The technicians’ union and the producers of the Australian mystery drama Strangerland have signed an industrial agreement which the union hopes will set a precedent for Australian films.

The deal is similar to that negotiated with the producers of The Water Diviner, the drama directed by and starring Russell Crowe as an Australian who journeys to Turkey to search for his two sons who disappeared after the battle of Gallipoli.

Malcolm Tulloch, director of the entertainment crew and sport section of the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance, tells IF the agreement will enable the Strangerland producers to hire crew without having to go through a bargaining process.

“It’s the first ‘greenfields’ production agreement signed by the MEAA,” says Tulloch. “It sets out the working conditions and wages well in advance of when the film is due to go into pre-production and it gives certainty to the producers when they go out to hire the best people for the project.

“It’s a far more progressive agreement and one we encourage the industry to take up. We're confident it sets a benchmark for minimum conditions for Australian films.”

The Alliance’s national screen committee voted to accept the deal on Tuesday and it was signed by reps for Strangerland on Thursday. Tulloch says it will be ratified by the Fair Work Commission.

Nicole Kidman, Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving are attached to star in the drama about a couple whose relationship is pushed to the brink when their two teenage children disappear in the remote Australian desert.

The producers are Naomi Wenck and Macdara Kelleher and the director is Kim Farrant. The writers are Fiona Seres and Michael Kinirons. Transmission is the Oz distributor.

Separately, the MEAA and Screen Producers Australia are negotiating a new Motion Picture Production Agreement. Tulloch says the union is pressing for “reasonable and sustainable wage increases” over the life of the agreement, which he says will help maintain the industry’s skills and expertise.

Tulloch says the union is polling its members who worked on Angelina Jolie’s drama Unbroken to gauge their feedback on the terms and conditions as the production was covered by an international film agreement.

The union is seeking to negotiate a deal with New Line/Village Roadshow Pictures, the producers of San Andreas, the action-thriller starring Dwayne Johnson as a rescue helicopter pilot on a mission to find his daughter after a massive earthquake hits California, which is due to shoot on the Gold Coast.

The union isn’t happy with several conditions relating to overtime and break time and hopes there will be a counter-offer from the producers which it can take to its members.


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