The Contract

Signing Contract Squeezed Out Of Us?

You know when ATG is up to something because they pay you on time. This week, my wages arrived on Wednesday and my per diems arrived on Thursday which, while a day late, occurred without their having to be reminded (my accounting software tells me they are an average of 12 days late when my Deal Memo says I must be paid within 7 working days).

So what were they up to? Well, last thing on Thursday we were presented with our contracts.

This provided some very funny (though rather sobering) moments as we read them. Clauses included conditions like;

  1. In the event that we quit we must repay *all* our wages.
  2. In the event that filming had to stop due to Force Majeur, we must carry on working without pay and once filming recommenced we were to return to the job regardless of whether we were on another job or not.

The first clause – about having to pay wages should you quit without their permission – was put in Chris Richmond’s contract months ago. Chris spotted it and had it removed, and then signed it. The next day, an ATG lacky brought the contract back saying they had made an error – the date was wrong or something – and asked, could he resign it? Chris re-signed without thinking about it. Only after did he realise they had swapped it back to the old contract and tricked him into signing it!!!

Despite this story and its many insane clauses, the contract became the source of cautious amusement amongst the Art Department. It was full of typos, bad punctuation, grammatical errors and numerous other mistakes that meant the contract could never be held up in a court of law.

The curious thing is ATG has several lawyers permanently working for it. So the question is why were we presented with a contract that looked like it had been written by a 13-year-old who had cobbled it together from numerous other contracts from other countries?

In addition, it was clear from the contract that ATG did not actually know what our jobs were! For example, my contract as Art Director included conditions that I was responsible for sourcing and taken charge of set dressing and special effects, both of which actually fall under different departments.

Finally, my contract stated that I was responsible for managing the budget despite the fact I have never seen a budget and have no idea how much money my department has to spend. Plus I have absolutely no access to the money anyway.

In short, it was the silliest contract that I, and everyone else in the Art Department, had ever seen. And I knew that in this one document, I had finally seen evidence that his company really could not be trusted.

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