YOUR ESSENTIAL CAREER TOOL: iActor
By Cabran Chamberlain
Wouldn’t it be nice to know that your headshot and resume were readily available to be seen by top casting directors, producers, studio executives and production companies?
When you use iActor, the free, convenient online database exclusively for SAG actors, you know you are truly getting the exposure every actor wants. You, in effect, “level the playing field” by making your information accessible to top entertainment industry professionals. You give yourself the opportunity to be seen by any casting director working on a signatory production.
When a SAG actor uploads his or her information to the iActor database, that information is at the fingertips of top casting directors. And members can use iActor to e-mail an electronic copy of their resume directly to casting directors.
iActor provides all casting professionals with the ability to find Guild talent using a customizable search function, create and tag folders according to their own work methodology, preview resumes, view headshots from multiple resumes in a slideshow, print entire resume views and e-mail individual resumes. Because it allows casting professionals to search through members’ headshots, resumes and media by any combination of terms — such as gender, ethnicity, special skills or credits — iActor is a revolutionary and indispensable casting tool.
Once a SAG member sets up his or her iActor account, he or she may start uploading information. Members may create up to seven professional resumes and up to 10 headshots as well as sound files and video clips. Sound files must be capped at 4 MB and must be MP3, videos must be .MOV or .WMV files no more than 15MB.
iActor is also the only casting resource that features automated Station 12 cast clearance, directly from iactor.org. This unique production tool allows casting directors to source and then directly clear Guild talent for work in SAG signatory productions.
And because it is compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, iActor is available to members of all ages, including members under the age of 13.
Again, iActor is absolutely free to all Guild members whose dues are current. Accounts are easy to set up, but for any questions that members have, there is a help line staffed with iActor liaisons, digital experts who are available to guide members and industry professionals through the registration and upload process. You can reach the iActor helpline via e-mail at email@example.com or via phone at (800) 724-0767.
Answers to frequently asked questions can also be found at iactor.org, by logging in as a member and clicking on the iActor link. There, users may access online educational tools to assist them with iActor, including a Quick Start Guide, User Guide and narrated tutorial.
Explore iActor! Use it, share it, and let it provide the next step in your successful acting career!
SAG, ALLIES CELEBRATE
TALENT SERVICES LAW
In case you missed the announcement, last year in October, Screen Actors Guild hosted a news conference announcing that new consumer protection legislation (A.B. 1319) was passed and signed into law. SAG sponsored this important piece of legislation, championed by former California State Assemblyman Paul Krekorian (D-Burbank), which will be instrumental in stopping unscrupulous talent services in the state that prey on our members, young performers and future members of this union.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office announced the passage on October 14, 2009, after a weekend signing.
SAG National President Ken Howard said, “A.B. 1319 is an example of how we can protect innocent, well-intentioned people from paying for goods that no person or entity can promise or deliver. The promise of acting jobs is no longer for sale.”
The bill creates guidelines for legitimate businesses and alerts consumers to dishonest business practices; it also gives law enforcement the tools for investigating complaints and prosecuting offenders, Krekorian said. The Guild hopes that the law will be modeled for adoption in other states as well.
“Complaints from consumers about acting and modeling scams have doubled every year since 2006,” Krekorian said. “These scams financially and psychologically hurt Californians because state law was inadequate to properly deal with disreputable talent scouts.”
Legislative advocacy is an essential function of our union. “Screen Actors Guild has a long history of protecting children,” Howard said. “In fact, since our founding members organized SAG in 1933, our union has helped create numerous laws and bargained critical contract provisions designed solely to protect children’s income, education, and most of all, their safety and well-being.”
Hill Harper, SAG National Board member and Hollywood Division co-chair of the National Legislative Committee, said, “Unfortunately we live in a time where people who have malicious intent are using more and more sophisticated means to take advantage of the people who can protect themselves the least. And legislation like this represents, I believe, the beginning of dealing with this.”
Anne Henry, co-founder of the advocacy group BizParentz Foundation, testified before a senate judiciary committee to get the legislation passed. “We’re hoping that this bill will cut through for our organization the huge burden that this has become. We’ve seen literally thousands of complaints,” she said.
Remember, be wary of any entity that requests significant up-front fees for representation or services. If you ever have questions, don’t hesitate to contact the SAG Agency Department at (323) 549-6745.
By Kathryn Howell
Communication. I welcome the return of our newsletter, for communication is key in the pursuit of our careers. Performers need knowledge and information. You will find in these pages many articles on what is happening in our Branch. Our subcommittees have been busy — the Conservatory Committee, Communications Committee, etc. We hope to have the communication flow both ways and invite you to submit questions and ideas for future newsletters (to firstname.lastname@example.org). Our membership is as diverse as our weather and we need to hear from you. So whether you are freezing by the Bay or basking in inland sunshine, hope you enjoyed the summer and let’s keep the communication lines open.
The San Francisco SAG Nominating Committee met on Wednesday May 12, 2010. The purpose of the meeting was to nominate candidates for National Board member, president, vice president and six (6) council members-at-large positions. Members were notified by mail of the ability to run by independent petition. The petition period commenced Thursday, July 1, 2010, and ended at the close of business on Friday, July 23, 2010.
Pursuant to the San Francisco Branch Rules of Procedure, should the number of candidates nominated by the committee or petition not exceed the number of open seats, they shall be deemed elected to the position(s) for which they were nominated without necessity of requiring a mailed ballot. Should this be the case, the council, at its first meeting following the conclusion of the nomination period, and prior to September 24, shall cast a unanimous ballot for those candidates so elected.
At its meeting on August 18, 2010, the San Francisco Branch Executive Council unanimously elected the following:
• Tom Chantler was re-elected to serve a three-year term as National Board member.
• Kathryn Howell was re-elected to serve a two-year term as president.
• Denny Delk was re-elected to serve a two-year term as vice president.
Re-elected to serve two-year terms on the council Matt Cates, Charlie Holliday, Michael O’Brien and Ed Vasgersian.
Newly elected to serve two-year terms on the council: Robert Curé and Kathy Goodin.
Continuing in their council seats: Geoff Bolt, Cabran Chamberlain and Phillip Ramirez.
All newly elected officials take office on September 25, 2010, and will be introduced at the membership meeting on October 18, 2010.
By Tom Chantler
For the first time since I have been your National Board representative, I can say that we are in a very hopeful situation. Let me explain:
SAG President Ken Howard has charted a course back to negotiation of contracts jointly with AFTRA. The newly formed SAG-AFTRA Relations Task Force is exploring the ways and means to creating a single performers’ union. Under one union, we will pay one set of dues and end forever the internecine jurisdictional turf wars that sap our resources. Best of all, many more performers will qualify for benefits.
National Executive Director David White has done a remarkable job streamlining all aspects of SAG operations — staffing, automation and fiscal responsibility to name a few.
Secretary-Treasurer Amy Aquino has presided over our annual audit, budgets and finance, resulting in faster than anticipated reduction in our deficit as well as better than expected investment results. Financially, our house is in order.
Significant challenges remain however. Of chief concern is the proliferation of non-union work. I remain confident that this trend can be reversed once the union option for performers looks more attractive. When we can point to a set of lucrative contracts that provide protections, pay residuals and provide benefits like pension and health care to more of us, non-union performers will want to become union members.
Please join me in strongly supporting the creation of one performers’ union.
Local and national SAG staff with elected leadership
By Michael O’Brien
San Francisco SAG members welcomed a panel of industry experts at the April Spring Membership meeting including Nancy Hayes (Nancy Hayes Casting), filmmaker Lope Yap (DGA) and talent agent Oorala Yamada (Look Talent).
Prior to the start of the panel, and opening the meeting were David White, SAG’s national executive director, and Linda Dowell, Regional Branch Division executive director, both of whom flew in especially for the occasion.
Oorala Yamada, Michael O'Brien (moderator), Lope Yap and Nancy Hayes
The panel, titled “Production A to Z,” was a freewheeling discussion of local media production. Nancy Hayes began by telling the overflow crowd that things were looking up. Hayes said she is seeing a major increase in casting activity this year.
Talent agent Oorala Yamada shared her experiences working as an agent in Los Angeles before moving to Northern California.
A full house for the member Q&A
DGA member Lope Yap, who had worked with many in the audience, said he loves to make films. “Big films, small films — but best of all films in San Francisco.”
Michael O’Brien sits on the San Francisco Branch SAG Executive Council, and shares the chair of the AFTRA-SAG Joint Communications Committee.
For background actors working in TV commercials, the question of whether the background actor is entitled to an upgrade to principal comes up with surprising frequency. Background actors are generally hired for crowd work and to provide atmosphere. Occasionally, a director singles out a background actor to perform a specific action. How can background actors determine whether the work they have been asked to perform entitles them to an upgrade that will result in being paid as a principal performer?
Below are a few guidelines that will help a background actor assess whether the work is upgradable. Generally, when the background actor is asked to perform the work of a principal performer, an upgrade is due. The following categories of action may result in an upgrade:
1. The background actor is directed to speak a line (other than “omnies,” i.e. atmospheric words or sounds uttered by anyone);
2. The background actor is performing an identifiable stunt; or
3. The background actor satisfies all three of the following:
a. The background actor is in the foreground;
b. The background actor is identifiable; and
c. The background actor is demonstrating or illustrating a product or service or illustrating or reacting to the on/off camera narration or commercial message.
Can you get an upgrade even if your mother is not able to recognize you? Maybe. Sometimes a background actor is considered “identifiable” even though the background actor’s face cannot be seen in the shot. The Commercials Contract provides that a background actor may be considered a principal performer even though not recognizable in the shot under the following circumstances:
• If the background actor is in proprietary clown make-up (e.g. Ronald McDonald);
• If the background actor is manipulating a puppet or marionette using his or her hand, strings or sticks; or
• If the background actor is driving a vehicle and satisfies the contractual requirements of a stunt driver.
When specialty acts, specialty dancers or stunt performers are featured in the foreground, they are considered principal performers whether or not their performance demonstrates or illustrates a product or service or illustrates or reacts to the on- or off-camera narration or commercial message.
MYTH VS. FACT
Myth: You always get upgraded if you are on screen for at least two and a half seconds or if your face is visible in a shot with the product.
Fact: If the background actor’s face is visible in a shot with the product, it does not inherently mean that he or she will be due an upgrade. There are some situations where the background actor’s face may be visible with the product but not meet the upgrade standards. For example, a background actor may be riding a bike past the product (for example a bottle of water) with face visible, but not be due an upgrade in that particular shot. The Commercials Contract states that the background actor must be alone in a stationary camera shot, face visible and recognizable, along with being with the product.
Fact: Simply holding or using or even wearing the product does not automatically mean an upgrade is due; the other criteria must be met.
Fact: Screen time is not a deciding factor. The amount of actual screen time does not determine whether an upgrade is due; i.e., there is no “two and a half seconds rule” that automatically qualifies a background actor for an upgrade.
If you have a question about whether you are entitled to an upgrade, call the union office at (415) 391-7510. The most accurate decisions are made when the final edit is available. Generally, the union can obtain and review all versions of the commercial in which you performed and discuss with you whether there is a potential upgrade.
Source: 2003 Commercials Contract (as extended to 2012), Section 6
After years of effort on the part of staff and members , the SAG National Board has approved the creation of a highly anticipated Theatrical Demonstration Reel Agreement for independent producers. The DRA covers live action demo reels produced by independent filmmakers in the United States, with the concept and hope being that these demos will then gain financing and grow into full film projects, thus generating more and better work for the members. In addition, the DRA provides members with another vehicle to showcase and promote their talent.
What are the criteria for the DRA?
• The budget must not exceed $10,000.
• The reel must be shot entirely in the U.S.
• The reel must be no longer than 10 minutes.
• Limited Use Rights apply (i.e., intended only to be shown to non-paying potential investors or other industry professionals in order to showcase the talent of the filmmakers and the performers).The entire shoot cannot last longer than two weeks.
• Pension and Health contributions must be made.
• The applicant must complete the signatory process prior to clearance.
In many ways the terms and conditions of the DRA are similar to those of the Short Film and Ultra Low Budget agreements:
• Performers working under a DRA signed in Northern California must be paid a minimum of $100.
• Performers may only work three days.
• The DRA covers only professional performers.
• Consecutive employment rules are waived.
• Standard workday and meal period rules are in effect.
If you have questions regarding the Demonstration Reel Agreement, contact Joel Reamer, business representative in the San Francisco SAG office, at email@example.com or (415) 391-7510.
By Carla Hatley
Statistics for September 2009 to August 2010:
• Active BookPALS: 78
• Special events BookPALS: 34
• Number of schools: 22
• Number of classrooms: 79
• Number of shelters: 2
• Other organizations: 6
• Number of children served: 6,600 per month
The San Francisco Branch of BookPALS started in January of 1997, and we are now in our 13th year reading in elementary schools, family shelters and youth organizations around the Bay Area. We have readers as far north as Sacramento and as far south as San Jose.
The BookPALS program has expanded beyond reading to children in classrooms to include family shelters and a local prison. We read at Raphael House and Hamilton Family Emergency Center in San Francisco twice a month.
On the first Saturday of each month, BookPALS read to children visiting a parent or relative serving time at Glenn Dyer Prison in Oakland, a program sponsored by Start with a Story. On the last Saturday of each month, we present books (reading theatre-style) on the Emerald Stage at Fairyland in Oakland.
This year BookPALS volunteers were involved with KQED’s PBS Kids Go! Writers Contest as judges and presenters for the winning stories. And we partnered with San Francisco Project Read, KOIT Radio Children’s Book Drive, Read Across America, Variety Children’s Charity of Northern California and Jump Start’s Read For The Record.
We are also dedicated to getting books to children who can’t afford them. Grants from Variety Children’s Charity, Children’s Book Project, Jet Blue and First Book LAB gave us the opportunity to purchase and distribute hundreds of books to children around the Bay Area. This past year we distributed 2,300 books to children in our community.
Become a BookPAL! Use your talents as an actor and expressive reader to bring stories to life. If you have one hour a week or one hour a month, we will find the right read aloud opportunity for you. Practice your creative skills and make a difference in children’s lives.
Carla Hatley is the San Francisco BookPALS program coordinator. PALS is an acronym for Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools, a Screen Actors Guild Foundation Program. To reach Hatley, you can leave a message with the San Francisco Branch office at (415) 391-7510, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Visit bookpals.net for more information.
Briar Grant, Zino Macaluso and John Erlendson
On June 11 the San Francisco Branch hosted “An Evening with Agents: How to Secure the Services of a SAG Franchised Agent,” moderated by Zino Macaluso, SAG national director/senior counsel, agency relations. The event was held at the Marriott Union Square, where members of AFTRA and Actors’ Equity were also invited to attend.
Macaluso moderated the panel, which included John Erlendson of J.E. Talent and Briar Grant representing Marla Dell Talent Agency.
It was an extremely enlightening and lively meeting, and when Macaluso is involved, it always is entertaining. Members actively participated in the Q&A portion of the meeting. The panelists discussed interviewing skills — what to look for in an agent and what agents are looking for in a client — as well as the intricacies involved in the agent-performer relationship and how the SAG agency regulations protect both SAG members and their agents.
Those who attended were invited to bring a headshot and resume and for those who chose to do so, both Grant and Erlendson were provided with the material to review.
Ernest Borgnine, who is exuberantly entering his seventh decade of creating memorable characters and award-winning performances, will receive Screen Actors Guild’s most prestigious accolade, the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment. Borgnine, a former SAG National Board member, has performed in more than 200 motion pictures, five television series and dozens of television films and guest appearances. He will be presented the award, given annually to an actor who fosters the “finest ideals of the acting profession,” at the 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®, which premieres live on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, 7 p.m. CT, 6 p.m. MT. For more about the honoree, click here.
In making the announcement August 18, Screen Actors Guild President Ken Howard said, “Whether portraying brutish villains, sympathetic everymen, complex leaders or hapless heroes, Ernest Borgnine has brought a boundless energy which, at 93, is still a hallmark of his remarkably busy life and career. It is with that same joyous spirit that we salute his impressive body of work and his steadfast generosity.”
By Dr. Joan Kenley
5757 Wilshire Boulevard, 7th Floor
Los Angeles, California