Here at DEGANZ, we are working through an educational and information campaign as part of our work around the Screen Industry Workers Act (SIWA).
One of the things we are asking editors, assistant editors, and directors to do for themselves is to look at the last ten jobs they did, the number of episodes and durations of the content, the platform it was for, what the total budget was, and then to write down the rate that they were paid to do those jobs. (You can often find the total budgets on the NZ on Air, NZFC, and TMP websites under funding decisions.)
Most people are required to work a 10-hour day, so it’s then a good idea to look at the hourly rate you got.
The current Minimum Wage is $22.70/hr; the current Living Wage is $23.65/hr. So if you do a 50-hour week that’s $1,135.00 Gross at the MW and $1,182.50 at the LW. By looking at your Gross weekly figure, you can see how you compare against the minimum and living wages.
But did you do a 50-week? Or did you do more hours and not get paid anymore for them? This will naturally decrease your hourly income. Why not average out your estimated hours per week and then see how well you did in comparison.
Directors, editors, and assistant editors don’t normally get paid overtime, but are required to work the same work day, being 10 hours, that crew on set work, who do get paid overtime.
The current Blue Book, which lays out the terms and conditions under which crew work, specifies that a standard crew day for a short-term engagement is 10 hours including paid lunch, with overtime at T1.5 for the 11th and 12th hours, and T2 for any time over that.
Most directors already understand that they are often the lowest paid person on set from the start for all key/HOD roles, and it just gets worse if they factor in the hours over 10 they do, while the pay to their key/HOD collaborators climbs with the overtime rates they receive.
All of the above and more will factor into our thinking when it comes to considering what minimum rates should be under SIWA for the various roles we represent in the sub-sectors the work is done—Factual and Entertainment, Scripted, Film – Narrative and Documentary, and Advertising and Marketing Content.
Then there are terms.
NZ crew as we know work hard, but as anyone will tell you, there are times when the crew isn’t working because they are waiting for talent, light, rehearsals, or myriad other things.
Editors and assistant editors however don’t have the luxury of downtime waiting for others. They are usually at it for all those hours of that 10-hour day. That’s significantly different in comparison to the crew. Who decided on the 10-hour day in the edit suite many are now starting to ask, not just because it affects their well-being but because it can affect the quality of the work.
We are having to weigh up many aspects of the current paradigm of work in the screen industry for directors, editors, and assistant editors before we settle on what we will negotiate for when it comes time to enter collective bargaining. What to do about public holidays, turn-around times, the working day, creative rights for directors and editors, and a host of other issues are all under discussion. And then of course we have to solidify our thoughts and come to you all to see whether or not you agree with where we have gotten to before we can start collective bargaining. If you don’t, then we will need to do more work.
Collective bargaining for us requires the employment of a democratic process designed to ensure that the majority are involved in the decision-making leading up to, during bargaining, and in settling on the final terms and conditions we will work under going forward.
There’s no better example of this in action than the screen guilds negotiations happening in the United States at the moment. The Writers Guild of America has kicked it off. The Directors Guild of America is about to start. And the US Screen Actors Guild will follow shortly.
A 98% majority vote by WGA members gave their board the endorsement to call a strike. And they eventually did after negotiations between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) reached an impasse. Democratic votes will be employed at various steps by all those guilds from here on in, in negotiations until they reach solutions.
We’ll be doing the same under the Screen Industry Workers Act, but in our own way, not following the US model.
And that’s why it’s so important right now for every screen worker to join the guild that best represents them: DEGANZ, NZWG, Equity NZ, SMSG, SIGANZ, VFX, Motion Designers and Animators, or the producers’ associations SPADA and APA (formerly NZAPG). These organisations will be negotiating on your behalf and they need your support to make it work for us all.