UK producers body PACT yesterday appeared to be sticking to its line that it would not agree to profit sharing for actors, despite claims from performer's union Equity that it had "dropped its objections in principle" to additional payments for its members.
The assertion was made by Andy Prodger, Equity's assistant general secretary for Film, Television and Radio, as the two bodies agreed to enter negotiations over a new version of the PACT/Equity Cinema Films Agreement. Under the current arrangement, Equity members receive a flat fee rather than share in profits like members of the US' Screen Actors Guild.
"We hope that the talks now taking place will result in a new system of fair payments for performers," Prodger added.
But in a joint statement from the two bodies, PACT said that it recognised Equity's "absolute commitment to the introduction of ongoing secondary use payments", but, significantly, did not say that it was also committed to them. PACT, which represents more than 200 production companies, is understood to favour granting a higher basic rate and a restructuring of the rates offered to actors when buying out various windows in advance - under the current 1998 agreement, worldwide video is valued at only 25% of the overall figure.
The joint statement suggested the existing agreement might be changed, saying that the two bodies would try to "identify potential amendments to the current provisions which could form the basis of an agreed revision to the structure." But the statement came with a significant caveat, adding that any changes would have to ensure that "the UK's position as a successful centre for film production" was maintained.
PACT argues that UK independent producers typically finance independent films by pre-selling rights, a process that is hard enough without having to persuade distributors to part with a share of future profits. It also maintains that the UK's attraction as a location for overseas productions might be harmed if foreign companies have to pay UK actors a share of profits.
"We are glad Equity has recognised the importance of not jeopardising the position of the UK as a competitive base for the production of independent and studio films alike," said Andy Paterson, vice-chair of PACT. "Any framework we agree will have to satisfy that condition."