Monday, May 19, 2014

Do not pay to audition

"The law specifically prohibits talent services from engaging in the business of talent representation and charging money upfront for the promise of securing jobs. It also requires such services to post a $50,000 bond with the state and calls for use of unambiguous language in contracts with aspiring performers."
-Variety on the California Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act of 2009, now being aggressively prosecuted in Los Angeles

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Charlie Chaplin in "The Gold Rush" (1925)

For more of vintage Hollywood and other news, check out Art Lynch's SAGACTOR on Facebook...

Friday, April 25, 2014

On acting and acting classes...

Yes, I do offer acting classes, private coaching or advice..

Adults, teens, children! There is room for all and plenty of reasons to join the fun!

Casting Call Entertainment Friday evenings...

By appointment Boulder City Park and Recreation 
or your home..

Also public speaking, confidence and life coach services...

If you want to act, if you enjoy acting, you are already an actor. That does not mean a star, a celebrity or competitive in the field of acting. But acting applies to many aspects of life, and can be used to teach, to pray, to entertain, blow off steam, or reflect the world as only an artist can.

How good you are, how skilled, how studied depends entirely on how much you want to put into it.

There is aptitude and there is talent. Both can be developed to meet the needs of your church, community, professional theater, film, television, conventions and other areas where actors ply their craft.

For over a decade I coached acting full time, with part time for most of my adult life. As a youth I found friendships, experiences, and passion putting my own talents to use.  I love acting and believe in actors. It is not a closed club, but something that lives deep within all of us. 

I have worked with and have references from students in all age groups, from 4 to senior citizens.

I do not pretend to be some sort of star, or an expert, just a coach, trainer, teacher and someone who believes in you.

Ask my students.

I was taught this lesson by the likes of Dick "please don't squeeze the Charmin" Whipple, who gave to Nevada, Nevada SAG and to beginning actors with all his heart. He told me never to give up, as he gave me his first gigantic black and white video camera, the one he used in teaching his students. 

Acting, Voice Over, Character Voices, Improv Theater Games, Auditioning, Public Speaking, The Business, Self Marketing, On-Camera, Broadcasting and other areas of the craft are available for the asking through the Boulder City Park and Recreation, Casting Call Entertainment, or private arrangements. Just ask.

Click on "read more" to find out more....


Casting Call students on Friday is your truly Art Lynch. Program includes up to six evenings a week of training ranging from my on camera and auditioning class, to improv, scene study, the business, film making and acting for film. Contact Casting Call Entertainment at (702) 369-0400 for info on a free audit and details on programs.

-Art Lynch

(702) 682-0469

Mr and Mrs Roy Costly at the last SAG Regional Branch Conference in 2012..where Roy was honored for 30 years of service on the National Board of Directors an overall service to the membership. He remains on the board in 2014 of the new union representing the New Mexico Local. And people think my 20 years is a long haul! -Art Lynch

Roy Costley of New Mexico, SAG H C Award winner with his wife the night of the award in Hollywood.

Laural and Hardy on the set (above) New York SAG-AFTRA Local President Mike Hodge (left).

Buster Keaton a master at comedy, writing and directing.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Today is World Intellectual Property Day. This year’s theme, “Movies: A Global Passion,” is directly related to SAG-AFTRA members. How does intellectual property effect your creativity?

Actor Preparation vs Actor Planning

By Scott Rogers

Scott Rogers Studios

One theme that keeps coming up in my classes is the difference between Preparing and Planning. I always say, “Preparation is good but Planning is bad”. 

Simply put:
Preparation: is all the research and imagination work you do on your character and their relationships. Knowing your character inside out is important if you want to really feel what they would feel under the given circumstances.

Planning: is deciding what you should feel or express and when. For example, deciding to cry at a certain point in the script or deciding to get angry at a certain point or even deciding to drop your head, roll your eyes, sigh… These things should happen because they are triggered and not because you have decided they should happen.

This is very important when you work in TV. Unlike acting on stage, when you act on TV (and in many movies) there is effectively NO rehearsal. You see, as an actor, until you are on set and ready to shoot, you never know what the director is going to want, how the scene will be staged, what the set looks like, or how the other actor will be saying his lines. The more you plan, the more you will be thrown when things don’t go the way you planned – and they WON’T. The scene you rehearsed so diligently in your trailer, which takes place on a park bench, in the script, may be shot as a walk-and-talk (a scene shot while the characters are walking and talking). Or the scene you rehearsed as a confrontation in a bar could easily be shot as a scene at a horse race or at the beach.  You just don't know until you're there, "on the day".

This isn't to say there is absolutely no planning that takes place.  Naturally, there is.  You will have to hit your marks, violence must be staged,
the director may even want you to cry on a specific line.  Your job is to make these planned moments appear completely spontaneous and triggered. That's difficult enough without adding planned moments of your own into the mix! Also, all of your plans are made without taking the other actor into account.  The choices they make will (ideally) change your own choices and plans.  Or, more likely, they will throw you, since you weren't expecting their choice.  If this happens you will find that you will avoid listening to the other actor because it throws you!  Now you're acting in a vacuum and that is never a good thing.  You won't be REACTING to them at all.

Think of your preparation as building a foundation from which to soar. You are building a platform 50 feet high. The stronger you make it, the more it will support you when the time comes to push off from it and fly. At some point you will have to take a leap of faith and trust that you will fly.   

If however, you try to plan out every step you will take when you leave the platform, that’s akin to building a path to walk on, instead of flying. When you do this, you end up spending all your energy trying to stay on the path (you don’t want to FALL!). Well, when the director or the other actors do things that you don’t expect it’s like they’re throwing unexpected turns in your path. All your focus ends up on staying on the path and the more you try to stay on it, the harder it becomes. Instead of flying with abandon you are struggling to stay on a rickety track that is falling apart as you take each step.

That's no way to act! this forces you to actually avoid listening to the other actors because they are liable to throw you and instead causes you to focus on yourself so your performance will go as you planned no matter what the other actors say or do. I call this "acting in a vacuum" and it isn't a good thing!  So instead, Prepare like crazy: Do imagination work on your character and their relationships, do research, study the pathology of your character and, of course, learn your lines!!  Once you have done all that, you've built yourself a platform from which to soar.  It's time to let go of everything (your safety net is strong!) and take that giant leap of faith!  It's the only way to fly.

And would you want to act any other way?

An Actor Trains...

On Actor Training 

From Scott Roger's Studios


Because I get hired to coach actors, by studios, production companies, directors, and celebrities, I have to (get to) work with actors from very different backgrounds. Sanford Meisner trained some; LeeStrasberg trained others. Some are followers of Stella Adler and some are UtaHagen devotees. What I’ve found though, is that although the approaches vary greatly, all are capable of giving honest, inspired performances. They are all TRAINED.
Uta Hagen
Lee Strasberg
There are various schools of thought on what constitutes good training. In my opinion (and probably due in part to my background), which style or discipline you ultimately choose is not important - as long as you find what works for you. Different actors respond to different methods of teaching. Some actors need to work more on their imaginations in order to recall strong emotions on demand (important when shooting close-ups or auditioning). When teaching, I might give them sense-memory exercises eventually leading into an Affective Memory or Object exercise—clearly Strasberg’s “Method”. 
But another actor might need help on connecting with other actors (which keeps your acting real and anchored in the imaginary circumstances). For him I might be inclined to use some repetition exercises perhaps leading into the “Three-Moments Game”, which some will recognize as Sanford Meisner’s technique. Different strokes for different folks . . . Remember, if something doesn’t work for you, you may need to give it more time or, you may want to find a different approach; one that fits you better. One thing I have found though, is that first impressions may be misleading.  I've seen actors hate the exercises in a given technique only to find that the reason they hate it is because they really need to work on the specific skills that the exercises are focused on.  Sometimes the technique you hate is the technique you need to work on…
Konstantin Stanislavski
Funny thing is, for all the differences in their approaches—and the differences are considerable—virtually all the major methodologies of modern acting are based on one man’s teachings: Konstantin Stanislavski. That’s right, for all their differences in approach, Strasberg, Meisner,  Adler, Hagen, Harold Clurman, Michael Chekhov, Elia Kazan—all taught variations of the same man’s teachings. The more you read about them and their techniques, the more complete your “toolkit” will be.  So without pushing you toward any specific school of acting, I would like to at least get you going in a productive direction.
Sanford Meisner
Harold Clurman
Stella Adler
Michael Chekhov
Elia Kazan
No matter what technique(s) you use, I believe all would agree that there are two key areas of focus that are very important to every actor:
Research is learning everything you can about the character. An actor needs to know their character’s background, influences, religion, economic, physical pathology, yes their dialogue, and much, much more. Once you’ve learned all about your character, you learn about everyone your character speaks to and speaks about. To that same extent.
The same goes for all the places your character has been to, and refers to. Think about it, when you talk to your friends, you already know all this information – and more! You need the same safety net of knowledge in order to give an honest performance and feel confident enough to cut loose and "swing with abandon".  I use a checklist called "Treasure Hunt" to help actors ask the necessary, pertinent questions (once they ask them, the actor usually has no problem answering, or making  up answers, on their own!)
Research however, is just the first part. When you have all the research in place, then (and only then) are you ready to begin to live the life of your character. Research is the brainwork, but imagination is where the real creativity comes in. This is where a class can really help you develop and grow as an actor. Where you can work on your craft and develop skills that will serve you your entire life. Where instead of just reading about believing in the given circumstances, you can look in the other actor’s eyes, listen to their words and actually believe they are leaving you for someone else. The tears come because your imagination convinced your tear ducts that the circumstances were real. Through intense imagination work like emotional preparation exercises, improvisations, and other exercises designed to trigger real emotions in the actor, you learn to control the triggers that allow you to simply feel honest, real emotions, on demand - take after take. NOT to show or “indicate” emotions, but simply to feel them. And in film, that’s all they want. As soon as you try to show the feelings, it's "too big for the camera".
The research work is time consuming but not terribly difficult. Imagination work, on the other hand, can happen lightning fast but is often the hardest, most draining (although also the most rewarding) work an actor does.
So, Why class…?

If you are already a trained, working actor, do you still need to be in class?  For an answer, I point to an actor you may not know by name but I'm pretty sure you'll recognize his face.  William Schallert, former president of the Screen Actors Guild, has worked on an incredible 366 movies and TV shows, according to his IMDB page, dating back to 1947.  He is 92 years young and as recently as three years ago (the last time I checked), he was playing a recurring character on, not one, but TWO TV series' and one mini-series, taking class twice a week and still putting up scenes in class regularly!
Class is how you create and maintain a consummate professional actor.  

But, for the actor living and working outside Hollywood, constant work in class is also the great equalizer between himself and the actors in Hollywood.  When an actor living outside of L.A. auditions for a TV show or movie shooting in their area, they are competing with actors in L.A. who are auditioning, working, and doing scenes in class, daily. How often do YOU audition? If you aren’t working in class, you won’t be ready when they are casting the role that you would be perfect for. 
To paraphrase an excellent description of what class is, (once given by the Meisner based Neighborhood Playhouse in NYC):
 Actors are in class to experiment—to grow.
We create an atmosphere of trust, in the classroom--a place where trial and error is not only acceptable but we believe that, if you aren't making mistakes you simply aren't trying hard enough. You see, when you're performing for a camera or an audience, it's got to work
You make choices that are going to allow you, as an actor, to deliver the goods when the director says "Action". However, if you do nothing but perform, then you are stuck with what you already know works. You can't take a chance and push your limits in the workplace, because you're not sure you'll be able to deliver the goods when the cameras are rolling.
This is where class comes in. Class gives you something you never get in performance - the opportunity to fail. To go out on a tightrope saying, "I don't know if this is going to work, but I'd like to try it". Perhaps it's a disaster, but no worries. There's no audience in the classroom - just a sympathetic teacher and fellow students who are falling off tightropes as often as you are. You get the opportunity to expand your comfort zone, and thereby expand your artistry.
I teach ongoing classes in Portland, OR. and in Honolulu, HI.  and I do Skype coaching for auditions.
For more info, click on the links above, or visit my website.

WWII Documentaries

Before World War II, the Hollywood box office was booming, but the entertainment industry's relationship with Washington D.C. was strained. All of that changed after Pearl Harbor. Over the next few years, five major filmmakers: John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra and George Stevens, turned their lenses on documenting the war from the front lines. For some of them, like John Huston, their war experience was a career-defining turn. For others, the experience was less beneficial. Pop culture journalist Mark Harris' new book, Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War, is the untold story about how the war not only changed these filmmakers as people, but also changed the way they would make movies forever.

"Prelude to War," Chapter I

Frank Capra's "Why We Fight" series, describes World War II as a battle between the "slave world" of fascism and the "free world" of American liberty. In the "slave world," the
entire populations of Germany, Italy and Japan have been hoodwinked by madmen, opportunists who capitalized on their people's desperation and weakness to rise to power. These demagogues promised revenge for past losses, and in the process convinced their people to give up their rights and accept dictatorship. In the "free world," the principles of equality, freedom, and liberty characterize the greatest leaders, embodied in the works and words of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln. This freedom is a threat to the fascist dictators of the Axis powers, who claim that democracy is weak and must be eradicated. The film claims that the ultimate goal of the Axis powers is to enslave the nations of the "free world," a desire made manifest in the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and Mussolini's destruction of Ethiopia.

Information for Students, Actors, Film Makers

"Tell students interested in learning about acting, theater, the film or television industry, culture or entertainment about this site. Then ask them what else they would like to learn and how to present it."

Advice from a friend that I would like to heed in 2014.

Your help is needed.

I feel that we have a site that is useful for students, entry level professionals, and those interested in or in the industry. Help me make it better.

We are not selling anything, simply providing a service and links to articles, sources and services to help talent stay of top of the industry and their own craft, including beginners.

Read our mission statement: link here.

Tell friends, pass on to your students and above all, have anyone with feedback or entries send them to me.

Thank you in advance.

Art Lynch
(702) 454-1067

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Creative Insults

Thank you Mary Ann Hebinck....

The "mistake" of not making money

I have made the "mistake" of never working for money.

Sure I earned a low to modest living, as an actor, in voice work, in journalism, as a broadcaster, suffering from cheep clients in marketing, and up until the governor cut the budget in January 2008, as a full time professor, but that isn't why I did the work. 

My motivation was always the craft and what it could do for others. Starting theater companies or troops, directing teens in "Godspell" when I was 22 to introducing children to theater as a Viking or a Chef with Rainbow Company, entertaining or informing with my talents and skills and always giving back to the community.

Sound self serving? It really isn't, as I sit here with millions of others suffering in this dream crushing recession, long after it was allegedly over.

I teach college when I can, act when the opportunity arises, teach acting, am on the air on Sundays at Nevada Public Radio and find whatever other income I can.

I put in many hours without pay serving union members in the SAG-AFTRA, including co-chairing national committees, networking and using what rhetorical skills I have to move things in Nevada's favor.

I really did pursue acting for the craft and the relationship with the audience and society. Remember, at my age, the focus was social and political commentary with art playing a key role in reflecting and altering the overall society.

Lots of theater for change, for social comment, for education, for entertainment and to capture the imaginations of children and adults.

Over the past few years I have done ulta-low and student films under SAG contracts, one-man plays and Chautauqua, small parts that did not conflict with teaching, and coached both actors and those who wanted to learn to present speeches or be in front of audiences.

Journalism and broadcasting find their root in my desire to teach and inform, providing audiences with what they need to know, both for their own interests and to ensure civil participation and responsibility. From the start my radio and broadcasting experience has been rooted in community service (thank you, John Wenstrom).

So it is that this and my other blog, and a web site still under construction (worlds slowest contractor.) I approach these the same way I do acting, voice work, radio, television, commercial production (part of my past but very rewarding when I did produce and direct), SAG-AFTRA service and now teaching. It is here, offered free of charge or hidden motive, as a service using my background in the industry, in journalism and in education. My goal is to keep them useful, current and informative.

I do it for service. 

I put in hours each day.

I do not earn or ask a dime.

I find that as long as I can make bills, and climb out of this post-recession holes (eventually, with the help of my loving wife Laura), there is nothing I regret. I have and hope to continue to help others, to touch lives and be blessed and changed by those I work with, meet or do business with.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Either as a direct comment response or by contacting me at

A Truly Democratic Union

On March 30, 2012 history was made with the merging of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The new SAG-AFTRA is one union with members representing many ares of the entertainment and information industries. It is an world built on the proud history of two very democratic and different union cultures. Merger means SAG did not end, but governance and the nature of the culture will never be the same. 
This is about the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA.

By Art Lynch (c 1998) 
   Actors are a unique mix of artist, craftsperson and employee. They view their needs as unique. Actors move between jobs and employers, resembling casual labor or self employed consultants, yet fight to remain classified as employees working for a single monolithic entertainment and information industry. Performers shoulder the individual economic burden of their own training, wardrobe, and an almost constant search for work. They face an increasingly competitive work force. At the same time, they rely on their unions to negotiate and enforce contracts, protecting performers' wages and working conditions within the entire entertainment and information industry.

    The Screen Actors Guild was formed in an age when things were different. A few major studios with a handful of powerful owners functioned as factories, producing entertainment and information for a world wide public. SAG was formed under pressure of large pay cuts for all actors and performers. Even though this occurred at the height of the Great Depression, from a labor perspective it also occurred simultaneously to large expenditures by management on the new technology of "talkies" and on the purchase of and building of large ornate movie palaces for the theatrical exhibition of management controlled films. The 1930s and 1940s saw record growth and profits for motion picture studios and broadcast companies. Over the decades that followed, the Guild adapted to changes in economics, politics and technology. These changes reflect Prindle's evaluation of SAG as a "truly democratic union." (1988)

     The democratic nature of governance, geographic concentration of membership and flexibility of structure allow for rapid adaptation to changes in the industry and in society, although with all change there is resistance, and not all change may be to the benefit of the membership, the community or the industry.

     The Screen Actors Guild represents a membership which may not be steadily employed (an estimated 90% of serious full time actors are out of work at any given time, with as high as 80% of the SAG membership not employed in the field their union represents), may or may not be serious about their trade, and which outside of the craft remains a part of the myth of Hollywood. Most of society fails to understand what it is to be an actor, beyond the performances they witness.  Today 85% of union actors make under $2,000 a year at their craft, with fewer than four percent living their upper middle class to wealthy lifestyles solely on their income from acting. (Prindle, 1988, see also  Published reports vary, however most agree that as many as six out of ten members of the Screen Actors Guild go without any acting related income in any given year.  

     The Guild has been called the one truly democratic union in the United States because it functions with freely elected officers who, even at the level of the national president,
are not paid or compensated for the time they invest. It is a union made up of actors working for actors, who in turn hire paid staff to carry on the day to day functions of the Guild, including legal counsel and financial consulting.  While this may sound altruistic, it is also true as a long list of presidents, officers and board members have had to put their careers on hold, spend time away from family and jeopardize their own relationship with agents, casting directors and management in the interest of what is good for the membership of the Guild (Prindle, 1988). 

    Screen Actors Guild Nevada Branch Treasurer Vickie Sutton summarized her view of why the Screen Actors Guild is unique:

This union is unlike any other union. Our union is so different. It’s about a dream, working in that dream, pursuing that dream. Members are much closer to their union and what it represents. The membership is so diverse, yet under one banner, able to vote on all contracts and be a part of every aspect of the union. I take great pride in my union (personal communication, March 2000).

Membership in the Guild differs from most other unions. In addition to full time actors, dancers, singers and other performers, SAG membership includes others who do not earn their living within the industry, yet are as proud of their union and their union card as any Hollywood star. The vast majority of SAG's membership are not ‘actors’ in the true sense. The Guild has among its members people who may have looked right for a part and were in only one movie for a few lines, actors and extras who work on movie sets more for the enjoyment than the paycheck, those who are more management in their political leanings than pro-labor, and many who never took their jobs on a movie set seriously. There too are the producer or director's friends, under the obvious influence of management, who were given a part or given a letter of intent to allow them to join the Guild. While representing professional performers, the majority of voting members of the Screen Actors Guild are not themselves full working professionals within the industry or the craft (Back Stage West, 1994).

     SAG is a national union, with a structure that centers on elected officers and a national board of directors.  Local branches assist in providing services to local members and recommending any local contracts or variations from national contracts to the national board. All funds are distributed through the national office, with general budgets and appropriate specific requests administered by the elected treasurer and voted on by the National Board of Directors (SAG, Constitution and Bylaws, 1996-2000).

A Sister Union: AFTRA
     As briefly mentioned in the review of the Guild’s history, a second union formed to provide work place protection for radio broadcasters and radio actors, later expanding to include a new electronic media, television. The American Federation of Radio Artists was formed in 1937. To reflect the inclusion of television, in 1946 it was re-named The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). This historic expansion into new media, while SAG remained a “film industry union”, set a precedence, which occasionally produces conflicts between the two usually cooperative unions.  SAG remains a performers union, primarily representing actors on film, television and in commercial or industrial presentations. 

 While AFTRA began as a performers union, it now represents a widening range of professional crafts within the broader scope of the communications and entertainment communities. AFTRA represents newscasters, sportscasters, disc jockeys, talk hosts, announcers, on camera actors, video background performers, voice artists, dancers, singers, musicians, recording artists, music video talent, interactive technology performers, a small segment of television and radio producers, a small segment of electronic technicians and professionals in specific writing fields.  While SAG’s membership moves rapidly from production to production and employer to employer, a politically powerful segment  of AFTRA’s membership hold regular ongoing jobs, most notably the on air broadcast talent who work fixed hours five or six days a week for a specific employer. AFTRA also represents another segment of the entertainment industry whose lifestyle and motivation is surprisingly similar to those of a Screen Actors Guild actor: recording artists. So, in effect there may be more in common between the unions than detractors admit (Harvey, 1996; and S. Scott personal communication, January, 1998).

    There are real issues to address if the two unions are to co-exist into the future. Will they cooperate or will there be a jurisdictional turf war?  AFTRA activists point out, with some degree of accuracy, that by rights of the original intent of the two unions, AFTRA should have jurisdiction over all video and most certainly have jurisdiction over the new digital interactive media.  A mutual agreement exists that provides case by case individual decisions on jurisdiction, sometimes decided by which union the producer / employer prefers to reach an agreement with. As an example, television situation comedies, which are produced on videotape and not film, are produced under Screen Actors Guild jurisdiction. Soap Operas, even if they are shot on film, fall under AFTRA contractual jurisdiction. Both unions agree that this scenario could one day pit the unions against each other on a grand scale (SAG Board Room, personal communications, 1995-2000).

    A major structural difference lies in the democratic concept of open membership, by which entry level membership may be purchased without meeting any work or professional credentials. AFTRA’s board and conventions have consistently refused to revoke open membership. It is referred to as an “open door” policy. (Harvey, 1996) To the actors in SAG, this means that anyone can claim to be an actor, simply by joining AFTRA. This process continues today despite pleas from the Screen Actors Guild and Equity.  It can be argued that AFTRA’s open door policy may make the broadcaster union flexible enough to adapt and survive changes (SAG Minutes, personal communication, 1998, and SAG Board Room, personal communications, 1995-2000).

     AFTRA is structured as both a local and national union. AFTRA locals have widely divergent responsibilities, jurisdictions, dues and sometimes structures. They generate and manage their own treasuries while contributing to the national fund.  National officers and a national board of directors are responsible for negotiating and enforcing national contracts while an independent union congress of members at large, including proxy voting, holds the power to override the board and create national policy, including the nomination of a slate of national officers. Like SAG, AFTRA elected officials are volunteers, without a salary or benefit package (Harvey, 1996).

     While a percentage of AFTRA members have consistent single employer incomes, most do not. SAG and AFTRA have sometimes conflicting responsibilities in representing on camera talent in television commercials, on television programs, in industrials, on interactive entertainment and in most every category of voice over.  When the two unions formed, AFTRA’s work by its nature included the broadcast and recorded voice, while SAG’s workers were employed in projects recorded on film.  As audio recordings began to be used in film production and, with the advent of video, film began to be broadcast on television, both unions had legitimate arguments for claiming representation of workers who traditionally fell clearly under the other union.  Cooperation between AFTRA and SAG is common, however there remains the potential, and indeed in some cases the reality of producers playing the two unions against each other or seeking out the contract which is the least expensive or least restrictive for their project (R. Masur, personal communication, 1996).

      An example of how the interest of the two unions may sometimes be in conflict came in early 1997, after both union boards had voted with a strong majority in favor of moving forward on merger.  Concerns on the unilateral front of the two unions were raised over the World Intellectual Property Organization Treaty (WIPO) and its 1997 ratification by the US Senate. AFTRA and its national board strongly supported the ratification of the WIPO treaty, while SAG National President Richard Masur (of Los Angeles) vowed that his Guild “would actively oppose it” (Robb, February 4, 1997, p. 1).  AFTRA National President Shelby Scott (who lives in Baltimore) fired off a letter to Masur saying that SAG’s opposition to the treaty “causes those of us who spent the past five years conceptualizing and constructing a new merged union to question whether the new union really is capable of understanding and addressing the needs of its diverse but contemporary constituencies” (Robb, February 4, 1997, p. 1). The WIPO treaty was drafted to protect the work of recording artists, including for the first time, protection of their intellectual property rights from misappropriation of their work in cyberspace. 

    In addressing his membership, Masur wrote that “our sister union, AFTRA, seems to have made some headway in securing treaty inclusion of some protections for sound recording artists...however, the lack of any protections for audiovisual performers places us in a position where we have no choice but to vigorously oppose...ratification of this treaty. And we will oppose it until such time as it includes real protections for audiovisual performers”  (Robb, February 4, 1997, p.1). 

    Cooperation between the unions under Masur was never in dispute, in part because of his historic pro-merger stance and his friendship with AFTRA President Shelby Scott. Both were strong hands-on chairs, exercising parliamentary control under Roberts Rules of Order and interpreting those rules to gain the benefit for their presidential agendas. Both had been reelected by large majority mandates of their national memberships.

Aroil 21, 1895, Woodville Latham and his sons exhibited the first US-made movie projector, the Panopticon:

Hollywood Begs for a Tax Break in Some States, Including California

LOS ANGELES — The San Fernando Valley has served as home to award-winning movies like “E.T.,” “Boogie Nights” and “Crash.” But Raul Bocanegra, a state lawmaker representing a large swath of the valley, worries about the collapse of film and television production in his district and across Hollywood’s home state.

“There was a time when we actually made things,” said Mr. Bocanegra, referring to the automobile and aerospace manufacturing plants that have left California.
“Now, we make films here,” he said. “If we’re not careful, we will lose it.”

Mr. Bocanegra is leading an aggressive push, along with entertainment companies and Hollywood unions, to hand out as much as $2 billion in new tax breaks to increase movie and television production in California, which has lost business to states like New York with far more generous subsidies. Last year, for the first time, more studio movies were filmed in Louisiana than in California, according to the nonprofit FilmL.A.

“Major Crimes,” top left, gets incentives to shoot in California; “Boardwalk Empire” went elsewhere. Maryland is negotiating over subsidies for “House of Cards,” right. Credit James Best Jr./The New York Times

But tax credits for Hollywood, a glamorous and mostly thriving industry, are not an easy sell. While California allots about $2 billion in annual general credits to state businesses for research and development, few if any industries have enjoyed state largess as big as the entertainment sector. And the recent arrest of a California state senator accused of accepting bribes in exchange for supporting film credit legislation has provided further ammunition for opponents of the program.

“I’m not a fan of tax credits in general,” Senator Lois Wolk, who leads the state Senate’s governance and finance committee, said in a statement that signaled opposition to the push. “In fact, I’m a real skeptic of all of them and have done everything possible to limit their size and duration.”

It is not just California. Lawmakers across the country are wrestling with the efficacy of these programs and how generous they should be in luring film and television production to their states.

Nationwide, about $1.5 billion in tax breaks is awarded to the film industry each year, according to a 2012 survey by The New York Times. Several tax policy groups oppose film incentives; a 2010 report by the nonprofit Tax Foundation said states justified them using “fanciful estimates of economic activity” and they largely just shift production from one sector to another without producing a net increase in economic activity or employment. (In a letter, California’s legislative analyst in 2012 told lawmakers that varying methodology and special circumstances in California diminished the reliability of often-conflicting studies.)
In Maryland this month, a $3.5 million tax credit proposal to support the “House of Cards” TV series, which is filmed in and around Baltimore, failed a vote in the Legislature. The makers of “House of Cards” had previously threatened to move to another state if they didn’t receive sufficient incentives. Maryland’s governor, Martin J. O’Malley, is working with the show to reach an agreement, said a press officer for the governor.

Critics in Minnesota have called for dismantling the state’s small incentives program, which was recently scheduled for a legislative audit of its effectiveness. The new television series “Fargo,” set in Minnesota, is being shot in Alberta, Canada, with a lift from incentives there.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York hopes the new CBS “Late Show” will stay in the city, which lured NBC’s “Tonight Show” from Los Angeles using tax breaks. Credit Mike Groll/Associated Press

A coast-to-coast duel erupted after CBS named Stephen Colbert its new “Late Show” host, with Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, lobbying for the show to move to Los Angeles and the New York governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, calling for it to remain in New York. New York recently lured NBC’s “Tonight Show” from Burbank to Manhattan with a tax credit that has been valued at $20 million a year.

In California, a new law would expand the film credit program to cover not only smaller films and new TV series as it does now, but also major studio productions that cost as much as $100 million, and expensive, established television shows.

The bill, co-sponsored by Mr. Bocanegra and Mike Gatto, both Democratic legislators in California’s State Assembly, has been criticized by the California School Employees Association and the California Teachers Association. Pointing to what they said were $20 billion in cuts to state support for education in the last several years, the teachers’ group said in a statement, “Tax credits for special interest groups, corporations and others have, over the last decade, depleted our general fund of billions of dollars.”

Supporters of the proposed increase in tax incentives for Hollywood point to a report published by the Milken Institute in February noting that California lost more than 16,000 production jobs since 2004, while other states with substantial subsidy programs, including Texas and North Carolina, together gained that many, and more.

Louisiana last year served as the location for 18 of 108 feature films, versus 15 in California, according to FilmL.A., which monitors film permits in Los Angeles County. Los Angeles logged about 7,000 feature film location shooting days last year, down 50 percent from a 1996 peak of roughly 14,000 days, while television dramas were shot on location here for about 4,100 days, down 39 percent from their recent peak in 2008.

“This iconic California industry is at a tipping point from which it might not return,” Kathy Garmezy, a senior executive at the Directors Guild of America, said last week.


Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles also wants the "Late Show," lobbying for it to move to California. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

But public talk — “We’re going to Sacramento and storming that place like never before,” Mr. Garcetti said recently — has been the loud part of a mostly quiet campaign. And there are some hitches and obstacles in the existing laws that might yet keep producers from tapping California tax credits for their big movies or TV dramas like “Boardwalk Empire” and “The Good Wife,” which have already gone elsewhere.

One complication is that an existing, smaller incentive program in California — it is helping to underwrite the “Entourage” movie and the cable series “Major Crimes” — will exhaust all of its $100 million-a-year funding in June 2015, though the program technically exists for two years beyond that. That funding gap results in part from practices that have accelerated the assignment of some credits.

California’s proposed five-year credit program would kick in on July 1, 2016. But its backers, including Kenneth Ziffren, director of the Los Angeles entertainment industry and production office, fret that a rule barring overlapping laws could prevent the granting of new credits until the old program expired a year later, leaving California exposed to competitors.

“We’d be a year behind, as it is, and the legislation in its current form won’t kick in for two years,” Mr. Ziffren said. Lawmakers will find a way to close the gap, Mr. Bocanegra said.

Bargaining over the size of the new tax credits program is most likely to begin next month, after delivery of a revised proposal for next year’s state budget. Supporters of film credits are hoping ultimately to get the assent of Gov. Jerry Brown, who earlier this year proposed a budget with roughly $4 billion in various reserves. To date, the governor has taken no public position on the tax credit.

The proposed enhanced tax incentives will face a serious test in the California State Senate, which was recently stung by the indictment of Ron Calderon. Mr. Calderon has pleaded not guilty to charges that, among other things, he tried to peddle his influence over film subsidies to an undercover F.B.I. agent posing as a Hollywood executive.

“It certainly casts a dark cloud over the whole subject,” Ms. Wolk, the state senator, said in her statement. “We should not be considering a renewal or expansion of the very same legislation that was and may still be at the center of an ongoing F.B.I. investigation into corruption in the Legislature.”

Joe Reich: Veteran Casting Director

"Be an Applicant

Not a Supplicant"
Veteran Casting Director
   “There is a big difference between a supplicant and an applicant. Actors will not be taken seriously until they approach casting directors as applicants.”

   “We prefer local hires,” says casting director Joe Reich “but in a changing environment we also keep Hollywood actors in mind as a ‘just in case’. Many New York and Hollywood actors are willing to travel to locations and work as ‘local hires’. It’s a mobile industry. You have to be as ready, as prepared and as good as every competing actor no matter where you live,” is the advice Joe Reich, a single card casting director, meaning his name appears alone on the screen at the beginning of many of the projects he casts. Reich adds that when you audition the casting director already knows who they will bring with to do the job and how to reach them, should he not find the talent he or she wants during local auditions.

   “Your photo must communicate your inner life, it must project through.”

   “What I care about is your eyes, the emotion behind those eyes and that takes an old fashioned close-up head shot.”

      The project casting director will usually work through a local casting director for day players and extras.

   “If that person is not up for the job, then my impression of the local market will be a poor one and I will bring more talent with me.”

Click on "read more" below for more advice and observations from CS Joe Reich.