ABOUT YOUR CONTRACT WITH YOUR AGENT
SAG has initiated several ways to streamline processes for employers who wish to hire our members. Many of the customary forms, including signatory documents, are now online, making it easier than ever for producers to go SAG. Check out the SAG Production Center. We have also made life easier for our franchised agents by making all SAG Agency contracts, documents and forms available online for performers they wish to sign with their agency.
A one-page agency contract and a one-page agency renewal contract are both available online without cost to any franchised agent in Arizona who has registered and created an account with us. They are both fillable and editable at SAG.org. SAG agents interested in setting up this account should click here. Then, once they download the contracts and fill in the blanks, the forms can be printed out, ready for signing and filing.
A word of caution: If you have entered into an “all-in-one” contract for TV, commercials and film that may speak to other areas of employment we do not cover, such as modeling or print, please take note: Terms of employment for modeling and print are very different than work as an actor and are not covered by SAG. Even if this contract may reference SAG and a 10-percent commission for SAG work, it does not mean it is approved for use by the Guild. Any nonconforming contract not approved by SAG is null and void.
If you think you may not be properly covered by an approved SAG contract, let your agent know or send a copy of your contract to us. All our Arizona agents have been told how to obtain an approved SAG contract for you to sign.
Please call the office at (480) 264-7696 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any concerns or questions.
ANNUAL REPORT FROM THE PHOENIX FILM OFFICE
In the year from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011, a total of 353 projects were registered with the City of Phoenix Film Office. Of these, 289 completed filming, 20 did not film in Phoenix and 44 never returned emails or calls. The report shows that 126 more projects were completed than in the previous year, generating 4,502 jobs and yielding a $13.7 million return to our community.
Phil Bradstock, Phoenix film commissioner, reported that projects were generally smaller in size than in previous years. While commercials still occupied the largest proportion of our return in dollars, the production category most significantly trending upward is the reality show, projects that typically use few local hires and shoot only a day or two.
Here is how the bulk of production broke down:
• 81 Commercials with 859 performers hired
• 16 Documentaries with 153 performers hired
• 75 Corporate/Educational projects with 147 performers hired
• 61 Reality TV specials with 50 performers hired
• 11 Features with 180 performers hired
• 10 Music Videos with 81 performers hired
• 24 Webcasts with 80 performers hired
Counting this work and other miscellaneous projects, a total of 356 projects were shot in the Phoenix metro area, creating 1,878 jobs for actors and background performers in the 12 months ending July 1, 2011. These numbers reflect only the productions that were reported to the Phoenix Film Office.
THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A FREE LUNCH!
By Ellen Dean
Arizona BookPALS Coordinator
It's a BookPALS recruitment luncheon. Bring someone with you — a potential BookPAL — and you will both get a free lunch, gifts, a short BookPALS training session and a good time!
Where: Miracle Mile Deli — 7435 East Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, Scottsdale, AZ 85260. (480) 588-6453
When: Saturday, September 24, 2011, 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Send your RSVP here or call (602) 750-2923.
BookPALS is a program sponsored by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. We put readers into underserved elementary schools to read aloud to children in order to help them develop a love of books and a desire to read for themselves. BookPALS is founded on a clear premise: Children must be exposed to the magic of books to develop a love of reading. And who better to make that magic come alive than actors gifted in the art of storytelling?
DIFFERENT, BUT STILL THE SAME
By Greg Joseph
This spring, I celebrated my 41st anniversary as a member of SAG.
Three things caused me to consider how SAG and Hollywood, where I lived for a number of years at the start of my acting career, have changed since then.
The first reason was a photograph that appeared in the spring 2011 Screen Actor magazine, taken on Nov. 20, 1970, at the Hollywood Palladium, of then-SAG President Charlton Heston presenting the guild's Annual Award, now the Lifetime Achievement Award, to Gregory Peck.
I was there. Just barely 24 and as wide-eyed as they come, I was seated in the aisle chair of the third row, left section, as close to the stage as I dared get. It was my first SAG gathering of any kind.
My second reason was an email I received last year from a columnist at The Wall Street Journal to whom I had written concerning a piece he had done about the controversy swirling around IMDb's practice of listing actors' ages, which many feel is detrimental to their careers. I mentioned to him that I was going to take another crack at Hollywood. He asked if I would write to him later about changes I noticed.
The third reason was that this May, I actually went back to Hollywood for a few weeks on a scouting trip to set the foundation for a possible move back there.
The changes I saw in Hollywood paraphrase the opening lines from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities: Hollywood has changed a lot, and not at all.
Let me explain. I had arrived in Hollywood earlier in 1970, buoyed by an invitation to travel there from the producers of a film in which I appeared. Adam at Six A.M. starred Michael Douglas and was produced by Steve McQueen. Part was shot in the Kansas City area, part in Los Angeles. I had a part in Kansas City.
Naturally, I packed everything that would fit in my white 1962 Chevy Impala convertible (formerly my dad's car) and, tailpipe dragging, drove in a straight line, 500 miles a day for three days, into the heart of downtown Hollywood. There I rented an apartment just off Hollywood Boulevard and steps away from Grauman's Chinese Theater, the Roosevelt Hotel and the Magic Castle. At night, the nearby Capitol Records building reflected in my front window as I feasted on my favorite dinner of cereal and canned peaches on a coffee table made from a discarded wooden crate with a chipped round marble slab for a top, found near the apartment trash bin.
A fellow resident, an old comedian, sized me up as a hayseed from the Midwest, "You must be in hog heaven,” he said. I was.
I had been in town no more than a week when I received a call from the writers of Adam, who had now gone on to write and produce a movie of the week-cum-pilot, Marriage: Year One, starring Sally Field. The writers asked me two quick questions: "Is this Greg? Do you have your (SAG) card?" If I had the card, I was invited to Universal the next morning. I did, and I went. I didn't get the role, that of a young doctor and the best friend of Field's screen husband, but I did get promoted for a young performer’s contract at that studio. The message then was clear: There were "SAG actors" (i.e., people who were considered proven commodities) and then everybody else.
Now that distinction, although just as pertinent and justified, has been blurred. A number of sites for Hollywood projects to which I subscribe seek both union and non-union performers. Some, blaming perceived budgetary restrictions or "the paperwork," want only non-union people. Too few want strictly SAG people.
But here's the kicker: The managers and the agents, to whom show business is much more business than show, are impressed still at the actor who carries the SAG imprimatur. Some, more than one would expect, accept only SAG actors as clients. To the people who count money, it still means a lot.
At that long-ago SAG meeting, former SAG President Dana Andrews was seated a few chairs away from me, quiet and unobtrusive.
Recognizable faces were wall-to-wall, in the audience and on stage, the latter where the national officers sat facing the crowd (Jay Silverheels, who played the Lone Ranger's sidekick, Tonto, especially caught the attention of this TV-bred boomer). Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland, then at their peak as activists, dashed around to microphones that had been set up in the aisles, shouting about what they perceived as the board's lack of diversity, among other things (I remember looking at the board members and thinking, "Fonda and Sutherland can't be seeing the same group I do"). The distinguished character actor John Randolph (who played the "before" version of the revitalized Rock Hudson in the movie Seconds) spoke calmly and deliberately, removing his reading glasses often for emphasis, trying to restore calm. To no avail. Fonda and Sutherland simply picked a different aisle and a different microphone.
It was nuts. Incredible. Yet, everybody in that auditorium, whether they stood up and spoke or just sat there, was passionate about acting. It was palpable.
That hasn't changed at all, the utter passion of actors who take the all-or-nothing leap into Hollywood.
Finally, before returning to Arizona from my recent trek, I dropped by SAG headquarters at 5757 Wilshire Boulevard to look up a fellow who graduated from the same school as did I, Rockhurst High, back in Kansas City. The person I wanted to see was none other than David White, national executive director of SAG.
I had never met White before, but the administrator of our old high school, whom I had seen at a reunion months before, encouraged me to stop and say hello anyhow. I reluctantly did so, realizing the SAG chief has matters on his desk these days even more challenging than usual.
His receptionist told me he was out. But I left my business card, the high school administrator’s card, and a brief note, believing in my heart of hearts that I would never hear from the SAG executive in any way, shape or form.
I was wrong.
About three days after I arrived back in Arizona, Mr. White's assistant called. Was I still in town, she inquired? No, I said. Please, she said, let them know the next time I am there.
Now that's a union.
Greetings fellow actors!
The kids are back at school and central Arizona temperatures are just shy of 120 degrees, which means the performing season is almost upon us!
We are currently in the planning stage for our semiannual membership meeting, “sometime in October or November.” Don is working on dates and the venue, and the council is working on the agenda, speakers and featured presentations. As soon as we have it all organized, we will be sending out the information.
On another topic, we met in committee this summer to discuss concerns with the latest corporate/educational contract, which we will share with the local AFTRA Board, as well as with some of the other regional Branches, to see if we can develop an effective waiver to the “standard” language that will increase employment opportunities for our members and support our recruiting efforts. If any member has any thoughts or concerns on this contract, please feel free to contact me directly or check in with Don via phone or email at (480) 264-7696, (800)724-0767 or email@example.com.
I look forward to reconnecting with everyone at the membership meeting and wish everyone the best on their next audition!
Arizona Branch President
By Steve Fried
Merger talks are on the fast track! Committees have proliferated. First, a small SAG committee expanded to a larger committee. An even larger joint (AFTRA and SAG) committee became multiple joint smaller committees and now they are focused on cogent issues through the creation of even smaller joint committees. So, you can envision light at the end of the tunnel, but carry a flashlight, just in case.
• To encourage producers to use SAG talent, their paperwork is being simplified and they can complete certain forms online.
• The Guild has increased its presence at film festivals, reaching out especially to low budget productions. The success of the effort is evident with an increased use of the Low Budget contracts.
• A reminder to those who aspire to serve on a Branch or National Committee: You need to make your desire known (you’ll receive email reminders). Go to the SAG website to see the list of committees. I assure you, it is through participation in committee work (typically by phone conferences) that brings new ideas to the National Board. Get involved!!
• Last but not least, try to attend one of the two Arizona Branch general membership meetings held each year — the spring meeting in Tucson and the fall meeting in Phoenix.
Contact me through the office at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have questions or comments.
To be continued…
Amanda Melby finally gets to show her stuff in the IFP-Phoenix 48-Hour Challenge film Covet.
By Amanda Melby
Freed from a conflict of interest since resigning as executive director of IFP/Phoenix in April, I could now participate in the 48-Hour Challenge. Paul DeNigris asked me directly to be on his team. We had produced Screen Wars, an IFP/Phoenix showcase for Arizona filmmakers a few years ago for AZ-TV. He also is the head of the Digital Video Department at the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) in Tempe.
I went to the kick-off on Friday night, July 15, and after getting our envelope, went with the team to brainstorm on the script and ideas. Our genre choices were musical and thriller, and since I was the only one with musical experience, we went with thriller. We bounced around ideas and finally settled on two dirty cops and a spirit that changes bodies when the person dies. We used the line “As long as it’s free” to refer to the spirit, rather than the more obvious money.
Once the outline was completed, we left Steve Briscoe to flesh out the dialogue, and the rest of the team went outside at UAT to start shooting. We were shooting by 10:30 p.m., a mere four hours after getting our assigned genre, prop and line.
When I was wrapped, the sun was coming up. I was hungry, but not in the least bit tired. Since it was an action thriller, we were literally running all night long. The crew and two of the actors stayed to shoot one more scene that I wasn’t in, and I went home and crashed for a few hours.
At the screening on Friday, July 29, I was pleased to see so many good films. Some still needed additional technical knowledge (mostly sound), but overall, there were some very clever films. Covet, which is what my film ended up being called, won for Best Director (Paul DeNigris), Best Use of Line, Best Ensemble Acting (I was thrilled about that one!) and got second place overall.
It was a thrill for me to participate, and I highly recommend other SAG actors participate in other challenges (both IFP/Phoenix and A3F have challenges). It’s a great lesson in “going for it,” as you are creating the film as you’re shooting it.
Directing is a lot like conducting. Photo by Megan Calcote.
By Deborah Lee Hall
The rules are pretty simple: Get a small production team together, a film genre, a prop and a line of dialogue, and then produce, write, act, film, edit, complete and submit a film in less than 48 hours with a total running time of less than five minutes. I was tapped to direct by Carol Benwell, chair of the Women’s Filmmakers Group of the Independent Film Project/Phoenix. I had said that someday I would like to direct. Someday was now.
33 days: My team consists of one writer, two female actors, one female actor/writer and me. We begin communicating via email and the phone.
18 days: We pick a name for our production company: Lucky Lady Films.
Eight days: Actor auditions at IFP offices. Always bring a picture and resume, even if IFP says you don’t need to bring 30 pictures and resumes. All my actors were cast because I already knew them, or they brought a picture and resume.
Seven days: Our first group meeting at the Black Angus at Metro Center. All of our initial team and six others (actors, our producer and costumer) discussed possibilities and locations. Budget? Negative $50, because I had paid the registration fee.
Five days: I called a couple more actors to join our team, including Sean Kapera, SAG Council. We decided on these locations: The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and a nearby apartment complex, which offered one of their models to us for three hours.
49 Hours: Pose for photo in front of the IFP 48-hour “back drop” kick-off location, the only member of my team in attendance. The rest of our team was awaiting my call to inform them of the film genre, prop and line of dialog we would be required to use.
48 hours: Our genre choices: Western or inspirational; our prop choices: a helmet or a battery; our line choices: “As long as it’s free” or “Did you remember…?” Before I got in my car, the team started getting the show on its feet.
46 hours: We decided on a family-oriented, inspirational movie using a motorcycle helmet and the line “Did you remember...” Our production team consisted of Cassandra Nicholson (head writer), Sally Ann Francis (lead actress), Nikki Hicks, (lead actress), Megan Calcote (producer), and Joe Becker (director of photography). Actors started discussing clothes with Patsy Lucero, our costumer and set designer.
45 hours: Actors left to get some sleep and get their costume choices together.
44 hours: The writers, director of photography, producer and I closed the Black Angus and continued down the street at the Denny’s by Metro Center. Writers continue working after the director of photography, producer and I go to sleep.
38 hours: Director checks email for script — no script yet.
36 hours: Script comes via email.
34 hours: Location 1, the Cronkite School, for introductions, table read and costume choices.
32 hours: Filming at the “condo” location.
31 hours: Wishing we had a crane to film through the window for an establishing shot.
30 hours: Packed up and headed back to the Cronkite School.
29 hours: Lunch – BYO (Remember our negative budget?)
28 hours: Began filming first set of office scenes.
24 hours: Began filming engagement party scene.
23 hours: Dinner – pizza for $5 each or BYO.
22 hours: Began filming second set of office scenes.
19 hours: Most actors wrapped. Began filming elevator scene.
18 hours: Filming is wrapped and we are cleaning up.
17 hours: Director is in bed but sleep does not come quickly. I learned A LOT in a very short period.
11 hours: Editing begins. Megan has deleted takes that would not work at all, and Joe knows the editing software. Thanks! Director’s first cut: approximately six minutes, 48 seconds.
Five hours: Lunch – we are beginning to feel we might be cutting it close.
Two hours: We are still editing, trying to fit all our film into the five-minutes-or-less requirement.
One hour: Adding music and credits.
30 minutes: Sound equalization.
Two minutes: Downloaded finished film to IFP. Our little film Letting Go was submitted in time at 6:38 p.m.!
Now that my initial “workout” is complete and I am so much more aware of what I don’t know, it’s time to think about doing it again. The next film challenge begins September 9, 2011. I was hooked by lunch on Saturday.
I am IN! Are you? If not, why not? SAG has agreed to a special addendum to the low budget contract to cover this, so let’s capitalize on it. You never know who you’ll meet or how much fun you’ll have until you try it. Or what your association with that filmmaking team might bring in the future. You don’t have to wait for a huge budget film to come to Arizona. And it’s easier to get a lead in a local film than one swooping in from Hollywood. How many local filmmakers do you know? I know four more than I did on July 9. And they all know me! And now you know one more than you did before you read this article!
By Faith Hibbs-Clark, CSA
Good Faith Casting, LLC
I was recently doing a casting at my studio and things had gotten a little hectic. I overheard one actor say to another, “I don’t understand why they can’t organize these things better.” The other actor replied with a sarcastic grin, “Yea, I know, these casting directors are all crazy.”
It might shock you to think that an actor would have the audacity to say that in MY studio, but it’s true. And, after I thought a minute, it occurred to me that perhaps other more polite actors also feel this way but just don’t express it.
So, I would like to explain a little bit about what we do, how the process works and what makes us “crazy.”
First of all, when we get a job to cast a commercial, we are usually given only one day to prep. If we are lucky, we’ll have two or three days prior to casting. When we prep a job, we send out a casting breakdown to the agent, which takes us about an hour, during which time we decide which actors should attend the audition based on the specifications of the job. We usually have only one day of auditions, and in an average audition day, we can see 80 to 100 people.
I know that sounds like a lot, and believe you me my feet and back scream out for mercy by the end of these brutal 12-hour days. But, even though that is a lot of actors to see in a day, remember that there are a lot more people, hundreds, even thousands more actors that we could have opted to see instead of you. So, next time you are sitting in our office, you might want to say this to yourself: “This crazy casting director was crazy enough to pick ME!”
The process of selecting talent for auditions is fast and easy for us. We have created our own customized database that allows us to search by any criteria, making it easy for us to make selections. This takes us a mere 20–30 minutes, based on how many roles we need to cast, but a few clicks of the mouse and we have it scheduled and reports generated. Now, that is organized!
Next, we send out an email to the agents, listing who we want to see from their agency and at what time. We also email them a script to pass along to the talent. The agents then contact the talent. But, this is where a lot slows down. Agents have to leave voice messages or send emails to actors in order to confirm that they are available for the audition, and here are some problematic actor habits that make your agent crazy:
• Never answering your phone and never checking your messages.
• Not returning calls for days or ever.
• Not checking your email at least twice per day. (I personally recommend you check it in the morning, at noon, before 5 pm, and before you go to bed.)
• Going on vacation or out of town and forgetting to tell your agent.
• Never being available to audition.
• Accepting an audition time slot and then canceling or not showing to the audition.
I was talking with an agent the other day who said she had left a voice message for one of her talent about the audition. She waited all day and the talent never got back to her. But, get this! The talent DID get the message and was excited about the audition, so excited, in fact, that she Tweeted it and wrote on Facebook, “Good day, I have an audition for a commercial tomorrow.” But, at no point did she ever think to call her agent back to let her know she could make the audition. At the end of that business day, the agent reported back to me that all of her talent had confirmed their auditions, all except one, and I filled the slot with another performer. (More on our Miss Twitter/Facebook in my next article.)
In the next edition of this article, I will walk you through a typical casting day, and just you wait — I’ll have funny and true stories you won’t believe!
From left, Arizona Branch Executive Director Don Livesay, then-SAG National Director of Organizing Nayla Wren, Vice President Southern Arizona Barbara Glover and Arizona National Director Steve Fried lead a discussion at the spring membership meeting. Photo by Earl Smith.
Arizona members gathered June 4 at the Temple of Music and Art in Tucson for our annual spring membership meeting. AZ-SAG Council met beforehand at the well-known downtown Tucson restaurant, The Grill. Then-National Director of Organizing Nayla Wren joined us and, with everything that has been happening around the country, we were very fortunate to have her. We needed to hear from her, but most definitely, she needed to hear from us.
Prior to the membership meeting, the Arizona Council met at The Grill, a typically quirky downtown Tucson icon. Seated clockwise were Betsy Beard; Don Livesay; Barbara Glover; Amanda Melby; Burney Starks; Justin Kreinbrink; Nancy Hall; Ted Raymond; Steve Fried; Nayla Wren, then-director of organizing from SAG national; and Marla Price. Photo by Earl Smith.
Over the past decade, advancements in technology have opened a floodgate of new forms of entertainment delivered over new electronic devices. Cell phones, iPods and the Internet hold more promise for actors with developing careers today than the traditional media around when our contracts were born. Nayla answered our questions, led discussion, and explained the simple tools we can use to create greater opportunities for work.
Nayla was a delightful and insightful guest. She brought us T-shirts, mugs and other items from the thesagshop.com, and there were none left at the end of the meeting. If you were not there, you missed it!
Kristin Coleman - 8/7/11
QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?
Contact the Arizona Close Up at (480) 264-7696 or email email@example.com. Betsy Beard, editor.
5757 Wilshire Boulevard, 7th Floor
Los Angeles, California