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Equity (The Actors' Union)

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Sheriff Fatman
219758.  Fri Oct 12, 2007 3:16 am Reply with quote

Quote:
I remember a very heated Equity AGM a long time ago, when Vanessa Redgrave was trying to get membership extended to so-called hostesses. Now, whatever I felt about such women or their need to unionize, I was adamant that they did not belong in a union that I had to train for years before I could join. She presented her arguments and I mine, and that motion was defeated. Has the situation changed in the interim? If so, I'd really be opposed to that


But as you said before Equity represents Newsreaders whose job is to 'read out loud'.That doesn't take years of training, but you are happy for Equity to represent them

 
HasBeany
219906.  Fri Oct 12, 2007 10:07 am Reply with quote

Sheriff Fatman wrote:
Quote:
I remember a very heated Equity AGM a long time ago, when Vanessa Redgrave was trying to get membership extended to so-called hostesses. Now, whatever I felt about such women or their need to unionize, I was adamant that they did not belong in a union that I had to train for years before I could join. She presented her arguments and I mine, and that motion was defeated. Has the situation changed in the interim? If so, I'd really be opposed to that


But as you said before Equity represents Newsreaders whose job is to 'read out loud'.That doesn't take years of training, but you are happy for Equity to represent them


Newsreaders do train and the job isn't so mindless as you imply, as you'd know if you'd ever auditioned to be one. Most newsreaders also acquire related presenting skills.

I'm not quite sure what your point is? Do you want to make a case for hostesses and prostitutes being in the same category as professional entertainers and presenters?

If so, I'd be interested in hearing your argument.

My own pov - in case you're interested - is that if prostitutes [and allied professions] want to be unionized, they should certainly have their own union. So my objection isn't a moral one, but one of appropriateness. I wouldn't advocate a portrait painter being in the same union as a house-painter even though they both use paint and brushes. I don't think secretaries should be in the Writers Guild even though they both produce words on paper.

Another factor to consider is that unions do not accept or reject members on a qualitative basis, but because they've acquired a threshold of skills. Unions try -- or they used to -- to liaise with NVQ standard setters to assure the skillsets are consistent.

Anyway - it would be interesting to hear your arguments.

 
suze
219916.  Fri Oct 12, 2007 10:28 am Reply with quote

Just as an aside, why are newsreaders in Equity? Isn't it usually the National Union of Journalists for those in the news media?

 
Jim Phelps
219919.  Fri Oct 12, 2007 10:31 am Reply with quote

I just want to thank Hasbeany for her response, above, to what I wrote. I think many would have responded in a more argumentative and/or confrontational way - especially many of those in the Equity universe that I have met and had the pain of working with. I am delighted that she didn't go down that route, and was instead much more constructive and fair-minded.

I guess the point I was making, albeit through the gritted teeth of several bad experiences, was that you can find saints and sinners on both sides of the producer/actor working relationship, and that neither has a monpoly on potential abuse/exploitation.

By way of providing a little balance, I might add that I have, of course, also worked with many actors and presenters (from the lowliest to big names) who were the epitome of professionalism, a joy to work with, and lacking any trace of either financial greed or militant pedanticism regarding pay and contractual matters.

May I mention a couple in passing? Many of you will remember a TV presenter called Judith Hahn, perhaps still best-known for her years presenting Tomorrow's World. I had the pleasure of working with her on a corporate video. Not only is she an excellent presenter in all respects, but over the 2 days of filming it was clear that her first and foremost concern was to do a really good job. She couldn't have cared less if we went a bit over time or if the conditions were occasionally a little fraught and difficult. Ditto with Josie Lawrence, who I worked with once on a low-budget, completely forgotten comedy sketch show from the earliest days of Channel 4, called 'Comedy Wavelength'. A brilliant actress, a talented comedian, a joy to work with, and - as above - the last person in the world to kick up a fuss about anything except getting the job done and doing it well.

 
Tas
219924.  Fri Oct 12, 2007 10:36 am Reply with quote

I knew Josie was lovely.

Mmmm.....Josie.

:-)

Tas

 
HasBeany
219945.  Fri Oct 12, 2007 11:05 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Just as an aside, why are newsreaders in Equity? Isn't it usually the National Union of Journalists for those in the news media?


Just an educated guess, but it's probably because the NUJ covers print and Equity covers broadcast.

 
HasBeany
219947.  Fri Oct 12, 2007 11:07 am Reply with quote

Jim Phelps wrote:
I just want to thank Hasbeany for her response, above, to what I wrote. I think many would have responded in a more argumentative and/or confrontational way - especially many of those in the Equity universe that I have met and had the pain of working with. I am delighted that she didn't go down that route, and was instead much more constructive and fair-minded. Ditto with Josie Lawrence, who I worked with once on a low-budget, completely forgotten comedy sketch show from the earliest days of Channel 4, called 'Comedy Wavelength'. A brilliant actress, a talented comedian, a joy to work with, and - as above - the last person in the world to kick up a fuss about anything except getting the job done and doing it well.


Why, thank you!

I agree about Josie - she's a lovely person -- even though Stephen expressed on QI what many of us felt about her spiritual beliefs. ;)

 
suze
219954.  Fri Oct 12, 2007 11:33 am Reply with quote

HasBeany wrote:
Just an educated guess, but it's probably because the NUJ covers print and Equity covers broadcast.


Thanks HasBeany, but that doesn't seem to be it. Now I've had a bit of a time to look things up, the NUJ says that its members work in "broadcasting, newspapers, magazines, books, on the internet and in public relations".

http://www.nuj.org.uk/inner.php?docid=88

The difference could be that NUJ is only open to those who actually have some involvement in preparing the news broadcasts - I don't know whether or not TV newsreaders do, but I believe that radio newsreaders write at least part of their bulletins themselves.

 
Sheriff Fatman
219985.  Fri Oct 12, 2007 1:03 pm Reply with quote

HasBeany wrote:
Sheriff Fatman wrote:
Quote:
I remember a very heated Equity AGM a long time ago, when Vanessa Redgrave was trying to get membership extended to so-called hostesses. Now, whatever I felt about such women or their need to unionize, I was adamant that they did not belong in a union that I had to train for years before I could join. She presented her arguments and I mine, and that motion was defeated. Has the situation changed in the interim? If so, I'd really be opposed to that


But as you said before Equity represents Newsreaders whose job is to 'read out loud'.That doesn't take years of training, but you are happy for Equity to represent them


Newsreaders do train and the job isn't so mindless as you imply, as you'd know if you'd ever auditioned to be one. Most newsreaders also acquire related presenting skills.

I'm not quite sure what your point is? Do you want to make a case for hostesses and prostitutes being in the same category as professional entertainers and presenters?

If so, I'd be interested in hearing your argument.

My own pov - in case you're interested - is that if prostitutes [and allied professions] want to be unionized, they should certainly have their own union. So my objection isn't a moral one, but one of appropriateness. I wouldn't advocate a portrait painter being in the same union as a house-painter even though they both use paint and brushes. I don't think secretaries should be in the Writers Guild even though they both produce words on paper.

Another factor to consider is that unions do not accept or reject members on a qualitative basis, but because they've acquired a threshold of skills. Unions try -- or they used to -- to liaise with NVQ standard setters to assure the skillsets are consistent.

Anyway - it would be interesting to hear your arguments.


I wasn't making a point for prostitutes and hostesses to be members of Equity. I was making a point about Newsreaders. I'm sure Newsreaders do acquire reading skills, but anybody with a relatively competent school education should have the skills to read from an autocue in 5 minute sections for half an hour. Interviewers and presenters of specialised programmes, yes I can see that they have a skill that comes with training, but reading out loud isn't a massively hard skill to learn.

I could make a very good case for waiting staff and bar staff to be members of Equity as they are regularly portraying personas that are not their own for shifts of up to 12 hours a day, many are far better at improvisation than most 'actors'.

 
Sheriff Fatman
219987.  Fri Oct 12, 2007 1:13 pm Reply with quote

[quote="HasBeany"][quote="Sheriff Fatman"]
Quote:
Another factor to consider is that unions do not accept or reject members on a qualitative basis, but because they've acquired a threshold of skills. Unions try -- or they used to -- to liaise with NVQ standard setters to assure the skillsets are consistent.


I would also disagree with that statement. I have been a member of two different Unions, and neither have accepted me because I had aquired a threshold of skills. One accepted me because the company I worked for agreed to pay my dues. The other, because I worked for the railway.

 
Jim Phelps
220089.  Fri Oct 12, 2007 9:46 pm Reply with quote

HasBeany wrote:
even though Stephen expressed on QI what many of us felt about her spiritual beliefs. ;)
Sorry, I must have missed that particular show. What are her spiritual beliefs? Anything especially distinctive or just run-of-the-mill christinanity? And why did this come up in the show, was she being evangelical?

 
samivel
220125.  Sat Oct 13, 2007 6:54 am Reply with quote

IIRC, she suggested that asking St Anthony for help in finding anything you've lost was a guaranteed way of finding it, to which Stephen coughed the word 'Bollocks'.

 
schroder
501981.  Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:44 am Reply with quote

I have been a member of Equity these past 14 years. When I joined they had just got rid of the old closed shop (no equity card, no work, established companies given X amount of new cards per annum) and instituted a 'provisional' scheme where you could get a provisional card with any acting/performing job (allowing smaller companies to flourish as the rep system was dying) as your first. You then had to work under the provisional card ( a lower provisional subs rate)in the business for 40 weeks before it became a full card.

Now anyone can get a full membership immediately, and continue to pay full membership subs, even if they only work once.

I don't know if that's exploitative of Equity or not!

 

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