The Time’s Up Foundation has weighed in on the new SAG-AFTRA contract, urging a “no vote” on the pact, for which ratification ballots will be counted on Wednesday.
“Creating safe, dignified, and equitable workplaces in an industry where nudity and intimacy are often part of the work is challenging, but not insurmountable,” the foundation said in a statement. “Therefore, the fact that SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP reached an agreement that does not include key health and safety measures is deeply disappointing and dangerous.”
SAG-AFTRA responded sharply, telling Time’s Up to butt out of its internal affairs. “We appreciate the concern and advocacy of Time’s Up,” the guild said in a statement. “We are motivated by the same desire to protect our members and others in the entertainment industry. However, we believe that with this decision Time’s Up has made a serious mistake.
“We are disappointed that they have taken the highly irregular step of interfering in our members’ contract ratification effort,” the statement added. “[W]we completely disagree with their assumption that they have either the right or the invitation to intrude into this collective bargaining process that is led by the members for whom this organization and these agreements exist.”
Read SAG-AFTRA’s full response below.
The union’s national leadership, which is urging a “yes vote,” said that the new contract includes “historic improvements to protections for principal and background performers working nude or performing in simulated sex scenes, including improvements to notice and consent requirements. Plus, new protections at auditions and interviews as well as a provision that explicitly addresses harassment prevention.”
“Our agreements have always prohibited sexual harassment indirectly as a form of discrimination, but they now address harassment prevention directly,” the union says. “The new provision explicitly states the Producer’s obligation to maintain a workplace free from unlawful harassment, investigate complaints promptly and take appropriate action, make reasonable efforts to maintain the confidentiality of the complaint and investigation and refrain from retaliating against those who bring bona fide complaints in good faith or participate in an investigation.”
Time’s Up, however, doesn’t think the union has gone far enough.
“Over the past two years, the Time’s Up Entertainment Safety Committee – made up of actresses, producers, and other industry leaders – has advocated for common sense policies that would protect the safety of all actors, including principal and background actors. And we have not been alone in our advocacy efforts.
“The summary of the new terms provided by SAG-AFTRA indicates progress has been made – such as an explicit prohibition of performance of any actual sex act, prohibition of recording with personal devices during nude and simulated sex scenes, and the standard practice of providing robes to actors between and after rehearsing and shooting nude and simulated sex scenes. However, based on the summary, many of the important issues we’ve raised have not been sufficiently addressed, including:
• Adding robust closed set protections and definitions for ‘nudity’ and ‘simulated sex,’ to the contract, and providing greater clarity on who is ‘essential’ to have on set during nude and simulated sex scenes;
• Explicitly requiring that during intimate and simulated sex scenes, genitals be covered at all times (e.g., with flesh-colored underwear or modesty patches or pouches, in addition to intimacy barriers or padding);
• Requiring safety meetings before rehearsing or filming intimate scenes, as is already common industry practice for stunt scenes; and
• Giving background actors and extras the same protections as principals during casting and filming nude/simulated sex scenes, while also taking into account the different nature and turn-around time for booking background actors.
“This is not a dollars and cents issue. Performers should not have to wait three more years for another round of negotiations. The only option now is for SAG-AFTRA members to vote no on the existing 2020 TV/Theatrical Agreement and force an immediate renegotiation with the AMPTP – one that offers terms that truly reflect the values of safety, equity, and dignity that all actors deserve.”
The Foundation’s brief description of the union’s summary left a lot out, however, as seen below in the union’s summary of the contract’s harassment, nudity and simulated sex provisions. (SAG-AFTRA’s full statement in response to Time’s Up follows.)
IV. IMPROVEMENTS FOR PERFORMANCES INVOLVING NUDITY OR SIMULATED SEX
A. Clarifications Regarding “Sex Acts”
1. The parties clarified that the Agreements do not permit and have never permitted a Producer to request that performers engage in real sex acts. While this has always been broadly understood, from time to time productions have expressed a contrary interpretation because that clarification has not previously been stated explicitly in the contract.
2. Section 43 of the Codified Basic Agreement has been retitled from “Nudity” to “Nudity and Sex Acts” and references to “sex acts” have been added in various places throughout section 43 where performer rights were tied to “nudity.” This clarification ensures that performers who are not nude while performing simulated sex acts will nevertheless retain the protections of section 43.
B. Improved Protections at Auditions and Interviews
1. Earlier Notice: The requirement to provide notice prior to the first interview or audition of nudity or sex acts expected of a role or in the audtion/interview has now been attached to the casting notice itself if known by Producer at the time of issuance; otherwise, such notice must be provided “as soon as practicable.”
2. No Simulated Sex at Auditions/Interviews: Simulated sex at auditions/interviews is now prohibited.
3. Nude Auditions Limited to One Final Callback: Nudity is prohibited at any audition except for a single, final callback audition. This prohibition addresses the practice of “nude cattle calls” where Producers bring in large numbers of performers, sometimes multiple times, to audition in the nude. (Note that “nudity” for this purpose is not total nudity; the performer must wear a “modesty garment,” e.g., “a G-string and pasties.”)
4. No Recording or Still Photography Without Written Consent: There may be no still photography or recording of the single, final callback audition requiring nudity without the written consent of the performer.
5. Only the Fewest Number of Essential Personnel May Be Present: Only “those essential to the casting process” may be present for the single, final callback audition requiring nudity and shall be limited in number to “the fewest necessary for the casting of the role.” Any person present for the audition or viewing the audition remotely must identify themselves by name and title and be visible to the performer.
6. Recording with Personal Devices Prohibited: This includes personal cell phones and cameras.
C. Improvements Regarding “Nudity Riders”
1. 48-Hour Notice Period: The Producer must submit the proposed written consent (i.e., “nudity rider”) for nudity and/or sex acts at least 48 hours in advance of the performer’s call time. If the role is cast less than 48 hours in advance, or if the Producer is replacing a performer who withdrew previously-granted consent, then the proposed written consent must be provided at the earliest practicable time. This is a particularly important achievement because many of the problems and abuses related to performances involving nudity and/or simulated sex are “last-minute rider” problems where the production attempts to renegotiate the performer’s rider right at the time of performance to include more nudity and/or more graphic sex acts. This has resulted in conflict and regret when performers disadvantaged by an unequal power dynamic on set agree to these last minute demands.
2. More Information: The “general description of the extent of nudity and the type of physical contact” required by section 43 now also requires that the relevant script pages be attached, if available, and that the performer be provided with the name and phone number of a designated Producer representative who can address questions about the interpretation or application of the proposed written consent.
3. Doubling Limited to Original Consent: In the event that a performer exercises their right to revoke their consent at any time and a producer exercises their corresponding right to double that performer, the nudity and/ or simulated sex portrayed through doubling shall be limited to the nudity and/or simulated sex to which the performer originally agreed. This applies whether the doubling is achieved digitally or through use of a body double.
D. Improvements During Production
1. Better “Closed Set” Definition: The requirement that the set be closed to “all persons having no business purposes in connection with the production” during performances involving nudity and/or simulated sex has been tightened to exclude “all persons who are not essential to the filming or rehearsal of the scene” and expanded to apply explicitly to anyone observing by means of monitors.
2. Recording with Personal Devices Prohibited: As with auditions/interviews involving nudity and/or simulated sex, this includes personal cell phones and cameras.
3. “Cover-Up” Requirement: The producer is now obligated to provide a cover-up, such as a bathrobe, to a performer who is nude or wearing only modesty garments when the performer is not actually engaged in rehearsing or shooting the scene and, if practicable, whenever there is a pause in rehearsing or shooting.
4. Written Consent for Still Photography: Prior written consent is required for still photography during performances involving nudity and/or simulated sex and unused still photographs must be securely stored. 5. Written Consent for Promotional Use: Prior written consent is required for use of footage or still photographs of nudity in any promotional material, publicity or trailers. 6.Director Must Be Advised of Consent: Producer must advise the director and line producer or UPM of the parameters of the performer’s consent to appear nude or engaging in simulated sex acts.
E. Improvements for Background Actors
1. Incorporation of Principal Actor Improvements: Many of the foregoing production-related improvements applicable to principal actors have also been incorporated into the provisions regarding background actors, including:
a) The clarifications that producer may not request background actors to engage in real sex acts and that the protections applicable to nudity also apply when the background actor is not nude but is performing simulated sex (IV.A). Additionally, the right of a background actor to refuse to engage in a performance requiring nudity if they are not notified in advance and still be paid for the day now includes “sex acts.” This ensures that a background actor who is not notified in advance that the performance requires a simulated sex act may refuse and still be paid for the day even if the simulated sex act is to be performed while clothed.
b) The limitation of nudity and/or sex acts to the original consent when a background actor revokes consent and the producer doubles them (IV.C.3).
c) The improved definition of closed set (IV.D.1).
d) The prohibition on recording with personal devices (IV.D.2).
e) The requirement of a cover-up (IV.D.3).
f) The requirement of written consent for still photography (IV.D.4).
g) The requirement of written consent for use of nude photography in promotional materials (IV.D.5).
2. “As Much Information as Possible” Prior to Booking: The principal performer requirements related to auditions/ interviews and the 48-hour notice requirement were not incorporated into the background actor schedules. The AMPTP, however, will send a bulletin to background casting agencies, who often function as the employer of record for background actors, directing them to obtain as much information as possible from the producer regarding any required nudity and/or simulated sex acts and provide that information to the background actor prior to booking.
V. HARASSMENT PREVENTION POLICY
The Agreements have always prohibited unlawful harassment, including sexual harassment, indirectly as a form of discrimination. The Agreements now contain a new provision that addresses harassment prevention explicitly, as set forth below. It is similar to language that has been bargained into the Commercials Contracts and Network Code.
A. Producer Responsibility: The new provision articulates the Producer’s responsibility to maintain a workplace free from unlawful harassment in compliance with applicable laws.
B. Duty to Investigate and Take Action: Performers who believe that there has been unlawful harassment are encouraged to bring information forward, at which point the producer shall investigate promptly and take appropriate action.
C. Confidentiality: Producer will make a reasonable effort to maintain the confidentiality of the complaint and the investigation.
D. Retaliation Prohibited: Producer shall refrain from unlawfully retaliating against any performer who, in good faith, raises a bona fide complaint or participates in an investigation.
VI. INTERVIEWS/AUDITIONS IN HOTEL ROOMS
The union achieved the addition of language prohibiting interviews or auditions in hotel rooms and private residences unless there is no other alternative, in which case the performer shall be entitled to bring a support peer into the audition with them. This is similar to language that the union has negotiated into the Commercials Contracts and the Network Code.
Here is SAG-AFTRA’s full statement:
“We appreciate the concern and advocacy of TIME’S UP. We are motivated by the same desire to protect our members and others in the entertainment industry. However, we believe that with this decision TIME’S UP has made a serious mistake.
“We are disappointed that they have taken the highly irregular step of interfering in our members’ contract ratification effort. Their action disrupts our members’ rights to self-determination and to vote on their contract free from the pressure and influence of outside organizations.
“Collective bargaining is a crucial process that is the foundation of labor rights. It is wholly owned by the union members for whom the contracts are negotiated and to whom the benefits accrue. In this instance, the working actors that constitute our negotiating committee and our national board of directors, overwhelmingly voted up this contract for our members’ consideration.
“While we support TIME’S UP for their unique contributions to a cause in which we all believe, we completely disagree with their assumption that they have either the right or the invitation to intrude into this collective bargaining process that is led by the members for whom this organization and these agreements exist.”