Monday, March 10, 2008

SAG Mixer

Last Saturday (3/1/08) 219 West played host to the Austin SAG Mixer. Although it was called a SAG mixer, all were welcome to attend as long as you RSVPd. I was really excited to get useful information about SAG and learn about something called iActor.

When I read the email over Film Austin's yahoo group, the sentence that did it for me was, "Don't let what you don't know kill your project or your career." The icing on the cake was that the event was free and they were providing food.

Panelist included: Darrien Michele Gipson, National Director of SAGIndie; Mark Friedlander, National Director of New Media; Steve Graham, Director of iActor Online Casting; and Todd Amorde, National Director of Organizing.

They began by spending a bit of time going over the different requirements for the film budget agreements.

For example, did you know that if you want to enter into an Ultra Low Budget Agreement with SAG, the only requirements necessary are:

1) You need a total budget of less than $200,000

2) The film has to be shot entirely in the US

For a modified low budget agreement, the requirements are only:

1) The total budget has to be less than $625,000

2) The film has to be shot entirely in the US

3) There must be an initial theatrical release*

*That could mean getting permission from a local theatre to rent out space for a private screening, inviting friends, family and colleagues.

Sounds easy right? Well, they made it sound real easy and doable. Furthermore, they made it clear that if there are any other questions, all you need to do is contact your SAG rep and ask them to clarify or answer them for you. Don't assume anything, ask your SAG rep. Your SAG representative is your greatest resource. They are there to help you with any and all questions you need answered.

Check out http://www.sagindie.org/ for more information about the different guidelines for the different film budget agreements.

Then they touched on something called New Media. It's basically a way to help people in the film industry find other avenues of getting their work out there (ex. movies on cell phones, UTube, or even Facebook).

Later they talked about iActor (www.iactor.org), which is similar to actorsaccess.com. The differences include:

*exclusively for SAG members.

*you can put up to 10 different headshots on your profile along with 7 different resumes, along with a video and voice clip (ALL FREE OF CHARGE).

It was all very informative and I can't wait to join SAG so I can access the iActor resource...speaking of joining SAG, on a personal note, something that upset me about this presentation was during the Q&A section. One of the panelist (person will be unnamed) compared non-union actors to "freeloaders" because when they get union work, they're taking SAG member's work...they're taking work away from the people who have worked hard and paid dues to get into the union...

Was anyone else offended by this?! HELLO?! The last show I did was an Equity show. I had the opportunity to join Equity and be seen by others in this business as a "serious actor". When I got the news, I was so excited. Until I was told I wasn't eligible for joining Equity because I'd been out of school for more than 3 years...Talk about disappointment.

My point? First of all, why do I need to be in a union to be considered a serious or "professional actor"? I bust my ass every day because I LOVE acting and my goal is to continue getting farther and farther along in my career. I like many other actors I know aren't in unions and we consider ourselves profession. So why are there so many others in this business that don't see that?

Second, as a professional actor with the goal to get further in my acting career, one of my smaller steps in that big picture is to join a union...heck, I'd join more than one (SAG, AFTRA, Equity) bring it on! That's my goal! But I feel like I'm in a catch 22 position sometimes. Like this panelist said, non-union members need to think about what they're doing...well how can I join the union if I don't get involved in a union project?! Everyone has to start somewhere. The point of the panelist was to encourage all "professional actors" to join the union, but the way it was said was offensive to me, and a few other non-union actors I spoke with at the mixer. Then to top things off the comment was followed with, "I'm not trying to be rude or anything..." Well, better luck next time.

Patricia A. Robinson

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