SAG-AFTRA Statement of Policy on use of SAG-AFTRA Budget Theatrical Agreements
In the past several months, some IFTA Members have been challenged by SAG-AFTRA to substantiate that their use of the SAG-AFTRA Low Budget Theatrical Agreement was legitimate because the Union felt that the practice was developing of airing and/or premiering low budget theatrical films on Lifetime, SyFy or other cable channels.
We have discussed that with SAG-AFTRA and they have confirmed that the following policy will apply to pictures that are signed after April 15, 2015.
(1) That use of the Low Budget Theatrical Agreement is only legitimate if there is an initial release of the film in a theatrical venue OR the producer is able to establish by convincing evidence that diligent efforts to sell the film for theatrical release failed.
(2) Producers will not be disqualified from using the Low Budget Theatrical Agreement merely because they pre-sell rights to other platforms provided that the distribution agreements for pictures signed after April 15, 2015 do not include:
a. The right to identify the film as initially premiering or debuting on any non-theatrical platform (though “initial worldwide Television premiere” or similar reference to release on another non-theatrical platform after a theatrical release is acceptable);
b. The right to identify the film as anything other than a “made for theatrical motion picture” OR as having been “made for” any non-theatrical platform;
c. The right to market the film in connection with any non-theatrical platform in advance of the theatrical release.
SAG-AFTRA have further commented that low budget theatrical films should be treated – distributed, marketed and exhibited – as theatrical motion pictures. Clauses in non-theatrical distribution contracts that conflict with the criteria of paragraph 2 above raise concerns that the film was not considered to be theatrical at inception and thus may trigger investigation. For films signed before April 15, 2015, these deviations from paragraph 2 criteria alone will not form the basis of a claim.
SAG-AFTRA has declined to define “theatrical release” in order to avoid prematurely judging unique circumstances. They advise that they are looking for a good faith effort to sell the film into theatrical distribution, involving more than “theatrical exhibitions in basically no more than one theatre especially in a regional one where only the crew, friends and family attend.” View PDF here.
SAG-AFTRA Announces New Daily Rates Compensation
SAG-AFTRA has announced new daily rates of compensation under the agreements that will go into effect on July 1, 2015. The rates will go from $100 to $125 (Ultra Low Budget), $268 to $335 (Modified Low Budget), and $504 to $630 (Low Budget). This is the first such increase since 2005 and is intended to redress long-term cost of living increases. For the future, however, SAG-AFTRA has committed to provide producers with a full year's notice in advance of any similar changes in order to avoid disruptions in production planning.
IFTA and SAG-AFTRA recently initiated a dialogue with a view to improving the operational relationships between independent producers and the union. Both organizations will work to improve transparency of the SAG-AFTRA process, to streamline procedures and documentation requirements, and overall to enhance both side's ability to predict and comply effectively with obligations under the basic agreements.
SAG-AFTRA's early notice to IFTA of its planned rate increases and its commitment to longer notice in the future signal the seriousness with which it is approaching our cooperative effort.