Coppola resolves Argentina film dispute

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


The Associated Press

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Francis Ford Coppola's spokeswoman and a leader of the Argentine actors union have revealed more details that better explain a dispute over the production of "Tetro," his latest film.

The union had repeatedly claimed it had succeeded in forcing Coppola to suspend shooting for six days over what it called contract violations. But union leader Norberto Gonzalo acknowledged to The Associated Press on Tuesday that it was "probable" that the filming continued despite the union's order to stop the production.

And that's exactly what happened, according to Coppola spokesman Kathleen Talbert, who said that shooting continued with scenes involving American Vincent Gallo, Maribel Verdu of Spain and Klaus Maria Brandauer of Austria -- as well as Argentine actors who chose not to follow the union's request.

Talbert had first dismissed the union's claim of disruptions as "rumors" and said "there are no actor problems or issues whatsoever on the film."

But she said she learned later that there was a dispute, which she said started when several actors complained to their agents about working conditions. Because Coppola personally financed the film and plans to keep costs under $15 million, many of those involved had agreed to work for less pay than they would get on big-budget films.

"At one point during a tough, all night shoot, a couple of actors complained to their agents about fact that they didn't have dressing rooms, etc (not required and for a small production like TETRO, even Francis does not have the typical trailers)," Talbert explained in an e-mail.

"It was then discovered that the contracts weren't signed and on file, and I believe, to save face the union declared to the press that TETRO must stop production. We never stopped production, not even for a day -- or even an hour. The contracts were signed and registered in a matter of days," Talbert said.

Gonzalo said the union's stop order should have applied to all actors in the film, and that it sent inspectors to the set to confirm shooting had stopped. But he also acknowledged that production could have continued without the union knowing about it.

Talbert said the Argentine Actor's Association was legally responsible for making sure the contracts were filed before shooting started, and that Coppola's producers had sent them the contracts as required. But she said the actors' agents weren't satisfied and that negotiations continued for weeks after the production began.

The film "was not only shooting, but also the actors were being paid regularly through the union, and so we had no idea there was any issue," Talbert said. "In the USA the actor's deals are agreed upon verbally or with deal memos, but the actual contracts are not often signed until months later, even after the film is done."

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