“Since I appeared on-camera in a commercial, I must be entitled to an upgrade.”
FALSE. Your background performance in a commercial is upgradeable only if you satisfy all three of the following conditions: you were (a) in the foreground; (b) identifiable; and (c) demonstrating or illustrating a product or service, or illustrating or reacting to the on/off camera narration or commercial message. Your performance may also be upgradeable if you were directed to speak a line or performed an identifiable stunt.
“I was a principal in a feature film and my performance remains in the final cut of the movie. I will definitely get a screen credit.”
FALSE. The SAG Theatrical Agreement requires that not less than fifty (50) performers are listed in the screen credits with name and role. If there were more than 50 principals in the film, your credit might not be listed. It is up to the discretion of the production. Stunt performers need not be identified by role.
REPORT FROM THE AFMC
The following was presented by Arizona Film and Media Coalition President Mike Kucharo at the Arizona Production Association annual meeting on January 27.
As most of you know, Arizona no longer has a program to attract productions to the state. The old tax incentive law expired at midnight on December 31, 2010.
The Arizona Film and Media Coalition, working with the Arizona Production Association and other industry stakeholders, drafted a new motion picture production tax credit bill. That bill is SB 1159. I encourage everyone to read the bill.
This legislation is completely new, not a “fix” to the old program. It eliminates all remnants of the old law and creates real incentives for investment in the Arizona film industry. Here are a few of the highlights of SB 1159:
• It replaces the expired MOPIC tax credits and infrastructure tax credit with a completely new, simpler and more modest tax incentive program.
• It repeals the transferable credit structure with one that gives a refundable credit based wholly on money spent in Arizona for Arizona goods and services.
• It repeals the Transaction Privilege Tax exemption that was given to motion picture companies for certain products and services. (It also created a major bookkeeping headache for everyone since not every item was exempt and producers had to pay city or county sales tax on items exempted by the state.)
• It makes the application process simpler and easier for everyone.
• It removes the requirement that a certain percentage of cast and crew be Arizonians. That requirement scared away a large number of out-of-state producers since there was no guarantee that enough Arizonans could be found to do their jobs, and if they couldn’t meet the hiring requirement, they would lose any chance for a tax credit. It still, however, incentivizes local hiring by giving credits only for the money paid to Arizonans. There is no benefit or advantage to bringing people in to do the job. Doing so will only reduce the amount of money the producers will get back.
• It shortens the time the productions have to wait for their money significantly by requiring the productions to file an audited accounting of QPEs (qualified production expense).
• It promotes the building of a strong local industry in Arizona by making it more attractive to investors and out-of-state producers to commit to establishing a permanent base in Arizona.
• It offers investment credits to developers and investors who build much needed new sound stages, studios and support facilities in Arizona, and offers a 5 percent increase in benefits to those producers who use these new production facilities.
There are many more changes and lots of nuances in SB 1159. All in all, it will improve the lives of a huge number of Arizonans who currently make a living from the industry and supporting businesses. This isn’t just about cast and crew. It’s about jobs for Arizona. All segments of the Arizona economy will feel the positive economic impact of this legislation.
AFMC has done its part. Now it is up to you. The only way we can get past the people who think this is just a special interest piece aimed at giving “Fat Cat” Hollywood millionaires more money from Arizona coffers, is to prove to them that SB 1159 is in fact just the opposite. It’s a jobs bill that creates an ongoing economic engine, which will feed multiple industries, and improve the lives of Arizona residents. It is a far cry from a handout to a special interest.
I’m asking you to step up and be counted. Find out who your state senator and representatives are. Go to [this link]. Look under “state and federal representatives.” Then sit down and write them a letter. Tell them who you are and that you are a constituent who lives in their district. Tell them you make your living from the production industry and that this bill is extremely important to you and your family. I encourage you to write your letter by hand. Hand-written letters are rarely ignored and have a huge impact on the legislator, a far greater effect than any e-mail or phone call. Your help pushed this over the last time out. We need your support again.
Application Deadline: March 15
The John L. Dales Scholarship Fund was created in 1973 in honor of the Guild's longtime executive secretary. Over the last 35 years, the scholarship fund has helped qualified Guild members and their children reach their educational potential by providing more than $6 million in scholarships for study at accredited institutions of higher learning.
The number and amount of the awards to be given are determined annually. There are two types of scholarships: The standard scholarships are for eligible members and children of eligible members for college education. The transitional scholarships are designed to assist those experienced SAG members who need further education to change their careers, and who require financial assistance in order to obtain it.
The awards apply only to accredited and licensed universities, colleges, junior colleges, adult specialty schools, or trade/vocational schools. An application and complete guidelines are available at SAGFoundation.org.
THE VIEW FROM NATIONAL
By Steve Fried
Arizona National Board Member
Exemplified by another agenda completion, signs of forward progress continued at the National Board meeting on January 23, in Los Angeles. The National Board allocated additional funds to facilitate consummating a SAG/AFTRA "merger,” which remains a top priority, along with increasing opportunities to work under SAG contract. Your Regional Branch Division leadership met the evening before – simplifying contracts used by producers and the major changes needed to make our Industrial and Educational Contract more user-friendly were among topics discussed. Be on the lookout for an RBD national newsletter containing input from the 20 Branches that comprise our Division. In July, you will have the opportunity to volunteer for 2012 National and Branch committee service under a new procedure being developed within the RBD.
The next "face to face" RBD and National Board meeting is in April. Agenda items are things that the membership wants discussed and/or acted upon. What is it that you'd like to have accomplished? Let me know. E-mail me through email@example.com!
To be continued....
By Rodd Wolff
Stunt & Safety Chair
"One hour of life, crowded to the full with glorious action, and filled with noble risks, is worth whole years of those mean observances of paltry decorum." -Sir Walter Scott
Have a safe and exciting 2011.
SIGN UP TODAY FOR ONLINE DUES BILLING
Paperless billing is yet another way Screen Actors Guild is more efficiently serving our members: cutting costs (not to mention clutter in your home), making your billing instantaneous and, as part of our ongoing green initiative, doing our part to save the environment. It’s an absolutely free new service that simply makes good financial sense.
Save paper and stamps. You won’t just save yourself money, but you’ll save the Guild money, too. With more than 125,000 members, and dues bills being sent out twice a year, the Guild has a hefty business expense that can be significantly lightened by paperless billing.
You can download to your computer or mobile device an exact virtual copy of the bill you would normally receive in the mail. That will reduce clutter, and if you live at the frantic pace that most actors do, it will also reduce the chance that you’ll misplace this important information.
Here’s a link to help get you started with paperless billing as well as answers to any additional questions you may have. Don’t worry; should you change your mind, you can always revert back to a paper bill with a simple click if you determine it’s not right for you.
By Barbara Glover
As actors, especially those working in a smaller market like Arizona, it's important to stay as positive as possible amidst lack of opportunity, non-union work, and frequent rejection. Those things can get you down, but as I've said for years, "Well, you never know..." and you really don't. I had a real success lately, a dream job beyond my expectations. "You never know...”
Recently, On the Road came through our state, a $25 million Francis Ford Coppola production directed by Walter Salles; they cast four roles in Arizona. I was reading for "Okie Woman," a role that was hard to find in the script, since she really didn't have any lines. At best, it looked like a featured extra part. But, you never know... Three women were called back, as far as I could see the other two looked waaay more Okie Woman than me, but I'm working on being positive. It was an easy audition, no lines to remember, no makeup.
From the very beginning, this director is different from most I've encountered in this business; he was very personable, apologized for being late, and came from behind the table to give me directions. He held the take for a very long time, and came from behind the table again to thank me for coming, tells me I'm a wonderful actress, (while I’m thinking, “That's because you're going to cast one of the other Okie Women. Staying positive all the time is hard work.)
I thank him for shooting in Arizona. The state was getting a lot of bad press and was being boycotted by everyone at the time.
My agent calls me the next day, says I've got the part. I'm in shock. She says, "Barbara, they really like you, I think they are going to take you to Mexico,” I'm in bigger shock.
My wardrobe fitting is a dream; you know you are on a big budget feature when the underwear is period as well. When I show up on set, I have a whole trailer to myself, not just a room. So, I shoot a day in Goldwater in the cotton fields, (not in the script); he has me weighing the cotton, calling out the names of the pickers, (not in the script, plus now I have lines). I see the director at lunch and he talks to me like we are old friends. At end of shooting for the day, I watch him gather all the extras, thank them all for their work, and tell them what a contribution they have made to the film. (Never seen a director do this before.) It was so gracious and so personal and professional, they all felt like actors and proud of their roles. I remember being an extra and being treated like part of the herd.
"On the Road," in Goldwater, Ariz.
My daily has now gone into a weekly because they aren't leaving for Mexico until the weekend. They are flying two of us to Mexico City and then driving us to Puebla, where we are put up in a beautiful hotel in the city; frescos on cuppola ceilings. We are driven to the set the next morning where they have the migrant camp built amongst fields in a valley between two volcanoes, where every attention to detail is evident.
The migrant camp is utterly authentic, inside and out. I shoot the scene that was in the script, with the director having me miked to improvise some lines. Salles loves everything I do and lets me know it. I think I'm wrapped because I've shot the only scene that I did read in the script, but no, I'm kept on set until later, he wants me in the dinner scene as well, he tells me, which they will shoot after the sunrise scene they are shooting at sunset. Again, he thanks all the extras in Spanish and in English, making their long, cold night worth even more. When I do wrap, Walter Salles hugs me, thanks me, compliments me again, and says he'd like to make a movie with me in the whole thing, if he ever makes another in the USA. I'm in heaven.
As if all that weren’t enough, I figured I'm also ‘on the road’ having my own adventure; I've wanted to visit this part of Mexico for a very long time. Marc-Andre, the lovely travel coordinator, understood completely and encouraged me to take the time and visit what I want and they will fly me back when I'm ready. I'm able to visit the pyramids, see Guadalupe's three churches, visit Frida Kahlo's blue house, visit San Miguel de Allende, Quanajuato, and fly back from a smaller airport instead of Mexico City. You never know...
AND THEN, I get home and my paycheck arrives! I'd have paid them for all the special treatment I received, and the family feeling of working with so many sweet people. My union has taken care of me in ways I didn't even know existed: I'm paid travel time, rehearsal time, hold time, meal penalty time, overtime. This experience has so made up for every ultra low budget movie I've been involved in where I had to negotiate for everything, be unpaid, and have to ask my union to get my clips. I've been a SAG member since 1987 and have had the good fortune to work on all kinds of projects, but never an international project or such a big budget project or a picture with a director like this. Walter Salles restored my faith in being in this business. The experience also renewed my faith in “You never know...” because you don't.
Happy new year and best wishes for a prosperous 2011 for actors!
First off, I’d like to offer a big “thank you” to the Arizona SAG Awards Party Committee for all of their recent hard work. Read all about the fine time we had watching the recent SAG Awards elsewhere in this issue. Thanks also to the New Mexico Casting Director Committee , whose persistence is about to pay off this year with a special members-only opportunity. And finally, thanks to our newsletter editor for her dedication to the time-consuming yet vital task of Branch communication to our membership!
The Arizona Branch continued to attract members in 2009, which is the most recent year’s data currently available. We hope to continue to increase our numbers of professional performers this year and beyond. We do have some members significantly in arrears in their dues and, while I certainly understand current economic conditions, I would like to encourage everyone to stay current so they can continue to enjoy all of the benefits of SAG membership. In the lowest category, our basic dues amount to less than $10 per month—that’s only a couple of venti lattes from your favorite coffee shop!
A joint Presidents' Forum has been holding listening tour meetings and joint discussions about uniting to form a single union with AFTRA. The SAG National Board is in support of these efforts. Locally, both unions have reviewed and offered input on the Industrial and Educational Contract to not only improve the contract but also improve its use as a recruiting tool. A series of recommendations for action will be forthcoming.
One of the things we can each do is to respect the jurisdiction of the other 4A unions. Unfortunately, just about every Branch of SAG reports that fellow actors who are members of sister unions routinely accept work in SAG’s jurisdiction, which ultimately lowers the rates and standards for SAG members—so when we are offered work in another 4A jurisdiction, we should respect that sister union and ask for the appropriate contract.
My hope is that one day there will be a single union for all professional performers. In the meantime, whatever our collective future, it is our collective future and it is a future that, by working together, we can shape to our benefit.
Mark de Michele
Almost 20 years ago, a presentation was made to the Screen Actors Guild National Board suggesting that the Guild produce its own televised awards show, joining other such notable awards shows as the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. That began a discussion and approximately three years later, with a producer and network in place, the first annual Screen Actors Guild Awards show aired on television. You may remember Tom Hanks, winner in the Best Male Actor Category, displaying his SAG card proudly in his acceptance speech.
Each year, 2,100 randomly selected members of Screen Actors Guild participate in selecting the nominees. Film companies send out copies of their films for consideration by these lucky members, who work hard watching the offerings and winnowing the field down to a manageable number of films and performances for the rest of the membership to vote on.
The 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards just aired. Did you vote? Did you tune in?
The winner's prize is "The Actor,” a fine-art statue specially designed for the Guild. The design was controversial, representing a naked figure holding masks of comedy and tragedy, made of solid bronze. It was shown to the National Board at its fall meeting, only months before the first awards show. As with most pieces of art, opinions varied. A vocal element of the board wanted the statue re-crafted; however, approval of the current design prevailed. Before each telecast, an announcement is made literally warning the nominees that the statue is heavy; being made of solid bronze, the honor weighs 12 pounds! Despite the reminder, recipients are often caught off guard when they pick up the heavy statue.
Thanks to the efforts of Deborah Lee Hall, the chair of our own Arizona Branch Awards Show Viewing Committee, there was a well-attended local party in the very well appointed clubhouse at a local residence complex. Emulating the live show attendees, guests were decked out in evening attire, and photographed by the team from Still 'n Motion Picture. Attendees enjoyed camaraderie and a great dinner meal.
Presuming that Hall will give an encore in 2012, be sure to plan ahead and be there!
Deborah Lee Hall, Alternate Representative for the Arizona Regional Branch Council, proposed the idea of a SAG Awards Viewing party at a council meeting last fall. “I wanted to provide an opportunity for the local SAG membership to come together to celebrate our art and our membership in The Guild.” Co-chairing the Viewing Party Committee were E. E. Moe (V. P. Northern Arizona) and Nancy Hall (Member-At-Large). “We started right away getting organized,” Deborah said,” and it just kept growing and before we knew it, it seemed everyone was supporting the Event.” Almost overnight, SAG national sent over some very nice door prizes, the Hollywood Reporter sent free magazines, friends helped with the food preparation and one officer, Secretary-Treasurer Sharon Friendly, donated a hand-made piece of jewelry. It was a wonderful event!
Screen Actors Guild members and their guests began arriving at 4:30 for the 6 PM telecast. Everyone took the request to “Dress Up” quite seriously. There were many men in tuxedos, though most wore their best suits. Ladies wore fancy pants suits, cocktail dresses and there were even several floor length formal ball gowns. The red carpet in LA surely got more TV time, but the message came back loud and clear! We are proud to be actors and will show our respect for the craft and our fellow performers by looking our very best!
The buffet-style dinner had hot entrees of orange chicken, pasta and sausage, veggie ravioli and a great shrimp and rice dish. There was a veggie tray, a 6-layer dip with chips, and a separate dessert table containing beautiful fruit trays and a four level tower of fancy cookies and cream puffs. The SAG members and their guests used real china, most of which happened to be decorated with blue and gold stars. Three SAG-eligible servers helped by cleaning up the dirty dishes, serving non-alcoholic drinks at the bar and helping out wherever Deborah needed them all evening long. These three young women, all gifted performers, were encouraged to engage with the SAG members about the benefits of joining The Guild. The evening would not have been nearly as successful without their assistance.
The Arizona Branch heard a recorded welcome from Ken Howard on a DVD supplied expressly for that purpose, and throughout the evening, Nancy Hall and Earl Smith of Still-N-Motion Photography, snapped posed “back stage” type photos as well as “action shots” while we watched the proceeding on TNT.
Deborah was so pleased with how things went she is already planning the event for next year. “If the membership is interested, I would love to host the viewing party for the 18th Annual SAG Awards in January, 2012. Fact is, I am already looking for my new gown.
By Sharon Friendly
I always a love a party, and on January 30, in the clubhouse at Deborah Hall's complex, all the ingredients for a good party came together! Good food, new people to meet, shared stories, elegant dress – the only thing missing was the red carpet! It is always fun to watch the SAG Awards with like-minded people, giving the whole event a warm and fuzzy feeling. I enjoyed being able to share headshots from history with other members at the “remember when” table.
Deborah was a great hostess, and I vote for her to bring us together next year. We have so many very talented people residing in Arizona within our union ranks, and the stories of how people got their SAG cards were fascinating. I am sure a good time was had by all.
During a commercial break at the recent SAG Awards viewing party held in Phoenix, Arizona Branch Executive Director Don Livesay recounted a story to attendees about Ernest Borgnine, this year’s recipient of the SAG Life Achievement Award.
In the mid-1980s, Livesay made a set visit to a production that Borgnine was cast in. The company had dragged its feet in signing the necessary documents that would allow SAG members to work. It was the first day of principal photography and, with the company still not cleared to hire members, Livesay decided to drive to Patagonia, Arizona, the night before so he could deal with the situation the next morning at 7 a.m. As he put it, “Patagonia is not the end of the world, but you can see it from there!” He brought with him all the unsigned documents, intending not to let the company begin shooting until the producer had completed the signatory process.
As Livesay recalled, as soon as he arrived he introduced himself to the producer and spread out all the forms on the hood of his car. It was then he noticed Borgnine standing to the side, leaning against a tree and smiling that patented McHale’s Navy smile of his and shaking his head.
Pressing forward, Livesay confronted the producer, who in turn shrugged him off. There’s no problem, the producer said. He’ll just send this stuff to his attorney and get his OK first. Livesay replied that SAG had dealt for weeks with his attorney, who indicated that the documents were satisfactory and ready to be executed. The producer fired back saying he didn’t know that, and looking around, he said, “Hey Ernie, we gotta shoot today. You’re OK starting, aren’t you? Let’s let the attorneys deal with this small stuff later on.”
Still smiling and shaking his head, Borgnine said, “Tony, it’s like this. You sign . . . I work.”
Five minutes later, all the papers were signed and cameras rolled.
5757 Wilshire Boulevard, 7th Floor
Los Angeles, California