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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Tell Hollywood what it is really like out here in the small locals...

The special small local “living outside  of LA or NYC  SAG Foundation video conference was of little value to those to us who live in most of the locals...

Why?

Why are we looked at as taking work from those who live in LA? Why are we looked upon as not professional event though we are union members and pay our dues?

Why are we looked down upon, when we make great sacrifices to e union in areas where union is a dirty word and loses you not only work under contract, but also other day jobs once managers and owners find out you are union talent?

What about those of us in union locals were producers either rig in union talent from LA and NYC or Taft-Hartley their friends and relatives?

Unlike what staff and Hollywood may think, we are not one generic location market sandwiched between Los Angels and New York.

We need to bee seen as unique, diverse ad different. Some of the locals of SAG-AFTRA battle right-to-work, being blacklisted, strong disliked even hatred coming from our own local agents, casting directors and members because we "keep them from earning a l living" or are not willing to help them on projects that do not offer the protection and pay that union work does.

What about locals where there is little or no film incentive? What about locals where increasingly the streets of LA. NYC, Toronto or a few of or luckier union locals play the role o our city or state, leavings us out in the cold?

What about locals and markets where the union has given up on organizing commercials, industrials and educational production?

Where we have a background district, the union and its foundation should address policing the sets against Taft-Hartley's robbing out members of work, actors being brought in from NYC or LA to take our simple and needed background jobs, expansion of our zones and assistance in training our members to be true professionals on the set.

Where we do not have the low budget productions due to Right-to-Work or producers who are simply increasingly anti-union, the foundation and union seem ignorant of our need for on the ground daily help to unionize and turn our markets around.

And what about ways for us, in anti-union or low production markets, to get union film on ourselves, so we can compete for roles and work? If here is no union office, no film incentive, no boots on the ground this essential opportunity for our careers or our passions to prosper dries up.

Why not a teleconference that addresses these issue and solutions?

Because a handful of actors with enough money to travel to auditions and to jobs outside of the market they lie in is what the union and the SAG Foundation, think we all can or are like that would reveal a total lack of understanding of who we are and what life is like outside “la-la land. Tonight’s special outside LA SAG Foundation videoconference was of little value to those to us who live in most of the locals...

Why?

Why are we looked at as taking work from those who live in LA? Why are we looked upon as not professional event though we are union members and pay our dues?

Why are we looked down upon, when we make great sacrifices to e union in areas where union is a dirty word and loses you not only work under contract, but also other day jobs once managers and owners find out you are union talent?

What about those of us in union locals were producers either rig in union talent from LA and NYC or Taft-Hartley their friends and relatives?

Unlike what staff and Hollywood may think, we are not one generic location market sandwiched between Los Angels and New York.

We need to bee seen as unique, diverse ad different. Some of the locals of SAG-AFTRA battle right-to-work, being blacklisted, strong disliked even hatred coming from our own local agents, casting directors and members because we "keep them from earning a l giving" or are not willing to help them on projects that do not offer the protection and pay that union work does.

What about locals where there is little or no film incentive? What about locals where increasingly the streets of LA. NYC, Toronto or a few of or luckier union locals play the role o our city or state, leaving us out in the cold?

What about locals and markets where the union has given up on organizing commercials, industrials and educational production?

Where we have a background district, the union and its foundation should address policing the sets against Taft-Hartley's robbing our members of work, actors being brought in from NYC or LA to take our simple and needed background jobs, expansion of our zones and assistance in training our members to be true professionals on the set.

Where we do not have the low budget productions due to Right-to-Work or producers who are simply increasingly anti-union, the foundation and union seem ignorant of our need for on the ground daily help to unionize and turn our markets around.

And what about ways for us, in anti-union or low production markets, to get union film on ourselves, so we can compete for roles and work? If here is no union office, no film incentive, no boots on the ground this essential opportunity for our careers or or passions to prosper dries up.

Why not a teleconference that addresses these issue and solutions?

Because a handful of actors with enough money to travel to auditions and to jobs outside of the market they lie in is what the union and the SAG Foundation think we all are like.

What can you do about it?

Report abuses on the set. Report Taft Harleys given out while union actors are able to work the job, Report when an employers o an agent, casting director, crew member or background wrangler advises you to wok "off car" or drop out of the union (Fi-core).

If you report it the stack of complaints will speak volumes about the real work and realities of those of us who live and work i the "locals".

Tell the union you need an office in your market and boots on the ground on a continuous level, not just when big productions come into town and spend peanuts.

Tell the union how you live and work, what it is really like, not only why you are union but what it means to be union in your town or state.

Tell top union staff what life as an actor is like where you live.

What can you do about it?

Report abuses on the set. Report Taft Harleys given out while union actors are able to work the job, Report when an employees of an agent, casting director, crew member or background wrangler advises you to wok "off car" or drop out of the union (Fi-core).

If you report it the stack of complaints will speak volumes about the real work and realities of those of us who live and work i the "locals".

Tell the union you need an office in your market and boots on the ground on a continuous level, not just when big productions come into town and spend peanuts.

Tell the union how you live and work, what it is really like, not only why you are union but what it means to be union in your town or state.

Tell top union staff you want them t finance and push a grass roots program for all members to grow work and build union benefits and loyalty in your city, state or region.

Let them know we all not cookie cutter forms fitting their definition of an actor outside of Hollywood.

And take the time to study, to network, to let those non-union, pre-union and anti-union actors, directors and producers you rub shoulders with that there is such a thing as a fair wage, safe working conditions, professionalism and that it benefits them as much as it does you and your fellow union talent.

It really is up to you.

Let them know that union, pre-union and truly professional talent do live outside LA, that we do not all fly to the coast for roles or the chance of work (if we could afford, many of us have not interest in the games, expenses, and hassles of the two largest production cities).

Yes Virginia, there is life, talent and proud union talent living outside LA!

Now my personal story.

I moved to Las Vegas in 1984 because even back then I could not afford to live there and raise a family. The LA “squeeze money from actors” machine was already at full steam, and I have gotten worse.

I became involved in the Screen Extras Guild (no longer in existence) and the Screen Actors Guild (there was no AFTRA in Las Vegas and no interests in growing out market from AFTRA). That interests led to friendships, serving on the local councils/boards, being drafted as SAG VP, then local president and eventually a member of the National Board of Directors, were I have served proudly for 20 years.

By being union I found myself cut off from jobs that have nothing to do with SAG…jobs in casinos, marketing, broadcasting and education.

Back then I could do local commercials under a waive, which no loner exist because of complaints by LA actors who not live here or understand our state). I continued both union and local on camera and voice jobs.

In time the door closed on these.

Over recent years, since the Great Recession (very depressing), I have been let go by management from long time jobs as a shift toward anti-unionism in out right-to-work state has grown.

My fourteen-year weekend job on Nevada Public Radio ended as SAG-AFTRA victories in organizing public radio stations back east, in San Francisco, San Diego and LA. So I am out of one of my primary income careers, broadcasting, in part because I am known in this market as a unionist.

Six years evangelizing union talent from around the country while on the  Board of Directors of the Dam Short Film Festival ended when a new director was named, one with a strong anti-union reputation.

My fourteen years of full time equivalent pay as adjunct faculty at the College of Southern Nevada ended when new supervisors asked I was still active in “that union.”

In all cases other reasons were given, plus I live in a right-to-work, fire at will, management can walk all over you state.

I did not write this out of sour grapes.

I wrote it to show what sacrifices those of in fly-over country, in the widely diverse locals across this great nation, live with and go through in the name of unionism.

Painting us with a one color fits all brush, and highlighting a few markets lucky enough to have seen upsurges in production and actors who “are based” (meaning travel) in those market is not a service to the membership out here.

Training, organizing, local contracts, local executive who live and work in or markets, offices and reward and praise for union membership in areas that lack the local work would go a long way.

Again, you, as actors, talent and other industry professionals, have to make noise and let nation staff know what we need.

Solidarity.


Art Lynch

(This is not an official report or representation of my position on the SAG-AFTRA board..It is a report and commentary from me as an individual.)

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