FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Leslie L. Krensky
Every time I’ve attended an event this year where Guild members are in attendance, I am asked about the possible merger of SAG and AFTRA. I was honored to be selected as one of the Regional Branch Division staff to directly participate in the meetings of the AFTRA and SAG Group for One Union (G1).
Because the G1 is in the final stages of developing the detailed plan that will be presented to the SAG and AFTRA boards in a few weeks, I can’t share details with you as we go to press. But I can personally attest that your leadership is working hard to bring this to you for a vote by next spring. As a G1 participant, I’ve been very impressed by the dedication, deliberation, and diligence of the SAG and AFTRA members involved in this process.
A series of workgroups were established by the G1 to discuss the six key areas: (1) Governance and Structure, (2) Finance & Dues, (3) Collective Bargaining, (4) Pension, Health & Retirement, (5) Operations & Staff, and (6) Member Education & Outreach.
Although the information that can be relayed at this point is limited, I encourage members who have questions about the process to visit sag.org/oneunion or aftra.com/OneUnion.htm. If you have concerns that are not covered by the information on these sites, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to have your questions addressed. Stay tuned, as there will be more information to come as we move into the new year.
ARE YOU A LOCAL HIRE?
Editor's Note: This column by Regional Branch Division Executive Director Linda Dowell is reprinted with thanks from the November 2010 issue of The Buzz, the e-newsletter of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Branch.
Occasionally a contract issue will surface, become the hot topic of the day, and quickly become mired with confusion and mixed messages. Let me try to clear up what I may in regard to the issue of local hire.
“Local hire” is one of those terms that is used, and often abused, in our neck of the woods. You, as a performer, want to work, and it can be very tempting to want to negotiate your services in order to secure a job. Your agent, likewise, wants to seal a deal in a competitive environment where many other agents are submitting talent for the same roles. Producers (i.e., your employers) are looking for the best performers for the job, but have budget considerations and are typically eyeing the bottom line with every move they make. The crux that is sometimes created by what I’ve described comes when a producer offers less than SAG minimum terms as they pertain to travel provisions, and whether directly expressed or implied, you or your representative accepts that offer.
Local hire is when you work in the market of your current residence. You are able to drive to the work location in the morning, return home in the evening, and are not in need of accommodations to rest at the end of the day. Conversely, if you are not “local,” you are considered on “overnight location.” By nature of your distance from the location, you are treated with travel provision coverage under the terms of SAG’s negotiated agreements, including but not limited to, airfare or mileage reimbursement, accommodations and per diem to cover any meals not provided on set. Your workday begins when you depart from the hotel and ends when you return to the hotel. This workday structure is what we refer to as “portal to portal.”
If you are working on an overnight location, there are only two exceptions that would allow for these terms to be reduced or waived. First, if a producer working on location in our region brings in overnight performers within a 500-mile radius, he or she may opt to take advantage of our 500-mile travel waiver. This waiver allows for waived travel pay (your compensation for travel time) for the incoming and outgoing travel days for daily performers working on television or theatrical projects. For example, if a production company from Los Angeles films in Dallas and hires a performer from Houston (or anywhere within 500 miles), the salary for the day of travel when no other work is performed that day may be waived. Aside from this, all other provisions of the contract (transportation, accommodations, portal-to-portal workday, per diem, etc.) are applicable, and you must be treated as an overnight location performer.
The second circumstance involves a producer working at the producer’s base of operations. Our TV/Theatrical Contract provides that when a producer is working at his or her home studio or base of operations and brings you to that home base, the producer is obligated to pay a $75 travel allowance up until the commencement of employment and must pay for your transportation (airfare or mileage reimbursement). All other terms such as accommodations and per diem must be negotiated.
For example, a producer’s base of operations is in Austin and he or she regularly produces in Austin. When a producer hires a performer from Dallas to work in Austin, the performer would receive $75 plus mileage (currently reimbursed at 30 cents). Any other provisions related to travel would have to be negotiated by the performer or the performer’s representative.
Waiving any of the travel provisions weakens the contract terms members fight so hard to gain in negotiations. Falsely claiming local hire and traveling at the end of a long workday is unsafe and could put you at risk. It is your responsibility to report misuse of the terms of the contracts in order to keep strong contracts for your future. Your SAG staff is available to answer any questions pertaining to the travel provisions or, if issues arise, do not hesitate to call the South Region Office at (305) 670-7677 or (800) 724-0767, option 5.
DALES SCHOLARSHIP APPS AVAILABLE
The Screen Actors Guild Foundation is once again happy to announce availability of applications for the John L. Dales Scholarship.
Just one of the nonprofit foundation’s many free programs offered to assist, educate and inspire Guild members in their careers, lives and communities, the John L. Dales Scholarship Fund has helped qualified Guild members and their children reach their educational potential by providing more than $6 million in scholarships for study at accredited institutions of higher learning.
Two types of scholarships are available. Standard scholarships benefit eligible members and children of eligible members for college education. Transitional scholarships are designed to assist SAG members seeking further education to change careers.
Dales Scholarships are awarded specifically toward education at accredited and licensed universities, colleges, junior colleges, adult specialty schools or trade/vocational schools. Printable applications, as well as further details including eligibility guidelines, are currently available by clicking here. Submissions must be postmarked no later than March 15, 2012, to qualify.
UNION PLUS SCHOLARSHIP
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 has been awarded to students of more than 2,100 working families. Start your application today! Deadline is January 31, 2012. Apply here.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes and is not intended to imply endorsement by the Guild of any organization or of the information, material, products or services provided.
The Guild makes no warranties or representations regarding the use of the material or the quality of the services or service providers.
CREATIVE AMERICA RELEASES DOCUMENTARY
Learn more about content theft through the new short documentary, Content Theft: The Big Picture. National experts show how it happens and who makes money off it. Hear colleagues and peers tell you how it hurts, and then share this important video with others. Watch the documentary here and on the website. And make your voice heard in support of the legislation by sending a letter to your representative here. Thank you!
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS AND TRANSFERS
Jason Benjamin, Brandon Claybon, Syndie Dawson
Ashley Allyson, Steven Brooks, Jennifer L. Bua, Wayne Keith Caparas, Brad De Vore, Brantley M. Dunaway, Cleve Gray, Bailey Hanks, Amber Herzer, Robert Boyd Holbrook (KY), Matthew Kelsey, Gregg Lee, Brett Looney, David Lee McLain, Cassandra Messmer, Aaron Munoz, Ashley Niles, Ryan Nakamura, Eve Overland, Katie Phelps, Lauren Reynolds, J.J. Rodgers, Lindsey Shope, Andrew D. Singer, Tiffany, Jack Wann (KY)
Brothers and sisters, as we enter the new year, I want to give you an update of things happening in our Division, and on your behalf.
Mike Montgomery and I attended the Regional Branch Division meeting on October 21, 2011. At that meeting, I was re-elected to the National Executive Committee. This is a small committee made up of national directors to address time-sensitive and emergent issues when the National Board is not meeting. That means I will continue to be one of four members who represent the Division on that committee. As always, if you have any needs, questions or concerns that I might assist with, please feel free to contact me through Nashville Executive Director Leslie Krensky at email@example.com.
Also, the G1 Committee — the Group for One Union, to be precise — which is made up of members from the SAG Merger Task Force and the AFTRA New Union Committee, continues to slog through the heavy lifting required to bring together all the pieces on the merger issue. In the RBD meeting, we had a very beneficial and freewheeling discussion of that entire process, and the issues inherent in this type of effort. It was an important discussion, and left many of us even more hopeful and optimistic regarding where we’re headed.
I have been assigned to a workgroup as part of the G1 that deals with research and member interests. The names of all members who are working on the specifics of this issue — and there are many, many pieces to it — were listed in both the SAG and AFTRA magazines, and on each of their websites. I think it’s a great idea, and lends added transparency to the process, as we move closer to the goal: a proposal that can be voted on by you, the members.
Regarding the entire G1 effort, I cannot go without mentioning the incredible amount of work — time, travel, brain power, energy — on the part of both members and staff. It is a Herculean load, and we all need to be aware of the sacrifices made by these dedicated individuals who are doing this on our behalf. Members are doing this — often for days or weeks at a time — without pay. Staff is doing this in addition to their actual jobs of contract administration and negotiation. The very thought of that is mind-boggling to me.
So I leave you by requesting that you review the list of G1 names in your union mags and, when the opportunity arises, express your appreciation to the members and staff. They are shaping the documents that will define the future of our “ONE union.”
Hope your holidays were happy ones!
In warmth and solidarity,
SAG Nashville National Director
Screen Actors Guild Nashville Branch Secretary Carla Christina Contreras will be the newest instructor at the Nashville Film Institute (NFI) in Franklin, Tenn. Contreras will be teaching several directing, acting and casting classes. The CEO of NFI, Prema Thiagarajah, is keen on her students being trained with complete professionalism from the start. This includes the use of professional actors in their student projects, as well as training them on signing the SAG Student Film Agreement up front.
The NFI process is nine months, and students must have completed five projects upon graduation. Hence, casting of actors is an ongoing process in which NFI is excited to partner with the SAG Nashville Branch.
“In this day and age of YouTube, the next greatest talent could be discovered right here in middle Tennessee, and I’d love for it to be one of our members!” said Contreras. “It has always been my goal to teach the student filmmaker in Nashville that using trained Guild actors is key in any filmmaker's success.”
If you are interested in participating in casting opportunities with the NFI, please do one or all of the following:
Facebook: “Like” NFI Casting Office and share your iActor link on the NFI wall.
Mail headshot to Nashville Film Institute, The Factory at Franklin, 230 Franklin Road, Building 2, 2nd Floor, Franklin, TN 37064
Facebook: “Like” the Tennessee Union Performers Group. Nashville Branch members will have top priority during casting sessions at NFI.
By David Fazekas
South Region Executive
Founded in Curt Hahn's spare bedroom in Nashville in 1976, Film House has grown to become the largest film production company in Tennessee and the largest producer of films for the U.S. government. Since the 1970s, when Film House won its first contract with American Forces Radio & Television Service (AFRTS), Film House has created more spot announcements and longer films for government agencies than any other production company.
In 1998, Film House won the largest contract awarded by the U.S. government for film production. After an exhaustive six-month bidding and vetting process competing against the top film production companies in the country, Film House was selected to create and produce hundreds of TV and radio spot announcements annually for airing on AFRTS. Film House has been re–awarded the AFRTS contract each year since.
“The spots we produce for AFRTS are used by the Department of Defense to communicate command information to anywhere from 400,000 to 700,000 service members stationed in over 170 countries around the world,” said Ron Routson, president, COO and general counsel of Film House.
“Some are designed to inspire, such as the amazing stories of each Medal of Honor recipient; some to educate, such as how does a service member vote from overseas; some to motivate, such as smoking cessation. Film House is responsible for every aspect of production, from developing multiple creative approaches for each objective to researching, scripting, producing and editing the final product,” said Routson.
Film House has some fairly strict guidelines in their contract with the Department of Defense when it comes to casting their military spots. Not just the types of actors, but also how the casting is presented to the client. Holly Allen, Film House’s in-house casting director since October of 1999, said “Obviously because many of the performers are portraying military personnel, I’m always on the lookout for more male actors, all races, between the ages of 18-35 that are physically fit and willing to get a haircut. And that category isn’t always easy to find when you’ve been doing it for 12 years and one of the rules of the contract is that we can only use an actor once in five years.”
“There are also plenty of roles for women (both military and civilian), children, seniors and character types,” said Allen. “Sometimes we do comedic spots that are spoofs on recognizable real-life characters or shows — we’ve done a funny Ozzy Osbourne spot on the topic of personal records and a Monty Python spoof on the topic of voting.”
Allen added, “It’s been so great that AFTRA, Screen Actors Guild, the government and Film House have a contract in place to be able to use professional union talent. It makes my job a lot easier because there are set minimum rates and we follow the AFTRA and SAG commercial contract books as our guideline. We’ve been able to use some incredible talent on these that I wouldn’t have had access to if these spots were non-union.”
Nashville Branch Councilor Angela Fox appeared as a waitress in a current AFRTS spot that emphasizes the impact members of the military can have on local businesses — and on the practice of human trafficking.
“Shooting the commercial was a thoroughly enjoyable and professional experience from start to finish,” said Fox. “We shot on location at a home-cooking-type restaurant that’s been a fixture in Nashville for decades. Everything from the locale to the wardrobe and makeup to Joe Gutt’s direction made it so easy to get in character. And since I’ve wanted to play a sassy waitress in a diner on camera for years now, this really was a bucket list experience for me!”
Casting for the next round of AFRTS spots will pick back up in late January. AFTRA and SAG members interested in working on AFRTS spots and who haven’t worked on one of these military spots in the past five years can mail a hardcopy of their head shot and résumé to Holly Allen (see item below for more details).
Film House also produces hundreds of TV commercials and long-form projects annually from its 40,000 square-foot studio, editing and office facility. Transcendent, a wholly owned subsidiary, produces independent features and partners with The Panda Fund to release them theatrically.
Transcendent's first film, No Regrets, starring Janine Turner and Kate Jackson, has been a worldwide success, with repeated airings on HBO in Europe, Lifetime Television domestically, Hallmark in the U.K. and in dozens of other countries around the world.
Next, Transcendent co-produced Two Weeks, starring two-time Academy Award winner Sally Field, Ben Chaplin and Tom Cavanagh, with writer-director Steve Stockman. Two Weeks was released theatrically and on DVD by MGM. Transcendent's latest film Deadline, stars Steve Talley and Academy Award nominee Eric Roberts as reporters investigating the murder of an African-American youth in rural Alabama that has gone uninvestigated, unsolved and unpunished for almost 20 years.
“All of our feature films have been SAG and we wouldn’t even consider trying to do a feature that wasn’t under a SAG agreement,” said Curt Hahn, CEO of Film House. “Our intention is to produce our next project, Jubilee, based on the remarkable true story of Ella Sheppard and the original Fisk Jubilee Singers, under a SAG agreement as well.” When asked what his experience with SAG members has been, Hahn replied, “Phenomenal. SAG members are the best. SAG members are professional. That’s what SAG represents.”
Deadline is scheduled to have its world premiere in Nashville on February 15. The Nashville world premiere will also begin a very unique premiere bus tour that will hit 42 cities in 45 days and run through April. To view the trailer and learn more about the premiere bus tour, visit deadlinefilm.com.
CALL FOR HEADSHOTS AND RÉSUMÉS FOR THE AFRTS SPOTS
Casting for the next round of Film House spots for the American Forces Radio & Television Service (AFRTS) will resume in late January. AFTRA and SAG members interested in working on these and future AFRTS spots, and who haven’t worked on any military spots in the past five years, can mail a hard copy of their headshot and résumé to:
Ms. Holly Allen
Film House, Inc.
810 Dominican Drive
Nashville, TN 37228
Please make sure your agency representative is on your résumé, only send ONE photo with the résumé attached to the back and place a Post-it note or something that says you are an AFTRA or SAG member.
“No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight of the soul.”
This Ingrid Bergman quote captures the spirit of the women who are members of Women in Film & Television Nashville (WIFT-N). The organization has been in existence for five years and is comprised of women and men (yes, they welcome men as members) in all areas of film and television.
“We are a diverse group of people within the film and television community and we represent all facets of the industry. There are independent contractors from every department on set, from producers from production companies and ad agencies to students. We champion each other as our careers grow in the entertainment industry,” states Board member Allison Hughes Stroud.
What started as a monthly meeting for women who work in the film and television industry grew into joining the national organization Women and Film & Television International. “Our first meetings were small, as we met in classrooms and production offices while we were brainstorming how to grow the group. Although we are still growing our membership base, we have definitely increased our presence within the Nashville film and television production community. In 2011, we met every month at our WIFT-N mixers.
By meeting at different venues around town, we were able to reach more women and men in our community.
Since a majority of our members are freelance, attendance varies as projects are shooting. There is wonderful diversity within our organization,” continues Stroud.
“For 2012, WIFT-N will continue the mixers while concentrating more on what our members have asked for — information that will help them grow professionally. We want to provide more educational workshops and mentorship opportunities for our members and students,” says WIFT President Tracy Facelli. A two-part lecture series is planned for January and February about taxes and financial planning for the freelancer. A hands-on audio workshop is also in the planning stages. The audio workshop will cover how to best record sound in the field and transfer to post and ADR (additional dialogue recording).
In addition to these planned lectures and workshops, WIFT-N will continue its several-year partnership with the Nashville Film Festival (NAFF) by producing the Kids on Camera (KOC) workshop. KOC is an intensive acting program for kids between the ages of 8-16. The young actors participate in a three-day acting program that includes monologues, auditions, acting for commercials, headshots, stunts, and hair and makeup. In addition, they participate as actors in a short film that is shot over the weekend. Because of WIFT’s partnership with the film festival, NAFF has a red carpet event celebrating the talents of the kids during the festival. All of the participants are invited to attend a reception, pose on the red carpet and enjoy the premiere of their short film.
The 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® will be here soon, and SAG members will choose the honorees. Members whose dues were paid by December 16 will be eligible to register at SagAwardsRSVP.org for Screen Actors Guild Awards updates and screening invitations. Final ballot information was mailed on December 30. Vote online (or request a paper ballot by January 16) and help decide who gets The Actor®. Click here to view the list of nominees.
The SAG Awards will be simulcast on TNT and TBS on January 29, 2012, and will air live on both coasts simultaneously at 5 p.m. Pacific/7 p.m. Central/8 p.m. Eastern. Follow SAG Awards on Facebook and on Twitter.
Bob Coffey – September
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