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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

NOLA 'Kickboxer' Crew Unpaid, Crew Member Says 'Producers Didn't Have The Money'


The forthcoming remake of director John Stockwell's newly titled Kickboxer: Vengeance remake is one of the most hyped about films going into the new year. Sadly, the film is not without its share of roadbumps, especially pertaining to previous unfortunate news of its casting and crewing as production didn't start until three months after its initial September date.

Now, the word is that up to 200 people and their families in New Orleans, Louisiana have been affected after 150 crew members, mostly local workers, were left unpaid, based on a new report by Katherine Sayre, lead business reporter at Nola.com | The Times Picayune. Crew members initially refused go start work on the film's last day of its New Orleans shoot on December 13 after learning their paychecks wouldn't arrive as they expected, prompting producers to intervene with the promise of payment delivery last Tuesday. 

Among several people, Sayre's report also quotes New Orleans-based 39-year film industry veteran and SFX coordinator R. Michael Bisetti, who simply said "The bottom line is, they didn't have the money,". The report also cites prop master Stan Gilbert who says crew members were now forced to pay out-of-pocket to stay on good terms, even though he and other experienced crew were able to attain vendors' services without upfront payment.

The report is a bit perpetual in highlighting an unfortunate pattern involving Radar Pictures' efforts to move the film forward. Martial arts stars Scott Adkins and Tony Jaa had their own reasons for leaving the production earlier this year, aside from Tai Chi 0 and Tai Chi Hero helmer Stephen Fung, who, according to a source formally attached to the production as of a few months ago, says payment was also an issue among some of Fung's other concerns.

In lieu of this week's news pertaining to the New Orleans crew, a lawyer representing the producers of Kickboxer: Vengeance explained that the payment delay "stems from arranging a bridge loan and substitute financing for the production." The report also says checks will hopefully arrive to its New Orleans crew this week, preferably before Christmas Day.

It's not easy covering this type of news on a film, especially when it comes to business dealings and the inconveniences that follow when it comes to money. Financing may have been an issue with this film for a long time now, which also explains why filming was slow to start, and I sincerly hope this production isn't marred by any more stifling news. Personally, I'd rather talk about how awesome it will be to see Moussi take on such a high caliber cast that reunites In The Blood director and star John Stockwell and Gina Carano along with Darren Shahlavi, Georges St. Pierre, T.J. Storm, Dave Bautista and superstar Jean Claude Van-Damme in a story full of intense action and drama with the proper thrills any fan of the genre can look forward to.

As things stand however, what's required here is accountability. The economy is still in a major recovery period while American families are still struggling, and the last thing anyone wants to do is to end up working for free and feeling like their labor is unaccounted for. If any lesson is to be learned here, it is that not only MUST you pay the people who work for you, but do so in a timely fashion that represents your professionalism and commitment to the work force wherever you are in the world.

My heart goes out to the crew this week, whose efforts to help make the holidays more enjoyable are now underway with a newly launched Facebook page attributed to the crew. Subscribe to the page and reach out.

Stay tuned for more info and updates.

1 comment:

  1. Not just accountability but transparency as well. Locking in finances as well as a budget in any motion picture should always be assured. I can understand that in film there are delays -- and who hasn't been aware that film productions can be that way? -- but if you don't have the ability to pay your crew, what good is the production team without a strong and capable leader?

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