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EU XXL FILM FORUM 2011 Conference of European Film, Media and Policy


"The Outrageous Demands of the Creatives: Paid Work"

Who would have thought? That the glitz and glam world of media and cinema is not as shiny as one may be led to believe browsing through the glossy magazines while sitting at the hairdresser's? I have indeed learned a lot about the mechanisms of working in the so-called creative sector when participating (together with my colleague Agnes Cser) in a work-shop in the framework of the EU XXL Forum in Linz, a conference which is accompanying the film festival Crossing Europe.

Too few of us seem to be aware that cinematographers regularly work more than 10 hours a day, sometimes even 24/7 when a project is on. And that even though they may be aware of the stipulations of the working time directive, they may still be so full of adrenaline and enthusiasm that they forget to go to sleep or, worse, that overtime is never really checked let alone paid but taken for granted. And that then, maybe, they have to wait for months until they are employed for another film. And that due to the harsh circumstances some of these productions entail, it is not unusual to fall ill afterwards and the family cannot benefit of father or mother finally at home for a few days after sometimes months of shooting. And that in certain countries it is not possible to get access to the social security systems if they do not work a certain number of days in a row. And that poverty is therefore sometimes a real threat and physical fitness a condition for a job not everybody can fulfil (anymore)?

It is a sector which seems to suffer of a lot of problems we are dealing with here at the European level and have been debating in the Committee for other branches: highly differing working conditions while transnational co-production is more and more the rule. How can sustainability be reached in this area of which we know that it is contributing more to job creation than most others in the EU? How can social dumping be avoided and can we obtain some sort of collective agreement to support fair treatment? What role for public funds which govern film production? How do we deal with artificial self-employment?

As the Vice-President of the EESC and a representative of my group, the workers' group, I have offered the participants from the sector to take this issue further in my institution. If we want our European culture to flourish and our images to express its richness, we need to get it right for the people who create them.