Equity Walk On Committee later this year – the industry becomes a free-for-all with Agencies & Production companies able to make their own rules up as they go along. It is not just about the money, all the working practices could be discarded including; adequate food & drink, a safe warm place to shelter and minimum turnaround times for consecutive filming days to name a few.
 
So, if you’re reading this and you care about the T.V & Film business – after sitting through the AGM – I for one would urge you to get involved or alternatively suggest/do something better. Just don’t do nothing, or worse be a keyboard warrior – endlessly complaining on some Facebook Group but not getting involved. Sure, the Unions got issues you may not agree with at the moment, they have an image problem and supposedly associated people running around rubbing others up the wrong way – but these do not represent the majority who give up their free time voluntarily to improve all our working conditions. And this may be controversial but, you can take the odd ‘deal’ and still work with them towards a better future. The 2 are not mutually exclusive – everyone has a right to pay their household bills.
 
Because, should the worst happen and Supporting Artist work descends into the realms of £50 a day, it will be those people who did nothing and stood by letting it happen who will perhaps have the most to answer for. Not necessarily the people I met again at the Actors Centre who are at least trying to make a difference. Thanks!
 
ps – I am an FAA Member, but not on the Committee, payroll nor commission scheme (ha – if they were to have one!). And, the newly Elected FAA Commitee members are; Paul Kirby (Chair), Roger Evans, Clive Hurst, Steve K Singh, Ian Mansfield, Shirley Bridges, Barry Simmons, Karen Helke, Peggy Ann-Fraser and Peter McInerney.
 

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James has been a Supporting Artist based in London for a ‘considerable’ number of years. During that he’s appeared in alot of television & film productions which you’d undoubtedly know and he’d love to mention, and several slightly dodgy embarrassing ones that he wouldn’t – but suffice to say, he’s done quite a bit. He is also the founder of this site and therefore – the boss. So please, be nice to him.

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