Movie villains

US cinemagoers are currently being treated to a series of adverts depicting film industry workers, with the message that movie piracy threatens US jobs. However, as this article points out, the biggest threat to US film industry jobs isn’t piracy – it’s the film studios themselves. I’ve emphasised the key points in boldface:

There is a new sense of crisis among American film industry workers… over “runaway productions” – films and TV shows that for economic reasons are shot wholly or almost wholly outside the U.S. While runaways typically employ Americans as producers, directors, and stars, most of the crew and some non-star actors are hired locally.

According to a 1999 study commissioned by the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild, runaways have increased from 14 percent of total US film and television productions in 1990 to 27 percent in 1998. They have a total negative economic impact of over $10 billion a year. Today the practice has reached what the Los Angeles Times calls “epidemic” levels and involves many big-budget, high-profile pictures like the Academy-Award winning “Chicago”. The DGA/SAG study calculates that over 125,000 jobs were lost to runaways in the 1990s. A more recent study by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. predicts that another 4,000 film jobs will likely disappear by 2005.

Incidentally, the studios that are so keen on using cheap labour in other countries are the same studios who use region coding on DVDs to prevent you from importing cheap DVDs.