Nashville 2010:04

The Official E-Newsletter of the Nashville Branch
The Official E-Newsletter of the Nashville Branch
April 2010

WELCOME NEW MEMBERS
AND TRANSFERS


By Chris Ladd
Nashville Branch Councilor at Large

Hello everyone, just wanted to give you a special welcome to the Nashville Branch of SAG. As a member of your Nashville Branch Council, I want you to know that we are here for you and if you have questions, please feel free to contact us.

The Nashville Branch is growing and we look forward to more SAG work in the area. Already, we have seen an increase in low budget work within our area, and we hope for more, so we all can have the opportunity to work at our profession.

A special welcome to you, the new members and those who have transferred in, listed below.

New Members (September 2009 to February 2010):
Jeff Collins, Jay DeMarcus, Sean H. Elliott, Nancy Filipelli, Sam H. Hall, Emily Grace Reaves, Rebecca M. Thompson

Transfers In (October 2009 to February 2010):
Bowd Beal, Jeff Bell, Kevin Brooks, J.T. Goldman, Michael Marzella, Chancellor Miller, Shannon Oakes, Jerrod Phillips, Michael Samluk, Curtis Shaw, Brooke Swanson

JOINT BARGAINING APPROVED BY SAG

Meeting in a videoconference plenary in Los Angeles and New York on March 13, the Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors approved 78 percent to 22 percent a joint bargaining agreement with AFTRA for the negotiation of successor agreements for the contracts covering theatrical motion pictures and primetime dramatic television. The AFTRA National Board of Directors previously approved joint bargaining at its meeting February 27.

The motion: “It was moved and seconded that the National Board of Directors approves the Joint Bargaining Agreement for the Television/Theatrical Contracts and instructs staff and counsel to finalize the language of the Agreement substantially in the form presented.”

Guild President Ken Howard said, “I applaud the board’s action. Bargaining together is a smart decision and voting up this agreement clearly serves the best interests of all SAG members. I’m grateful to the board and look forward to working with our partners at AFTRA toward a successful negotiation.”

Added Guild National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator David White, “This is a positive step that delivers a significant benefit to our members. There is no disputing that we are stronger together and joint negotiation of these contracts makes sense for both our organizations."

SAG and AFTRA representatives will meet in the coming days to finalize and execute the joint bargaining agreement. The agreement largely tracks the agreement used for the successful 2009 joint negotiation of the Commercials Contracts and includes the provisions of the existing AFL-CIO facilitated No Raiding/Non-Disparagement Agreement between Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA.

WHITE HOUSE URGED TO
STEP UP ANTI-PIRACY


On March 24 a wide coalition representing American movie, television and music industry and labor groups urged the Federal Government to bolster its efforts to protect intellectual property and protect the jobs and wages lost because of content theft.

In response to a request for public comment by the White House’s Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement, SAG, AFTRA, the DGA, IATSE, the NMPA, the MPAA and the RIAA submitted a joint filing that outlined the organizations’ collective views.

The groups commended Victoria Espinel, the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, for embarking on this landmark effort to develop the first Joint Strategic Plan for enforcing intellectual property rights. And while they hailed the promise of online distribution models, in their submission they emphasized that its potential was undermined by the theft of creative content.

Click here to download the filing.

Click here to download the AFL-CIO Statement 3-2-10.

Click here
to download the Letter to US IPEC Victoria Espinel from AFM, AFTRA, DGA, IATSE & SAG.

Click here to download the release.

SAG CREATES PERFORMANCE
CAPTURE COMMITTEE

Screen Actors Guild’s National Board has just created a National Performance Capture Committee. The creation of the committee stemmed from a meeting of performers who have experience with this type of work. The meeting, organized by the TV/Theatrical Standing Committee and Contracts Department staff, provided these performers with a forum to discuss the effects performance capture will have on the work of actors and SAG contracts going forward.

The National Board appointed Woody Schultz as national chair of the committee. Schultz has extensive experience in this area, including work on films such as Beowulf, The Polar Express and Avatar.

Performance capture is the process of recording actions and emotions of human actors, and using that information to animate digital character models in 2D or 3D computer animation. Though not necessarily a new technology, performance capture is evolving and has recently garnered much attention due to the success of films such as Avatar and A Christmas Carol.

Schultz and the rest of the committee hope to raise awareness about this important area of work and will investigate and give voice to the unique concerns and experiences of those members rendering performances across all media that are recorded using performance capture technology.

Wages and Working Conditions caucuses will be held soon for the upcoming TV/Theatrical Contract negotiations in the fall. We encourage all SAG members who work in performance capture to share their experiences and concerns with the committee.

SAG.ORG UPGRADES
ONLINE EXPERIENCE

Our website has improved once again. More content-packed and user-friendly, the recent upgrades to SAG.org help you get what you need immediately, while keeping pace with the technology that the world uses to communicate.

News and Knowledge Right Away

With a refreshed home page design, the news that matters most to you is positioned front and center. Be up-to-the-minute on SAG National Board decisions that may affect your life as a working actor, learn about changes to your contract, plan to attend upcoming panel discussions and networking opportunities that could help you land work, and receive member alerts that protect your interests by warning against scams or other career pitfalls. We take away the uncertainty that you’ll miss out by making this information the first thing you’ll see.

Volumes of Video, Courtesy of SAG TV

In addition to a featured video at the top of the new SAG.org home page, you’re also one click away from the improvements to the SAG TV section of the site, which includes access to our always growing archive. You can search content by subject matter groupings, based on your interests. Convenient icons even give you a preview of what you’ll see, and a new expanded video viewer allows for high-quality widescreen viewing.

Easy Access to SAG’s Social Networks

SAG knows the importance of social networking to you. As another new convenience, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, RSS and with a new iPhone app. Simply click the icons on the left side of the home page.

Producers’ Center – One-Stop Convenience

Meeting your needs is important, and so is meeting the needs of our employers. After all, improving their online experience makes it easier for them to create work for Guild members! Everything a producer needs to work with SAG is available in one place in our new Producers’ Center. There, anyone who wishes to make any kind of SAG project, for any platform, can find all of the resources needed to do so. Rate sheets, sample contracts, FAQs and more – it’s all conveniently accessed via the home page.

Tell Us What You Think

All of these changes would not be possible without SAG National Executive Director David White’s commitment to enhance the union’s communications capabilities to match or exceed industry standards, the vision of our Guild Website Subcommittee and feedback from our members.

Let us know your thoughts at sagcommunications@sag.org.

Celebrate the Opening of the Nashville Film Festival

Enjoy a Member Mixer and SAG Documentary Screening

In conjunction with the Nashville Film Festival, Nashville Branch members are invited to a free mixer and screening of parts one and two of a documentary about the history of Screen Actors Guild. In addition, you have the opportunity to purchase discounted tickets to the film festival’s opening night party.

When:  Thursday, April 15, 2010
4 p.m. mixer and meal*, 6 p.m. screening*, 9 p.m. NAFF Party**

Where: Mixer and meal at Cheeseburger Charley’s, 3811 Green Hills Village Dr.,  Nashville, TN  37215 (Next to Regal Cinemas);
Documentary screening and NAFF Opening Night Party at Regal Cinema, 3815 Green Hills Village Drive, Nashville TN  37215.

Details of the event:
•    SAG member mixer and meal: FREE food and drink
•    FREE screening: Behind the Masks: The Story of Screen Actors Guild, Parts 1 and 2 and Nashville Film Festival opening night party. See information below.
All SAG members who attend our membership meeting will also receive:
•    Opportunity to purchase discount tickets to Nashville Film Festival opening night
•    Door prize entry for two tickets to the closing night party

* Mixer/Screening RSVP: Only active, paid-up SAG members in good standing will be permitted to attend. Members who are minors may be accompanied by a parent.  You must present your Screen Actors Guild membership card to be admitted to the screening. YOU MUST RSVP FOR THIS EVENT. Contact Eileen Neel at (305) 670-7677, ext. 7079, or (800) SAG-0767, option 5, ext. 7079.

**Cost: NAFF opening party tickets are available at a discount rate of $35  for SAG members. To purchase, contact NAFF and be sure to say you are a Screen Actors Guild member. Click here for contact information.

Film School Presents Conference and Showcase

On Friday, April 16, the Watkins Film School at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film is sponsoring a film industry forum and mixer, 6-9 p.m. in Room 500 (the school’s large theater). Admission is free.

The event is designed to raise the level of awareness among those in the local film industry about the student film program at Watkins and the work that is being produced by the young filmmakers enrolled in the program. It is also intended to serve as a forum wherein local stage and film actors, student filmmakers and local film industry professionals (including talent agents, casting directors, theatrical union representatives, and executives from local studios and production houses) can discuss issues related to producing, auditioning for, casting and working in Watkins’ student-produced films. Screen Actors Guild South Region Director Leslie Krensky will be in attendance.

In addition to panel discussions on topics related to student and independent short film production, the event will also showcase several recent award-winning Watkins’ student-produced films. “Story, dialogue, character, cast, structure, production value and marketability are the seven hallmarks of great filmmaking,” said Sam Dalton, Watkins visiting assistant professor and coordinator of the April 16 event. “All are well-represented in many of the student films produced at Watkins.”

According to Dalton, who is also a professional actor and member of Screen Actors Guild, acting in student-produced films is a good way to “jump start” one’s on- camera acting career. Further, student-produced films provide actors with a bevy of mechanisms whereby they can perfect and showcase their film-acting talent. “Student films often provide a vehicle wherein actors can bring memorable on-screen characters to life, characters whose dialogue and resultant on-screen time are in amounts that are sufficient enough to grab the attention of key industry players in Nashville as well as Southern California,” Dalton added.

For further information on this event, please call (615) 383.4848, e-mail Sam Dalton at sdalton@watkins.edu, or visit the school’s website at watkins.edu.

From the Nashville President

By Mike Montgomery

Have you ever wondered how actors in SAG’s Regional Branches fit into the big picture of our national union? We are essentially nomads. We’re far-flung souls who choose to live in “flyover country” and travel to where work happens. On a daily basis, we deal with Right-To-Work laws, non-union talent, punishing drives on bad roads, fast food and overnight stays in not-so-nice motels, just for the opportunity to audition. Things many of our brothers and sisters in Hollywood and New York can’t fathom are business as usual for actors in the Regional Branch Division.  

So what is the RBD, and what is its value to SAG? Good questions.

The answers come from Chicago Branch President Todd Hissong, in his speech at the SAG National Membership Meeting in October of last year.

“How does one accurately describe the RBD to a room full of Hollywood members? Not as easy as it might sound. First, I asked my RBD colleagues to stand up and be recognized. Not surprisingly, we were somewhat outnumbered by the several hundred members in attendance. I then began by quoting SAG Nevada National Board Representative Art Lynch:

“‘While the RBD elected leadership may seem like a minority in this room, geographically we cover more ground than the New York and Hollywood Divisions combined. From Honolulu to Philadelphia. From Seattle to Miami.’”

Todd continued...

“Twenty Branches. Nearly 27,000 members spread out across the country. The Regional Branch Division works every contract Screen Actors Guild has to offer. Some have compared us to lighthouses, casting the light that guides non-union members to shore. We shine light on a lot of non-union work too, organizing and bringing it into the fold. Some have likened us to sentinels, sounding the warning of approaching storms. Sometimes we’re the first to see what’s coming. Sometimes we’re the first line of defense.

“But we’re called ‘Branches’ for a reason. We stretch our arms out and gather the sunlight that feeds the tree. The Branches would not exist without the tree, and the tree that loses its Branches dies. Now more than ever, we need each other to survive.

“To a person, the elected leadership of the Regional Branch Division pledge to work toward unity–not acquiescence enforced by momentary boardroom majorities that swing back and forth like a pendulum in the wind–but true unity born of consensus, which can only come from Trust and Mutual Respect, so that we might stand side-by-side with our brothers and sisters in the Hollywood and New York Divisions and say without equivocation:

“We are a national union. We are Screen Actors Guild.”

A Retirement Tribute to Betty Clark

By Angela Fox, Nashville Branch Councilor at Large

In the early 1960s a young woman from Detroit got off the train at Union Station in downtown Nashville. A single mother, she took the first job she could find to support herself and her young son, working as a waitress at an all-night hamburger joint. Then something right out of a Hollywood movie happened: the hard-working waitress transformed herself into Betty Clark, successful businesswoman and owner of her own company – TML Agency, Nashville’s oldest locally-owned talent agency franchised by Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Talent agent was a profession Clark never even knew existed back when she was waiting tables. “I wasn’t making enough money as a waitress so I got a $45 a week job as a receptionist for an ad agency on Church Street,” Clark recalled. Clark worked her way up to producer and in 1964 founded Spotland Productions, the first recording studio in town devoted to radio commercials. “All our guys doing the commercials were DJs around town and one of them told me I’d be a good agent,” Clark said. “I didn’t even know what an agent was.” Clark learned quickly when she opened Talent and Model Land (later shortened to TML Agency) in 1972.

Through the years, Clark represented thousands of actors, helping them land roles in regional and national commercials, as well as TV series like In the Heat of the Night and Christy and in films like Nashville and The Last Castle. Among the best-known actors to pass through Clark’s agency are the late Jim Varney and Reese Witherspoon (who Clark represented while Witherspoon was still a child). “I always say I don’t have any stars in my files,” Clark claimed. “But you won’t find a prouder agent in the country because I’ve watched my actors and their careers grow over the years.”

While she’s proud of the talent she represented, she downplayed her own role. “I’m just a glorified bookkeeper,” she said with a laugh. “Actors aren’t very good at putting a price on their own heads but I’m good at doing that for them. In fact, it’s the negotiating part of being an agent that I enjoy most.”

Clark officially closed her franchise in 2009 to enjoy a well-deserved retirement. Here is a sampling of those with memories of working with her.

When I was asked if I wished to submit a story or memory of Betty Clark I must admit many things came to mind. But as I began to mentally edit my material, it became clear that all my remembrances had three words in common, "because she cared."

I often heard her refer to her talent as her “kids” or her “babies” and in the beginning I passed it off as an eccentricity. But as the years went by and I saw her reaction to the tragic loss of a fellow actor in a car accident, or her joy when one of her “kids” had a kid of their own, or the support and good wishes that were offered when you bought your first home, it became obvious that she saw us as extended family.  Betty and her sister Gloria created more than an office. It was a place to visit, hang out and to show off your children. And if an audition or job required you to travel, after you had the directions and phone numbers, the last three words Betty always said were, “Please, be careful.”  Why? Because she cared.


Michael Montgomery, Nashville Branch President

I remember when I moved to Nashville after years as a SAG actress in Los Angeles. I heard Betty Clark was THE agent to work with and so I sent her my headshot and résumé. Knowing the ordeal it can be to get a good agent in L.A., I fully expected to hear nothing back. Instead, Betty called me almost immediately and sent me out on a commercial audition, which I booked. At that point, Betty had never met me or seen any of my work but she respected me because of my union standing and credits. That respect towards the actor is something that never changed over the years. Whenever Betty would call, she'd say "I need you to do an audition." The simple use of the word "need" always made me feel like I was doing something that mattered to her. That's what I remember most -- Betty Clark felt her work and her actors mattered.

Angela Fox, Nashville Branch Councilor at Large

Over the years, Betty and I have had our triumphs and our disagreements, but one thing remains true during our 30-plus year relationship, and that is that Betty always protected her “kids” and tried to do the best job she could for performers. There was no guessing as to Betty’s thoughts or position on any matter, as she was honest and did what she said she would do, even if that meant being blunt or appearing to be abrasive in some situations. She had the unique talent of accessing employers and employment situations and keeping her talent out of trouble.   

I credit Betty’s contributions in those early years and her time as an agent as a major contributor to the establishment and existence of the AFTRA and Screen Actors Guild offices in Nashville.  

Thank you, Betty for being my friend, for representing performers to the best of your ability, for not being afraid to take a stand with any unpopular issue and for helping performers believe in themselves. You helped performers understand their talent is something special and that they deserve fair treatment, protection and scale pay by working under a union contract.


Randy Himes, AFTRA Assistant National Executive Director – Sound Recordings
Executive Director, AFTRA Nashville

From the Executive Director

By Leslie Krensky
Screen Actors Guild Nashville Executive Director

Tennessee has many worthy organizations working for the betterment of the community of filmmakers and performers in the state. One of those organizations is the Association for the Future of Film and Television. I asked AFFT Executive Director Jan Austin to provide us with an update on their activities and goals for 2010, and she graciously agreed to share the following update with the membership:

An Update on the Association for the Future of Film and Television
Jan Austin, Executive Director, AFFT

The Association for the Future of Film and Television faces a tremendous challenge as we push into 2010. More than 600 people across the state have joined us since 2007 and hundreds more are watching us on Facebook. We’re excited about the grassroots response to our efforts and we need support from all crew, cast and vendors as we head into the election process this fall.

The future of Tennessee’s entertainment industry may well lie in the hands of the next governor,  who will be elected this year. The funds that have sustained the Visual Content Act of 2006 will be depleted by the end of this year. There is no assurance of any future funding. This will leave our state film commission with little to no capability of recruiting film and television projects to the state while Georgia and North Carolina continue to offer attractive incentive packages. That is exactly why AFFT leadership has been meeting with the gubernatorial candidates to educate them about the industry and ask for their help if elected. Additionally, all members of the state House of Representatives and numerous members of the Senate are up for election this year.

AFFT has introduced one piece of legislation this year that is being carried by Sen. Tim Burchett (R) and Rep. Harry Tindell (D), both of Knoxville. The bill will amend the state law that formed the state film commission and require qualifications for the executive director as well as a non-political method of selection for the position. As we have worked across the state, people have expressed a desire for continuity in the state film commission. If passed, this legislation will stabilize the commission and should stop the every four-year turnover in the office.

AFFT will also face elections this year. In May, several new board members will be elected and new officers will be chosen. Board members rolling off of the board this year are Dave Porfiri of Chattanooga, Michael Samstag of Knoxville, John Hubbell of Memphis and Scott Hallgren of Nashville, as he becomes president of the board. Their work in guiding AFFT through its first few years has been vital to our success, and we look forward to new members joining us.

Please visit our website at waffttennessee.org to find out how you can help us elect supportive candidates this year and how you can become a member of AFFT. Once a member, find out how you can become a part of your local chapter.

LIGHTS…CAMERA….POLITICAL ACTION!

Do You Know Your Council Members?

The Nashville Branch membership is represented by the following council members:

National Board Member and Branch Vice President Cece DuBois;
Branch President Michael Montgomery;
Branch Secretary/Treasurer Carla Christina Contreras; and
Councilors at Large David Clyde Carr, Evans Donnell, Angela Fox, Bill Foy, Shirley Kassel, and Chris Ladd.

If you are interested in getting in touch with any member of the council, please contact Nashville Executive Director Leslie Krensky at (800) SAG-0767, option 5, ext. 7077, or via e-mail at leslie.krensky@sag.org.