No, I am NOT Going into Rehab
But maybe I should.
As many of you already know, Friday was my last day as Director of SAGIndie.
I have been offered a position at a small production company owed by a couple of friends I have known for more than twenty and thirty years respectively (I’m not old. I’m loyal.). For an independent production studio, The Asylum is already quite successful (they produce a feature film every month), but they are ready to move to the next level (which I think is porn) and I’d like to help take them there. It’s a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to a new challenge.
I’ve been associated with SAG for nine years and running SAGIndie for more than four-and-a-half. And although I still enjoy my work, the only challenges I face now are political, and I’ve accomplished everything that I originally set out to do in this job.
Not many people know this story, but the first event I attended as SAGIndie Director was the IFP Market in New York. I didn’t know anything… or anyone… and someone at a party introduced me to a then up-and-coming producer, Effie Brown. For the next hour, Effie lambasted me with everything that was wrong with the SAG Low Budget Agreements. And everything she said was true. It was the most educational hour I’ve ever had and I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t leave this job until I solved what I secretly called “Effie’s Complaints.”
Finally, in 2005, when the SAG Low Budget Agreements were modified to their current versions, that promise was kept. For the first time, low budget filmmakers could make a movie using SAG actors and wouldn’t be financially crippled if they were lucky enough to get distribution. And what’s more; after a year in effect, these new contracts have resulted in a more than fifty percent increase in paying jobs for actors.
My work here is done.
I want to thank everyone who helped us reach these goals throughout the years; the producers, directors, writers, actors, festivals, media, vendors, and the especially the amazing SAGIndie staff; Darrien, Scott, Eliza, and Michael; who continue to work tirelessly on behalf of the entire industry.
Before I go I want to pass along a final bit of advice:
To Actors: Low Budget Filmmakers are not the enemy. Like you, most of them just want to create art. You need them and they need you. I believe (although I can’t back it up scientifically) that the vast majority of SAG members support the Low Budget Agreements. If I’m right, please make your voices heard. There are people at SAG who would like to eliminate these Agreements and the only actors who are talking to them are the people who have had problems. If you’ve had a good experience working these contracts, let someone know; tell your elected leaders, write to the SAG magazine, volunteer for committees or run for union office.
And to Filmmakers: Don’t screw this up. SAG has given low budget producers a real opportunity to work with the best talent at reduced rates and have provided a real chance for these films to succeed. Just as I believe that most actors support these agreements, I believe most filmmakers aren’t trying to rip anyone off. But the few who are could ruin it for everyone else. If you’ve got a million dollars, don’t sign to the Ultra Low Budget Agreement and tell SAG you’ve only got $100,000. Don’t be greedy. Do the right thing.
It’s been a great run and I’ll miss you all.
Thanks again for everything.