Issue 128 – Waging Bull

Jamie Hannigan talks to SIPTU/Equity representative Des Courtney and Sean Stokes from Screen Producers Ireland.


In the days leading up to 7th April 2009 (Black Budget Tuesday) Jamie Hannigan talked to Des Courtney and Sean Stokes to see how unions and independent producers are planning on working through the economic doom and gloom…

Jamie Hannigan: So which of the unions have you been talking to?

Sean Stokes: With SIPTU and with the TEEU (Technical, Engineering & Electrical Union) and with the construction unions. SIPTU would represent probably about 80% of the people, of the grades working on a movie. The TEEU would be the electricians and the construction unions. And then obviously Equity, which is part of SIPTU, who would be the actor’s union.

How long have these negotiations been going 
on for?

SS: It’s been going on for a number of years, in fairness… What we’re looking to secure, obviously, is a small budget production agreement and the terms and conditions and the relevant rates that represent that type of movie-making, in order for it to be made with the significant competition outside of Ireland. So we’re working with the unions, trying to get terms and conditions that will work and allow movies to be made as cost-effectively as possible. We’re well into the process at this stage and we’d hope to be seeing some form of resolution soon.

Is a sliding-scale pay deal for lower to mid-budget films one of the main topics?

SS: Well, obviously small indigenous movie production is the core of the business done in this country, but it’s from the small projects to the big projects that we’re trying – with the unions – to make decisions again. We’re trying to get the programming out again on realistic budgets and getting more made. In 2007, I think in the region of €700 million in tourism came in and that would be related directly to people having seen film and television programmes set in Ireland. So it’s very positive for the economy in lots of ways.

The full article is printed in Film Ireland 128