New IATSE deal crosses borders


IATSE announced Thursday a new three-year agreement covering low-budget films produced in the U.S. and Canada.

For the first time, the pact offers terms -- broken into three tiers covering different budget levels -- that are the same for comparable productions in the U.S. and Canada. The agreement has been ratified by the general executive board of IATSE and will take effect Jan. 1.

"I am proud to have secured this historic agreement providing similar security to the Canadian members as that afforded through this agreement to those in the U.S.," IATSE president Thomas Short said.

Production companies also gained a key point in the agreement, which increases the current $9 million cap on production budgets covered under the pact by 4.1% per year.

"The increase in the budget cap correlates with the wage and benefit increases achieved by the union," union and production company officials said.

The production company group negotiating the new agreement included representatives of Lionsgate, Focus Features, Bob Yari Group and Lakeshore Entertainment. Their negotiating committee was chaired by attorneys Howard Fabrick of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Los Angeles and Richard Kopenheffer of McDermott, Will & Emery in Chicago.

"This agreement provides opportunities for new talent as over 400 films are expected to be produced under this new deal, and (it) will have a significant impact on independent producers," Fabrick said.

The union will be offering the agreement to companies through March, officials said. "After that date, companies will be addressed on a case-by-case basis, and the IA will seek more favorable terms," they added.