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by Bobby Amm. One of the important activities of industry associations is to facilitate negotiations between their respective members. This is especially relevant in an industry which comprises thousands of freelancers, is subject to the pressures of supply and demand, and requires detailed and accurate quotes to be sent to clients at short notice.

Talent rate guideline

The Commercial Producers Association of South Africa (CPA) recently reached an agreement with the National Association of Model Agents (NAMA) and the South African Performing Artists Managers Association (SAPAMA) on a guideline to change the way the service industry pays day rates and usage fees to talent —an important step in ensuring the sustainability of the industry, as international clients have long complained that SA’s talent rates make the country uncompetitive. NAMA and SAPAMA were very responsive to this concern and, with invaluable input from the casting directors, came up with the new proposal.

After some tweaking, the guideline, which essentially increases day rates while simultaneously reducing usage fees, has been welcomed by the industry and, so far, the feedback from production companies and clients has been very positive indeed. Although artists may be losing out on higher usage fees, the increased day rates (and hopefully greater number of international jobs incentivised to come to SA as a result of this deal) should act as a strong incentive to artists looking for a more-consistent income. It is hoped that this will also help to attract newcomers to the industry, thereby growing the talent pool.

Negotiations between industry associations are notoriously challenging, and require give and take on both sides; however, there is a certain satisfaction in finding a solution that works for everyone and, most importantly, is good for the business. Negotiations do, though, come with a natural expectation that everyone concerned should abide by the outcome, which is impractical in SA’s free-market system that outlaws price fixing and market manipulation.

Competition law

While guidelines assist production companies to pitch and quote confidently and crew and talent to expect rates that are market-related and fair, the CPA’s position is that everything must remain negotiable and robust competition between competitors is essential for the promotion of a healthy and sustainable industry. From a legal perspective, competition law dictates that an agreement between parties in a vertical relationship (clients and suppliers) is prohibited if it has the effect of substantially preventing or lessening competition in a market.

For this reason, it is important for industry associations involved in negotiations between vertical supply chains to make it very clear to all concerned that their recommendations are in no way binding and that negotiation on costs is strongly encouraged in all circumstances. Associations and their members must also be able to show that their relationship is beneficial to the economy and that there are gains that outweigh any anti-competitive effects, as the onus will be on them to prove this, should accusations of impropriety arise.

SA’s growing legislative framework places more pressure on our industry to do things by the book; however, it’s encouraging that associations are still in a position to engage in constructive discussion on how to move forward in the collective best interest of the industry and in good faith. It’s something we hope to see more of in the future.

 

Bobby AmmBobby Amm is chief executive of the Commercial Producers Association of South Africa (CPA), the trade association of production companies that produce television, cinema and internet commercials for the local and international market. After a brief stint in journalism, she began her career in the industry at the Consultative Committee for the Entertainment Industry in the early 1990s. She first joined the CPA in 1997 but left three years later to join a production company. After finding that she missed the big-picture perspective of the CPA and the interesting issues which continuously perplex the production industry, Bobby returned to the CPA in 2003. She contributes “The Martini Shot” column monthly, covering developments, trends and insights into the commercial production and film services industries in South Africa, to MarkLives.

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2 replies on “The Martini Shot: The balancing act of negotiation”

  1. Hi Bobby. I am curious to know who represented the artists/ talent at the meeting between NAMA, SAPAMA, CPA? As far as I know the aforementioned represent managements, agents of talent, but not the actual talent? Was SAGA present to represent the actors? Surely talent rates should involve consultation and discussions with the artists providing the talent for their opinions too? Were these meetings and discussions inclusive of performers and artists? While discussing day rates, a major point of discussion should be that the actual day rates are often not even disclosed to talent by the modeling and talent agencies, that artists are quoted a lesser figure, then still commissioned on that figure and yet taxed for the full day rate, commissions and service fees far outweigh the value exchange in terms of the administration required from an agent, and what the artist puts in. In many cases, no IPA or pay advice is sent to the hardworking artists themselves, (the very talent who make the industry possible), some agencies sit on the money before paying out. As an artist and unionist, I see this happening daily to child and adult performers alike- and it is a disappointment that this is not the first point of discussion, when it comes to regulating the day rates of unsalaried workers/ freelance performers. This lack of ethics and transparency needs fixing before unilaterally discussing (on behalf of talent) how increased day rates will benefit the industry, when many modeling and talent agencies can not even offer transparent paper trail regarding day rates. I hope that this can be more thoroughly addressed in the soon to be amended Performer’s protection act.

    1. Hi Ernestine.

      Thanks for your comment. As most service work is produced in Cape Town the meetings were held there. The first engagement to discuss the challenges facing the service industry was a big meeting at the CTCC to which everyone was invited. About 500 people from all sides of the industry attended.

      Following this meeting, the CPA met had two meetings with the following representatives from NAMA: Stewart Walker, Fiona Craig, Jacques Holtzhauzen, Andrea Batista, Wendy Golding, Donne Le Grange and from SAPAMA: Lisl Synders, Emma Ress & Samantha Bernadi as well as the majority of casting directors in Cape Town.

      These representatives and the casting directors then drew up a proposal which they circulated to their wider membership (about 60 companies) for comment. Once these comments were finalised the proposal was presented to the CPA for input before the final agreement was reached.

      The talent agent’s associations represent the interests of the performers they represent in negotiations with the CPA. The CPA has not been made aware of the issues you outline between performers and their agents. Have the performers/SAGA taken up these concerns directly with their agents or asked to become more involved in these inter-association discussions and, if so, what has been the response?

      Ideally I think these matters should be resolved between performers and their agents before engagement with casting directors and producers.

      Best wishes,

      Bobby

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