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    SAG New Media contract for a feature?
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    Moderator Zak Forsman's Avatar
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    First, an explanation of the project I'm working on. So for the last month I've been raising money on Kickstarter for a new microbudget crime thriller titled Down and Dangerous, inspired partially by my dad's brief career as an independent cocaine smuggler in the seventies. We are currently 114% funded with a few days to go. We've even had support from Joe Carnahan (Narc, Smokin Aces, A-Team, The Grey) who wrote: "Go get 'em brother! Down and Dangerous looks like the s**t! You've got a director's mind and an editor's eye. Lethal!"

    There's more detail and video at this link. http://downanddangerousmovie.com

    Our budget is tiny but we do intend to pay cast $100 per day and intend to do the SAG Ultra Low contract as we've done in the past, but I recently learned about a film by the Polish Bros (Twin Falls Idaho) called "FOR LOVERS ONLY" starring Stana Katic from "Castle". This article on The Wrap mentions that they used an "experimental" contract with SAG. I was not aware that "experimental" still existed and my understanding was that it was replaced by the Ultra Low a few years ago. But I suspect they meant the New Media contract because their distribution method was exclusively internet based – having debuted on iTunes. On the second page of the article it says...

    "They even got the film classified as an experimental film by the Screen Actors Guild, which meant they didn't have to pay Katic, who shared an agent with Mark and brought her own wardrobe."

    http://www.thewrap.com/movies/column...xclusive-28989

    Now looking at SAG's web site i can't find any language in the New Media contract that says running time is a qualifier for whether or not you can use it for a 75-90 minute feature. There is a bit that says it excludes "motion pictures" but they also use the term "motion picture" when describing a would-be program that does qualify. Thank you SAG for keeping things vague.

    Anyway, I wanted to know if anyone had gone down this path yet. I have a feature that is designed to do two things... The Kickstarter campaign effectively allows us to pre-sell the movie to a small niche audience, and affords me and our team an opportunity to stretch our creative muscles in a movie with action, suspense, romance and other genre elements we haven't worked with before. We'd do it non-union but that puts members of our cast in conflict with their guild and exposes them to penalties for working without a contract. This is in preparation of producing larger budget endeavors that would have the appropriate attachments for "The Cultraro Method".

    And because we intend to debut the film through internet platforms, I'd like to have the added flexibility of the New Media contract. Hoping someone here can offer advice. Anecdotally, everyone I talk to says it can't be feature-length. But then I see pieces like this on FOR LOVERS ONLY where they say flat-out that Stana Katic was not paid for her days ont set, only after. And this, as far as i know, is only possible with the New Media contract.

    DOWN AND DANGEROUS is now on iTunes :: A smuggler bleeds like anyone else. He just gets more chances to prove it.
    THE SABI COMPANY :: FACEBOOK :: TWITTER :: IMDB :: #DADmovie


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    Senior Member J Davis's Avatar
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    I went down a similar path with A Strange Confession and had many emails go back and forth between myself and Joanna Mamey who was extremely helpful (but sometimes hard to reach and swamped with work). Although A Strange Confession is not feature length I hope some of what I learned can help.

    At the time my contracts were drawn up (late 2009) SAG had a separate and rapidly growing New Media department covering internet and computer games. My contact there was Ari Zeltzer but he moved on and was replaced by Joanna. The contracts available to me were either one or the other – either New Media contracts that excluded theatrical or Theatrical contracts that excluded new media. Ari Zeltzer started me down the path of a modified New Media contract that allowed a theatrical run. That way I could enter into festivals without becoming liable. When Ari moved, Joanna took over and continued me down that path.

    The modifications to the contract involved me typing up the amendment and giving SAG a copy and every actor a copy. Every actor had to vote their agreement or disagreement to the amendment and send it to SAG without me knowing what they chose. ie an anonymous ballot. The amendment would be approved if the vote was unanimous which it was. In this way we created a contract that previously did not exist and suited our needs.

    Now that its 2011, things may have changed and there may be new types of contacts available. I don't doubt that their website might be out of date because every time I spoke to them they were crazy busy. More importantly however, every time I spoke to them they were also very helpful.

    PM me if you want Joanna's email
    J.Davis
    jdMAX.com


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    Hi @ZakForsman or anyone else -- I know it's been a while, but I'm now in a similar situation to you -- making a feature and trying to decide between ultra low budget and new media contracts....

    It seems the new media is more flexible, but I'm wondering if I can show at festivals with it prior to an online release or?

    Zak: I'm wondering what you ended up doing, and how that worked out!
    Last edited by qwerty123; 08-21-2014 at 05:17 PM.


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    I spoke to a SAG New Media rep. It seems like the principal requirement for such projects is that their initial release be online. I think some festivals are open to a release of the film online before their festival screens it, but it stills seems like a lot are not. That's a real shame as the New Media contract appears SO MUCH simpler. Bleh....


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    Moderator Zak Forsman's Avatar
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    did you ask the SAG rep about festivals?
    DOWN AND DANGEROUS is now on iTunes :: A smuggler bleeds like anyone else. He just gets more chances to prove it.
    THE SABI COMPANY :: FACEBOOK :: TWITTER :: IMDB :: #DADmovie


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    Hi Zak: yep! He told me that the premiere of the film must be online. Afterwards, festival submission and play is acceptable...

    The New Media contract seems so much friendlier to Indies on a shoestring in that there doesn't need to be a deposit held by SAG for actors, among other things.

    Can you share what contract you went with and how it worked out for you?


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    This looks 'promising' for nolo budget films. The 'number one' requirement is 'online/Internet' premiere of the film, and from my read of the FAQs, once that has been accomplished, one may submit to 'fests'.

    Looking at some of the 'well known' fests, the following seems to be the rules.

    SXSW -- ok on short film submissions that have been 'premiered' elsewhere. The only exception is showing theatrically (I presume that means 'in a real live theater'...), in the Austin TX area.

    Tribeca -- requires 'New York Regional' premiere status, so I don't know how that could be accomplished with 'internet premiere', other than if a 'premiere' means 'in theater' as SXSW has.

    Sundance -- No restrictions on 'premiere' status for Short Film submissions. For 'features', needs to be 'world premiere', as far as I read...

    Now if I can make short films worthy of entry into those... I'm set...


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    The issue isn't about shorts so much as many festivals these days are very lax on that. I think myself, Zak, and gang are talking about features....


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    Senior Member GaryinCalifornia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qwerty123 View Post
    I spoke to a SAG New Media rep. It seems like the principal requirement for such projects is that their initial release be online. I think some festivals are open to a release of the film online before their festival screens it, but it stills seems like a lot are not. That's a real shame as the New Media contract appears SO MUCH simpler. Bleh....
    Quote Originally Posted by qwerty123 View Post
    Hi Zak: yep! He told me that the premiere of the film must be online. Afterwards, festival submission and play is acceptable...

    The New Media contract seems so much friendlier to Indies on a shoestring in that there doesn't need to be a deposit held by SAG for actors, among other things.

    Can you share what contract you went with and how it worked out for you?
    I'm wondering would a screening online to those who gave to your crowdfunding campaign count...


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    Moderator Zak Forsman's Avatar
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    In our report to SAG-Aftra, we counted the private release to Kickstarter backers (download and streaming via Vimeo). Followed by the iTunes release. Wasn't an issue for them.
    DOWN AND DANGEROUS is now on iTunes :: A smuggler bleeds like anyone else. He just gets more chances to prove it.
    THE SABI COMPANY :: FACEBOOK :: TWITTER :: IMDB :: #DADmovie


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