New Mexico 2010:09

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The Official E-Newsletter of the New Mexico Branch
The Official E-Newsletter of the New Mexico Branch
September 2010


"Personal Branding – What is it? How can I use it?"
With Tamara Decker

Find out what works so well for Disney, Nike and Apple and use that information to drive demand for your talents. Discover your unique brand and how to effectively unleash it to achieve your goals in your personal and professional life. Decker—who spent more than 14 years in organizational marketing and branding—will give you the tools you need to tell the world who you are, how you’re unique and why that’s important.

Saturday, September 25
Noon-1 p.m. New Member Orientation;
1:15-2:30 p.m. General Membership Meeting;
2:45 p.m. Presentation

Center for Peace and Justice
1420 Cerrillos Rd.
Santa Fe, NM  87505
(next door to IATSE Local 480)

The membership meeting is only open to SAG members in good standing of the New Mexico Branch. No RSVP required. Unfortunately, no guests allowed. Only current paid-up Branch members will be admitted and parents/guardians of young performers under 18. PLEASE BRING YOUR SAG MEMBERSHIP CARD FOR ENTRANCE (paid thru October 31, 2010). For more information, please contact:

Julie Crane - Branch Executive Director:
Tamara Decker - West Region Executive: 


The Joint National Board of Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists met September 12 by videoconference plenary in Los Angeles and New York and approved a package of proposals for the upcoming Joint AFTRA Exhibit A and SAG TV/Theatrical Negotiations.
SAG President Ken Howard and AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon will co-chair the negotiations. AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth and SAG National Executive Director David White will serve as the unions’ co-lead negotiators.
Joint negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers are scheduled to commence on Sept. 27 at the AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks, Calif.



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. A former National Board member, Borgnine, 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.

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.”

For more about the honoree, click here.


Hey, SAG performers! Are you represented by a terrific, franchised agent who you believe does not get the recognition that he or she deserves? Is your agent always there for you, guiding your career, advising you, watching your back, and generally being a mensch without much fanfare or praise? Well, now is your chance to change all of that!

Let us know why your agent is the best agent out there and he or she may be the next SAG Agent of the Month. Tell us (and the world) in your own moving way why your agent is special to you. Share with us your personal anecdotes/ stories about how your agent deserves to be singled out and honored by the Guild. And, if chosen, SAG will run a picture of your agent (and you!) celebrating your agent’s star status as SAG Agent of the Month.

Mention this program to your fellow SAG performers, and keep those letters coming. We will choose a different agent at the start of every month and feature the honoree on SAG’s website for the world to see. With your help, your agent can finally get some richly deserved kudos!

Send entries by e-mail to, or by mail to:

SAG Agent of the Month
SAG Agency Department
5757 Wilshire Blvd.
7th Floor
Los Angeles, CA  90036

We look forward to hearing from you!


A joint filing submitted to the Federal Communications Commission August 12 by a broad coalition of entertainment industry guilds, unions and studios, including AFTRA, DGA, IATSE, SAG and the MPAA, demonstrates that the entertainment industry has combined forces to speak with one voice on the issue of Internet theft.

The joint filing is in response to the FCC’s request for comments on a framework for broadband services, and addresses the possibility that the FCC will choose to reclassify the Internet as a telecommunications service subject to regulation under Title II.

The joint filing says, in part, “As creators of content, we realize that the theft of copyrighted works is the ultimate discouragement of content. The content protection measures that we have proposed only discourage the outright theft of copyrighted content, while protecting jobs and fostering creativity and American ingenuity. We believe that an open Internet offers tremendous promise for the proliferation of diverse audiovisual content, sound recordings, and myriad other forms of expression - it is those who break the law by exploiting these works without appropriately compensating their creators and financiers who discourage the creation of content.”

Click here to download complete filing.


New Members: Carol Bivins, Alan Blazek, Mark Brooks, Jamie Bruce, Buffalo Child, Will Christmas, Julia Danielle, Hayley Derryberry, R.B. Dunn, Lynda Fazio, Matt Feight, Susan Elizabeth Fiore, Tiisha Frazier, Gwen Goldsmith, Ruby Handler, Janis Hendler, Colette Kennedy, Brian G. Lax, Liam Lockhart, Chris McCarty, Keith Meriweather, Baelyn Neff, Holly Pinnell, Lauren A Poole, Jonathan Ragsdale, Chris Ranney, Naomi Nakano Rupp, Jeff Silverman, Jerry Strickler, Nana Visitor, Gregory Wagrowski, John Wylie


All-star panelists producer Tony Mark (The Hurt Locker), producer Karen Moore (In Plain Sight), casting director Jo Edna Boldin (No Country for Old Men), moderator Dan Mayfield (Albuquerque Journal), director Thom Eberhardt (Captain Ron), line producer Alton Walpole (Book of Eli) and 1st A.D. Kaaren Ochoa (Appaloosa). Photo: John Maio Photography

Branch President’s Message

By William “Bill” Sterchi

2010 has certainly been a busy and productive year for the New Mexico Branch.

It was great to see so many of you at our first Business of Acting Conference in April. The three-day event achieved our goal of being one of the biggest events of the year for actors, and it seems everyone who attended was able to take away valuable advice, tools and resources to help them to succeed in this challenging business. We received very positive feedback from our guests, presenters and vendors and are looking forward to producing the conference for you again next year. Please join me in again thanking Tamara Decker and Julie Crane, the Business of Acting Conference Committee, the New Mexico Branch Council, and the terrific presenters and supporters for helping to make the conference an outstanding success.

In May, I attended the national Regional Branch Division meeting in Washington, D.C., and was proud to represent New Mexico along with National Board Member Roy Costley and staff executives Julie Crane and Tamara Decker. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka presented the welcome address and both SAG President Ken Howard and Secretary-Treasurer Amy Aquino were in attendance throughout the entire meeting. I’m pleased to report that the Branch Presidents Caucus unanimously passed an advisory motion for the RBD Board of Directors to endorse “the creation of one union to cover all performers” and the RBD Board of Directors did indeed vote for this endorsement.

Our joint Wages & Working Conditions (W&W) negotiation process for the SAG TV/Theatrical/AFTRA Exhibit A contracts happened over the summer and the New Mexico Branch had our own caucus on July 8. Thanks to everyone who participated at the caucus or by e-mail. This valuable opportunity allowed us to share our experience and concerns and present the needs of New Mexico members to the national Joint W&W Committee.

July also saw plenty of New Mexico performers working on SAG-signatory short films shot during The 48 Hour Film Project and the The Duke City Shootout. These filmmaking festivals provided another great chance for members to work in front of a camera, network with local filmmakers and have fun!

Speaking of networking, don’t miss our Annual Membership Meeting and Presentation on September 25 in Santa Fe. We’re very lucky to have Tamara Decker present her acclaimed seminar “Personal Branding” and the meeting is a good way to learn what’s going on with your New Mexico Branch Council and let us know how we can help you.

Screen Actors Guild compiles its own census on October 31 of this year, based on members “in good standing” on this date. It’s very important for all New Mexico members to be counted. Please make every effort to ensure that your current dues are paid by October 31. And if you know anyone who is SAG-eligible and planning to join or current members planning to move their membership to New Mexico, please ask them to do so by this same date.

Last but not least, I congratulate Roy Costley, Mel MacKaron, Karen Cotter, Cliff Gravel, Stephen Eiland and Harriet Levine on their recent election to the New Mexico Branch Council and sincerely thank Donna Trone and Ben Glenday for their past service on the council.

As always, I welcome your ideas, comments and concerns, and can be reached at

So You Want to be a Star?

Become a True Professional

New Mexico presents tremendous opportunities for performers developing a professional career. With the caliber of projects coming in and the relatively small pool of actors, New Mexico SAG members get auditions and roles Los Angeles actors would kill for.

The challenge for our Branch, however, is the perception that our members – despite their union status – are not true professionals. This translates to most roles being cast in L.A. or New York, with only minor day-player parts available to locals.

Changing this perception would mean more production and increased opportunity in New Mexico as producers realize they could cast here and save on travel expenses.

So how do we change the landscape in the Land of Enchantment? We’ll be exploring different strategies in our quarterly newsletter. In this issue:

Taking Care of Business as Union Members;
Understand What it Means to be a Union Member

What is a union? According to the AFL-CIO: “Labor unions are made up of working people working together to solve problems, build stronger workplaces and give working families a real voice. Unions give workers a voice on the job about safety, security, pay, benefits—and about the best ways to get the work done. Union workers earn 30 percent more each week than nonunion workers and are much more likely to have health and pension benefits.”

Screen Actors Guild is the most distinguished performer’s union in the world. Membership is often a major milestone in an actor’s career; every SAG card issued symbolizes success and solidarity with a community of more than 125,000 talented and accomplished artists worldwide. The Guild exists to enhance actors’ working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artists’ rights.

As a member, you’re expected to abide by Global Rule One, which reads: "No member shall work as a performer or make an agreement to work as a performer for any producer who has not executed a basic minimum agreement with the Guild which is in full force and effect." What does this mean? You agree never to work on non-union projects.

Why Does Global Rule One Matter to You?

Guild members who work non-union are weakening the strength of the entire organization.

Let’s say you get a non-union commercial and get x amount of compensation. What’s missing? It’s a reduced rate, you don’t get paid more even if they run it forever, there’s no pension and health contribution, and you’ll perform in less-than-union-standard working conditions.

If producers can get professional actors at a “discount,” why would they sign up to pay union rates? So, not only do you settle for reduced pay and non-existent benefits, but you end up having less union work available.

This also makes fellow Guild members feel pressure to work as scabs too. “If so-and-so does it, why can’t you?” You might hear this from producers, fellow actors, maybe even your agent (who should really know better).

The problem is it becomes a vicious circle. As more actors work non-union, producers are less willing to use union contracts. This weakens the bargaining power of the Guild. Can you imagine what wages and working conditions would be without the might of the union behind members?

What Can You do to Help?

The most obvious answer is to only work union projects. But there are other things you can do to make the Guild and its contracts even more powerful.

Flip it: If someone wants you to work a non-union project, insist that they look into getting a SAG contract. There are low-budget film, new media and commercial contracts available. Have them contact Julie Crane or Tammy Decker to get started.

Encourage fellow performers to follow your example. If all professional performers only worked union contracts, producers would be forced to pay union wages and benefits.

Get involved: Join the New Mexico Branch Organizing Committee. Help find ways to create more union work for members in our Branch. Contact Bill Sterchi at to get more information.

Take Care of Yourself, Too

When working union projects, make sure they’re legitimate. We had more than one group nearly duped this summer by producers who told them that the project was SAG, when in fact the production never completed the paperwork. Even though you’re trying to do the right thing, you could still be penalized for violating Global Rule One. To protect yourself, simply call the corresponding department the day before you work:

Theatrical motion pictures - (323) 549-6828
Television productions - (323) 549-6835
Commercials/Industrials - (323) 549-6858

Once you get on the set, make sure you get a SAG employment contract before the end of your first day. You also want to make sure you complete the sign-in sheets every day you work. Staff can’t help you with claims if there’s no proof you ever worked!

If you haven’t been paid on time, let us know. Don’t wait until the production has wrapped and left town. We can often get problems straightened out without a lengthy claim process.

Being a professional performer means just that – being professional. It will help your union, your local industry and most importantly, your career. 

Branch Highlighted in Screen Actor

The Land of Enchantment made a splash in the Summer 2010 edition of Screen Actor. First up: The SAG/Milagro Diversity Acting Workshop, which took place in Santa Fe on May 7. The article (page 15) featured a photo with local actors Steven Michael Quezada, David House and Lora Cunningham (sitting with Ed Harris and Chris Eyres, we might add!). Information about New Mexico’s wonderful Conservatory program appeared on page 19, which has actually prompted calls from all over the country to the New Mexico office about upcoming workshops. And a recap of our immensely successful Business of Acting Conference graced page 32. Congratulations to all the members who contributed and participated in these great events!

business of acting event
Networking in the Business of Acting Exhibitor Hall. Photo: John Maio Photography

crowd at panel
The crowd takes in the all-star panel. Photo: John Maio Photography

hurt locker producer and actor
Producer Tony Mark and actor Suhail Al-Dabbach of The Hurt Locker at the Business of Acting Conference