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Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives

Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives

AChildlessBaker Profile Photo
AChildlessBaker
#1Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/9/20 at 8:11pm

Is anyone else extremely frustrated seeing so much activity out of the UK with respect to streaming archival material? So many theatres film fairly high quality archival material of their shows that then just sits and collects dust. I know I have talked to several theatres in my area that I patronize and told them, "please consider putting your archival videos on a streaming platform. I would gladly pay for them." The response is always the same. Something to the effect of: "We would love to. We think it would be a great way to earn some funds to help us scrape by. We would love to share this material and remain engaged with our audiences. But we can't."

The strict restrictions surrounding this archival material has bothered me for a long time, but now more than ever just seems to highlight how ridiculous it is. The unions made exceptions for shows that were running during coronavirus and had to close early, but I think they need to take it one step forward. Let theatres earn some extra cash and stream their archives. 

What do you all think?

Jordan Catalano Profile Photo
Jordan Catalano
#2Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/9/20 at 8:46pm

With union rules the way they are, what you want will never happen here.

Fosse76
#3Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/9/20 at 9:05pm

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that every union waves any fees to stream the archived videos (most of which aren't commercial quality) The Lincoln Center library does not have the infrastructure or money to stream these videos.

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AChildlessBaker
#4Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/9/20 at 9:20pm

I don't think the Lincoln Center needs to be the one handling the streaming. Why couldn't the individual theatres handle it themselves? There are a number of platforms that could be used. A lot of theatres are turning to Vimeo on Demand. Some are doing Facebook Live. 

As far as the quality goes, I would not necessarily need commercial quality. It's amazing with technology today how good an archival recording can be with just 1-2 cameras. 

Boq101
#5Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/9/20 at 9:25pm

Theaters in New York are tenants why would they be in charge of streaming shows that paid rent to play there? The archives are stored in Lincoln Center. It makes no sense for people to work on this and waive all of these restrictions. You have enough streaming platforms and TV to make yourself happy. Those union restrictions are there for very real reasons and any person under normal circumstances who had a real reason to see an archived production used to be able to do so. 

trpguyy
JBroadway Profile Photo
JBroadway
#7Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/9/20 at 10:01pm

Boq101 said: "Theaters in New York are tenants why would they be in charge of streaming shows that paid rent to play there?"

 

I think the OP was mostly referring to non-profit theatre companies, some of whom archive their own shows and are in control of those archives (within union limitations). There are many of these non-profit companies in New York who own their own spaces. Your blanket statement implying that all theatres in NY operate on a rental basis like the commercial Broadway houses, is simply incorrect. 

Updated On: 4/9/20 at 10:01 PM

AChildlessBaker Profile Photo
AChildlessBaker
#8Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/9/20 at 10:24pm

JBroadway said: "Boq101 said: "Theaters in New York are tenants why would they be in charge of streaming shows that paid rent to play there?"



I think the OP was mostly referring to non-profit theatre companies, some ofwhom archive their own shows and are in control of those archives (within union limitations). There are many of these non-profit companies in New Yorkwho own their own spaces. Your blanket statement implying that all theatres in NY operate on a rental basis like the commercial Broadway houses, is simply incorrect.
"

Yes, I was referring more to regional companies. Many of which are going to be extremely hard pressed to survive this ordeal.

trpguyy
#9Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/9/20 at 10:45pm

In that case, it has much less to do with union regulations than the fact that they don’t have the legal right to distribute their recordings. Copyright laws still exist.

HogansHero Profile Photo
HogansHero
#10Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/9/20 at 11:40pm

since we don't know what regional theatre(s) or what properties the OP is referring to, it is difficult to guess what reason(s) might obtain. 

regardless, there are property rights involved here and, while it would be reasonable to suggest that the parties work together to see if a fundraiser might be possible, the OP's ask seems to be oblivious to the relationships: the union (likely only one) cannot "release" anything. They can be as asked to waive compensation as a gift to the theatre, but as noted there is another property right involved, that has nothing to do with a union. 

the logical first question here is what has the theatre proposed. Only then could we make sense of the question. But the premise of simply opening the floodgates indiscriminately is as preposterous as as suggesting Nike toss all of its shoeboxes onto the street so everyone can have a new pair of running shoes in which to socially distance. 

sparksatmidnight
#11Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/10/20 at 2:46am

There's no UK archival recordings being released (and they do have their West End equivalent of the Lincoln Center), only already made commercial recordings (either already released on DVD or shown in the cinemas). Once you made a recording supposed to be released one way or the other, releasing them on any other way is only a matter of way simpler negotiations.

Archival recordings, on the other hand, weren't negotiated to have ever be released nor were they filmed taking a commercial spectator in mind to being with. If unions were the problem with releasing archival recordings, Wicked, Phantom, Hamilton, Aladdin, The Lion King and any other production would have simply released archival recordings of their UK casts.

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TheQueenOfTheMist
#12Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/10/20 at 2:48am

I'll chime in as an Equity Actor:

You're saying you think all of the work should be made available online. That's a nice idea but totally impossible currently. We signed CONTRACTS. We negotiated terms to work for a paycheck. If we knew that work was going online it would have been a different agreement. 

It would be perhaps a good idea to explore this in the future. But we cannot expect past work to suddenly be made available without serious considerations made to the actors and writers and directors etc

phantom39 Profile Photo
phantom39
#13Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/10/20 at 4:24am

sparksatmidnight said: "There's no UK archival recordings being released (and they do have their West End equivalent of the Lincoln Center), only already made commercial recordings (either already released on DVD or shown in the cinemas). Once you made a recording supposed to be released one way or the other, releasing them on any other way is only a matter of way simpler negotiations.

Archival recordings, on the other hand, weren't negotiated to have ever be released nor were they filmed taking a commercial spectator in mind to being with. If unions were the problem with releasing archival recordings, Wicked, Phantom, Hamilton, Aladdin, The Lion King and any other production would have simply released archival recordings of their UK casts.
"

That's not true. Both Curtains (West End) & Bandstand (Broadway) were archival recordings that made it to streaming. Both were not planned to be released and are now offered with special permissions. 


"Movies will make you famous; television will make you rich; but theatre will make you good." - Terrence Mann.

HogansHero Profile Photo
HogansHero
#14Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/10/20 at 9:54am

I don't know about Curtains, but wasn't Bandstand a Fathom project?

Let's also note that none of this has anything to do with the OP's (as partly refined) situation.  

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SonofRobbieJ
#15Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/10/20 at 10:24am

Correct.  Bandstand was in theaters in 2018.

I'm currently in a Masters program for arts administration and there is a lot of discussion about the opportunity for the industries (theater/dance/visual arts, etc.) to innovate in light of the current crisis.  There is a general feeling that arts organizations will begin to further explore digital options in terms of presentation. 

trpguyy
#16Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/10/20 at 10:32am

HogansHero said: "I don't know about Curtains, but wasn't Bandstand a Fathom project?."

Bandstand was not filmed for commercial release. Rather the commercial release was cobbled together from B-roll. 

Updated On: 4/10/20 at 10:32 AM

hearthemsing22
#17Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/10/20 at 11:10am

Jordan Catalano said: "With union rules the way they are, what you want will never happen here."

Jordan Catalano, I'm with you on this. There's SO MUCH that will go into this, and it won't happen with the snap of your fingers, or just because you really want it to happen. Sometimes you just have to make do with what you have, no matter where in the world you are. People are dying, people are unemployed, and your biggest concern is this? 

Kad Profile Photo
Kad
#18Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/10/20 at 11:11am

As was mentioned, a lot of archival tapings simply aren't broadcast quality, particularly for regional theaters. They can't afford rehearsed, sophisticated multi-camera shoots that may span more than one performances as would be typical for broadcast tapings. These are often one camera, back of the house, one performance takes. They were never meant to be seen by the general public. They're archives, used for reference and sometimes cut up for limited promotional use.

Also: this isn't just an Equity thing. Once things are intended to be broadcast or distributed, SAG-AFTRA gets involved. Any sort of recording that goes beyond archival or very limited promotional purposes usually requires appropriate SAG-AFTRA rates. Once things move beyond live performance, it's a jurisdictional issue. 

(To say nothing of any other union or agreements that would be involved here, such as those representing directors, writers, designers, etc).

A lot of people are involved in making a theatre production, and I would guess most of those people did not sign on to have their work taped for distribution. And if the theatre is making revenue off it, it's not unreasonable for those people to want their due.

 


"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."

HogansHero Profile Photo
HogansHero
#19Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/10/20 at 11:16am

trpguyy said: "HogansHero said: "I don't know about Curtains, but wasn't Bandstand a Fathom project?."

Bandstand was not filmed for commercial release. Rather the commercial release was cobbled together from B-roll.
"

I am not sure how that is possible but that is neither here nor there. The point is that everyone was compensated for the Fathom release so the issue now is expanding that license to streaming, which is not as big a deal. 

Aside from this stuff, I think that as the crisis for the theatre continues to grow, perhaps for a year, we will see new efforts to bring theatre to people in fair ways. I also think that it is not out of the question that we will see new theatre performed live (with or without an audience) where everyone has been screened for the virus and is either negative or has the antibody. 

hearthemsing22
#20Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/10/20 at 11:27am

Kad said: "As was mentioned, a lot of archival tapings simply aren't broadcast quality, particularly for regional theaters. They can't afford rehearsed, sophisticated multi-camera shoots that may span more than one performances as would be typical for broadcast tapings. These are often one camera, back of the house, one performance takes. They were never meant to be seen by the general public. They're archives, used for reference and sometimes cut up for limited promotional use.

Also: this isn't just an Equity thing. Once things are intended to be broadcast or distributed, SAG-AFTRA gets involved. Any sort of recording that goes beyond archival or very limited promotional purposes usually requires appropriate SAG-AFTRA rates. Once things move beyond live performance, it's a jurisdictional issue.

(To say nothing of any other union or agreements that would be involved here, such as those representing directors, writers, designers, etc).

A lot of people are involved in making a theatre production, and I would guess most of those people did not sign on to have their work taped for distribution. And if the theatre is making revenue off it, it's not unreasonable for those people to want their due.


"

I remember when I was in high school, I had to get special permission and have a note from my teacher to access certain performances of productions (in my case, Spring Awakening). 

hearthemsing22
#21Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/10/20 at 11:30am

HogansHero said: "trpguyy said: "HogansHero said: "I don't know about Curtains, but wasn't Bandstand a Fathom project?."

Bandstand was not filmed for commercial release. Rather the commercial release was cobbled together from B-roll.
"

I am not sure how that is possible but that is neither here nor there. The point is that everyone was compensated for the Fathom release so the issue now is expanding that license to streaming, which is not as big a deal.

Aside from this stuff, I think that as the crisis for the theatre continues to grow, perhaps for a year, we will see new efforts to bring theatre to people in fair ways. I also think that it is not out of the question that we will see new theatre performed live (with or without an audience) where everyone has been screened for the virus and is either negative or has the antibody.
"

I think this proves how selfish people can be. It doesn't matter if people are tested and it comes out negative. We don't know about this virus and how it can spread-if it can come back, if it can manifest in different ways. This has never happened before. We have to get used to the fact that theater will not be an option for a while. Even without an audience, it is not safe right now. 

Kad Profile Photo
Kad
#22Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/10/20 at 11:30am

Are you referring to the archives at Lincoln Center? Because, yes- you cannot make an appointment to view something there without a legitimate (seeming) reason (ie- doing research).


"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."

trpguyy
#23Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/10/20 at 11:39am

HogansHero said: "trpguyy said: "HogansHero said: "I don't know about Curtains, but wasn't Bandstand a Fathom project?."

Bandstand was not filmed for commercial release. Rather the commercial release was cobbled together from B-roll.
"

I am not sure how that is possible but that is neither here nor there.”


Not to hijack the thread, because as you say it’s neither here or there at this point, but: an afternoon of filming setups, a 3+ camera shoot of a performance with multitrack audio recording for mixing in post is standard operating procedure for B-roll. It’s not as involved as other shows who have filmed specifically for commercial release (and doesn’t look as polished), but the Fathom release was conceived after the show had already closed. 

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Call_me_jorge
#24Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/10/20 at 12:31pm

I’d be curious if the broadway casts of Aladdin, Kinky Boots, An American in Paris, The King and I, etc.... found it insulting that the producers chose to film their West End counterparts or if they understood the economics of the matter...


In our millions, in our billions, we are most powerful when we stand together. TW4C unwaveringly joins the worldwide masses, for we know our liberation is inseparably bound. Signed, Theater Workers for a Ceasefire https://theaterworkersforaceasefire.com/statement

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HogansHero
#25Unions Need to Relax Streaming Restrictions: Release the Archives
Posted: 4/10/20 at 12:34pm

@hearthemsing no one is suggesting anything for now, but down the line. My point is that there will be a long period after we head out of the other end of the pandemic before enough people will come out and more importantly come to New York for theatre to be viable. "We" are learning about this virus, as we have all others. We will have a multiple layers of testing, we will have a vaccine, and we will move on. The first step in that will be the testing that allows people to safely return to work. The Black Death was not the end of the world, or we would not have Shakespeare et al.

@trpguyy I am familiar with B-roll from the non-tech side, but I don't know anything about what Bandstand looked like. (As I have posted many times, I have never been a fan of filmed shows.) I do know that it is not unusual for there to be footage that does not get used because it doesn't look good, but it sounds like they were able to cobble something together that was at least good enough. Thanks for the info. Maybe I will watch it one day.