Nevada 2012:02

The Official E-Newsletter of the Nevada Branch
The Official E-Newsletter of the Nevada Branch
February 2012

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REMARKS

by Steve Clinton

In January, the Nevada Branch was blessed to have a big-budget film titled Burt Wonderstone in town for six days. Most of those days we maxed out on the 57 background jobs we were due under our national contract. I made it down to set a couple of those days and, as always, it was the highlight of my month to see smiling, happy faces getting good pay for doing what they love.

That being said, there were a few problems that I was able to fix or, if they couldn’t be resolved, ended in claims. There were also a few instances of background performers not acting in a professional manner — the set is a workplace and employers have rights under our contract the same way we do.

One of the problems came on Friday down at the Fremont Experience when I was not present. A member called me over that weekend to report how cold they were, and that a Las Vegas P.A. was telling the member they could not use the casino heaters during cuts. This is a big infraction of the SAG CBA — working conditions are specified, and I was amazed a local P.A. would disrespect the professionalism of the SAG Branch member to know when to be back in place. This is a perfect example of when a member should call me to rectify the problem. Do not wait to wrap — call me or have someone else call me immediately. In this instance, an IATSE wardrobe person took care of the problem with insert warmers and by overriding the local P.A., but I cannot fix a problem like this after wrap. If I cannot fix the problem with a phone call to production, you may be sure I will be on set within the hour.

As to our professionalism, SAG Branch members organize based on experience and professionalism, and should know how to conduct themselves on set. If they don’t then that is why we have a SAG conservatory here in Las Vegas — when in doubt ask one of the more experienced SAG members or contact me.

Another problem that occurs at times is when production requires SAG members to bring wardrobe to set, and that wardrobe is damaged while working. Contractually, there is relief for this dilemma, but the member must bring the damage to the attention of the production on the day of the shoot prior to wrap. The production is supposed to have a damage claim form on set, but regardless, you should write up a full report of the incident before wrapping for the day. Usually the problem will be resolved the day of, but if production does not cooperate then the member should contact me to start a claim.

Regardless of the problem or claim, it is completely and totally imperative that you document your assertions. Whether it is a pay stub, voucher, contract, deal memo, etc., you will need any and all documentation possible to prevail with your claim. Save your emails or other forms of instruction regarding your call times, locations, and wardrobe and props from production, casting directors, etc.

Lastly, I had the opportunity and honor to be in Los Angeles during the January plenary and to witness firsthand the results of the G1 discussions for the creation of a new union. Beyond how the membership will respond to the merger (documents are now online at the SAG-AFTRA website), I have to comment on the diligence, intelligence and integrity demonstrated by the overwhelming number of your National Board. Like your council here in Nevada, these are people who volunteer their time on behalf of their brothers and sisters in SAG, and their articulate exposition and level of research was mindboggling. Kudos to these hard-working and amazing trade unionists.

Chris Rogers

COMPUTER GEEK'S CORNER

by Chris Rogers
Council Member-at-Large

Welcome back to this issue’s Computer Geek’s Corner. In previous columns, we have learned how to get your headshot and resume into the computer. This time, we will discuss how to get your FREE iActor profile up and going.

There are many advantages to using the free iActor service. Among them are: it is free, your picture/resume is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to any casting director of any SAG-signatory project, and you don’t have to build your own website.

To get started, you will need your username and password for the SAG site. If you haven’t done so yet, you can create an account by clicking here.  

On the right-hand side of the page is where you enter basic info about yourself. If you ever get confused or need to ask a question, you can click on the button in the middle of the page that says “Click Here to Chat Live” or call 1-800-724-0767 during normal business hours (Pacific Time).

SAG will email you back your username and password. WRITE THIS DOWN somewhere and keep it some place you can find it. Enter your username and password on the registration page. You can also get to the member login page by clicking on the link in the top right section of the SAG homepage. After logging in, double check to ensure all the member info is correct before going further.

Across the top of the page, second from left, is Member Services. Place your cursor over Member Services and a menu should drop down. Select iActor.

iActor allows you to publish several different types of resumes (principal, voiceover, stunt, etc.). The process is basically the same for all.

Each section will have an Edit button, allowing you to manipulate your iActor presence an unlimited amount of times. The only exception to this is when you want to change your Agency info — that must be done by the SAG Membership/Agency Department.

Since we already have a folder of headshots on your hard drive, you should be able to upload them one at a time. What iActor calls your “primary” headshot is the photo that it starts with as your main photo. You can have other headshots on your iActor presence, but only one primary headshot.

At the bottom of the Headshot section is the Edit button. After clicking this, you can click-and-drag the order of the photos to be listed.

Since you already spent time polishing your resume, pull that out and type it into the Professional Experience/Credits section.

Once you have fleshed out your iActor presence, email it to yourself, so you can see what that looks like and if any changes need to be made.

When I submit myself to a casting director, I always include my iActor link underneath my name and phone number in the body of the email.

Remember SAG is there to help. Just call 1-800-724-0767 during normal business hours (Pacific Time).

So, that’s it for today’s column. iActor is an amazing free service you can use to get work. You can update your credits as often as you like, 24/7/365.

P.S.: If you are computer-savvy, we always need members to help other SAG Nevada Branch brothers and sisters that are not technically inclined. If you’d like to help, contact Nevada Branch President Barbara Grant or Branch Executive Director Steve Clinton to volunteer.

SAGAFTRA logo

Come to the SAG-AFTRA Informational Meeting February 26 in Las Vegas

When: 1 p.m.
Location: Teamsters Local 631 Union Hall, 700 N. Lamb Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89110

This is a SAG and AFTRA informational meeting to discuss the terms of the proposed SAG-AFTRA new union. The meeting features SAG Hollywood National Board and G1 Member Assaf Cohen and AFTRA National Treasurer and G1 Member Matt Kimbrough.

The meeting is only open to paid-up SAG and AFTRA members in good standing. Unfortunately, no guests allowed. Parents/guardians of younger performers under 18 years old are welcome. SAG AND AFTRA MEMBERS, PLEASE BRING YOUR MEMBERSHIP CARD (paid thru April 30, 2012) FOR ADMITTANCE. If you need ADA accommodations, please let us know by contacting us at diversity@sag.org or (323) 549-6644.

barbara grant

President’s Report

by Barbara Grant

I am going to write this report on the possible merger of Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which is the most important issue before us this year. I was in the Cagney Room in Hollywood as our national president presided over the distribution of information to the SAG National Board members. I listened carefully to all of the questions and concerns raised by these involved women and men, and I took pride in the fact that our National Board member, Art Lynch, voted with the more than 87 percent of the board to recommend ratification to SAG membership.

What I am now going to do is give you my opinion. I am going to vote yes on the merger and I hope the rest of the Nevada Branch members do the same. We are in a very similar situation as the great actors of the past were at the founding of our unions during the Great Depression. As then, we are finding ourselves more and more at the mercy of corporate overseers. Entertainment corporate profits are on the rise, even as they try to shoot more and more production at the non-union rate or pit us against one another.

I just read in the Hollywood Reporter that for the third year in a row the vast majority of television pilots will be under AFTRA contracts. For this reason alone, I will vote for the merger in the hope that P&H will be able to merge and we are better able to obtain the minimums required to vest in our pensions and get health care. But this is not the best reason to join together. The best reason is the collective voice of collective bargaining. The AMPTP is not made up of a bunch of dummies. They can clearly see the value to their corporations of keeping us divided and pitting us against one another. This must stop, and we performers must have a single voice in negotiating our contracts so we never have to undergo what we did a few years ago. If not, then I truly fear that we will grow weaker as the producers get stronger, and we once again will be totally at their mercy — and by the way, they don’t have any mercy.

This is our moment in the sun to lead our unions into the future as our founders in SAG and AFTRA did in the 1930s. We cannot know every detail of our new constitution any more than we can know every little detail under our current constitution, but I do know that the boards of both unions are honest and conscientious people who have hired the best staff possible to get the best possible contracts, and making decent dollars for our work is the most important issue anyway. The national boards have put safeguards into the merger to protect us now and in the future, and I offer my deep and abiding thanks for all of the work that went into the merger agreement.

I strongly and unequivocally urge every Nevada Branch member to vote yes for ratification and a stronger union.

Art Lynch 

National Board Member’s Report

Hats off to the committee behind the SAG Awards party, Halloween parade float and other events that help us show our solidarity as union brothers and sisters. Hats off to those who show up at auditions or jobs early and are professional, doing our union proud. Hats off to those who help our fellow union brothers and sisters, and reach out and help others in the community. Hats off to those who include union issues, the expansion of our contracts and potential to work, as they weigh the stands of political candidates in our very anti-union national political environment. Hats off to those who serve, as officers on the council or on committees, as well as those who attend meetings and help to make the Screen Actors Guild a union unlike any other. I am proud to be your union brother and your representative on the National Board of Directors.

"Start spreading the news..."

It is time to merge, for the good of all talent. The industry has changed. Unions are under attack. There is strength in solidarity.

SAG and AFTRA's boards in separate meetings voted to send the merger plan for a new union, SAG-AFTRA, to the memberships of each union. Ballots will be mailed February 27, and will be due back by 10 a.m. March 30. Copies of the merger documents are available online. If you are a member, please vote "yes" for merger. If you are a member of both unions, vote “yes” in each union referendum. It may not be perfect, and there is cost involved, but far less than what will happen if merger does not occur.

Potential losses if we do not merge:

Dues will assuredly go up to keep the union financially in the black. It will cost to maintain two unions instead of one, and as we all know, costs are going up. We will be competing against AFTRA on an increasing number of contracts. If we want to work as often as we can, we will need to join both unions. With two unions, our chances of becoming vested and earning enough to qualify for insurance in any given year decreases. The industry is moving into areas producers wish to keep non-union or to minimize the ability of unions to negotiate decent money and a basic living for members.

Large, well-financed lobbying groups and larger employers will spend millions to keep any future work from going union. Do not underestimate their power or resolve. It will take time and money to keep the ground we now hold and to improve future opportunities, wages and working conditions.

Potential losses if we merge:

It will be the end of “a union for and by actors” as conceived by our founders in 1933, a time when the studio system was all-powerful, and the nation was in a Great Depression. But the new SAG-AFTRA will build on the proud history of both unions, continuing the tradition of representing talent in all entertainment and information media.

It's a new union, so there are no guarantees on staffing, local responsibility and control, or our future position as a Local of the new union. At the merger, however, Las Vegas (or Nevada) will remain a Local with "boots on the ground." Initially, almost nothing will change. If we lose membership, we could lose political voice and services, but if we remain the same or grow there remains a bright future of Nevada. The incentive is there to grow the union here in Nevada.

If you are only a member of SAG, dues will go up by about $50 a year. I know that times are tight, but to make up for the cost of securing work and protecting us all on the set, an increase in dues is inevitable. The percentage of earnings structure on income also changes.

Affected contract voting will be a part of the new union, as is the case under SAG and AFTRA's current constitutions. That means you vote on the contracts that affect you. I have long opposed qualified voting, as we all should have a voice in our union and, if you are like me, you voluntarily vote only on contract ballots you work or of which you are aware of the working conditions. In my view, nothing should change as we police ourselves in our contract votes. What qualified voting does is lock you out of voting on a contract you may not have worked on in recent years but plan to work in the future. The new union also seriously diminishes direct democracy in this and other ways.

The bond of the Regional Branch Division, which has supported expansion of the Nevada Zone, fully staffing Nevada and our independence from the Hollywood Division, will change. The RBD is being replaced by a committee that will not have a unified voice at the executive board level. The new system may turn out to be better, but there is a loss in a “family” that has worked so well to support each other in very hard times politically for the Guild.

Consider the options. The industry is changing and we need a union that can adapt to all production and distribution platforms, work well with new producers and have the strength to stand up to large corporations. We need the solidarity of all performers, regardless of experience or the area in which we work and profession we choose. Management looks at all of us as the same, so we need to stand up together and protect each other with strength and resolve.

We will benefit from the addition of the strength of recording artists, unionized broadcasters and others represented by our AFTRA brothers and sisters. These faces, voices and numbers will help in contract negotiations and, if needed, any potential future strike action.

So there are positives and negatives to merger. It is my hope that you will consider both.

There is a reason that more than 9 out of 10 board members, and 87 percent of the National Board weighted votes, agreed that a merger is best for the future of all members and both unions. It is what is needed to face a new century and the rapidly changing nature of our industries.

We will be the largest union in Hollywood. We will have locals in more cities than ever before, covering areas of production coast to coast.

Through solidarity we can survive the hard times and prosper when the tide turns in our favor. Start spreading the news for a "yes" vote on merger.

In solidarity,

Art Lynch
National Board of Directors
Screen Actors Guild, Nevada Branch

Sean Patrick Flaherty

Reaching for the Stars

by Sean Patrick Flaherty
Young Performer and SAG Member

Acting and filmmaking are a passion I can never explain. Films can take you anywhere and everywhere. They can show you highs and lows and make you feel for the main character or make you hate them. Films feed experiences, those experiences feed emotion, and take you to places you never thought possible. Without films we wouldn't be able to go back and feel like children again, to fall in love again and to think again about what you really want and don't want in life. Films are gifts that show what humanity can truly become. It is for that reason that I became an actor and a filmmaker, and if anyone says I am crazy or that I can never make it, they are just dreamers that are too scared to come out and share their true selves. To those people, I say thank you because they are the ones that make the journey harder and much more worth the end goal. They make me realize how I am the one who went for it and reached for the stars. For I make films and experiences for them so that they might reach for their goals.

Membership Has its Benefits

Screen Actors Guild members and SAG-franchised agents who may be in the market for supplemental insurance are now eligible to receive the lowest rates Aflac offers on various supplemental insurance options — just one of many benefits SAG members enjoy.

Unlike health insurance, Aflac pays cash benefits when a triggering health event occurs, which can help with things major medical insurance doesn’t pay, like mortgage payments, rent, groceries, car payments or other bills and expenses. Aflac will pay cash benefits regardless of any other insurance coverage, and is available to all SAG members and franchised agents, regardless of qualification for other insurance programs. Call Aflac’s toll-free line at (800) 788-4031 for more information.

You can find plenty of other moneysaving deals and special offers at SAG.org. Log on and check out the Deals and Discounts tab to learn more.

The Guild does not endorse any particular insurance agency, carrier, coverage, plan or product. You should review the terms of all coverage carefully and evaluate each carrier using your independent judgment.