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If there is an actual "fringe element", and I'm saying IF because we have minimal evidence of any actual fringe-ness, it's a reaction to the supporters of parking on the Greensward's blatant arrogance and entitlement.
The longer this stalls, the longer it drags on, the uglier it gets and the worse the divide within the community. Then it becomes news outside the community, then the reputation of the city is impugned further to all those people you want coming to our Memphis Zoo. You behave as if Greensward supporters hold the key, if they'd just do what you tell them to do, but that's never happening and you know it.
You have the power to fix this problem, City Council, but you have to act quickly and fairly in the interests of all the people and not just the Zoo.
Instead of calling out fellow council members on how to do their jobs, try doing your job better, Mr. Conrad. There are bigger problems facing this community than how we can amicably park a bunch of cars somewhere else, but you waste everyone's time arguing about it and hoping they'll just acquiesce. You must be living in a city where the people don't stand up for themselves or protect the green space created for all future generations of families, sir.
Thank you Mary Norman. If a letter had the power to get people in our community angry and involved enough to do something, this would and should be that letter. I encourage more people who are upset about this to keep up productive efforts to remind our city council that their efforts to be reductive will end with them losing their parking spaces at City Hall.
I understand why they think it's okay to do what they're doing to the Greensward. It's obvious that they'll now need to learn the hard way that their way is causing more than casual unrest among the citizens whose interests they claim to represent. Everyone loses when you push the citizens of this city to the edge in the name of private interest, even if that interest is the Zoo.
You forgot to mention that picture with Koop and Zirk also features the very well known Paul Wall
Last thing I left out:
If you have a day job other than film, television and commercial production, then filmmaking for you is sort of like community theater. People aren't paid for community theater gigs either, that generally comes from a deep love of the art. If you love doing it and you have the time and a paying job, then you do it by all means.
However, when and if film, television and commercial production is an individual's primary job and source of income, the playing field is entirely different. How is choosing between food and rent while working 72 hours a week fair?
There is a way for it to be all about the art and also provide the artist(s)/filmmakers a source of income. It's not an easy way, but it is possible to do. I apologize for going sideways on this thread, I had a lot I wanted to say and I have a great deal of love for the creative community here in Memphis out there making it happen. There is interesting and exciting work happening with many of you and I applaud your efforts. I hope we can streamline the more difficult realities you are facing in service of your artistic expression.
Cliffs notes of my post (for people who already got a headache looking at how long it was):
• The people in Greg's well-told story are all very passionate and creative filmmakers.
• There is a difference between being a filmmaker and being a hobbyist.
• Production crew in Memphis agree too frequently to work for little or no money.
• Producers who come to Memphis know this and take advantage of this willingness.
• Memphis will continue to lose creatives so long as this never changes.
I've been waiting this out to chime in, but you know I can't stay out of this conversation. I have many years experience in the industry & I've watched with a confusion similar to some in this thread. The people on this cover, many of whom I've worked with, are all dedicated to the craft of filmmaking in some way or another. Their commitment is not determined by their inability to accept criticism in a certain way or their lack of desire to compete in larger markets. It's not driven by whether or not you, as an audience member, likes what they do or dislikes it. It's not driven by some bigger agenda most of the time. Their filmmaking is driven by a desire for an artistry, creating something using the tools at their disposal that they want to present in their own voice. That's what all art is about, even the art of filmmaking. It doesn't have a pricetag on it if it comes from someplace real, somewhere passionate.
But nobody, not a single person on this list who is not independently wealthy or has family money is earning anything that even resembles anyone's idea of a huge paycheck for their work. Everyone, including me, struggles every single month to just eek by -- eating and paying rent -- and still stay involved with the thing they love. We are all either insane (probably) or must love what we do because none of us are winning the lottery in this town.
I'll start by saying this: people in Memphis who work as professionals deserve to be treated as professionals by the people they work for and with and be paid as professionals for the work they do. When they are not (regardless of their professional affiliations or job title at their paid job), the work they are creating is done so as a hobbyist. If their work as a hobbyist generates professional quality results, they're entitled to seek professional outlets to showcase their work. If that work proves successful, they have a duty to the people whom they asked to be involved in their work as a hobbyist to share in whatever benefit comes from that work. Generally speaking, a film is not a single person with a single idea writing, lighting, decorating, acting and filming it.
But as professionals or job seekers in the film industry, you also have the right to say no.
What has happened in Memphis is that people continually are asked to and forced into saying yes to long hours, low wages and 6-day weeks on what are supposed to be professional projects. I call total bullshit. Every single person who does this repeatedly in the name of "staying busy" or whatever, some of whom are my friends (particularly when there's a job to be had that pays and I can hire them) cheapens the process at the professional level for everyone. Maybe I'm being too prideful, but I'd rather have the reputation as the guy who won't work for free than the person who will take whatever pays-less-than-Wal-Mart job someone wants to offer me on a film whenever the phone rings.
That doesn't mean I don't do things once in a while simply because I admire the project and its artistic value. My favorite movies are the stories less obvious, off-beat narrative projects that reflect unseen aspects of the human experience. Once in a while, from time to time, I enjoy being asked to participate in those projects because experiments sometimes yield professional quality work. But I don't ask for or hoard those next-to-free or free jobs in the service of just trying to stay busy.
It's an inefficient use of time to always be doing amateur quality work just so you have something to discuss at a cocktail party or post on Facebook.
So again, why should every film, regardless of its artistic merits or cast or script or whatever, and every job that comes down the pike in this town be produced by a person or people who have no understanding of the value of anything asking everyone to trade the value of our time for their project? Where does the abuse of this kind of ask from people who are professionals begin and end? If you can't produce the money, please do not call yourself a producer.
When people continually accept work that pays them less than a living wage and allow that abuse to continue for long periods of time, it sends a message to producers and other professionals that they can come here and treat our crew like shit, overwork and underpay them and leave with the rights to everything they've managed to milk out of us.
There are many things to consider when we talk about how these situations are handled. Some filmmakers are exceedingly fair and split the difference with their crews for the promise of a later engagement or payment on a bigger project. Others do, on a smaller scale, what CEO's at some questionable non-profits (meaning the NFL which, if you didn't know, is actually a non-profit) do: they pay themselves well, they pay for gear, they pay to house and transport anyone above the line and pass on their lack of financing to everyone else.
Would you only ever, in your life, work for $50 or $100/day if you knew that you had to work 12-14 hours every day and work six days in a row without a break? What if you got a 5 or 10 minute lunch break on 5 of those 6 days? Would you do this for ten years or more at the same job? If you're a professional who is living paycheck to paycheck and you're letting yourself continually take these jobs, you're telling people that it's okay for them to treat you like amateurs.
Let's turn this into a discussion about how producers of films, tv shows and commercials come to cities like and including Memphis, with a fair number of exceptions, because they know they can take horrible advantage of our crew and get away with it. Let's don't keep pretending that everything is bright and cheery and swell: the only people making a living wage in film in this town have regular commercial gigs or work for production companies, period.
There are many union members who work on non-union jobs (which accounts for the overwhelming amount of work in Tennessee) because Tennessee is a right-to-work state. That means someone who has no money can get away with paying you the smallest amount possible even if you're in a union. All you have to do is agree to it. They make up for it by having a union job somewhere down the line, so it's supposed to all balance out.
I do not know what the answer is to this conundrum. I do know that this town has driven out more than its fair share of talented film crew, filmmakers, writers, actors, and other creatives over the years. It's completely fair to wonder why that is. I proofread this four times, I hope I caught all the typos. If not, you know where to find me.
Everything is a rumor until it's in print. Three summers ago, I was at The Peabody when I met a gentleman who worked for Publix Real Estate that was visiting Memphis. I never asked and he never expressly told me his reason for being in town; however, I surmised after seeing an article about the Union Precinct possibly becoming a grocery store in future that his visit might be related. It's still a rumor, and three years later there's no change in the grocery wars of the city.
I can't disagree with you about wealth inequality in Midtown or about Whole Foods being in the business of capitalism. Trader Joe's, however, is an open conversation & one that will continue thanks to Trader Joe's opening a distribution center in Texas (reported back in May by the Memphis Business Blog). Trader Joe's is still quite viable.
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