Sad SAG Saga, Part 1

Sad SAG Saga, Part 1

Not too long ago, the SAG contracts were up for renegotiation. All of LA was abuzz about both sides huffing and puffing and blowing each other’s proposals down, and for good reason- they are technically on opposite sides. Producers don’t want to spend any money on anything ever, and the Guild wants to make as much money as it can for its members. It got pretty ugly, and it made me wonder why things have to be this way.

In general I am totally supportive of unions- they can be one of the few tools regular people have to go up against a lot of the corporate machines running America. What sucks though is when I, as a fledgling producer just starting my career and learning where to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s get treated like I’m some money-grubbing fat cat lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills and puffing smoke into the faces of starving actors while they shine my shoes with their acting school certificates.

Take the music video contract for example. All through pre-pro we’ve planned to go SAG. In general we want to be supportive of the unions, build up relationships and set our production company standards there. Even though we are doing things at the moment that for the most part aren’t planning to make any money, supposedly SAG has set up contracts to support those projects as well. I’m mostly talking about the New Media contracts, which allows the producer to negotiate the deal directly with the actors.

This music video is a collaborative effort. Yes, it’s for a particular musician and song, but it’s not like we have some kind of label backing this and pumping money into the production. We’ve managed to pull together a meager budget to rent some equipment and feed everybody, but everyone involved is doing this for the reel and exposure. So, naturally I assume this will fall under the New Media contract, right? We’re producing a project meant for new media- there are no plans whatsoever for this to be airing on MTV, VH1, or any other standard means of music video distribution that now shows mostly reality tv.

So what happens when I get the ball rolling with the New Media department at SAG? They tell me I have to start with the Music Video department, and then that department will decide whether to kick my project on over to the New Media division. Ooook, fine. I like protocol. I figure I will call them up, explain the situation and get them to refer me. Why? Because shooting a project with SAG has “never been easier“! And they have a contract for us, whether the budget is “$5,000 or $50 million“!

Stay tuned for Part 2 to find out how awesome and fun this turns out!

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