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....

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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

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.

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.

Acting Agencies

Nevada Frachised Talent Agencies

See also other postings concerning agents, agencies, agent relations and the business.

In Nevada please us only the five Las Vegas SAG franchised agencies:

Baskow, J & Associates
Full Service (All Ages)

2948 E. Russell Rd.
Las Vegas, NV  89120
(702) 733-7818

Lenz Agency
Full Service (All Ages)

1591 East Desert Inn Road
Las Vegas, NV  89109
(702) 733-6888

eNVy Model & Talent Agency
Full Service (All Ages)

101 Convention Center Dr.
Las Vegas, NV  89109
(702) 878-7368

Best Agency
Full Service (All Ages)
5565 South Decatur Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89118
(702) 889-2900

A decline in who we are?

The news media has picked up on what has been on on-going discussion in the Chronicle for Higher Education and among educators: the decline in education.

Of concern at the college level is the decline of standards in critical thinking and research, the shift from scholar to customer, and from the search for truth to how to make more money and increase your personal lot in life.

Critical thinking means many things, but for this purpose the ability to reason through and understand all sides of an issue or problem and be open to altering your own view or acknowledging the strengths as well a weaknesses of opposing viewpoints.

In other other words: think.

Teaching at the high school, trade school, community college and university level, teachers and faculty observe that students want to go the easy way: to teach to the test, to have their views be heard without any reference or serious consideration of the views of others, to not have to delve into such valuable resources as history, philosophy, psychology, religious studies or anything that may require and understanding of society differing from the one they grew up in and accept as the one true way.

Too many students want it their way...their view and vision of the world to be the one and only acceptable way of doing or seeing things. [This may explain the election of a government that no longer compromises and governs but sticks to black and white constants over a functioning society]. 

Research is an 8 letter 4 letter word, beyond quick Internet searches, Google, Wikipedia and whatever is fastest and easiest to find.

Some schools no longer allow faculty to encourage, much less require, scholarly juried sources of academic material. It has become OK to use pulp magazines and Internet sites that present the misinformation or sales bias material provided by public relations and advertising sources as "fact" (without any indication of the source being anything less than balance and academic). [I have worked in the media and know how these "sources" the students feel should be accepted are generated.] These schools call themselves colleges and/or universities. Even public universities have eroded the standards of research and ability to reason through all point of view and question the authenticity of not only opinion but of facts.

Those same students then complain about getting a B instead of an A, credits not transferring and faculty members who dare to present views or opinions that do not fit with their own.

Education as a customer service institution has grown as state budgets get tight, increasing consumer centered generations take over decision making positions and the model of public-private partnerships and government backed student loans fuel the engines of education.

But can a student be a customer? Are teachers there to help students grow into citizens, decision makers, leaders and excel or to simple train them for the jobs they perceive as allowing them to pay off their student loans and have a better life for themselves and their family. The American Dream as money and not as a concept of democracy, public service and social interdependency may already be so entrenched that the solid liberal arts education of the past, the self thinkers who built this country, may have gone the way of the dinosaurs for most of America.

Can a student be an informed customer if they are not aware of the inaccuracies of thought, of how others think, of a changing work beyond YouTube and Facebook?

While seeking to better yourself, and by extension your families wealth and well being are a key part of American capitalism and most say American democracy, should it be the foundation of how decisions are made, the motivation for our educational standards and actions, the root source of who we are?

That's another debate, one that requires critical thinking skills, research, being open to a wide range of views and the overall needs of society as well as self.

Are we capable of such a discussion? Are we teaching our future generation of leaders to be able to make solid decisions on these and other key issues?

Or are we teaching them to get what they pay for, demand what they want and believe what they already believe?

And what of the educators and administrators?

Are we hiring teachers who read, question, put the pursuit of knowledge first or who are seeking steady jobs working with age groups they like being around? Are we hiring administrators who hire and fire, move chess pieces around and who are more interested in balancing budgets than rewarding employees who push their students to think, funding programs that help students to push the envelope and opening the door to debate and critical thought? Are they setting prohibition and policies or allowing for faculty to stretch and challenge students? And are they bean counters or innovators?

A discussion for another time.

-Dr. Art Lynch

SAG cost too much

When you are ready to be a professional, and like Tom Hanks at the first SAG Awards, hold it up with pride and talk about when and why you joined, then you are ready to pay the SAG initiation and join the ranks of professionals known as union actors.

I received a message, all caps, saying SAG is a rip off and that the cost of "dues" (they meant initiation) were way too high, and that there is no work.

Let me deal with these one issue at at time:

First off, are you professional enough to join the union? Do producers cast you? Do you work often or at least whenever possible in the industry? Do you take classes, do theater, spend money on listing your services on the web or elsewhere? Have you found an agent or manager? Are you investing in your craft, in time, money or both?

If the answer is yes, then ask are you ready to become a professional by joining the Screen Actors Guild? Are you ready for the commitment of joining the union, with the work opportunities as they are today and with potential for your future that union membership brings?

What you will never get with non-union work:  ability to earn Health Insurance and a Pension; Unemployment Insurance; Worker's Comp; Guaranteed Minimums;  a living wage;  checks that arrive on time and when you need them, residuals, protection of your image and talents against future misuse, and a staff working on your behalf to resolve payment issues. 

The initiation fee helps fund the union you are joining. It is needed to pay staff who make it possible for you to enjoy the wages, rapid pay, safe working conditions, food and water on the set, "bump" income increases, protections of your talent (image, voice, uniqueness) and legal fees the Guild provides for all members. The initiation helps fund organizing so that there are jobs to employ you. Our staff of paid professionals, who work at well below the rates offered elsewhere in the industry because they believe in you, is there on the set when needed or called 24/7, even on holidays. They are the muscle just as stars, like Tom Hanks, are the profile, that makes SAG the most recognized and one for the most respected unions in the world.

There are payments plans to soften the blow, with additional plans are being finalized. Initiation in some markets where there is less work, including Nevada, are one third lower than in union security states where there is ample work.

But just as with buying insurance, a car, a house, or a good pair of shoes, you have to pay to finance the costs of providing you a quality product. Nothing is free.

SAG has among the lowest percentage dues of any union, as SAG financing is subsidized by initiations. And unlike the "evil" way unions are being painted as giant political manipulating machines, less than three percent of your Screen Actors Guild Dues goes to political purposes, with none going to any candidate (SAG advocates for issues benefiting actors, and is prohibited from endorsing any political candidate).

It takes union organizing, the commitment of talent in any market and the reality of the business climate to generate jobs. SAG does cannot employ actors. SAG can only help productions to become union.

As talent you have to stop working non-union. The availability of actors willing to work non-union is only an incentive for producers to continue to not pay enough, to pay when they feel like if they feel like it, to not provide the contract wages, working conditions or protections a union enforces. There is no reason to go union and pay union wages if qualified performers continue to do non-union work.

You have to set the value on your talents and time that make you a professional. That value is a union contract. Only then will you be respected as a professional and given the pay, residuals, respect and credits you deserve.

The nation is in, or recovering from (definitely not in Nevada or California), the greatest recession since the Great Depression. The motion picture industry, unlike its fast recovery from the Depression, has proven less resilient this time around.

Agents, casting companies, production companies, independent producers and distributors and even large studios have folded, sold or scaled back. Many industry related, and even the restaurants and other businesses that surround the studios, have gone out of business in Hollywood much less Nevada.

States where production is booming give away the store and are now finding that incentives are a two edge sword, as tax income is down. Nevada already is business friendly and does not have the taxes or fees to put rebates or loophole for the industry into force.

The person who wrote to me seemed to blame the union for a lack of work.

Look around you at  closed business fronts, vacant condo's and homes, the increase in "street people" and you will see that there is a much larger element at work today. 90% of Nevada homes are "under water", owing more than they could sell for. 70% face potential foreclosure. Our unemployment rate is the highest in the nation.

Like the plaque on a previous presidents' desk "It's the Economy, Stupid".

But things will get better.

Production is starting to pick up.

And if you keep your instrument tuned, your heart committed and your eye on the future...the future is only limited by your ability to "tough it out" for the prize of being on a set or stage and acting.

First posted May 5, 2010

to the mother of a child actor...on all questions concerning joining SAG, must join, RTW or payment plans contact you local SAG office.  For Nevada contact Steve Clinton.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Getting Started in Acting

Getting Started
    The best way to get started is to just jump in and do it.
    Pick up scripts or even books and read them out-loud. Have fun with them. Start to experiment and be sure to start to look up instead of keeping your eyes on the paper.
    Get together with friends or family and play, just play and have fun!
    Make the commitment to read this blog, to take notes and to put into practice the concepts or ideas you come up with while reading this book and which seem appropriate for you.
    Use the computer suggested links, look up the books referenced, watch the movies suggested and create your own goals and timetable, as suggested later. Read the interviews, then start making phone calls and do your own interviewing, and networking in the process.
    Make a commitment to read books, the trades and whatever you can get your hands on that involves the craft, not jut fan-based entertainment material.
    Start taking lessons or working in theater, because there can be no substitute to practice, to actually working at your craft.
    Acting is a business and you are your own corporation. Nothing happens unless you make it happen. The old story of being in the right place at the right time only works if the person in that place is ready to grab the brass ring when it appears and hang on to it!

For additional tips and information, click on "read more" below.