Film Producers Form Union, Seeking More Pay and a Clearer Role

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Hollywood writers, directors and actors have long had labor unions to fight on their behalf. Now movie producers are looking to gain the same kind of leverage.

Over 100 producers have formed a new collective-bargaining organization, according to a statement Thursday. The group, called the Producers Union, will seek to set standards on salary, pension, health plans and the rights of its members when they’re working on projects. More broadly, the union hopes to formally define an often-amorphous role, and collectively respond to changes in the industry.

Producers are often seen as a boss figure in Hollywood -- holding both the money and power -- but that’s often not the case, said Rebecca Green, who started the organizing effort.

“The reality is, most are really struggling to pay their bills,” said Green, whose credits include films such as “It Follows.”

Film Producers Form Union, Seeking More Pay and a Clearer Role

Film production was hard-hit by the pandemic, and many producers were left without health insurance or a safety net. As of March, employment in the industry was a little over half of what it was a year earlier.

But the risk for producers predates the pandemic, Green said. According to a survey, most producers in 2019 made less than $40,000 annually. Plus, streaming has cut into studio profits, threatening film-set wages.

Green said that a union will allow producers to confront these industry challenges in a more equitable way.

Often, producers work on movies without pay for years with the expectation of making money after the release. However, these so-called back-end profits don’t always materialize, said Chris Moore, whose credits include “American Pie.”

“You can’t ask an actor to do it for zero against their back-end, right?” he said. “You can’t ask the director, you can’t ask the makeup technician to do that, because their unions won’t let them work for free.”

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