COLORADO BRANCH PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE
Colorado Film Commission
The Colorado Film Commission has a new website at www.coloradofilm.org . This new website is a substantial improvement over the old one and has a lot of information on it. Film Commissioner Kevin Shand seems to be running things well over there!
On the Legislative Front
After months of lobbying, hearings and testimony, Governor Bill Ritter signed HB1206 in June. What is HB1206? It was this session's legislation to expand the Colorado Film Incentive funding by 20 percent from $500,000 to $600,000 per year. It’s still not enough to really make us competitive with many other states, but it is helping us to attract production business to Colorado. The bill was sponsored in the House of Representatives by Tom Massey, Alice Borodkin and Cheri Jahn and in the State Senate by Senator Bob Hagedorn.
On June 26, a right-to-work initiative was filed with the state. If this becomes a law it would allow non-member workers to get all the benefits of union membership and pay nothing, while forcing unions and their members to foot the bill for those not willing to pay their share. The result is weaker unions with inadequate resources to represent members.
Although the proposed change has many hoops to go through and the requirement of 70,000 petition signatures before it can be put on the ballot, the group pushing it is very well financed and very determined to destroy unions in this state. This issue could have a major impact on our union. I will keep you informed as things progress.
Mark your calendars for the Colorado Branch Elections, Membership Meeting and a Movie.*
When: Tuesday, July 31, 6:30 pm
Where: Starz FilmCenter at the Tivoli, 9th Avenue and Auraria Parkwy (Downtown Denver, across from the Pepsi Center)
*If you attend the membership meeting, you'll receive tickets for you and a guest to view a new attraction immediately following the membership meeting.
Exact film TBD.
Hope to see you there!
Colorado Branch President
Before I get to the Five Item report, I want to ask you to stop for a moment and join me in remembering Nelson Embleton (1928-2007, pictured above). Nelson, Denver SAG actor and Colorado Branch Council member, often appeared on TV and in films as a principal and worked behind the scenes as a background talent wrangler during the Viacom ‘salad days’. His picture shows up in the dictionary under ‘truly nice guy’. Nelson passed away recently following a bout with ill health. Nelson, we’ll miss you. If you would like to send a tax deductible donation in his name, the address is:
The Friends of the Colorado Talking Book Library
180 Sheridan Blvd
Denver, Co 80226
Nelson would appreciate it. By the way, he narrated several books in their collection.
Item 1: New National Executive Director Doug Allen has hit the ground running. The former assistant national executive director of the National Football League Players Association has put forth an aggressive agenda for his first two years. Mr. Allen has delineated several issues he hopes to resolve prior to the 2008 cycle of contract negotiations. They include resolving the outstanding issues with the ATA and NATR, the two coastal organizations representing talent agencies. As you’ll remember, a modified franchise agreement referendum was defeated by SAG members in 2002. Since then, there has been no formal franchise agreement with ATA and NATR agents. The lack of a franchise agreement has caused problems for members in Southern California and New York, mostly. Here in Colorado, no agencies are affiliated with either organization, so the franchise agreement that has been in place here remains in place.
Also on Mr. Allen’s very large plate is resolving jurisdictional issues with AFTRA. SAG and AFTRA leaders have met several times over the past two months to sit down and talk about the issues each union has with the other. Of course, the simple, yet elegant solution would be to merge the two organizations. You’ll recall a consolidation referendum was narrowly defeated by SAG membership a few years back. A merged organization would eliminate jurisdictional and representational issues, but institutional interest continues to trump membership interest. Hopefully, some sort of merger plan will be the result of the current talks. In addition, quicker phone response and faster turnaround of residual payments are on Mr. Allen’s radar screen.
Item 2: One of the more positive outcomes of Doug Allen’s hiring is a new, long overdue rapprochement in the SAG National Boardroom. Recent history has observed a fractious split in that body as a result of warring political factions. Mr. Allen has been able to broker compromises and consensus on some pretty sticky issues lately. Hopes are this newly re-discovered communication will continue.
Item 3: iActor casting website is slowly expanding its list of SAG members. Log on to sag.org for more info. Then, if you haven’t already, get up there!
Item 4: The consulting firm of Booz Allen has been selected to provide the commercials study integral in the 2 year commercials contract extension. The study will examine employment and usage patterns of commercials. With the explosion of different delivery formats and platforms, current compensation structures are quickly becoming obsolete. The results of the study will help to inform the negotiation of the commercials contracts in 2008. Currently, members and agents from all over the country are being contacted and interviewed by the consultant.
Item 5: Additional funding provided by the recently passed dues referendum is going into a revitalized organizing department at SAG. Internal organizing workshops are being held on both coasts with Regional Branch Division members attending live or by teleconference.
SAG National Board Member
You’re going to be hearing a lot about iActor in the coming months -- and for good reason. We don’t want you to miss out on the opportunity to be a part of this great member benefit! As more and more casting directors and producers turn to the Web for casting searches, the Screen Actors Guild is positioning itself at the forefront of online casting.
Colorado performers are also being targeted by other online services, and I’m sure you’re wondering, “Shouldn’t I cover my bases and sign on to these just in case?”
Some of these sites are legitimate and some are not. Please do your research before submitting for any project online. Recently, it came to the Guild’s attention that some of these independent online casting services were advertising themselves to Colorado members as doorways to job opportunities out of state. What was implied in the pitch was that actors in Colorado could work in another state as “local hires” by signing up and paying for the service.
Our Screen Actors Guild contracts address what producers are to provide when performers travel. Those provisions may cover such things as transportation, travel time, room and meals—terms not ordinarily afforded to “local hires.” Although the provisions do vary according to the specific contract the producer signs with SAG, our contracts are intended to assure that performers are compensated fairly. Receiving anything less than what is provided for undermines our contracts.
Also, if anyone asks you for money—beware. If a company wants to post your picture, get more information, get references, and verify the credibility of the company or individuals involved. You need to be mindful and don’t just assume that information conveyed by any online service is correct.
I recently asked New Mexico casting director Jo Edna Boldin her opinion regarding some of the online services. “We work in such a fast paced electronic world. There are already some great sites, such as iActor and Actors Access, but so many of the Web-based actor sites that I have seen are not legit and are just about taking money from hopeful actors and extras. But I know that when I go to iActor, I won’t be wasting my time. I will be using a legitimate service with real SAG actors.”
When in doubt, always check with the Guild and make sure a project is being covered under a SAG contract before accepting a job.
Have a great summer. I’m just a phone call or an email away.
Julie Crane, Colorado Executive Director
Los Angeles (June 13, 2007)-Screen Actors Guild today announced that its National Board of Directors approved new procedures and policies governing reinstatement of membership for actors who choose to resign from Screen Actors Guild.
Effective June 14, 2007, the policy of Screen Actors Guild is that resigning union membership is a permanent decision. In accordance with Article IV of the Screen Actors Guild Constitution, members who resign are not eligible for reinstatement to the Guild. However, such persons may petition for a waiver of this policy. The reinstatement candidate seeking a waiver of this policy is required to schedule an appearance before the Disciplinary Review Committee and present a petition for reinstatement. The petition for reinstatement must include a list of all non-union work done during the period of time between resignation and reinstatement.
"Individuals who make the choice to quit their union cannot expect to be allowed back in without the union asking some questions about why they quit and what sort of work they were doing." Screen Actors Guild Director of Organizing Todd Amorde said. "Making the decision to resign affects not just the member who resigns, but our entire union membership and our collective ability to enforce existing contracts and to organize more SAG-covered work. We are dedicated to creating more union work opportunities, and it takes a strong and involved membership to keep us in a position to do that."
"There's a lot of misinformation out there and the Guild is re-asserting its position as the authority on union membership," Amorde said. "Union membership is between the members and their union, not their agents, not casting directors and certainly not employers. Screen Actors Guild membership offers opportunities and resources that many members are not aware of, so we urge anyone considering resignation, for whatever reasons, to call the union first. We're here to give you straight answers and discuss your options."
Members who resigned before this announcement will be given the opportunity to apply for reinstatement under the previous reinstatement process. Applications for reinstatement under that process must be received by Screen Actors Guild no later than Dec. 31, 2007.
This change will apply only to those individuals who have resigned from the union, not to those whose membership was terminated because of failure to pay dues. It also does not apply to members on honorable withdrawal or suspended payment status.
INTERNET & NEW MEDIA - SESSION & USE:
CAN A PRODUCER INCLUDE OTHER REQUIRED PAYMENTS, SUCH AS OVERTIME OR MEAL PENALTIES, AS PART OF THE NEGOTIATED FEE FOR NEW MEDIA OR INTERNET USE?
No. The producer may only bargain for session and intended use fees. All other terms and conditions are subject to the terms and conditions of Schedule A working conditions.
Penalties and allowances, although bargainable with the performer, are also subject to additional payment and may not be included as part of a negotiated fee.
Pension & Health/Health & Retirement must also be paid separately and must be computed on the basis of all compensation, including compensation bargained directly with the performer.
IS SEPARATE BARGAINING REQUIRED FOR EACH NEW MEDIA PLATFORM OR DOES THE 300 PERCENT MOVE OVER FEE COVER ALL?
The 300 percent minimum is the fee to move over a broadcast or cable commercial into any New Media platform. The bargaining between the Producer and the performer can cover all or only limited new media platforms.
If the producer also chooses to move the broadcast or cable commercial onto the Internet, an additional 300 percent minimum is due.
CAN A SESSION FEE OR HOLDING FEE BE CREDITED AGAINST INTERNET OR NEW MEDIA USE?
It is a subject of bargaining between the producer and the performer as to whether a session fee can be credited against use with respect to commercials made for new media. However, for commercials made for broadcast or cable that are subsequently moved over to the Internet or new media, there can be no crediting of session fees or holding fees.
INTERNET OR NEW MEDIA USE IS NOT NEGOTIATED AT THE TIME OF ENGAGEMENT?
There are two possible scenarios:
Scenario 1: If a Producer does not initially bargain for Internet or new media use, and the performer does not check off the “do not consent” boxes on the employment contract, the producer has the right to pay a minimum of 300 percent of the applicable session fee for Internet or new media use for a one-year term. This term begins at the time of use, but may not exceed the original 21-month maximum period of use. Payment for such use shall be paid no later than 15 working days after the first date of use.
Scenario 2: If the performer does check off the “do not consent” boxes on the employment contract, the producer must first obtain written consent from the performer, and must bargain for use at not less than 300 percent of the applicable session fee. The term of use is one year from the first use, but no later than the expiration of the 21-month maximum period of use. Payment for such use shall be paid no later than 15 working days after the first date of use.
UNDER THE 2003 COMMERCIALS CONTRACTS, FOR INTERNET ONLY COMMERCIALS, THE PRODUCER WAS REQUIRED TO PROVIDE THE UNION WITH A COPY OF THE EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENTS WITHIN 12 WORKING DAYS. IS THIS STILL THE CASE?
Yes. Producers are required to provide the union with copies of employment agreements for both made for Internet commercials and made for new media commercials within 12 working days of employment.
The producer is also required to file copies of employment contracts for all eight-week use cycles.
WHAT IS THE INITIAL TERM OF USE FOR A BROADCAST AND/OR CABLE COMMERCIAL THAT MOVES OVER TO THE INTERNET OR NEW MEDIA?
The initial term of use for move over from broadcast and/or cable to Internet or new media is one year, for not less than 300 percent of the applicable session fee. For an extension term, the producer may use the commercial for the remainder, if any, of the maximum period of use, for not less than an additional 300 percent of the applicable session.
WHAT IF A PRODUCER WISHES TO USE, ON BROADCAST OR CABLE, A COMMERCIAL ORIGINALLY MADE FOR NEW MEDIA USE OR INTERNET USE?
The producer must obtain the consent of the performer and bargain for payment of not less than the required contract minimums for such uses, plus the difference between what was paid for the new media or Internet use and not less than 300 percent of the applicable session fee for one year of use and an additional payment of not less than 300 percent of the applicable session fee for an additional year, subject to the contractual limitations regarding the maximum period of use.
Example: A commercial is made for the Internet, and 6 months into the negotiated 1 year maximum period of use, the producer wishes to air the commercial on broadcast television. The producer contacts the performer’s agent for consent, and bargains for use. The original payment for Internet use was $567.10. Therefore, two additional payments of $567.10 are due to meet the minimum 300 percent requirement, plus any broadcast use payments. Holding fee payments must also be paid.
CAN A PRODUCER ASK FOR A CLEAN CONTRACT AT THE TIME OF AUDITION?
Demanding a “clean contract” is a clear violation of the Commercials contracts. The producer may inform the performer of intent to hire at scale, so long as the producer delineates the rights to be acquired. Performers who do not accept the terms as set out by the producer have the right to audition and negotiate for higher terms.
INTERNET & NEW MEDIA - EXCLUSIVITY
IF A COMMERCIAL IS MADE FOR INITIAL USE ON BROADCAST AND/OR CABLE AND IS SUBSEQUENTLY MOVED OVER TO INTERNET OR NEW MEDIA, DOES EXCLUSIVITY STILL APPLY?
Yes. The performer remains bound by exclusivity so long as the producer continues to pay holding fees. Conversely, if the producer pays 300 percent of the applicable session fee for use on the Internet or in new media but does not continue to pay holding fees as required under the broadcast/cable provisions, the performer is released from exclusivity and is free to accept work for a competitive advertiser/product.
WHAT IF THE PRODUCER WISHES TO OBTAIN EXCLUSIVITY FROM THE PERFORMER ON A COMMERCIAL MADE FOR INITIAL USE ON THE INTERNET OR IN NEW MEDIA?
The performer must then be paid not less than 300 percent of the applicable session fee for one year's use plus holding fees. As long as the holding fees continue to be paid, the producer can continue to use the commercial for a second year upon payment of not less than 300 percent of the applicable session fee, subject to the contractual limitations regarding the maximum period of use.
iACTOR AND YOU
Don’t miss your next gig. Get on iActor now. Unlike other online casting services, iActor features exclusively SAG members -- making it the only site casting directors need to find professional actors. You can email a copy of your resume through the site and display your resume, headshots, audio clips and video reels.
Just sign in as a member at www.sag.org.
Questions? Call the helpline at (800) 724-0767 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Colorado Branch iActor training session is in the planning stages. More information coming soon!