It looks like Star Wars Episode VIII – as well as eight other major productions – could face further delays unfortunately, following the announcement that lighting technicians in the UK are threatening to quit over a four-year pay freeze.
Following talks between Bectu (the lighting technicians’ union representatives) and the employers’ body Pact, the original demands could not be met, with a walk out seeming likely.
In an attempt to halt the strike, producers from the nine films affected have met with Bectu at Warner Bros Studios Leavesden, Herts. Offering a pay increase of between five and eight and-a-half percent, depending on a technician’s grade.
Members of the union will now vote on whether to accept the terms; if they do, shooting goes ahead and Star Wars fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Should they reject it, Star Wars will face delays, as well as Wonder Woman, The Foreigner (based on Stephen Leather’s book The Chinaman, with Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan) and The Mummy reboot, starring Tom Cruise.
“At the moment these productions are at risk of stopping on Saturday,” says Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of Bectu. “In order to shoot a film properly you need lighting. If there’s no lighting, you can’t get a decent picture. Without a decent picture you haven’t got a film.”
The negotiations had previously broke down following the producers’ trade body rejecting the offer to raise pay by 20%, to cover four years of back-dated pay. Morrissey continues, “The producers’ offer was overwhelmingly rejected,” and “After four years without a pay increase they thought it was derisory.”
Pact are yet to comment on the issue.
With around 600 lighting technicians in and around London, if a strike was to go ahead it would be a serious blow to the industry. Let’s just hope that a compromise can be met soon, and that we’ll be returning to a galaxy far, far away on schedule.