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By Gabrielle Nadig

For the last 10 years I have been working as an independent producer creating award-winning feature films, commercials, and short films. I love what I do and I have a talent for it, but there are so many things I wish I had known before I chose this career, things that film school didn’t teach me, and things people rarely talk about. I wish I could email my 20-year-old self and give her a heads-up about the struggles she’s going to face in her career. I can’t do that so instead I’m writing this to all the producers just starting out so that they can go down this path more equipped than I was.
Producer Gabrielle Nadig

Producers are Filmmakers and an essential part of the filmmaking process.

First things first. I did not really understand what a producer did before I started doing it and I still frequently come across people in the industry who do not know or do not value what we do. So I’ll explain…

I was initially drawn to filmmaking because I loved telling stories. Early on, I realized my strength was in telling the difference between a good story and a bad story. I could identify who the best person was to tell that story and I could take someone’s great story and physically bring it to life in the real world. I could do that all on-time and on-budget. I quickly learned that these traits were rare. There are so many great writers and directors with a vision, but there are so few people who can bring that vision to life. These skills led me to be a producer rather than a director because I loved the idea that a producer could build something out of nothing. We are putting the literal pieces together to create a film.

Producers are creatively involved in their films. I want to focus on that because the creative part often gets forgotten. We usually are the ones who are developing the script from an idea or existing IP, sometimes before the writer or director is even hired. We work with the writer to craft the story. We have notes on every draft. We have thoughts and input about key crew hires starting with selecting the director if they aren’t already attached. We have creative ideas about casting, locations, props, picture cars, music, etc. We watch every cut of the film in post and give notes. We strategize the release of the film. Plainly put, we are there every step of the way and our creative contributions and decisions can be seen in every frame of the film.

Producers do not exist to simply fulfill the director’s bidding. We work together as a team to build the best film possible. A good director understands that a good producer makes the movie better and subsequently, this relationship becomes valuable to them.

The director/producer relationship is a creative partnership. The director and the producer have to be on the same page about what kind of story they are telling and how they are telling it. They are collaborators in the truest of sense for years on a single project. In the best partnerships there is sincere mutual respect and the movie is always better for it. If the director is leading the creative vision, the producer is there to guide, support, manage, protect, and ultimately create that vision.

You will work on each project for far longer than you think.

I wish someone had told me this and I wish Directors knew this! When you are producing a film, normally you will create a single purpose entity that will own the film and through which all expenses will run for the life of the film. Usually that entity is an LLC, but depending on state tax credit requirements, it could be an LLC and another second entity. Guess who is usually responsible for handling these entities long after the movie is produced, premiered, and released? You’re right, the Producer! And for years after your project is released, you’ll need to file taxes for that entity or entities until you reach the point where you are able to legally dissolve the company. That could be three or five years after your release or even longer. At this point, the producer is usually the only person left working on the project. Did I become a producer to worry about taxes and accounting for multiple entities over several years? No, but it’s part of the job and I will do it because at the end of the day, I, as the producer, am responsible for my investors money and it is my job to make sure it’s managed properly and that includes taxes.

This problem is only exasperated by the fact that these small movies do not pay well. The producer’s fee is small and on first time projects a producer might be asked to defer that fee. For example, on my first film I only got paid $5,000 total for five years of work. You might get backend points but those are meaningless 99% of the time because low-budget indie films are rarely financially successful. You cannot do this job and expect to make enough money to pay your bills in the beginning so plan on having a backup way to make money. I was simultaneously running a commercial production company while I was producing my first three movies.

To the industry, the director is king. (Sorry producers)

The indie film industry and the Hollywood industry at large value the director over almost everything else. Everyone is always searching for the new, hot director, but we never stop to think about the producer whose contributions got that director on the map in the first place. At some point, a producer decided that this specific director was worth their time, commitment, and energy and kickstarted their career with their first short film or first feature film.

After producing for a decade, it’s become clear that what producers working in the low-budget, independent, feature space are actually doing is helping first-time directors make large scale directing samples, which producers rarely benefit from. The directors will reap all the success of a film if it is good (and even at times when it is not so good) and will more than likely get pulled up into the Hollywood system. On the other hand, the producer will receive their minimal fee (if any) and maybe some backend, but will otherwise continue to make films in the <$5m space. The best a producer can hope for with any one particular project would be a film festival award, some critical acclaim, maybe an Independent Spirit Award, and maybe in some totally one-in-a-million chance scenario, an Oscar.

But my dear producers reading this, what I say above is not the end of the world. The most successful producers working are making movies because they love telling stories and moving audiences. They love discovering new directors and talent. I’m telling you all of this because it’s important for new producers to know that while some people may devalue or overlook them, their contribution to the process is essential and deserves recognition.

It is very unlikely that you will move up in the industry as fast as the directors you work with.

Consider this hypothetical: I spend three years getting first-time-director Bob’s $1m film made. The movie premieres at a top festival and is well received. The film gets bought by a great distributor and finds its audience. Bob will probably (if he doesn’t already) acquire a manager and agent and he will go off to direct his second movie at a larger company or studio. Unless I’m the one who acquired the material for Bob’s second feature, or Bob and I have a company together, the likelihood of me continuing with Bob is low. Bob has no leverage as a new filmmaker to get me on his next film even if he wanted to and the studio probably doesn’t want another producer in the mix. So Bob goes off to make his next film and I meet another emerging director and start producing their $1-2m feature. And the cycle repeats, which begs the question, how do producers grow their careers?

Of course there are exceptions to this scenario. There are some acclaimed directors who have continued to work with the same producer movie after movie. Classic teams like Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, Steven Speilberg and Kathleen Kennedy, or Paul Thomas Anderson and JoAnne Sellar on the Hollywood elite side or Christina Vachon and Todd Haynes or Lynette Howell and Derek Cianfrance on the independent side have worked together for years. Many of Hollywood’s top directors have understood the importance of a good director/producer relationship and they have moved up the ranks together. However, over time, the ways directors rise through the ranks of Hollywood has changed and the people they can bring up the ladder with them is limited. An extreme example of this is Colin Trevorrow, who after making SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED for less than $1m immediately got tapped to direct JURASSIC WORLD for $150m. None of the producers, unless they were also a writer, from SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED worked on JURASSIC WORLD.

When there is a great working relationship between the director and their producer and the director wants to bring their producer with them on bigger projects, the director often doesn’t know how to fight for that producer to move up with them or they get push back from their agents and managers. More often than not, bringing their producer with them on their next project is not even an option.

This is unfortunately the norm and although it’s heartbreaking for producers trying to move up the ranks and produce larger films, we need to be prepared for this outcome and figure out alternative ways to grow our careers without relying on directors to pull us up with them.

At the end of the day, I want my directors to succeed. Seeing them get great jobs and direct bigger movies or television after I’ve produced their first feature validates the potential I saw in them. I had good taste and spotted their talent before anyone else. It would just be great if producers had the same opportunity to rise up and prove themselves on bigger projects in the same way their directors get to prove themselves.

There is no ladder to climb.

When I first started producing, I thought that there would be a slow climb up a ladder. I would start with a tiny movie budgeted at $500k. Then I would do a film for $1m, then one for $2m, then one for $5m, then one for $10m and on and on until I could produce a STAR WARS movie for $200m. I would put in the work and slowly grow over time. However, this is not how it works for producers. The people who produce STAR WARS movies and Marvel movies rarely come from an indie production background. Most come through the studio system directly and are current or former studio executives. So if I wanted to produce a film on the scale of STAR WARS, I would have needed to move to Los Angeles 15 years ago and have gotten a job at Disney or Lucasfilm and worked my way up through their system. There are, as always, exceptions to this. Producers have jumped from indie to studio and live between the two worlds, but I wish someone had explained that there is no straight ladder for producers to climb.

Directors have countless ways they are supported or promoted onto bigger projects. Almost every major studio has a training or mentorship program for emerging directors where they can shadow industry veterans with the goal of gaining future employment. Warner Bros has the Director’s Workshop. Disney has their Directing Program. Universal/NBC has the Emerging Directors Program. Directors also often get plucked to direct television episodes after their first successful indie film release.

Newer producers can find amazing support and guidance from the Sundance Institute Creative Producing Program, IFP, Cinereach, or the Film Independent Producing Lab. But after their first or second feature film, there are little to no programs or ways for them to move up to larger budget or studio films. When directors work with good producers, they make better films. If we know this to be true then why isn’t the industry at large supporting producers like we do directors?

There is such a demand right now for experienced producers. Places like Netflix, Amazon, HBOMax, and Quibi are pouring billions of dollars into production but are there enough producers with actual physical production experience who can produce all this new content? Imagine if each studio, streamer, and production company started supporting producers like they do directors with programs that, in the long run, they would directly benefit from. I’m not just talking about mentorship programs, although that would be great too. It would be amazing if these places actually hired emerging and mid-career level producers who have proven themselves on the smaller stage. I hear a lot that the only way to get hired on a larger budget film is if you have experience on a larger budget film. That’s a chicken and egg scenario. No one is going to hire me to produce a $10m movie if I haven’t produced a $10m movie before. However, when a director moves from a 500k first time feature to a $20m or $200m studio film, no one questions their ability. There has to be a way for producers to move up as well and show that they can handle larger budgets. Indie producers know how to make movies with the absolute bare minimum, imagine what great things we could make if we had resources.

Recently, I was discussing the difficulty indie producers have when trying to move up to bigger budget films with a producer I admire who consistently makes films for major studios. After working together on a smaller film, he knew I was capable of producing bigger projects. When an opportunity arose, he was able to generously offer me a position on a $20m movie shooting abroad. I was not the lead producer, but I had a bird’s eye view of the production. It wasn’t surprising to learn that the production office was dealing with the same problems I would deal with on a $1m film. SAG hadn’t cleared the film to start. Key crew wasn’t hired yet. Clearances hadn’t been done yet. Scenes were being rewritten. Anything that came up was something I had dealt with before  with the only difference being that it was on a bigger scale. It showed me that independent producers working at the lower budget level are capable of handling bigger movies if given the chance. Because we are used to doing everything ourselves on low-budget movies, we know how every part of the ship works. On a larger budget film, we just have more support and better resources. The added bonus is we already have amazing creative taste and have strong bonds with directors.

You have to create your own opportunities.

To grow as a producer, I want to continuously be making bigger movies. Bigger budgets, bigger stars, more experienced directors equals bigger audiences. A great way to move up this ladder is to generate and own the content and IP you are trying to produce. Optioning books, articles, graphic novels, etc, and developing for film and television will guarantee that you are involved as the project moves forward. But, word of warning, optioning IP is expensive and the competition is fierce.

Alternatively, producers could contractually tie themselves to the directors they are discovering. What if I only agreed to produce a director’s first film if I was contractually bound to produce the second film no matter what? Or, what if I was contractually bound to the film/IP itself and if there was a sequel or the film was turned into a television show, I had the first right of refusal to produce it? Maybe directors would hesitate to partner with me, but what if every independent producer had the same requirement? Would things change? Would producers rise up with their directors?

In conclusion…

I’m not expecting to change the industry, but I want to figure out a way to protect producers as they continue to do the hard work of discovering and developing great new talent. When I started producing films almost 10 years ago, I wasn’t doing it because I thought it would make a good career. I started producing my friends’ films because I believed in their stories and I had a very specific set of skills that no one else seemed to have. I could push the impossible boulder of making a film up a steep hill.

I am determined to find a way to continue to produce because there are stories I want to tell and audiences I want to reach and I love the work. To the new crop of emerging producers reading this, do not get discouraged. Your work is vital and the future of filmmaking is relying on you. Let my experiences and the experiences of many of the indie producers working today fuel you to forge your own path, create your own opportunities, and fight for what you’re worth because you are a valuable part of the filmmaking process.

Gabrielle is an award winning Independent Film Producer. Her latest film, LITTLE WOODS (Available on Hulu), starring the BAFTA Award-nominated actress, Tessa Thompson, and Lily James, premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and won the Nora Ephron Award. The film was released theatrically by Neon in April 2019. In 2019, Gabrielle premiered STANDING UP, FALLING DOWN starring Billy Crystal and Ben Schwartz at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. The film was released theatrically and digitally in February of 2020. In 2018, Gabrielle produced THE SUNLIT NIGHT, starring Jenny Slate and Zach Galifianakis, and co-executive produced THE WOLF HOUR, starring Naomi Watts, both of which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Her first feature film KING JACK (Available on Netflix) premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, where it took home the Narrative Audience Award.

Gabrielle is a 2013 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow, a 2016 Women at Sundance Fellow, an alum of the 2015 Rotterdam Producing Labs and the 2015 Cannes Film Festival Producers Network. In 2019 Gabrielle was a Film Independent Spirit Award Nominee for the coveted Producers Award. From 2010 until 2017 Gabrielle was the Executive Producer at Buffalo Picture House, a Brooklyn based commercial production company where she produced and directed award winning work for brands such as Gucci, Stewart Weitzman, HGTV, and IFC.

Actor/Actress/Talent / How to Join SAG-AFTRA
« on: May 09, 2016, 09:21:13 PM »
By Andrew Bernard on May 9, 2016

Trying to make it as an actor? SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris says the guild is “not a golden key, but it does promise a richer future”
Any actor who dreams of working on a major Hollywood production will inevitably consider joining SAG-AFTRA, the labor union that represents “the faces and voices that entertain and inform America and the world,” according to their official website.

SAG-AFTRA, the result of the 2012 merger of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, represents roughly 160,000 actors, journalists, recording artists, stunt persons, and radio personalities, to name a few. For beginning actors, it can be hard to know how to approach such an institution.

Why join to begin with? To find out what SAG-AFTRA has to offer, I spoke with SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris, who is best known for her role as Andrea Zuckerman on “Beverly Hills, 90210.”

“It’s not a golden key, but it does promise a richer future,” said Carteris. “The benefits are tremendous.”

(Full disclosure: I worked for the Executive Director of Industry Relations at SAG-AFTRA for two years, occasionally working with Carteris.)

Membership to the union ensures that a performer will receive certain pre-negotiated wages, working conditions, and health and pension benefits for their work, but it also limits the types of productions a performer can work on.

“Be sure that your aspiration is to be a career professional actor because once you join, you will work only union jobs,” said Carteris.
Even the main process of becoming eligible for membership requires non-union performers to be cast in union-covered projects, or “Taft-Hartleyed”, shorthand for the producer filing a Taft-Hartley agreement on the performer’s behalf. These agreements are used when the producer finds it necessary to hire a non-union member for a covered role.

With the proliferation of user-generated online video, it is also possible to act as your own producer and “Taft Hartley” yourself, although you’re required to sign your web content to a SAG-AFTRA new media contract first.

Other paths to eligibility include earning three credits as a background actor, or having at least one year of membership in an affiliated union–ACTRA, AEA, AGMA, or AGVA.

For many actors, SAG-AFTRA membership simply provides regular access to higher quality jobs.
“SAG-AFTRA is the pathway to a professional, long-term career,” said Carteris. “The union provides wages and benefits that non-union jobs don’t.”
Additionally, the union organizes screenings, networking events, and seminars exclusively for its members.

“SAG-AFTRA provides a steady course of educational programs, panels, resources and other tools to keep your skills sharp and help you land that next job,” said Carteris.

Though SAG-AFTRA evidently helps actors in many ways, one thing it does not do is find jobs for them.

“One of the misconceptions about SAG-AFTRA is that it is similar to an employment agency,” said Carteris. “Many people believe the union directly provides jobs.”

Rather, its role is to facilitate a system of consistent high-quality employment opportunities for performers across the entertainment business.
“I think it’s important to stay true to yourself and your work ethic and surround yourself with other professional performers,” Carteris said. “SAG-AFTRA is a community of performers and broadcasters who have a strong advocate in their corner throughout the entertainment and media industry.”

Producer / PGA Awards: Where Does the Role of the Producer Stand?
« on: January 23, 2016, 11:14:07 PM »
Paul Gaita

When asked to define the role of the producer, Gary Lucchesi employs a short but effective metaphor: “I always think of the parable of the Good Shepherd,” says the Lakeshore Entertainment prez and co-president of the Producers Guild of America. “He knows his sheep, and his sheep know him.”

That certainly speaks to the core of the position, as established by decades of film and television production: the producer is the individual who, as fellow PGA president Lori McCreary notes, “(provides) the path for the production to ensure a certain standard is held — (they) make sure everything’s working creatively and logistically, and the (creative) team is working well.”

But the host of changes wrought upon the entertainment industry in the past decade may have altered the perception of the producer’s role. And with the 27th annual PGA Awards taking place Jan. 23 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, the producer’s role continues to merit discussion and debate.

Specifically, the rise of the showrunner — the television producer who serves as the creative fulcrum for the series, as epitomized by figures like Shonda Rhimes (“Scandal”), Ryan Murphy (“American Horror Story”) and Barbara Hall, who created and co-produces “Madam Secretary” with McCreary — has had a significant impact in a reversal of the accepted paradigm for producers.

“The creative vision is always going to be with the producer in one way or another, whether we’re getting a film greenlit or if we’re working on television or online.”
“My experience in film is to get the film greenlit and made, and then bring in a director, and help bring his or her creative vision to the screen,” says McCreary, who, with Morgan Freeman, has produced such features as “Along Came a Spider” and “Invictus” through their Revelations Entertainment shingle. But as in television, “it’s flipped on its head — we hire directors who execute the creative vision of the producer.”’

As these series and others, such as HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and USA Network’s “Mr. Robot,” continue to redefine dramatic storytelling, so too do they redraw the cartography of the producer’s territory. Online series for companies like Amazon and Netflix have also made an impact, along with unscripted programming.

The latter is a particular concern for McCreary, who says, “We have to make sure that as we move into other arenas where unions aren’t as strong, we uphold the standards for labor and safety that we should all abide by.”

But the platform for production isn’t the only significant catalyst for change: as Lucchesi notes, the basic manner in which a project comes to a screen — any screen — has undergone a transformation.

“Ten years ago, the studios were usually financing the product,” he says. “A producer would develop the project and the studio would take the financial risk. Nowadays, with the rise of independent filmmaking, like the ones we make at Lakeshore, we have bank financing, we have completion bonds, we have contingency — all sorts of checks and balances. So someone has to pay very close attention to how the money is spent.”

Lucchesi recalls that during his tenure as head of production at Paramount from 1987 to 1992, the studio owned every component of the film — what then-chairman Frank Mancuso called “all the bullets in the gun.” But today, as Lucchesi says, “the studios share the risk” with such entities as Participant Media, which financed the 2012 Oscar-nommed film “Lincoln” and recent releases “Beasts of No Nation” and “Bridge of Spies.” That shared responsibility has increased the producer’s role in finding “the financing and distribution for films,” especially those in the “middle class,” with budgets in the $30 million to $70 million range, McCreary says. “The studios are doing fewer of those kind of movies, (and) we’ve lost the independent branches of the big studios,” she says.

Still, for the number of changes wrought upon producers, both Lucchesi and McCreary believe that the core responsibilities of the title will remain the same.

“Technology has changed the landscape significantly,” Lucchesi says. “But there still needs to be someone who can put all the pieces together, and that tends to be the producer.”

If you think this is just about one person and one day, you're wrong
By Drew McWeeny

You don't pick the moments where things spin out of control, and as I'm learning this week, you certainly can't pick the moment when the tabloids decide to learn your name.

I often refer to "my job" in different contexts, and what that term means is different things on different days, depending on what demands are being made of me. Some days, I'm a critic. Some days, I'm an interviewer. Some days are just about cultural commentary. Some days are more about making myself laugh. There are days I am fortunate enough to be able to combine my two favorite things, movies and being a parent, into something that has been genuinely fulfilling.

And then there are the press junkets.

First, I'll use this space to say that I'm done with junkets. I've been done with them for a while, but I am genuinely done with them now. That's not to say I won't do interviews, because I love having a great conversation about craft with a filmmaker or a performer, and in order to have those conversations, we need time. So if I can schedule a half-hour or more with someone, then I'll happily sit down with them.

What I won't do any more is subject myself to a fundamentally broken system, not until studios begin to deliver on what they promise in a consistent and professional manner. And I'm not saying this simply for myself. I saw several other people last Thursday frustrated past any rational point by what was happening at the "Revenant" press day. I'm just the only one with a big enough mouth and a small enough sense of self-preservation to say something.

Here's the thing: people work hard organizing those events. There are a million moving parts, and nothing ever goes exactly according to plan. But there's a world of difference between something that runs an hour late and something that runs four hours late. I'm a parent, and on this particular Thursday, I had a Christmas pageant to attend. Considering it started at 7:00 PM, that should not have been impacted by my work day in any way at all, especially when I was asked to report to the venue for the junket at 1:30 in the afternoon.

Regarding the open letter that various gossip sites are trying to blow up into a full-on feud today, I read it. And I verified that it is indeed real. It's funny that people now believe Tom Hardy and I have been e-mailing each other. Pretty sure the reason he wrote an open letter is because we have had no direct contact with one another, but, boy, his fans were ready to assume the worst of me this morning. The truth is that Tom Hardy, an actual human being, was frustrated by the way the tabloid press took my Tweets, blew them up into stories, and embellished details that I certainly never offered into a story that wasn't really accurate. And in Hardy's response, he is clearly mixing and matching various statements and ideas and responding as if everything I said was about last Thursday, no doubt because of that game of telephone where we haven't spoken to each other about any of this.

Allow me, then, to clarify what happened from my perspective. The interview I was kept waiting for all day was a joint one with Tom Hardy and Leonardo Di Caprio both.  From when I arrived at the hotel to when I left was a full four hours, during which time no explanations were made or offered and no one made any effort to find out if that was an acceptable amount of time to wait. Thankfully, there was a journalist on hand also waiting who makes regular appearances here on HitFix, Alicia Malone, who was covering it for Fandango.  When I realized the time had passed for me to leave, I went to the desk where the times are coordinated and I asked them if Alicia could cover for us. I was told she would be given our full interview slot, so I handed over my questions. In no way did I storm out or just leave and say I didn't want the interview. We did want it, and I made sure that Fox was willing to have Alicia stay and use our time. That was crystal-clear before I left the building.

Frankly, I wasn't there for Hardy in the first place. When I went to Toronto this year, I only scheduled a few interviews, and one of the ones I agreed to do was for "Legend." When you're at a festival, time is tight, and any delay can cost you a film you were assigned to see. When I got to the "Legend" junket, things were running terribly behind, and I was given my Emily Browning interview first. I was then told directly by Universal's press team that Tom Hardy "decided to take a nap," and that I was welcome to wait for an hour or so. I decided that if the interview wasn't important to them, then it wasn't important to us, and I left.

In the case of the "Revenant" junket, I made arrangements to have that spot covered, because I didn't just want a repeat of the same situation. And later that evening, Alicia checked in to tell me that by the time they put her in the room, they cut her Fandango interview spot to two minutes, time for one question. Because she was there for Fandango, the HitFix time slot disappeared completely, a direct contradiction of what I was told before I left. It wasn't her job to fight for our time, either, since she was simply doing us a favor, and as a freelancer, she had to give that one question to the outlet that sent her originally. Speaking with other journalists, I was told other variations on the same theme, and I was told about other behaviors observed that seemed to factor into the delay. Those are their stories to tell, but I'm not the only person who was affected by the mismanagement of the event.

So why did Hardy end up as the focus of my anger? I've been doing this for almost 19 years now, and there comes a certain point when you've had enough bad encounters that it adds up. There was a "Drop" junket in Toronto that was a nightmare. There was the "Fury Road" junket where I interviewed Tom and observed again just how unhappy he seems with that part of the business, albeit with a little more sympathy than frustration at that point. My encounters with him stretch all the way back to the first screening of "Bronson" at Sundance, where Nicolas Winding Refn and I were talking in the lobby after the first screening and Hardy couldn't be bothered. And in each of those cases, I have my perspective on what happened, and Hardy has his.

And I get that. I do. As I said in my now-reprinted-everywhere Twitter rant on Thursday night, I think Hardy's representatives would do well to simply remove him from the pressures of the junket grind. He clearly does not enjoy talking about his craft in that environment. Is he capable of giving a good interview? Maybe. Maybe if you get him away from that stage-managed atmosphere and you sit down and you just talk to him, person to person, he'd be able and willing to have a real conversation about how he approaches his work. I have enjoyed watching him grumble and snap at the press when they've pushed him about his personal life, because I think that's a loathsome business to be in overall. The last thing I care about when it comes to actors is who they love, and I've never asked any personal questions to anyone in interviews. That sort of scrutiny would make anyone pissy, and I can see how it would make people want to step back and keep their guard up.

So when I blasted Hardy in the middle of the night, it was because of an accumulation of events stretching back years. And no matter what happens from this point, he is now on that short list of people like Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall who I enjoy watching onscreen and have no interest in ever speaking to about their work again. There's just no point. My entire point wasn't about Hardy in particular, but about how this system never penalizes the famous person, no matter what happens and how much they abuse the time of everyone else. And, yes, Hardy's reputation preceded him into the situation. I mean, "Mad Max: Fury Road" photographer John Seale seems pretty clear about Hardy costing them as much as two-and-a-half hours a day on the film in one of his big interviews about the film. And, as I said… every junket I've been to for a Tom Hardy film where there was a delay, the studio has clearly laid the delay off on him.

Fair? Maybe not. Talking to Hardy's publicist this week, she has been adamant that this is a case of smoke without fire, and that Hardy left the junket on Thursday afternoon convinced that he had fulfilled every single interview request. I'm not sure how anyone who went from standard interviews to having to wedge in a number of single-question interviews at the end of the day could be unaware there was some sort of problem, but let's say Hardy was 100% not to blame at all. Let's say the entire thing was on the studio. Let's say that's the case at every single press day I've been to where he was involved and things went south. If that's the case, then I would still imagine Hardy would want out of the system, because he is being systematically thrown under the bus every time, and if that's the case, then I do feel for him. It must be maddening. Certainly the tabloid press was ready and poised to take my Tweets and turn them into an indictment of him across the board.

The idea that any of this is even a conversation in a professional environment is insane, frankly. If I went to a doctor's office, and he made me sit in the waiting room for four hours and then didn't keep the appointment, I would flip in exactly the same way. The week before Christmas, the idea that you'd keep an entire roomful of working professionals sitting around for four hours without explanation is horrendous. It's not the way you treat people who you have to work with all year round, and it would never be tolerated in the other direction. But if I blew up in my doctor's office the way I blew up on Twitter, there's a good chance I would not be returning to that office ever, and I acknowledge that the way I ranted was more a case of emotion than anything else.

We are all overworked in terms of time in this business. There is no such thing as a 9-5 version of this job, of any of the various jobs that fall under the larger banner of my "job," but because of that, every single hour of mine is accounted for in some way. Whether it's writing, editing, parenting, or trying to forge a new adult relationship after 14 years of marriage, those minutes matter to me, just as they matter to every single person who participates in these events. More than that, my conversations with HitFix editor-in-chief Richard Rushfield have made it clear that there is not a lot of real value for us in these five-minute boot-lick interviews where you go in, beg for a sound bite, and rush out. I could use that time to write a new Film Nerd 2.0 or I could use that time to finish another review or I could use that time to try to find some fresh and interesting way to discuss films.

So in the spirit of the Christmas season… no more war. I would like to thank Tom Hardy and the entire "Revenant" junket for this entire experience, because it is always important to keep your priorities in focus. And more than ever, my priority is in giving you, the HitFix readers, the best possible content, and as much of it as I can produce in a way that is of genuine worth. Should I Twitter rant about my frustrations? Probably not, and certainly not with the potty mouth that has been my cross to bear since I was about 11. But should I accept naked, open disrespect as a professional while doing my job? Nope. I should not. Nor should anyone.

My decision is for me alone, but I would urge my fellow journalists to consider the real balance of power here. When there are hundreds of identical interviews online, nobody is benefiting from that. Your readers aren't getting anything special out of the experience, and what we are doing is simply a function of the studio's marketing needs. If you're feeling like you're being disrespected, realize that you have options. I can pay to see a movie if I have to do that to review it, and I can write with authority about films without doing a five-minute interview. There is nothing that I truly need from a studio to write about a film. I have great regard for many of the people on many of the publicity teams in town, and I think they all work hard all the time. But they are being taxed with pulling off impossible events under impossible conditions, and the result is more often a frustrating mess than anything else. I genuinely like the various teams who actually work the junkets, like the camera-men and the various producers tasked with running the rooms, and when I used to do them all the time, I got to know many of them well. But again… the system puts them into unwinnable situations all the time.

Having never appeared in the tabloids until now, I completely understand all of Hardy's frustration, and I give him all the credit in the world for a few killer lines in his open letter, including his closer where he thanks me for calling him an asshole repeatedly. I think it's shady that he pulls the bro move of "you wouldn't say that in a room with me" in that vaguely threatening barroom way, but I get it. If he's offering, I would be delighted to take a punch from Tom Hardy, since he's paid far more per film than I am per article, and civil court doesn't really hang with the "he was talking smack" line of defense. The truth is that he is as unlikely to actually physically attack me as I would be of being disrespectful to someone who I'm in a room to interview.

If I'm supposedly in a feud with him, I'm doing it wrong. I named "Mad Max: Fury Road" as my second favorite film of the year, and I've got "The Revenant" on my runners-up list that I'm also trying to finish right now. So if we're at war, I'm doing it wrong. I had my human moment in public, he had his human moment in public, and now that should wrap things up as far as the two of us are concerned.

The junket stuff, though, is something that I'll be thinking about as we head into 2016. You'll still see interviews here and read them here, but they'll be very different than the majority of what you've seen here over the last few years and more like the George Miller interview I did recently. If the end result of all of this is that HitFix moves forward in a smart and interesting way, then I can handle a tiny trickle of Twitter trolls who think of Hardy as their imaginary boyfriend. You guys deserve the best coverage we can offer, and it is clear that junkets are no longer part of that process for me in any way.

PS -- for maximum enjoyment, you should read this entire article aloud as Bane. Trust me.


Daniel Miller

John Doman was filming on location in Prague when he learned that roughly $450,000 he was owed for his work on the TV series “Borgia” was missing.

His talent agent of more than two decades, Peter Strain, was supposed to hold the money on his behalf in a trust account and pay it out to the actor in installments.

Strain eventually pleaded guilty to a felony charge in connection with the theft of earnings from Doman and two other clients. But it wasn't in a court in Los Angeles, where Strain resided and his company maintained an office.

Instead, Strain was convicted in a New York federal court last year after Doman's lawyer said he was unable to interest the Los Angeles County district attorney's office or the U.S. attorney's office for Los Angeles in the case.

“Nobody wanted to do anything about it,” said Doman, 70, who starred on HBO's “The Wire” and lives in Brooklyn. “It's an industry town out there, and this is a guy stealing half a million dollars. I thought for sure they'd want to do something about that, but they didn't.”

Prosecutors in Los Angeles declined to comment. Doman's attorney, Miles Feldman, says local government lawyers told him it came down to resources.

“It is difficult for them to spend money on a case that could be resolved in a civil court — that's what they explained to us,” Feldman said.

Doman's experience illustrates what some actors and others working in the entertainment industry say is an indifferent attitude by Los Angeles authorities toward illegal or unscrupulous acts by talent agents and others who help performers secure work.

State and local officials have acknowledged that talent-related rip-offs are a big problem, passing at least five laws (including revisions to existing statutes) since 2000 to prevent abuses. The most significant legislation is the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act, which went into effect in January 2010 and prohibits agents and others who represent performers from charging them any fees other than commissions and reimbursements for some out-of-pocket costs.

“With the unprecedented popularity of ‘American Idol' and other reality television programming, the false promise of instant stardom has increasingly become a fertile ground for talent peddlers to scam the public, victimizing children and young adults in particular,” Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian wrote in 2009, when he was a state assemblyman spearheading the legislation targeting the abuse.

Most of the A-list talent in Hollywood — including actors, directors and writers — is represented by one of the handful of major agencies in Beverly Hills and Century City such as William Morris Endeavor, Creative Artists Agency and United Talent Agency.

But there are hundreds of other talent agencies registered to do business in Los Angeles County, many of them clustered in the Mid-Wilshire district and on Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley.

Most are legitimate businesses, representing actors, singers, models and dancers. Body Parts Models, for example, has about 200 clients whose hands, eyes, legs, rear ends and other features are needed for everything from TV commercials to feature films.

“We are almost like an index of parts,” said owner Linda Teglovic, a former fashion model. “Not just perfect parts — all types of parts. Glamour hands. Hands that play piano. Hands that have arthritis.”

But entertainment industry trade groups and attorneys caution that some of the smaller companies that represent performers take advantage of unknown wannabes who are blinded by the prospect of stardom. The abuses include:

Charging illegal upfront fees — such as a monthly retainer — in exchange for representation. These payments are barred under the Krekorian Act, which has a criminal remedy: Each violation of the law is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Misrepresenting their services. There are companies called talent listing services that have given some clients the impression they are talent agencies and have gotten aspirants to sign up for expensive and unwanted services. These companies have also allegedly used improper contracts — or none at all.

Operating without proper licenses or bonds. Agencies are required by law to have a state-issued license and carry a $50,000 bond. Some have operated without a license and not posted a bond with the state Labor Commissioner's Office.

Stealing money. Performers have complained that smaller agencies take money that is supposed to be deposited in trust accounts and never pay them, as was the case in the Strain matter. (When an actor books a job, the producer typically transfers the fee to the performer's agent — who holds it in trust and has 30 days to pay out the funds, minus a commission.) Because the amounts are typically small, prosecutors rarely file criminal charges — forcing actors to retain private counsel or seek relief in Small Claims Court.

“These scams just don't squelch dreams, they take thousands and thousands of dollars from people,” said Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer. “If that were allowed to go on unabated, it sends a very bad message about Hollywood, which isn't true.”

Licensed talent agencies in Los Angeles County

There are nearly 500 talent agencies registered to do business in L.A. County, ranging from powerhouses such as a William Morris Endeavor and Creative Artists Agency to smaller companies that represent actors, singers, models, dancers and unknown wannabes.


Behind the glitz and glamour of the film industry, there are countless details that go into bringing any production from page to screen. Bill Wiggins, a set dresser who has worked in the film and television industry in New York since 1985, shared his insights on what goes on behind the scenes of these productions in MacMillan House on Monday evening.

Cinema Studies Professor Tricia Welsch led the discussion with Wiggins, guided by a list of questions generated by residents of the house. The talk was sponsored by Lectures and Concerts, the Kurtz Fund and the Cinema Studies program.

In his 32 years of experience, Wiggins has worked with all-star directors and filmmakers including Woody Allen, Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese and has contributed to nearly every motion picture set in New York, including “Midnight in Paris,” “Batman” and “Spider-Man 3,” as well as many major TV productions such as “30 Rock” and “Gotham.” He currently works on the popular TV drama “The Affair,” picking up various other projects in between. In addition to spending 60 hours on set per week, Wiggins is the owner of Black Elk Images, in which he sells rental images for film and television.

The job of a set dresser consists of assembling physical components of sets down to the smallest detail. For a Cheerios commercial, for example, this might entail sorting through a box to pick out the most perfect pieces. To give the students a concrete taste of what goes into a single day on set, Wiggins passed around call sheets—a piece of paper delivered to the cast and crew the night before a day of shooting, specifying the minute details of every scene.
“I think the students were surprised to learn how many people it takes to put together every single shot,” said Welsch.

For Wiggins, a career in the film industry was anything but preplanned. An anthropology major, Wiggins was partway through his dissertation on Ottoman historiography when he decided to move back to New York to seek work in TV production. After placing numerous phone calls to production companies, Wiggins landed his first job as a production assistant, and soon after joined the union. He built a network of contacts in the industry, and has since spent his time lining up one gig after another.

“It’s like waiting for the bus. When one bus drops you off, you wait for the next bus, then you get on that bus,” Wiggins explained to students.

According to Wiggins, the industry is a highly collaborative endeavor. Being cooperative and outgoing is crucial in getting along with other people on set.

“[The film industry] attracts a very creative, highly intelligent, very interesting bunch of people with great stories and great backstories,” he said.

In addition, the freelance nature of this type of work requires him to be be flexible in a variety of situations.

“One day you’re in a roach-infested apartment and the next day you’re in some $25 million loft in Soho,” said Wiggins.

Wiggins has worked on sets ranging from Donald Trump’s apartment (which, by the way, has a gold-plated front door) to a cruise ship in the Caribbean, and has been on the top of nearly every building in New York.

To student attendees, Wiggins offered a concrete take-away: his phone number. Emphasizing the importance of networking, Wiggins was sincere in extending an offer to help students aspiring to enter the film industry.

“[Wiggins] gave the inspiration that if there’s something you want to go for, to continue to pursue it and reach out to people because there are people that are willing to help you,” said Katherine Gracey ’16.

By Dawnrichard on October 17, 2015

Do heavy buff action and exhilarating stunts fascinate you? If yes, then this is your opportunity to jump off roofs, play with fire and dash through high speed cars. All you need to do is follow your passion right into the intriguing field of stunt performance as a stuntman, obviously. Being a stuntman has many perks, of which many include performing dangerous stunts, a rewarding pay, learning new fighting styles, etc. Moreover, such stunts are deemed impossible for the lead actor to perform. So, enter into the picture as a stuntman if you’re an adrenaline enthusiast eager to leap on a success ladder.

What it takes to be a stuntman?

While being a stuntman certainly sounds enthralling, it is one of the most gruesome and difficult tasks to accomplish. Being physically fit and agile is a necessity to prosper in such an action packed field. To be a better stuntman you need to possess certain characteristic attributes. These aspects are vital for any stuntman like:

Physical Fitness

The most primary feature needed to become a stuntman is stamina, fitness and strength. All these characteristics determine the quality of stunts and professionalism a stuntman may offer while ensuing top of the mill heavy duty sequences. Therefore, focus must be centered upon development of inner core strength and stamina.

Calculated Risk Taker

There is a huge difference between being a risk taker and being a calculated risk taker! Professional stuntmen always tend to calculate their options, scenarios and tools prior to taking any risk. If you possess a thrill for danger and are crazy enough to jump right into the field on the first sign of a stunt then you aren’t cut out to become a successful stuntman. Stuntmen are more thoughtful and analytical than what people give them credit for.

Jack of all trades

Even though it is a good thing to specialize in a certain domain, one must also be adaptive to learn new things pertaining to different fields. Meaning if as a stuntman you excel at riding and driving you must also try to learn the art of fighting or water skills. If put bluntly, you must be a Jack of all trades, know something about everything rather than know everything about just one thing.


All said and done, there is still one hindrance which you need to clear before kick-starting your career as a stuntman. To be qualified to work as a stuntman you must be a member of either of the two unions governing this field, viz. Screen Actors Guild (SAG) or American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). Once you receive your union card, you are from that moment on recognized as a professional stuntman worldwide.

What is it that a stuntman does?

Stuntmen are widely needed across Hollywood and TV industry to perform or supervise several death defying stunts as scripted in the movie or the series.

Filling in for an actor
Not all actors are capable of performing dangerous scenes as mentioned in the script. For such situations often a stunt double or a stunt alternate is called in. These stunt doubles act as a replacement for the lead hero or actor for the time span of that particular stunt scene.

Supervising a stunt
Most of the professional and successful stuntmen go on to become stunt coordinators for various Hollywood movies or TV series. They portray the role of supervising and managing the scenes and the equipment necessary to perform those stunts. Moreover, they prefer to design stunts over execution.

Teaching the budding stuntmen
Stuntmen who prefer not to indulge in Hollywood can essay the role of a stunt mentor or stunt trainer. They help improve the upcoming stunt artists to understand various aspects of the field. Many stuntmen who excel at a particular specialization aim to pass on their legacy by opening stunt training grounds and centers.


Beau Stephenson gets gigs as a voice-over actor in much the same way people order a car on Uber or find a date on Tinder.

The 27-year-old Pasadena resident flips on his computer and logs on to an online marketplace that connects voice actors to clients who need them. Profiles are searchable, have work samples and can pinpoint voice characteristics with adjectives such as believable, real, sweet and saucy.

Gone are the days where voice actors were forced to zoom all over Hollywood for auditions. The digital disruption that's occurred in other professions is quickly changing the $15-billion voice-over industry, enabling actors to cut out agents and find work on movie trailers, commercials, corporate training videos and audio books.

The first job Stephenson was hired for was a training video for a real estate software company. He was paid $100. But that led to eight commercial spots for Gold's Gym, narrating a trailer for the video game "Beyond: Two Souls" and projects from 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Co. and Red Bull.

"I was working my tail off," said Stephenson, who added that he made $200,000 from work last year.

For decades, the industry hadn't changed much since Walt Disney became one of the first voice-over actors when he portrayed Mickey Mouse in 1928's "Steamboat Willie." Actors ever since have gone through a process of waiting in long audition lines with the hope of being hired to come back into the studio to read a script.

But the industry has evolved right along with technology. For just a few thousand dollars, actors can set up a professional home studio by hooking up a computer with a microphone and mixer. Stephenson was even able to build a recording booth from wooden planks and carpet bought at Home Depot, and hooks the entire system together with high-speed Internet lines.

The ability to create a home studio has put voice-over work within reach of more than just professional actors, opening up the industry to anyone who thinks they can make money off their vocal cords. And it's led to the proliferation of websites and apps such as, and that can find actors work.

In the voice-over industry, agencies have traditionally performed this function. But the Web-based model has inherent advantages over the old ways, said David Ciccarelli, chief executive of His company has more than 125,000 actors signed up.

"We're disrupting a multibillion-dollar traditional industry," he said. "We eliminate the paperwork, filing cabinets, contracts and invoices. We've digitized the whole process."

Actors still need agents and a Screen Actors Guild membership for most of the big-paying jobs, such as national network campaigns, feature films, movie trailers and big video game titles. But and its competitors still allow nonunion members to audition for these jobs — and actors can join the union if they get the job.

There's been a boom in nonunion work with the proliferation of digital entertainment such as Web shows and Internet commercials. There's also nonunion work in local television and radio commercials, corporate training videos, audio books and apps that need narration.

All of that has become a new niche that's giving thousands of voice-over actors work.

"The pay tends to be lower than that of union work, although the work opportunities are more plentiful," said Christian Lanz, a voice actor who once was the live announcer of the "Daytime Emmy Awards." He also pointed out that getting work through an online marketplace can give actors work all over the country, instead of being bound geographically to big markets such as Los Angeles and New York. Adam Levenson, the chief operating officer of audio production house Somatone Interactive Inc., has been using online sites to cast for voices used in video games. The Emeryville, Calif., company works on more than 20 projects a month, much of it producing for big video game makers such as Electronic Arts Inc. and Zynga Inc.

Clients post a job on the website and the voice required for it. Algorithms usually match the job with the most suited talent, who are then invited to audition. Companies can look for talent who suit their job and search for talent by age, gender, language, experience, location or simply using keywords.

Once hired, actors are paid through the website or app with no paperwork needed.

In addition to allowing companies to search on their own, Somatone outsources the task to the online marketplaces. For instance, will provide assistance to find top performers, similar to a traditional talent agency sending actors out on auditions. "I just hand over the script to a representative and she finds people from their database," Levenson said.

These websites are also looking to expand globally. offers talent to hire in more than 60 languages and is launching the Japanese version of its website soon, said Jun Loayza, chief growth officer at Bunny Inc., which manages and

Getting jobs doing smaller parts is helping many voice-over actors move on to greener pastures. Actors say the sites are helping them land contracts with Hollywood agents, who won't take on new clients unless they have a track record.

"Usually, agencies don't want to work with you unless you have a body of work, but you don't get work without agents," said Mike Brang, 36, a former medical imaging specialist turned voice actor. "But voice-casting websites helped me break out of that Catch-22."

Douglas Hart is one the most respected names within camera assisting / operating / cinematography circles. That's because he spent a good while as a camera assistant for Gordon Willis and is also the author of one of two essential books on camera assisting. This is a guy who has seen it all, done it all and despite his humble claims, probably knows it all too.


DPTV sat down for an interview with Doug Hart and had him talk about his job as a 1st assistant cameraman.

I really enjoyed listening to Hart talk, much like I enjoyed reading his book, and I admire the great success he has had in what can be a thankless job. I’m also glad that Hart was able to give some 1st assistant camera love when it seems that all the videos I’ve found as of late want to highlight the 2nd AC — not that I don’t think they deserve their praise, or, for that matter, a raise.

If you are just starting out in the camera department and haven’t checked out Hart’s book “The Camera Assistant: A Complete Professional Handbook,” it’s in your best interest to read it until you memorize it. And then read others like it.

Editorials / So Just Who Owns The Copyright To That Film?
« on: July 06, 2015, 09:43:34 PM »
Schuyler Moore

In a recent reversal of its prior nutty decision in Garcia v. Google, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals came to its senses and held that an actress did not own any separate copyright interest in her performance that was embodied in a film, so she could not use the copyright laws to block release of the film.  The court’s rationale was twofold – one pragmatic and one legal:  The pragmatic reason was that permitting all actors to claim a copyright interest in their performances would make film making next to impossible, as everyone involved with a film could claim some piece of copyright ownership.  The legal reason was that the actress was not the “author” of the film, since she was not the person that recorded it in a tangible medium.  In a remarkable dissent that should alone disqualify him from future consideration for appointment to the Supreme Court, Judge Kozinski stood his ground as the author of the original reversed opinion, and his dissent was as passionate as it was blatantly wrong, just reiterating his prior goofy reasoning.

But more importantly, and only one month later, the influential Second Circuit Court of Appeals went further in 16 Casa Duse LLC v. Merkin, and held that unless joint authorship was actually intended by two or more parties, the copyright to a film could only be owned by one person or entity, identified as the person that is the “dominant author” of the film.  In most cases (as was held in that case), the “dominant author” is the production company making the film.  Importantly, this case dealt with a director that had declined to ever sign a work made for hire agreement, despite repeated requests.  The court held that even though the director added his own creative skills and actually recorded the film on a tangible medium, he was not an “author” of the film and had no copyright claim to the film.  This holding means that at least in the Second Circuit, it is no longer necessary to get any written agreements with the various contributors to a film, whether directors, actors, or whoever, in order for the production company to be secure that it owns the entire copyright to the film.  Up until that case, most lawyers assumed that at least the director had a claim of copyright authorship to a film, so it was believed necessary to obtain a written agreement from the director confirming that the filming was done as a work made for hire for the production company.

Under the logic of 16 Casa Duse LLC v. Merkin, ancillary creative contributions that might independently qualify for copyright become subsumed within the copyright to the film itself.  It is not quite clear just how far this logic will be applied.  To pick just one extreme example, what if the director had independently written the screenplay on spec?  It is hard to imagine that the director would not have a copyright claim against the film as being a derivative work based on the screenplay, but under the logic of the case the production company should own the copyright to the film outright, as the “dominant author” of the film.  Or what about all the cases that involve some underlying copyrighted work (such as a quilt or artwork) that is incorporated into a film?  Certainly, those claims will survive.  16 Casa Duse LLC v. Merkin might have been on firmer ground if it had held, as other cases have, that when one person requests another to work on a specific copyrighted work, that the person performing the work (in this case, the director) is deemed to be an “employee” of the person requesting the work for copyright purposes, so the contributions become part of the copyright owned by the person requesting the work, even in the absence of any written agreement.  One might guess that 16 Casa Duse LLC v. Merkin will later be distinguished on that basis.

In all events, the two recent cases go far in clarifying just who can (or more accurately, who can’t) make a claim to copyright ownership in a film, and they are both certainly welcome news to all film production companies.

As I've said before, some of the most talented camera assistants pass for being invisible. As a result of this, they are often left behind in budgets or the minds of production. That kind of naiveté about the position led Dan Wagner, and a few others, to draft an essay titled "The Importance of the 2nd Camera Assistant" – a manifesto outlining what a 2nd AC does and why a production should invest in a good one.


To read the essay, download it as a PDF file here.

The essay begins with a direct shot to “Job Bidders and Commercial Producers” with an objective that ensures “every show of a magnitude to warrant it makes use of the services of a professional 2nd Assistant, and that he or she is paid a salary commensurate with that of the Grip and Electrical Best Boy.”

That comparison, to grip and electrical best boy, is a key point in the paper. Wagner makes the point that every department on set usually has a key and a best boy, or something similar: “In the case of [the first AC], camera movement, reconfiguration, filter and lens changes and focus are involved.”

The best boy’s responsibilities include organizing equipment and helping prepare the department for future setups, per Wagner’s definition. By these qualifications, it is drawn that the 2nd AC is the camera department’s best boy. That is the crux of Wagner’s annoyance, it seems, because the 2nd AC is “not just a loader.” Instead, there is much more to the job:

Being a 2nd Camera Assistant involves a highly specialized set of skills, including a detailed knowledge of the theories and workings of a motion picture camera. Additionally, a disciplined attitude toward correct treatment of this delicate equipment is required. As the only person on the set who handles the film between the can and the magazine, and back to the can, he or she is in a singular position to waste thousands and thousands of dollars of effort in a single careless moment – IF they don’t have a proper handle on the job.
Thus, the 2nd Assistant is in a uniquely responsible position, and should be paid accordingly […] A professional 2nd Assistant is a highly skilled component of the Camera Department, an invaluable part of the crew, and has a direct hand in ensuring that the entire production runs smoothly. They are also often one of the hardest-working people on the set!”
I can’t say I disagree with Wagner’s assessment of the position. It’s often said that the 2nd AC experiences the lowest pay to responsibility ratio. On most sets, almost all of the footage shot will pass through the 2nd camera assistant’s hands before ending up in the final cut.

But where Wagner is most on point, I think, is when he talks about the dynamic between a first and second AC:

…the 1st Assistant depends upon the professional 2nd Assistant to organize, locate and prepare equipment for use. This especially holds true when moving around in remote (non-stage) locations where equipment changes are constantly being made.    When the 1st does not have a trained 2nd Assistant, he or she invariably must leave the camera to get a called-for piece of equipment or case.
The 1st Assistant is usually busy doing what they must do for the specific shot or moving the camera from one place to another. They can mentally anticipate equipment needs for a few shots away, but unless they leave the set, often cannot implement these anticipations. The experienced professional 2nd Assistant will have the necessary equipment on set as or before the 1st Assistant asks for it. Multiply this by 20 such occurrences a day, and the Producer has saved a considerable amount of shooting time.
Thus, the 2nd Assistant is a vital element of the Camera Department, NOT a luxury, and the professional 2nd Assistant’s day rate should reflect the responsibilities of the position and be equal to the rates and OT deals received by the Best Boys in the other departments.
We feel the professional 2nd Assistant is such a craftsman and welcome your comments or questions on how this position can remain a solid, positive contributing part of teamwork within the Camera Department.
Though this paper was obviously written before DSLRs and Arri Alexas began taking a serious chunk of professional filmmaking, much of what it argues still holds true. Even on digital shoots, especially those with low budgets, the 2nd AC is also responsible for data loading and more basic D.I.T. responsibilities. Admittedly, however, the room for error when dealing with data is not quite as high as accidentally exposing film or loading the wrong stock into a mag.

I have worked as a 2nd AC for free and I’ve also worked as a 1st AC with an inexperienced 2nd who was working without pay. I can say fairly definitively that neither situation was ideal. When I finally got the chance to work as a 1st AC with a paid, professional 2nd AC, the workload between the department was more evenly distributed and allowed the shoot to run more efficiently. Not only that, but there are times where a great 2nd AC can save your butt and make you look good!

I do think, and I am extremely biased, that often productions forget how valuable a good camera assistant is. I touched on the topic a little bit in my “shoot the rehearsal” musing in which I questioned whether many first-time directors even know what a camera assistant is responsible for. Either way, I think all crew should be paid fairly and it can be frustrating when valuable work is exchanged for peanuts of pay. But thus is the freelancing world in an industry experiencing ongoing changes.

I can only speak for the camera department and I agree that the 2nd assistant camera is an undervalued position. Especially a solid, professional 2nd AC, who can speed up efficiency on set to a great degree. Perhaps it was Wagner who thought Bud Light might need to up their appreciation for the 2nd camera assistant, after all it is a subtle art that few have perfected.

Head on over to Wagner’s website where you can download the entire essay to read on your own. The undersigned, and assumed authors, of the manifesto are: Daniel Wagner, Steve Barnes, Henry Cline, Elizabeth Dougherty, Lee Dublin, Jamie Felz, Don Hayashi, Fritz Hershey, Sean Hise, Mark R. Jackson, Arthur Martin, Niran Martin, Steve Mattson and Amy Vincent.

Makeup Artist /
« on: June 13, 2015, 02:54:27 AM »

Among all personal care professions, makeup artistry is perhaps the one with the fewest dedicated resources for information on education and licensing. At the same time, makeup artists are subject to some of the more complex licensing laws.

This inspired us to create – the first-of-its-kind dedicated resource designed for aspiring makeup artisans that may be considering careers in the salon industry, film and TV production, the wedding and special events industry, as well as the theatrical and performing arts.

Working together with experienced cosmetics professionals, state licensing boards, and cosmetology schools offering makeup artist training, we here at have created a website designed to answer the questions all aspiring makeup artists have.

As professional makeup artists ourselves, the editorial staff here at not only have a knack for color and a passion for the perfect complexion, we also have an eye for detail that ensures the information we provide addresses the needs of aspiring makeup artists as well as our color palette and application techniques address the needs of our clients. has the express goal of addressing questions related to career preparation and state licensing. The heart and soul of are the state licensing guides that detail training-hour and exam requirements as determined by each state’s Board of Cosmetology, as well as state-by-state salary analyses.

We’re confident that will be your go-to resource as you plan for an exciting career in makeup artistry.

Resources for ON SET JOBS /
« on: June 13, 2015, 02:54:08 AM »
Among all personal care professions, makeup artistry is perhaps the one with the fewest dedicated resources for information on education and licensing. At the same time, makeup artists are subject to some of the more complex licensing laws.

This inspired us to create – the first-of-its-kind dedicated resource designed for aspiring makeup artisans that may be considering careers in the salon industry, film and TV production, the wedding and special events industry, as well as the theatrical and performing arts.

Working together with experienced cosmetics professionals, state licensing boards, and cosmetology schools offering makeup artist training, we here at have created a website designed to answer the questions all aspiring makeup artists have.

As professional makeup artists ourselves, the editorial staff here at not only have a knack for color and a passion for the perfect complexion, we also have an eye for detail that ensures the information we provide addresses the needs of aspiring makeup artists as well as our color palette and application techniques address the needs of our clients. has the express goal of addressing questions related to career preparation and state licensing. The heart and soul of are the state licensing guides that detail training-hour and exam requirements as determined by each state’s Board of Cosmetology, as well as state-by-state salary analyses.

We’re confident that will be your go-to resource as you plan for an exciting career in makeup artistry.

Actor/Actress/Talent / Are You Aware of How People Perceive You?
« on: June 12, 2015, 04:49:28 AM »
By Daniel Holloway

Actors—the ones lucky enough to work—spend their careers being silently judged by rooms full of strangers. But they don’t always receive real feedback from said strangers.

Launched in May 2014, the Screen Actors Guild Foundation’s Branding Workshop series looks to help actors better position themselves as products to be marketed to industry gatekeepers (casting directors, producers, directors) by providing them with anonymous feedback from their peers—not on performance or audition technique, but on physical presence.

The sessions, which take place twice a month at the Foundation’s Los Angeles headquarters, gather together groups of 20 actors. Each actor takes a turn stepping in front of the group, saying his or her name, then sitting quietly while the other actors circle terms on a series of forms containing adjectives such as “blue-collar,” “friendly,” and “shady.” The feedback can inform everything from how actors dress for auditions to the type of headshots they have taken.

“Think of it like a live headshot,” said Dennis Baker, the Foundation’s business program director. “A headshot, it takes people five seconds to look at it and form their opinions. This kind of replicates that in a live way.”

The Branding Workshop is adapted from a program created by Kevin E. West, founder of the Actors’ Network, which offered access to programming and events at its West Hollywood space to paying members. After that space closed a few years ago, Baker asked permission to adapt the program for the SAG Foundation. West agreed.

The workshop is available for free to SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity Association members who preregister through the foundation’s website. Actors are encouraged to sign up for multiple courses, changing their wardrobe each time, but are barred from attending more than one session a month.

“One casting director might look at you one way, but what do the other 299 casting directors think about you?” Baker said. “This kind of mirrors that—what do 20 people think about you?”

Actor Brice Harris was surprised at how consistent the answers were when he participated in the workshop. Of the terms that showed up on a majority of his response sheets, roughly half were reactions Harris anticipated. But the others were surprises.

“That kind of stuff is pretty invaluable for someone who is looking to create a marketing niche for their business,” Harris said—even though not all of the surprises were pleasant. “Arrogant” was the most common response he received in one of the program’s four sections.

“I thought, Oh, boy, that’s not good,” he said. “But you just can’t take this stuff for good or bad. The only way you can take it is, ‘This is an employment opportunity for me.’ ”

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