New Union: Series (5of5): $$$$$ n’ Pension

So now we come to the “biggie.” I say that, because this was the propaganda tool regarding merger. I’m not saying that because I don’t feel it is ultra important…I do. Remember, I’m many years vested (meaning I have a pension), so the bottom line is that it means a great deal to me. However, the level of concern I feel is a slight exaggeration. The existing pensions are guaranteed, the question is more about eventually merging them. Now, I stood by the existing leadership at SAG prior to the merger, showing faith that they would not screw this up…considering how many of them have a pension at risk too. Continue reading

New Union: Series (4of5): Modified Limitations

So now it is time to discuss this little issue I have moving forward with our NEW UNION. The SAG-AFTRA merger is predicated on “more strength” “consolidation of wasted Admin monies and effort” along with of course “more bargaining power.” Well, by God, if this is going to be the case then we better do something about “Modified Agreements.” Continue reading

New Union: Series (3of5): Modern Admin.

Now this is probably the easiest of this series to write because it is so ridiculously obvious what must be done. If you’re a newer actor the Admin technology I’ll be discussing is easy to understand, but you’ll not have had as much experience with the problem. If you’re a longer term, more veteran, or older actor who has been a working actor for some time then you know what I mean. Why in the HELL am I still get .13 cent checks in the mail? Continue reading

New Union: Series (2of5): Monitoring

Here is the second such entry on my series regarding where we are after the newly MERGED unions of SAG-AFTRA. The subject of this post is very clear, WAY overdue, and going to become on of the main 3 reasons actors either survive or don’t…in my opinion. Continue reading

New Union: Series (1of5): Eligibility

Well congratulations to the current leadership of the NEW UNION, SAG-AFTRA. I mean that both in humor, and quite damn seriously. We all have this wonderful or sick feeling that this arduous process and HUMP is over with. On some levels I agree, but on the other hand, what would the point of all this merger hell for the last 50+ years mean if we didn’t actually have it IMPROVE our profession, income, and contracts? Nothing. So here I am, impressing upon you that in truth, it is a Carpenter’s song: “We’ve only just begun…” Continue reading

SAG-AFTRA Merger: Series (5 of 5): The Future!

So what in the world has all this been about besides, ego, $$$$$, power, and control? Good question, cuz I’m not sure. As stated in Part 1, I’ve never understood why we could not reach a place of truly pulling together sooner OR have clarified differences and separation much sooner as things became more and more muddled after the mid-80’s. But again, that is too late as we’re here and it is TODAY but while we tarry technology, the economy, and everything else moves on. I write this as I watch the Oscars in the Kodak (your name here) theatre. By definition, THINGS CHANGE, as Kodak the film company is of course in Chapter 11. Continue reading

SAG-AFTRA Merger: Series 3 of 5: Mixed Nuts

So this part of the series focuses on what we’ll call “the others.” No, it isn’t a movie reference, and it is also not meant in ANY way to lessen who they are or their value. The reason I use that phrase is that it is what “people think” or how they phrase it when not in mixed company. It is focused on all of the NON-dual SAG/AFTRA cardholders that aren’t really discussed as ACTORS. AFTRA has about 68,000 members nationwide and about 45,000 of them are SAG members too. This clearly leaves 23,000 AFTRA only folks, which are basically broken down as: Continue reading

SAG-AFTRA Merger: Series 2 of 5: SAGcentric

Over the last 15 years every time the word merger got mentioned…I cringed. I didn’t cringe because the thought of it was repulsive, I cringed because there just did not seem to be enough people who had a real vested interest as actors in truly coming up with a CONSTRUCT that would make any sense. And in addition to that, more than 90% of my work has been with my parent union, SAG. So as this time has come I have begun looking at some of the key elements that to me…should be a part of a heavily populated performers union. I do feel, that these elements are a key component in the consideration of a merger because I do think that they make the union stronger. Additionally, if you’re going to MIX anything…unless it has the EXACT composition of the other is the same, then there is going to have to be some INTELLIGENT compromise. I believe that is typically called…a marriage. Continue reading

Getting Paid (Part 4 of 4)

Box Office Bonuses: While back end points are based on a percentage of the profits, box office bonuses are usually a flat rate, based upon Daily Variety’s weekly box office chart.  They work as follows: If your film earns $1 million dollars in the box office as per Daily Variety, then you will get a $10,000.  Then, for every additional $1 million the film earns, you will get an additional $10,000.  These bumps are negotiable, and vary in how much the bonuses are and how often, and often the producers will try to put a cap, so that the actor stops earning any bonuses after $50 million.  The reason why box office bonuses are attractive for talent are that they are easily verifiable.  There are no auditing statements to look at, no accounting to do, you can simply open the trade and see when you should start bugging your agent to get you your check.

Back End Compensation v. Box Office Bonuses:  Depending upon the success of the film, the size of the budget and the drafting of the profit definitions, sometimes it is better to have profit participation over box offices bonuses or vice versa.  You can imagine that even when a film does very well, if the film had a high promotional budget, or if a star was taking a big chunk up front, it would take longer for the film to earn profits, as the investors get paid in full before anyone can earn their profit participation revenues.  It is not uncommon for a film to do very in the box office but barely break even because it was so expensive to make.  Not to say this is all guesswork, and an experienced attorney and/or producer would be able to advise you regarding the likelihood of what the film can make.  Sometimes, an actor will get both back end and box office bonuses, and then they don’t have to predict, they are covered on both aspects.

Please note: The information contained herein does not constitute legal advice and is intended for educational and information purposes only.

Getting Paid (Part 3 of 4)

Interchangable Terms:  When negotiating a profit provision in a contract, the definition of profits must be well worded, clearly defined and negotiated very carefully.  Net profits, gross profits, gross revenue, gross points, adjusted gross profits, adjusted net profits, producer net profits—these terms can necessitate extremely different calculations or very similar accountings, depending how they’re worded, when they are calculated (i.e., before or after certain other profit participants) and what deductions are or are not acceptable.

Percentages: Many indie films will offer their actors a percentage of the producer’s net profits, and usually that is defined as 50% of 100% of the total profits.  This isn’t always stated clearly, and it obviously makes a big difference if you’re getting 2% of 50% or 2% of 100%.  These nuances become significant when and if the film earns a profit, and that is why a considerable amount of time is spent negotiating these definitions.

MFN in Profit Definition: If there isn’t time to come to an agreement on the definition before a client agrees to take the role and signs a deal memo, I will push to have the deal memo add a phrase that obligates the producers to give Most Favored Nations (MFN, further discussed in a previous posting) on the definition, i.e., “2% of Producer’s Net Profits, to be defined no less favorably than any other profit participant, including all cast members and producers.”  This way, no matter how they define ‘Producer’s Net Profits,’ as in this example, I know that the actor will be participating in the same pool as all the participants, including the producers. There is no doubt the producer’s will negotiate the most favorable definition they can draft for themselves.

Please note: The information contained herein does not constitute legal advice and is intended for educational and information purposes only.