Detroit 2008:03

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Detroit 2008:03


The Detroit Branch partnered with the Detroit Film Office for a film symposium at the Detroit Historical Museum on March 15. The program, called “Maximizing a Low Budget Film Project,” was an effort to network Detroit area filmmakers with local SAG members. In attendance were 90 people, either from the acting or production community. They enjoyed a seven-hour day filled with stellar speakers, great information and, of course, lots of food.

State Rep. Andy Meisner, one of the legislators who played an integral role in improving the Michigan film incentives, kicked off the event. He detailed the history of the film incentive bills. Adam Moore, associate national director of affirmative action/diversity, then discussed the SAG low budget film agreements and taught how filmmakers could receive financial incentives when they use a diverse cast. The next speaker was Barbara Niven, Los Angeles actor and SAG National Board member. Barbara inspired the actors as she offered suggestions to those who wish to follow their dreams of becoming continually working actors. She then addressed the filmmakers and emphasized that SAG members are eager to participate in low budget projects. She said filmmakers will be happy with the performances of SAG members.

The afternoon presenter was Bob Brown of Charity Island Pictures and Purple Rose Films. He was executive producer of Bonneville, Super Sucker and Escanaba in da Moonlight. Bob discussed the fundraising and distribution processes, and concluded by showing his film The Trouble with DeeDee (starring Lisa Ann Walker). This was a high quality, low budget film in which the SAG Diversity in Casting Incentive was utilized.

The moderator of the symposium was Detroit council member Greg Russell, producer and host of Movie Show Plus. At the end of the day, attendees agreed that they received new information and great inspiration and had an overall good time.


By Marcia Fishman
Detroit Branch Executive Director

We anticipate that both the Michigan House and Senate will pass new and improved Michigan film incentive bills in the very near future. The legislation would grant sizable tax breaks to lure the film industry, including credits of up to 42 percent for hiring Michigan residents. This change would bring Michigan’s incentives in line with some of the top packages in the country. The film bills were highlighted in Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s State of the State address, and she is expected to sign them quickly.

Highlights of the incentives are as follows:

· Allows a 40 percent refundable tax credit (which can also be assigned) on qualified film expenditures via the Michigan Business Tax. If the credit allowed exceeds the tax liability of the company for the tax year, or if the company claiming the credit does not have a tax liability under this act for the tax year, then the company shall receive a refund for the excess or be paid the amount of the credit.

· Allows an additional 2 percent refundable credit on qualified expenditures made within a CORE (financially stressed) community.

Under the incentives, a minimum of $50,000 must be spent in Michigan, but there is no cap on annual credits given out per project.

I know that we can all agree that this is great news for Michigan and for our SAG members. However, keep in mind that Michigan is very experienced in the industrial and commercial contracts, but limited in experience in the theatrical contracts. Michigan can become a major player in the motion picture world, and SAG members should do everything that we can to sustain that role. Let’s be ready, willing, and above all, professional. We need to prove that Michigan has an “upper hand” in the business.


By Ed Kelly
Detroit Branch National Board Representative

It’s human nature. Times get tough, rhetoric sharpens and knives come out. People blame talent agents, the market, ad agencies, pressures of family life and, of course, the union. Actors who show up at auditions generally fall into two camps: those who are working and those who are not. While the business is cyclical, the common element among those who consistently work is a “whatever it takes” attitude that combines humility with pragmatism.

The consistent workers don’t turn down work as extras because their names may not be on marquis. They also have a tendency for great networking skills. Those who complain most loudly about lack of work are often those with out-of-date headshots and/or out-of-date listed skills. If a headshot is more than five years old (and that’s a stretch), it’s time for a new one. To audition with an old headshot screams to a producer, “I don’t work much!”

Those aspiring to do camera work should also know how to use "the ear.” There is a shortage of younger talent in this market that is “ear proficient.” As a group, we must look for every opportunity to raise our profile to those who might bring us repeat work. There are too many incentives for agency “creatives” to take their work elsewhere. Don’t validate their prejudices by conforming to their preconceived notions.

If asked to bring wardrobe, do not bring black or white clothing unless it is specifically requested. Find out from a seasoned talent or a wardrobe person what wardrobe is best. Make sure that your choices are cleaned and pressed, that your shoes are shined and that you bring a number of choices. Try for a “dress rehearsal” days before the shoot – just in case your choices were inappropriate. This will avoid a wardrobe emergency on the set. Have makeup with you in case the producer did not budget for a makeup person. Groom your hands before any “hand shots” on an industrial.

If your agent lands you a good gig, make a good impression so that you will be sent on another one. Don’t take an agency gig and then self-book that client in the future. It’s not fair and it’s bad business. Oh yeah, “thank you” cards are always a professional touch. Let’s “up our game.”


The Screen Actors Guild Foundation’s Casting Access Project (CAP) offers SAG members the opportunity to meet and learn from respected casting directors via free workshops. In fact, this renowned program was chosen by Back Stage West as “The Best Way to Meet Casting Directors in Los Angeles.”

Now the SAG Foundation has made registration for branch members one step easier: If you plan to be in New York or Hollywood and would like to attend, SAG members (18 years of age and older with active, paid-up membership status) living in areas other than New York and Los Angeles (membership records must reflect this information) can contact either for workshops in New York or for workshops in Los Angeles.

In order to request a Casting Access Project orientation packet, SAG members planning to visit either area may simply contact the CAP region they plan to visit first. The packet is e-mailed to the recipient. Guild members without access to e-mail may request a mailed hardcopy by leaving a message at the appropriate CAP hotline: (323) 549-6022 in Los Angeles, or (212) 591-0288 in New York.

At least one week’s notice is desired, whenever possible, to ensure space in an upcoming workshop.

Just follow the instructions and you will be given priority entrance into the next available workshop. For more information on CAP, visit the SAG Foundation website at


iActor, the only union-hosted online casting directory, now features Station 12 cast clearance. Showcasing exclusively SAG members, iActor provides casting directors and producers the ability to source and then directly verify an actor’s union eligibility for work in SAG-signatory productions, known as Station 12 cast clearance. By bringing Station 12 cast clearance online, an industry first, iActor streamlines the casting process, saving time.

iActor is free to SAG members and the entertainment industry. In addition to its proprietary online Station 12 cast clearance, iActor provides casting directors with the ability to find SAG actors using a customizable search function, create and tag folders according to personal work methodology, preview resumes, view headshots from multiple resumes in a slideshow, and both print and e-mail individual resumes. iActor also provides a content-rich resource for casting directors searching regional talent pools for SAG actors.

More than 23,790 union members representing a cross section of earnings and geographical locations have created resumes on iActor. Are you on iActor? Don’t miss out on this special opportunity. Go to iActor today.


On June 21, 2008, Screen Actors Guild will celebrate its 75th anniversary across the country. Mark your calendar and watch for information on the celebration in the Detroit area.


Are you interested in volunteering on a Detroit Branch committee or activity? Write to Marcia Fishman at


Contact Marcia Fishman, Detroit Branch Executive Director
(800) SAG-0767
(248) 351-2678