William Mapother

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And now a word from our sponsor: William Mapother speaks on SAG

Posted on: October 16th, 2008 by wmapother 1 Comment

In addition to throwing himself into the stage and screen roles that have brought his name and face into the public eye, William spends a great deal of time off-camera throwing himself into valuable projects and causes that are lower-profile but of the utmost importance to the people they impact. One of the affiliations that strikes closest to home for William is his work on the National Board of the Screen Actors Guild, which is quickly approaching a monumental vote and a contract negotiation that will shape the future of professional actors.

It has been one of the purposes of this blog to be a place where William could share his thoughts on the subjects that were important to him, to inform and educate the general public on the facts, and to help people understand why these causes need our collective awareness. Now, without further ado, a word from our sponsor…

For a former teacher and lifelong older brother, what’s better for my first post than a (brief!) lecture?

This coming weekend is, potentially, a historic one for the Screen Actors Guild. The National Board, of which I’m a member, will be meeting in Los Angeles. Topic A? The current negotiations for the contract which covers film and broadcast TV. The contract expired June 30th. Shooting has continued, but all SAG members are now working under the terms of the expired contract.

Negotiations began, ominously enough, on April 15. They continued more or less for several months, until the TV networks and movie studios (called, collectively, the “Producers”) made what they proclaimed their ‘final offer.’ Since then, they have refused to negotiate further.

This contract will be the first to regulate content over the Internet, and both sides are fully aware of its importance. For actors there are two primary Internet issues: Residuals (i.e., royalties, money owed actors — along with writers and directors — when shows are rerun), and Union Coverage (i.e., that all those who work under SAG contracts are members of the union).

Residuals make up anywhere from 25-50% of the annual income of most working actors. The Producers insist on paying little or no residuals for work shown on, and shot for, the Internet. Understandably, it seems to me, actors want to make a living through their work. The Producers apparently feel otherwise.

Union coverage is essential to keep actors protected. Without it, the Producers will develop and utilize non-union talent. The union talent will ultimately have no work, and the non-union talent will have no protection. On July 26, SAG’s National Board unanimously endorsed the following: “It is a core principle of Screen Actors Guild that no non-union work shall be authorized to be done under any SAG agreement.”

That’s it in a nutshell. The Internet is the near and present future. If our work for the Internet isn’t protected, working actors will not be able to make a living. It’s that simple. And there aren’t enough bars and restaurants to hire us all, trust me.

Okay, lecture over. An actor, a fireman, and a stripper walk into a bar…

Posted in Acting Tips & Info

One Response

  1. MacLeod Andrews says:

    Hi William,

    Well put. I have been trying to follow the SAG negotiations when I can, and when I can stand the tedium of it all (my perception). I’m curious, what specifically about the new contracts is unacceptable? I couldn’t agree more about the necessity for a strong union and due compensation for new media work. Is AMPTP simply not offering adequate compensation? If that is the case, What exactly prevented a strike? Timorousness? Weariness? Should there be a strike? Because the idea that New Media distribution cannot be monetized with any confidence is a ludicrous front and it’s wrong! I listened to Tom Rothman, Chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, in person remark with swagger that he wasn’t worried at all about monetizing new media distribution. It’s reprehensible and blatant in my mind for the AMPTP to hide behind a fear of New Media distribution being too risky.

    I may be railing against things which I don’t fully understand. But as a non-union actor who recently had to track down and pester a producer to pay me for a Non-Union Commercial that I shot months prior, I fully understand the importance of the Union. I’m aware you may not have time to respond to or even read all of this.

    In the end, all I really want to say is thank you for your post and for encouraging thought, dialogue, and active engagement in our interests as artists.


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