Wednesday, September 21, 2011

FORCED CALL; don't do it

 I've been on a lot of non-union projects where forced calls were very common. My recommendation is that unless you want to work with very unhappy people don't do it. A FORCED CALL is when your call time is fewer than twelve hours after your release the evening before. It essentially allows a cast or crew person a chance to drive home, eat, visit briefly with their loved ones, shower and sleep for about six hours. Continual Foreced Calls is a recipe for a mutiny.

On a union shoot you will pay dearly for a forced call. I recently had what I think was my first intentional Forced Call. Sometimes it just can't be avoided. We had a location with a night exterior, which we would normally schedule toward the end of the week, but because of talent availability, location availability, etc. we had to start our week with it. So we went to 10:30 PM and started at 8 AM the next day. None of our crew were working under union constraints and we only had one SAG actor that it would affect, so we gritted our teeth and went for it. SAG penalty for a forced call is a full day's pay. At an Ultra Low Budget contract (for films budgeted at less than $200,000) that means just $100. If you do a Force Call under ten hours the talent is contractually allowed to refuse. I'm not sure if the penalty is the same for higher contracts, but I suspect it is. Imagine if you had four SAG actors on a Force Call with SAG Low Budget Modified contract (projects under $650,000) -- at $268 a day, you're looking at over $1,000 just for the luxury of bringing them in early.

Even if you're not using SAG actors or IATSE crew, frequent Forced Calls is nothing more than a sign that you don't know how to schedule and don't respect the lives of those working with you.

Lynn Chen, the lucky first recipient of a Brainwave Films forced call penalty fee
(and a good sport), on the set of Daylight Savings.

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