Ep163: Understanding What’s At Stake With the IATSE Strike Authorization Vote | Mastermind Q&A

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I created Optimize Yourself so that I could provide the resources to help creative professionals find fulfillment in their work and love what they do…but not at the expense of their health, their relationships, or their sanity. A natural extension of this is that we must be valued & respected for the work that we do. Without respect, no matter how much we love our jobs, our careers won’t be sustainable and our passion will eventually become indifference (and sometimes even hatred). We become overworked, disrespected, and burned out.

This is unfortunately what’s happening right now to tens-of-thousands of below the line workers in the entertainment industry as clearly portrayed by the meteoric rise of the @IA_Stories Instagram account. In part because of the horror stories this account has amplified, The IATSE union and the AMPTP have come to a standstill in contract negotiations and the union is asking its members to vote and authorize a strike. This is a historic moment in the union’s history, and it’s important that all of us understand what is truly at stake beyond the deal points and the percentages. That’s why I decided to have an “All-hands-on-deck” call with my Optimizer coaching & mentorship community to provide an open forum where union and non-union members alike could ask their questions, voice their opinions, and gain a better understanding of the true impact this pending vote (and strike) can have on our industry for decades to come.

Whether you are in the union or you work freelance outside the union, this conversation will (hopefully) answer your questions and paint a clear picture of why you need to be paying attention to this issue.

If you haven’t yet read my latest article, Dear Hollywood: If We Don’t Speak Up Now, The Industry As We Know It Will Never Be The Same (It’s Gut Check Time), I encourage you to check it out as it provides even more context to this timely and important conversation.

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • [9:03] How does the current IATSE contract dispute impact non-union workers?
  • [13:57] This negotiation outcome will be a sea change in the way we advocate for ourselves.
  • [19:47] Why we need to band together and present a united front.
  • [22:50] What does it mean if we vote yes to authorize a strike?
  • [24:58] What exactly is IATSE and who are the members involved?
  • [26:49] The red ant- black ant analogy and what we should really be focused on.
  • [28:30] KEY TAKEAWAY: We need our message to reach the other IATSE locals so they understand what is at stake and can make an informed vote.
  • [31:39] When we talk about producers in this context, we are talking about the studios and the producers at AMPTP.
  • [31:59] To support our cause, union and non-union members can sign this petition on Action Network.
  • [34:33] How do we address the issue that working less hours = less pay?
  • [36:38] What ‘lifestyle creep’ is and how it cripples us.
  • [40:20] One way to help alleviate fears is to create a fund to help people pay their bills. If such a fund is created, I pledge to personally put $1000 into it.
  • [52:38] Why it’s important to understand the problems of the people above you and the people we are negotiating with.
  • [54:00] The only thing that will make it change is if we no longer meet those unreasonable expectations.
  • [59:10] How voting works within the guilds to vote for a strike authorization.
  • [01:03:01] Director Sam Lavin weighs in about the situation and gives a director’s perspective.
  • [01:07:50] Canceling our streaming services is not the way to fight back.
  • [01:09:20] It comes down to how willing we are to set boundaries to protect ourselves.
  • [01:14:03] Ricardo is seeing younger generation of workers stepping up and setting boundaries for themselves so there is hope for the future.
  • [01:19:50] Please vote with your heart and do what you feel is right as long as you have all the information you need.
  • [01:20:15] If you can’t vote, please spread the word to the right people so they understand what the conversation is about.

Useful Resources Mentioned:

Dear Hollywood: If We Don’t Speak Up Now, The Industry As We Know It Will Never Be The Same (It’s Gut Check Time)

Tell AMPTP to Give Film and Television Workers a Fair Deal

IATSE Stories (@ia_stories) • Instagram photos and videos

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Episode Transcript

Zack Arnold 0:00

My name is Zack Arnold, I'm a Hollywood film and television editor, a documentary director, father of two, an American Ninja Warrior in training and the creator of Optimize Yourself. For over 10 years now I have obsessively searched for every possible way to optimize my own creative and athletic performance. And now I'm here to shorten your learning curve. Whether you're a creative professional who edits, writes or directs, you're an entrepreneur, or even if you're a weekend warrior, I strongly believe you can be successful without sacrificing your health, or your sanity in the process. You ready? Let's design the optimized version of you.

Hello, and welcome to the Optimize Yourself podcast. If you're a brand new optimizer, I welcome you and I sincerely hope that you enjoy today's conversation. If you're inspired to take action after listening today, why not tell a friend about the show and help spread the love? And if you're a longtime listener and optimizer O.G. welcome back. Whether you're brand new, or you're seasoned vets, if you have just 10 seconds today, it would mean the world to me if you clicked the subscribe button in your podcast app of choice, because the more people that subscribe, the more that iTunes and the other platforms can recognize this show. And thus the more people that you and I can inspire, to step outside their comfort zones to reach their greatest potential. And now on to today's show.

I created Optimize Yourself so that I could provide the resources to help creative professionals find fulfilment in their work and love what they do, but not at the expense of their health, their relationships or their sanity. A natural extension of all this is that we must be valued and respected for the work that we do. Without respect, no matter how much we love our jobs, our careers are not going to be sustainable, and our passion will eventually become indifference, and sometimes even hatred for what we do. We become overworked, disrespected, and burned out. And this is unfortunately what's happening right now to tens of thousands of below the line workers in the entertainment industry as clearly portrayed by the meteoric rise of the IA Stories Instagram account. In part because of the horror stories this account has amplified, the IATSE Union and the AMPTP have come to a standstill in contract negotiations. And the union is asking its members to vote and authorize a strike. This is a historic moment in the union's history. And it is important that all of us understand what is truly at stake beyond the deal points and the percentages. That's why I decided to have an all hands on deck call with my Optimizer Coaching and Mentorship community so I could provide an open forum where both union and non union members alike could ask their questions, voice their opinions and gain a better understanding of the true impact that this pending vote and potential strike can have on our industry for literally decades to come. Whether you're in the Union, or you work freelance outside of the Union, this conversation will hopefully answer your questions and paint a much clearer picture of why you need to be paying attention to this issue. And by the way, if you haven't already read my latest article, 'Dear Hollywood: If We Don't Speak Up Now, The Industry As We Know It Will Never Be The Same (It Is Gut Check Time)' and by the way that's available and optimizeyourself.me/gutcheck, I encourage you to check this out as it provides even more context to this timely and important conversation. Alright, without further ado, my conversation with the Optimizer coaching and mentorship community made possible today by our amazing sponsor Ergodriven who's going to be featured just a bit later in today's interview to access the show notes for this and all previous episodes as well as to subscribe so you don't miss the next inspirational interview don't forget to visit optimizeyourself.me/podcast.

Hello everyone. My name is Zack Arnold. I'm the creator of the optimize yourself podcast and the coaching and mentorship program. I am also a film and television editor I am currently editing and associate producing this season of Netflix's Cobra Kai and today I am very excited to have a community q&a conversation with a whole host of the students that are in my coaching and mentorship program. And what I love about bringing this community together is that there are union members, there are people in posts, there are people in other areas and there are non union members. The reason that it's so important for me to have these different voices from literally all over the world is because the things that we are talking about today, yes, they are union issues in their union contracts, etc, etc, etc. But they're also human issues. I've been seeing so many conversations and comments now on the IATSE stories Instagram page, and if you're in the industry and you have a pulse you've probably heard about it at this point. If you haven't, go to Instagram search for IATSE stories. They have been doing an amazing job of highlighting the absolute atrocities that so many people have to bear working in this industry simply for the sake of creating entertainment. There have been a lot of comments from people saying I'm so glad that somebody is finally bringing this up and talking about work life balance and the fact that we never have time for exercise or eating well or family. And I love the fact that they brought it to light. But I do have to say I kind of raised my hand a little bit with a comment. And like I'm, somebody has been talking about this for a really long time. Now I've been on this soapbox for like seven years. And I'm really excited that this is now the main conversation. Three years ago, when we were dealing with negotiations, it was kind of sort of a little bit of a part of the conversation. But it was almost like a footnote. It was about pension and health contributions and lack of investment and streaming slash new media, residuals, all of those things are incredibly important. But work life balance turnaround for Saturday's those were kind of like the extra things that maybe we'll bring those up if we can, but now at the center of this argument is work life balance, and the fact that instead of being valued for our contribution to this industry, we are treated as expendable. And this is no longer acceptable. And that is why we are here. However, the fact that we might potentially strike really, really scary for a lot of people, including myself and people that I know. So I just wanted to have an open forum in conversation today about the strike, try and do my best to answer people's questions, see what some of the issues, see what some of the fears are, I have a feeling this could be a relatively impassioned conversation. And just for the record, I am doing this during my lunch break. When I was doing these community q&a last year, during the pandemic, everybody was unemployed. But like most people on this call, and like a lot of people listening, we're still doing our best to balance our work in this industry, while also thinking to ourselves, should I really speak up like is one of the producers of the showrunner gonna think poorly of me, like I actually had this conversation during office hours this morning, where students said I don't I don't know if I should speak up. Because I don't know if that means that I'm going to get blacklisted. And a few years ago, during the last negotiations or otherwise, I might have said, that's a legitimate concern. But there are so many of us that are speaking up about this now. And frankly, this is no longer about below the line or above the line. It's now including a lot of above the line professions, directors, producers, abs and otherwise, they're all saying the same thing. We're tired of the hours too, we're tired of the abuse that it all trickles down from the top. So one thing that I want to clarify, before we dive right into the q&a, I'm going to get off my soapbox as soon as possible. As I talked about, in my article that I wrote about this most recently, it was called 'Dear Hollywood: If We Don't Speak Up Now, The Industry As We Know It Will Never Be The Same (It is time for a gut check)'. If you are listening or watching this, now you can go to optimizeyourself.me/gutcheck all one word to read it. But to reiterate very simply, I'm not here today to talk about well, we should have 2.75% versus 3.5%. For our scale, or this for pension and health. This is about how do we make sure that we are valued accordingly as creative professionals, and we are not treated as expendable. So I'm not as interested in talking about the minutiae of the deal points, it's just more how do we make sure that we set healthy and realistic boundaries for ourselves and we no longer get taken advantage of. And this is also one of now six articles that I have in my dear Hollywood series. And if anybody wants to read any of those others, you can read them at optimizeyourself.me/dearhollywood, one of which people may recognize that went, I don't want to say the word viral technically, but it had hit a lot of inboxes. And a lot of people's social media pages last summer, during the pandemic, there was all about how we don't want to go back to normal because normal wasn't working to begin with. And I think this is kind of that whole conversation coming to a head. So on that note, I'm going to stop blabbering because this is a community q&a, not a Zack Arnold stands on his soapbox and rants for an hour, although sometimes that is what it feels like. But I'm gonna bring it to the gallery now. And I'm curious who would love to start the discussion with either a comment or a question. Oh, man, Michael Scichowski's hand was just like shot out of a cannon. Michael, get us started.

Michael Scichowski II 9:03

Absolutely. Zach says we talked before I'm I'm not in the Union. I work in the south and some right to work states. And one of the stuff I do doesn't have any impact or anything like that. So I think it would be just great to start the conversation off. What does it have to do with somebody like me? Who's not in this particular fight? I mean, I don't I don't have a real voice in that, I suppose.

Zack Arnold 9:25

Alright, so we're going to talk a little bit more about whether or not you have a voice in this fight. I'm going to bring it back to the gallery here for a moment, show of hands, how many of you are not in the union and technically not a part of this conversation at all? All right, so I was expecting it to be about 50-50. It's about 60-40, 70-30 in favor of union versus non union. I'm going to first of all, make it very, very clear to everybody that's on this call and everybody that's listening, reviewing. I am not an expert in how contracts are structured. I'm not an expert in how unions work. I am just a part of the system that they have created. So if anybody thinks Oh, he's coming at this as an expert With all the informed viewpoints and making it very clear that I am not, I come at it more from the layperson point of view boots on the ground. Here's how I see it. So I want to put that out there to say that some of the answers, I might not have all the information required to give you an informed decision. But here's my personal belief. I believe that with the way our industry is structured as a whole, and when I say industry, I don't mean Hollywood, I mean, the entertainment industry, you said that you are an editor in the south. So do you mind sharing a little bit more, Mike about what you specifically edit?

Michael Scichowski II 10:28

Yes to some of the content I'm working on right now are documentaries for corporate clients and being little directing a little bit everything really. So I'm more of a jack of all trades, which can be a deficit as well, just because of the nature of the way the industry is as well,

Zack Arnold 10:44

gotcha. So in general, without having to give away any personal information, how do you set your rate? When somebody says, What's it going to cost you for a week or a month? How do you set that rate?

Michael Scichowski II 10:53

Yeah, so some of it's just been looking at mentors, I think early on, I probably looked at whatever the editor rate was to try to get a better idea. I mean, I know when I was a lot younger, it was just whatever I felt like I could feed myself with so yeah, so

Zack Arnold 11:09

the point is that you had a baseline that you had to look at elsewhere. Right? I remember when I first started out in my I don't know what an editor makes, do they make $10 a week or a million dollars a week? I don't know, right? But there's always a baseline that set and the baseline that is often set, not always I'm not saying it's the holy grail or the gospel, but one of the common baselines that set is union scale, whether that's for editors, whether that's for union editors, so if you said for example, I demand $10,000 a week to edit your non union corporate documentaries, you're gonna get laughed out of the room, because they're gonna say, Union Hollywood editors don't even make that much, right. It's a baseline. So right now, through collective bargaining power, there is a baseline rate for what editors, assistant editors, music editors, grips, gaffers, designers, everybody that's part of IATSE. There's a baseline rate. And I know that for some tiered contracts, there's a bunch of loopholes, again, not an expert on any of this and not going to pretend to be, but in general, there is a baseline rate for a lot of professions. If we no longer have the collective bargaining power, to bargain for what we are worth, do you think that will probably trickle down to you eventually? Yeah, I can see that. So let's say that Hollywood, starting at the top, and I'm not saying the best, but just kind of starting at the top of the food chain, as far as entertainment is concerned, all of a sudden, because there are no more union regulations, because we've decided that we want to vote no, and we don't have the collective bargaining power, whether it's in six weeks, or 10 years, all of a sudden, Hollywood is like, you know what, there's this really talented guy that I found on fiverr.com. And they can start editing their TV shows for 500 bucks a week, do you think that's going to increase your value or decrease your value as a non union documentary editor in the corporate world?

Michael Scichowski II 12:52

answering your some of it for sure,

Zack Arnold 12:55

it's definitely going to So again, I know that just for point of reference, my hope is that there are going to be a lot of people listening to this and watching it that are not in post production at all. But my community is post people. So we're going to talk a lot about editing, but this is going to apply to so many other crafts. So it doesn't really matter what the below the line craft is. And I actually believe that this can trickle to other guilds as well in other unions. But if we devalue the rate that people have on a daily rate on a weekly rate, whatever it might be, if we devalue it at the union level, it's going to trickle down to everybody. That's non union, because this is where the baseline is set. So again, there's no way to verify this, because this is kind of an unprecedented situation. This is only my opinion. But I feel very strongly about this opinion, that if we are devalued, everyone else is going to be devalued accordingly. And it's not going to happen overnight. But boy, is it going to happen. This is going to be a race to the bottom really fast. If we don't get this figured out now. Ah, Mike Stivala. Yes, sir. And then Shawn, you are next,

Mike Stivala 13:57

to just add a quick little thing. What's very different about this time around is we're not just talking about, you know, increased a raise or this or that or no, Fraturday is that sort of thing. I think we're really talking about a sea change about how production and post production is done. Because we've all say the word devolved to a point where, you know, 14 hour days or standard procedure, six, seven day weeks are standard procedure, and that just needs to stop. And so that's what it's more about. This is not just a typical contract negotiation when this is like literally a sea change for the industry that we're fighting for here.

Zack Arnold 14:42

I could not agree more. And this is something that I wrote about last year in one of my dear Hollywood series, where I had actually brought up the idea of a nine hour workday and a 45 Hour Workweek, which by the way, as a side note, I was viscerated for, not by producers or studios or corporate conglomerates by the people within our own union that are cluttching their golden time on their overtime. But that's another conversation. What I believe what you're saying about this being a sea change. And I just want to bring up the absurdity of this for a second, we are fighting for a 12 hour work day, we're going to consider a 12 hour workday a win can we just talk about for a second how ridiculous this is

Mike Stivala 15:22

that says it all right there,

Zack Arnold 15:24

right? Just think about the amount of psychological conditioning, it requires over not weeks or years, but decades, for us to believe that we should be allowed to work 12 hours a day, this should be a conversation for 10 hours is absurd. But we're saying, Oh, please, please, sir, can we only work 12 hours a day, like, the absurdity of this just makes me so angry that we've gotten here, and we're going to consider that a win. And guess what for now, that may be the win that we're gonna have to build off of going forwards. But that's the point of conditioning that we have gotten to believe that we win if we get a 12 hour day, like it's just, it's beyond absurd. So I'm very grateful that you pointed that out. Bringing it back to the gallery, who else would like to chime in. And by the way, one thing I want to point out to everybody that's here today and also point out to those that are listening, or viewing you're allowed to disagree with me. This is not Hey, let's create an echo chamber of people that agree with everything I'm saying if I'm saying something you disagree with, bring it up. Let's talk about it. Because if you disagree with it, other people disagree with it. So this is an open discourse on both sides of the argument. I said that Shawn could ask a question.

Sean Edevane 16:32

Yeah, it was actually about non union because I work also in the southeast on non union on the production side. So I can at least add context for that. Yet, in general, and I do think, especially in production work, our rates are very heavily dependent on what California New York's union based rules go and also goes for just like overtime rules, because the producers here like to try to get around this a lot on non union work, you have to kind of like, Hey, this is not how we could do it in California, or in New York. And it helps a lot to have standardized rules that we can kind of lean on and be like, this is not either not illegal or not ethical to do this. So we really need those standards.

Zack Arnold 17:09

I would agree with that wholeheartedly. And just for a little bit of context, I know that most of the people on this call already know this, and you guys know most of my story, and some of you heard it ad nauseum incessantly over and over and over. But for anybody that is not familiar, very briefly, to give you context, I know it's very simple to think, Oh, it's easy to talk about all this stuff. You work on a big Netflix show and you're in the union and you work with people that value you like to be very, very clear. If this were my vote to vote selfishly, I would emphatically vote no, I love the people that I work with. I'm treated with respect all the way from the top studio executive, all the way down to directors, producers, showrunners, and otherwise. But I spent years of my career almost a decade in the non union feature world. And all the conversation always started with if this were a union show, what would the base rate be? Alright, it's non union. Now obviously, I have to advocate for myself and decide what I'm worth. And everything was, you know, way lower than the union rates, but the conversation always starts there. So just kind of reiterate and brings us back to the same point that this is not just about people that are currently under some basic agreement with this one loophole and this other loophole, and it doesn't affect everybody else. Like Mike said, this is a sea change, about the way that we decide to advocate for ourselves and our boundaries and our values. Oh, Mike Hickey. Did you want to chime in?

Michael Hickey 18:28

Yes, I'd love to chime in. So Zack knows me well, and I kind of wanted to give a perspective for from my side to kind of help you guys out as union editors. Zack knows he's gone through my resume about seven or eight times.

Zack Arnold 18:42

Was that all you?

Michael Hickey 18:45

work for NBC first 10 years of my career was union, a union called IBEW. next six years of my career, I worked for CBS for IATSE, we had a similar thing happened. There are you have a column Stewart's and then the main people on my side on the East Coast asked us for the strike vote. Everyone was very worried. All videographers, editors, people, certain technical directors, and it was a hard vote. It's a hard term I'm going to use, but it made sense. It was Look, they're not going anywhere. They keep taking everything away from you. You need more days off, you need more of this, you know, you deserve it. And the way technology is moving, you're just talking about stuff. So it was Hey, we need you to vote yes, because we just need a bullet because they're not moving on the negotiation table. It's a tough analogy. But I just wanted to give you that Zack and let you know I'm support you from the east coast. And I hope that helps an analogy wise, does that make sense?

Zack Arnold 19:47

Yeah. Oh, not only does it make sense I've actually used the the exact same analogy and you're right, it's not the best one and it's certainly given you know, things going on in our culture in our country right now. You know, maybe not the best one to use, but I do agree That if instead of using the word bullets use the word ammunition. Right now we're getting ready for a Mexican standoff. But the other side is saying you don't have any ammunition. Sure, we'll fight you. Right? So then this is a really brings up what I think is the most important point of my article. And I think it's a point that's really being missed by a lot of people. Right now, our battle or our fight, or whatever you want to call it isn't with the producers, or the multimedia, you know, global corporations. Because if we don't get a vote, the fights done, it's over. So right now we're going to speak up, and we're gonna start a really important conversation. It's all of the people that are within the union, that are thinking of voting no, because they want to protect our current way of life. They're the ones that want an advocate for the long hours and the meal penalties in the overtime, because that's what pads their paychecks. Right. And I'm not saying that they're bad people for doing that. But what they're not realizing is the effect that that's having on so many people, it's literally creating a work environment where people are dying, like we're literally dropping like flies and dying. And for those of you even myself included, I thought that all of these horror stories were just, we heard them and I believed in them, but they were kind of anomalies. just spent five minutes scanning through IATSE stories on Instagram, it's just like, Oh, my God, I had no idea that it was this bad. I knew it was bad, because my inbox for seven years has looked like the stories that they're sharing. I haven't gotten nearly as frequently. But I certainly had many conversations like this with very high level people. I'm not going to name this person's name. But I remember it was like five or six years ago, this is back when I just started Fitness in Post. So I wasn't even really doing the coaching and mentorship thing yet, and I had dinner with somebody that worked on let's just say, you know, one of the one of the top 10 movies ever created box office wise, we're talking a big, big project. And they told me that they got to the point where when they would drive home at night, they would think about how can I run my car off the road, not because I want to die. But I just like maybe if I could break both of my legs, that will give me a reason to not have to go into work tomorrow. And that was a shock to my system, I could not believe that somebody at that level was being treated that way. And they were thinking that way about their job because you would see this person on the outside. And again, don't want to name any names or projects, because it would be very simple to figure out who this person is. But you would look at them and put them on a pedestal and say you've made it like how amazing we all aspire to be you. And all this person thought about at the end of every workday was how do I break both of my legs so I don't have to go back. And now we're seeing that that's kind of the rule and no longer the exception, which is terrifying. So on that note, I want to bring it back to the group again to our community and Bari your hand is up, what would you like to share or ask?

Bari Winter 22:50

Well, I wanted to add that there's a lot of people that think that like if you vote yes on this, that we're going on strike right away. It's not that it's just a vote to authorize IATSE to use it as that tool in their toolbox as leverage to help us get what we are asking for.

Zack Arnold 23:11

Thank you that was bringing my point back full circle. And I totally went off on a tangent telling the story. But thank you. That's exactly where I was hoping to go. You're like an extension of my brain at this point. I both thank you and feel sorry for you. But the point being that yes, for a lot of people that are misinformed, I actually saw a post today in one of the Facebook groups for editors that said, Well, now that we're on strike, I'm like, Oh crap, we got a lot of work to do. Because people think we're already on strike. Not only are we not on strike, we haven't even authorized the strike vote. But if anything is ever going to change, the vote has to be yes. If the vote is no, the fight is over. Then the producers not only say you know what, here's your old contract, they're gonna say, all that stuff you got three years ago, it's all gone. And they're already doing that. That is their main negotiating tactic. They're not just trying to find a middle ground. They're taking things away. And again, without going into all the minutiae and deal points. The one that people are really talking about more than anything is the removal of lunches. So yeah, no, well, we're just going to do these rolling lunches. You know, if you guys don't want to play ball, then yeah, we'll just take them away. And what that's doing is this creating fear in people. And it's actually a really, really smart negotiating tactic. So I'm not saying I agree with them, but it's really smart. Because what happens is it makes people think, well, if we're fighting for more, and they're going to take away what we already have, I give up like I just I don't want to lose our lunches. So let's just vote no, so things can go back to normal. That's the fear that's being created right now. There's also a lot of misinformation about the vote means you're immediately out of work. All it means is like Mike said, we are giving ourselves ammunition. So this is a fair fight. That's all that it is. So I'm very, very glad, Bari that you brought that up to help me clarify. Mitch Rosin. Yes, sir.

Mitch Rosin 24:58

Hi there. I'll play Usually pessimists roll a little bit, and I'll give you an opportunity to discuss and a lot of people probably don't understand the makeup of IATSE. It's not just one organization, it's actually 13 different locals that are bargaining collectively for this deal. And if past history tells us anything, we don't do a very good job. In the negotiating room, I think it's probably one of the tactics of the producers is to break down a handful of locals that either aren't in solidarity with everybody else, or are looking for different things. Usually, that's what has happened in negotiations in the past, then we wind up not getting what we're looking for, because our house of cards inevitably comes crashing down. So how can we avoid those mistakes from happening this time around?

Zack Arnold 25:49

Yes, that is a really, really good point. And it gives a little bit more context for anybody that's not as familiar with how this is organized. Again, my disclaimer for the 12th time not an expert on unions, not an expert on negotiations of the structure of all this. I'm just a guy that's got Google like everybody else here. But yes, IATSE is kind of an umbrella union that has a whole bunch of other guilds under it, we as the editors Guild, because just to give a little bit of context you to like many of the people on this call aren't post. You're an editor and assistant editor on the feature side. So we have the editors Guild, the motion picture editors guild local 700. This isn't about our needs as editors, there are other guilds, like you said, we have the costume designers, and we have the directors of photography, gaffers grips, I don't know all the specific locals and their technical names. But it's essentially all the major below the line workers that are in the Union. And in the past, what's happened, specifically three years ago, what happened is that we as the editors Guild, we're all saying the same things that everybody's saying now. And all the other crafts and guilds and everybody else said, Oh, those those editors with their air conditioning, and they're not on set, they don't get it, right. And what ended up happening is we were divided because of that. And I think a lot of that was a very calculated strategy by the producers to plant specific conversations to pit us against each other. The best analogy that I can give that I read about had nothing to do with the strike or the negotiations. But it was an analogy that I read just about the political divisiveness that we have in our country right now. If you take a jar, and you fill it with 50%, red ants, and 50%, black ants, nothing happens. You take the jar and you shake it, and they will murder each other to death. Everybody's worried about the black side or the red side, we need to be worried about who is shaking the jar. Right? That's the thing to focus on. And I think the difference in this negotiation versus the others is we are all on the same page. Right? There were so much divisiveness, like I'm not going to go into all the politics of it. For example, the president of IATSE, Matt Loeb, and am I saying his name correctly. So Matt Loeb, he was in a fight with Cathy Repola, who is the leader of the editors Guild, there's so much infighting and divisiveness. And I mean, the the way that she was treated was very disrespectful. And I have so much respect for her for the fact that she can come back and fight with them as adversaries. But that's the difference. This time, I'm not seeing any of that. And again, I'm not in the negotiating room, I don't actually know what's happening on the front lines. But having been on the call with Cathy where she shared what was going on, and following the other guilds. I don't feel any divisiveness this time. And I could be wrong. I don't know what the votes gonna look like. But I'm not feeling or reading any divisiveness, it really feels like we're a unified front, across all the guilds, or at least the major guilds that are getting the press. So I don't know if you're feeling the same way or if other people are. But that is what I think like Mike Stevala said earlier is the sea change that we are experiencing. Whereas before is about all the editors, they don't need to kind of turn around the we do like there was so much of that that was happening that again, somebody was shaking the jar to make that happen. But it's not working this time. And I really feel like the unified front is all about we, as human beings deserve to be respected for what we bring to the table, and we are being treated as expendable. I really feel like that's become the conversation which it finally needs to become. So I don't know if that gives you just the slightest bit of hope. But for the first time, I'm actually hopeful, because three years ago, I could tell you blatantly I'm like, I'm gonna vote yes, but it's useless. Total, it's a total waste of my time to vote yes, because I know that we're going to get the contract and we're going to suck it up and we're going to eat it. I'm actually very, very cautiously optimistic This is going to go through this time, because it's there's just something different in the air. But the only way it happens is if we all make sure number one, we get out there and vote our voice and if somebody on this call wants to vote no vote no, I'm not going to tell you what you have to vote. I think everybody should exercise that right in either direction. But I think people at least need to get out there and share their voice. But I really feel the sea change happening where I feel like it's a much more unified front where cinematographers and grips and editors and everybody's coming together. And I think a large reason that we're seeing that is because of the IATSE stories Instagram page because we realize we're all on the same trenches at the same time. Doesn't matter what What our what our craft is. So that that's kind of my feeling that I feel that I feel that there's something different this time, and we have a chance. But to go back to your other question, what can we do about it? I think it's about we need to get out of our echo chambers and Facebook, like, you know, let's, for our world, most of the people that are in here, the editors guild Facebook page, screaming at the top of your lungs, at the editors guild Facebook page that we need to vote yes, not a bad thing. But it's kind of a waste of time. You're preaching to the choir, it's getting to the other guilds, other people that you work with, and letting them know what's going on and spreading this message far beyond the guilds that already believe that, that we need to do this. So do I know how to reach every single person or every single guild? Absolutely not. But that's kind of sort of why I'm writing the articles and why we're doing this call is I don't want this to be. This is what the editor guild thing is, here's what we as human beings, and creative professionals working in the entertainment industry believe to be true. And anybody that's listening or watching they share it with other people. And you realize that if you have believed this to for years, and you felt kind of shamed or afraid to bring it up, because for years, I would kind of sit my dark room and be like, why are they treating us this way? And why can't I go out and take a walk for half an hour like that used to terrify me to bring any of that up? Clearly, I'm not scared to bring these things up anymore in the public discourse. But a lot of people still are seeing a call like this and sharing it with people not inside the echo chamber. That's where I think the difference is made. Do we have anybody here? And I already know the answer to this. But do we have anybody here that's not in post that can share a perspective from the front lines on set? To me, Jonathan? Yes, sir. Good to see you. Again. By the way, it's been a while

Jonathan 31:39

I just wanted to clarify for people that might not understand when we say producers, we're talking about the majors, we're talking about Paramount and Sony and universal. We're not talking about your post producer, who's probably frankly, probably behind us, you know, but can't probably say a whole lot. And then also, I wanted to say that there is a petition for those of you who aren't in the Guild, there's a petition going around on actionnetwork.org/petitions/tell AMTP to make a deal with behind the scenes workers. So there's already 45,000 people who sign this petition.

Zack Arnold 32:19

Wow, that's amazing. That's great, because that is beyond just the people that work in the union and our active paying voting members. That's just 45,000 people saying, hey, they're human beings, right? Or we are human beings, right? So that's great. I'm going to make sure that in everything that we share shownotes social media posts, otherwise, that is awesome. I wasn't aware of that. I'm going to make sure that we have a link to that petition. But I'm also glad you brought up this clarification. The fact that when we put producers in quotes, you're right. It's not the producer down the hall, the story producer, the CO producer that's running post production. It's not even the line producer that's on set. We're talking about the major conglomerates, the Netflix's and the foxes and the Disney's, and they'll actually Fox and Disney are now the same thing. Because they're all the same thing is just one person owns all of it. But the point being that this is another area where it kind of becomes us versus them. Oh, we're below the line. And we're against the above line of the producers. But it really isn't. I've talked to multiple producers, I've talked to show runners, I've talked to directors, they all say the same thing. We're tired of the hours too. We don't want to work this way. But because the budgets and the schedules and the expectations trickled down from the top. In order for them to keep their jobs, they need to make sure that everybody is able to meet these specific expectations. Some of them do it with a smile on their face. Many of them do it begrudgingly. But yes, to clarify, this is not about us versus the producers down the hall. This is about the multi media conglomerates that see us as expendable widgets that don't that basically say like I've talked about in my article, and many times before, that when we complain to them that everyone is dropping like flies. Alright, just get more flies, what's the big deal? Right. And the whole point of this conversation is to not have any more flies, nobody left that's willing to accept the way that we work as acceptable. So I'm very glad you brought that up, Jonathan. That's a point that I probably should have brought up earlier, when I was using that term. I've just I've been writing about this so much. Like it's just all all the terms are going in circles in my head at this point. So that's incredibly helpful. Thank you. What I would also like to know is Do we have anybody here that isn't even in the United States? That's thinking like, why should I care? Like I'm it Oh, there's a hand that went up. I know we've got a couple more but Nick Montgomery, share with us your viewpoint on all this. You know, looking over the border, so to speak. Yeah, hi,

Nick Montgomery 34:33

oh, yeah, I'm union but I'm getting. And so more kind of eased off in here, but also because I'm wondering if this is a similar situation, that we're gonna find ourselves in the near future. So I'm really eager to see how this all unfolds for you guys, just south of us. But one thing I wanted to kind of ask about, I know that it's you know, it's going conversation before that here where some people would ask, well, would you sacrifice? Like you can negotiate? It may be possible to eventually negotiate for not standard 12 hour a day. But you know, that means that that means changes that, you know, it affects your rate primarily affects other things, but primarily it affects your rate and your paycheck. And are you willing to sacrifice that? That's where I've heard some people, you know, flock back, but hold on a sec, I like my paycheck. Nevermind. So I'm actually kind of curious how people feel about that. Knowing that. Yeah, there's a little bit of reality in that you can, if you try to negotiate for a, a non 12 hour standard day, just No, that means there are there's an effect to that. And that, you know, primarily will mean less pay. And are you willing to be okay with that? Because that is kind of like a give and take that's a natural human taker when it comes to the negotiations that so I'm kind of curious how people feel about that, that results.

Zack Arnold 36:02

Yeah, I would agree that this is a huge point of the conversation. And for anybody that's unable to view, they don't realize the brilliance of the image I'm looking at right now, which is an editor working from home and literally, with a Baby Bjorn rocking his newborn child while working on a community q&a call. If this is just the perfect encapsulation of why we're having this conversation. I don't know what is. But yes, let's bring up the very, very controversial subject of the paycheck. Because this is really at least right now. Not big picture. If we're talking about the war, the battle that we're looking at is internally, at the end of the day, if we get a no vote, the majority of the no votes are going to be the people in I believe, one of two camps. And again, I'm not on the front lines and all the various skills, I don't hear all the conversations, but in general, from the messages that I've received, the conversations that I've had, we have two general groups of people that I believe are going to vote no one other people that are terrified that they're not going to get a paycheck, because they're living paycheck to paycheck, because that's the way the industry is structured, and they have no other choice, and the cost of living is ridiculously high, and they're getting paid. I'm just gonna say at complete wages, those people had a really legitimate fear. And I feel so much compassion for them. And I'm not sure what the answer even is. All I know is that things are only going to get monumentally worse if we don't do something now. But then there's the other camp of people that have come to accept and embrace the fact that in order for them to have the lifestyles that they've created, and all the extra money they needed to keep coming in, there's a term of this called lifestyle creep. This is something that so many people experience, and it's kind of the American way, that you, you get all the things that you want, you have some debt, then all of a sudden, you maybe get a better job or a promotion. So you buy more stuff, and you buy more stuff, and you have more debt, and then you find yourself with the golden handcuffs, I'm making really good money. But if I make even $200, a week less, I can't afford the lifestyle that I've created. But frankly, and I'm not going to make rash judgments about everybody. But in some people's cases, they made irresponsible choices about their lifestyle. So I feel so much tremendous compassion for the people that have been put in the position where they have to side with us and collectively bargain and be a part of this conversation knowing they don't even know how they're going to pay their rents in two weeks, because they've been treated like such garbage. However, I have a lot less compassion for people that are saying, I love my 80 hour weeks, are you kidding? like such a fat paycheck, I'm not giving that up for these losers that chose this industry that didn't know what they were getting into. They should just stop whining and quit. And they should just work a nine to five job. And if anybody thinks I'm being facetious go to my article, you're going to see all of those comments directed at me personally, about the things that I've written, I have been viciously attacked about my viewpoints on work life balance. So I know that these are not quotes that I've made up there screenshot person for person all anonymous, because I don't want to call people out. But I've been hearing this for years. Those are ultimately the people that are going to help us decide whether or not this goes through or whether it doesn't go through. But I don't think that at least for the people on that camp, the camp of the ones that just want to keep their overtime and their golden time and they don't care what happens to everybody else, as long as their money keeps coming in. We're not going to convince them to vote otherwise, it's the undecideds. And it's the people that don't feel like they're being supported that are in a position where they're terrified and not have a check. So one of the things that I want to push forwards, and I have no idea how something like this works. I don't know if something like this already exists, I wouldn't know how to create it. And frankly, it's not something that I will take on myself. But if it doesn't already exist, if there is some form of either a strike vote or an actual strike, I think IATSE needs to put together some form of a fund where we can contribute money to it and we can help pay the salaries of the people that literally live paycheck to paycheck not by choice. I have no interest in helping somebody finance their jetski during the strike. But if there's somebody that literally cannot pay their rent, I think that we should all come together and we should find some way to help them. I don't have the logistics or infrastructure even begin to know how something like that works. But what I will say, unequivocally and I'm going to put this on the recording in front of everybody here, if there is something like that I personally am going to put $1,000 into that fund. If I can have one person cover one week's paycheck, so we can have those five days to negotiate and get what we need to make their lives better for years to come. I am all in. I don't know how to make it happen. But that's where I stand on that personally. So Bari, your hand went up,

Bari Winter 40:36

I saw something it was either in the the editors guild Facebook group, or in an email from the editors guild that they were considering working out some things to help people, I'm not sure if it's a money thing, or if it's like, you know, other things that they did maybe during COVID or whatever. But I've heard through the grapevine that I think there's going to be some sort of help for people. Well,

Zack Arnold 41:03

I am all in to contribute to that. And here's why I think it's so important that this needs to happen now, not that the funds are actually available. But I think we need to make it as clear and as make it as clear as possible as quickly as possible that something like this is in the works. Because I know that if I were working close to minimum wage, and I don't know how I'm going to pay the rent, and I don't have somebody in my family or friends or otherwise, that can help me through it. I'm going to vote no, even if I believe in everything, I'm going to vote no, because I'm just too scared to vote otherwise. But if I know that support is coming, and I know that there are people that have done much better than I have in this industry that are there to support me, that might sway my vote to a Yes, because I know that people have my back. I honestly think that's where a lot of the effort needs to go is letting people know that are honestly in a position where they want to vote yes with our heart, but they can't, they need to know they have our support. That's where I think the difference happens, because we're not going to convince the people that just want the 90 hours a week and they enjoy that lifestyle because it passed their pension and health and their paychecks, they're never going to vote yes. And again, that's a personal choice, I'm going to try and make as little judgement about it is possible, but I at least want them to think about the effect that has on everybody. But at the end of the day, I just don't think that it makes a whole lot of sense to try and convince them. It's the undecideds that are terrified to vote yes, because they can't afford it. I think that's where the support needs to go, at least for now. Like I said, the battle versus a war. Ultimately, this is about us being devalued by the people that hire us. But that conversation goes away if we don't get the yes vote. So that's my own personal opinion about where I think our attention needs to be directed and Bari your hand went up again.

Bari Winter 42:35

Yes, I actually found the email that has the info,

Zack Arnold 42:38

but is that the guild sending out something about IATSE at large or just for editors guild members?

Bari Winter 42:43

Well, it's just it's just an important message about the strike authorization vote from MPEG business.

Zack Arnold 42:49

Got it? Well, this is one of the messages that I think we need to get out in a conversation that we need to start if it hasn't already started, maybe something like this already exists. And I'm unaware of it. Because I'm not in any boards. I'm not in any of the rooms. But I really feel if we're going to make the difference. It's about giving the people that are terrified of voting, yes, some support knowing that we're going to back them up in any way that we can. So Ricardo and then Annie next because I saw your hand went up. But Ricardo, everybody's opinion in this room is valuable. However, you have a very unique perspective on this, and probably a lot more background in this conversation than even I do. So give us just a little bit of background and who you are, what you do, where you are, and how you were involved with this conversation?

Riccardo Bacigalupo 43:30

Sure. Um, my name is yes, I'm Ricardo Bacigalupo I'm from the UK. So it was very interested to listen in to this very us centric, strike related action primarily because I'm the post secretary for the post branch in the UK, in the UK union called back to, and obviously, a lot of your shows are coming over to the UK and shooting and doing post over here as well. So there's definitely some cross pollination. And I did a webinar with Zack last August during the pandemic, where we talked about a lot of these issues with work life balance, and how to be healthy and post and so on, and so on. So I had just a couple of things to say and ask specifically relating to helping people that you were talking on there then, just as amusing I wonder if you guys had spoken at all or reached out to john August and Craig Mazin who have been very, very cool up from a writing side about helping assistance and helping PAs and people when they've been talking about writers striking and you know, the writers perspective on all of this, because there's definitely some shared thoughts and feelings there. And those guys do his podcast called script notes, which I listened to religiously every week, and they are not scared to put their point of view forward. And they're really doing some great work to help further the cause for for the writing side of things and also helping writers come in so maybe they've got some ideas as well, that cross union pollination I don't know how it works exactly, you know, politically out there with different union guilds talking to each other and stuff, but I'm assuming that there's collaboration going on in relation to the issue and the strike then you guys definitely feel like you're more organized than we are over here and further ahead with this kind of stuff getting to the point where you can strike even though, of considering the option to strike as a bargaining tool. It's been, it's been used over here in other departments. I don't think posters at that point yet over here, but I'm listening in and will feed back to my people in my my union and my committee, collaborators as well with, with what I've been hearing from you. The thing I wanted to ask about was the biggest issue for me that I've seen, and I've been doing this for 10 years, so I should contextualize my work as well, for people who don't have primary features assistant editor who's now moved into kind of a transitional period between assisting and editing, I've worked mostly on studio features. So I've seen the whole spectrum of good and bad behavior, across the boards and across the departments and across the the films that I've worked on, as well. And the thing I wanted to just maybe stimulate a little discussion on is project management. Because I feel like so many of us to let the non workers have this disbelief in this position, about our rights, and you know, how we should be working and how we should be treated fairly. But we're not supported by people, perhaps above us who are in control of our system, extending control over salaries. And I'm seeing a continuous problem over the last decade of people who haven't necessarily learned how to project manage properly, which includes leading a team, which includes looking after your team. And I just wondered what people thought yourself, Zack the others about that in relation to how do we because part of the battle is trying to educate and trying to make people realize that until we're learning how to project manage properly, which is, I think, a big issue for the film industry, because it's it's very open with how it lets people in and work and come in, it's full of passionate people, and it's amazing opportunity. But it's also very loose, very lacks. And that's what leads to a lot of the exploitation that we've probably all seen and experienced. And perhaps if there was some more structure and rigidity with Project Management, training and standardization of this stuff, then it would lead to bad outcomes with this kind of stuff. Just point for thought.

Zack Arnold 46:59

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I could not agree with all of that more. As soon as you said project management a bunch of bells and whistles of course went off of my head because anybody that's in this community knows what a productivity and project management nerd I am none of which I'm going to get into now. First of all, Ricardo I love your level of humility where like yeah, I've worked on, you know, features and TV. Ricardo has worked on some of the biggest most successful feature films of all time. He's been in the trenches and then some on some really, really really big stuff and without going into details I've talked to you and your fellow editor and other People in that circle about just the the absolute hell that you've gone through to deliver. And I really believe this is something I've talked about on a whole lot of podcasts. So my students are going to be like, Oh my god, here he goes again. But for those that may be new to this community, or the things that we talked about, I believe the root cause of burnout is setting improper expectations that can take 1000 different viewpoints. But it all comes down to setting improper expectations that are not met, that cause tremendous friction. And I too believe and I've just been appalled, the higher that I've climbed to myself in the industry, the complete lack of any formal knowledge in both project management and team leadership, the way that our industry is structured, where we have all independent freelancers that go from job to job, there is no incentive whatsoever to actually become better at what you do as a leader or a collaborator. Because the only worth that you have the only reason you're going to be hired back is did you meet all of the unrealistic expectations on your previous show successfully? Great. Are you willing to do it again, that's the conversation. If we had a full time corporate structure, like if we talk about the companies that, you know, we're I hate using the word against, but if we talk about the companies that we're negotiating with, the Disney's The Netflix is the all these other companies, they have corporate structures, where people get leadership training and project management training, and they have HR departments, they have protection, they have a long term viable future, where you can start in the mailroom, and prove yourself and learn things and grow and climb the corporate ladder. And our world. We're just these expendable widgets where all right, well, were you able to survive the previous show? Great. You want to come survive ours? And if you can't, all right, well, there's 100 other people that are probably willing to go through that anyways. But I have yet to meet maybe one, I've had one or two producers that actually had some formal training and understanding the psychology of leadership, understanding project management, and it wasn't just a matter of, well, I started as a PA. And then the supervisor taught me how to be a supervisor. And then the supervisor taught me how to be an associate producer, and then the Associate Producer taught me how to be a producer. Alright, that doesn't mean that you're getting better at anything, it just means you're acquiring knowledge from other people that don't really understand how leadership works. And this is a conversation I've had with other students and people on social media where they've reached out and said, I want to change this, where can I learn about leadership? What are the books, what are the courses. So I think that slowly, we're starting to recognize how detrimental This is. But the one thing I want people to consider, and again, this might not be the most popular viewpoint. But as I tell my students all the time, you need to crawl into the brain of the person that you're dealing with and understand the world from their perspective, their producer that you're working with in your department that's driving you crazy, that's telling you there is no more time there is no more money, we have to hit these deadlines. They have a boss too. And their boss is saying why can't your team get this done on time, within the budget, there's a word called breakage. And breakage basically means going from the pattern budget and needing more because of whatever reason X, Y or Z, there cannot be any breakage. So the person above you that's pushing you is getting pushed by somebody else is getting pushed by somebody else is getting pushed by somebody else. So basically, rolls downhill. Guess who's at the bottom.

below the line, people are the ones at the bottom. But it's not necessarily the person right above you that you think is making your life hell, it's only because somebody is making their life, Hell is making somebody their life hell, which is why in this negotiation, we're resetting the expectation from the top down. My guess is that a lot of the producers that and when I say producers, I'm talking about the producers in the room, or the ones across the hall, the ones that we work with every day, if you have one that's driving you crazy, I have a feeling they hate their job as much as you hate the way they do their job because somebody else is making them crazy. So it's I'm not saying it excuses the behavior or the lack of understanding of team dynamics, or the lack of understanding of project management, but it's systemic. It's just something about the way that our system is built. And it goes to above the line goes across below the line like this is an issue that if we were just going to start over this needs to be fixed from square one. I don't necessarily know what the answer is, other than I take it upon myself personally, and I've taken it upon myself to help other people learn how they can better project manage themselves, because I believe that if you don't want to be micromanaged, you need to learn how to micromanage yourself. Is that going to be the solution across the board? No, I think that the whole system needs to change. But at least right now, I think the one thing we can take control of individually is the fact that we are better at Project managing ourselves, which allows us to set more clear boundaries and set clear expectations. So I don't know if that's fully answered your question, but it's just it's my perspective on all this and I agree with everything you're saying completely.

Riccardo Bacigalupo 54:50

The interesting thing for me about all of this is that having done this for 10 years as well and the onus is completely on us to push back on our team to bond with And to push back with us, firstly, to talk about it and then on us to talk to our media manager and supervisor beat our post supervisor through that our editor. And, you know, the issue, of course is how do we get beyond that, because the people setting these schedules are not really that post supervisor, they may or may not even be the show producer. Your your point about HR and the corporate systems was interesting to me, because the, although that sounds good, in principle, the schedules and the release dates come from them. So the top point where the problem is being created is the detachment of person working at a corporate job in a studio, who perhaps doesn't have that full an understanding of actually what it's like in the trenches for us as freelancers, my own metaphor for is, I think of the First World War and the general sending the troops over the trenches in the in the midst of basketball, and the disconnect between knowing what it's actually like in the trenches versus being at the back of the line in the safety for 10 with tea, sending the troops out to die. And obviously, it's not as intense as that for us. But the metaphor is act and there's such a detachment and disconnect in that chain of people who have to be prepared to stand up and pull the line that it's a real problem with with making the change in that sense, is striking. The only option is that actually the only way that we make change, I mean, I can't vote Obviously, I'm not in your country. I'm not on the IRC scheme, but it does you share that picture of I use the Bug's Life metaphor all the time as well, when I'm doing talks over here with the union and talking to people and the only way to potentially change can happen is with that. So I guess I would be saying yes, if it were something to do, but I fully understand that's a super difficult decision to make, because everyone's perspective financially and with themselves in their position. And their job is hugely personal and hugely difficult. I don't have kids, I might be thinking about it very differently if I had children in my life that I had this book. So yeah, that was kind of the follow up response. But perhaps, historically, that is the way we we make change.

Zack Arnold 56:55

Yes. And I agree with all that, especially going back to this idea of the people that are setting the schedules and the patter budgets and everything else, they are part of the corporate structure. And they don't really understand what it's like to be on the front lines. And I'm not gonna say that across the board universally, because I actually know some people that I very much know and respect that have been on the production side that have moved to the studio side, and they get it. And you know what they say, this is just what's handed to me, this is the budget, this is the schedule, and I have to find a way to make sure that my crews can make it work. The only reason that things are going to change is not better training or convincing. The studio executives or the corporate people, Oh, you know what, it's going to be better if you give them more space and time, because the science says that you're more productive with more rest, nobody cares. The only thing that's going to make things change is if we no longer meet the impossible expectations. We keep meeting them. So they just keep resetting those expectations. We essentially have been moving the goalposts for decades. And we've just gotten to the point where the goalpost is so far away and so impossible to meet the we're breaking, or every single person is breaking over and over and over. So they're realizing maybe we can't move the goalposts anymore. But I really believe that there's I don't exactly know how the corporate structure works. But I think that there are even people in the corporate side of things, setting these budgets that even they know it's not realistic. But as long as they keep meeting it, and we keep saving money, let's just see how far we can push. Again, I'm not in the rooms, I'm totally speculating. And I don't know that for a fact. But I really believe that there are probably a multitude of people that may not be willing to admit it. But there are a multitude of people on the corporate side that even they know, this doesn't work. But the person above them said this is the way it has to be in it all trickles down. Again, just my opinion. I don't know that firsthand. But that's just kind of my feeling. Going back to the gallery, I saw a hand go up a while ago from Annie, Annie. I swear I did not forget about you. It is now officially Your turn. So welcome.

Annie Popko 58:54

Hi. So my question is, do we know I keep hearing the 75% number going around or strike authorization vote? Is does that mean? All 13 locals have to vote? That way?

Zack Arnold 59:10

Really good question. And I'm totally going to butcher this because this is again, not my area of expertise. But the best way I can explain it. Because I was explaining this to my wife the other day. It's very similar to like the electoral system that we have in the United States. Where it's not a matter of we have I don't know the exact number let's for the sake of math, we have 50,000 members and I assay and whatever 75% of 50,000 is that's the number we need to hit. That is not how it works. Each guild has a number of delegates. And don't ask me the number of delegates I have no idea I don't get in the minutiae of it. But just talking from a structural perspective, each guild has a number of delegates that's mathematically proportionate to the number of people just like with the Electoral College. California has a lot more electoral votes than Delaware, right. So the editors guild and the cinematographers Guild, we have a lot more people so Therefore we have a lot more delegates. But ultimately, if the editors Guild, let's say that 75.1% of the editors guild votes, yes, that means that all of the delegates for the editors Guild, and I don't know the number, maybe somebody else on the call can share it. But the number of delegates 100% votes, yes. Right. So it's about how do we get 75% of the delegates. I think actually, I think the number is lower with delegates, I think with the votes in each guild is 75%. But again, I don't want anybody to quote this part, because I'm going to butcher the actual numbers. But structurally, it's really important to understand that it's about delegates. The reason it's so important, is again, it is a total waste of time at this point, to scream from the top of the rooftops in the editors guild Facebook page, we need to vote yes. Because we're already confident we got the vote three years ago, we're going to get it now. This is about reaching out to the other guilds and the other people that we know in our social circles, a lot of whom are not even that informed about what's going on. Because it's not about individual votes. It's not like, well, if we can get 100% of the vote in the editors Guild, that's going to make up for 25 extra percent that we can apply to other guilds where they're going to vote less. So really is about how do we make sure that we get the majority from the other gills that are right now going to be on the fence?

Annie Popko 1:01:17

Yeah, right. I I'm not worried about the editors, you know, moving Yes. You know, we were we were down for this fight in 2018. It's hard with, we're so disconnected from the election and the rest of the locals. Anyways, that makes me nervous. Although, I have noticed, you know, the friends I do have in production are talking about it now. You know, weren't talking about it.

Zack Arnold 1:01:41

Yeah, that's that's why I like going back to, to mitches question why I'm a lot more optimistic this time, because it's the same conversation across all the guilds. Again, there was so much infighting and so much attacking the the editors three years ago. And by the way, can we just point out the irony of it's the quiet, introverted, meek little editors in their dark rooms that really were standing up for this fight three years ago, like really, it just I just find that ironic, I don't know I just find that funny. And I just got a comment and some clarification from one of the members of the community that I was in fact wrong. And it's a simple majority as far as delegates are concerned, I know what 75% for the votes within the guilds, but I guess it's a simple majority once we're talking about the number of delegates so again, don't take my word as gospel, do your research, look at it understand how all of it works, because I am not an expert on this side of things. But I do know for a fact that it's based on a delegate system and not a simple 75% of all the people in it, which is why it's so important to reach out to other people in guilds where they're on the fence so moving on, I do believe on that note, we have a point of view we can share from the other side of the line in that crazy world called production. Sam Would you like to come forward and share your perspective as an assistant director and aspiring to director

Samantha Lavin 1:03:01

well because I mean I technically the production manager the UPM is the line right so they were they sort of straddle one I think more and more first 80s are also right at the line because because we're in charge of safety on set we have to worry about this stuff like we have to worry about crews getting tired but at the same time it's our job to finish the day so we're always putting in a really tough position to and we don't want crews to work you know work into the ground at all so and you know anything that the crew gets benefits us benefits the directors you know, the directors get a shorter day we get a shorter day, but it just it benefits everybody and also having a crew that is up we all know anyone who works on a set who's worth anything knows how important a well fed well rested crew is happy participating crew because you know these are smart people and I've seen grips give opinions and or notice things on set that a showrunner goes, Oh my God, thank you, you know, and we all need each other that way so yeah, I mean, for me, it's huge because I feel like I'm responsible for I've seen it obviously for many years. This is it's been awful. Just the hours and you know, all this stuff. And I think what you said is really I think you're what you said about the lunches and how that a scare tactic is really valuable because it's I was thinking that it was stupid, because I was like that's going to motivate everyone to to want to strike but you're right. It actually will scare people, certain people and like I had said, I think grips, electrics props, those people who work they want overtime. So the problem is getting them to vote against the interest of them making money. That's where it gets tough. You know, they want safe conditions and they want to get paid double time after 12 like they should Which is what they're also trying to take away and what they want the hours. So it's kind of like it's difficult for them.

Zack Arnold 1:05:06

Well, let me ask you this question to play the devil's advocate for a second because I'm not intimately familiar with the politics of a set. And I know the basics of how they run. But I spent, you know, two decades of my life by choice, not unset. Because it's not not a lifestyle that makes the most sense for my personality. But if I am a grip, or I'm an electric, or I'm a dp, anybody that's below the line, whether you know, the lowest rung on the ladder, or the top rung on the ladder, why are you as an assistant director or director not looking out for me? Why are you making our days so long? Why are you cross boarding the days in such a way that these expectations are impossible to me, you're part of the problem.

Samantha Lavin 1:05:42

We have mandates that come down and then basically, you know, we get given just so everybody knows, especially on television, usually gauges walk into an episode ready to prep and the UPS has already prepped a schedule. And they sort of hand it to the ad and go Okay, now you can do your pass. So you know, it's it's kind of like the director's cut, you know, they get to do a pass and they will tell you like, we're cross boarding that's that's almost never an easy decision. Or they're, you know, they'll tell you we only have this actor on this day. So we have to shoot a 14 hour day, you know, now there's bad 80s for sure that don't care. That's That's the problem. You know, like in any any area, right? But any decent ad, like I said, they understand that you get more out of a crew anyway. And in the fact that we're responsible for safety also pulls us in a crews direction, you know, I don't want people falling off tailgates. I don't want people mistakenly backing up and into, you know, fire potentially, or something or offstage. So it has that stuff happens, that stuff doesn't get talked about, because people just end up going to the ER, they get some workman's comp and it's over, right. But that happens all the time.

Zack Arnold 1:06:51

The reason that I asked it that way is it kind of comes back to this conversation of misplacing our anger and our aggression? Right thinking it's our immediate supervisor that's pushing us because I'm assuming as a first ad, you've had to push a crew to say, Alright guys, you know, it's gonna be another 14 or 16 hours a day. And for me to not understand the big picture. It's like, Oh, my God, Sam is just, she's pushing a Why is she doing this? Right? But you have mandates from above? And I would guess that the buck does not stop even at the UPM. Correct?

Samantha Lavin 1:07:19

Oh, no, of course, not the studio, basically, they have made it worse. Yeah. And it comes from the people who are taking our rights away, essentially.

Zack Arnold 1:07:26

Yep, exactly. Which is comes back to the main central point, that the expectations that are being set are no longer realistic, we are not being valued, and we cannot accept it, right. That's what it comes down to. And I just see so much misplace aggression to the wrong people, whether it's a studio executive, or producer, whatever it is, and I feel like that has to stop. And another strategy that is just driving me crazy. Is all this talk of let's cancel all of our streaming services, like really, really like do we think that's number one going to make a difference? And number two, is that even a good strategy? Let's assume that every single person, and I atsi cancels their streaming services, and better yet, every single person in it convinces their family to cancel their streaming services. Does anybody care on the studio or corporate level? Nobody's going to care, they're going to laugh at that. But what also happens is those that created the content, meaning us meaning the directors, the producers, the writers, the showrunners, that's less residual money in their pocket, whether it's a pension and health plan, or it's an individual check. So that's basically us just cutting off our nose to spite our face. So for anybody that's listening to this, like, ah, screw Netflix, we're gonna cancel it No, like, really, you're No really, really bad strategy.

Samantha Lavin 1:08:44

The way to stop it is to have the filming and production come to a grinding halt in unity. So that's what I think I mean, I mean, I've actually taken two sorry, but I've taken to like, I wrote a safety meeting every morning, you know, where you don't even call it anymore. It's just a morning meeting. And I tell everybody what we're going to do for the day, and I usually, if it's a crappy scheduled day, I will say, by the way, this crappy scheduled day is brought to you by unavailable actor or unavailable set. You know what I mean? Like, I don't blame somebody, but I'll explain it. So people don't just think that we randomly did this for our own evil purpose.

Zack Arnold 1:09:20

Yeah. And that that context is super, super important. Because when you the difference is when it's us versus them versus we're all in this together, it changes the conversation. And my feeling is that everybody that's a creative, I don't care above the line below the line or otherwise union or non Union as creatives, we are all in this fight together, because it all comes down to how we are being valued. And all we need to do is stop meeting the impossible expectations and then they have to move the goalposts. That's really the only thing that changes and it goes back to the thesis at the very beginning. We have a no vote, we're done. That's it. This is this isn't a matter of we're going to get point 5% less than our scale our next paycheck for the next three years until the next negotiation The Union as we know it is done. And again, it'll take a long time to dismantle, but this is do or die time, because they know we've been walking around for 50 years with an unloaded gun, the fights over. But Jeff, your hand went up, and I want to make sure that your voice is heard as well.

Jeff 1:10:17

Thank you, Zack, I think the conversation might need to be steered towards how they're scheduling the shoots, and also the post schedules. That's why we're working these longer hours. You know, like, I'm sure many of us here have been through this where you know, you're excited to get on a project. And let's say they're hiring the editor two weeks into shooting, but they're not adjusting their schedule. And they're like, well, if you want the job, you got to make it work. And you know, I've been on plenty tier zero projects where they're not they're shooting, you know, I obviously, but they're not DGA. So I don't even have that 10 week pad with my director to get the best product for them. So it's like, you know, maybe this is too simple of an answer. But maybe the conversation needs to be skewed that way.

Zack Arnold 1:10:56

Yeah, I mean, I really think the conversation comes down to like, let's break it down to kind of the the details on a more ground level, the argument that I hear over and over and over and I don't look at all the spreadsheets, so I can't verify this. But the logic tracks that, wouldn't it make more sense instead of working everybody? 14 1618 hour days, isn't it actually cheaper to just add more normal days, like number one, you're gonna get more productivity, people are going to be able to do better work, and you don't have to pay the overtime. So the majority of shows that I've worked on for the last 10 years all work by that philosophy, one of the core questions that I asked when I'm on a show, do you pay overtime, and they always respond the same way? No, unfortunately, we don't, I'm like, good, I want to be on shows that don't pay overtime. Because that means that if we can't meet your expectations, you just extend the deadline, I would rather work two extra weeks at regular pay, then I would try to crunch everything in work late nights and long weekends, right. But it all comes down to we don't want to pay more money. We don't we just don't want to do it, we want to crank out the sausage as fast as humanly possible. And if that means that we're going to pay the individuals more money to get it done in less time, even if they literally can't survive, there are other people that are going to fill their positions. But it comes down to a lack of willingness to say, you know what, let's just extend the schedules. Again, it comes back to setting in proper expectations. And that one fundamental thing changed. If whomever the person is pulling all the strings, whether it's a one of the studios or all of them simultaneously, or there's some mastermind, like I said, that's holding the jar and shaking it, whoever that that person or people are, if they all fundamentally said, You know what, let's make the schedules longer. And let's incur the fees necessary to make that happen. We all live in a completely different world. That's really what it comes down to. I don't know how to make that change, other than what we're doing. Now, I don't know if that is going to be the change or if it's just going to be you know what, you get X number of dollars from meal penalties now fine, we'll double it, I still don't think things are going to change that much. Right. And that's something I've been saying for years is that even if we do get a lot of the things that we want in this union contract, which we should fight for, this ultimately becomes a human issue and an individual issue. how willing are you to set boundaries to protect yourself? It really is going to come down to that because we can talk about union regulations and meal penalties and not allowed to have lunches or whatever. But all of those things, a lot of them like let's use meal breaks, for example, meal breaks are protected under union contracts. Yet most people at least I can speak firsthand from the editor side of things. They work through lunches routinely, every single day and the way that companies have gotten have been able to take advantage of that. Is they just by the editors lunches. Right? Pretty simple. So that's the way that they've gotten around it. So if somebody says we need union protection to make sure we have our lunches, it's already there. Right? How do you fight for that. And that really comes down to individuals that are willing to set boundaries and make sure that these things don't continue to happen. But doing that one person at a time isn't working, which is why we need to collectively do it. Work hard or jump right back in.

Riccardo Bacigalupo 1:14:03

It was just a quick comment and question out to you guys as well with what you're working on. I in the 10 years that I've been doing this in relation to what Jeff was talking about with scheduling and what you were just doing there about a human issue, then I'm 36. Now I started in this industry at 24. In just the 10 or 11 years I've been doing this I'm seeing a shift in the younger generation coming in and the mindsets that they are coming in with and the attitudes they're coming in with as well. And I do feel there's a change in the wind that is a slow generational change. But eventually those people will be first producers, producers, they will be putting those schedules together they will be making those poster schedules and if they don't want to work those hours, then perhaps things will slowly change over the next 10 to 20 years and I do think it will take that long but I'm seeing trainees and seconds in my cutting rooms and other people's cutting rooms standing up to people politely respectfully, but I'm seeing it happen in a way that when I was a trainee. It didn't happen it didn't get talked about. Is that the same for you guys on your side of the pond? Well, you know what, what, what are you seeing?

Zack Arnold 1:15:08

I would definitely agree that I see that. And this is something that I've taken upon myself as a responsibility as somebody that now is not necessarily department head. But as you know, an unofficial leader in the teams and the groups that I'm in that I have to, especially both with the editing side of my life, and also the optimizer self entrepreneur side of my life, I have to make sure that I'm protecting people so that they can be in it for the long haul. I mean, I have multiple members of my team that are on this call now. I'll call one of them out, Glenn. Like Glenn is amazing at what he does. And how many times Glen? Have I yelled at you because you messaged me on the weekend. I'm like, dude, brilliant, love all that sleep. And let's talk on Monday. Because I know that in the long haul, you're going to be worth more and more, you can provide more value to me into the work we're doing. If you take care of yourself. Same thing with Barry, my assistant editor on Cobra Kai, I'll send her a message every once in a while. She may not be here anymore, because she may actually went back to work. I'm still here, but she went back to work. Oh, well, you're still there, you had a camera off. But I'll say to her, like you're all the following things we need to do, do not by any means do any of this past whatever time you're supposed to be done tonight was to do it tomorrow. And I think that a lot more people are starting to do that. And I think that over time, as we continue, there is going to be that sea change that happens. But it's going to take, you know, another 510 15 years for this to start becoming the norm. But again, coming back to the topic of conversation, if we don't get a yes vote now, then we're going to continue to be the vocal minority. And I want to make sure that that doesn't happen anymore. But yes, I am definitely seeing it. Personally, I'm seeing it with the younger post producers that I'm working with, where and I think partly that's just by choice. I'm very selective about the people that I work with. And I get a sense of, am I just going to be expendable, and you're going to push me to my limits? Or do we actually care about each other. And when I get the feeling based on the calendars or the schedules or otherwise, that I'm not really going to be valued as a human being that's always a hard pass. I have turned down some really big shows. This is not me bragging or like sharing like, but I've been up for some really big shows that I blatantly not even taken an interview. Because I know that people involved and I know that the way that they work their crews, I'm not going to be a part of it. But those noes opened me up for opportunities like the one that I have now, knowing that I'm working with people that I love that I respect. Were there Yes, there are times on Cobra Kai, for example, where for four to six weeks it is hell it is so much overlapping episodes and work. And it's tough. But we all love what we do. And we're in it together. And we're like, Alright, next four weeks is just going to be rough guys. Let's make it work. But we still respect each other. I have no problem with that. It's exhausting. But I don't resent it. I'm not depressed, I'm not burned out. I just need some sleep when I'm done. But it's when the is when we're treated as if it's just it's all about you and your week and you can't do it. That's where I think the problem lies. And that is more coming from the older generation and the old guard so to speak. And I am seeing that change. And I'm curious, bring you back to the the gallery here who else is starting to see that change on a more systemic level with some of the the younger generations coming in anybody else experiencing that? So Mike's got his hand up. Jeff is seeing it, Shawn is seeing it, Sam is seeing it. Part of the reason that I do what I do, and we're on this call, and we have this coaching program and we have the podcast is making it acceptable for the younger generation to set those boundaries and fight back and say enough is enough. I'm worth it. So I have always believed and when it comes to this fight, this is about we are a guild and we are union and we are fighting the mptp I get all of that. But ultimately, I believe the only way things change is one individual at a time. And we all decide this is no longer acceptable. And we have the tools to better manage our time and set better boundaries knowing that we have more worth because when we start to really respect ourselves, it's going to be a lot easier to allow other people to disrespect us. So that's kind of my big picture strategy. I don't I don't make any secret about it. But it's like a multi decade strategy. I always talk about playing chess instead of checkers. This is a really long test game. I've already been playing it for seven years and I'm barely warmed up. I've moved like three pawns in the last seven years I've got a whole lot of other moves in my back pocket. But that's why we're here today and I can see that the chess board is getting a lot bigger. which is exciting because we have all these people here today. Alright so then in that case I am going to wrap it up I want to thank everybody that is here today that took your time your lunch break or whatever it might be to participate on this conversation. I want to thank everybody that is listening. Anybody that is watching this at the end of the day this is not we almost vote yes. I want everybody to vote their hearts that's listening they can vote. If you feel that a no vote is right in your heart. I want you to vote no but I want you to think about not only this is about me, but this is about how everybody else is treated. And can I honestly say can I put my head on the pillow at night and say to myself, I feel that I and everybody that I work with is valued. If so, I want you to vote no. Otherwise, if you have a voting ability, I want you to vote, your heart and your conscience knowing that I don't believe that we collectively are valued. If you cannot vote, which frankly is a lot of people that are on this call today, it is about spreading the word to get this in front of the right people so they understand what this conversation is about. Because there's a whole lot of misinformation about all the people in Hollywood have no good, how good they have it. And it's so great to work in an industry and they're all just a bunch of whiny crybabies, we change that discourse we're gonna make this sea change that we keep talking about. So the best thing we can do is just put the information out there so people really understand what this is about. And this is a much bigger issue than pensions and health plans and residuals and meal penalties and this is just about being respected as human beings. So on that note, I want to thank everybody for attending today for listening today. Take care of yourself stay healthy, stay sane and be well

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Optimize Yourself podcast. to access the show notes for this and all previous episodes as well as to subscribe so you don't miss future interviews just like this one, please visit optimizeyourself.me/podcast. And once again a special thank you to our sponsor Ergodriven for making today's interview possible to learn more about Ergodriven and my favorite product for standing workstations the tTopomat visit optimizeyourself.me/topo t o p o and to learn more about Ergodriven and their brand new product that I'm super excited about New Standard Whole Protein, visit optimizeyourself.me/newstandard. Thank you for listening, stay safe, healthy and sane and be well.

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Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”