Sometimes the best way to see something clearly is to back up so you can put it in focus. It also helps to not view the world exclusively through one particular specialization of which one makes a living. Living life should be a constant adventure of always learning and expanding ones viewpoint, and not relegating a perception to just those within the field of one’s occupation. This is the role of philosophy and story tellers, people I enjoy spending time around more than any other, because they often see the bigger picture of things, excel in this skill and do society great justice when they share the fruits of their labor.
This is also why I have been spending some time talking about the new film The Hobbit by Peter Jackson, because stories like this are much bigger than the small issues that surround us on a daily basis, so in placing our energy onto such projects metaphors of our own reality can be analyzed. So let me share with you dear reader a clip from the video blog of The Hobbit hosted by Peter Jackson before we plunge into a bit of darkness in our discussion today. When watching this clip it reminded me of two things—first I am happy to see that Jackson is filming The Hobbit, for the first time in 48 frames a second and in 3D. I had the privilege of working with Real D 3D a few years ago on the development of a new camera system they were testing for the 3D market which is very similar to the version seen in this clip, so it excites me greatly to see this kind of technology being utilized to the furthest extent of artistic interpretation. Second—for the reasons that have held up The Hobbit as a production and almost prevented it from being filmed in New Zealand are the same that I will probably never get the chance to do work in Hollywood again, because of my stances against unions in my written work.
The dark story of making The Hobbit is one that has held the project up for years and is yet another story about how labor unions are corrosive organizations. And its statements like that which have blacklisted me from any future work within the Hollywood community. I made this choice consciously knowing that I will instead shift my attention in these middle years of my life to writing novels instead. So I am happy to let my whip work and other entertainment talents drift into the nature of that independent task of authorship. Because there is no going back now, I’ve said too much.
But what I said needed to be said. It’s the things that Peter Jackson doesn’t want, or need to say. It’s the things that the distributors at Warner Brothers can’t talk about even if their opinions are harsh on the matter privately. This is because a subtle harness is placed upon the entertainment industry and that harness is the exact same gag that exists on public education, and is preventing the open learning and creativity of millions of children from realizing their full potential. It is that of the labor unions.
During Lord of the Rings, the production could be said to be very successful because Peter Jackson as a director is extremely personable, grounded, and fantastic at multitasking. He kept his set fun which allowed for a bonding to occur between his technical staff and his actors which showed up on-screen in a tremendous way. It is unlikely that Lord of the Rings would have been such a great production if Jackson had not been the director, or if the entire film had not been shot in New Zealand.
My wife and I made serious plans to move to New Zealand in the early years of our marriage and live on a sailboat. So I understand the appeal of a country that as of now prides itself on rugged individuality. When one thinks of New Zealand government of any kind does not come to mind, just big open fields, mountains, horses and–sheep. But the one great thing that I’ll say about New Zealand that the film industry can’t say is that one of the reasons Lord of the Rings went together so impressively, and all members of the crew got along unusually well, and communication worked at all levels was the absence of a labor union in New Zealand involving the actors and technical unions. Before Lord of the Rings came out there were only a few major films to come out of New Zealand, The Man from Snowy River films, and the George Lucas spectacle Willow. So the labor unions didn’t protest too intensely when New Line Cinema aligned with Wingnut films to produce a massive three film adaptation to the Tolkien classic, the unions didn’t pay much attention. Jackson wisely shot the films back-to-back while Fellowship of the Ring was still in post production and had not yet hit theaters. The Lord of the Rings films were able to be made outside of the chaos of the usual Hollywood production without a lot of union influence in an almost campfire style production where everyone bonded on the set.
However, success breeds the looters, and after multiple Academy Awards the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance union from Australia decided it wanted to move over into the New Zealand market because they feared that such high-profile big budget films in the future would go to New Zealand instead of Australia where the Star Wars films were shot over similar concerns. These big productions could not be done in the United States, because there is too much hassle these days over labor disputes, so film companies run from unions out of necessity, and in this case New Zealand is the last far-flung corner of the globe without one of these labor unions controlling the industry, so The Hobbit will be the last of its kind. The unions took action against The Hobbit production joining with the Screen Actors Guild and four other international unions to boycott the production.
You can read an article about this mess here:
Peter Jackson in an effort to save his home country of New Zealand the thousands upon thousands of jobs The Hobbit would bring to craftsman and film personnel refused to buckle under the union pressure and called the union what it was, a bully looking for money, membership and power. He threatened to take the production of The Hobbit and its $300 million budget to Europe in order to make the film. You can read that article here:
Thankfully the whole situation settled as thousands of New Zealanders protested to keep The Hobbit production in New Zealand, so the unions backed off socially, and Jackson was able to go and make the film the way he likes to make them. For me personally it is very nice to see Peter walking around on his sets casually without all the egotistical authority that so many of his predecessors displayed. It’s Jackson’s directorial style to be very open, fair and forthcoming in his dealings with his cast and crew. Jackson is certainly a director who would suffer from too much outside control on his projects which is what the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance union was trying to do. They saw Jackson’s success and they wanted to loot off his back, off his creations, and his relationships so they could get a piece of the pie for themselves.
This is what teachers unions have done to our schools. It’s no different in any respect. A school cannot pick up and move like Jackson threatened to settle a union dispute. A community has a school and it’s fixed in place. So if a union infests it with their looting tendency, the community is forced to deal with the extortion measures they employ.
The Disney Company deals with the unions by tossing more money at the problem which is why the Pirate films are so expensive. Disney has the advantage of generating a tremendous amount of money through their subsidiary companies, so they can play that game. They are too big to fly under the radar like Jackson does today, or Spielberg and Lucas used to. Notice that as Spielberg became bigger and more successful over the years, that his films seemed to become more and more bogged down. He still makes pretty good films, but nothing like his final year as a master filmmaker in 1993 with the release of Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List. I know people get angry with Spielberg and Tim Burton (who I think is a fantastic director) for sucking up to the Obama administration now, and the Clinton administration’s back in the 90’s, but at the heart of that evil is a desire for creative people to make their movies as a wall of opposition known as the entertainment unions stand in the way. The union influence shows up in the final product and it does rob the production of some magic. The audience can tell the difference and it does affect Hollywood’s bottom line. They respond by making more comedies, and easy productions that aren’t overly complicated and can be shot around Los Angeles or Las Vegas–easy set ups. The creative minds behind the movies attempt to keep the protesting communists who run the labor unions at bay with appeasement. Disney throws money at unions to advance a project which works, but prevents smaller film makers from being able to compete on equal footing, because the unions hold all producers to the same standard as a company like Disney. Unless the filmmaker makes the film out of the country like Jackson has, they find themselves encumbered needlessly both creatively and financially.
As I see the previews and clips coming in from The Hobbit I am starting to get excited, because such films—stories of such depth are rare for all the reasons described, and are true treasures of our culture. I desire a world where people can speak and do business with each other without the looters standing in the way trying to make easy money for themselves. And yes, my comments here about the education unions have blacklisted me in entertainment which will go on forever. But I have other talents and I’ll use them to tell the story of how human beings get themselves into these fixes. It’s a difficult thing to balance out the need to make a living and then to make a living that is honest and true. Because the chances are, even if you are a wealthy film maker, if your love is to make movies you still need the industry system to make them, so you do your best to shut your mouth and put up with the parts you don’t like. You give money to the Obama administrations as a payoff to a mobster thug and hope they leave you alone politically. And the same holds true for the teaching profession. Or any profession that is controlled by labor unions, it’s hard to come out and speak against it, and to call it what it is, because the system is designed to exclude any voice of dissention. But I will do it, because I’ve already started the process, so I might as well see it through. And in the meantime, I will cheer with much vigor the upcoming film The Hobbit for all these reasons and more. Great stories are so few and far between, and I’m so excited about this one that I may just go get in line for it right now.
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