The fight for fair pay in film
This article is quoted in its entirety from Equity Magazine Spring 2011 (p11)
Nick Thomas-Webster was employed as a supporting artist on the UK film Jack Falls but was refused pay because the producer believed the contract Nick signed meant he agreed to work unpaid.
“Many actors, extras and supporting artists do not realise that they are entitled to the national minimum wage even if they have signed an agreement with the film to waive their fee,” said Nick. “These productions are paying everybody else but think that supporting artists deserve nothing and I felt this should be challenged.”
Nick took the producers to an employment tribunal and won the case. There was no dispute that Nick worked on the film, the disagreement was whether Nick was entitled to be paid for his time as an employee. “The test of whether you are an employee is: does your employer dictate your hours, your place of work and the nature of work,” said Nick. “If so, then you are at least entitled to the minimum wage.”
Nick wants more Equity members to tackle the practice of non-payment of performers. To find out more about this issue, contact Tim Gale on firstname.lastname@example.org