Here I am again with the repetition ... writing once more about movie industry residuals.
The question comes up, over and over: "How come animation people don't get residuals?"
Actually they do, but the residuals come in a different way and different form than residuals for actors, directors, and most WGA writers ...
For SAG and AFTRA members, WGA members not writing news or daytime animation , and key classifications of the DGA, residuals arrive via check inside an envelope inside a mailbox (or agent's p.o. box).
For IATSE members who participate in the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plan, residuals flow through the Health Plan ... and in some years when there's a surplus ... the Pension Plan*..
Last year, the IATSE collected $371 million in residuals, all of which flowed to participants of the MPIPHP, because every dime of that money went to underwrite health coverage offered by the Plan. This residual money allows Plan participants to receive a fairly generous array of medical benefits without co-pays (unlike SAG, WGA, and DGA where residual money flows -- fot the most part -- straight into individual members' pockets).
Hollywood's guilds and unions began proposing residuals to resistant companies back in the 1940s (the Screen Cartoonists Guild, our predecessor, proposed them in 1943). The IATSE started receiving residuals shortly after SAG and the WGA struck to get them in 1960, because the movie industry lives under the "pattern bargaining," rule: If one union or guild gets a percentage of the action, the others get it too.
The formulas are slightly different from union to union, but the pattern is the same. When the DGA or WGA receive a slice of television, dvds, or New Media, AFTRA, SAG and the IATSE get the same thing.
But, as stated above, there are sizable differences in the way those slices are distributed, and complaints arise from that. For instance, to receive the benefit of residuals, you have to be an active, qualified participant in the Motion Picture Industry Health and Pension Plan. You could have worked, say, on a film two years back for which residuals are still being received by the Plan, but because you aren't currently an active participant, you don't get any benefit from those residuals.
Sucky, but that's the way the system was set up back in the early 1960s. The IATSE and the studios opted, for their own reasons, not to track and then mail 40,000 small residual payments to 40,000 different IA film workers.
And I'll be honest. It rankles some IA members that residuals are deployed in such a broad, egalitarian type system to start with. "I contributed way more to that film than Harry, but I get the same exact benny that Harry does! That isn't fair!"
Maybe not. But "unfair" is often in the eye of the aggrieved party. Who knows? Under-contributing Harry might think the deal is completely fair.
*Up through 2001, there was $40-$50 million in residuals each year that weren't needed to fund the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan. This money was allocated into active participants' Individual Account Plans. Allocations were calculated based on 1) a participant's total number of qualified pension years and 2) the total number of contribution hours the participant had in that particular year.