LOS ANGELES — Under the banner theme “UNCONVENT!ONAL,” SAG-AFTRA kicked off its fourth biennial National Convention at the Beverly Hilton Hotel Friday morning. The convention began Oct. 10 and runs through Oct. 13. SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris officially opened the three-day event by inviting veteran delegates to lead the pledge of allegiance. She also called on delegates to craft their vision for the union’s future and mentor the next generation of union leaders.
More than 400 delegates from across the country then sat for a keynote interview between Academy Award-nominated film producer Jason Blum (BlacKkKlansman, Get Out, Whiplash) the founder of Blumhouse Productions and facilitator Ben Fritz, the West Coast bureau chief for U.S. news at the Wall Street Journal.
Blum reflected on his career in the entertainment industry. “I struggled with where my role was going to be in the movie business and then Paranormal Activity came along and it was the ultimate indie movie [in terms of how it was made] but it was distributed in the most traditional way by a major studio. After its success, agents and studios wanted me to use that model to make bigger budget horror movies but I didn’t want to do that; I want to make independent movies on a low budget that get released by big studios. Years later, that’s what Blumhouse Productions does–fifty percent of our business is movies and fifty percent is TV.”
He also discussed the changes he’s observed in film distribution. “We fit the distribution model based on the type of movie we’re releasing. More importantly, because our movies are low budget we understand the importance of an actor’s performance. Our casting department is always looking for great actors to cast in our productions.”
During the convention session, delegates nominated and elected the union’s eight national vice presidents, including the executive vice president.
Rebecca Damon was re-elected Executive Vice President.
The following vice-presidential candidates were elected to two-year terms effective immediately (an asterisk indicates candidates who ran unopposed):
- Clyde Kusatsu, National Vice President, Los Angeles
- Liz Zazzi, National Vice President, New York*
- Michele Proude, National Vice President, Mid-Sized Locals*
- Suzanne Burkhead, National Vice President, Small Locals
- William Charlton, National Vice President, Actors/Performers
- Bob Butler, National Vice President, Broadcasters*
- Dan Navarro, National Vice President, Recording Artists/Singers*
Today also marked the opening of the convention expo where attendees can take a break from the business activities to network and obtain important and useful information from partner organizations.
Later this evening, SAG-AFTRA will present the American Scene Awards and announce the George Heller Memorial Award recipients at the Casino Unconventionale gala inside the Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom.
The national convention resumes tomorrow with a report from National Executive Director David White, consideration of several proposed constitutional resolutions and amendments, and a host of afternoon panels and workshops.
For more information about the fourth biennial SAG-AFTRA National Convention, please visit SAGAFTRACONVENTION.org.