Hurricanes delivering killer sharks to LA and New York would have a tough time matching the vitriol being spewed between Sharknado’s producers and IATSE.
Over the past week the production of Sharknado 3 – destined for a July screening on the Syfy channel – touched off a running labor dispute spanning Los Angeles to Washington D.C.
Unlike many similar disputes that rarely make news, a series of accusations between the production company and unions have moved beyond the usual industry media coverage to make an NY Daily News article.
While not involved in this stage of production, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees New York local has been pulled into the dispute (sections of Sharknado 2 were shot here). How so? The film’s producer released a statement on Friday condemning New York unions as “as about as pleasant to work with as a pile of rotting fish”.
The successful schlock series became a surprise hit for Syfy, making Sharknado 2 the most watched original movie ever on the channel. Although the second, New York-based installment was produced under an IATSE contract, Los Angeles-based production company The Asylum decided that it wouldn’t use union members for the third version set to shoot in Washington D.C. this month.
The union has thought otherwise.
Picket lines went up in front of The Asylum’s Burbank offices and at the Washington locations. According to the union, all the IATSE members on the Asylum produced shoot walked off the job. Meanwhile, a ‘Strikenado’ page on Facebook keeps up to date tabs on the situation.
Paul Bales, COO of The Asylum, took the lead for the company in statements to news media decrying the union’s tactics. On Friday The Wrap published his statement about the controversy. Bales acknowledges that for Sharknado 2, shot mostly in New York, the production company signed an IATSE contract.
In the article, Bales states that The Asylum didn’t offer a contract for the third film because of their experience in New York: “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.’”
Hmm. Guess he isn’t planning to work in New York again.
The union versus production company clash has also triggered strong pro and con feelings from those in the production community. If you’d like to judge just how divisive the situation has become, read some of the often harsh back and forth comments for and against the union in the comments section after the news story at Deadline.com.
Since this story broke late on Friday, local IATSE officials were not available to comment on the charges by Bales accusing union members of slashing tires and intimidating women crew members of ‘Sharknado 3’ .