Understanding Residuals

SAGAFTRA.org defines residuals as “compensation paid to performers for use of a theatrical motion picture or television program beyond the use covered by initial compensation”.

Principal performers recieve residuals; background actors do not. You will not recieve residuals for an initial release; you are paid residuals when the project is sold in markets other than the initial intended market.

So, if a SAGAFTRA film is made to be released in theaters, actors do not get residuals when the film comes out in theaters. This is because their initial paycheck already included a release in that ‘media market’. The residuals are paid when that film sells in another media market, including DVD, VOD, cable, TV or new media. TV episodes, your initial paycheck covers the first airing and residuals are paid on subsequent airings.

When Are Residuals Paid?
SAGAFTRA.org/content/residuals-faq states “For TV work, residuals begin once a show starts re-airing or is released to video/DVD, pay television, broadcast TV, basic cable, or new media. For film work, residuals begin once the movie appears on video/DVD, basic cable and free or pay television, or new media.”

When Will the Check Arrive?
Residuals are sent to SAG and processed (for up to sixty days) before being sent to the actor. SAGAFTRA.org/content/residuals-faq states the following regarding when residuals are due to SAG from each production:

“For projects made for TV then released to:
•    Network TV, non-network TV - 30 days after air date.
•    Syndication - 4 months after air date
•    Foreign free to air - up to 30 days after producer obtains knowledge of first foreign telecast and never later than 6 months after that first telecast
•    Basic Cable - Quarterly when the producer receives revenue
•    Supplemental Markets - 4 months after initial exhibition, then quarterly

When are Residuals Sent to SAG by the Production
For projects made for theatrical then released to:
•    Network Prime Time - 30 days after initial broadcast, then quarterly when the producer receives revenue
•    Free TV, Non-Network - 4 months after initial broadcast, then quarterly when the producer receives revenue
•    Supplemental Markets - 4 months after initial exhibition, then quarterly when the producer receives revenue”

How To Create a TV Series Pitch Package

When a writer comes up with an amazing idea for a TV show and wants to pitch it to a network, a ‘Show Bible’ is created, which includes the following materials:

•     Overview of the show
•     Target demographic
•     Style of show
•     Intended network
•     Intended timeslot
•     Intended number of episodes per season
•     Intended budget per episode
•     Series lead character breakdown
•     Series regular character breakdown
•     Intended cast or character prototypes using existing celebrities
•     Full ‘treatment’ for each of the episodes in the first season
•     Pilot script for the show
•     Marketing plan
•     Financial figures from comparative shows in the genre or style
•     Full scripts for additional episodes are occasionally added

These items are combined with a few additions that may be specific to the project. The writer’s agent, manager, or producer (or anyone who knows the right people) sets up a ‘pitch session’ with executives from each of the TV networks for which the show may be appropriate. The writer and/or producer attend each meeting, show bible in hand, and pitch their concept.

Each major network only has enough time slots for a certain number of new shows each season, but will finance several times that number of pilots. For example, a network might finance fifteen TV pilots for a given season. Those fifteen pilots are cast, filmed, edited and viewed by network executives and test audiences. Of the fifteen, the network may only select three or four shows to ‘pick up’.

A TV show being picked up means the network agrees to finance additional episodes of the show (usually in blocks of 12 for network TV and 13 for cable), and allocates a time slot for it to be aired. The creator(s) of the concept and the writer(s) who wrote the pilot episode almost always become executive producers or consulting producers of the series. Modifications are made to the show according to the results of test audience screenings and network input. Storylines are changed (if necessary), and some characters may be removed, added, or re-cast.

Unfortunately, pilots that don’t get picked up are rarely ‘saved’ for another season. This is partly because the cast and crew move on to their next projects. With a different cast and crew, the existing pilot episode would no longer be an accurate ‘sample’ of what the show could be like. Sometimes, however, a show will sell a TV series to another network after not picking the show up themselves.

When a TV show airs, the ‘ratings’ (number of viewers) it gets on American TV determine whether it stays on the air. The ratings are called ‘Nielsen Ratings’ (named after Arthur Nielsen). Shows can be taken off the air after as few as one episode, or after many seasons, depending on how the show is rating at the time.

The pilots that are ‘picked up’ are announced in May each year. A week later, the ‘upfronts’ (meetings where many TV commercial timeslots are pre-sold) take place. ABC and NBC each shoot an average of 20–25 pilots and pick up around ten. CBS, FOX, and CW each shoot between ten and twenty, and usually pick up around five. 

Preparing For LA

If you can’t get to LA yet, there are many things you can be doing right now to prepare:

•    SAVE AS MUCH MONEY AS POSSIBLE. Think of every fifty dollars you don’t spend as one more day you can survive in LA.
•    STUDY YOUR CRAFT. Take the best acting classes you can find as often as you’re able.
•    Learn a PERFECT standard American accent.
•    GET ON STAGE. I can tell whether an actor has a substantial theatre background within moments of watching them perform. It will add tangible depth and layers to your work. Do community theatre, school plays, whatever you can get your hands on.
•    Learn how to do as many accents as you can. This skill will aid you for the rest of your career.
•    Girls should learn how to do hair and makeup to suit different roles.
•    Fix your teeth. Make sure they’re straight and white, unless your type is ‘creepy homeless guy’. This is more important than you’d think for lead roles in LA.
•    Fix your skin. Eat less sugar, drink more water, eat well, exercise, cleanse, tone, and moisturize your face twice a day … and if that doesn’t work, see a specialist. Clear skin is a must for American TV and film.
•    EXERCISE! You need high energy and great stamina to stay alert on a film or TV set for twelve hours a day. If you want to play lead roles, get your body looking healthy and toned for your body type. Do not simply try to ‘get skinny’.
•    Find two great two-person scenes from films. One comedic and one dramatic. Memorize and prepare. These will be your showcase scenes.
•    Find two great monologues: one comedic and one dramatic. Memorize and prepare. You will use these in the rare instances a director asks you to audition with a “monologue of your choice”.
•    Film yourself performing scenes as often as possible.
•    Go to AS MANY AUDITIONS AS YOU CAN. Think of every audition as a free class on audition techniques.
•    Do LOTS of short films and indie features to gain on-set experience.
•    Read scripts of great films online at Scriptapolooza.com or InkTip.com to become familiar with what a good script looks like.
•    Watch every single one of the ‘top 250 movies’ listed on IMDBpro and observe who cast and directed them.
•    Select a top director and watch a selection of their films. Become familiar with the top directors in the industry.
•    Watch every movie that has ever won best picture, actor or actress at the academy awards.
•    Watch American hit TV shows and learn the CD and actor’s names.
•    Join every casting website in your area.
•    Improve your cold reading skills by reading dialogue into a mirror for fifteen minutes a day.
•    Get some friends together and shoot a web series for FunnyOrDie.com or YouTube.com.
•    Get your resume, headshot and demo up to a professional standard.
•    Practice memorization. Memorize one page of a character’s dialogue from a two-person scene every day. Aim to be off-book in ten minutes.
•    Go to every film festival close enough for you to get to.
•    Try writing a film or scene. Writing helps you understand more about what goes into creating characters and stories.
•    ‘Follow the top filmmakers and actors on Twitter and Facebook. Watch how they market themselves and interact with their fan base.
•    Write a business plan for your acting career. Write one for the next 1 year, 2 years and 5 years.

Creating Your Acting Website

An actor’s website is rarely used in the professional casting process. Your profile pages on IMDB.com and BreakdownExpress.com (via ActorsAccess.com) give a filmmaker or CD all the tools needed to consider auditioning you for a role.

While a personalized acting website may not make or break your career, it is a great tool to show industry professionals all of your marketing materials in one place. It enables you to guide people towards otherwise hard to find press, like theatre reviews and red carpet photos.

If you do have a website, ensure that it is professional, current, functional, and well maintained. There are many companies online that build websites for actors. Others (like Wix.com) allow you to build a site by easily dropping elements and information into pre-designed pages.

An actor’s website should be utilized as an online ‘press kit’ (see ‘press and publicity’ section), referring the user to reviews, articles, film trailers, and other press. The site must be easy to navigate and all pages must completely download in less than ten seconds. It is unlikely that a CD will wait twenty seconds for your headshot to display, so if needed, reduce the photo file size. Don’t give her a reason to move to the next actor on the list.

A quality actor website will have the following tabs:

•    Home
•    Resume
•    Demo
•    Press
•    Contact
•    Photos

Home Page
Display your name and main theatrical headshot. Perhaps write a bio on yourself and a few career highlights with a small paragraph or two about your recent gigs and upcoming releases. Embed trailers for any current upcoming releases. Include links to your IMDb, Twitter and Facebook.

Resume
Under the resume tab, list the following links at the top of the page then display your full resume on the page below them.

•    IMDb profile
•    Breakdown profile
•    Download .pdf
•    Print

Your downloadable resume should be in an un-editable .pdf format.

Demo Reel
Your demo can be displayed via a link to a professional site (like ActorsAccess.com or NowCasting.com), or by embedding a high quality video into your site. If you are using YouTube.com or Vimeo.com for hosting, embed the file into the webpage rather than re-directing users to a public site. Ensure the resolution is high, the file size is small (for fast buffering), and that the picture isn’t too big or small (640 × 480 is standard).

Press
Include links to any positive or neutral press written by an independent media source (i.e. NOT a production or management company website). These sources include newspapers, magazines, online publications, critic’s reviews, and red carpet sites. Scan and upload hardcopy press in .pdf format.

As your press kit grows, separate this section into more specific categories, such as ‘articles’, ‘reviews’ and ‘interviews’.

Contact
Display contact information for your representation and include their logo for branding. If you have more than one agent, specify the field in which they represent you. Provide your direct email for those rare last minute bookings that may occur the night before or morning of a shoot.

Photos
Your website is not an appropriate forum for the twenty different headshots you took in one session, or for headshots that have become outdated. If you are a model, having a modeling tab is great, but make sure that none of your shots are too revealing. Other than your main theatrical and red carpet images, include alternative looks and character shots

If you have several shots, use thumbnail photos that show a full size version of the shot when rolled over or clicked on. A great example of this is the photo section of your ActorsAccess.com profile. Make sure the larger versions of the photos are easily downloadable and printable (72dpi is a fine minimum resolution), with a print size between 4” × 6” and 8” × 10”.

Red Carpet Photos
One option is to put direct links to your personal search results page on WireImage.com or GettyImages.com. To do this, search your name then copy the url in the browser window above your search results.

Another option is to show a selection of red carpet photos on your website in the same thumbnail format used for headshot photos. Don’t worry about the watermarks: they help legitimize the image and prevent you from breaching any copyrights.

Production Stills
Production stills are taken on set during a shoot. Great production stills show crew and camera equipment in the background, the director instructing you, or the other actors dressed in wardrobe on set. Photos of you in character, acting, are also great (these look like someone has pressed pause on a movie).

Production stills taken with a cheap camera or bad lighting give the impression that the production was cheap. Your production stills should look  as good as stills from bigger budget films, implying that you are a professional, working actor. If you don’t have great stills, don’t resort to using bad ones. Having no production stills is better than having bad ones. 

Screw writing “strong” women. Write interesting women. Write well-rounded women. Write complicated women. Write a woman who kicks ass, write a woman who cowers in a corner. Write a woman who’s desperate for a husband. Write a woman who doesn’t need a man. Write women who cry, women who rant, women who are shy, women who don’t take no shit, women who need validation and women who don’t care what anybody thinks. THEY ARE ALL OKAY, and all those things could exist in THE SAME WOMAN. Women shouldn’t be valued because we are strong, or kick-ass, but because we are people. So don’t focus on writing characters who are strong. Write characters who are people.
— Words of great wisdom on strong female characters~ by madlori (via laughingskeleton)
Source: http://that-girl-is-my-hero.tumblr.com/pos...

How an Independent Film is Sold

This is a quick and basic run down of how an independent film is sold. There are three terms you’ll need to understand this process:

Territories
There are almost two hundred separate ‘territories’ (essentially countries) in the world to which a film can be sold. Of these, only thirty-five are considered ‘meaningful’ for film sales.

Sales Agent
A producer takes a completed film to a ‘sales agent’, who acts as a salesperson for the film. The sales agent meets with ‘distributors’ often at ‘film markets’ to sell the film in as many territories as possible.

A sales agent will usually represent several films at any given time. Sales agents often specialize in a particular budget range and genre, which helps create and nurture strong relationships with buyers in that realm. Prolific indie producers sometimes act as their own sales agents.

Distributor / Distribution Company
‘Distribution companies’ (‘distributors’) purchase the rights to distribute
films throughout a specific territory. Films are distributed through many
channels including: VOD (Video On Demand), selling DVD copies of the film to chains like Walmart or Red Box (or online rental companies like iTunes and Netflix.com), selling the rights to screen the film on TV, or selling the rights to screen the film theatrically to theatre chains like Birch Carol & Coyle.

When a distribution company buys the rights to sell a film in a specific
territory, they can only sell the film within that territory. For example, if a
distributor in France buys the rights to distribute Toy Story 3 throughout
France, that distributor cannot then sell the film to Blockbuster in England.

Likewise, the distributor may only distribute the project in the format for
which they have purchased the rights: as a ‘theatrical release’ (in cinemas), a DVD release, VOD release, or otherwise.

Here’s where it gets a little tricky: many distributors also act as sales
agents to sell films to other distributors worldwide.

How An Independent Film Is Sold
Here is an example: Film A cost $50,000 to make. If the film appears to
be highly marketable, several sales agents may want to represent it and the production company may find a bidding war develops between sales agents willing to pay for the rights to sell the film. This is rare with micro and low budget projects, which are often taken by a sales agent with no upfront payment and the negotiation of a substantial sales commission.

The production company gives Film A to a sales agent to sell. The sales agent meets with distributors from many countries regarding Film A. Distributors from England, Germany, and France love Film A and want to buy rights to a full theatrical and DVD release. The English distributor pays $45,000, the French distributor pays $35,000, and the German distributor pays $40,000.

The distributor from the USA offers $30,000 for DVD only. In total, the sales agent has just made $150,000 for the film. He takes his percentage (usually 15%–35% of all sales, plus ‘costs’), which (at 20%) is $30k. Let’s assume modest costs of $10k to cover flights to film markets and $5k for meager marketing costs, leaving around $105,000 for the production company.

The production company made the film for $50,000 in hard equity, but has ‘deferments’ (money owed for labor provided by cast and crew, aka ‘sweat equity’) of $45,000. The deferments are paid back and the investors are reimbursed their $50,000, plus $10,000 to cover a pre-negotiated 20% interest on the money they contributed.

Once the deferments and investors are reimbursed, the producers, investors, and anyone else who owns a share in the film can start making a profit. Fees, interests, and costs vary as they are all negotiated on a per film basis.

It is important to note that even though $150,000 has been paid for
a film that only cost $50,000 in hard equity to make, the project has still
only just broken even financially. No profit has been made other than the
cast and crews up-front fees and the interest for the investors.

This is a pretty common scenario for independent film. If the sales agent made a solid deal with the distributors, the production company will get a percentage of movie ticket and DVD sales in each country. However, with a small budget and lack of star names, the distribution rights on our sample film were probably sold for a one-time fee.

The Stages of Script Development

Development of a screenplay can either involve a writer developing a story ‘on spec’ (for free), or being hired to develop a story for a production company or studio.

When writing on spec the writer moves through each stage of development without a producer attached, hoping that a producer will later ‘option’ (lease) the already written screenplay and produce the film.

Before a script is written, most professional projects go through the following stages:

• Concept
A concept is simply an idea for a project … preferably an idea that can
easily be summarized into a logline.

• Logline
A logline consists of one or two sentences that summarize a film. An example of a logline would be: “A bumbling scientist must rescue his family and the world when an army of aliens tries to wipe out the human race.”

• Synopsis
A synopsis is a general outline of the main plot points in a film in under
a page (around 300-450 words) in prose (like the blurb on the back of a
book).

• Treatment
A treatment is like writing your script out as a novella or short story. A treatment can be anything from two to thirty pages. Sometimes longer. It should cover the entire story from start to finish and include every scene in the film.

• Outline
An outline lists every scene of a film in order. It establishes each location and summarizes what happens in each scene. Outlines can be several paragraphs per scene (complete with characters, what happens in the scene, and even some dialogue), or as simple as one sentence per scene (e.g. “EXT: STREET - scene where Chris, Lee, and Gemma save the cat”).

There are no rules governing how long or short an outline needs to be as long as it includes all of the intended scenes in the film, creating a modifiable skeleton for the screenplay.

• Script
Once the treatment is done, a script or ‘screenplay’ is written. Optimally,
a producer hires a writer and pays them to write a screenplay based on a
Note: A project can be at the concept, outline, and even at the
treatment stages with a producer before a writer is hired.

An acceptable length for a feature film script in Hollywood is between
90 and 120 correctly formatted pages. Any script shorter than 80 pages or longer than 125 pages is unlikely to be read. A screenplay in LA should be laid out in the format that is used in the screenwriting program Final Draft™.

Networking

What Is Networking?

Networking, also known as ‘schmoosing’, or in Hollywood: ‘setting foot
outside your apartment’, is often misconstrued as a dirty word. There are
many slimy, dishonest people who will make friends with anyone they
think can help them in their quest to be whoever they are trying to be.
These people are usually easy to see through and avoid.

Networking doesn’t mean meeting people who are in a position of
power and sucking up to them. There are thousands of friendly, interesting, likeminded people who just happen to also be very well positioned in this industry. Networking does mean meeting and working with these people and establishing organic personal and business relationships with them over time. It is as simple as being good to your friends and co-workers, and staying in touch.

Avoid successful egomaniacs, regardless of what you think they can
do for you. They’re no fun to be around, and realistically people like this
are not likely to get you a job or help you out because they are too busy
thinking about themselves.

Networking continues at every level of your career. Most celebrities still
procure a large portion of their work through relationships they have built
over the years with filmmakers, CDs, and other actors.

There’s an old adage in Hollywood: “People don’t do favors for acquaintances, they do favors for friends”, which essentially means people are not likely to help some person they met for three minutes and swapped cards with at a party. However, if someone spends some time with, connects with, and respects you they might be willing to make a referral. Once you’ve gone for beers with someone a few times, they might be motivated to pull a favor for you.

This doesn’t mean the only way you should gain contacts is by making
friends with every cool person you meet and ignoring those you might not get along with. If someone is in a position to give you a job make sure they know who you are, what you do, and that they have your information.

Get contact information from them … and follow up on it. You know when someone isn’t the type of person you’d hang out with
socially and so do they, so don’t be fake about it, just keep it as a clear business relationship.

When I started attending festivals, I thought I had to meet ‘everyone at
the party’ … but that’s not necessarily true. It’s about finding a few people of value and passing the time at that event getting to know them. It’s about finding real long-term friends and future co-workers who are passionate about directing, producing, or any other aspect of the film and TV industry in the same way that you are passionate about acting.

Extract from: The Hollywood Survival Guide - For Actors

www.TheHollywoodSurvivalGuide.com

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/098723160X

Casting Office Staff Positions

As with any other un-moderated industry, the staffing structure varies a great deal between casting offices. Following is a breakdown of the various job titles in the field of casting.

CDs (Casting Directors) as Film producers / Executive Producers
It is much easier for a producer to find investors to finance a film if name talent is attached to the project. Sometimes a CD will work on an un-financed project ‘on spec’ (for free) or for a small fee, to attach celebrities. Due to the fact that the majority of projects in development will never be green-lit, the CD may be given a ‘producer’ or an ‘executive producer’ credit. This credit is to compensate for the risk the CD is taking by spending time on a project that may never go into production.

Powerful CDs in Hollywood are often able to negotiate producer credits even when they are being paid their full rate. This is simply because the filmmakers are lucky to be working with CDs of this caliber and to have access to the celebrity connections they bring to the film. A producer credit is also often given because the CD actually did produce the film.

President or VP of Talent or Casting
Each studio and network has an in-house casting department. That is, a team of casting executives who hire, oversee, and work with outsourced casting offices to cast the various projects being produced by the network. Although the hired office is the one officially casting the show, the casting executives will still suggest actors for roles, watch the audition tapes, and approve the cast that has been selected. If there is a particularly large guest cast or for some reason the outsourced office can’t run a casting session, the in-house executive CD may run auditions.

Owner / CD
Most CDs own the casting company for which they work. This is made clear by the fact that most casting offices are named after the head CDs. In larger offices, there are some CDs who are not the owners of the company. An example of this is one of the largest casting offices in LA. The three owners (after whom the company is named) are working CDs and owners of the company, plus they have several other casting directors and associates working for them as employees.

Casting Director (CD)
A CD is in charge of sourcing and auditioning actors for a project. Most CDs are members of the CSA. CDs decide or collaborate with the pro- ducers and director on which actors are called back, and are often part of the decision making process regarding who gets the part (though ultimately the director and producer decide).

CDs remember and re-use talented actors they meet and like. They have both the authority and motivation to find new actors because most CDs truly enjoy finding undiscovered talent.

Casting Associate
CDs working in TV or working regularly in film will usually have a casting associate working directly under them. The associate aids the CD with organizing and running the sessions, delegating work to the assistants, and dealing with paperwork when actors are booked. Casting associates are generally more accessible than CDs, so getting to know them can be the easiest way to get an audition for some of the impenetrable big offices. Associates are usually only a few years away from becoming CDs, so develop a relationship with them early before they get that big promotion.

Associates are often assigned the task of finding much of the talent for supporting roles in projects, which is one reason many of them attend showcases or workshops. Just because they are paid to be at a workshop (they usually are) doesn’t mean they aren’t actively looking for talent. On many TV shows, the associate is responsible for selecting almost all of the actors for the co-star audition sessions. Associates frequently do the initial selection from the submissions received online. Out of a thousand submissions an associate might choose a hundred actors from which a CD then selects the final thirty who are invited to audition.

Casting Assistant
Casting offices in LA often don’t have a specific ‘receptionist’. The person you meet at the front desk is often a casting assistant, though it can sometimes be the associate or even the CD. A casting assistant is usually a paid employee. Assistants help the CD with sessions, answer phones, and work with the interns sorting through the piles of mail received on a daily basis. They don’t usually make selections, but if an assistant finds an amazing actor, you can bet she’ll pass that actor’s info to her bosses.

Intern
Interns are usually university students, people wanting to get into casting, or actors who are looking to learn more about the casting process and hoping to network with the CDs.

An internship is an unpaid position with little power beyond possibly having the ear of the people in the office and VERY occasionally suggesting an actor for an audition. Interns sort through mail, make copies and coffee, and anything else the paid office employees are too busy to take care of.

Interns may not have much influence, but they are people who care about their goals enough to give their time freely for their career, which means they deserve your respect just as much as any other staff member in a casting office.

Extract From: The Hollywood Survival Guide - For Actors

www.TheHollywoodSurvivalGuide.com

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/098723160X/

Who Makes The Final Casting Decision In Independent Film?


The producer hires the director on most film projects. A director makes
many decisions throughout the production process, but as an employee of the producer, these decisions can almost always be overruled.

How much authority a director wields on a project is subject to many variables: past experience, celebrity status, involvement in writing the script, contribution of investors to the project, the social status and relationship dynamic between the producer and the director, and lastly how much the producer chooses to micromanage each aspect of the film.

When it comes to casting, a collaborative discussion usually occurs
between the CD, the director, and the producer regarding which actor fits
best for each role and how various actors would fit with others in the project.

For independent films, the director usually makes the final decision
on which actors are cast. Most producers will give the director freedom
in this area but can at any point dispute or simply overrule the director’s
casting decision.

Often, casting decisions can be a case of bargaining between a producer
and director, for example if the director and producer have strong opinions on two different actors for each of two roles, they may say “I’ll let you have actor x for role a if we hire actor y for role b”.

Occasionally, investors will interject on casting decisions and if their financial contribution is substantial enough, the producer and director might do what they say. If celebrity attachments are required, sales agents, distributors, and investors may need to approve bankable name cast attachments.

————–
Extract From: The Hollywood Survival Guide - For Actors

www.TheHollywoodSurvivalGuide.com

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/098723160X/