Nevada 2011:11

The Official E-Newsletter of the Nevada Branch
The Official E-Newsletter of the Nevada Branch
November 2011

THE BUSINESS OF ACTING
by Steve Clinton

Signing in on a set can be a hectic affair, whether it’s a large production like Here Comes the Boom — which, after 55 shooting days, went smoothly, even with 150-plus background — or a small commercial set that has less than 20 principal or extra performers and has problems. Unfortunately, during these melees, getting the paperwork right happens to be one of the most important personal tasks of the performer’s workday, because if your documentation is not correct and if you do not have a copy of it, then you may not be paid correctly or on time. Screen Actors Guild will still attempt to rectify any problems, but it becomes much harder to do so, and it is the performers’ responsibility to ensure they have their copies, and that the info on them is correct.

On the commercial mentioned above, the production used an assistant director to wrangle along with all of the other duties that come with that job. They soon learned it was hard, if not impossible, to combine so much responsibility into one job and get it done right. For this commercial, it took two days and a couple of visits by a SAG staffer to get the paperwork right, but the experienced SAG members were not going to leave set until their paperwork was correct. They did it right!

Another problem that has popped up several times is when performers put down the wrong address. This means not getting paid on time, and that requires more time, effort and phone calls to get the payroll company to resend the check. Again, it cannot be emphasized enough — make sure the paperwork is correct and you have a copy. Pursuing and obtaining work is important; getting paid and on time is paramount!

heart

INTERVIEW WITH KAI SHARIFF
By Heart Shapré, Nevada Branch council member

As some of you probably already know, I have written a couple of books on Elvis Presley, the most recent being Why Elvis Left the Building: Revealing Seven Lost Years, The Child — The Man — The Truth. I am in the process of turning the book into a screenplay, and recently I had the opportunity to talk with Kai Shariff, co-CEO of the Television Film Producers & Artists Association and Organizer of the Las Vegas Screenwriters Group. Ms. Shariff is a passionate advocate for screenwriters and their journey to success. The Las Vegas Screenwriters Group was founded in May 2003.

Heart: What is the screenwriters’ perspective of the industry?

Kai Shariff: Screenwriters understand that the industry is an ever-changing trade and it takes commitment, practice and skill. Most people forget the most important thing screenwriters need to master to be successful, which is storytelling. Many people always ask how you get your script sold or TV show picked up. And I always ask, "Do you have a finished script?" because there is no point fretting about selling something you have not even completed yet. And if you finished your script, "Have you invested in hiring a script doctor, script coverage or pushing it through a writers group for feedback?"

I do not recommend the writer write to the market of today only. Write what you know uniquely and with memorable scenes and characters. It would be a good thing if you could begin the new wave of direction with your story. A great and unique and compelling story sells in the present market. Making sure your screenplay is up to par is the key to screenwriting success. After you have done all you can to perfect your script, then and only then should you ask the question, "What do I do now?"

Well, getting an agent is pertinent when trying to get a studio executive, producer or actor to read your script, but if you are savvy enough at selling yourself you may get lucky. So I encourage my screenwriters to go to events and meet people. Hollywood is a tight-knit group and is built solely on relationships.

This industry has many avenues, and there is not one way to get your script read and ultimately purchased. But the most important thing is to have a great story!

Heart: Is this why you organized Las Vegas Screenwriters Group?

Kai: I was motivated by a desire to see the art of the writer exposed to other writers in order to come together and bounce their writing off each other without the judgment of the public. Writing is a lonely craft, and it is important to have a place to speak out our language, ideas, character and stories. It is a place where new writers and seasoned writers learn from one another.

My thanks to Ms. Shariff for taking a few moments to share her thoughts with us.

WELCOME TO THE NEVADA BRANCH

New:
Stephan Bonnar, Annette Houlihan Verdolino, Allen Merritt

Transferred In:
Ali Farshadfar, Jennifer Backus, Tony Tomey, Arnold Snyder, William A Whitton, Big LeRoy Mobley, Tricia Delaney, Robert Kenneth Fisher, Semedo, Marisa Lauren

SAG members in the Halloween parade

The SAG banner flies proudly during the Las Vegas Halloween parade, carried by, from left, SAG members Rick Rockne, Brian Grant and Marty Alvillar.

Arttours Weeden

Halloween, Old Las Vegas Style

By Arttours Weeden
Vice President, Nevada Branch

Halloween was a very good night for the Nevada Branch. Several of your Nevada Branch council members marched and rode proud and strong for our union and Branch through the streets of Old Las Vegas in our city’s Halloween parade. It was my first time in a parade, and at first I was a little uncertain if I would enjoy the event, but I’ve got to tell you I had a blast as our Branch President Barbara Grant was joined by the president of our sister Branch in San Diego, Marty Alvillar, to fly our Screen Actors Guild colors.

It was our Branch’s first time marching in the parade, and it felt so good to get all of the cheers and applause from the onlookers, and even some of our fellow SAG members, as we marched by some of oldest landmark casinos down by the Fremont Experience. I hope our Branch makes this an annual event and I look forward to our making it bigger and stronger in the coming years. I’ve also got to thank Council members Rick Rockne and Bobbie Wolff for putting this together, and a huge thank-you to all of the Branch members who helped and marched. Definitely put this on your calendar for next year.

Nevada SAG Branch float
Float with SAG Nevada Branch members approaching the iconic Fremont Street Experience in Old Las Vegas

SAG members on the float
SAG Nevada Branch members riding on the Hollywood Past float.

barbara grant

A Message from the President

Barbara Grant
President, Nevada Branch

On September 25, we held our annual membership meeting at the hall of our good friends, Teamsters Local 631. Just as we work with Teamsters on the set, we also work with our 631 brothers and sisters on cultural and legislative issues and our Branch is honored and privileged to be allowed to use their hall gratis. Many, many thanks, 631.

This meeting was special for two reasons: one, the seating of incumbent Art Lynch as our National Board member for Nevada, the return of council members-at-large Scott Mirne and Bobbie Wolff, and Chris Rogers, in his first two-year term as council member-at-large; and two, Nevada Film Office Production Coordinator Danette Tull gave a presentation on the film industry in Nevada. I would like to congratulate the four individuals for their success in the recent election, but I also wanted to give major kudos to the other Branch members who expressed interest in serving on the council and served on the nominating and election committees. Without all of these wonderful members who volunteer their time without recompense, we would not have the wonderfully vibrant Branch we have.

As to Danette Tull, it was a special privilege to introduce such an intelligent and knowledgeable guest to our members. I don’t have the space here to again list all of Danette’s accomplishments, but needless to say the state of Nevada is lucky to have such a capable and warm person representing our industry. In her presentation, Danette gave both a glimpse of the past and the peek at the future, and answered some questions from members on a range of issues, including Nevada incentives. Thank you Danette for giving up your Sunday afternoon to join us!

Finally, I also need to thank long-time SAG member and Vietnam veteran Reno Nichols for leading the Branch in the Pledge of Allegiance, Steve Lizotte for working the sign-in table, Brian Grant for doing his duty as sergeant-at-arms and chef Joe for again serving such a fine meal at a third of his regular cost.

If you have any questions, thoughts or concerns about our Branch membership meetings or any other Branch issues, please don’t hesitate to contact me at nevadapresident@sag.org.  

Charlie DiPinto

Parting words from retiring council member Charlie Di Pinto

I have been a custodian of a Nevada Branch council seat since Ted Bear died and I was asked to complete his term. It has been difficult at times and pleasurable at others, but after nine-and-a-half years, I have decided that this is a long enough period of time for any one person to serve. As I step down, I would like to make a couple of points and ask the membership to consider them as coming from someone who has served you to the best of his abilities. I strongly believed we needed to move to a three-year election cycle and am pleased the new ROP will accomplish that. Running elections every year is time-consuming and divisive. Instead of working together, we are busy running for office. It is administratively time-consuming and this time could be better spent trying to get work into Nevada. No one can make a living doing non-union acting work in Nevada, and it is imperative that we get more union acting work instead of arguing amongst ourselves. Unless one is juiced in, Los Angeles or New York is a better bet for the type of success people may want from our industry, but personally I believe we are successful as long as we continue to perform our craft and strive for our artistic dreams.
   
My second point is my warning to the membership. Having a nominating committee, which is part of our election process in Nevada, is undemocratic and can keep incompetence on a board. How is it undemocratic? Being nominated only takes a majority on a committee made up of five to seven members or 15 signatures via petition. Ask any sitting council member why we still have this process and see what they say. As of this writing, I am still a sitting council member and I am telling you it is an easy and undemocratic advantage to allow a few council selected members to nominate by committee. A member can load the committee with personal friends who will vote for them. I've seen it occur and could never get it reversed. I suggest you think about this process and have a discussion amongst yourselves and with your council.

You are, and will remain, in my thoughts and I look forward to seeing you all on set. Be bold, be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.

Charlie Di Pinto