Fall/Winter 2010

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When it comes to landing and maintaining union acting jobs, difficult times call for innovative measures. Screen Actors Guild leaders and staff are constantly finding ways to deliver SAG-signatory productions for a membership eager to work. Te roadblocks are not new. Producers have always had misconceptions about doing business with the Guild. So-called “right to work” laws have been in place for years. Production has spread out across the country, but it can be a matter of rain or drought, even for film-friendly states with substantial incentives. Te good news is there is indeed work ROLE REVERSAL: Turning Non- Union Acting Jobs Into Union Work 56 SCREEN ACTOR - Fall/Winter 2010 out there, and it can be turned to your benefit. “While it’s true that not every pro- duction starts out with the intention of being SAG-signatory these days, nationally we’re seeing more production activity of all kinds than ever before,” according to Nayla Wren, Screen Actors Guild’s director of organizing. “Tat translates to opportunity if we act fast and make a compelling argument for using professional talent.” Te following are some recent creative and resourceful ways that the Guild has made work available for members. MAKING THE MOST OF REFERRALS Independent production remains brisk, despite the economy. But don’t assume all of those filmmakers know much, if anything, about SAG. In many cases, simply referring a producer to the Guild can start a conversation that leads to great things. Screen Actors Guild has a contract that fits any production, including the recently revised New Media Agreement, and business representatives and Branch executives stand ready to help. “A filmmaker was referred to me by a member who has proven hugely successful in turning non-union work union through auditioning and sending the lead to me,” said Seattle and Portland Branch Executive Dena Beatty. “She contacted the filmmaker, who was looking to hire crew for a $2.3 million feature, and asked him if he had any need for actors. He did, and he auditioned her and wanted to hire her. She gave me his name and number and I called him to help him through the process.” But the producer was still fundraising and wasn’t ready to start paperwork. First, he needed a product to put in front of investors and audiences to create interest. He did not want to do a promo or trailer. “I suggested that he should do a Web series to accomplish that goal,” Beatty said. “He loved the idea because he was able to do character development and back stories and have another product to add to his franchise while keeping his feature story intact. He said he would have never done this without his interaction with me. Just recently, he created a second Web series unrelated to the first.” Two SAG-signatory new media productions, possibly more, and a feature film in the works—all because a member expressed interest in auditioning and shared information. (For more about auditioning to help turn jobs into union work, see page 58.) UTILIZING EVENTS AND INCENTIVES Beyond the benefits contained in SAG contracts themselves, becoming signatory entitles producers to an increasing list of opportunities for content promotion and professional enrichment. In Hollywood, the MOVE Committee collaborated with the New Media Department in August to offer a class on digital marketing, exclusively for SAG- signatory producers. “We were able to create a forum in which producers could learn to market their productions through new media approaches such as interactive websites, apps and the like,” said National New Media Director Mark Friedlander. In addition, the Organizing Department sponsors a “For Your Consideration” industry ad that highlights SAG new media productions. Te exposure helps them get a boost in votes for both the Streamy Awards and the Independent Television Festival Awards. Screen Actors Guild, of course, participates in industry panels and events on an ongoing basis across the country. SAG Manager of Organizing Marlena thinkdesign/Stockbyte/Comstock/

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