talent costs too costly
Australia and NZ have a global reputation for high quality film production crews, postproduction, music composers and the like. Outside of the relatively high Australian dollar, which makes production less attractive in Australia, the big issue for our US production consultant is the cost of local talent.
US and UK consultants query local talent costs for global use
His viewpoint (and apparently those of his colleagues in the US and UK) is that the local talent (actors) in Australia have priced themselves out of the market for global advertising campaigns. His belief is that ìlocalî unions (I assume he meant the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance - MEAA) have an agreement that multiplies the local actorís fees for overseas exposure, to the point that local talent is not cost effective.
If local talent is not cost effective then it is unlikely that productions, other than animation and visual effects where no actors are required, will come to Australia. This has an impact not just on the local production community but on local advertisers who use local production companies because, as we have seen in the feature film area, overseas production helps foster and develop local industry.
MEAA guidelines are just that ñ guidelines
This is not the first time I have heard people talk about the MEAA Award and how it impacts on production costs. Many people in the film production industry, ad agencies and even some advertisers quote the 'award rates' for talent costs, figures like $10K - $15K for a lead actor in a National campaign for one year are common.
Yet when you actually read the guidelines on the MEAA website you find that while there are definitely minimum fees (as there should be), these are a tiny fraction of the numbers bandied about. The MEAA only sets minimum fees for the shoot days, all other fees for appearance rights by media, geography and duration are completely negotiable.
Even the overseas multiples that they provide are simply guidelines to be negotiated. They are not 'award rates' locked in law, merely guidelines.
the casting and talent agents reinforce the guidelines
So who perpetuates the myth of the set 'award rates'? The parties who have the most to gain are the talent agents who represent the actors. After all they get paid a percentage of the actors fee. So why wouldnít they want the highest fee possible? And with so many talented Australian actors in the marketplace looking for work, the concept of an 'award rate' helps them maintain a premium.
Yet the multiples quoted by the talent agents and their followers works against the interests of their actor clients. If these high costs for using Australian actors in global or overseas productions is forcing productions elsewhere, it is also reducing the opportunities for Australian actors to be exposed overseas. After all, how many actors got their big break in a TV ad?
the role of the agency is to negotiate the best deal
If talent fees for your TV production are almost completely negotiable, why are so many advertisers paying the same rates for actors? Has the market bottomed out or is negotiating too hard? Is it just easier to go with the rate that the talent agents, the casting agents and the agencies agree to?
To find out how you can control and reduce your talent costs, contact P3 in Melbourne 03 9682 6800 or Sydney 02 9279 4997 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org
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