Universal’s Unbroken could signal landmark Australian deal
The Australian technicians’ union is confident it will sign a landmark deal with Universal for crew employed on Unbroken, the Angelina Jolie-directed drama based on the true story of US Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini who was captured by the Japanese in WW2.
The studio has not yet confirmed the locations but construction and art department workers have been hired in anticipation the film will shoot in Oz later this year, probably at the Fox Studios and the Village Roadshow Studios’ water tank.
Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance officials have begun negotiating an agreement covering workers employed in the production with Fox Production Services, which represents Universal.
Malcolm Tulloch, director of the entertainment crew and sport section of the Alliance, told IF the studio has indicated its willingness to strike a deal which would be registered with Fair Work Australia.
That would be the first for an international film. Tulloch congratulates the studio on its stance and reciprocates that goodwill by stating, “We are being very upbeat and positive. We want to make sure Unbroken is a success. We welcome the opportunity for Australian crew to work on a high quality production. We want to make sure our workers are globally competitive.”
Deadline.com has reported Englishman Jack O’Connell will play Zamperini, who was a member of the US track team in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. As a US Army Air Forces bombardier, he survived a plane crash in the Pacific Ocean and after 47 days on a life raft was interned in a Japanese prison camp.
The Alliance is seeking an improvement in the night loading which would put crew on the same footing as actors, who get 10% extra for working after 10 pm. “We don’t think this is a big ask; it’s not a huge cost,” said Tulloch. The union is also looking to improve the overtime rates, an issue on which Tulloch said, “We have an open mind.”
The MEAA had hoped to finalise a deal with the Walt Disney Studios for the crew who will work on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Caption Nemo. The intention is to register that agreement with Fair Work Australia, which would make the pay rates and conditions enforceable under federal laws.
That film has been delayed until next year, due to casting issues and perhaps the availability of director David Fincher. Tulloch said, “Negotiations have stalled. There does not seem to be any urgency at the studio.”