The Directors Guild orders members from the project from the ‘Rust’ producer

Referring to security issues, the Directors Guild of America has ordered its members to stop working on Oak treea low-budget film backed by Thomasville Pictures, one of the companies behind it Rust.

The Guild informed members late in the evening on March 15 that they intended to stop filming for the teenage genre in Thomasville, Georgia, which required members to leave the stage or face union discipline. “Representatives of the DGA informed the producers of specific safety requirements that had to be met in order for the film to be covered by a DGA agreement,” a DGA spokesman said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “Manufacturers did not meet these conditions.”

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The guild declined to provide details, but a source on the production says one problem was that DGA wanted a guild-approved safety supervisor on the set, and the parties had agreed on stuntman Steven Legate. Oak tree’s stunt coordinator left, however, and Legate was given the position where another person came in to perform the immediately available security role. Sources say the change was not approved with DGA. (Legate ended up remaining in the security oversight position.) Another problem, according to sources, was that production was too late to submit paperwork to the DGA, a problem that has arisen on at least one previous Thomasville production, leaving members with unpaid advantage .

Shane Drake has been dropped as director of Oak tree, which would have been his feature film debut. “I was faced with a decision to become or remain part of my union, and I chose the latter,” Drake says. The decision was “incredibly difficult” as he has been looking for an opportunity to make his first feature in 15 years. “It was a film that I felt strongly about and I had spent six months working on it. I was crushed,” he continues, adding that he can not relate to the guild’s reasons for ordering members to withdraw himself, but that he “certainly did not feel there was a security issue” on the film.

Following the DGA order, Drake’s name disappeared from IMDb, and executive producer Kevin Lewis is now listed as director. Other DGA members have left production, as have some IATSE members. IATSE has not prevented members from working on the film, but the union recently warned at least some of its members that Thomasville Pictures is a producer behind Oak tree and Sam and Kate, a film starring Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek, also shot in Thomasville. IATSE has also sent an international security representative to Oak tree set.

In a statement, Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for Thomasville Pictures, said the team was “proud” to work with IATSE and SAG-AFTRA on two current projects in Thomasville and with DGA on Sam and Kate. “On Oak tree, we continue to work hand in hand with IATSE and SAG-AFTRA Safety Committees to ensure a safe working environment for all participants and crew members, ”he said. “We look forward to building on these local and national collaborations with all of our guild partners as we continue to produce films in Georgia and elsewhere around the country.”

Neither Thomasville Pictures nor Thomasville Principal Ryan Smith’s name appears among them Oak tree credits listed on IMDb, but sources confirm that Thomasville backs the film, and Smith is listed among the producers on a call sheet on March 12th. A crew member says a senior DGA official picked up the producer’s connection to the tragedy on the Alec Baldwin movie. Rustwhere film photographer Halyna Hutchins was killed when he informed members that the guild was ordering members from the production.

The crew member says he believes there were no real safety issues Oak tree and questions why DGA has gone after that project but has not taken any action against family drama Sam and Kate. “I hate to speculate, but there were a lot of big name stars attached to it,” he says. “DGA cares a lot about who they do business with. Because Dustin Hoffman, Sissy Spacek and [executive producer] Amy Adams was attached to the movie, I do not think they would mess with it at all. They saw our little movie and they said, “We can have these guys.”

Smith’s business is not only involved in the fallout from Rust but encountered the DGA on Thomasville’s production The Tiger Risingwhich starred Dennis Quaid and Queen Latifah and recorded in late 2019. As THR reported that production turned into a test of broken promises and overdue bills. Emails revealed that DGA and IATSE had expressed repeated concerns about production before, during and after filming. The guild sent repeated demands for documents ensuring that its members would receive salaries and benefits. In April 2020 – months after the cameras stopped rolling – DGA sent another claim with the subject line “6th follow-up – CAUTION NOTICE.” While the crew was paid wages, many were left with unpaid benefits.

IATSE also complained about unpaid benefits Tiger is rising, with a representative writing in March 2020 that the union “has no choice but now to pursue the remedies available to us in law and justice, as this production remains in a material breach of its obligations.” It is unclear what steps, if any, IATSE took in that case. Buzzfeed has reported unpaid salaries and bills on A road, a yet-to-be-released Thomasville project starring Kevin Bacon, which was filmed early last year. Press reports have also noted that some IATSE members resigned Rust set with reference to poor and unsafe working conditions before the tragedy struck.

On the question of whether SAG-AFTRA planned to respond in any way to DGA’s action regarding Oak tree, a union spokesman said in a statement, “Safety on the set is our top priority. We have met with the crew, manufacturers and other unions to ensure that all safety protocols are followed and SAG-AFTRA members are protected.” The spokesman added: “We are keeping a close eye on production and are ready to take action if our members are exposed to uncertain conditions.”

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