Dear Fellow Members,
You all should have received an email with an announcement that AFTRA and SAG recently convened for the purpose of creating one union. The two groups were comprised of actors, broadcast professionals and recording artists, and met face to face for the first time as the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA Group for One Union (now known as G1). The members decided what factors were most important for a merge and formulated workgroups to address these factors. The work groups are:
• Governance and Structure
• Finance and Dues
• Collective Bargaining
• Pension, Health and Retirement
• Operations and Staff
• Member Education and Outreach
I’m sure you will agree that those involved with G1 are working toward a well-thought-out plan, and I am encouraged with their progress. Recommendations for the merger will be given to each union’s National Board for review by January 2012. Most of all, I encourage all to keep an open mind, make your concerns known, and base your eventual decisions on the future and not the past.
National Board Representative
MEMBERS RENEW CONTRACTS
As many of you know, members of both SAG and AFTRA overwhelmingly accepted the three-year contract terms for the jointly negotiated Producers-Screen Actors Guild 2011 Codified Corporate/Educational and Non-Broadcast Contract and the AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Corporate/Educational Recorded Material. Minimum compensation increased by 2 percent effective May 1, 2011 and will increase by another 2 percent effective November 1, 2012. Members also receive a bump in Pension and Health contributions, from 15.3 percent to 15.5 percent.
New day rates for on-camera principals are now $480.50 for Category I and $597.50 for Category II. On-camera narrator/spokesperson is $873.50 for Category I and $1,035.50 for Category II. For definitions of the categories and a complete look at the contract, click here.
Although much is similar to the previous Industrial contract, there are a few key changes that should help producers with their positive decision to produce union projects.
Most of us know that Michigan’s lucrative film credit program has been greatly diminished when the state’s new administration cut the incentive program. And although many have valiantly fought to keep an effective program in place, the final budget and outcome of the incentives look dim for a great amount of work under our theatrical contracts. However, this is just the impetus we need to again diligently search for new work opportunities.
Over the past 10 months, some of us have been doing research on how we can again increase earnings under the Corporate/Educational and Non-Broadcast Contract. We have spoken to people at production companies, advertising companies and talent agencies. Many companies never utilized a union contract and we wanted to learn why.
We have also met with members who have historically earned much under the Industrial contract. In fact, a small group of your fellow members truly put in a great amount of time and thought as to how we can improve this contract. We have also developed an organizing plan — one that was written to grab important non-union work in our market. So now we will assess what we have in our contract, potential waivers to the contract and target companies that produce non-union work. And we will aggressively attempt to capture the jobs for our members. Special thanks go to the members who gave an extra amount of time towards these efforts: Peter Carey, Sonja Crosby, Steve Goldsmith, Ed Kelly and Peter Tocco.
Branch Executive Director
A Message From the Branch President
Hello My Fellow Union Actors,
I have just returned from the SAG Regional Branch Division Plenary with Marcia Fishman, your Branch executive director. This year’s plenary was held in Orlando, Fla. Just a little refresher: SAG has three divisions — Hollywood, New York and the RBD.
Every spring, the RBD meets to discuss our concerns as a Branch of SAG. This year the talk was mostly about merger. I strongly believe that this time around we have a great chance of creating one performers’ union. One union will truly be able to bargain from a position of strength and not have to worry about producers pitting one union against the other, leaving our members once again with a less-than-desirable outcome. The hope is to have the vote out to the membership by early next year. If any of you have questions about the merger, you can always email me from the SAG website.
On another note, I would like to let everyone know that your local SAG council will once again honor a local producer, director or creative type who has consistently hired SAG actors and supported our union efforts for their projects. Last year at our annual meeting, we honored Ron and Marybeth Castorri of Castorri & Company, who have been loyal to SAG from the beginning of their careers. If you know of anyone in the creative community that you believe should receive this honor, please contact me (or Marcia Fishman) so we can include him or her in the nominating process. This honor is a great way for the Michigan membership to say thank you for continually putting SAG actors first. The SAG council will decide the recipient in August, and the presentation will take place at the annual meeting in September. Please be sure to get your nominations in ASAP.
Until next time, break a leg.
Detroit Branch President
From left, David Gries, Richard Carnegie, Ben Marsh, Amanda Daly, Yaya Keita.
The Best of the West:
West Michigan Activities
First, congratulations to Compass College of Cinematic Arts! Grand Rapid’s Compass College used to be Compass Film Academy, but is now an accredited college. A new cinematic college is a great gift to our film community and our state. And our relationship with Compass has been a plus for the Detroit Branch for a number of years. On April 12, Compass College of Cinematic Arts again hosted its New Media Day. This has become an annual event where students or faculty members write short entertainment scripts for Internet use. In one day, the performers are introduced to the students, the students produce their projects, and both students and performers critique their experiences.
CCCA also holds a summer camp, July 11-15, for teenagers who want to learn acting. Young actors ages 13-18 will have the opportunity to learn acting for the camera — film and television. The Summer Acting Camp costs $499 for the week, but in honor of the special relationship between the Detroit Branch of SAG and CCCA, the camp will be discounted to $250 for those reading this newsletter. Use the code SAG011 when completing your application for the acting camp. For a camp application, call CCCA at (616) 458-4238 or visit www.compass.edu.
From left, SAG members J.C. Wells, Ralph Lister, Mike Reed, Jennifer Roberts at SAG/AFTRA picnic in Saugatuck.
Just west of CCCA is the fabulous Waterfront Film Festival in Saugatuck. Held from June 9–12, the festival delivered three full days and nights of films, panels and networking events. The festival was created 13 years ago by the DePree family, one of whom, Hopwood DePree, is SAG member.
The Detroit Branch/AFTRA Local hosted its own picnic for west Michigan members. Members who live with sparse union populations enjoy such a picnic so that they can meet others in similar situations. Even though the Waterfront Film Festival has continually proven to be one of the best film festivals in the country, it is still a secret to many on the east side of the state. If anyone wants a memorable vacation next year, don’t forget this fun and stimulating experience. And besides, it is a great networking opportunity!
If you haven’t done so already, please pay your dues today. If you are not an active paid-up member in good standing, you may not be able to serve on the Council or committees. You must also be paid to date to register on iActor, the Guild’s online casting program, which is now being used by casting directors nationwide. If you have any questions regarding your dues, please contact the Membership Department at 1-800-SAG-0767, prompt 2 or (212) 944-6243.
What's New at SAG.org? Check These Out!
Check out the innovative and very important additions to www.sag.org:
• Paperless billing so that you can save time, paper and stamps.
• The incredible Production Center, where producers can save time by getting their signatory applications for new media, student, short, ultra low, and corporate/educational projects.
• The new online home for young performers.