Colorado 2011:06

The Official E-Newsletter of the Colorado Branch
The Official E-Newsletter of the Colorado Branch
June 2011

COLORADO BRANCH EXECUTIVE'S UPDATE

The Colorado Branch hasn’t seen any significant changes during the past six months. Work continues to be done under the National and Regional Commercials contracts and the Corporate/Educational and Non-Broadcast contract. Unfortunately, more employers are choosing to sign to one-production-only contracts, rather than to commit to a long-term relationship with the union. Additionally, we have been able to utilize the New Media and Low Budget Theatrical agreements and signed several projects since the beginning of the year.

In an attempt to strengthen our position in the market, a joint SAG-AFTRA strategic organizing plan was developed this past year. The plan attempts to cut across all areas of the production community. Key components of the plan include member and pre-member outreach, internal/external education, improved communication and marketing/branding strategies.

The plan outlines efforts to strengthen the overall image of the performers’ unions and to improve the relationship between the unions. The first step was the creation of a tri-union committee. We hope that by creating this tri-union solidarity we will be able to better organize the talent pool in the market and diminish the amount of non-union work being done. If all professional performers only worked union contracts, producers would be forced to pay union wages and benefits.

Organizing goals also provide for continued advancement of our relationships with the Colorado AFL-CIO and outreach to local producers, agents, casting directors, universities, film schools and organizations such as the Colorado Film and Video Association, Colorado Actors and Screenwriters Assembly, and the Denver Film Society.

Educational efforts include workshops for potential and current employers, emphasizing the ease of signing to our contracts. This past winter we co-hosted a new media panel discussion aimed at educating emerging filmmakers.

Also of importance will be training opportunities and showcases to help performers hone their skills and provide access to producers, agents and industry professionals. Toward that end, the Script to Screen program was created with the Colorado Film School and Regis University. This ongoing event will provide members the opportunity to work with up-and-coming filmmakers on table-reads, which are then showcased for the Colorado film community.

The organizing plan also outlines methods, similar to those being provided to employers, for educating agents, and includes one-on-one reviews with agents on contracts and a “turning the job union” leave-behind piece.

So…what can you do to help? The most obvious answer is to only work union projects. But there are other things you can do to make the Guild and its contracts even more powerful.

Flip it: If a producer or employer wants you to work a non-union project, encourage them to look into getting a SAG contract. There are low budget, new media, commercial and corporate contracts available. Have them call the Colorado Branch office.

Finally, in order for any organizing plan to be effective, that plan must include active member participation. I encourage you to get involved in your union: Join a local committee, attend membership and organizing meetings, participate in the SAG Conservatory and don’t miss out on SAG-sponsored events at the film festivals and universities. Encourage fellow performers to follow your example.

A union is its membership. We have a professional paid staff, but ultimately the direction and the vision of the union lies with its members. Please feel free to contact me at (720) 932-8193 or email me at julie.crane@sag.org.

PAYING YOUR SAG DUES: FAQs

No doubt, all of you worked hard to get your Screen Actors Guild card, so it would be a shame to miss out on a job — or worse — forfeit your membership because you forgot to pay your dues.

Most of you are already aware of this. However, I think it’s worth repeating: As a Guild member, you have up to 45 days to pay your current dues before you are no longer considered a member in good standing. And, as a result of this delinquency, you may not be immediately cleared for work. Just because you don’t pay your dues doesn’t mean you are not still bound by all obligations of membership.

If you miss a second consecutive dues period, you will not be cleared for work until the appropriate amount is paid. If you still haven’t paid your dues when you receive your third dues payment notification, you will also be sent, under separate cover, a termination warning. If this delinquency extends beyond 30 days, you will be assessed an additional $25 reinstatement fee.

Finally, if at the start of the forth dues period you continue to owe for three previous dues periods, your membership will be automatically terminated without further notification. You will no longer receive any of the benefits afforded to you as a SAG member, and the next time a union job comes along, you may not be cleared for work.

Sure, you can apply to have your membership reinstated, but it will be time-consuming and costly. You will have to fill out a bunch of forms, pay a new initiation fee, a $100 application fee, the three dues periods leading up to termination and current dues. In addition, depending on how long ago you were terminated, you may have to pay the full initiation fee (again) at the current rate. So, don’t let your Screen Actors Guild membership lapse.

If you are not actively engaged in seeking employment under SAG’s jurisdiction and have been a member of the Guild for 18 months, you may request to place your membership on inactive status: either Honorable Withdrawal (membership dues are paid current at the time the request is received) or Suspended Payment (no more than two dues periods are owed at the time the request is received). Requests must be made in writing and include your SAG ID and your professional signature.

If your request is granted, you will not be eligible to vote in any SAG referendums/elections and will not receive Guild publications. You will, however, continue to receive any residuals due to you, and may reactivate your membership at any time. Members on Honorable Withdrawal or Suspended Payment are not responsible for base dues while inactive, but are required to pay on all earnings based on residual or other deferred income. Failure to pay such dues may result in termination of membership. You must reactivate your membership to audition for or accept work.

For more details on placing your membership on inactive status, call the National Membership Department at (323) 549-6778.  

John Singer

A Message From Branch President John Singer 

The 2011 Colorado Legislature, also known as the 68th General Assembly, has adjourned for the year. As in previous years, they have done nothing to help our industry in the way of any kind of film incentive. The states surrounding Colorado continue to attract a lot of projects, due mostly to their attractive film incentives.

One evening a couple of months ago, we were watching the movie Secretariat. I was a bit startled and disappointed when they kept showing the house, supposedly in Colorado, with the Grand Tetons in the background.

There are a few Colorado legislators who work tirelessly every year, trying to get their colleagues to support film incentives. We try to help them whenever possible.

Other action by the National Board was to establish a Merger Task Force and adopt a successor union mission statement. Additional information on the progress of SAG and AFTRA merging can be found on the SAG website at sag.org/oneunion. You can also stay up to date on all things SAG by “liking” Screen Actors Guild on Facebook. While you are there, you might as well “like” the Screen Actors Guild Foundation and Screen Actors Guild Awards. All three put interesting and timely information right onto your Facebook page. Finally, a plug for the new Production Center on the website. It’s a fantastic resource for both performers and producers — check it out!

Some good news from the film office: Producer Donald Zuckerman has been named the new director of the Office of Film, Television and Media, a division of Colorado Creative Industries (aka the new Colorado Film Commissioner). He started work on May 16.

Zuckerman has produced several major motion pictures and has worked with some of Hollywood’s top directors and actors. His most recent feature films include Casino Jack, with director George Hickenlooper and starring Kevin Spacey, and Beer for My Horses, directed by Michael Solomon and starring Toby Keith.

Zuckerman has also produced multiple television series, created a number of successful New York City nightlife venues and managed recording artists and sports professionals. Zuckerman graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and received a law degree from the Boston University School of Law. He worked for four years as a staff attorney for the New York City Legal Aid Society Criminal Defense Division and subsequently maintained a private law practice.

The Colorado Branch remains committed to providing members with educational programming and opportunities to engage with other industry professionals. In March, the Colorado Branch co-hosted the Colorado Cinema Salon (yet another great program presented by the Denver Film Society). Sheila Traister and Cajardo Lindsey, two Denver-based SAG members, talked about the art and craft of creating characters on film.

Both members appeared alongside curator Robert Denerstein for an evening of Actors on Acting, as they delved into how actors inspire other actors. For the purposes of the salon, Denerstein decided to flip the script: Traister focused on men and Lindsey on women, as each chose actors who have had a deep influence on their view of acting or whose work they admired. It proved to be a very entertaining and informative evening.

Finally, mark your calendars for our Annual Membership Meeting on Tuesday, July 26 at 7:30 p.m. The meeting is a good way to learn what’s going on with your Colorado Branch Council and let us know how we can help you. More details to come…

Actors on Acting

Members Sheila Traister and Cajardo Lindsey join Robert Denerstein for Colorado Cinema Salon’s Actors on Acting.

So Close, But So Far Away

I had the privilege of representing our Colorado Branch president at the Regional Branch Division presidents meeting on May 20 and the RBD Annual Conference meeting on May 21 and 22. The meetings were held at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel, within a stone’s throw of Disney World in Orlando, Fla., but there was no time to visit the “happiest place on earth.” The conference was attended in person by David White, SAG’s national executive director, as well as numerous regional and national SAG staff.

Although a number of procedural issues were discussed in both meetings, the overriding issue was organizing. David White explained that, in his mind, organizing meant organizing work, especially in the states represented by the Regional Branch Division, to generate employment opportunities for our members. This is an ongoing effort that is being undertaken in conjunction with a parallel effort to organize working non-union actors. 

Generating employment opportunities for our members, in my estimation, is job No. 1, and I believe this was the general feeling at the meeting. In all, although there wasn't much time to relax, I enjoyed myself immensely and am proud to be a member of SAG. 

In solidarity,
Bill McLain, Colorado Branch Vice President

SAG Contracts

From left, Patrick Sullivan of Emerging Filmmakers Project; Julie Crane, Colorado Branch executive director; and Chaz Grundy, Colorado Branch council member. Photo by Mark Jones.

The Reel Deal

Screen Actors Guild and the Emerging Filmmakers Project brought together a community of independent filmmakers and actors for a dialogue at The Bug Theatre on February 12, titled SAG Contracts Made Simple: The Reel Deal about the Screen Actors Guild Theatrical Low Budget and New Media Agreements. This illuminating forum was the first for the new EFP’s Speakers Series. Screenwriter/filmmaker Patrick Sheridan of Paddy Wagon Films moderated the event. 

The evening was divided into two parts. The first part provided a tutorial of the SAG Low Budget and New Media agreements by SAG Colorado Branch Executive Director Julie Crane and Colorado SAG Council member and actor Chaz Grundy. The event provided helpful information and guidelines for professional producers and filmmakers, but was also enlightening for the actors. It covered many relevant terms and components, from SAG eligibility to incentives for diversity in casting. This was presented as a discussion and dialogue between filmmakers, producers, actors and SAG.

The second part of the evening consisted of a Q & A with a panel of industry professionals who have worked with the SAG Low Budget and/or New Media Agreements. Christa Cannon, actor and producer of the Web series Mile High Laci; MaryLee Hermann, producer and director of the short film The Necklace; and William Brown, writer, producer and director of the feature Stained Glass Windows, joined Julie Crane and Chaz Grundy on the panel. They were able to answer questions and share their experiences working with SAG contracts and SAG actors. The Q & A portion conveyed that working with these SAG agreements and SAG actors is not only affordable and cost-effective, but inevitable if looking to become a professional in the world of making movies. SAG is the difference between a vocation and an avocation.

The evening was a success in many ways. Much of the confusion and misunderstandings about SAG were put to rest. There’s a dialogue in this Colorado film market and SAG is a positive part of that. SAG has become more visible, and therefore its agreements and actors are more accessible. 

“Just because your film isn’t produced by a studio doesn’t mean you can’t use professional talent.”
— Chaz Grundy, Colorado Branch Council Member

And that’s The Reel Deal! 

Julie Crane

Colorado Exec Director Honored

Congratulations Julie Crane!

The Colorado Branch executive director received the Colorado Film School/Regis University Community Award. Crane received the award for contributing to the real-world knowledge of the students and providing support to directors and information about working with professional actors both as artists and as business people.

SAG Awards Viewing Party

Colorado Branch Partying Once Again

By Linda Lee

A good time was had by all who attended this year’s SAG Awards Viewing Party in downtown Denver. In an effort to reach out to the regional community, members were joined by nearly 60 other guests from local film schools, talent agencies, casting directors and the Colorado Film and Video Association. “I really think we had a good turnout,” said John Singer, president of the Colorado Branch. “Although it had been several years since our Branch had thrown an awards party, it came off well.”

President Singer noted that he expects the event to grow in the years to come and encourages anybody who wants to participate to contact Julie Crane at the Colorado Branch office. “We know we’re off to a good start,” said Singer, “and look forward to what the future has in store.”

Before the awards began, guests were given ballots and had the opportunity to choose their favorite actor in each category, with the hope of winning the grand prize — a tote filled with all types of SAG goodies. During each commercial break, Council member Chaz Grundy took the time to inform guests of all that was happening in the area and how they could get involved in local events. There was also a raffle during each intermission, and several guests won some fabulous door prizes.

Next year’s event is expected to be even better. The awards party committee is already working on finding a venue, gathering prizes and creating a guest list.