Jesse Jackson said the following in 1972 at the Watts Summer Festival:
Brothers and sisters, the name of the game is power
If you ain't playing power,
You're in the wrong place.
Primal Scream sampled excerpts of the speech in the song 'Come Together' from one of my favourite albums of all time 'Screamadelica'. Primal Scream are playing Screamadelica in its entirety at next years Big Day Out which is exciting.
The Hobbit is exciting as well and everyone in New Zealand has got very excited about it. Over the next two years two Hobbit films will be made in NZ. The first will be a feature called 'The Hob', released in 2014 in 3D and the second will be a short called 'The Bit', released in 36DD in 3014. These films are essential for the survival of the New Zealand film industry and New Zealand itself. If these films were not made in this country no tourists would come, the New Zealand economy would collapse and nobody would ever have a job ever again...forever.
The importance of these films cannot be overstated. They will create at least one million jobs, they will lure at least one billion tourists into Matamata and they will result in at least one trillion dollars to trickle down to every taxi driver and taxidermist in the country. New Zealand will be seen by everybody on the planet twice and at least four New Zealand actors will have a speaking role in the film.
Speaking of actors, some of them decided to get together and ask for something called a standard contract with minimum terms and conditions. Nearly all these actors lived in Auckland and although a lot of them had moved to Auckland from all over the country they were all Auckland actors who lived in Grey Lynn, often called Gay Lynn because everybody knows all actors are gay, even the straight ones who appear in Speights commercials. A few years ago the Auckland actors were given $200,000 by another union based in Australia called the Media and Entertainment Art Nouveau International Equity Society, or MEANIES, to help establish a fully autonomous branch for Grey Lynn actors to band together to fight for all of the above and residuals.
They waged this fight against another group, the Screen Producers And Reality Television Alliance, or SPARTA. Cheryl West told the nation that the actors wanted 'nudity claws' while the producers responded by dressing up like this and screaming 'This is SPARTA!'
The Grey Lynn Equity Everywhere Club could not convince the public of their cause and everybody called them MEANIES while Paul Holmes and Rosemary Mcleod screamed 'This is SPARTA!' Soon everyone was screaming 'This is SPARTA!' while running along Courtenay Place looking for GLEE Club members to dismember.
As an actor who has featured extraneously in the massive multi-national mega film 'The Lying Witch and the Pork-Sword Probe' I can tell you that all this talk of minimum nudity residual claws, large budget screen hugh grants, individual contractions and SAGGY blacklists is nothing more than a smoke screen being blown by both parties. As Jesse Jackson said, 'the name of the game is power'. Power is a zero sum game and if an actor asks to play ball the producers can respond by taking their ball and finding another actor to play ball with knowing there are plenty of actors with no balls who are happy to play ball under any conditions.
That is not to say producers are no fun to play ball with. I had a fantastic three months playing Horny Faun Number One. I got treated well, got fed really well and got paid really really well. But, here are a few examples of why having a bit more power may be useful.
The shoot was running way over time and on our final night in Oamaru we had to be shifted from our very comfortable motel to spend one night in the Kurow Pub.
Horny Faun 3 and I stumbled into the Kurow pub after a long day of waving our swords on a hill and were instantly accosted by a 50 something Chinese lady called Mrs Chong who desperately wanted to take my colleague back to her abode for some sexual shearing. She was a fleece roustie by the way. We both quickly skulled our Speights in a very straight manner and retired upstairs to our rooms. My room was the second small window on the blue side, directly above the dance floor of the pub where every Kurow local decided to have a crack at singing 'The Gambler' one after another all night long. Then all the stunties who had been next door at a strip-show put on in their honour returned and joined in on the choruses. The mattress I lay on moved beyond 'roll-together' and capsized completely. As there was no way I was going to be able to sleep I moved the bed to the door just in case Mrs Chong got her second wind and sat in the corner and gently held myself while singing 'You've got to know when to hold em', all night long.
This was only for one night so I didn't complain. I know if I had complained I would have been politely told the next day that I was wrapped and my services would no longer be required. This happened to numerous other fauns and centaurs who made murmurings about standard of accommodation. I'm pretty sure the producers would have never have made me spend weeks in the pub where every night was Kurow Karaoke night however they could have if they wanted, with the knowledge myself or my agent couldn't do much about it. The contract I signed said something like, 'the producers will endeavour to provide a reasonable standard of accommodation', so the option of three weeks top and tailing with Mrs Chong was an option available to them.
Another friend of mine was a saytar with a full face prosthetic...like this.
A friend of mine was an orc during the filming of the battle of Helm's Deep in The Lord of the Rings. He told me he was literally crying with exhaustion and cold after spending all night in full prosthetics while being drenched with water. As a new actor he knew if he kicked up an orc like stink he would be gone by lunchtime. If he came down with a nasty case of hypothermia he would also be gone by lunchtime without a legal leg to stand on. Legolas has legs to stand on but Orlando Bloom's a member of SAGGY. Lucky Legolas.
By all accounts the acting contracts being offered for The Hobbit are the best this country has ever seen. NZ actors are also getting residuals, although these will be paid at the producer's discretion. Most actors are treated very well by producers in this country however if any issues arise it would be great to have a smidge more power to say, "No, I'm not going to run full tit down that hill waving my sword in slippery green booties while dodging rocks jutting out of the ground, copious amounts of horse shit and the horses who shat the shit, even though you have provided two stretchers at the bottom", without fear of being fired at the end of the day.
What we're after is the power to say "no" without having to say "no" to the gig. I've been trying to get a 'nudity clause' put into all my contracts so the producers are contractually obliged to shoot at least one scene with me in the nude however they keep saying no and I can't do anything about it.
This has to change.