I've received a ton of e-mails and phone calls from actors about the upcoming seminar: SAG Contracts Made Simple: The Reel Deal about the Screen Actors Guild Theatrical Low Budget and New Media Agreements.
For those of you that don't already know about it, the seminar i
s being held th
Saturday night (Feb. 12th) at 7:00 p.m. at Denver's historic Bug Theatre (3654 Navajo St. 80211). It's pa
rt of the new EFP Speakers Series and features Julie Crane, SAG’s Colorado Branch Executive Director, and Chaz Grundy, SAG Council Member. MaryLee Herrmann, producer and director of the short film The Necklace and Christa Cannon, producer of the web-based series Mile High Laci will also be on hand. Although this seminar is being co-sponsored by The Emerging Filmmakers Project and CASA, Julie and Chaz put together the seminar and chose the other panelists. They asked me to moderate.
I honestly can't say if "Going SAG" is right for any actor or a producer. That's something each person needs to decide on their own. The point of the seminar - the reason the EFP and CASA thought it might be beneficial to the local filmmaking community (which, um, includes actors last time I checked!) - is to get information out there.
So the question I've been asked the most is, "Is this seminar for actors?" In short, yes. While the bulk of the seminar will be to discuss the SAG Theatrical Low Budget and New Media Agreements for filmmakers, SAG membership will be discussed. But beyond that, actors who are in SAG or who want to be in SAG should know as much about the SAG agreements most likely to impact them here in Denver. Why should filmmakers be the only ones to know what is or isn't in these agreements?
It's also interesting that a lot of the New Media content generated locally has been done by actors who want to take control of their careers. I'm working on a web-based series myself called Waitress, Interrupted and still haven't decided if it will be a SAG production or not, but I know a lot more about the New Media Agreement than I did six months ago so at least I can make an informed decision when the time comes. Yeah, I know, me making an informed decision seem so, so, so unusual.
My two cents on the matter: If you're an actor, it can't hurt you to know more about the professional side of things. If you're already a SAG actor or want to be, you may be able to educate filmmakers about the benefits and costs associated of "Going SAG" on a project. Not once on any of the projects I've worked has an actor said to me, "You know, your project might benefit from going SAG. You'd be surprised at..." As an actor, you may be thinking about wearing a producer's hat to help create projects that will directly benefit you and showcase your talents. This seminar might help you to understand the process if you choose to do it under one of the SAG agreements. Finally, if you're an actor, would it really be a bad thing to be in a room full of producers, directors and writers?
The other questions I've been asked a lot has been from filmmakers (and I'm paraphrasing here): "Won't going SAG cost me a lot of time and and money and make me fill out a lot of paperwork?" In short, maybe. A lot of the time and paperwork that SAG requires you to do are probably things you should be doing anyway (like, say, having actors sign in and out each day). So maybe it just comes down to money (doesn't it always?). Funny, but if you ask 100 filmmakers how much an actor, SAG or otherwise, should be paid for a day, you'll probably get 100 different answers. Again, I'm not advocating going SAG or not as everyone has to decide that for his- or herself the way to go. I am saying that for me as a filmmaker with pretty lofty professional goals, the more I know on this subject, the better off I'll be. Might benefit you, too.
Here's hoping 2011 sees a great many fantastic movies from local filmmakers.
btw, photo of me in a Nescafe moment by Paul Trantow.