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Josh_Boelter
08-10-2005, 11:55 AM
I’m curious as to whether any of you extreme low-budget directors have used the SAG Indie agreement. They’ve lowered their fees recently so it’s easier to use SAG actors on ultra low budget features (under $200,000). Also, you can use both union an non-union actors. Since my feature will be shooting in Michigan, I kind of doubt there are that many SAG actors around. It’s not as if I can afford to fly people out from L.A., put them up, feed them, and pay the SAG fees. However, if there were some local actors that were SAG, it might be worth it. Anyway, I’d be interested in hearing about other filmmakers’ opinions and experiences with SAG.

Cheers,

Josh

Chris Messineo
08-10-2005, 11:59 AM
I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but we are shooting are first feature soon and intend to use the new "ultra low budget agreement".

They have free seminars on the agreements in NYC and LA and I am going to go the NYC session.

Chris

Josh_Boelter
08-10-2005, 12:42 PM
Yeah, I guess it would make sense for you since you're in New Jersey. There are a lot of SAG actors in the New York/New Jersey area.

Barry_Green
08-10-2005, 02:13 PM
I've got to say, it really looks like SAG has been listening. The prior agreements were outrageously bad for the producer, but these new agreements look, on the surface, to be exactly what you'd want. None of the bullcrap about "any actor can veto your film's release", etc. I haven't gone through the contracts in detail but I read the overview and it looks like SAG's really getting their "act" together.

Josh_Boelter
08-10-2005, 06:05 PM
Yeah, a year ago I wouldn't have considered using any SAG actors, but the new ultra low budget looks reasonable for me. That is, if it turns out that there are any SAG actors in Michigan or the upper Midwest who might like my script. I'm still not sure about that.

JuX
08-11-2005, 03:53 PM
where can I look at a copy of this agreement? We are starting up on a feature next year and we may use it.

Barry_Green
08-11-2005, 04:40 PM
www.sagindie.org

khmuse
08-11-2005, 04:47 PM
The meetings that SAG Indie offers to explain the new contracts are certainly worth attending. The old "Experimental" contract wasn't all that well liked by producers or talent; the new contracts seem to be much better suited to the way that things work in the real world.

Patrick_Swinnea
08-11-2005, 06:52 PM
I'm working on a project at the end of September that requires SAGIndie contracts and I'll be submitting everything next week. I'll post my experiences as they come...

Basically they just want to know anything and everything about your movie. Budget, shooting schedule, cast, script. And then when the movie's done they want a finished copy.

Kind of a pain to have to turn all that stuff in on an independently financed film, but it keeps you on schedule and make you accountable. Oh, and it let's you use SAG actors for deferred pay (which is great on a no budget production)!

Patrick_Swinnea
08-11-2005, 07:59 PM
Oops, I was just going over the contract for the "Ultra Low Budget...."

Turns out in addition to providing every detail of production, you have to pay $100/day plus 14.8% for pension benefits to SAG.

Still cool that you can use pro actors, but in my case the SAG actor is a good friend, and I orginally conceived the idea as a project for him to star in. He's been on board since the outline stage, and wants to make the movie as much as I do. It kind of suck for us that we can't just go shoot something without getting permission and coming up with $115/day for SAG... What do you do if an actor "wants" to defer pay?

Ok, I'll stop whining now...

Moonwind
08-11-2005, 08:24 PM
Well, there's always Financial Core actors.

Sumfun
08-11-2005, 08:32 PM
Patrick: Technically, SAG only has jurisdiction if the project is shot on film. For video, the union is AFTRA. So a SAG performer is not violating his union agreement if he works for free on a project shot on video.

Josh: Being a member of SAG doesn't necessarily mean that the actor is good. Conversely, there are many good actors who are not members of SAG. Make sure you audition all your actors to see if they can meet your project's requirements.

Patrick_Swinnea
08-11-2005, 09:08 PM
Holy Crap!

We are totally NOT shooting on film. We're using the FX-1 to do a feature length "mockumentary" (hate that word, but that's what it is...) intended for film festivals.

OK, I will double check what you told me, but what else do you know about AFTRA? I assume I need to 1) Contact SAG to confirm what you just told me.
2)Contact AFTRA to see what, if anything, we need to do for them.

Now that I think about it, I'm not sure if he's a member of AFTRA or not...

On another note, what if (big IF) we shoot it on video, it gets selected by some big name festival, and we find investors to pay for a 35mm blowup. Would SAG be involved at that point? (I know, these are all questions for SAG, just thought I'd throw them out).

khmuse
08-11-2005, 09:15 PM
SAG has jurisdiction over their members and signatory producers and production companies regardless of the medium that the project is shot on. What really matters is the intended distribution channel (theatrical, DVD, pay television, cable, etc), not the recording format.

Patrick_Swinnea
08-11-2005, 10:02 PM
Hmm... what if the SAG actor is a producer on a self financed independent film? Does he have to pay himself? This wouldn't seem to be in the best interest of the SAG actor.

Patrick_Swinnea
08-11-2005, 10:06 PM
Also, I know SAG used to offer an "Experimental Film" contract for features under $75,000. Under that contract all payment was deferred unitl the film made a profit. I can't find a link on the SAGIndie website for that contract anymore.

They offer deferred contracts for students and short films, but our project isn't either of those.

Moonwind
08-11-2005, 10:06 PM
If this SAG actor wants to act in a non-union film he will most likely have to declare himself financial core in order to do it. This has happened before with actors who want to help out a friend or branch out into directing or producing - unless this actor has enough Q to bring in money on his/her name only.

Patrick_Swinnea
08-11-2005, 10:22 PM
I did a quick search and from what I understand someone who is Financial Core SAG can still demand union scale but choose to work for less. Hmmm...

This could work out for us if he's up for it. What would you say are the downsides to choosing Financial Core status (other than not being able to vote in the Union)?

Can you choose Financial Core status and the revoke it at a later date?

khmuse
08-11-2005, 10:28 PM
The SAG experimental contract is no longer current and has been replaced by the ultra low budget contract (along with a number of other contracts).

As for paying yourself if you are a SAG actor and the producer, you don't effectively have to, however, you would still be obligated to make the contribution to the health care and pension plan.

A declaration of financial core has to be based upon not having income within a certain period of time and is not something that a guild actor is likely to consider without a good reason.

Moonwind
08-11-2005, 10:37 PM
Unless the rules have changed, the only down side to FC is not being able to vote. If you read some of the threats made by SAG against FC you would think an actor who is FC is dealing with the devil and a few of his imps, but I know too many actors that have gone Core due to necessity and some who STAY Core as a protest against some of SAGs stronghold grip. So, for a lot of young actors (or older beginners) FC is a great alternative to being stuck trying to get one of the (relative) few SAG jobs. As an example, when I was in casting it usually averaged around 1800 to 3000 submissions for 5 or 6 speaking roles on LOW budget films. It could be 9000 or more submissions for a decent budget film. With that kind of competition Financial Core makes sense (unless you are in SAG and highly discouraged from taking that action).

On the down side, once an actor has gone FC, he/she has to remain FC status for a set amount of time. Last time I checked (which I admit has been months ago) it was 18 months. After that an actor is re-instated with all rights and privilages restored ... ie, the right to vote. But talk it over with your friend and weigh out all the options (including the new SAG contracts and, if you have enough money, Favored Nations).

Patrick_Swinnea
08-11-2005, 10:58 PM
Thanks for all the input here. 18 months is a fairly short period of time between SAG jobs in Colorado (where we both live). He moved here from New York a couple of years ago and does mostly theater now.

We wouldn't be against making the health care and pension contributions, but Financial Core sounds like a great option.

And if I understand it correctly, we wouldn't have to file *any* contracts with SAG if he's Financial Core. Is that correct?

Barry_Green
08-11-2005, 10:59 PM
Hmm... what if the SAG actor is a producer on a self financed independent film? Does he have to pay himself? This wouldn't seem to be in the best interest of the SAG actor.
There is no exemption. If a SAG actor wants to act in a film, that film has to be a SAG film, or he risks the wrath of the union for violating the contract. Even if it's self-produced and self-funded, if the actor is a member of SAG, he's vowed to never work on a non-union film.

Barry_Green
08-11-2005, 11:01 PM
Also, I know SAG used to offer an "Experimental Film" contract for features under $75,000. Under that contract all payment was deferred unitl the film made a profit. I can't find a link on the SAGIndie website for that contract anymore.

They offer deferred contracts for students and short films, but our project isn't either of those.
The "experimental" film contract was a horrible abomination for producers. It has apparently died a quick and much-deserved death, gone the way of all things that were a really bad idea. You did *not* want to sign the experimental contract!

The deferred contracts they offer now (short & student) take the place of the experimental. The experimental contract was never really intended for anything other than short or student work anyway -- it was highly inappropriate to use it for a commercially-destined project. The new 'ultra' contract is vastly superior, from a producer's perspective, than the old 'experimental' ever was. Do not mourn it. Instead, if you ever find a copy of it, burn it.

Moonwind
08-11-2005, 11:05 PM
Thanks for all the input here. 18 months is a fairly short period of time between SAG jobs in Colorado (where we both live). He moved here from New York a couple of years ago and does mostly theater now.

We wouldn't be against making the health care and pension contributions, but Financial Core sounds like a great option.

And if I understand it correctly, we wouldn't have to file *any* contracts with SAG if he's Financial Core. Is that correct?

If he has filed FC, then he can work on both union and non-union gigs without any backlash from the union. HOWEVER, everyone in the cast HAS to be non-union or FC. So, for all intents and purposes, he would be considered a non-union actor by SAG. And considering where he lives, he might want to give it some consideration as he would surely meet the criteria of "not being able to make a living as a SAG actor"!

There are many options, though, to filing FC status if he is opposed to the idea - he could produce but not act in it, for example.

Barry_Green
08-11-2005, 11:06 PM
Unless the rules have changed, the only down side to FC is not being able to vote.
Well, not necessarily.

Financial Core status means that you resign from the union. You are no longer a SAG member. You can't vote, you can't ever be elected to office, anything -- because you're not actually a member of the union. What you become is classified as a "dues-paying non-member". You retain eligibility for the SAG health & welfare fund by paying in, and you're allowed to work on SAG projects without the union getting the producer in trouble, but you're also allowed to work on non-union projects because -- heck, you're not SAG anymore!

Jon Voight is the most high-profile member to resign from the union and elect financial core status. He will likely never be accepted back to full union membership -- they dis-invited him from the SAG awards ceremony. They feel that financial core threatens the very existence of SAG -- because SAG Rule One is "thou shalt never work on a non-union production", and SAG gains its power over producers because hey, if you want the big names, you gotta become a SAG signatory. But Financial Core changes all that -- now producers can go non-union and still hire the likes of Academy Award-winner Jon Voight.

So yes, SAG vehemently hates Financial Core.

Moonwind
08-11-2005, 11:06 PM
The "experimental" film contract was a horrible abomination for producers. It has apparently died a quick and much-deserved death, gone the way of all things that were a really bad idea. You did *not* want to sign the experimental contract!

The deferred contracts they offer now (short & student) take the place of the experimental. The experimental contract was never really intended for anything other than short or student work anyway -- it was highly inappropriate to use it for a commercially-destined project. The new 'ultra' contract is vastly superior, from a producer's perspective, than the old 'experimental' ever was. Do not mourn it. Instead, if you ever find a copy of it, burn it.

AMEN, BROTHER! The choir of one is SINGING praises to that statement!

Moonwind
08-11-2005, 11:13 PM
Well, not necessarily.

Financial Core status means that you resign from the union. You are no longer a SAG member. You can't vote, you can't ever be elected to office, anything -- because you're not actually a member of the union. What you become is classified as a "dues-paying non-member". You retain eligibility for the SAG health & welfare fund by paying in, and you're allowed to work on SAG projects without the union getting the producer in trouble, but you're also allowed to work on non-union projects because -- heck, you're not SAG anymore!

Jon Voight is the most high-profile member to resign from the union and elect financial core status. He will likely never be accepted back to full union membership -- they dis-invited him from the SAG awards ceremony. They feel that financial core threatens the very existence of SAG -- because SAG Rule One is "thou shalt never work on a non-union production", and SAG gains its power over producers because hey, if you want the big names, you gotta become a SAG signatory. But Financial Core changes all that -- now producers can go non-union and still hire the likes of Academy Award-winner Jon Voight.

So yes, SAG vehemently hates Financial Core.

Chris and Bentley Mitchum (Robert's son and grandson) are both financial core because of the rules on non-union work (especially for young actors trying to break in). Chuck Heston, a past president of SAG, even went FC for a while so he could do a favor for a friend - put all of his holdings into his wife's name and claimed hardship. Erik Estrada has in the past been FC (and I think still is). Edward Albert, Jr. was FC for a while (another Oscar winner). And there are many more. The big challenge is finding out who is and who isn't since there isn't a list of FC actors floating around that I know of. The best way (IMO) is to go to a couple of low budget casting directors - they usually have the skinny on who is and who isn't at any given time.

ttt
08-11-2005, 11:24 PM
i just came back from the 'sag indie workshop' in los angeles... pretty cool, learned a ton of stuff... if you are in la or nyc, i highly suggest going... just for the information. there were people from various states and it was completely filled, we had to sit on the floor! but then again, we were a bit late... lol.

a ton of great information, stuff you would never know about...
oh and cool, free, blue light pens! lol

next dates in la and nyc are sept 8 and oct 13

t :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

Patrick_Swinnea
08-11-2005, 11:49 PM
Wow, lot's of stuff to look into here...

He would be the only SAG member working on the project. After we talk to SAG I'll post back with what we plan to do. The biggest part of going Financial Core would be the ability (or lack of) to become a full fledged member again in the future. We'll have to see what the latest rules are. If going Financial Core meas no SAG contracts it sounds like a great option to have.

Barry and Moonwind thanks for the info.

Moonwind
08-12-2005, 12:00 AM
Wow, lot's of stuff to look into here...

He would be the only SAG member working on the project. After we talk to SAG I'll post back with what we plan to do. The biggest part of going Financial Core would be the ability (or lack of) to become a full fledged member again in the future. We'll have to see what the latest rules are. If going Financial Core meas no SAG contracts it sounds like a great option to have.

Barry and Moonwind thanks for the info.

You are very welcome, Patrick. Looking forward to hearing how it goes. One word of advice - when speaking to SAG do not mention Financial Core! (Read how Barry put it for full impact <grin>.) And Core people can become full fledged members again, especially if they have FC'ed due to hardship as compared to doing it as a 'political' statement. I know several actors that went FC due to hardship - one lost everything in one of the wildfires, another lost it all to the Northridge quake. Both FC'ed and both are now back in SAG in good standing and full membership. The one's who do it quietly and keep their heads low usually don't have much trouble once the time period is up. Its the vocal ones (like Jon and Chris and a few others) that probably won't ever be the SAG fair-haired :engel017: boys/girls again.

Sumfun
08-12-2005, 12:02 AM
I remember reading somewhere that most SAG members don't even make enough from acting to qualify for the medical benefits. It's a wonder that not more of them declare financial core. I mean, is it that important to vote for the next president of SAG?

A lot of the SAG signatory production companies do many non-union projects now, so an actor would have lots more opportunities if he can work both union and non-union jobs.

ttt
08-12-2005, 12:02 AM
fyi- straight out of the current '2005 sag film contracts digest'

short film agreement
less than $50k

ultra low budget agreement
less than $200k

modified low budget agreement
less than $625k

low budget agreement
less than $2.5 million

t :grin:

ttt
08-12-2005, 12:08 AM
sag has plan I and plan II medical pension and health benefits...
they are determined on earnings and of course it depends on how much you work...

also, its definitely good to vote for the next sag pres and the cabinet!!!
theres alot of internal dispute among board members and presidents all WITHIN sag...
lots of drama during elections, its like watching those cheesy political name calling commercials during voting time...

t :laugh:

Patrick_Swinnea
08-12-2005, 12:20 AM
You mentioned not to say anything about Financial Core to SAG so we definitely have a fine line to cross!

What do you think about this - We shoot the movie (a pretty small deal, crew under 10 and cast under 20). Once it's done we'll know if we have the next indie masterpiece or a very expensive home movie. If we feel confident enough about the project to send it around, he can file for FC before the movie hits the festivals. That way he's not risking anything (though it doesn't sound like there's much to risk) and we can just go shoot our stupid movie and worry about the stuff we *should* be worrying about, story, acting, blah blah blah...

Of course this may be a very bad idea for reasons I haven't figured out yet. Ultimately it's "go time" to get the legal stuff in place to make this shoot happen on schedule. I need to pitch the FC angle to him pronto if it seems like the best way to go... (as it's ultimately his decision). Otherwise we better get to signing contracts.

It'd be nice to worry about it once we know we have something worth worrying about. And with the unpredictablity of independent film, you just never know what you'll end up with... :)

Moonwind
08-12-2005, 12:28 AM
I remember reading somewhere that most SAG members don't even make enough from acting to qualify for the medical benefits. It's a wonder that not more of them declare financial core. I mean, is it that important to vote for the next president of SAG?

A lot of the SAG signatory production companies do many non-union projects now, so an actor would have lots more opportunities if he can work both union and non-union jobs.

It is really pathetic in LA in this matter. I would hazzard to guess that 96% of the actors registered with SAG do not make enough money to live on without a second, non-industry job like waiting tables, etc. SAG definitely had its place and time, but IMO that time is running out. And it has turned into 5 times the monster it replaced, the Studio System. At least with the Studio system actors were signed to contracts (albet sometimes chinchy ones) and were paid a weekly salary. They were also taught HOW TO ACT, which is something very sorely needed in LA (and NY and Orlando and .....). SAG was formed to protect the actors from being screwed by the Studios (such as residuals, etc.), but now SAG is screwing all but the top echelon (re 2 to 3%) of its actors. And since SAG is NOT A UNION, but a Guild, it doesn't do much to help the other 96%. No free training, no unionized lists (ie, the next name on the list is the one who gets the job), little or no monitary help during strikes, etc. It is a crying shame that this highway robbery is being thrust upon so many people! And even more of a shame that this Guild would prefer its members to work as a waiter or typist or whatever than to do something that could help hone their skills and make them better at their craft! Bob Mitchum, Chuck Heston, and several others of the "old" crowd at one time talked about a new system with SAG - one where actors who made less than the cost of living (a set goal such as $50,000 a year) could take union and non-union parts, with non-union pay reported to SAG for bookkeeping purposes. Once the actor reached the point of consistantly making the $50K over a 3 year period would then not be able to take non-union parts unless he/she fell below the set amount. I think that would be a wonderful implementation and would help not only the actors in SAG, but low-budget production companies as well. But I am not going to hold my breath waiting for it, especially since "blue in the face" is not one of my more attractive colors. :grin:

Moonwind
08-12-2005, 12:36 AM
You mentioned not to say anything about Financial Core to SAG so we definitely have a fine line to cross!

What do you think about this - We shoot the movie (a pretty small deal, crew under 10 and cast under 20). Once it's done we'll know if we have the next indie masterpiece or a very expensive home movie. If we feel confident enough about the project to send it around, he can file for FC before the movie hits the festivals. That way he's not risking anything (though it doesn't sound like there's much to risk) and we can just go shoot our stupid movie and worry about the stuff we *should* be worrying about, story, acting, blah blah blah...

Of course this may be a very bad idea for reasons I haven't figured out yet. Ultimately it's "go time" to get the legal stuff in place to make this shoot happen on schedule. I need to pitch the FC angle to him pronto if it seems like the best way to go... (as it's ultimately his decision). Otherwise we better get to signing contracts.

It'd be nice to worry about it once we know we have something worth worrying about. And with the unpredictablity of independent film, you just never know what you'll end up with... :)

Shooting that way could get your friend kicked out of SAG in a heartbeat, so I wouldn't suggest doing that. When I said not to mention FC, I meant while you were getting all the info about the other contracts to see if you can figure out a way to shoot it SAG signatory. (Remember - one SAG actor means ALL actors must be SAG or Taft-Hartley'ed.) But if all else looks too expensive, then your friend will have to FC with SAG if he is willing - thats when Financial Core should be brought up. But I wouldn't suggest taking the chance of SAG either fining your friend or at worse kicking him out of the guild.

Patrick_Swinnea
08-12-2005, 06:51 AM
Gotcha. I knew it had to be a bad idea... :(

And if I understand Taft-Hartley, all the other actors have to agree to do a SAG job next? I'm confused. This sounds like it would be a negative for all the other actors (or ones not wanting to join SAG).

Barry_Green
08-12-2005, 08:59 AM
(Remember - one SAG actor means ALL actors must be SAG or Taft-Hartley'ed.)
Not with the new contract. If I'm not mistaken, the new Ultra contract lets you mix SAG and non-SAG actors freely.

Josh_Boelter
08-12-2005, 10:53 AM
Not with the new contract. If I'm not mistaken, the new Ultra contract lets you mix SAG and non-SAG actors freely.

Yeah, you can mix union and non-union actors with the new agreement, which makes things a lot easier. If I had to use all SAG actors, I wouldn't even consider using the agreement. Especially in Michigan. I still need to call the local SAG office, but I suspect SAG actors are fairly rare here. I'm going to look more at local theater groups and hope I can find some good actors who can also tone done their performances from stage acting to screen acting.


Josh: Being a member of SAG doesn't necessarily mean that the actor is good. Conversely, there are many good actors who are not members of SAG. Make sure you audition all your actors to see if they can meet your project's requirements.

Scary though, casting actors without auditions! Yeah, I'll definitely audition everyone. And I've seen enough crap from Hollywood to know that SAG membership doesn't necessarily mean quality acting skills.


We are totally NOT shooting on film. We're using the FX-1 to do a feature length "mockumentary" (hate that word, but that's what it is...) intended for film festivals.

I also hate the word "mockumentary", but that's sort of what my feature also is. Actually, we're mixing fake documentary footage with some real documentary footage. I'm not sure what you'd call that. I'm just calling it a comedy.

Cheers,

Josh

Patrick_Swinnea
08-12-2005, 11:46 AM
Barry, you're right, I went over the Ultra Low contract again and that's exactly what it says - you can mix SAG and non-SAG.

Now I'm wondering if, as both a Co-Producer and SAG card holder, he can defer payment to himself voluntarily. There HAS to be a provision for that (and he's too good of an actor to sit offscreen). We're financing this ourselves (under $6000) and any funds he (we) has to tie up in SAG paperwork and security deposits is less that can go to props, food, etc. His part is too big to simply shoot in a couple of days.

Most of the actors do professional theater or improv comedy, and all of them have offered to fill roles based on the story idea. We've been really lucky in this regard, and it's allowed us to use top notch talent on a shoestring budget. But he's the only one with a SAG card... so...

I called the Denver SAG office today and am waiting a call back. I'll post what I find out.

This is a really important topic for self financed films. Even when all the technical mumbo jumbo is in place bad acting kills most small films, IMHO. Using pros who want to just work on a project for fun (and for free) should be an easy (and free) process.

On the site for the film "Kissing on the Mouth" one of the creators talks about SAGs misdirection involving digital movies. Their old ads said something like "If it's DV it's just a home movie." Now the ads read," Without professional actors, it's just a home movie."

So the point is, SAG has the talent pool wrapped up in red tape, so they get to call the shots on what is and isn't a "home movie." Ha!

Patrick_Swinnea
08-12-2005, 03:47 PM
I just got a call back from the local SAG office. The official word is that even if he is a Producer on the film and writing the checks, "the production" still has to pay him $100/day plus health and pension.

Even if he wanted to defer that payment, it still has to go through the hands of SAG to make the Ultra Low Contract legal. Once it came back to him, if he wants to funnel it back into "the production" he can choose to do so at that time. Of course, now that $100/day has been taxed (or will be at years end) so after funneling it through SAG it's not really $100 anymore. More like $100 - taxes - health and pension.

Take note. If you are a SAG actor and want to make your own movie (and be in it) and stay on SAG's good side, this is the process you'll go through.

Moonwind
08-12-2005, 05:44 PM
I just got a call back from the local SAG office. The official word is that even if he is a Producer on the film and writing the checks, "the production" still has to pay him $100/day plus health and pension.

Even if he wanted to defer that payment, it still has to go through the hands of SAG to make the Ultra Low Contract legal. Once it came back to him, if he wants to funnel it back into "the production" he can choose to do so at that time. Of course, now that $100/day has been taxed (or will be at years end) so after funneling it through SAG it's not really $100 anymore. More like $100 - taxes - health and pension.

Take note. If you are a SAG actor and want to make your own movie (and be in it) and stay on SAG's good side, this is the process you'll go through.

No matter how SAG changes, adds to, or subtracts from the contracts, Fringes will be one area that will never be changed - Death, Taxes, and Sag Fringes..... :evil:

Sumfun
08-12-2005, 09:46 PM
$100/day + fringes is not bad, even on a shoestring budget. After all, you're only paying for a few shooting days, and if your friend puts the $100 back into the production, then you're only paying the fringes for a few days.

Josh_Boelter
08-13-2005, 07:04 AM
$100/day + fringes is not bad, even on a shoestring budget. After all, you're only paying for a few shooting days, and if your friend puts the $100 back into the production, then you're only paying the fringes for a few days.

Agreed. I wouldn't put together a complete cast of SAG actors at $100 a day on a no-budget flick, but if it's just one actor it's not bad. As you said, bad acting kills a lot of indie movies. I'd rather do everything no/deferred pay, but I'd be willing to pay my leads the $100 a day. In my case, that would mean that more of the other expenses would have to go on credit cards though since I don't have financing.

Another though about SAG indie. One thing that scares the hell out of me as I prepare for my first feature is keeping actors. Since I can't afford to pay people (beyond feeding them and giving them some gas money), I worry about casting a lead who ends up quitting halfway through production. I've heard a lot of indie horror stories about this happening. Everyone thinks it will be fun to shoot a movie until they spend a few long days there. If it's a small part, I could always quickly recast or rewrite the pages to cut the part, but if it's the lead character you can't really do that. I've heard several first-time directors say they cast themselves for that reason. I think Ed Burns cast himself in Brothers McMullen because he figured it was one less actor he had to worry about showing up. I like actors and will treat them well and with respect, so I'm not worried so much about personal conflict. But I do worry about someone deciding they just don't want to put in that much time for another ten days or something. Anyway, what I'm wondering is, if you use the SAG indie agreement, wouldn't you have some sort of recourse if an actor decided to quit during production? I guess I should check their web site. Anyone have any thoughts about that?

Cheers,

Josh

Patrick_Swinnea
08-13-2005, 07:27 AM
I don't think you'd have any recourse. The Ultra Low contract (can't speak for the others) states, "Professional performers shall have the right to accept other professional employment during the course of production, however, the performer shall attempt to provide thirty-six (36) hours notice of a conflicting professional engagement."

So, in fact, they could bail on you with basically one day's notice.

But I don't think any professional actor would do that. When you're shooting a movie with your friends you never really know who's going to show up for the day. Like you said, everyone gets excited about making a movie, then finds out how boring it can be to work on a a shoot.

Pro actors usually know what their signing up for and IMO are less likely to lose interest (unless some other area of production is killing the show).

You guys are right about the $100 thing. We talked last night and we figure if we schedule him for a packed 5 days on camera we're looking at maybe $100 in fringes after the money has been through the machine. So it's not that bad.

Josh_Boelter
08-13-2005, 07:36 AM
I guess I glossed over that when I read the ultra low budget agreement the other day. I think you're right that it's non-professionals who are more likely to walk. I'm just going to assume that I won't be able to count on my friends who say they want to help. Sure they'll all be there the first day, but I'm sure they'll get bored quickly. That's fine. Fewer people to feed! This is why actors are pampered so much. More than anyone, a lead actor is not replaceable once you have significant footage. You could replace your DP, sound recordist, even the director, and it wouldn't be as noticeable as having to recast your lead.

khmuse
08-13-2005, 08:23 AM
A professional actor, guild member or not, isn't very likely to walk out on a job that they have committed to. Their reputation as an actor is certainly effected by their work ethic.

Lets face it; an actor making $100/day is not doing a project for "the money", consider all that they spend on training, driving to auditions and call backs, agent and/or manager commissions, headshot photography, printing, postage, etc. With the ultra low budget contract, you are getting a professional who normally makes nearly $700/day for 1/7 of their minimum day rate! I don't think that you will get a similar consideration from the equipment manufacturers, rental houses, expendables suppliers, just because you are shooting an ultra low budget project. I can tell you from personal experience (I have a teen daughter who is a professional actor), that even at scale, an actor isn't making much money after they cover all their expenses. At $100/day, it is likely costing them to be working. This is not to say that they won't be happy to get the job; most actors would rather work than eat if given the choice, its what they love, so they will do about anything to work on a good project.

Sumfun
08-14-2005, 08:22 AM
most actors would rather work than eat if given the choice, its what they love, so they will do about anything to work on a good project.

That's the key right there. If you can get your actors to believe in the project and in your ability to do a good job, then they'll have no problem making a commitment. That's why sometime you even see big name Hollywood stars working on independent projects.

KerryB
05-20-2006, 09:03 PM
Under the Ultra Low Budget, do you have to keep sag time sheets for the entire shoot, or just days with sag actors?

Brandon Rice
05-22-2006, 02:34 PM
I am about to work on a project and I may use some SAG actors, but it'll all be deffered... If I get distribution I will pay each actor scale per amount of days worked.

BobbyFinstock
06-29-2006, 01:00 PM
sagindie.com

Yardsale
07-10-2006, 01:28 PM
great thread! I'm trying to get an actress who is a good friend of mine to be able to star in my film but she is SAG and a pretty big name already

Zak Forsman
07-11-2006, 12:26 PM
i'm going to the SAG indie workshop in LA on thursday to learn more about the ultra low budget contract. anyone else going?

l33t_specialist
07-13-2006, 06:58 AM
Wow this is a great resource! I love this thread. Do you know where I can find more contracts and actor's agreements & waivers? I didn't even know there was a thing called Financial Core.

I was also surprised about the statement made by member Sumfun. He said that as long "Technically, SAG only has jurisdiction if the project is shot on film. For video, the union is AFTRA. So a SAG performer is not violating his union agreement if he works for free on a project shot on video."

But no one clarified in subsequent postings if this would be an issue later on if the video got blown up to 16 or 35 mm film? Would you still be accountable for SAG fees?

Also I think someone ought to start a poll to see what the majority of people shoot on for most of their projects. VHS, Beta, miniDV, film, etc.? It might all be 100% mini-DV, since this is a DVXuser forum, but then we might find some interesting results.

Zak Forsman
07-13-2006, 07:29 AM
I was also surprised about the statement made by member Sumfun. He said that as long "Technically, SAG only has jurisdiction if the project is shot on film. For video, the union is AFTRA. So a SAG performer is not violating his union agreement if he works for free on a project shot on video.".
sumfun was/is misinfomed.

Yardsale
07-13-2006, 09:50 AM
sumfun was/is misinfomed.
lol :crybaby:

Zak Forsman
07-15-2006, 08:15 PM
well, i went. the biggest thing i learned is that you cannot defer payment to sag actors anymore. not even the ultra low budget or short film contracts allow for it. the experimental contract allowed this but it does not exist anymore. the minimum is $100/day plus 14.8% to the sag pension fund. and you have to post a bond to sag in the amount of 40% of what you will pay the talent, which they hold for the duration of the shoot. so you essentially have to be prepared to budget an extra 40% of money going to the sag actors.

Zak Forsman
07-15-2006, 08:29 PM
I am about to work on a project and I may use some SAG actors, but it'll all be deffered... If I get distribution I will pay each actor scale per amount of days worked.
deferred? who is your SAG rep? i just came from the SAG Indie seminar on thursday night and was told SAG no longer allows deferred payments. its now $100/day minimum for budgets under $200,000.

but if you negotiated something else, i'd like to hear more about it and who your rep at SAG is that you negotiated with. i only ask because they were emphatic that actors cannot accept deferred payment on an individual basis because it flies in the face of the purpose of a union -- to protect the rights of the acting community.

im assuming your paperwork is in order because if you're going around SAG, but using SAG talent, the moment you are offered a distribution deal, SAG will hit you up for scale and penalties which usually far exceed the money you will be offered in a distribution deal. many films have been caught in this situation making them impossible to distribute. SAG has taken many producers to court over this as well.

Tom Marshall
07-16-2006, 09:09 PM
Hey cygnet74 (http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/member.php?u=641), I went to that workshop. It was very informative. Where were you sitting?

Zak Forsman
07-16-2006, 10:14 PM
Hey cygnet74 (http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/member.php?u=641), I went to that workshop. It was very informative. Where were you sitting?back row. right next to one of the big columns -- maybe ten seats down from the guy that kept asking antagonizing questions about SAG shutting down productions.

you? or was that you?

morisato
07-16-2006, 10:41 PM
Interesting that this topic came up. I'm looking to shoot a short that has SAG actors in it. Could someone enlighten me on SAG contracts concerning short films? I dont expect to make any money from this short because shorts tend to not make money, but I do plan to submit it to festivals for all to see. I spoke with one of my actors concerning this situation and she told me not to worry about it. Because there's no money involved, there's nothing for me to worry about. Can anyone agree or disagree with this? If it is true that I have nothing to worry about then why would anyone bother to get the short film contract shown here...

http://www.sagindie.com/contracts2.html
(The 2nd one... the one for short films)

I am so confused:undecided

Zak Forsman
07-17-2006, 01:42 AM
i'm no expert but i believe the idea is that if down the road you were offered distribution for the short on a festival compilation DVD or a cable outlet like IFC or sundance, you will have to immediately pay up for the actors' deferred salaries at "scale" if you don't use the short film contract, which will significantly reduce the deferred salary to $100/day.

you also have the option of ignoring SAG's requests to pay up, but they will take you to court (you wont be the first). even if they know you have no money. its in their best interest to "make an example out of you".

Tom Marshall
07-17-2006, 12:51 PM
back row. right next to one of the big columns -- maybe ten seats down from the guy that kept asking antagonizing questions about SAG shutting down productions.

you? or was that you?

Oh, the guy in the Hawiian shirt? I remember him. I was in the row in front of that guy. I asked about upgrading the film contract after you begin shooting.

Tom Marshall
07-17-2006, 12:54 PM
Interesting that this topic came up. I'm looking to shoot a short that has SAG actors in it. Could someone enlighten me on SAG contracts concerning short films? I dont expect to make any money from this short because shorts tend to not make money, but I do plan to submit it to festivals for all to see. I spoke with one of my actors concerning this situation and she told me not to worry about it. Because there's no money involved, there's nothing for me to worry about. Can anyone agree or disagree with this? If it is true that I have nothing to worry about then why would anyone bother to get the short film contract shown here...

http://www.sagindie.com/contracts2.html
(The 2nd one... the one for short films)

I am so confused:undecided

You should sign the short film contract. If there isn't any money made from the project, then you won't have to pay anybody anything, but it you DO happen to make money, then you're safe and all you'll have to pay anyone is a deferred payment. I was talking with the Sag Indie rep after the workshop and that's the advice he had to give.

Barry_Green
07-17-2006, 02:23 PM
Before signing *any* SAG contract, you'd better look into whether doing so makes you, personally, a SAG-signatory producer, which could theoretically bind you to all future productions being SAG as well.

The common advice has been to form a specific separate production company dedicated to the purpose of producing this particular film, and have that company sign the contract, not you personally.

Zak Forsman
07-17-2006, 02:49 PM
Before signing *any* SAG contract, you'd better look into whether doing so makes you, personally, a SAG-signatory producer, which could theoretically bind you to all future productions being SAG as well.

The common advice has been to form a specific separate production company dedicated to the purpose of producing this particular film, and have that company sign the contract, not you personally.
signatory status lasts one year.

Tom Marshall
07-17-2006, 03:18 PM
Before signing *any* SAG contract, you'd better look into whether doing so makes you, personally, a SAG-signatory producer, which could theoretically bind you to all future productions being SAG as well.

The common advice has been to form a specific separate production company dedicated to the purpose of producing this particular film, and have that company sign the contract, not you personally.

They brought up the fact that the Short film and the Ultra low budget contracts do not require you to be a signatory producer.

Barry_Green
07-17-2006, 07:14 PM
Well, see, now that's excellent. That was one of the other big gotchas in the previous contracts...

Tom Marshall
07-17-2006, 11:03 PM
This one guy had some horror stories... He shot under the SAG experimental contract and wound up getting a small distribution deal from it and profited about 1000 bucks. Then SAG came after him to pay his deferred payments and he wound up owing all of the actors something like 80,000...

morisato
07-18-2006, 11:11 PM
Hey Barry,

In your post in topic "Another SAG question" you said that SAG cant technically touch you if you hire a SAG member in your non-union production. But posted above, someone said that if you make money off your production, SAG will take you to court... who is right?

Tommyinia said, "You should sign the short film contract. If there isn't any money made from the project, then you won't have to pay anybody anything, but it you DO happen to make money, then you're safe and all you'll have to pay anyone is a deferred payment. I was talking with the Sag Indie rep after the workshop and that's the advice he had to give"

This implies that if you dont sign the contract, then you're not safe and will end up paying more than the deferred payment amount if you do make money.

Also, my actor brought up that if I report this production with SAG and get all the paper work, I will have to pay money for insurence and stuff, and they will keep a close eye on my progress. Anyone have any information on hidden fees and surprises?

Still confused here...

Barry_Green
07-19-2006, 05:03 AM
Anyone can take you to court anytime they want. Whether they can win is another question entirely.

If you don't sign the SAG contract, then SAG has *no* jurisdiction over you whatsoever. Regardless of what some may try to tell you, this is still a free country and you can hire whoever you want. It's the *actor* who has a relationship with SAG, and SAG can punish the actor, but they cannot touch you.

Now, technically they could boycott your production, they could put up picket lines, they could send out memos asking distributors to not carry your product, but they have no relationship with you.

It's like if you hired Terminix as your exterminator, and Orkin started sending you bills. Would you pay the Orkin bill? You didn't hire Orkin, you hired Terminix; you paid Terminix, you have no relationship to Orkin, why do you care what Orkin does? Same with SAG. If you don't establish a relationship with them (by signing their contract) then you have no relationship, and no obligation whatsoever.

The *actor* has a relationship with SAG, the actor signed a contract with SAG (vowing to abide by Global Rule One), and the actor is he/she who has a responsibility to SAG. Not you. Not if you don't sign their contract.

Tom Marshall
07-19-2006, 01:00 PM
It's the *actor* who has a relationship with SAG, and SAG can punish the actor, but they cannot touch you.

Absolutely... you don't have to sign a SAG contract if you don't want to... The actor is the one who will get in trouble, not you. Rule One says a union actor can't do non-union, not the other way around. But if you want to have a SAG actor in your short, it's a good idea that you get a short film SAG contract so that the actor doesn't get in trouble. It can and does happen. If they don't care, then there's no point in going through the trouble.

As far as SAG taking you to court, that's if you've signed the contract and refuse to pay the actor... now that's a different story...

Dahopafilms
07-19-2006, 04:15 PM
Not to stir anything up, but I have been "advised" that SAG minimums and other SAG requirements do not apply to SAG members in relation to projects which the SAG member produces. I have thus further been "advised" (but have never done it) that by giving your SAG member Associate Producer status and some negotiated points (which may amount to a small hill of air), you can get around the whole SAG waiver problem on low budget shoots.

Personally, I find that a little too easy a workaround, but I simply ask if anyone has heard of this or can otherwise confirm or rebut the advice I have received.

And having previously gone the SAG waiver route, yes it's a little work but in reality it's not too onerous a task (and at least in relation to the forms I signed, there were no provisions that by signing, the Producer became a SAG-signatory Producer).

Tom Marshall
07-20-2006, 12:06 AM
Not true at all... even if you're the producer and you're in SAG, you have to pay yourself...

I'm so glad I went to that workshop!

smelni
07-20-2006, 07:28 AM
Our feature "American Standard" was shot under the ultra-low budget agreement. It was worth it to get the amazing talent we got. But SAG is not easy to work with - they originally asked for 100%, yes 100% of SAG salary as bond to hold for our 6 week shoot- we got that knocked down to about 30%. The weekly paperwork kills you and you have to send your checks to sag who send it to the actors even if you are seeing them everyday. Its a pain but worth it for the right actors.

Zak Forsman
07-20-2006, 07:46 AM
Not true at all... even if you're the producer and you're in SAG, you have to pay yourself...

I'm so glad I went to that workshop!
suddenly i feel like an expert thanks to that workshop. an important (but still inconvenient) point about this is that once you pay yourself, nothing stops you from re-investing that money into the production.

smelni
07-20-2006, 07:51 AM
except that you will be reinvesting the money minus taxes and sag pension and health - so it costs you about 130 to reinvest 92

not a bargain

Romane19
03-22-2008, 10:18 PM
Josh: Being a member of SAG doesn't necessarily mean that the actor is good. Conversely, there are many good actors who are not members of SAG. Make sure you audition all your actors to see if they can meet your project's requirements.

That is so true. I don't know why people think so. Maybe its the mentality that if your SAG then your "Awesome and Great". :kali:

taormina
03-22-2008, 11:47 PM
Realistically speaking if you ever want to see a distribution deal you will use well known actor. There are no well known actors who are not SAG members. If you know of one, let me know, I could use him in the movie.

Prodigi Pictures
03-29-2008, 10:17 PM
No matter what your production, it is best to have your production company become a SAG signatory. Here is why:

Short Film:
1.) You're company (not you) is signing the Short Film signatory agreement. You can hire SAG and non-SAG actors. You don't have to pay them anything (although you'll get far better actors if you pay SOMETHING. I paid $100.00 a day for my actors on Saturday Night Special. It was worth it...its one of the reasons I could raise the budget for my current feature).
2.) The required contracts are simple 1 page contracts. SAG provides them.
3.) SAG will almost entirely leave you alone. Are they rude, slow and bureaucratic? Yes...but once you file your paperwork with them they leave you alone.

Feature Film:
1.) You're company (not you) is signing the Ultra-Low Budget signatory agreement. Stop talking about the Experimental Film Agreement because it hasn't existed for several years. The ULB agreement is very straight forward. You must pay all actors $100.00 a day. You can hire both union and non-union. There are a LOT more hoops to jump through than on a short film, but that's the price one pays to have access to celebrity actors.
2.) You owe no residuals for theatrical exhibition worldwide.
3.) You can pay actors through a payroll company.
4.) As long as you handle a sale correctly you will only owe about 3% of your various DVD or Cable distribution deals to a residual pool, which SAG will divide amongst all actors.
5.) You have to pay health and pension, which is currently 14.8% of their day rate. This applies to non-union actors on your project as well even though they aren't SAG and can't get access to SAG's health and pension.
6.) You'll have to give a security deposit that will take SAG about 2-3 months to return to you after they have cleared your production.

Do many of these elements suck? Yup. What is your alternative? Well, it is:

- Post your auditions as a non-union project looking for non-SAG actors only. You've now eliminated about 80% of all great actors. Are there solid non-union actors out there? Yeah...but I hold auditions in LA all the time and I find only 10% of union actors are good. For non-union it's probably closer to 2%.
- Because it is non-union far fewer actors will take the project seriously. So, even good non-union actors will avoid submitting themselves to your project. Who are you left with? Weirdos, people with emotional issues, people who are rejected by all good projects...why on earth would you want to work with those types?
- Now that your stuck with second-rate actors your project will turn out like every other indie short...crappy acting, which means it won't get into festivals, it won't help you raise money for a feature and it won't move your career forward.

I say this stuff all the time. I've never had anyone listen to me. They all say "yeah, but my project will be DIFFERENT. My local college has a great acting program. I can cast out of there. I know a bartender who did two episodes of Hill Street Blues in the 80's. He's a pro. I have friends at a local community theatre. They do theatre all the time. They're pros."

I was the president of a local indie film community here in Albuquerque. This became the most contentious issue. I kept saying "Our goal is to make good movies, not to cast our neighbors and feed their delusions." The response was always "But, what if there is one great local actor?" I'd say "Maybe there is one great local actor. My time is too valuable to hold a massive local audition for one great local actor. Even more importantly, I don't want just one great actor. I need ten. And I want them to LOOK like the character in my head as well as possess professional acting skills. And what if a local is good in an audition but has never been on a set before? I don't want to hold their hand as they struggle with bringing their character to life in front of large crew with tons of gear. Have they dealt with the constant technical hickups of production? Do they know how long a film day is? This ain't community theatre. They don't show up at 6:45 for a 7:30 show and go home by 10:00 PM." I eventually quit because it was clear they didn't want to make real movies...they wanted to create an insulated community of wanna-bes who were afraid of risk, afraid of competition and wanted to make movies as a hobby. I'm not a hobbyist, so I was the wrong person to be in charge of the group.

Thanks to SAG's new agreements there is NO REASON to ever work with non-professionals. The two most important elements of your movie are your screenplay and the acting. Don't compromise on this. Deal with the headaches of SAG and put your short in the position to win film fests.

Prodigi Pictures
03-29-2008, 10:37 PM
One more note...

...I love auditions. I call it "fishing." I don't simply want famous people in my film. I want to find the actors who are about to break. Faces that have never been seen but are already damn good at their job. This takes time. You'll see 100 faces for every 10 worth bringing in for call backs. Out of those, only 2-3 will be worth casting.

However, I've held casting sessions since I was 14 years old. I've held them in Portland, Seattle, Spokane, Ashland, Albuquerque and New York City. I've held at least 30 casting sessions. And ever since I decided to have each project be it's own LLC and become a SAG Signatory, the quality of people auditioning has increased exponentially.

I found that I could be far pickier. I could expect actors to show up to an audition off-book. I could give subtle, nuanced direction and have actors actually understand what I want from them. I could say "Okay, I'm writing a roll for a 55 year old bald guy with a bad comb over" and get 100 people, 10 of which were all excellent actors. Having MULTIPLE QUALITY CHOICES for a roll is KEY to making a great film.

For me, casting is like being a kid in a candy shop. I meet thousands of actors, narrow my list, keep the numbers of great actors who aren't right for this project, call them 3-4 months later, write them rolls for my new project...you can't do that if you're relying on nonprofessionals.

seandelgado
04-09-2008, 11:14 PM
I did an ultra low budget contract recently for a 50k, 15 day shoot. SAG made us put up 200% of the SAG payroll as a bond, when at the SAG indy seminar they said 30%-40%
It was a nightmare and severely hampered our cash flow affecting the entire picture, as the bond was higher than our post, and they made us wait 6 weeks to get it back. Also, we had to hand deliver payroll within 3 days of the week ending, they wouldn't let us give the actors their checks along with the crew, some actors received their checks 3 weeks (!!!) AFTER we wrapped.

The Los Angeles SAG reps were Margaret Johnson and her `boss' who called herself Twanda and would not give her last name. If you get them assigned to you ask for a reassignment, they even told an actor who couldn't wait 3 weeks for her check that we were untrustworthy without ever meeting us or doing any background/credit check.

better to tell SAG your shoot is over 4 weeks and do a standard low budget, that way you can at least get taft hartleys and points for non-sag players.

Zak Forsman
04-09-2008, 11:40 PM
that sucks. we did SAG ULTRA LOW on Heart of Now and negotiated a bond under 40%. Rep was Julia Allen, who is very "by the book", but if you're nice, she will work with you.

seandelgado
04-10-2008, 09:42 PM
... and if you're not `nice'? On other pictures I did with a straight low budget it was so much `nicer' and by the book than the ultra low where they seemed to be making up `rules' as they went.

Zak Forsman
04-11-2008, 03:32 AM
nice = $60 gift certificate to The Cheesecake Factory

Luis Caffesse
04-25-2008, 09:38 AM
Bringing this thread back up to ask a question to you guys who have had experience with SAG on indie features.

What happens when a film goes over budget?

Hypothetically - you have a film that is budgeted at 199K, so you sign the 'ultra low budget agreement' with SAG (the cutoff for that is 200K). Then you get into post, you run out of money, which is not uncommon in many cases, and you raise another 50K in finishing funds to finish your postproduction.

In the end your film winds up with a 250K budget.

Does SAG somehow take into account the entire budget?
Or are they only interested in your production budget?

If you go over the limit after production are there any ramifications in relation to SAG?

Just curious.
This scenario came up in conversation with a friend, so I figured I'd ask here and see if anyone had run across something like this.

Prodigi Pictures
04-28-2008, 09:44 PM
Theoretically, if you go past the 200K in actual cash expenditures then the ultra-low budget agreement no longer applies and you retroactively have to pay higher day rates for each actor.

However, I've never known anyone who did this.

Despite that, I think it is in your best interest to make sure you can finish the project within the given budget ceiling designated by SAG.

Luis Caffesse
04-28-2008, 09:50 PM
Despite that, I think it is in your best interest to make sure you can finish the project within the given budget ceiling designated by SAG.

Of course - not only because of SAG, but because I wouldn't want to go over budget in the first place.

I wasn't suggesting it as a way to skate by - just curious seeing as 200K is such a low threshold, I could easily see someone budgeting at 190K or something and next thing you know a day or two of overtime and you're over 200K (which would cost you a hell of a lot more if you have to go back and pay all the actors over twice as much).

Thanks for the clarification.
:thumbsup:

Prodigi Pictures
04-30-2008, 04:50 PM
that sucks. we did SAG ULTRA LOW on Heart of Now and negotiated a bond under 40%. Rep was Julia Allen, who is very "by the book", but if you're nice, she will work with you.

Zak -

To clarify, do you mean that you negotiated a bond for 40% of your estimated actor expenses or 40% of what SAG originally quoted you?

- Justin

JonathanLB
04-30-2008, 06:54 PM
*shakes head* Unions, what a joke. SAG is probably the worst. Fortunately plenty of good actors will ignore their union affiliation.

I would rather fine ones who are Financial Core, that's ideal for everyone, them and us. I would never make my production company a signatory of any union, I don't believe in unions. I'd just form an LLC individually for the project and make that a signatory, as was mentioned above, much better idea.

Prodigi Pictures
04-30-2008, 10:32 PM
*shakes head* Unions, what a joke. SAG is probably the worst. Fortunately plenty of good actors will ignore their union affiliation.

I would rather fine ones who are Financial Core, that's ideal for everyone, them and us. I would never make my production company a signatory of any union, I don't believe in unions. I'd just form an LLC individually for the project and make that a signatory, as was mentioned above, much better idea.

That's exactly what we did for our film. A Lonely Place For Dying is owned by Lonely Place, LLC. Lonely Place, LLC is the signatory. Eventually, the assets of Lonely Place will be transferrred to Prodigi, Inc. Prodigi, Inc. makes another movie and that movie's LLC becomes signatory to SAG.

SAG is difficult to deal with. However, there are too few actors who are Financial Core for me to consider that a viable casting option. We want major celebrities for our project.

JonathanLB
05-04-2008, 09:32 PM
Yeah that's the problem, most of the best actors ARE SAG. It's hard to find ones who aren't, it obviously must not be that difficult to get into SAG because most actors I see are, even though they're not making any money and work at a restaurant. It's weird, because cinematographers I know who are in IATSE 600 are actually in fact WORKING, paid professionals and make a living from their craft. Actors in SAG usually don't. I'm not sure what's going on with that. I got a SAG actor to work for free on a really lousy short film I did, lol, it was only a one-day shoot but he was game.

Prodigi Pictures
05-05-2008, 05:36 PM
Yeah that's the problem, most of the best actors ARE SAG. It's hard to find ones who aren't, it obviously must not be that difficult to get into SAG because most actors I see are, even though they're not making any money and work at a restaurant. It's weird, because cinematographers I know who are in IATSE 600 are actually in fact WORKING, paid professionals and make a living from their craft. Actors in SAG usually don't. I'm not sure what's going on with that. I got a SAG actor to work for free on a really lousy short film I did, lol, it was only a one-day shoot but he was game.

SAG is not easy to get into. It takes about 1-2 years for most actors to figure out a way to get into the guild.

The discrepancy is largely one of math. Everyone wants to write or act. Both SAG and the WGA are huge and the majority of their members don't make a living from their chosen field. Also, there is a perception that acting and writing is easy...so, a lot of wannabes are attracted to these occupations.

I never sat in a coffee shop and heard a waiter say "You know, I want to spend years studying the nuances of photography, camera technology, lighting, color theory and visual language so I can be an intrical but invisible part of the filmmaking process as a cinematographer." It is (rightly) perceived to be a difficult position that requires tremendous knowledge.

I wish writing and acting were perceived in the same light. Everyone thinks they can write a script. "That chick who wrote Harry Potter? She was unemployed! I'm unemployed. I can write just as gewd as she can!" And thus is born a vast guild with a glut of unqualified members. "I heard Keanu Reeves was discovered in a shopping mall! I go to shopping malls! Maybe I can be an actor!" And thus is born another vast guild with a glut of unqualified members.

The truth is acting is a damn hard job. Good actors are hard to find. When one finds them they've always studied for years, are serious about their craft and don't have the habits of the flakey wannabes. If you hold a SAG audition you'll find only 1-2% of the actors are worth hiring, but that 1-2% are tremendously amazing.

JonathanLB
05-06-2008, 03:50 AM
Whoa you DO have high standards, haha, I wouldn't say 1-2% but that's just me. When I am looking over actors I would say that in general, union or not, 50% are not really that good, 20% are passable, another 20% are fairly good depending on the role / project, and 10% are very good.

Acting is very hard, I don't know how anyone could think it's easy, haha, I liked your comments, though, funny stuff.

Writing is extremely difficult, I think the main problem is actually that every director thinks he can write. In film school that's a huge problem and why so much of the work is bad. I can't tell if the directing is good if I'm so distracted by how awful the story is.

My background is writing, professionally since I was 17, but not in the fiction category, strictly research and non-fiction. That may lend itself well to documentary filmmaking, not sure if that's really my interest, though, narrative features interest me a lot more. But I still prefer scriptwriting (I've taken one college course on that) to short story writing / novels, etc. That's primarily because I'm not a fiction reader. I think fictional books can be great, but I don't have the time. I can watch an amazing movie in 2 hours or read a book in like 16-25 hours or something. No thanks. Plus my love and passion is film, so it's all research to me to watch movies or see TV shows, and it's basically just entertainment / a waste of time reading fiction. If I want fiction, I watch movies. If I want facts and information, I read books or articles, so I do a ton of non-fiction reading. I read for information, watch movies for entertainment or insight, etc. What I think is great about scriptwriting is you don't have to screw around with flowery BS, you just cut to the point. None of this nonsense like, "As she walked into the room the sweet smell of lilacs brightened her spirit and she felt like a flower in a spring field," or some crap. I really can't tolerate descriptions given in fiction, they all make me laugh, it just is too over-the-top for me. In a script it's like, "Jane walked into the room. She paused for a second, before walking to the bed." Just actions and dialogue, as it should be, no flowery nonsense or obnoxious metaphors. I studied that nonsense in high school and college, I got my As, I don't enjoy that on my free time. You can't tell me what I could see on screen. As the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words. So give me a picture, not a flowery description.

I think what is also great is a script is not a product, it's not a finished work, it's a blueprint for a project, nothing more, nothing less. It's not your job as a scriptwriter to describe everything. It's the production designer's job to figure out some of the details, the director's job to work out the exact blocking and positioning, the actors' job to add life to the lines, etc. I prefer blueprint writing to finished products when it comes to fiction. ;)

davide
05-06-2008, 09:24 AM
What I think is great about scriptwriting is you don't have to screw around with flowery BS, you just cut to the point. None of this nonsense like, "As she walked into the room the sweet smell of lilacs brightened her spirit and she felt like a flower in a spring field," or some crap. I really can't tolerate descriptions given in fiction, they all make me laugh, it just is too over-the-top for me. In a script it's like, "Jane walked into the room. She paused for a second, before walking to the bed." Just actions and dialogue, as it should be, no flowery nonsense or obnoxious metaphors. I studied that nonsense in high school and college, I got my As, I don't enjoy that on my free time. You can't tell me what I could see on screen. As the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words. So give me a picture, not a flowery description.




You should try reading anything by Louis-Ferdinand Celine. His novels don't have any of that.

http://books.google.com/books?id=pNF66OI692UC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Louis-Ferdinand+C%C3%A9line&client=firefox-a&sig=ctE_Ntqom7llpsJzNMYvtKiVHO8#PPP1,M1