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The reason you most frequently hear people grumble about unions in reference to filmmaking (i.e. your 200 thousand versus 20 million inference) is that the conflict there is extremely representative of the uncomfortable marriage between art and commerce. Unions are great and necessary things; but the rules and regulations they require are, like so many things in the world of business and economics, run in the opposite direction of the artistic side of filmmaking.

Yes, filmmaking is a group effort; and yes, that group should be made up of people who should excel in their fields; and yes, those people should be compensated for the services they provide. But when the regulations get in the way - when a P.A. can't drive a van with a dolly to the set, or when a grip can't grab a boom mic or the director can't move a flag, then the (communally) creative process is slowed down. This is why Jim Jarmusch, among others, tries not to make union pictures - it's less about the money saved than the freedom gained.

It's an odd paradox; should one make a concession towards artistic freedom for the rights of workers, so as not to seem a hypocrite? I sense a slippery slope coming on...

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