|FTAC's Chair Speaks Out at Our
Rally Speech April 18, 1999
by Jack De Govia
Hello everyone. Welcome to the Film and Television Action Committee Rally against Runaway Production! My name is Jack De Govia, I am the chairman of the FTAC, and I will be your host this afternoon.
Please direct your attention to the stage, the program is about to begin. First, some notes: First Aid tents are available on the perimenter.
Also, this fight will not be won by the uninvolved. We enjoy a political process for which our countrymen have fought and sacrificed for over two hundred years. If you are not registered to vote, dont leave here without stopping at those tents, right over there, and completing the simple process of enfranchising yourself. Then you may support those who support you in the political process, in the way that matters most, by voting for them, and keeping them in office.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, please join us in singing our national anthem.
The George Llanes Mariachi Orchestra, ladies and gentlemen.
On Thursday, March 18, exactly one month ago, Assemblywoman Sheila James Kuehl held a town meeting at the SAG auditorium on Wilshire. She had invited the Hollywood working community, primarily members of the craft unions but also vendors and service company proprietors, actors, DGA members, and other citizens. She talked to us about a bill she was introducing, Assembly bill no. 484, which offered tax credits on labor in motion picture production to combat Runaway Production. She asked for our help in this fight.
We responded with passion and anger and a commitment to do battle for our jobs and businesses, our community, and our families, and out of that the Film and Television Action Committee was born, to fight the Runaway Production that is tearing our industry apart. Thiry-seven people signed up that night. Fifty or sixty people met a week later, and look at us now!
Ironically, our movement grew so fast it overtook her schedule, and a previous commitment keeps her away from this rally today. But we honor her dedication to this fight. Without her, we would not be here. She has sent us good words. Ms. Kuehls speech will be interpreted in sign by Cindy Flynn. Ladies and gentlemen, the voice of Assemblywoman Sheila Jame Kuehl.
(Recording of S.J. Kuehl.)
I thank you on behalf of Assemblywoman Kuehl.
Another Assemblyperson spoke at that March 18 meeting, Assemblyman Scott Wildman, who has also introduced tax credit legislation focussed on this problem. Mr. Wildman and Ms. Kuehl are allies in this struggle, and since that meeting on March 18, his office has provided us with a great deal of help and good advice as we put together this grass roots movement. Mr. Wildmans office conceived and originally scheduled this rally, and the FTAC, with the help of Wildman staffer Will Heron, seized this opportunity to focus our initial efforts, by co-sponsoring this rally in order to put ourselves on the political map. So, it is with a great deal of gratitude that I introduce to you the California Assemblyman for this district, this district at the center of the heart and soul of the film and television industry in California, the man who is fighting with us to save the American film and televison industry, Scott Wildman!
(Scott Wildman speaks.)
Thank you, Assemblyman Wildman.
Ladies and gentlemen, you can support us in this fight. Sign the petitions in the tents at the side; and, if you have a story to tell, of how the flight of film production has hurt your family or your business, make a statement in the testimony stations. We are told that the Assembly cannot ignore the people if the people find their voice. Find your voice, speak to them, and help us begin this campaign by passing the Wildman-Kuehl bills.
Also, realize that this rally, the ads in the trades, the flyers, all depend on the contributions of ordinary people like ourselves. Were passing the hat today, and if you agree with what we are doing, throw some money in the official FTAC kitties, emblazoned with the splendid logo designed by art director David Ensley.
And now it is my great pleasure to introduce the California State Senator from the 21st district, who is also the Democratic candidate for the United States Congress in the 27th Congressional District, and so is poised to become one of the leaders of this fight at the national level. Lets put somone in that office who will pay attention to the peoples business. Ladies and gentlemen, California State Senator Adam Schiff!
(Senator Schiff speaks)
Thank you, Senator Schiff, and good luck. We need you in Washington.
Three of our states foremost political leaders cannot be with us today, but have sent letters of support. (The Feinstein, Bustamante, and Berman letters are read.)
The Film and Television Action Committee is collecting information on this crisis gripping our industry. Beyond the statistics, however, is a human story, the real story of the cost to our town, our state, our nation, and the art that we love, of the unrestrained pursuit of the bottom dollar in film and television production.
We want to tell this story, too, because it is the best argument against the cold-hearted pursuit of the lowest bottom line. There are costs the accountants dont add in, costs that we all pay every time a business fails, a family moves away, a child falls into poverty. We pick up the tabs for a ruined society when the capital our sweat and creativity helped amass is shipped off helter-skelter to the flavor-of-the-month rebating American-labor-excluding foreign country.
Our society is not yet ruined, and this crisis is invisible to the nation at large in the midst of the boom, but we know it is real. We are the canaries coughing in the coal mine, and we know the implosion is coming.
Here are some of the statements of your colleagues and neighbors to which we are listening: we will make sure the legislature hears them.
Scott Ulry, Director of Operations, Hollywood Rentals:
Karen Burnette, Set Decoration Lead Person:
Steve Michaelson, owner, Michaelsons Catering:
Liz Ryan, Assistant Director, National Board Associate, Directors Guild of America:
Greg Bilson, owner, ISS Props: (Bilson speaks.)
John Zabrucky, owner, Modern Props:
Amy Acquino, Actor, First Vice President, Screen Actors Guild: (Acquino speaks.)
Jeremy Kagan, Director, National Board Member, Directors Guild of America: (Kagan speaks.)
Thank you all, for having the courage to speak out.
What is to be done?
We are told that this struggle is impossible. The odds against us are too great. Our opponents are hungrier than we, willing to work harder than we are, and, they often have the huge advantage of a favorable exchange rate, a built in discount of as much as 25% before their governments tack on more goodies. How can we possibly hope to win this fight?
Well, we dont know exactly how we are going to win this fight. But that doesnt mean that we are not going to win this fight. We are going to win this fight. We are going to win this fight because we are here, because we came here today, because our opponents made one fatal mistake.
This is not about business as usual. When you gut the industry we spent our lives loving and working to make stronger and having fun in and building our lives around and making our homes with and raising our families with, that is not business as usual. That is an attack on our lives, our homes, our families. That is an attack on our home.
You who would take advantage of America, who made and implemented these plans to capture our film industry, you see us as fat and rich and lazy, easy pickings, mild-mannered reporters, spoiled playboys. That is a big mistake.
You have made us angry. Too bad for you.
We will out-organize you, out-work you, out-think you, out-fight you, you will never know what hit you, I promise you. We came here to give the world notice. You cannot attack our home and get away with it.
We are going to win this fight just the same way we tackle all the other impossible tasks we deal with when we make movies. We are going to do it one step at a time. We know its a complex problem. We know it wont be easy.
But we are not afraid of complexity. We are not afraid of hard work.
The people of this industry who are not here, the people of this town and state, this nation who are not here, are watching us today. They are watching, and wondering, they are amazed that we are here. But we know why we are here, and we know what we have to do.
I want my sons and daughters and the children of my friends to work here, in this fabulous wonderful town if they choose to, to have the fun and satisfaction and rewards that I have had, to have the good life that I have had, because this town, right now, is as packed with talent in all the arts and crafts as Shakespeares London, as Renaissance Florence, and Athens of the Golden Age. We cannot let all this go for a few lousy discounted Canadian dollars!
We all feel that way. For that, we will work and sacrifice. For that, we will tell our nation that their heritage is being sold out from under them. For that, we will go where laws are made and petition for redress of this grievance. For that, we will work with our colleagues to keep Hollywood the best, the most efficient, the most fun place on the planet to make a movie, a television program, a commercial, a video. The secret is this: the best people in the world come here to create, because they want to work with the best people in the world who are already here. We are the worlds capital of the imagination, and we always will be.
Join us, and help. Or stand by, and do nothing, and watch this great industry, this great civilization we have built for seventy years disappear overnight, gone with the cold North Wind.