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On December 4 the Joint National Board of Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists overwhelmingly approved the tentative agreement reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on November 7 – a deal which it is now recommending to the respective union memberships.
Eligible SAG and AFTRA members will vote on the proposed successor agreement to the Producer-Screen Actors Guild Codified Basic Agreement for feature motion pictures, scripted network primetime television and pay television programs; Exhibit A of the AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting, covering scripted network primetime and pay television programs; and The CW Supplement, which applies to both unions.
The board passed the motion to approve and send to the memberships a recommendation of a “yes” vote by 89.29 percent to 10.71 percent.
Ratification ballots mailed to all eligible AFTRA and SAG members on Friday, December 10, with a return deadline of 5 p.m. (PST), January 14, 2011. Due to the holidays, the time period for reviewing and returning ballots will be extended to five weeks (rather than the traditional three-week time period) in order to afford every member the opportunity to carefully review the terms of the proposed agreements before voting. Tabulation will occur immediately upon the conclusion of balloting.
Also on December 4, the National Board of Screen Actors Guild overwhelmingly approved the tentative agreement reached with the AMPTP on November 10 regarding the new Basic Cable Live Action, Basic Cable Animation and Television Animation agreements.
The National Board voted to send the Basic Cable Live Action tentative agreement to the membership for ratification by mailed ballot with the Board's positive recommendation. Those ballots will be mailed to eligible SAG members in late January, with an expected return date in early February. Tabulation will occur immediately upon the conclusion of balloting.
The board ratified the smaller Basic Cable Animation and Television Animation contracts directly, effective upon the ratification of the Television and Motion Picture contracts.
Both sets of contracts expire on June 30, 2011, and all of the agreements are for three years. Highlights of these tentative agreements include:
• A 6% wage increase over the term of the agreement, with 2% in each of the three years, effective July 1, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
• A 10% increase in the current rate of employer contributions paid to the Screen Actors Guild Pension & Health Plans (and AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds under the jointly negotiated contract), bringing the total contribution rate to 16.5% effective July 1, 2011. This represents the largest dollar value increase to the plans, under these contracts, since the plans were founded and is the largest percentage increase to the plans in more than two decades.
For more details on these tentatively approved deals, including deal highlights, visit SAG.org.
SEMINAR NOW ONLINE
With project-based employment, finding affordable health insurance can sometimes be challenging for actors. The SAG Foundation empowered hundreds of SAG actors across the country with a “Health Insurance Options for Actors” LifeRaft Live Stream on November 4. Experts from SAG P&H and AFTRA H&R discussed plan benefits and how to qualify through union-contracted employment. And, for those actors working toward qualifying for union coverage, representatives from the Motion Picture Television Fund, The Actors Fund, and UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research provided robust information on a myriad of affordable alternatives. Alternative options discussed included individual coverage that has certain coordination features with union insurance, subsidized plans for children and details on the new federal health care reform law.
Many members were able to get answers on their specific situation, and you can too. The event is archived and available for members by clicking here.
PLEASE NOTE: There will be important updates to the SAG-Producers Pension and Health Plans effective in January; be sure to visit their website at sagph.org for details.
Want to vote for the SAG Awards? Be sure to pay your November 2010 dues! Thursday, December 16 is the deadline for paying your November 2010 dues if you wish to receive the SAG Awards voting information and any "For Your Consideration" screenings and mailings available to the eligible voting membership.
You must also be paid to date to register on iActor, the Guild’s online casting program, which is now being used by Utah casting director Jeff Johnson and casting directors nationwide. If you have any questions regarding your dues, please contact the Membership Department at (800) SAG-0767, and select #2 on the menu.
Sponsored by SAGIndie and the Utah Branch of Screen Actors Guild, this annual favorite will once again be packed with late breaking news and critical information for our filmmaking community. To be discussed will be Utah's proposed incentive package and how it will position us to compete with states like New Mexico. SAG staff will also show how SAG contracts are easier to use than ever before, especially for producers operating on tight budgets.
When: Saturday, January 22, 2011
10:30 a.m. – noon
Where: Jeff Johnson Casting
2150 South Main Street, #101
Salt Lake City, Utah 84115
Participating on our panel will be representatives from the Utah Film Commission, SAGIndie, Screen Actors Guild, and key decision makers from our own production community.
For the last seven years, the forum has drawn the very best actors, directors, crew, producers, agents, and film students from all over the state. Find out how you can join in to help pass legislation that will increase jobs, and discover how easy it is to hire members of Screen Actors Guild under its low budget agreements.
Light refreshments will be served.
Cost: Free to the filmmaking community of Utah. Seating is limited. For more information: (800) 724-0767
By Anne Sward
Utah National Board Director
These are interesting times for our union. We have been developing good relationships with our sister union AFTRA and reviewing possibilities of creating one union to represent all performers in our industry. Some people have said, “Well we have tried this before and it failed.” My estimation is that the timing now makes it more viable, due to new technologies and broadening markets. I will keep you updated.
The National Board just met on December 4 to recommend our newly negotiated TV/Theatrical Contract to our members. Hats off to our National Negotiating Committee members. They spent countless hours in meetings, sometimes away from their families and work. The referendum has been sent out. Be sure to review it and vote!
An important contract that is terminating in 2011 is the Industrial and Educational Contract, a key agreement for many Branch members in the Regional Branch Division. I was elected an alternate on the negotiating committee for this contract. I wanted a voice for us because it is a contract that Utah has lost in our local markets. We are not alone. With the growing non-union talent base and a complicated contract, we lost a lion’s share of work. Recently, leadership in Utah met to discuss the possibilities of creating a new contract that would speak to the needs of our members. It is important that we all participate and that we hear from you.
I don’t want to scold, but I will. I understand how easy it is for members to break Rule One, encouraged by agents, producers and acting coaches not to honor your card. I know non-union jobs are tempting, and if you take them, I am telling you now, STOP!
Once we achieve a new contract, there would be no need for anyone to break Rule One. Violations of our primary rule hurt the entire marketplace, perpetuating a culture where producers feel free to say, “We can make actors do anything.” We must hold on to regulations that protect us. Example: It is the Guild’s position that IRS law defines actors as employees, not as independent contractors. We work under a W-4. We work with workers compensation provided by our employer. Do not give those protections up. If we get a good contract, we should start cleaning up Utah by challenging those who do not follow federal law. They simply do not want to be responsible for protecting actors.
Where will you draw the line? When will actors stop being manipulated and taken advantage of by a culture that leads to breaking the law? Producers make money off of you with total non-professionalism and self interest. At best, some are totally ignorant of the law. Because “everyone breaks it” in Utah does not make it right! This is basic union stuff. Let’s wake up and start demanding that our industry become professional, and let’s organize for the benefit of members who respect and value our contracts for what they do.
No one protects you as a professional performer – no corporation, no agent, not even your elected representatives in government – like your union protects you. Think about what I am saying, research it for yourself and come back to me if you think I am out of bounds. End of scold, and no, I am not a union boss. I am a working actor with a family I have to try to support.
Film industry leaders are hoping to lure the production of more blockbuster movies to the state by offering a larger tax incentive. The Governor's Office of Economic Development has presented a proposal to state lawmakers calling for an increase in the state's rebate for motion picture expenditures from 20 percent to 30 percent.
The larger incentive is intended to make the state more competitive with nearby New Mexico, a longtime rival because it offers similar geography and a 25 percent rebate, among other incentives. In the past year, New Mexico beat out Utah for productions of the films Cowboys & Aliens, starring Harrison Ford, and the remake of True Grit, featuring Jeff Bridges. Those productions have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in New Mexico. “At 20 percent, we're just not getting the looks that we'd like right now,” said Marshall Moore, director of the Utah Film Commission.
Utah is one of a dozen states that currently offers a 20 percent rebate or tax credit. Another 11 states offer a 25 percent incentive, while eight states offer a 30 percent incentive. Several other states offer incentives between 35 percent and 44 percent.
Also, both Newsweek and Forbes magazines have listed Utah as one of the best states in the nation at bringing in companies to film locally. Spencer Eccles, executive director of the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development, and his team at the Capitol are excited for Utah to receive such recognition."From a recruiting standpoint, it's phenomenal for us," he said.
Utah Film Commission Director Marshall Moore said recently that years ago a Moab rancher told him, “The movies are good for business. They only take photographs and leave money.” This is as true now as it was then. The industry is waiting with anticipation for what the new session of lawmaking will bring in January. Let your legislators know you will appreciate their work to sustain and grow this business here in Utah, and when you do, be sure to thank them for what they have done so far.
The stats are in. 127 Hours, starring James Franco and directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), created 150 jobs and pumped about $14 million into the state's economy during the film's 50-day shoot, according to the Utah Film Commission. But, as we know, this is not an isolated incident. Utah has been hosting production since 1924, when Tom Mix made The Deadwood Coach (now lost).
James D'Arc records the state's intriguing film history in his new book, When Hollywood Came to Town: A History of Moviemaking in Utah (Gibbs Smith, $30). D'Arc is curator of the Brigham Young University Motion Picture Archives, which includes more than 400 films and the donated personal papers of such Hollywood elites as Jimmy Stewart. Since the early days, more than 800 Hollywood films, television films and TV series episodes have shot wholly or partially in Utah. Within that number are the 89 episodes of Everwood, which used Ogden's historic 25th Street for exteriors, and the 212 episodes of Touched by an Angel. The list takes into account such classics as Rio Grande, Western Union, My Friend Flicka, Planet of the Apes (1968 and 2001), Easy Rider, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Back to the Future III, Footloose, Thelma and Louise and Independence Day.
You will be surprised with what has been shot here. Find out more about Utah’s filmmaking history by clicking here.
Voting information - with details on online balloting - will be mailed to eligible members on Thursday, December 30. If you would like to request a printed ballot instead, you must pay your November dues by Thursday, December 16 and call (877) 610-8637 by 5 p.m., PT on Friday, January 14, 2011. Please note: THIS IS A NEW PHONE NUMBER, different from the one printed in Screen Actor.
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