Friday, November 11, 2005
Apparently I have a bad attitude about today
November 11. A solemn day here in Canada. It is, as such, Rememberance Day. Commemerated and observed yearly here in the Commonwealth of Nations, which includes Canada, on the day the first World War ended in 1918. Back in Quebec and Ontario, the day really meant a couple of things. We bought poppies and wore them on our jackets or sweaters, and also, there were assemblies at school, which meant, as us kids, we got out of some class (though by my luck, it was usually one I actually liked). However, moving west to the New World (well, okay, the beautiful province of British Columbia, the day is treated as a statuatory holiday.
Maybe we have more vets here in BC than we do in the ROC (that's rest of Canada for those of you from America or
driving along the streets of the lower mainland than I ever saw of these
back in my 25 year temporary residence, being Ontario. Yet, no matter what province, there are great ceremonies honouring the ultimate sacrifice of our countrymen and countrywomen in the service of the protection of our freedoms and way of life, to which, myself and all other Canadians are eternally grateful. As to wether this day should be a paid holiday or not, is NOT the subject of this debate.
What does come to mind though, is even though the day is a statuatory holiday in this province, is two things. Should all businesses close, giving ALL Canadians an opportunity to observe this solemn day? Well, on a failed expedition to Mount Seymour today, Dawn and I discovered that most stores, shops, and restaurants are in fact open today. So, as such, if some businesses are deemed acceptable to open, should it be manditory that employees are paid time and a half, or double time, as an exchange for working on this holiday? To the latter, I would normally say yes.
However, for me, all this internal monologue and debate started a week ago, working on Da Vinci's City Hall, where I have made friends with a good chunk of the crew. This show, funnily enough, is the most highly discounted show in Vancouver, paying 18% less than the normal pay scale for film crew professionals. As such, I had a very intriguing discussion with one of the crew over a beer in the electrics truck after shooting was wrapped for the evening. "Working this show is like working every so often for free", and using my math, every seventh to tenth day, as most shows in town are discounted a certain percentage. Which leads me to my real point. The attitude of the Union professional vs. the attitude of the Independant professional.
For those of you who have been following my saga closely (yes, all three of you, Dawn included), I am a permitee to the film technician's union, IATSE Local 891, heeding the advice of my mentors back in film school. With many individuals having dreams of directing, writing, and producing films, I was given the advice to commit myself to a discipline within the industry, while building my director's reel on the side, thus still working in the field of my choice while attempting a lateral shift. Since our union operates primarily upon a seniority based system, and coupled with the greatest constant of film in Canada, that America hates snow and cold, work has slowed in this, the most wonderful month of November, to a point where I don't get enough calls to shows to foot the bills. So, during my idle film days, I have taken to working with a temporary labour company to make some green, while applying for a winter seasonal job.
As you can probably deduce, when I got the Da Vinci's call, I was estatic. Maybe it's a case of the grass being greener on the other side, but when I can work in the field of my choice, and get paid $19 per hour (that's after the 18% discount, just for you all to keep track) over $9 per hour, I will never complain about. Many people in the Union out here, however, see the $19 per hour as a huge insult, like they're working for free, and would rather do nothing that day. How bizarre.
Fast forward to yesterday. I got another film call, again to some excitement. And this was only a 5% discount, not 18%. Not that I'd complain either way. On the shuttle from crew park to set, I found myself in a conversation, learning that the show I was on yesterday (it's a TV show being made as a mid-season replacement) was shooting today, on a statuatory holiday. Silly, inexperienced, impetuous me, with glee that I may be called back for a second day, couldn't keep my mouth shut, let the fellow speaking that "I'd work [Friday]", to which, the fellow said, without hesitation, that "that's the wrong attitude to have", which was followed by a stern lecture in the sacrifices our glourious dead made for country and kin. Defence of my point of view, somewhat illustrated above, fell upon deaf ears, as the indoctrination continued. Even another jumped in and gave the 2 cents of "why don't you work an indie for free". Is it such a hard thing to understand, that I just want to be able to provide for myself and Dawn, and build a future together?
If I was working solely for a company, 9-5 type hours, I would be more inclined to agree with this fellow. But I'm not. Though IATSE is responsible for dispatching me to jobs, it is obvious I can't have the 9-5 mentality, but rather, a freelance, business owner's mentality, just like all the open shopkeepers Dawn and I saw along the streets today. Being a business owner in the past, I do realize the commitment needed to succeed in something like film, that it spans beyond the simple 40 hours per week. Film is in my blood. It is the professional reason I am here. That attitude will make me a good producer and director in the future.
As for now, maybe I'll just try harder to shut my yap. But, there was a good ending to it all. I got to meet a PA who shares my attitude on that set, and hopefully, a long professional partnership will emerge.
neolithic pondered at 17:25
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