Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I Doth Protest Too Much (But When Did I Ever Let That Stop Me)?

So I told you a few weeks ago about my history with the Directors Guild Of America, and that I'd be rejoining the Guild on this movie. I'm not even officially back in yet and I've already got some stuff to bitch about.

There's a hierarchy of of employees covered by the DGA contract with commensurate pay rates. After the director, the Unit Production Manager oversees, the 1st Assistant Director, the Key
Second Assistant Director and the 2nd 2nd Assistant Director. (In Canada, it's called Third Assistant Director). Depending on the size of the production (and the amount of extras on any given day), all additional Assistant Directors are called, logically enough Additional Second Assistant Directors.

Now, where you stand in the hierarchy determines the scale rate for your salary and some other goodies. The Director, UPM, 1st A.D., and Key 2nd, all get residuals. Furthermore, the UPM, 1st and Key 2nd get:

-a contractual amount of prep time.
-a production fee (a weekly bump on their salary during the weeks when we're actually shooting.)
-Completion of Assignment (essentially severance pay at the end of the job.)

So what am I bitching about? When the DGA got Location Managers into the contract for New York and Chicago, they made the position equivalent to the 2nd 2nd A.D. for purposes of salary and perks. WTF?

Let's start with the salary. I'm actually not overly upset over the salary. The scale for a 2nd 2nd is fairly healthy to begin with. And on bigger movies, I'm free to negotiate over-scale salary (and I certainly will).

I don't care about contractual prep time. I'm one of the first people hired and I get a hell of a lot more prep time than any of the A.D.'s. I won't bitch about residuals because it's already a fairly complicated formula they use to divvy up the pot. It would confuse things immensely to add one more set of paws to that.

I sure as hell think I deserve the Production Fee and the Completion of Assignment pay.

But, the money isn't even the biggest part of my gripe. I'm a fucking department head for chrissakes. I do not view my responsibilities as anywhere near equivalent to a 2nd 2nd A.D. (essentially a guy who tells extras which way to walk). I should at least be considered on par with the Key 2nd. (I actually don't feel equivalent to that position either, but you can only buck the system so much.)

Well, like I said, on bigger pictures, I'm free to negotiate anything I want and I intend to ask for Favored Nation status with the Key 2nd in the future.


Oh, and they hired the Production Designer and I'm going to meet with him in an hour. Yes, he's the Freudian/Jungian guy.


MWT said...

Yay Freudian/Jungian guy! :)

I'm not sure I understand what exactly you're griping about. Is it just where you rank in the pecking order?

Nathan said...

I suppose that's partly what it's about. Although I answer to the UPM and the 1st A.D., the Producers and Director, I sure as hell don't answer to the 2nd A.D. or any additional 2nds. People get their ideas about the position on the food chain based on salary, and the way it's set up gives a wrong impression.

The other thing is that the A.D.'s exist solely to please the Director. I'm always treading a thin line between pleasing the Director and pleasing the Producer (who don't always have the same agenda). My department is also the only one who takes the "real world" that has to co-exist with us into consideration. This all creates numerous situations where my goal and the A.D.'s goal are not necessarily one and the same.