UPDATE, 11:55 AM: It didn’t take long for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees to respond to dismissive and disparaging remarks from Sharknado 3 producer The Asylum earlier today. “This new collection of lies is nothing more than an anti-union screed,” the union bluntly said Friday in a statement about the more than weeklong labor action (read the full IATSE statement below). With this war of words as well as picket lines and replacement workers in the mix, it’s going to be a very long walk back from where both sides are now. Here’s the full statement from Vanessa Holtgrewe, Assistant Director of the IATSE Motion Picture Department:
Once again, The Asylum distinguishes themselves as not only misrepresenting the truth but outright lying about the facts. The IATSE stands with the original crew of Sharknado 3 who voted overwhelmingly for union representation. Many of the crew were on the picket lines in Los Angeles day after day, and their Facebook page, Strikenado, is filled with their testimonies, as well as those who have had the displeasure of working for The Asylum before. Like The Asylum’s original statement which mocked this hardworking crew, this new collection of lies is nothing more than an anti-union screed.
PREVIOUS, 11:22 AM: Over a week into a strike on the Syfy sequel, producers The Asylum have sunk their teeth into IATSE over the labor action – and it looks like they intend to draw blood. “To accuse me, my partners, or my company of somehow being anti-union is insulting and untrue,” said Asylum COO and Sharknado 3 producer Paul Bales in a long and detailed statement today (see the whole statement below). Seemingly disinterested in reaching a deal with the strikers, Bales says that the bad experience the company had dealing with IATSE’s NYC local on 2014’s Sharknado 2 is what made them decide to go non-union with this sequel, which is set to air on Syfy this summer. “The IATSE’s actions on this film have confirmed that we made the right decision,” he adds.
Citing his own union background, Bales on Friday also claimed that the union is guilty of “cyberbullying, threats…verbal and physical intimidation, staged pedestrian accidents, and mysteriously flattened tires” against those who replaced the crew who walked off the job on March 3. Seeking a union contract, IATSE has picketed Asylum’s Burbank offices as well as Sharknado 3 shoots in L.A. and D.C.
This is the first significant statement from the Sharknado 3 producers since the labor action started. I have a feeling IATSE will have something to say in response. In the meantime, read Bales’ comments here:
Before I started with The Asylum, I worked at Screen Actors Guild for almost 10 years; first as a contracts representative, and then as Director of SAGIndie. In fact, I was instrumental in unionizing the SAG business reps and still consider myself a proud member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Five years prior to that I was West Coast Representative for the American Guild of Variety Artists. The Asylum, at my insistence, has voluntarily signed agreements with all of the entertainment unions and guilds when the budgets allowed. And while other studios have moved to Canada or elsewhere, we have chosen to keep our production business in the United States. So, to accuse me, my partners, or my company of somehow being anti-union is insulting and untrue.
It is true that Sharknado 2 was made under an IATSE contract. However, dealing with the New York City locals was the worst experience we’ve had in making over 200 movies. After all of the manipulation and bullying, inefficiency, overcharging, lying, and featherbedding, we had absolutely no desire to repeat this experience on Sharknado 3.
The IATSE’s actions on this film have confirmed that we made the right decision. Unmotivated by the crew themselves, the IATSE pulled the union members working on the film and coerced most of the non-union crew not to cross the picket line by claiming that they would never be able to join the union in the future. The replacement crew and the crew who have continued to work have been subject to everything from cyberbullying, threats, objects being thrown at them, verbal and physical intimidation, staged pedestrian accidents, and mysteriously flattened tires. Most disturbingly, the majority of the vitriol has been directed at the women on our crew, including the posting of their photographs, phone numbers, and license plate numbers to invite their harassment.
Furthermore, of the 30-40 picketers who paraded around our sets in Los Angeles and Washington and our production offices, only about three or four of them had any prior involvement in this project.
The crew was replaced within a day and production has continued unabated. The delivery and release of the film is not, and has never been, in jeopardy. The only thing the IATSE’s 1920s shakedown tactics have achieved is the unemployment of our original crew, erroneous stories planted in the press, and the persecution of a young and dedicated crew who want nothing more than to be a part of the cinematic history that is the Sharknado phenomenon.
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