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More Reasons Not to Go SAG on Your Project

You need another reason why it doesn’t pay to go SAG on your films?

Ok indies, listen up. You need another reason why it doesn’t pay to go SAG on your films? This is from July 22nd’s Hollywood Reporter:

Once again, another example of how SAG is getting more and more out of touch with the real world and where filmmaking is heading in the 21st century. Some of you may remember that back in 1999, SAG tried to pressure me into going union by targeting SAG actors I’ve utilized for over 20 years of filmmaking. I ignored them. The actors, for the most part, got off scot free, and we went on business as usual, producing our non-union films, and yes, still using SAG and non-SAG performers who wanted to do what is difficult to impossible to do in this town, ACT in a feature film. So here’s just another case to illustrate the union alienating themselves further from the independents. Yes, I feel for the actors that are not getting their royalties, but let’s be real here; it’s unlikely that the actors put money into the films, and at least they wind up with footage they can use to possibly help get them other jobs. A producer may have mortgaged his house, maxed out his credit cards, or sold his blood to get the money it took to make the film. The film is the baby, and the producer is the mother. The actors are the doctors and nurses who helped deliver the baby. Making a film doesn’t guarantee its sale, but there’s always hope. Of course, if SAG hijacks the film (or kidnaps the baby), there’s NO hope of recoupment to the producer, right? Where do I sign?

  • July 22, 2004: SAG forecloses on seven indie films
  • SAG has taken the unprecedented step of foreclosing on seven independent films to sell their rights at auction because the producers did not pay enough residuals. The guild said it held its first-ever public foreclosure auction July 13 for the benefit of the more than 200 actors who had not been paid for their roles in the films. SAG hopes other independent producers take notice that they, too, may face the loss of whatever rights were put up as collateral on the residual bonds that SAG requires before production can begin. “Recouping lost wages through foreclosure will be an ongoing course of action for SAG,” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the guild’s deputy assistant general counsel. “It’s unacceptable that each year many producers fail to make proper payments of millions of dollars of wages owed to SAG-represented performers.”

You’ve heard me say it before: the only reason to get into bed with SAG is if you want Julia Roberts to star in your film. If not, it makes NO SENSE for an independent filmmaker to make a difficult task even more difficult and hindering their film’s potential by going SAG signatory. I get plenty of emails from independent producers, new to the game, who agree wholeheartedly, and those numbers are increasing. Our film Rectuma made it to Cannes, screened theatrically for a month in Los Angeles and is now in home distribution, and we did it all with very talented performers, (SAG and Non-SAG) and WITHOUT any agreement with SAG. Because of this, we are free to do whatever we want with the film. We at Pirromount protect our babies, and we won’t allow any crackwhore of a union try to lay claim to any of our kids. SAG is like an over the hill ex-wife who will NEVER leave you alone until she gets the house and a large percentage of your wages. We, like SAG, hope that independent producers will take notice. Let’s hope they take enough notice to keep their films independent and say no to SAG agreements. Ok Pirroites…pass it on. Be smart. Be TRULY independent. Remember, friends don’t let friends sign SAG contracts.

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Mark Pirro is the Owner of Pirromount Studios.