November 26, 2008
By Rosalia de Aragon
Hello fellow actors! It’s great to report that we’ve had continued success with events your New Mexico SAG Council has organized. Our membership meeting, new member orientation and panel discussion in September were very well attended and informative. One of the areas our council will work on this next year is communication to members. We’ll continue to use e-mail blasts to let you know about upcoming events, and we’ll reach members through the e-newsletter on a quarterly basis. We’ll also work on keeping the
New Mexico page of SAG.org updated with information on upcoming events and member benefits. Remember, if you or someone you know would like a hard copy of the e-newsletters, you will need to let Julie Crane know in the Denver office. Our Branch will no longer send out hard copy newsletters due to conservation efforts.
This October members had the benefit of two great events. The SAG Foundation sponsored a Conversations event with the cast of
Breaking Bad. The response was incredible and the cast shared valuable information with all who attended. Everyone gathered at One Up to mingle with the cast after the discussion. A special “thank you” to Bryan Cranston for helping to organize the event and for reaching out to the community.
The second great event was a Stunt and Safety panel, co-sponsored by the New Mexico Film Office, to educate and answer concerns from the stunt community. The hope of the council is to continue to offer these types of opportunities to members on an on-going basis. Some of the Conversations in the future may be videos of past Conversations, but we will also work with the SAG Foundation to reach out to high-profile actors when they are here in town. If you have any contacts or ideas for future Conversations, please e-mail Tammy Decker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I also send out a special welcome to Tammy Decker, our new SAG West Region executive. She will be the hands and feet in our Branch, making set visits, working with organizations and answering member concerns and questions. Welcome, Tammy.
Our Branch has grown by leaps and bounds. It’s wonderful to see so many people are working on the productions coming to the state. Let's keep up the energy!
Screen Actors Guild is pleased to announce the appointment of Tamara Decker, West Region executive. This newly created position will service the New Mexico Branch, which has seen both its membership size and production more than double over the past several years.
Decker, who transferred from the Denver office to Albuquerque, has extensive experience in marketing, public relations and communications. After leaving her corporate career in the financial industry, she fulfilled her dream of traveling the world and going to film school. Decker lived in Los Angeles for a few years, but ironically, it was moving back to Denver that landed her in the film industry, working with Julie Crane at Screen Actors Guild.
Decker, along with her dog Sadie, moved to Albuquerque at the beginning of October. She’ll be working out of a home office, as a significant amount of her time will be spent on sets, at legislative sessions and meeting with agents, casting directors and producers to further the interests of New Mexico SAG members.
Decker still works with Julie Crane, who serves as the executive director for New Mexico.
Contact Tamara “Tammy” Decker
West Region Executive
Phone: (505) 268-2127
Fax: (505) 268-2151
Mail: Screen Actors Guild
117 Bryn Mawr Drive SE, Suite 44
Albuquerque, NM 87106
Contact Julie Crane
New Mexico Branch Executive Director
Phone: (720) 932-8193
Fax: (720) 932-8194
Mail:Screen Actors Guild
1400 16th St., Suite 400
Denver, CO 80202
By Bill Sterchi
New Mexico Branch Vice President
Our annual New Mexico Branch membership meeting was held on September 20 at The Filling Station Arts Space in Albuquerque and was deemed a success by those attending. For the first time, we offered a new member orientation before the general membership meeting. The session provided an overview of the benefits and opportunities our Guild and local branch can provide. Our new members learned how to “help SAG help you” and were given the opportunity to get their questions answered.
The general membership meeting included the introduction of our new council and of our new West Region executive. Informational reports were given by West Region Executive Tammy Decker, New Mexico Branch Executive Director Julie Crane, National Board Member Roy Costley and various committee chairpersons. Costley gave a memorial to Ed Pennybacker, a dear friend and longtime fellow Guild member whom we lost this year. Thanks were given to Mel MacKaron, who has retired from the council after years of outstanding service. A general discussion and Q&A session ended the meeting.
Members then were given the opportunity to learn more about how to develop their careers from The Business of Acting panel discussion moderated by Tom Schuch. Casting Director Kathy Brink, Talent Agent Vince Pulli of A&M Agency and our own Julie Crane, a former producer, provided tips and insights that were beneficial to virtually every member who was there.
This annual event once again proved to be a great occasion for our New Mexico SAG members to get together to network, learn and have fun. Thanks to all who participated in this event.
The SAG Foundation and NM SAG presented a Conversations program with the cast of AMC’s Breaking Bad on October 25 at the KiMo Theatre in Albuquerque. Series lead and recent Emmy winner Bryan Cranston played an enormous part in organizing the event, explaining, “The Breaking Bad cast wants to reach out to New Mexican actors, young and old. We know we’ve had good fortune in our careers, and want to give back to our peers by imparting any advice we can give to help others in their careers.”
The panel included Bryan Cranston (Walter White), Anna Gunn (Skyler White), Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman), Dean Norris (Hank Schrader), Betsy Brandt (Marie Schrader) and RJ Mitte (Walter White Jr.). The program was moderated by our own former New Mexico SAG Council President Tom Schuch. Also making a special appearance was New Mexican actor Steven Michael Quezada, currently playing the role of Gomez on the show.
The cast demonstrated an amazing rapport, and each showed great enthusiasm in sharing their experiences with the crowd. Schuch, a veteran of Conversations moderating, expertly guided the panel through a wide variety of topics. Aaron Paul began by revealing that he received his SAG card after a role in a Corn Pops commercial. When the audience responded with laughter, he quipped, “Yeah, baddest moment of my life!”
Steven Michael Quezada spoke of his beginnings as a local Albuquerque actor. “I started in this theatre on these boards right here...in the KiMo. Then I worked for La Compañia for a while. I told them that I wanted to do a modern Chicano play and they fired me. I told them, ‘You can’t fire me. You’re not paying me, bro. You can only fire actors who are getting paid.’ You know?
“So, I went home and I wrote a play called The First Chicano President. I sold the KiMo out for two weekends in a row. It was amazing. I never thought I was going to be a writer. I became a writer out of necessity because you have to be able to create for yourself, you know. This is a business that no one’s going to give you nothing. You’ve got to go get it.”
When asked about the auditioning process, several cast members responded with advice. RJ Mitte said, “Be yourself. That’s what I do every time I go into an audition. I don’t try to make myself do something that I’m not. I just go in and show my true colors.”
Betsy Brandt answered, “Just auditioning, sometimes you can go in even when you really don’t have a shot, you know, you can change their minds.… It’s your time to be that person in an audition. It is. And people really do want you to do well. They want someone to do it. Then when it goes well, you can tell they’re happy to let go. ‘Yes! Thank you!’ ”
In a playful moment, Anna Gunn talked about doing love scenes. “When I first was in class, a teacher told me. I said, ‘Well, what if you’re playing a love scene? What if you’re playing something really intimate with somebody that you just can’t stand?’ She said, ‘There’s always one thing you can find. Always one thing you can find that you like about the person—their eyes, their hair, whatever it may be—their sense of humor. You just focus on that and you play to that and let everything else drop away.’ ”
Bryan Cranston then asked her, “What is the one thing you found in me that you tolerate?”
“Your hair,” she responded.
On the topic of shooting in Albuquerque, the entire cast responded favorably. Dean Norris was perhaps most enthusiastic. “I love it, myself. I love it. I moved here last year. I subsequently had to move back for other reasons, but I love it. That’s that. I love Albuquerque.”
During the course of the afternoon, Mr. Cranston continually returned to the idea of actors pursuing their career out of passion. He described his moment of epiphany: “I ran away. I hopped on a motorcycle and I left for two years. During that time, I volunteered to do theater at different places. I remember being stuck on the Blue Ridge Parkway of Virginia for six days because it was raining nonstop. I had my book of plays. I was reading Hedda Gabler at the time. (Laughter.) But it passed the time. I had this light bulb go off and it was like, ‘Bing! Oh, my God! That’s what I should do! I should do and go after something I love, and hopefully become good at, as opposed to going after something I’m good at, and hopefully fall in love with.’ That was my path.
“I think in that there’s some really good advice for actors who are just beginning. That would be never do something in terms that you think it’s going to get you to another place. Do a play because you want to do the play. Enjoy the work. Do the work. If something happens out of that, let it be a surprise to you, but don’t get yourself caught up in the idea that, ‘I’m doing this to be seen by such-and-such and then I’m going to go.…’ Just focus on your job, and that’s to create the character and serve the text.”
The SAG Foundation is in the process of creating a DVD of the event, and Jesse Bush, the Conversations program director, declared, "It was truly a pleasure to hold a SAG Foundation Conversations event in Albuquerque. The cast was so generous and it was wonderful to reach out to the community. We look forward to doing another event in the area soon."
New Mexico SAG would like to thank Cranston, the SAG Foundation and the city of Albuquerque for bringing such a great event to New Mexico.
Since 1985, the Screen Actors Guild Foundation has embraced its mission to assist, educate and inspire actors to their fullest career potential and to give back to the communities in which they live. While we are not a part of Screen Actors Guild, we are dedicated to serving its members.
From board of directors to staff to volunteers, the foundation’s diverse makeup is a large component of this non-profit 501(c)3 organization’s success. Governed independently of the Guild, the non-political, non-partisan foundation is a collective body bringing different personalities, attitudes and opinions together in service of actors who, like us, come from all walks of life.
Chances are that we’ve already helped you, or someone you know, with financial assistance in a time of crisis, scholarship monies, efforts we make toward children’s literacy, time spent in the Actors Center (the only resource center of its kind in Los Angeles), or seminars, workshops and other career-informing events. In any case, please visit our website at www.sagfoundation.org to find out more about us.
Our work is rewarding, but not easy. Our programs and benefits are supported not by your Guild membership dues or fees but by grants, donations and our own fundraising efforts. Resources are limited, and times have been exceptionally hard. Our Emergency Assistance program, overtaxed by economic blows such as the recent Writers Guild strike which put countless actors out of work, has far exceeded its budget and the livelihood of the foundation as a whole is in delicate balance.
It takes an actor to understand an actor’s struggle. Most of us at the foundation are actors, and by learning more about the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, we hope that you will gain a greater understanding of our work and what it takes to keep us going. Your tax-deductible donation can make a huge difference in the life of a fellow actor. You can donate online whenever you wish, make automatic monthly donations, or send us a check made payable to Screen Actors Guild Foundation. You can also think about residual checks, no matter what their size, which might benefit your peers by signing them over to the foundation as a charitable contribution.
Meanwhile, we also encourage you, as a SAG member, to think about the services we make available in support of your own career. Knowing, understanding and giving to the SAG Foundation is an investment not just in the foundation’s livelihood, but in yours.
Screen Actors Guild Foundation
5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 124
Los Angeles, CA 90036
phone: (323) 549-6708
fax: (323) 549-6710
On October 26, New Mexico SAG and the New Mexico Film Office presented a career-building event: “Everything You Wanted to Know About Working as a Stunt Performer in New Mexico," a panel made available through the film office’s Pre-Employment Training Program.
More than 50 people gathered to hear the discussion of our distinguished guests: Glenn Hiraoka, SAG national director for Stunts, Safety, Singers & Dancers Contracts; Al Goto, well-known in New Mexico for his skill as both a stunt coordinator and stunt performer; Dana Hee, stunt double for some of the biggest female stars in the business, including Nicole Kidman, Uma Thurman, Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Garner; Mark Hicks, winner of three World Stunt Awards for his work as Chris Tucker’s stunt double in Rush Hour 2; Ed Duran, a UNM graduate with more than 25 stunt credits since 2005; Janet Davidson, with more than 25 years’ experience in the industry, working as a director, first assistant director and/or unit production manager on major theatrical and television motion pictures; and Julie Crane, SAG executive director for New Mexico. The panel was moderated by Angelique Midthunder, an accomplished actor and stuntwoman in New Mexico.
Topics discussed ranged from the fine line between stunt and background work to the definition of local hire and even to what kind of pads a stunt performer should bring to the set. The primary focus of the panel was developing a career in stunts, and the panelists all recommended that performers develop a specialty to begin with. For example, Dana Hee launched her career as a gold medalist for the United States at the 1988 Olympics in the sport of taekwondo.
Safety on the set was another major topic of discussion. Mark Hicks urged audience members to always be truthful about their abilities. This protects not only the performer, but everyone else in the scene, as well as one’s reputation in the stunt community—which is crucial to someone wanting to really break into the business. Along the same lines, background performers were encouraged to consider their safety before accepting potentially dangerous, if tempting, roles.
As a result of the panel, Tobi Ives, who handles the Film Crew Training Resources Department for the New Mexico State Film Office, developed a super-informative Stunt and Background FAQs document that soon will be available online at nmfilm.com.
“The New Mexico State Film Office is proud to support the training of New Mexicans in every aspect of film-making, and to work with major industry organizations like Screen Actors Guild,” Ives said. “This most recent seminar involved seasoned professionals sharing their experience and constructive advice to New Mexicans looking to advance in their craft. We are committed to helping the talented men and women in New Mexico reach their goals and aspirations. Their success is the success of the entire film industry in our state.”
New Mexico SAG would like to thank the New Mexico Film Office and our fantastic panelists for making this event possible.
About 20 New Mexico SAG members recently packed a conference room at the Hyatt Professional Building in Albuquerque to participate in a videoconference with Screen Actors Guild National President Alan Rosenberg, National Executive Director & Chief Negotiator Doug Allen and the Branches of Portland, San Francisco and Boston.
Not only was the information presented compelling—sparking lively debate—but the New Mexico market made a proud showing with our “standing-room-only” participation.
Watch your e-mail for new developments. For more information regarding the TV/Theatrical Contract, visit SAG.org.
New Mexico SAG is compiling a portfolio of stories about our members, and we want to hear from you. Send us a short narrative about how you got started in acting, your training, when you received your SAG card and, of course, your list of credits. No résumés, please, as we want to hear it straight from you, up close and personal. We love success stories.
Specifically, we’re interested in using these accounts in our package aimed at the NM Legislature, supporting the state’s film incentive program. Please indicate in your correspondence that you are giving SAG permission to publish your story for this purpose. Names are not required if you wish to remain anonymous.
Generally, we might have further use for these chronicles in newsletters and other communications. If your tale is chosen for such a purpose, we’ll contact you to get your permission to use it.
Please limit your stories to no more than a page and a half and forward them to Tammy Decker at email@example.com.
Rule 1 in new media will be enforced starting January 1, and is printed on the back of every SAG membership card: “No member shall work for a producer who is not a signatory to the appropriate SAG agreement.”
SAG members may also work on new media projects if they are covered under an AFTRA collective bargaining agreement.
For more information or to talk to one of our new media specialists, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (323) 549-6777.
Andy Brooks, Michael George Forgie-Buccioni, Mario Burgo, Manuel E. Chavez, Mackenzee Donham, Hugh Elliot, Rion Hunter, Robert Lussier, Diana Maimin, Linda J. Martin, Quinn Mason, Matthew McDuffie, Tatanka Means, Randall Oliver, Rick Ortega, Luke Pierce, Greta Quezada, Rodney Rush, Mike St. James, Sarah Seirafi, Kieran Sequoia, Wyatt Turner, Thadd Turner, Mike Valverde and Devin L. Williams
Screen Actors Guild is facing a dilemma: getting performers or their heirs to collect their unclaimed residuals. A surplus of unclaimed residuals sits unable to be sent out. Although the Guild knows to whom these funds belong, it can’t send the checks to these performers, in most cases because the Guild doesn’t have the correct mailing information for the residuals recipients. Some residuals checks belong to nonmembers or one-time actors, many of whom aren’t even aware that they have residuals coming to them. In an effort to reduce this surplus, the Finance Committee is embarking on a marketing campaign to get the word out to possible residuals recipients. The campaign, called “Get Your Money,” will reach out to SAG members and non-SAG members through internal publications and online campaigns. If you would like to see whether you have residuals owed to you, visit www.SAG.org/GetYourMoney. Enter your name and “Get Your Money!” Have questions or want to speak with a residuals representative? E-mail email@example.com, or call (800) 205-7716 or (323) 549-6535.
Visit thesagshop.com for the latest in must-have, union-made merchandise. Buy gifts and accessories that demonstrate your good taste and your union pride.