These are dynamic times for Screen Actors Guild, with elected leaders and staff looking at what the organization does with a fresh eye. “Because we’ve always done it that way” isn’t a good enough reason anymore; instead, we’re examining how SAG addresses today’s realities, and asking ourselves if creativity and technology offer us a better way to use the resources that we have to benefit our members.
The processing of residuals is a good example of this. Unbelievably, our employers still insist on paying residuals the same way they did 40 years ago, in the days of three networks and five studios — by shipping SAG thousands of boxes of paper checks to distribute to members. Until recently, SAG processed these mountains of checks the same old way as well — manually reading each one, checking it against printed records, inputting the information and then producing cover letters to be stuffed in envelopes for mailing. SAG tackled this problem, researched solutions and, as of this year, is using electronic scanners to automate the process for nearly two-thirds of the checks it receives.