2021 Setting Record for Volume of Work
I am pleased to announce that 2021 has already set new records for the volume of work in our jurisdiction. Folks, you may want to postpone your vacation plans for a later date because it’s going to be a VERY busy summer.
We have built it, and they have come
Over the last 13 years, we have built a reputation as being one of the top production locations in the world. The membership of Local 479 has been instrumental in creating this reputation. Companies know that they can hire quality crew here to produce their product. We have proven time and again that we are ready, willing, and able to meet and exceed their expectations, and that is why more opportunities continue to come our way.
Whether it is due to, or possibly despite the pandemic, our society today relies more heavily than ever on the products WE make, and that has fueled the exponential growth of the motion picture industry and increased the methods of distribution of our content, all of which serves to create more jobs and more opportunities for all of us. As long as we continue to uphold our reputation of being a premiere production location with an outstanding crew base, we should have every expectation of a prosperous future.
Look at the stats:
Snapshot of Production in Atlanta (as of TODAY, May 22, 2021)
- 47 active projects under contract
- 43 productions have already wrapped and it’s only May
- 30 of those started and wrapped in 2021
- 38% of our work product is Streaming Video on Demand
- Current production volume, by product:
- Episodics: 15
- Features: 14
- Streaming Video on Demand: 18
Overcoming a Pandemic
As you all know, when our country shut down in response to the pandemic in March of 2020, the motion picture industry came to a screeching halt, affecting thousands of jobs in our state alone. All the unions and guilds representing the various crafts in our industry came together in an unprecedented way to work with the employers to create a safe way to get us back to work.
The Covid-19 Return-To-Work Agreement, negotiated with the APMTP (representing the major studio employers) and the collaborating unions (IATSE, DGA, SAG, & Teamsters), allowed work to gear back up in our jurisdiction in late-July of 2020. The Agreement helped to lay out rigorous Covid testing protocols and other safety guidelines, and it, in conjunction with Georgia’s decision to return to work ahead of other states, has allowed the insatiable demand for new product to find its way to us.
The Return-to-Work Agreement protocols were recently extended through June 30th, 2021, meaning that our workplaces will continue to exhibit a high level of caution to ensure that cast and crew remain their safest so that productions can continue uninterrupted. The bargaining committee will meet again in June to re-evaluate conditions and determine what protocols remain necessary to continue working safely.
Bottomline: These safety precautions have been good for our industry. They assure us of continuing employment. Vaccinations are helping to push us toward herd immunity. Unless otherwise instructed by a health professional, please consider getting vaccinated.
Special Thanks to Tyler Perry
Local 479 would like to extend a very special Thank You to Tyler Perry and his organization for the remarkable effort set forth to safely produce content during a crucial period for our workforce. This is not the first time that Mr. Perry has provided employment for our members during times of hardship. I, personally, would like to acknowledge his efforts and express my deepest appreciation to him for keeping the physical safety of our members in mind while providing a method for continuing to earn a living and provide for their families. Thank you, Mr. Perry. You led the way for us all, and we are grateful to you.
General Membership Meetings
Just like many other businesses and institutions, Local 479 had to get with the times and enter the virtual world of communication during this pandemic. We streamed our General Membership Meetings in April, June, and August of 2020 as town-hall style events, providing us the ability to share updates and information, but not the opportunity to conduct the business of the local. Therefore, after a socially distanced, in-person meeting in October, we educated ourselves and presented a method, using Zoom, to conduct virtual general membership meetings that allow for voting and member contributions. These Zoom meetings have been well-attended and proven useful and convenient to our membership during quarantine. Until we are confident that in-person meetings can once again be held safely, we will continue holding our general membership meetings virtually.
If you have not been attending these meetings, we encourage you to do so, as the business of your local is important and deserves your participation.
District 7 & Quadrennial Conventions
The IATSE District 7 and Quadrennial Conventions will both be held virtually this summer. Information on these events is currently being distributed to the local offices, and therefore we should be able to share a full update with the membership at the June General Membership Meeting. If you are interested in potentially being elected as a delegate to one or both of these conventions, please make sure you attend the June meeting.
Information at Your Fingertips
The office continues its efforts to put more information into your hands via the Member Dashboard and the Local 479 phone app, and, as always, has staff members who are ready to assist you.
Resources include, but are not limited to:
- Our Constitution & By-Laws
- Online Availability List Updater
- Regularly updated production lists
- Production crew lists
- Accounting forms
- Term Agreements (such as the ASA) and the producer signatory lists for these agreements
- Flowcharts to assist with complex contract questions
- Covid-19 protocols
- Specific benefit information about your:
- Annuity Plan
- Pension Plan
- Health & Welfare Plan
- Medical Reimbursement Plan
- retirement benefits
- and more
- Minutes from previous meetings
- Safety bulletins
- In-depth articles
- A fully staffed Education department that continues to hold virtual classes as well as manage in-person MEWP (Mobile Elevated Work Platform) trainings through Sunbelt Rentals.
Lastly and most importantly, you can find contact information for the two Local 479 Field Reps, Billy Deacon and Keith Mingo, and for me, Mike Akins, the Business Agent. All three of us are available by phone, text, or email. You can find our information:
- On the Contact Us page of the Local 479 Public website (link)
- On the Contact Us page of the Member Dashboard (link)
- In the 479 phone app, in the Crew Central section, under the heading “Field Reps”. (Accessing us through the 479 phone app allows you to click the phone number link and call us directly.)
Are you consulting these resources? If not, why not?
Political Action Update
Georgia’s film industry is becoming stronger than ever with the addition of new statewide auditing procedure in place for projects filmed in our state. Our Legislators recognize the significant positive impact that our industry has on the state’s economy. We fully support this new audit legislation because it will protect our incentive and help ensure its continued stability in the coming years. As always, Local 479 remains active and involved in state policies that affect our industry.
ASA Contract Negotiations
The Area Standards Agreement (ASA) is a contract between the IATSE and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) that covers our jurisdiction (amongst others) and spans a period of 3 years. The current ASA contract went into effect on August 1, 2018 and will expire on July 31, 2021.
This contract is about to enter a period of re-negotiations, and so this summer the IATSE will meet with the AMPTP to agree on a new contract which will cover the period of August 1, 2021 through July 31, 2024.
In preparation for these negotiations, throughout March, April, and May, we conducted Zoom meetings with members from each department to find out what you would like to see in the next contract. These meetings were announced via email and proved highly interactive.
The member input that I received has already been passed along to our representation for the negotiations, which are tentatively scheduled to begin in early June. When a final agreement is reached, I will notify the membership.
Social Media Confusion
I am regularly contacted by members regarding information they read in online discussions on social media about subjects such as contracts, procedures, or policies of Local 479. Sometimes, these online conversations lead to incorrect or incomplete information, which is then circulated for others to find and misinterpret.
Those of you that have reached out to me to discuss these online conversations have probably heard me use one or more of the following statements:
- “IT DEPENDS.” (This one is my favorite)
- “One size does not fit all.”
- “The devil is in the details.”
That’s because for almost every situation, there are a handful of specific questions that must be answered to narrow down what is truly happening and how to best handle it. I don’t expect members to be able to know what all those questions are, either. It’s taken years of experience and education to know what questions to ask, and those questions may change every time a contract is updated. The Return-To-Work protocols provided unexpected confusion by temporarily adjusting or by providing entirely new procedures for administering conditions of the contract. These adjustments have led to misunderstandings and misinterpretations.
For all these reasons, if you have a question about your paycheck, a problem with an employer, a contractual issue, or any other topic that has a bearing on your income, your contract, or your work conditions, I urge you to PLEASE pick up the phone and call me. By talking to me directly, I can help you understand the specifics of your situation, and hopefully resolve the issue either through our conversation, or by communicating with the production. Let me know what’s going down on your show, and I’ll be the squeaky wheel that complains to production.
See You Soon
Folks, I see great and wonderful things coming for us, and am looking forward to the day when I can stop by your set and shake your hand once again. Thank you for everything you have done to build our industry. Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay hopeful!
Business Agent, IATSE Local 479