From the Business Representative

Ownership…

Recently, I found myself in a Socratic debate with an old friend regarding our responsibility for the survival of the work we create. This came about as our industry is migrating from recording to a stable medium that can be stored in vaults to trading out memory cards that are returned to us and reused. From my perspective, we mixers are among the primary players capturing original performances. We are “laying the bed” for all that follows regarding the dialog and effects, not unlike the creative recording producer in the music world. Up to this point, my friend and I are in agreement. But I take the further position that we also have a responsibility for the long-term survivability of the work we create. I think we need to raise this issue with our clients and employers and encourage them to adopt policies conducive to archival preservation. Acquiescing to a program where recordings exist only as temporary files is, to me, an irresponsible position.

Although sympathetic, and equally concerned about the end result, my friend’s position is quite different. Essentially, once we hand off the goods he believes the full and total responsibility lies with the producers and owners of the end result. Of course, legally and technically, my friend has a point. And the absence of a universally accepted archival storage medium also factors in the argument. But a large part of my disagreement comes from knowledge of how things tend to play out. History shows us clearly that companies and institutions have a poor record of responsibility toward the assets they create and accumulate. Cultural obligations fly out the window when corporate administrations change and the average turnover at film studios is under two years. Forget about hundred-year storage being a concern to the new guys.

By taking an active role in preservation we become participants in a larger community of professionals.  This issue of ownership of consequences has larger implications. Engagement in one issue leads naturally to involvement in others and extends, I hope, to greater involvement with the union and the issues that concern us all. Without participation, ownership can become meaningless. With it, anything is possible.

Warm regards,
Mark Ulano
President, IATSE Local 695