Houston 2011:12

days since last accident 165
The Official E-Newsletter of the Houston Branch
The Official E-Newsletter of the Houston Branch
December 2011

David Hartley-Margolin


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.

This column originally appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of Screen Actor. Reprinted with permission of David Hartley-Margolin.

New: Kurt Cole, Chuck Houston, Keith Patterson

Transfers In: Mari Anoran, Katherine Ayars, Sherie Bell, Neil Bellingsley, Robert Anthony Brass, Erica De La Garza, Danny Dubiel, Teri LeDay, Carol Cecilia Little, Scott Rose, Britain C. Spellings, Rick Sudler, Devin Williamson 


Members, log in to SAG.org and click here to see current production activity in Texas.


The 2012 Union Plus Scholarship application is now entirely online, allowing students to complete their application over time and save their responses.

Over the past 19 years, more than $3.2 million have been awarded to students of more than 2,100 working families. Start your application today! Deadline is January 31, 2012.

Robert Nelson

President's Message

Robert Nelson
Houston Branch President
National Board Member

Holiday greetings. As we close out this year and look forward to the next, the Houston Branch is buzzing with activity. I invite everyone to mark your calendars for the next membership meeting on January 6, 2012 at the Rainbow Lodge in Houston (see below). It is a great opportunity to see old friends and meet new members, and I encourage everyone to attend.

The annual Screen Actors Guild Awards show is coming up on January 29 and viewing parties will be held in Houston and Austin, so come out and enjoy an evening of entertainment and fun, and see if your favorite nominee gets to take home the statuette.

Our next Script-to-Screen offering will be coming up in early February, and this is one you don’t want to miss. Written and produced locally, The Empress of Texas is going to be a fantastic opportunity to showcase local Houston talent to local producers, and I encourage everyone to submit when the casting notice comes out for this reading.

When January rolls around, it will be time to start thinking about renewing your membership with the TXMPA. Sometimes we only think about the important work that they do when our biannual legislature is in session, but they do much more than that. They keep in touch with these important legislators all year round to keep them up to date with what is important to the film industry, particularly regarding film incentives. The only way to keep the attention of the folks in Austin is with a strong membership, so I encourage you to renew your membership and, if you aren’t a member, to join the TXMPA.

Rainbow Lodge

SAG & AFTRA Membership Meeting and Mixer

Where: Rainbow Lodge, 2011 Ella Blvd. @ TC Jester, Houston, TX  77008
When: Friday, January 6, 2012, 7–9 p.m.

Dressy casual
Appetizers and cash bar

Get connected and find out what’s happening in South Texas!
* Contracts update                 
* SAG Awards viewing parties
* Houston Conservatory
* Austin Conservatory 
* Latest on merger!

RSVP by January 4, 2012 to Sheila Cooper by email or at (800) 724-0767, ext. 7 or (214) 379-1171

AFTRA and SAG members only. A valid membership card is is required for entrance. The meeting is open to all members and parent/guardians of young performers under 18 years old. Only active, paid-up members of the Branch/Local are eligible to vote at the meeting.

Austin Conservatory 

AAC announces its 2012 schedule. Join the Conservatory now for only $25 and get a year’s worth of priceless knowledge and opportunity.

• January 29 – SAG Awards viewing party at ND @ 501 Studios
5:30 p.m.: Pre-show mixer
6 p.m.: Red carpet
7-9 p.m.: Live TNT Broadcast

• February 25-26 – Two-day workshop, 1-4 p.m. both days
Saturday,  February 25 – VO Techniques with Randy Morrison (limited to 20 participants)
Sunday, February 26 – Home voiceover studio (presenters TBA)

• April 15 – HD photography makeup seminar, 1-4 p.m.

• May 20 – Divisek casting and headshot photographer workshop, 1-4 p.m. (limited to 20 participants)

• June 23-24 – Two-day CD workshop (limited to 20 AAC member participants)
Saturday, June 23 – CD TBD, 1-4 p.m. 
Sunday, June 24 – CD TBD, 1-4 p.m.

• July 22 – Script-to-screen live read, 7-9 p.m. Free to public. Venue TBD

• August 26 – AAC presents A Conversation With..., 7-9 p.m. Venue TBD

• September 12 – Our script-to-Web team to do “how to” panel, 1-4 p.m.

• October 31 – Halloween party, 7-10 p.m.

• November 11 – CD workshop, 1-4 p.m. (limited to 20 participants)

*Unless otherwise noted, all events to take place at Mediatech Institute, 200 Academy Drive, Suite A, Austin, TX 78704. All events subject to change; check for up-to-date schedules at the Austin Actors Conservatory Facebook page.

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