Change at the top of Actors Equity

25 June, 2014 by Don Groves

Sue McCreadie has stepped down as director of Actors Equity amid negotiations between the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance and Screen Producers Australia over two new industrial agreements.

MEAA official Zoe Angus is now acting director of Actors Equity while McCreadie has taken the new role of director of policy and communications.


Angus’ appointment is being interpreted among some screen industry circles as a sign that the union will take a tougher stand in industrial negotiations.

The Motion Picture Production Agreement (MPPA), which covers film and TV crew, expired in January 2013 and is up for renegotiation. Similarly, Equity and SPA are thrashing out a new Australian Television Repeats and Residuals Agreement (ATRRA), which was last renewed in 2004.

As IF has reported, the new ATRRA deal is expected to make provision for pre-broadcast streaming. Australian broadcasters cannot stream shows online in advance of the broadcast premiere without getting the approval of all cast members and paying them a fee.

The casts of Playmaker Media’s Love Child and Princess Pictures' Jonah from Tonga had to give their blessing and receive a fee based on the projected number of eyeballs who would watch online before episodes could be streamed by the Nine Network and the ABC.

The MEAA is also negotiating a new agreement for low budget features with SPA, the Australian Directors Guild and the Australian Writers Guild.

The agreement would cover films costing between $500,000 and $1.5 million and is designed to increase the number of Australian feature films produced each year and to provide more opportunities for emerging talent behind and in front of the camera.

Another aim is to establish a new distribution and exhibition channel for Australian feature films, according to SPA executive director Matt Deaner. "We want to work with the industry to look at alternative distribution models, such as the development of a complementary cinema circuit that could involve a mix of specialist venues and some mainstream cinemas, opportunities with non-traditional delivery systems and reconsideration of traditional holdbacks or windows," he said. "A revised definition of acceptable distribution arrangements is needed if any growth is to occur in the sector at all.”

The scheme would require some reinvestment of fees by cast and crew including producers; an adjustment of recoupment positions for government investment; and revision of the guidelines for eligibility of the 40% producer offset, he added.

The plan would be to enable each cast and crew member who agrees to defer fees to be paid in full and receive a “bonus” of at least 5% after a film goes into profit, IF understands.

SPA proposes to establish joint review panel made up of reps from MEAA and SPA to assess applications for certification under the scheme, similar to one operated in the UK by the producers body PACT and Equity. The ADG has lodged a submission urging that it should have reps on the panel.

The hope is that all parties will sign off on the scheme and it will be up and running before the end of this year.

The well-regarded McCreadie was hired as Equity’s director in March 2012 after four years managing the state's film incentives for NSW government's trade and investment creative industries department.

Previously she worked as a policy manager for Screen NSW, the Film Finance Corporation and the MEAA and as executive director of the Australian Writers Guild from 1998 to 2002.