When I recently learned that both the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times (and maybe even the trades as well) were working on pre-Sundance stories that attempt to blame the Screen Actors Guild for Hollywood studios supposedly not buying their usual numbers of independent films or entering into their usual numbers of deals to distribute them, I thought this was absurd. But clearly someone (the AMPTP?) has been whispering wrong information in the ears of reporters for both newspapers on the eve of the Sundance Film Festival when everyone focuses on indies. The way it was told to me, the articles were going to claim that Hollywood studios “don’t know” if they can buy indie films made under a SAG strike waiver (i.e. Guaranteed Completion Agreement, or GCA) because “the terms might change”. So the articles were going to blame SAG and its on-again, off-again Strike Authorization Vote, and not the economy or content or quality or all the other usual considerations that determine whether the majors or minis wanna buy indie pics or not, for a downturn. (The NYT‘s article did indeed appear online bylined by Michael Cieply, whose anti-guild slant would be laughable if he weren’t writing for a major media outlet or constantly distorting the facts.) Funny, I didn’t hear this distribution issue raised against the Writers Guild Of America before last year’s Sundance Film Festival (or since) even though the WGA actually went on strike and, just like SAG, granted waivers to indie productions before and during the labor action. Plus, who wouldn’t realize that SAG’s strike waivers were a solution to an indie production problem, not an indie distribution issue. In short, this really smells to me like just another attempt by the LA Times and NY Times to bash the Hollywood guilds on behalf of the Hollywood CEOs. Yesterday, I asked the Screen Actors Guild for clarification, and SAG just posted the following on its website which, hopefully, clears up any lingering confusion:
To Screen Actors Guild Guaranteed Completion Agreement (GCA) signatories:
It has come to the Guild attention that some distributors of Guild-covered projects have expressed concerns about risks associated with distributing projects covered by GCAs in the event of a Guild work stoppage. As you know, one of the benefits of being signatory to a Guild GCA is the assurance that any work stoppage would not affect the continued production of the picture.
GCA signatories and distributors have the Guild’s full and complete assurance that there will be no disruption of distribution of projects properly covered by Guild GCAs due to any work stoppage. Signatories or distributors with questions should feel free to contact the Guild’s Theatrical Contracts department at (323) 549-6828.