January 21, 2010
By Anne-Marie Johnson
I hope your holidays were filled with happiness, and I’m wishing all of us good health and employment in 2010.
With regard to employment, many challenges are facing us. Most importantly, our mandated early negotiations with our employers start this October. The changing landscape of the entertainment industry has impacted all of SAG’s members, and it is becoming more difficult for most of us to make a decent living, let alone qualify for health care.
The ever-changing landscape was made even more apparent during my visit to the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. I was there representing Screen Actors Guild, and what I saw and heard made it even clearer that the warm and fuzzy days of traditional broadcasting and distribution will soon be a distant memory. From IPTV to 3D televisions, all changes and innovations had to do with the delivery of content. Our content. It was all very intriguing, but none of these technical bells and whistles mean a thing for actors if we are not treated like true “partners” with our employers.
In a blog posted on January 8, columnist and screenwriter Robert J. Elisberg recounts a conversation he had with a representative from mSpot Mobile Movies, a company which provides for the streaming of rented movies directly to personal mobile devices. No downloading necessary. What I found most eye-opening about this blog was the response from the mSpot Mobile Movies representative when told that the AMPTP (our employers) stated during negotiations with the WGA that industry companies needed years to study the Internet and that there wasn’t any money in New Media yet. The mSpot rep responded, “No money? Then maybe they’ll give us back everything we pay them! Because we (mSpot Mobile) pay them (studios/companies) a lot.” Interesting.
Although much can be said about the current drama facing NBC Universal and the “late night wars,” what is most important is, hopefully, the eventual return of scripted entertainment. Placing The Jay Leno Show in primetime theoretically eliminated five hours of scripted television. Hours that could have been filled with dramatic programming, employing SAG members. My selfish wish is that those five hours of primetime television return to a more traditional format, creating more opportunities for actors. Had NBC Universal’s experiment been a success, it was feared that other networks would follow suit, eliminating more hours of scripted primetime programming. But it appears, as of the writing of this letter, that hopefully 2010 will be a better season for our members, the industry and viewers with regard to scripted pilots and/or series orders.
January 20, 2010
January 14, 2010
Got your 3 SAG vouchers... now what?
So you're non-union and you've just gotten three (or more) total vouchers, what's the next step?
(If you're a client of A List, also keep us posted along your path to becoming a SAG.)
- Wait until you get your paycheck. The check stub is your proof that you worked and got paid under the SAG contract. I recommend keeping the work day vouchers too, but the check stub is more important.
- Go to http://www.sag.org/content/eligibility-check and see if SAG already has some of your work history in their system. If they do not have at least 3 SAG work days in their system, you must submit the stubs to them. Follow the directions on http://www.sag.org/content/steps-join to complete the SAG registration process.
- Initiation fees for SAG are $2335 (that's $2,277 plus the semi-annual dues payment of $58.) Payment details are listed in the second link in #2 above. (All of the initiation and first semi-annual dues must be paid in full before the SAG registration process can be continued. I believe they will let you make partial payments to your account, but nothing moves forward until you are paid in full.)
- After you pay, you will get your receipt from SAG. Sometimes it takes a few days to get it, but from this point forward, you're officially SAG. The receipt is basically your temporary card.
- Take your receipt to Central and re-register as SAG. You usually have to do the complete registration process over again, so be prepared to have ID's, money, and be ready to take new pictures.
- Your SAG card will come in the mail in a few weeks. Always bring it to set.
Hope that helps!
January 6, 2010
Loss of film, TV production a 'crisis'
Heeding warnings that runaway production has reached the "crisis" stage, the City Council took steps Tuesday to create a commission tasked with marketing Los Angeles to filmmakers.
With its 13-0 vote, the council directed the Chief Legislative Office to research how a film commission would operate and be financed.
"The loss of productions to other states is no longer a trickling effect; it is a crisis," said Pamm Fair, chairwoman of FilmLA, the nonprofit agency that coordinates film permits.
"We are talking about 300,000 clean, good-paying jobs that we are losing. And we are not only losing the jobs," she said. "We are losing the people, who are relocating to other states."
The film commission is the latest effort to stem runaway production, which has resulted in TV and movie work heading to Canada and overseas. Officials say local film production has dropped by more than half since 1996.
"This is intended to fill a gap," said Councilman Richard Alarc n, who proposed creating the agency.
"It is needed, because we need to market the film industry in a way that we can compete with cities that are developing their own film industry and taking production away from us."
Alarc n said he sees the commission as complementing FilmLA by working with the industry and studying efforts by other cities and states to lure filming to their locales.
Council President Eric Garcetti suggested the new panel include the hiring of a film czar, who would work as a liaison with city agencies and officials to deal with problems as they develop - whether it is with neighborhood complaints or the need for changes in city regulations.
"We need to have someone here to work with FilmLA, and to serve as an advocate for the industry," Garcetti said. "We need someone who has a powerful voice to advocate for the industry and make sure it comes back here where it started."
Councilman Tom LaBonge said the panel should also look beyond the city borders.
"This is not just in Hollywood," LaBonge said. "We have people living throughout the region who could be working in the industry if we had the jobs here."
Paul Audley, executive director of FilmLA, urged the council to enact the proposal, saying he is prepared to work with it to help market Los Angeles to the industry.
"We serve as a partner to the city and will be a partner with this new commission," Audley said. "Merely by showing the interest of the city to the industry will be a key role in helping bring production back."
Garcetti said he believes the new commission can be filled with working and retired members of the industry and the unions most directly affected by production.