Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Food For Deep Reflection

Now with fresh-minted Add On.

Here's a thought nugget that gave me pause.

A young relative of mine -- who shall remain anonymous -- has argued with me about online piracy since he was a first grader. Every time I found out he had downloaded a movie on the web (like all of mine for example) I gave him the usual: "Do you steal bread from the baker as well?" speech.

Today he's a young man and he still downloads movies. What has changed is that I don't argue with him anymore.

See, this kid is wicked smart and he's way too informed to be fooled by the baker/bread line. I stopped using it when he replied with: "if we're talking about a real baker who still gets up at 3AM and hand-kneads a dough made of honest ingredients...no, I wouldn't steal from him. But if we're talking about a massive industrial chain who put all the honest bakers out of business, because they lobbied the government for permission to produce fast food trash that can hardly be described as bread...yeah, I totally steal from them.

That was the first point he scored. ... Online pirates don't have a bad conscience about downloading movies and TV shows for free because what they know about Hollywood directors and show creators is basically this ...

Total Net Worth

George Lucas -- $4.9 billion

Steven Spielberg -- $3.4 billion

Seth Macfarlane -- $150 million

John Lasseter -- $100 million


I don't begrudge anybody their riches. In fact, I say bully for them. But it does make me reevaluate just a little when I, as a union representative, sit in meetings with studio vice presidents and listen to them go on about how film piracy is killing them. Killing the industry.

What piracy is does is impact the hiring of people making $30, $40, or $50 per hour for X number of months, and who will then be bumping along on unemployment to the tune of $8 per hour as they frantically search for the next industry gig.

Does it hurt the kingpins at the top of the heap? No, not very much, if at all.

It's kind of the same thing now with the "tax incentive" bill now wending its way through the state legislature. I've worked my ass off to try and get the thing passed. I've flown to Sacramento multiple times. I've lobbied legislators and attended meetings and helped raise money so that a $400 million bill designed to bring movie-making back to California (and put more money into monster conglomerates' cash drawers) gets passed.

Will this $400 million tax package help movie workers? Television employees? Visual effects and animation workers?

Sure it will. Thousands of people will end up sleeping in their own beds and playing with their kids on weekends instead of sleeping in a hotel room in Georgia or Louisiana. Or taking a lower-paying teaching gig because the cartoon work has dried up. And that's a good thing.

But let's not kid ourselves. Who it will also help are Disney, Fox-News Corp., Viacom, Sony, and Time-Warner.

Add On: Whattayaknow? Companies are lining up to get free money.

The California Film Commission reported that applications for this year’s $100 million tax credit lottery rose more than 30 percent to 497, compared to 380 on the first day of the application period last year. Applications were accepted Monday from 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. at the Film Commission’s office in Hollywood. Film Commission staff members, with assistance from a Cal Fire deputy state fire marshal, conducted the lottery after a brief interruption due to a bomb scare. ...

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