Sad SAG Saga, Part 2

Sad SAG Saga, Part 2

I know! You’ve been quivering with anticipation for the conclusion of this story. Well, buckle your seatbelts, folks!

When last we left our hero, she had just been told to mosy on over to the Music Video Department where they surely had prepared confetti, a king’s feast and New Media referrals for her arrival. What did she find when she got there? Let’s find out.

So after speaking with the nice receptionist she forwarded me to a guy who could answer my questions. I explained the situation and he asked me to fill out some paperwork he’d be emailing me so they could assess the project and get it to the correct department. Thinking it was a Preliminary Info Sheet, I happily agreed, gave him my info and waited for the email. When it arrived though, it was the entire Music Video Agreement packet, with instructions on becoming a signatory. Step 1- sign an agreement that promised I would pay my actors hundreds of dollars a day each. WTF? Do people actually fall for that? I read each page through carefully and decided there had to have been some kind of miscommunication. So began the process of trying to correct it.

Almost a week of unanswered emails and voicemails later (or a week closer to our fast-approaching shoot date, in producer terms). I was finally able to get the man back on the phone (to name him or not to name him? Will that come back to bite me in the ass is the question). I told him my concerns, about the fact that I considered this to be a New Media project and that I needed to know what the outcome would be before I committed our production to anything and he was, shockingly (not really), skeptical.

After reviewing my project he makes the executive decision that despite the fact that I literally cannot find one element of the music video distribution options mentioned in the music video agreement that could possibly apply to this project, that it is strictly NEW MEDIA, thanks to the involvement of a licensable recording artist, this is considered a music video.

So… let me get this straight… your New Media contract defines projects based entirely on their distribution model, but first they must be kicked over from a department where distribution models don’t matter, except to be exclusive rather than inclusive? SAG guy told me I would not only fall under the music video agreement, I would have to negotiate ADDITIONALLY for internet rights. Seriously.

I tried to reason with him. I tried to explain my dilemma and find out why the New Media contract and other contracts diverge so much in their definitions. I received hostility in return. Because suddenly in his mind I had turned from the sweet, simple indie film producer trying to get these projects going, to the Monopoly man with the pointy boots. I asked him why they did things this way, and how the New Media contract could be helpful to people. His response? “We do these things to protect our members from producers who want to take advantage of them“. Understandable, except for the last piece of that sentence that went unspoken but was clear as day “…like you“.

So that’s how a potential future ally is very subtly shoved toward the dark side. Instead of wondering why producers and SAG can’t get along, I realize that the only reason they don’t hate each other more is because they can’t exist without each other.



Read Part One

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