Colorado 2011:12

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

DHM

NATIONAL BOARD REPORT

David Hartley-Margolin

Soapbox:

In Cities of the Plain, Cormac McCarthy, in essence, wrote that the world is made new each day, and by clinging to vanished husks, we make this new day one husk more.

Reality check. We, the collective memberships of SAG and AFTRA, are at war with ourselves. We have been at war with ourselves on and off for generations.

When war is on, we reap collateral damage, and the employers smile because we make it easy for them. They win.

When war is off, it isn’t off. Not really. It’s merely lurking in the background, patiently waiting for the next inevitable flare-up. It’s been this way for more than 70 years. Seventy years.

Well, if we’re at war with ourselves, why don’t we sit down and work it out with ourselves? Or ask a third party to work it out for us? Been there, tried that and guess what hasn’t ended. Go ahead. Guess. You got it. The war. Why? Simply put, the institutional interests of SAG and AFTRA are smack dab in the middle of it.

I recently attended a benefits conference where the keynote speaker talked about what he called organizational sclerosis: doing the same thing over and over and over again. Eschew the mindset, “Why can’t we keep doing it the way we’ve done before?” he urged. Stop using excuses that result in being trapped by tradition, he chided.

Seventy years.

All of us are tired of being at war with ourselves, paying for it and suffering collateral damage. We are over organizational sclerosis. How do we stop this war with ourselves? The only way is to remove this nettle from underneath our collective saddle once and for all by merging SAG and AFTRA.

End of soapbox.

Leadership groups from both SAG and AFTRA have been meeting together to create a plan for ending the war with ourselves. It has been a careful and measured process, and will continue to be. There have been many questions about, and some frustration with, the lack of specific details of our progress in creating a merger plan, a constitution and a financial structure for a new union. Patience is the watchword. As always, the devil is in the details, the details are myriad, and it just isn’t Jell-O yet. When it is, we will all get to see it, taste it, touch it, and if we get it right, embrace it.

CONTRACT CORNER

When should my payment for my work be issued?

For work on a television commercial, you must be paid within 12 working days of your date of employment. For work as a day performer on a theatrical or television film, you must be paid within five working days after services are rendered. For work as a weekly performer on a theatrical or television film, performers must be paid no later than the Friday of the week following the week in which services are rendered.

Where will my payment be mailed?

You must indicate on your employment contract where you want your payment to be mailed. You may have the payment sent to your talent agent or to your home address. If you receive your payment directly, you are responsible for timely payment of commission to your agent.

If I am asked to translate the script at a session, audition or another performer’s dialogue, do I get paid?

On commercials, an additional 50 percent of the session is paid to any performer asked to provide translation services. On television and theatrical productions, a performer cannot be required to translate another performer’s dialogue into any language other than that in which a script is written; however, performers may bargain separately for such non-covered services.

Are SAG members allowed to work on telenovelas or webnovelas?

If you are offered employment on a telenovela or webnovela or any work for Spanish-language television, please contact Carlina Rodriguez, director of Spanish-language organizing, via email or (800) SAG-0767, option 5, ext. 7076, to discuss the particulars.

Can I go to a non-union audition?

Yes! You may actually help organize that job. SAG members are allowed to go to non-union auditions, but you cannot accept the work unless the production signs a SAG agreement.

TIDBITS:

Screen Actors Guild protects and serves its members. Here are just a few benefits of membership:

Contracts/Collective Bargaining. SAG negotiates wages and working conditions in order to maintain minimum standards for its members. Learn more about contracts.
Pension & Health. SAG members earn credits toward retirement and health care each time they work. Visit the SAG P&H website.
The SAG Foundation is an educational, humanitarian and philanthropic 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that serves members of Screen Actors Guild, their families and the greater community. Visit the Foundation website.
• Deals & Discounts. SAG members are eligible for outstanding deals on entertainment,
car rentals, insurance, medical visits, prescriptions, real estate, legal services and more. Just log in to SAG.org as a member and click on "Member Perks."
Resources to Organize Non-Union Work. SAG members and staff can organize non-union productions and sign them to SAG contracts. Visit our Organizing section for more information.
Contracts to Cover You When Working in a Low Budget/Student Film. If you are approached about appearing in a non-union student film, low-budget, ultra-low budget or short film, there is a SAG contract to cover it. Check out the SAG Production Center for details. or visit SAGIndie online.
Publications for Guild Members. Read Screen Actor magazine, SAG’s quarterly
members-only publication filled with useful information for members. Also, make sure SAG has your email address, and look out for regular Branch newsletters and eblasts. We want to help you stay informed about your union and industry.
Involvement in the Decision-Making Process at SAG. SAG is a representative democracy run by members for the benefit of members. We encourage members to actively participate in SAG governance by voting on referenda, joining committees or serving on the National or Division Board of Directors or Branch Council.
SAG Awards Voting Privileges. Only active, paid-up Guild members are given the opportunity to vote for the recipients of the Screen Actors Guild Awards’ coveted bronze Actor statuette. Also, For Your Consideration and nomination screenings are only available to active, paid-up Screen Actors Guild members. Visit the SAG Awards website for more information.
Check If You Are Signing a SAG Contract Online. Use SAG's convenient online signatory database to check the signatory status of any project at any time. Verifying this information makes it easier for members to comply with Global Rule One.

SAVE THE DATE

Day of Support - Colorado's Film and Television Legislation

CINEMA (Colorado Innovators of New Entertainment, Media, and Arts), a coalition of Colorado entertainment, media and artistic interests engaged in promoting Colorado’s creative industries has arranged a CINEMA Day at the Capitol in an effort to seek support from state legislators and the governor for increased film incentives in Colorado. This is an important day for our industry, with more details to follow. We will need your support!

When: Wednesday, February 8, 2012, 10 a.m.
Where: Colorado State Capitol, exact location TBD 

John Singer

A Message from Branch President John Singer

The 2011 Starz Denver Film Festival concluded a few weeks ago. This was the 34th annual version of the festival. Attendance was up nearly 3 percent this year from 2010’s 54,000.

For a more detailed description of the SAGIndie festival event, in particular, be sure to read Sheila Traister’s newsletter article Not-So-Buried Treasure.

The annual SAG Awards Show is scheduled to take place on Sunday evening, January 29, 2012. As in years past, SAG members in good standing will have the opportunity to screen most of the nominees, beginning in mid-December. I always considered that as one of the better perks of being a SAG member.

In conjunction with the SAG Awards show, the Colorado Branch will be hosting a viewing party. Watch your emails for details of this not-to-be-missed event.

Progress on merging SAG and AFTRA into one union is progressing to the point where I predict a 2012 merger. Details should start to unfold after the first of the year.

As you know, SAG national elections took place in September, and Ken Howard and Amy Aquino were re-elected as president and secretary/treasurer for additional two-year terms. Ken’s goal of a merged union has been at the forefront of his presidency since the beginning, and continues to take center stage as he moves into his second term.

Colorado’s National Board member David Hartley-Margolin (affectionately known as “DHM”) has been re-elected as the Guild’s 3rd vice president by his fellow Division board members. He also sits on the SAG Merger Task Force and is very involved in the work of the Group for One Union (G1) meetings.

The 2012 Legislature is just about ready to get going. As per usual, the legislators will again consider a film incentive proposal. This time the goal is to create a $3 million-dollar film incentive fund so we may try to compete on a more equal playing field with the states surrounding us. What will be different this time is the support from Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper. Gov. Hickenlooper believes in the movie industry and earned his SAG card several years ago. He is one of us! Additionally, Denver City Council member Debbie Ortega is working on an additional film incentive program for the city of Denver.

I, once again, encourage all of you to check out the Production Center and the online signatory application; it’s a great tool for both members and filmmakers, and is changing the way the industry does business with SAG.

Happy holidays and a prosperous new year to all of the Colorado Branch SAG members and their families.

State of the state
Standing-room-only crowd at Colorado Entertainment Industry State of the State panel discussion. Photo by Pat Kelley

ThingS Are Getting Better, Getting Better

Chaz Grundy
Council Member

The postman has a saying: “Things are getting better, getting better all the time.” It may not appear that way at first look, but I promise you, they are.

Collectively, Colorado SAG has focused its attention this past year on becoming much more integrally involved in Colorado’s entertainment and labor communities. The situation is this: If the various entities of the industry remain separate — and only work for their own self-interest — then we will always be pushing against each other, when, in fact, we should be working with each other. We have been, and are planning, a SAG event at least once a month, often in conjunction with these other organizations, to help bring about this change.

By connecting with other organizations in Colorado, we become more relevant. We’re working to become not only more visible, but more accessible to employers/producers and performers. And, hopefully, we are dispelling many of the myths about SAG (i.e., “SAG is hard to work with,” “There isn’t enough good talent in the market,” “It costs money to sign to a SAG contract,” to name a few).

Some of the ways we’ve recently reached out to the industry include working with the Emerging Filmmakers Project to help educate producers and actors on the variety of SAG agreements. We are in the process of putting together another event for the EFPalooza Film Festival. We also are working on scheduling a partner event with the Colorado Film & Video Association (CFVA) for February or March. 

The State of the State symposium, in which Colorado SAG Executive Director Julie Crane was a panelist, gained its birth within the SAG and CFVA meetings. We sponsored a viewing party for the A Leap into the Digital Age for Actors and Producers live-streaming event in November. 

We have joined forces with AEA and AFTRA to establish a Tri-Union committee in Colorado. Our first event was a holiday meet-and-greet this past week. I hope those who attended had a chance to meet the Branch president. 

We will continue to collaborate with the Colorado Theatre Guild for a productive relationship. We are in contact with the Colorado Film School and Regis University for SAG opportunities. And, to top off the list, we look to maintain communication with the Colorado Office of Film Television & Media to help attract employment opportunities here in Colorado.

We’re also involved, when appropriate, with the labor community: SAG supported last spring’s We Are One rally, and our staff and/or leadership participated in several non-partisan Colorado AFL-CIO activities throughout the year.

It’s important to note, however, when I say “Colorado SAG,” I don’t mean them or it — I mean us! SAG is a member-driven organization. We are SAG. Decisions are made by those who show up. 

If we want things to get better, then we need to show up. Help things get better. “No man is an island.” I’m sure we have all heard that before, but take it to heart. We do better together than apart.

Duplass, Traister, Crane and Zellner
From left, filmmaker Mark Duplass, SAG Colorado Branch Council member Sheila Traister, Colorado Branch Executive Director Julie Crane and filmmaker David Zellner at the SAGIndie-sponsored event at the 34th Annual Starz Denver Film Festival

Not-So-Buried Treasure

Sheila Traister
Council Member

Unlike Humphrey Bogart, who had to travel to Mexico on horseback, battle bandits, the elements and his own greed in search of gold in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, I just had to jump into my Honda, drive six miles, and walk to one of the greatest treasures to be had right here in the Mile High City — The Starz Denver Film Festival.

As John Singer mentioned, the festival is now in its 34th year, and had one of its best years ever! While celebrating the end of its long-running relationship with the theaters at the Tivoli Student Union, located on the Auraria Campus in downtown Denver, they delivered a lineup of films, panel discussions, special events and late-night soirees that would rival the best festivals in the country.

Both the Starz Denver Film Festival and the Denver Film Society have been long-time supporters of the Colorado Branch of SAG and SAGIndie in this market. This year, SAGIndie sponsored a goldmine of a panel discussion, Double Vision, which focused on two sets of fraternal filmmakers who are making a big impression on Hollywood. 

The Duplass brothers, whose early successes include The Puffy Chair, Baghead and Cyrus, showed festival-goers their newest project, Jeff Who Lives at Home; while the Zellner brothers, who originally made a name for themselves doing short films, screened Sasquatch Birth Journal 2. Now both sets of brothers are fielding feature film proposals to direct, produce, write and/or rewrite big-budget, star-driven studio pictures. One of each of the sets of brothers was present, Mark Duplass and David Zellner.

As an actor and filmmaker with nearly 30 years vested in the business, I walked away from this having hit paydirt with the kind of insight and information you can’t buy in this industry. Mark and David both affirmed and confirmed the power of:

• Being true to your own vision and material, while sharing how they’ve “stumbled” onto some of their story lines;
• The importance of the director-actor relationship, while outlining how they approach the material on set; and
• How, more than anything, their love of filmmaking is what drives them. Mark declared, “When all of this is gone (the romance with Hollywood) — and it will be someday — I will still be making movies because this is what I love to do.”

As I listened, I knew that I wanted to work with them, but I’ll have to get in line because stars the likes of Susan Sarandon, Marisa Tomei, John C. Reilly and Jason Segal are more than willing to jump on board, and have, for the experience of working with these sets of brothers. The reason being, as directors, they are more concerned with, and I quote, "... relationship and performance over aesthetics ..." — what actor wouldn’t want that environment in which to work?

Hence, in their case, an enormous budget is not needed to make a great film; one of the reasons Hollywood has come a-calling. David said, “If not for SAGIndie, we couldn’t have done it; we wouldn’t be where we are today. They taught us how to acquire the star power we wanted and needed for distribution on a small budget, and that’s just for starters.”

I wish I could write down every gem of anecdotal magic and wisdom, but it wouldn’t begin to capture the value of what it was like to be in their presence and to learn from their experiences. They are everyday folk living and loving the dream with humility, honesty and a huge dose of realism.

The golden egg from this goose is: The next time you are drawn to work on a SAG low-budget feature, short or student film — of which there are many in this market — seize the day! That passionate filmmaker may just be the next Duplass or Zellner brother.

If you love film and the world of art and culture, live in Colorado and have never attended this event, then you’re short a few priceless rubies. In years past, I have been associated with the festival, not only as the SAG liaison, but as a volunteer, hired hand, panel host and patron. I have seen a multitude of fabulous films, attended a diverse array of panels and events, and have met a treasure trove of fascinating and gifted artists and patrons from around the world.

You don’t have to travel to Cannes to get a taste of the world through film. Forget about throwing away your gold pieces on airfare and hotel, and enjoy the riches in your own back yard.

The local SAG Council and members are grateful to the Denver Film Society and SAGIndie for all the opportunities created by this rich alliance. Special thanks and gratitude to Ron Henderson, Tom Botelho, Brit Withey, Britta Erickson, their staff and volunteers at DFS, Darrien Michele Gipson and her staff at SAGIndie, and Julie Crane and the contributing members of the SAG Council for their tireless efforts to bring these opportunities to the membership and the community at large.

We’d also like to give a very special shout out to Mark Duplass and David Zellner for making the time and for sharing so candidly and freely their experiences and insights. It was one of the best panels I’ve ever attended at the festival. Thanks, guys!

Next year is an exciting one, as the Denver Film Society launches its first year with its new home at the Denver FilmCenter/Colfax. For more information on The 35th Annual Film Festival in 2012 and its year-round programs and films, go to DenverFilm.org and tell them Sheila sent ya!

FYI: More than 22 short and feature films produced and shot in Colorado were part of the DFF lineup this year. 

SAG Awards Viewing Party is Coming Your Way

When: Sunday, January 29
Where: TBD

The Colorado Branch of SAG invites you to the 2nd Annual Industry Mixer and SAG Awards Viewing Party. Mingle with your Colorado colleagues and rejoice as actors honor and celebrate fellow actors! More details to follow…

Don't Miss Out on the SAG Awards

The 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® will be here soon, and SAG members will choose the honorees.

Pay your November dues bill to be eligible for SAG Awards voting and any “for your consideration” offers. Register at sagwardsRSVP.org for Screen Actors Guild Awards updates and screening invitations. As in years past, SAG members in good standing (dues must be paid by Dec. 16th) will have the opportunity to screen most of the nominees, beginning in mid-December.

Final ballot information will be mailed on December 30. Vote online (or request a paper ballot by January 16) and help decide who gets The Actor®.
 
The SAG Awards will be simulcast on TNT and TBS on January 29, 2012 — and will air live at 6 p.m. MT (8 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Pacific). Follow SAG Awards on Facebook and on Twitter @sagawards.