Record #344

Date:
01/07/1927
Record Type:
Correspondence
Reel:
Reel 3
Frame Start:
3-1278
Frame End:
3-1336
Legacy ID:
344
Legacy Year:
1927
Legacy Index:
Economy
Comments:
EDITORIAL COMMENT: An interesting collection of personal insights into the processes of wheeling and dealing in Hollywood. What remains somewhat unclear from all this is what started this off. It seems to have begun in NY, and must have started earlier than June, but the moves are largely organized around Hays' visit. It's clear that large parts of it backfire, particularly with the threat of an Equity branch getting organized - and that's what all the meetings of the Academy are designed to do - which, incidentally, makes the poor attendance at those meetings of the Academy Actors' branch perhaps significant.

Hays seeks comment from studio representatives on the action for a 10% pay cut. They reply at length, giving their own perspectives on the situation. Also included are submissions from various union branches on the subjects of both pay cuts and general approaches to production economy.

Keywords

Labor (11), Production costs (13), Unions (4) Show all keywords…

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Long Description:

A collection of correspondence, etc., about the salary cut and other proposed economies in June to July 1927. This is a key context for placing the Don't and Be Carefuls in, since their implementation is closely related to some of the proposed economies, particularly in relation to the general agreement that a great deal more footage is shot than can be used -- the technicians claim instances of 2:1.The documents are out of chronological order, but we can attempt to construct the story from them somewhat like this.June 9: exchange of telegrams between Lasky in NY and Hays in LALasky: "Just concluded splendid meeting of heads of industry here on vital necessity of finding ways and means of reducing cost of operation at Coast studios. Many fine suggestions made by various Executives of different companies for cooperative action and they unanimously appointed me to call meeting through you for Monday night June 20th in Hollywood in order we may take immediate action."Hays replied that he was going to have left Hollywood by then, but that "same subject matter you discussed today there was thoroughly discussed here. Several subcommittees were appointed and unanimous endorsement of determination to carry out purpose of standarization of economies. ... We have called meeting of New York Board of Directors for June 29th and purpose of that meeting is to take back to New York report of what is planned here by way of economies and to further the matter there."June 13: Screen Writers Guild of authors' League want AMPP to negotiate standard Writers' contract.June 23: Beetson sends memo to Hays (?) on meeting apparently held on June 22 -- according to Lasky, delayed so that DeMille could be there. Beetson is very gung ho about the outcome: the producers are going to start cooperating for each other's benefit, reintroducing the exchange of contract players, abandoning long-term contracts with very big options, introducing uniform employment contracts -- "The directors actors and writers in this business will be working for the company that engages them. No director will have the power that he has had in the past, having the selection of the story, star, etc. Nor will it ever be possible again, as it has in the past, that a man could draw $100,000 for a picture and never produce the picture ..." etc. This meeting agreed to the salary cut of 10-25%, to be 'voluntarily' negotiated with contract employees, but this was seen as a token, a gesture of intent, rather than anything else. Beetson similarly gung ho about everyone giving up their secretaries.June 23 press statement on salary cuts and other economy measures.June 27 Academy Board of Directors request that salary cuts be delayed until August 1, to allow for reforms to be introduced which will eliminate the need for the salary cuts -- this is signed by Schenck and Mayer, who were both involved in the original decision.June 29 Most companies -- Lasky is the exception -- agree to the delay. Lasky agrees two days later.June 29th the SWG of AL issue statement urging their members not to cooperate with salary cuts.July 5 Hays writes to the studio heads asking to know what happened. Lasky, Hennison, DeMille and Christie reply -- the others not, it seems. Lasky's is the fullest account, and he, presumably, has most at stake given his original position. He met Mayer, Loeb and Thalberg on June 19, and they agreed to follow Lasky's policy. At the June 21 meeting Lasky explained that the NY meeting had been called by Kent and agreed "that conditions in the industry, due largely to the continual mounting costs of productions, were becoming very serious and that they were ready to adopt any plan suggested by me or anyone else which their Executives here could adopt unanimously. This was agreed, and another meeting called for June 22 for Executives of all studios -- it's this that Beetson's memo and the press release refers to. Lasky is obviously angry with Mayer in particular for initially strongly supporting his position and later backing down. According to Lasky, some studios took advantage of the situation to pressurize employees into acquiescing in cuts -- as opposed to him (and everyone who wrote -- doing it nicely. Talking to employees appeared to take up the rest of the week.Lasky called a meeting of producers on Monday 27, where he discovered that there had been meetings between Mayer, Fairbanks, Loeb and Schenck on Sunday 26, concerned over morale. The producers were divided as to whether to stand pat or not, and waited on the Academy meeting -- which Lasky wanted to address, but Beetson failed to organize it. Wednesday 29 the producers met to decide a response, to discover that Warners had already agreed to withdraw the cuts. Lasky says the principal fear throughout was "over the activities of Equity" -- which of course explains the talking-up of the Academy as an alternative.There are then summary reports of the suggestions by the various Academy groups. They largely say the predictable things already summarized above. The technicians are particularly critical of over-shooting and over-writing of scripts, partly caused by too many managers. Also:Incandescent Lighting: "80% of the lighting cost of production is charged to manually operated arc lights. Half or 40% can be saved by the newly developed system of incandescent lighting. The Technician' Branch recommends that every encouragement and aid be given to speeding up the development of this system, which we all believe will soon supersede our present system." -- and not sound?

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