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Getting name actors... is SAG necessary?


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#1 Mark Bonnington

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 03:52 PM

In order to hire an actor of moderate to lesser fame, perhaps one at the tail end of their career, does the shoot have to be SAG signed? How much does a waning/obscure star usually charge for a week's shoot?
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#2 Michael Ryan

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 06:50 PM

Hello Mark,

There was an issue of SUPER 8 TODAY that covered, in detail, this very topic. At the moment I can't remember what issue it was.

However, I do have some good news for you. A few years ago if someone told me that they wanted a big, or near big star in their small, independent film I would have laughed very loudly and looked the film maker in the eye and said good luck.

In the last few months I know of two examples that have changed my opinion. I know of one big Hollywood star who did a small, short film for FREE!! I kid you not. I was actually shocked when I found this out.

The vast majority of big stars are not going to do your film, even for money. But, with a good script, professional attitude and the right actor, you do have a shot.

One word of advice, if and when you do find that actor who might do it, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give up. This method really does work.

Good luck.

Mike
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#3 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 10:52 PM

Micheal. is there anyway you can you find out, because I for one would really like to read that article. Does ANYONE else know? B)

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 15 July 2007 - 10:54 PM.

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#4 Gus Sacks

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 12:32 AM

You'd want to get signed with SAG anyway. Go to Sagindie.com, they explain all of their different contracts.

It doesn't really matter what the actor's normal day rate is. Like, if you're filming a 35,000$ short, that mandatoraly sets their day rate at 100$. Now, some actors might be willing to go for this (B-list, low low A-list), but, no... bigger name actors wouldn't. Though one a recent indie I worked on low A-listers did it for 250$ a day.

So, who knows? Either way, you will want to get signed (it's not too big a pain in the ass - sometimes it is), because even if it's not a NAME actor, it will more than likely be a SAG actor, though that doesn't always mean quality - same as non-Union actors are quality in a lot of cases.

Hope that helps.
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#5 Sidney King

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 12:50 AM

hi Mark,
In talking with producers who've secured name talent for their indie features, I've heard in general you'll need to be offering something along the lines of 100K for a starring role (3-4 weeks of work), or 25-40K for a week's work (or roughly 5K a day). That's to be taken seriously by casting agents and managers, and those will be pay or play arrangements (money goes into escrow and they get paid regardless of whether or not the film gets made).

Not to say a different arrangement isn't unheard of, and of course you might find the actor willing to work for less based on passion for the material, etc...but those are ballpark figures you're looking at to make a legitimate offer through the "proper" channels (not dumping a script onto their hairdresser's lap, etc...).

Regarding SAG, I don't think any actor you've ever heard of would consider doing a non-SAG feature (obviously they're not allowed to, and actors can't exactly work under a pseudonym like, for instance, a boom op can).

I've never heard of a serious, name actor working on a non-SAG feature...maybe someone has heard of examples to the contrary?. But going SAG doesn't necessarily mean spending big money, and often when you hear of actors taking a role for "scale" or "no money," they're just getting the SAG minimums, which range from nothing (for experimental or educational films, which can't be distributed or sold) to about $700/day.

best of luck with your feature!
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#6 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 02:00 PM

I've never heard of a serious, name actor working on a non-SAG feature...maybe someone has heard of examples to the contrary?.


I think Aldo Ray used to, but was frequently in hot water with SAG over that.
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#7 Mark Bonnington

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 03:26 PM

As long as item #17 is in place in the SAG Ultra Low Budget Contract, I will have nothing to do with them. I won't allow my freedom of speech, my right to choose who I thank or don't thank, to be contractually bound.

Besides that item, I also don't like item #4 (forced profit sharing), #12 (due to the ambiguity of it), #14 (Actors are more like independent contractors than regular employees, and should be treated as such), and #15 (they already have security from item #12).
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#8 Richard Boddington

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 08:56 PM

Many union actors don't give a damn about SAG. They work where they want, you can hire who you want.

These unions are not the freaking law or the police, they can't force you to do any thing you don't want to do.

If a SAG actor works on a non-union shoot for $100.00/day what are they going to do to him, have him killed?

So you can hire a SAG actor for a $100.00/day minimum for a film budgeted under 200K? Wow! That's the USA and I paid all my NON-union actors $300.00/day minimum and two got $1000.00 day in Canada!

R,
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#9 ryan_bennett

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 11:22 PM

Just go to the SAG Indie site suggested or the sag site itself and find the closest office to you and just call them up or go there and talk with them. They'll be nice and extremely helpful plus its just good anyways if you do it.
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#10 rik carter

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 12:38 AM

In order to hire an actor of moderate to lesser fame, perhaps one at the tail end of their career, does the shoot have to be SAG signed? How much does a waning/obscure star usually charge for a week's shoot?

You'll find as many different answers as there are waning/obscure actors. Some will work without using a SAG contract - some won't. Some would be happy to get $100/day, some what much more. Several years ago I made a movie with the waning/obscure Christopher Knight and Linnea Quigly. They both worked for $3,000 for 6 days without the SAG contract. Five years ago I contacted the waning Stella Stevens and she wanted $5,000 per day and would ONLY work if it was a SAG show. The obscure Joe Estevez's quote was $3,000/day for a while - not sure if he can still get that.

Many waning/obscure actors don't want to work outside of a SAG contract because they are hoping to become unobscure or for a career recovery.
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#11 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 01:07 AM

Waning stars, I can see and want to do myself, but what good are obscure actors going to do to help you sell your film and draw an audience? Tarantino has always used stars that people remember BUT that haven't been working in a while. It's a surefire formula especially if they are talented. The name will help raise the prestige of your film and make it much easier to get distributed and a star that's on the downhill run will often work harder because they are trying to salvage their careers, but an obscure actor is just a waist of money UNLESS they have a very recognizable face and you put them on the poster and box cover for straight to video. The whole point of hiring a waning star is to up your sales numbers otherwise it's better to do what Corman did which is to recognize talent and get people who are capable of being stars right before they start to hit. That's the real trick though isn't it. <_<
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#12 Alex Ellerman

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 01:09 AM

well - if you do Non - guild work as a guild member you can get in trouble... back when there was a SAG strike, I think Tiger Woods did a commercial and got into some hot water... basically, they threaten you with never being accepted into the guild in the future, and they blackball you and anyone who works with you.

most actors in the US, to my knowledge, will not do a feature length film if there's a chance that they could get caught. a short for friends, sure. but anything with money involved, and they seek an exemption, which they can get.
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 07:19 AM

There are SAG low-budget and experimental / non-commercial contracts for very small movies, especially short films.

Since most actors are in SAG, you always run a risk trying to do a non-SAG movie with SAG actors. It will bite you on the a-- when it comes time to sell the movie to a distributor if they find out that potentially the new "owner" of the movie now (or in the future) owes a bunch of money to SAG, plus penalties. Usually in the contract with the distributor, it requires that you have all legal clearances and permissions.
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#14 Arni Heimir

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 09:47 AM

they blackball you and anyone who works with you.


This is the bread and butter of labor unions.
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#15 Mark Bonnington

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 11:43 AM

There are SAG low-budget and experimental / non-commercial contracts for very small movies, especially short films.

Since most actors are in SAG, you always run a risk trying to do a non-SAG movie with SAG actors. It will bite you on the a-- when it comes time to sell the movie to a distributor if they find out that potentially the new "owner" of the movie now (or in the future) owes a bunch of money to SAG, plus penalties. Usually in the contract with the distributor, it requires that you have all legal clearances and permissions.

The movie maker does not have to pay money or penalties to SAG if the movie maker has not signed a contract with SAG. If the actors are signed with SAG and choose to work on a non-SAG film then that's strictly an issue between the actors and SAG, and any penalties therein have nothing to do with the movie maker.

As a safety measure though, I can see the importance of being explicit with everyone in explaining that the film is non-SAG, so that there aren't any lawsuits from SAG actors claiming "I didn't know it wasn't a SAG shoot!". An unlikely event, but you never can tell.
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#16 Jim Simon

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Posted 19 July 2007 - 10:30 PM

If a SAG actor works on a non-union shoot for $100.00/day what are they going to do to him, have him killed?


No, but they could very well fine him. You join SAG, you agree to play by certain rules. You break those rules, there are penalties. (Though probably not a hit man contract.)

Lucas really, really wanted Spielberg to direct "Empire", but because Lucas was on the outs with the Director's Guild, they told Spielberg he couldn't do it.

Personally, I think Irvin did OK.

Edited by Jim Simon, 19 July 2007 - 10:34 PM.

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#17 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 06:52 PM

Lucas really, really wanted Spielberg to direct "Empire", but because Lucas was on the outs with the Director's Guild, they told Spielberg he couldn't do it.


Actually it was "Return of the Jedi" -- Lucas was allowed to put his own director's credit at the end of "Star Wars" but was fined by the DGA for doing the same to Irving Kirshner's credit on "Empire" because now Lucas was the producer. So he quit the DGA and made "Return of the Jedi" a non-DGA production.
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#18 Lance Flores

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 07:56 PM

The movie maker does not have to pay money or penalties to SAG if the movie maker has not signed a contract with SAG. If the actors are signed with SAG and choose to work on a non-SAG film then that's strictly an issue between the actors and SAG, and any penalties therein have nothing to do with the movie maker.

As a safety measure though, I can see the importance of being explicit with everyone in explaining that the film is non-SAG, so that there aren't any lawsuits from SAG actors claiming "I didn't know it wasn't a SAG shoot!". An unlikely event, but you never can tell.


If you are going to do a non-SAG you must announce it and inform the SAG actors you are doing a "SAG Corp" production. The actors must make the declaration to SAG by written notice, otherwise the actor is liable for fines because the actor is violation of his agreement with SAG if he fails to do so. He cannot be fined pursuant to a Supreme Court decision, but the actor must make the declaration prior to engaging in the non-SAG production.

Edited by Lance Flores, 20 July 2007 - 07:57 PM.

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#19 Jim Simon

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 08:28 PM

Actually it was "Return of the Jedi"


No, according to Lucas, it was Empire. He'd quit the DGA after Star Wars because they wanted opening credits, and he refused.
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#20 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 10:37 PM

No, according to Lucas, it was Empire. He'd quit the DGA after Star Wars because they wanted opening credits, and he refused.


The DGA allowed it on "Star Wars" because he was the director, but not on "Empire", hence why he was fined and then quit the DGA. Slate Magazine apparently thought the same as you because they had to correct an article they wrote about directors quitting the DGA:

http://www.slate.com/id/2116501
at the bottom of the article:
Correction, April 13, 2005: The original version of this column stated that George Lucas quit the DGA over the credit sequence in Star Wars. In fact, the dispute was over the credit sequence for The Empire Strikes Back.


http://en.wikipedia..../Billing_(film)

In 1980, George Lucas resigned from the Directors Guild of America after it insisted, against his wishes, that Irvin Kershner, the director of The Empire Strikes Back, be credited at the beginning of the film (this was after it had allowed the original Star Wars, which had a similar opening sequence, to go unchallenged). Since he got his way, he has been generally viewed as being responsible for popularising the "title only" style.

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