Michael Moore: my film production crew should own my production company

[h/t Hunter Baker and Robert Sloan at AmSpec]

In an interview this week with Wall Street Journal‘s “Deal Journal” column, noted film-maker Michael Moore speaks out about soon-to-be released Capitalism: A Love Story, produced by his own film production company, Dog Eat Dog Films. In the interview he suggested some changes in the ownership and decision-making structure of his own company*:

My role is not to applaud half measures. My job isn’t to start from a position of compromise. The workers need to own [100%] of Dog Eat Dog Films, Inc. The workers decide whether to accept investors. The consumer who watches the movie needs to have a representative on the board. If you let them have a say, the company will make a better movie….I didn’t deal with [the film industry] very much in the movie… I started to construct some scenes, but it felt like been there done that.

OK, that’s quite an interesting viewpoint. Let’s see, Michael Moore:

  • went through all the trouble to begin the new company (in something like 1989), filled out forms, paid fees, and followed strict incorporating requirements
  • at the beginning, took considerable personal financial risks on a venture that might or might not succeed
  • writes, directs, stars, produces, and maintains creative control over all major processes
  • makes many, many public appearances on behalf of the company
  • risks considerable capital and his own reputation every time he takes on a film project, in an industry notoriously subject to the fickle imaginations and desires of the public

All that, but he thinks he’s not entitled to ownership or the profits. This part is important: He’s not being charitable. He BELIEVES he is not entitled to ownership or the profits.

He believes it’s right to see 100% ownership rest in the hands of the employees: assistant directors, makeup artists, key grips, dolly grips, best men, cinematographers, costume designers, sound editors, boom operators, foley editors. production design editors, actors, property managers, assistant art directors, assistants to the major actors, and so on. It should probably include non-film-related employees as well: janitors, secretaries, shipping/receiving clerks, payroll assistants, AP clerks, accountants, and so on.

Good man, that Michael. Of course, you, dear reader, realize there’s something wrong with this picture…..

If you read the link, you’ll see that it was not his own company he thinks should be given over to the employees, but General Motors. He was bagging on General Motors, Wall Street, and the “well-to-do” as evil and avaricious. He chuckles at the irony that he himself profits from his ventures and the system he attacks. In closing:

This is not about socialism versus capitalism. Let’s change the paradigm: It’s capitalism versus democracy. It seems to me that capitalism is the enemy of democracy and enemy of my faith. It’s the enemy of what any good Christian, Jews, Muslim or Buddhist believes in….

Instead of talking about it, he should put his money where his mouth is. And I don’t mean that as some kind of FatJoke™. Don’t even try to say that I said that.

*somewhat paraphrased