Spring 2017

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10 CINEMONTAGE / Q2 2017 MEMBERSHIP OUTREACH COMMIT TEE by Molly Shock, ACE I n February 2013, about a year before the formation of the Guild's Membership Outreach Committee, I and the other editors and assistant editors of the fourth season of Swamp People (2010-present) returned to work under an IATSE contract after a four-day work stoppage that "flipped" the previously non-union show. While other reality shows had won union contracts before us, they were usually in conjunction with production crew support. What made the Swamp People strike special was that it marked the first time an editorial crew took action after a show's production had already wrapped — and in so doing successfully unionized both the show's post and production crews. I remember how scary and stressful the decision to strike was. I had taken this job knowing it wasn't a union show. Who was I to change the terms of the contract? But despite the large contribution that unscripted television was making to the total number of hours of TV programming (nearly two to one compared to scripted shows: 750 unscripted series vs. 409 scripted series in primetime in 2015, according to the website Reality Blurred), unscripted shows with union contracts were few and far between. Despite my fear, I also remember thinking, "Why shouldn't reality TV editors be under the same protections offered to our colleagues who edit scripted television? Are we not also producing content to be aired on network and cable? Do we not generate the same kinds of profits in selling advertising for those shows? Why shouldn't reality editors be able to earn hours toward pensions and health insurance? Why shouldn't we be protected from overtime abuse like our scripted counterparts?" And so we, as a team, struck. And we, as a union, won. That scary and stressful Swamp People strike was an important win, but it was just the first step in a continuing journey. In the four years that have passed, over 100 unscripted shows now have union contracts. From incredibly hard-fought victories like the Shahs of Sunset (2012- 2016) picket line that lasted nearly a month, to long-overdue wins like Survivor (2000-present), which finally came under union contract in its 29th season and is currently in its 34th, with more to come. Some are strikes led by both production and post crews, like Steve Austin's Broken Skull Ranch Challenge (2014-present), while others have been resolved peacefully behind the scenes, without ever needing to resort to picket lines, such as Skin Wars (2014-present) and American Ninja Warrior (2009-present). Most importantly, each of these victories sets off a ripple effect that leads to more successes. After Survivor fell under contract, The Apprentice (2004-present) returned as a union show. After Naked and Afraid (2013-present) gained union coverage in its second season, its spin-off show Naked and Afraid XL (2015-present) was under contract from day one. Reality production companies like FremantleMedia have agreed that any new show they create will be under union contract. Over the years, I have spoken to several of my colleagues who have made their own scary decisions to flip their shows and to ask for union contracts. Their reasons for doing so have been as wide and varied as the subjects of the reality shows on which they work, but some common ground is always shared: No one ever wants to strike. They want the basic benefits that most Hollywood craftspeople enjoy. After too many years of working shows without Flipping Reality There's Power in Post CONTINUED ON PAGE 24 80 70 70 100 10.2 7.4 7.4 100 100 100 100 100 60 100 100 70 70 30 30 100 100 60 100 100 100 100 70 70 30 30 100 100 60 70 70 40 70 70 30 30 100 40 100 40 40 100 10 40 40 20 70 70 3.1 2.2 2.2 70 40 40 75 66 66 50 40 40 25 19 19 0 0 0 0 100 70 30 100 10 25 50 75 90 100 100 60 100 70 30 100 60 40 70 40 70 30 100 40 40 100 40 100 40 70 40 70 40 40 3 40 70 40 70 40 40 100 60 3% ISO 12647-7 Digital Control Strip 2009 Striking Shahs of Sunset are Molly Shock (with red hair), Mary DeChambres, Lorraine Salk, Becky Goldberg, Crystal Lentz and other union members. Photo by Preston Johnson

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