MAY 1980 - VOLUME 1 - NUMBER 4
Filmmaker Takes On the Multinationals
A feature film scheduled for release next fall may do for citizen, awareness of multinational corporate power what The China Syndrome did for popular concern about nuclear energy.
Paul Winston, an independent, New York-based producer, will soon begin filming The Dollar Covenant, a political thriller detailing the overseas activities of a fictional U.S. multinational. Based on a novel by Michael ShEa; press secretary to Britain's Queen Elizabeth, the film traces the wholesale relocation of Unity Corporation to a Scotland that has recently won its political autonomy from the United Kingdom. Unity's director§ grow tired of U.S. federal regulation and decide the time is ripe for a move to more hospitable surroundings. The executives leave, nothing to chance, however, and embark on a calculated strategy to destabilize, and then gain control of, the Scottish economy.
The strategy involves the company's gaining interests in a number of labor-intensive assembly operations-the backbone of Scotland's manufacturing sector-and systematically closing them to erode the political base of the labororiented government. Company directors then approach the country's Prime Minister with offers of loans and promises -to reopen the factories-proposals which pose serious threats to the country's political sovereignty.
Winston does not think the film will sit well with many industry officials. "We anticipate corporate protest against .the making of this film," he says, particularly since scenes dramatizing congressional investigations of corporate abuse are based on actual testimony submitted by a number of executives.
Ironically enough, Winston has spent much of his career filming documentaries for the U.S. government and several major corporations. His experience with private industry exposed him to many of the issues explored in The Dollar Covenant, particularly worker. health and safety, he says.
Winston hopes to complete the effort without the participation of a major motion picture studio. The $12 million price tag will be funded largely through independent financing and television pre-buy contracts.
Winston stresses that while he is confident The Dollar Covenant will be a commercial success, his reasons for producing the movie go far beyond the profit motive; "1 compare many of the multinationals to the Italian dukedoms of the fifteenth century," he says. "They are autocratic, monolithic and ultimately behave with no responsibility."