If you wanted a template for all the ages on how not to engage in industrial action, the Actors Equity action would surely be it.
I am usually supportive of unions and their efforts to secure better conditions for their members.
But don't ask me to support the action by MEAA and Actors Equity to secure better conditions. They may well have just destroyed the New Zealand film industry.
Actors Equity cancelled a meeting last night, apparently because they were worried about the "lynch-mob" mentality of the production crew people picketing outside. Those picketers had every reason to be angry. Their livelihoods depend upon big budget films coming to this country, and are being threatened by the Actors Equity action.
Why didn't the actors show up? What were they afraid of? Did they really think there would be a riot? Did they get stage-fright?
Whether the industrial action by actors ultimately determines the location of filming is hard to say. Sir Peter Jackson is certainly blaming them. Other factors, such as the more favourable tax incentives available elsewhere, are probably also a factor.
But actors will get the blame. And they will only have themselves to blame for the ham-fisted way they have conducted negotiations.
Actors have to make a decision. Do they want a film industry? Big budget filmmaking is a competitve business. If we want big films to be made in New Zealand we have to accept more or less the terms the filmmakers lay down. They can always get better deals elsewhere.
If we decide we're not prepared to compromise our principles, and that people should be paid "fairly" (whatever that means in the film industry), then let's say thank you to Sir Peter Jackson for all the good work he's done, and say farewell. Because we won't have a film industry any more.
I remain sceptical about the ultimate goal of the Australian union driving this dispute, the MEAA. If the Hobbit films move offshore that may well be regarded by the MEAA as a victory.