By Sam Dalton
Assistant Professor, Watkins College of Art, Design & Film
General casting is now open to Nashville and surrounding area Screen Actors Guild talent for Watkins College of Art, Design & Film‘s fall semester film school student projects. This is a general call for submissions for all projects. First call auditions of talent for individual projects will be determined from both the general submissions as well as from ongoing individual project character breakdown submissions from individual talent as well as talent agency representatives. Student films provide an excellent opportunity for SAG talent to further hone their skill at on-camera acting. They also provide a means by which SAG talent can showcase their on-camera expertise, especially on demo reels. There is no pay. However, in advancing one’s career beyond the professional credit level of “day player,” especially in Hollywood, it is advantageous to have a demo reel that contains clips (even from well-produced student films) that reflect indelible characters, strong dialogue and lengthy camera time.
SAG talent may submit headshots and resumes either for consideration to the attention of Sam Dalton at firstname.lastname@example.org or Watkins College of Art, Design & Film, 2298 Rosa L. Parks Blvd, Nashville, TN 37228.
ALWAYS CHECK STATUS
OF STUDENT AND SHORTS
By David A. Fazekas
South Region Executive
All members know the benefits of working on student and short films. Keeping your skills honed, playing the lead instead of a supporting role, building your résumé, not to mention the possible exposure for you and the connections you might make, right?
But do all members know that it is their responsibility to confirm the signatory status of all productions, including student and short films, prior to rendering services? Some members may think that SAG doesn’t have jurisdiction if they are working on a student or short film or where there is no pay, but that is incorrect. SAG has a Student Film Agreement and Short Film Agreement, which are just two of SAG’s five Low Budget Film Agreements.
The Student Film Agreement has a budget ceiling of $35,000, maximum running time of 35 minutes and the salary is deferred. The Short Film Agreement has a budget ceiling of $50,000, maximum running time of 35 minutes and the salary is also deferred. In case you didn’t already know, deferred salary in layman’s terms means zero pay for the day(s) of work, although you still have every right to negotiate a mutually agreed upon salary with the producer. The great thing about both of these agreements is that the signatory paperwork is very minimal. (I’m not kidding!)
So if you are asked to do a student or short film, please immediately contact the local SAG office to confirm the signatory status of the production. If the production is not already signatory, then rest assured that we will make every effort to sign the production to the applicable agreement. In most cases, the signatory process for student and short films can be completed in a very short period of time.
It’s important to note that rendering services on a student or short film that isn’t signed to the applicable agreement is a violation of the Guild’s Rule One. Making sure that the production is signed to the applicable contract also protects your interests in the event that the production has exhibition beyond the parameters of the agreement.
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS
New Members: William Archer, Andrew Bird
Transfers-In: Rand Bridges, Brandon Goins, Giulia Pagano, Mark Staton
The Guild has been contacted by the following productions (log in as a member to view) about becoming signatory to one of the Screen Actors Guild collective bargaining agreements. Please be advised that these producers may not have completed the signatory process at this time. It is the responsibility of each member to confirm that each producer has signed the applicable contract before making an agreement to render services. Failure to confirm the signatory status before rendering services may lead to disciplinary charges being filed. If you have any questions, please contact the office at (800) SAG-0767, option 5 ext 7088.
Because access to our updates is restricted to SAG members in good standing only, we ask your continued cooperation in maintaining the confidentiality of its contents. Therefore, please refrain from sharing this update or forwarding e-mailed updates to anyone.
This production update is provided as a service to Screen Actors Guild members to assist you in following up on work opportunities with your talent agent. Most producers will not accept direct submissions and will only consider performers submitted by talent agents. Since they do not accept direct submissions, many producers will not grant permission to include casting information or production office address data on these communications. If the information does not appear on this update, it was not made available to the Guild for publication.
From the Nashville Branch President
By Michael Montgomery
I hope you managed to cope with the heat and have a safe and productive summer. Now September is upon us and ushering in cooler temps, the football season and, hopefully, the beginning of a new round of production work for our region. As far as I know, Army Wives is returning to South Carolina. Drop Dead Diva, Vampire Diaries and AMC's Walking Dead, along with a new Screen Gems studio, are on pace for Atlanta. And an FX pilot called Outlaw Country is currently in production in Nashville. Let's all hope Outlaw Country will be successful, find a place on the FX schedule, put down roots and finally give us the series we crave.
But it seems we go down this road every year. There are rumors of a home-grown production, or a pilot comes here to shoot, and we hear from producers how great our crew and talent base are, only to see the actual series end up in a neighboring state. And we all know why. Tennessee's production incentives simply can't compete. I consider us lucky that we are surrounded by states that can: Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia (new) and Kentucky, home to many of our Branch members. Our current administration is lukewarm at best in its commitment to support our tax incentives. Our current commissioner, Perry Gibson, and her staff work hard, but it’s tough to bring down the big game when your gun has no bullets and your boss doesn't really believe film and television is a valid economic development issue. But now we Tennesseans have a chance to help ourselves. The Association for the Future of Film & Television in Tennessee is the first statewide trade association for those who work in film or television. Their goal is to advocate for laws at the state and local level that will benefit our industry. In my memory, no one has ever organized industry professionals to this degree. AFFT has formed a political action committee whose sole purpose is to identify lawmakers and candidates who understand the benefit of the film and television industry as an engine for economic development in Tennessee and help them through donations and with information they can use to help our cause. Look them up at affttennessee.org or on Facebook. Please do what you can to help in any way.
Here's hoping we'll all be sleeping with the windows open soon.
SNAPSHOT: Shirley Kassel – Retiring Council Member
By Angela Fox
Nashville Branch Councilor at Large
Editor's Note: After many years of service, Nashville Branch Councilor Shirley Kassel chose not to seek re-election. Here is a profile about Kassel and her career, written by her fellow councilor.
Shirley Kassel, longtime SAG actor and activist, is originally from Cape Girardeau, Mo. But like so many SAG members, Kassel has lived and worked in other markets around the country, including Los Angeles. “I've lived in Nashville longer than anywhere else, so it really feels like this is home,” she said.
Kassel was working in broadcast production at a St. Louis advertising agency when she was sent to Los Angeles on a shoot. There she met her future husband and was soon married and living in Los Angeles. Kassel also began her training and SAG career there. “I told my husband I'd always wanted to try acting, so he found me a great teacher and I began my studies, which I did for 14 years ongoing.”
Back then, Kassel’s week was filled with acting and improv classes, voice-over and audition workshops, plus dance and singing classes. She also attended a summer Shakespeare workshop in London at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. “It was a lot of work, but I loved it,“ Kassel recalled. “I think taking classes keeps one sharp.”
In 1981, Kassel joined SAG. “It was Taft-Hartley that enabled me to work on a union project and then join SAG. Oh, my...almost 30 years ago!” she recalls. Kassel went on to work extensively in television. Among her credits are Roseanne, General Hospital, Divorce Court and Superior Court. She’s also done her share of SAG background work on such shows as Matlock, Murder She Wrote, China Beach and Home Improvement. “I feel that background work is good training and teaches one all about the set,” Kassel said.
Kassel has also appeared in numerous commercials and industrial films. “Some might remember the Tennessee Lottery spot I was in about three years ago,” she said. “It was the one where the young man (SAG member David Alford) gives a couple an RV after winning the lottery. It was great fun!” Kassel has also appeared on stage in such plays as Hay Fever, Life with Father and A Christmas Carol. “I’ve also worked on several 48-hour film projects,” the tireless trouper added.
Over the years, Kassel has been a strong advocate for SAG. For her, it’s a no-brainer that the professional actor must belong to SAG and work only on union projects. “We get fair rates, residuals, and pension and health insurance for those who qualify,“ Kassel said. “We also know we have the back-up of the union, should anything come up on the set where we need help.”
A three-term Nashville Branch Council member and a former member of the national Seniors Committee, Kassel encourages all members to get involved with their union and looks forward to staying involved herself for years to come. “It has indeed been an honor to serve this Branch,” Kassel said. “I stand ready to be of service in the future, if I'm needed.”
Everyone in the Nashville Branch knows the honor is all ours and that there will always be a need for talented, enthusiastic SAG members like Shirley Kassel.
A Reminder about Rule 16
By David A. Fazekas
South Region Executive
It has recently come to SAG’s attention that some Nashville Branch members may have been, or are currently being, represented by non-franchised talent agents in the Nashville market. Please be advised that this is a violation of Rule 16 of the Rules and Regulations.
Rule 16 states, in relevant part: “..Guild members shall deal only with agents who are franchised by the Guild and regulate in detail the form of agency contracts and the rights and duties of performers and agents thereunder…” (Emphasis added.)
This rule was established not to inconvenience the member, but for his/her protection. For example, if you are represented by a non-franchised talent agency and you discover that said agency has received your monies but isn’t paying you in a timely manner, taking out more that 10 percent commission or, worse yet, isn’t paying you at all, there is little that SAG can do to intervene on your behalf because the talent agency isn’t franchised. However, if any of the above scenarios were to occur with a SAG-franchised talent agency, then SAG could intervene to resolve the matter because the franchised talent agency is bound by agency regulations.
It basically boils down to a contractual relationship. SAG has a contractual relationship with a franchised talent agency but not with a non-franchised talent agency. Without a contractual relationship, SAG is legally unable to intervene in disputes between its members and a non-franchised talent agency. Moreover, SAG wants to ensure all Nashville members protect their union status by abiding by all of its key rules and regulations.
Except under very limited circumstances, SAG members are prohibited from dealing with any agencies that are not franchised by the Guild. By associating with any non-franchised talent agency, you may be subjecting yourself to disciplinary charges.
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 vote in Guild elections or contract referenda or be eligible to serve on the council or committees. You also must 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 Membership Coordinator Eileen Neel at 1 (800) SAG-0767, option 5, extension 7079.