The problem I'm having right now though is with SAG. I have worked with SAG for years. I've been signatory many times and followed all the rules and have worked with their wonderful actors. I really have no issue with SAG as a union.
What I have a problem with is their contract terms for foreign TV sales. On one of our movies, we are being told that we owe the actors residuals on the gross amount of foreign TV sales despite the fact that we have received $0 from foreign to date.
The issue is that we have hired a foreign sales agent to sell foreign. If we had sold direct to the foreign distributors then we wouldn't owe residuals until we received revenue. But since we hired a foreign sales agent, we owe as soon as the foreign sales agent earns money. The problem is that the foreign sales agent will not give an advance and needs to recoup their fee and expenses before we see any revenue. And how are we to sell foreign direct when we don't have the relationships with foreign buyers and we should be producing movies and not spending time running from foreign market to foreign market?
This situation leaves us in a position to owe SAG residuals on sales from which we have seen no money. Now, SAG says, get the foreign sales agent to sign an assumption agreement in which they assume paying the residuals. Unfortunately, no foreign sales agent I have run into will sign one. So that leaves the producer on the hook to pay all the residuals based on gross even when the producer earns net revenue. Why would I enter a deal like this? Well, I need to keep making movies and trying to sell them. What choice to do I have?
The worst part is owing residuals when we have seen no money from the sales. I am fine paying residuals. I'm happy to pay them. But please wait until I have earned the money in order to pay them. Don't ask me to go to my family (who does not work in the business) and say, hey, give me money to pay the actors residuals. Anyone would say, that's crazy.
SAG's response is, well, that's the contract you signed. Yes, I signed it and so have countless other producers because we have no other way of making a movie with SAG actors. I have to sign it. And it's a contract that is negotiated by people who make studio films that make tons of money. The movie I am discussing here is not a studio film. I'm happy it's getting out to the world but I'm not wanting or willing to be robbed along the way.
Change needs to happen. Indie film producers are going bankrupt and being raked over the coals by ill-conceived contracts that do not protect their rights. I'm in this business to survive and have it work for everyone. I want to take care of the actors. I love them and want to protect them. In turn, they should be protecting me so I can set up more movies that they can star in.
Let's all work together and find a win-win solution. Don't bankrupt us SAG. We want to keep making movies so we can hire your members. Help us to do that.