A MESSAGE FROM SAG NATIONAL BOARD MEMBER HELEN McNUTT
Wow! What a great time to belong to Screen Actors Guild. I am not talking about work — we all know we would like more right now. I am referring to the unanimous approval of the National Board to create a Merger Task Force to work with its AFTRA counterpart in developing a formal plan to unite SAG and AFTRA members in one union. Many of us have wanted this to happen for a long time. If the unions merge, we will have a much stronger bargaining unit with the AMPTP. Our leaders can then use their resources to concentrate on organizing work for all of us. It is an exciting time and I am glad to finally see it happening.
Screen Actors Guild has initiated an online signatory application through the new Production Center, which has so far signed more than 300 producers to Screen Actors Guild New Media, Industrial, Student, Short and Ultra Low Budget agreements.
Also at the recent National Board meeting, SAG National Executive Director David White introduced SAG’s new executive director of industry relations and organizing, Deborah Skelly.
The state of Pennsylvania’s budget has not yet been passed. Pennsylvania Film Industry Association has been working to help all members of the film community. Last month, we had a great meeting with a rally cry for all who belong to bring a friend with them to the next activity. For the next meeting, come out to meet casting director Nancy Mosser on June 5 from 2–4 p.m. at AKA Rittenhouse Square, 135 South 18th Street. Nancy Mosser is a member of the prestigious Casting Society of America. Since 1993, Nancy Mosser Casting has been Western Pennsylvania’s premier Emmy Award-winning casting company. Her company specializes in the casting of actors and extras for film, television, commercials, voiceovers, corporate videos and promotional events. Nancy has an extensive background in television and film production. Come out and network with industry professionals and supporters of local film, television and commercial production.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
A tsunami is on the horizon. The full-frontal assault on union rights in Wisconsin and Ohio makes this clear. As a senator and union member, I see this threat in the state Capitol, in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. Those who support fairness must stand up before it is too late.
I came into the acting profession while attending Villanova Law School. I was cast in a small part in Arsenic and Old Lace. I became more serious and landed some non-union theater and on-camera roles. It was clear that unions such as SAG were vital to protecting the rights of actors to earn a decent living.
Experience has shown me how important unions are. Movies and television shows are one of America’s top industries. They are exported around the world and yield billions of dollars to those at the top of the food chain. The temptation to exploit actors and pay the barest minimum is often irresistible. Time and again, unions like SAG have been the last line of defense against exploitation. Now more than ever we need organized, vibrant and forceful voices to decipher and combat the empty rhetoric of the anti-union movement.
The anti-union forces are pushing hard for a package of bills that prohibit union membership as a condition for employment and would make joining a union much tougher for state, local and public school employees.
House Bills 50 to 53 are pending and their advocates call them “right-to-work” bills, but their effect would decimate years of established fair labor standards. My grandfather was a U.S. congressman who co-sponsored the original Fair Labor Standard Act in 1932. The bills, therefore, offend the memory of my grandfather and all those who fought for justice and fairness in America.
Anti-unionism is a gateway offense. Solidarity is crucial now more than ever. When one union’s rights are trampled or eliminated, it is only a matter of time before the same thing happens to the next one.
You can call your state legislators right now and urge them to oppose House Bills 50 thru 53. Click here to learn who represents you in the Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives.
Michael J. Stack
SAG Member, Pennsylvania State Senator
The Philadelphia Spotlight would love to hear from you. Send letters to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHY SAG? WHY NOW?
By Mike Rosiak
The open call for Lady in the Water was enormous. The line stretched out down the stairs, through the hallway, out the doors, down the sidewalk and around the corner. Philadelphia’s favorite Ben Franklin portrayer, Ralph Archbold, walked by, greeting all of us looking for our lucky break to be picked as an extra for the film. Another gentleman, whom I later learned was first assistant director John Rusk, surveyed the crowd after a few hours and cut the line off just behind me, telling the remainder that they had seen enough people and thanked them for coming out. My luck seemed pretty good at that moment.
Around the same time, I attended an open call for Invincible and began growing my hair out to fit the '70s style. Months went by with no call from either production, and so I began to lose hope. I got a haircut and resigned myself to thinking that my dream of working as an actor was over. Of course, that’s when I got the call for Invincible — filling in as an Eagles player in the bus scene. Lady in the Water then called. Before I knew it, my dream had come true.
After working on Law Abiding Citizen and appearing in a featured background role, I had become SAG-eligible, and so I decided the time was right to take the next step and join. I knew that it was a big investment and a bit of a gamble, but I also knew that the opportunities would continue to grow for me as a SAG member in the Philadelphia region. I joined in November 2010, and within two months I had worked on three more productions and had nearly made back my joining fees.
My next goal is to get cast in a principal role and to eventually be able to focus on acting full time. I may still have to work other jobs to pay the bills right now, but I carry my SAG card with me proudly, and if anybody asks what I do, I tell them I am an actor.
Mike Rosiak and favorite leading lady actress/daughter Sydney
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 will not be able to serve on the council or committees in the future. You must also 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 the Membership Department at (800) 724-0767, prompt 2, or (212) 944-6243.
I am very pleased to share with our membership the exciting recent events concerning our Branch. On April 10, I stopped by Sun Center Studios in Aston, Penn. for a set visit to a new Web series titled, Game Over and congratulated local producer Dave Bullis on his new project, which is currently shooting under a SAG New Media Agreement. Thanks to SAG member Leah Cevoli for working diligently on sharing the benefits of shooting under this agreement with the producers and helping create jobs for our local actors. Our very own council member Mike Kraycik can be seen in one of the episodes, as well as local member Brian Anthony Wilson. This is truly an example of just how easy it is to create opportunities for our local SAG talent.
On the set of Game Over
Listening Tour and Branch officials
On May 5, President Ken Howard honored us with his presence, coupled with his partner-in-progress, AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon, for the presidents’ Listening Tour. At this event, members of the Philadelphia Regional Branch were afforded the opportunity to voice their concerns in regard to the upcoming plans for becoming one successor union, and the feedback was greatly valued by our leadership. The wonderful turnout showed that Philadelphia stands in support of the majority for moving forward into progress.
Layout courtesy of Mike Kraycik with special thanks to Trish Avery, SAG Houston Branch executive director. Photos courtesy of Shelley Figures (AFTRA), Deb Docherty, Chuck Varesko, Butch Gregorio, Christopher Lacey (AFTRA), Mike Kraycik and Marvin Burwell.
Branch members have been involved in many activities over the past few months. We have rallied in solidarity with other unions under the We Are One banner. We have read to students as part of the Read Across America program, led by Branch President Wooten. We have joined AFTRA and AEA sponsoring workshops about taxes and voiceovers, and there is more to come. In Pittsburgh, members met agents Steven Black and Deb Docherty, and hit the red carpet in support of the Pittsburgh Film Office Oscar party fundraiser. Members also attended Adrienne Wehr’s Empowerment Workshop and learned how to produce their own film project under a SAG agreement. In New Jersey, members turned out for the Garden State Film Festival in Asbury Park. This is just the beginning of efforts to keep our members informed and involved.
Branch members gathered at Temple University’s Center City Campus Monday, April 4 for the Annual Meeting. Members heard from President John Wooten and National Board member Helen McNutt about efforts to keep and attract work in the Branch. Branch Executive Director Marcia Fishman presented the facts and myths of "right-to-work" legislation now before state legislators in Harrisburg. We kicked off the SAG Conservatory with Committee Chair Mike Kraycik — arriving with costumed hair and makeup — introducing makeup expert Carolyn Diamond. Members received their SAG pins from John Wooten and Helen McNutt. The event was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet new members.
Photos and layout courtesy Mike Kraycik.
Through an initiative of the SAG National Ethnic Employment Opportunities Committee, the Philadelphia Branch created our own local EEO Committee to address issues specific to the Philadelphia-area industry. Chaired by Branch President John Wooten and organized by National Board member Helen McNutt, the committee invited members, writers, producers and other industry decision-makers to a Membership Caucus Meet-And-Greet on April 25 at Temple University. The group discussed topics such as obstacles to employment, stereotypical portrayals and how we can effect positive change. The EEO Committee works to address matters of interest to SAG performers from the following racial/ethnic groups: African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Latino/Hispanic and Native American Indian. The EEO Committee explores ways to promote more diverse casting and enforce the contractual policy of nondiscrimination and fair employment. If you would like to join the local efforts in your area, please contact Frank Traynor at email@example.com.
National Board member Helen McNutt and husband Tom McNutt received AFTRA’s Bill Evans Service Award in Philadelphia from AFTRA Philadelphia President Catherine Brown.
In Pittsburgh, Council member Adrienne Wehr received the Opal Award from Women in Film and Media. She is joined by Faith Dickinson, president of Women in Film and Media Pittsburgh. Photos courtesy Cyndy Drue and Faith Dickinson.
Philadelphia Branch Contact Information
Frank Traynor, North Region Executive
Screen Actors Guild
1800 JFK Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Fax: (866) 226-6983
Marcia Fishman, Philadelphia Branch Executive Director
5757 Wilshire Boulevard, 7th Floor
Los Angeles, California