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A petiton in Support of “Game Strike”

March 24, 2017 (16:31) | 2016 | By: Arlin Miller

Bob Bergen shared a link:

From our game strike fearless leader, Keythe Farley:

Hi Everyone,

In the months leading up to the strike, your Negotiating Committee unanimously decided that if we had to strike, our strategy would be to attempt to secure new work for our members even as we stopped working for The Game Corporations. It was our belief that there were “good players” out there who’d remain eager to work with us if we made our proposed contracts available to them.

It seems that we were right.

I am pleased to announce that we have had enormous success signing games to our new promulgated agreements. Since our rally in February, we have DOUBLED the number of games signed to these contracts. At this point, over 25 games have signed on, with more titles in the hopper. They range from indie games all the way up to several well-known titles, and include two HUGE audio houses.

Out of respect for their IP, we’ve decided not to disclose the actual titles and companies, but I know a lot of you have already begun working under these new contracts: contracts that provide you with contingent compensation; contracts that have vocal stress and stunt safety provisions built in; contracts that will tell you or your representative the actual title of the game you’re booked on, your role in it and what your performance will entail; contracts that pay commercial rates when you voice a commercial for a video game.

It seems that there are many developers in the industry who are willing to go forward WITH a fair contract and WITHOUT the Corporate 11. Of course, we continue to invite the Game Corps to join us— all it takes is a phone call— but until they do, we remain on strike against them.

One other thing: a few fans and actors have reached out asking for a petition they can sign to show their solidarity and support of our ongoing efforts. A fellow supporter created one here:

https://www.change.org/p/in-support-of-sag-aftra-s-video-ga…

Please add your name and spread the word! I’m sure your friends and fans would appreciate the update because, trust me, people have been asking for one.

So…

Continue to stay strong. We’re making real progress thanks to you.

Continue to forward us any nonunion auditions that are coming your way to videogames@sagaftra.org (we’ve had great success flipping games this way)

Continue to stand up and speak up!

In Solidarity

To our VO Folks: ” Continue the good fight!”

Arl

The Ol’ SAG Watchdog

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AMPTP To Stuntwomen: If You See Something, Say Something!

March 23, 2017 (18:53) | 2016 | By: Arlin Miller

Although she’s neck-deep in negotiations for a new WGA contract, AMPTP president Carol Lombardini wasn’t too busy Wednesday to fire off a letter to veteran stuntwoman Julie Johnson, who’s been fighting a one-woman campaign to put an end to sexual harassment of stuntwomen and to stop the long-running practice of stuntmen doubling for actresses.

In January, Johnson, the former stunt coordinator on the Charlie’s Angels TV show, met privately with SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris to express her concerns in these areas and presented her with a poll she’d conducted that found that two-thirds of the 43 stuntwomen she surveyed said they’d been bullied or sexually harassed in the workplace. Johnson also found that nearly 40% of the women surveyed said they’d witnessed men putting on dresses and wigs to double for actresses and that 35% had witnessed “paint downs” – the application of makeup to allow a white stuntperson to double for a minority actor — all of which is frowned upon by the union.

Johnson followed up by sending a information packet to Lombardini, who responded Wednesday. “Thank you for the materials that you recently sent to my attention describing issues faced by female and minority stunt performers working in the production of theatrical and television motion pictures, which we have received and have reviewed,” Lombardini wrote. “Any information suggesting that any person working on one of our companies’ productions may have acted inappropriately is of significant concern to our companies. We urge both you and any of your colleagues to report any instances of harassment to the person designated by the company to receive and respond to such complaints so that the company is provided with the opportunity to investigate and address the situation.”

SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP are expected to begin negotiations for a new film and TV new contract in May, and Johnson is hoping that the issues she’s raised will be put on the agenda.

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What would you grade the AMPTP letter?  Huh…right a “C.”

Arl

The Ol’ SAG Watchdog

*Photo selected by Watchdg

 

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LA “Shoots” Down Seven Percent Last Week!

March 22, 2017 (11:46) | 2016 | By: Arlin Miller

(3/22/2017)  According to the Los Angeles Times ‘Company Town’s’ Where the cameras roll report:  Overall shoots in LA County were down 7 percent last week for television, Features and Commercials.

The report states there where 442 total shoot days for March 13-19 2017.

For basically the same time period last year (March 14-20 2016) there were 477 total shoot days.

Hmmm…sadly, it seems that more and more LA film folks have to watch reruns of Wagon Train if they want to hear Roll ’em!

Arl

The Ol’ SAG Watchdog

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Will Hollywood Writers Go on Strike?

March 21, 2017 (16:41) | 2016 | By: Arlin Miller

Reasons You Should Take a Pay Cut - Salary.com

As the number of scripted series and TV writers surge, shorter orders stall the volume of produced episodes and staff writer earnings, while screenwriters’ wages drop 21 percent.

With scripted television booming — 455 series this season, more than double the number six years ago — it ought to be a great time to be a TV writer. And the ongoing Writers Guild negotiations should be a cakewalk, right?

So you’d think, but it’s actually not Easy Street at all, because, as previously unpublished data reveals, growth in the labor supply has outstripped growth in demand, while shorter series orders mean writers, who are held under option from season to season, may be working yet making less than before.

That’s just one of the issues that WGA and AMPTP studio negotiators are confronting as talks continue into a second week on a new three-year union deal. But it’s one of the hardest on the agenda. Yes, screenwriters too are unhappy ­— their inflation-adjusted average wages dropped by 21 percent during the 2010-15 period — but more than twice as many writers now work in TV as in features, leading to a feeling that these negotiations are TV-centric.

All that economic stress has led to talk of a strike, but media reports suggesting that a walkout is likely are probably overblown. Says one management-side lawyer, “[The union doesn’t] have any other leverage, so they’re saber-rattling. Unless they’re really crazy, I don’t think a strike is going to happen.”

In practical terms, part of the deal — basic wage increases and residuals ­— is already done. That’s because those portions of the new pact are almost certain to track the recent Directors Guild deal in a phenomenon called “pattern bargaining.” And just as the DGA received extra-large increases for directors of certain types of product, the WGA might seek some special relief for certain classes of TV writers and screenwriters.

Yet another tough issue is the guild’s affiliated health plan, which has run deficits for the past two years, a fact that may trigger reductions in benefits and eligibility, and will almost certainly require an increase in employer contributions. Such increases typically come out of the wage bumps. The DGA, for instance, upped contributions to its pension plan by 0.5 percent, resulting in a first-year annual wage increase of 2.5 percent rather than 3 percent. The WGA is likely to do likewise for its health plan.

But saber-rattling or not, the union discontent is real. Says one working TV writer, “It’s becoming harder and harder to make a living as a middle-class writer.” And that appears to be true: The intersection of annual holds with the economics of supply and demand create tough issues for writers (as well as for actors, whose negotiations are upcoming).

 

The Myth of Peak TV

Data ­— and the above graphic ­— tell the story: The number of series has ballooned, but the number of episodes produced per season has scarcely budged, accordingly to previously unreported figures supplied to THR by Darnell Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. From 2011-12 to 2014-15, the number of series grew almost 50 percent, but the number of produced episodes grew only 6 percent, from 4,806 episodes to 5,091.

The reason for the disparity? Shorter orders. Series averaged 18.8 episodes per season in 2011-12, but that number plummeted to 13.2 just three years later, dragged down not just by shorter series on digital platforms ­and a slight decline in cable series length, ­but also by a startling 42 percent decline in the length of broadcast series, from 26.5 episodes per series to 15.3.

In economic terms, produced episodes represent demand for writers and others. What about labor supply? Ominously for scribes, the number of working TV writers grew by 20 percent ­— not surprisingly, since each new series needs its own writers -— but that was during the same period that demand grew by only 6 percent.

That mismatch had an effect on wages. The average inflation-adjusted earnings per writer grew about 6 percent in that time period and just 8 percent from 2009 to 2015. That may not sound so bad, but those figures are misleading, because averages — the “arithmetic mean” ­— are disproportionately pulled up by a few high earners such as showrunners, and more series means more showrunners, pulling the average up even more over time.

A better measure of affairs for the “typical writer” ­— a rank-and-file staff writer ­— would be the median, which is the earnings midpoint, where half of all TV writers made more and half made less.

It’s impossible to accurately calculate that figure without internal WGA data, but by making some assumptions, it’s possible to come up with a rough guesstimate. THRs calculations suggest flat earnings, but even that may be optimistic. That’s because shorter series orders mean lower salaries for writers, notwithstanding the potential 12-month holds and exclusivity they are subject to.

Writers get residuals too, of course, and average TV residuals have increased, per WGA data, even when inflation-adjusted. But it’s hard to know the meaning of those figures, not just because they’re not the median, but also because a lot of residuals relate to older, library product and don’t necessarily benefit currently working TV writers.

What about producing fees? Those aren’t reported by the guild, but in any case, they’re the purview mostly of showrunners and seasoned writer-producers, not the staff writer rank and file who are feeling the squeeze from holds, short orders and labor oversupply.

It’s a tough problem. The studios and producers need those annual holds in order to ensure that the writers are available if the series gets picked up for the following season. Writers are compensated for the holds, but not at the same level they’re compensated for working.

The result is apparently flat or declining wages ­— and a peak TV effect that’s creating a mountain of difficulty for writers, just one of the summits negotiators will have to navigate on their way to a deal.

Hmmm… (Incisive responses are solely the opinions of the SAG Watchdog)

Arl

The Ol’ SAG Watchdog

*Photo selected by Watchdog

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South Korea Offers Film and TV Tax Breaks!

March 20, 2017 (12:13) | 2016 | By: Arlin Miller

South Korea’s government has given the greenlight for a new tax-break scheme for local film and television companies to help boost the country’s industry. The country’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced that a revised law came into effect last Friday which will see a 10% tax-break against corporate tax bills for small companies, a 7% break for medium-sized companies and a 3% break for bigger corporations. The move comes after South Korea’s business has suffered at the hands of a Chinese ban on Korean imports. The Ministry says the tax credits will result in an increase of $417M in investment as well as nearly 6,433 new jobs across the next five years. It’s the first time that the cultural sector will benefit from a state tax incentive – previously this was more focused towards the manufacturing industry.

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Hmmm…

Arl

The Ol’ SAG Watchdog

*Photo selected by Watchdog

 

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