When this was done in January, I didn’t understand why the GCCs were no longer needed since indies have a tough enough time as it is getting all their ducks in a row necessary to start production. So the purpose of the Guaranteed Completion Contracts was to prevent any serious (aka strike) disruption in the independent feature production process as SAG went into negotiations with the AMPTP. But then the pacts were discontinued under the new leadership of the SAG National Majority (but while Doug Allen was still National Executive Director) even though the National Board’s decision to send out a Strike Authorization Ballot had not been rescinded. (And still hasn’t.) Now, just as I suspected, an indie producer whose last film won Oscar nominations has written me to describe how SAG’s halt of these GCCs is harming his biz:
“I find myself wishing you’d write a little about the consequences of SAG’s recent halt of ‘Guaranty of Completion’ contracts, which were popularly known as ‘waivers’.
“As you know, under the Guaranty, if an independent producer like me could raise money for a picture with no AMPTP financing or distribution, he or she could be certain that in the event of an actors’ strike, the film would be allowed to complete photography.
‘But SAG decided to stop issuing those guaranties a month or more ago. And now I’m completely shut down, along with all new independent production.
If I don’t have an applicable guaranty issued last year, I can’t get a completion bond without posting an additional contingency in the event of a strike to cover the costs of shutting down, holding the show for up to four months, and starting up again.
“Like it’s not hard enough now to raise production financing without having TWO contingencies.
“And I have to have a clause in the performers’ contracts guaranteeing first option of return, which will be impossible if the actor is working my movie in a hiatus from a television contract.
“My contact at Film Finances, the premier completion bond company for independent production, told me that the head of NY SAG said to her, “Oh, we’d never shut down an independent production.” But the SAG official wouldn’t put that in writing, so the bond company can’t rely on it. Thanks for the assurance: It’s worthless.
“The behavior of the AMPTP is certainly aggressive. The insistence of the contract’s duration starting from signature not expiry must have Alan Rosenberg out there screaming at the SAG moderates, “You see? You see who we’re dealing with? I tried to tell you!”
“But meantime I can’t put pictures together and I can’t hire actors. What is the SAG executive team thinking? Shutting down folks like me won’t help their negotiation with the majors.
“Weirdly, no one seems to know about the consequences of this new SAG policy. My producer group was surprised to hear about it. Until I called the bond company to confirm, I couldn’t quite believe it myself.”