Wednesday, August 29, 2012

SAG ultra low budget salaries... hidden costs

SAG Ultra Low rates are $100 a day. There are, however, some hidden costs. The most notable being that technically that is for an 8 hour day. The final four hours of a standard 12 hour day are calculated at  time and a half, which means $175 for a day. SAG also expects you to be fully payrolled. Meaning they expect you to pay for Unemployment Insurance and taxes etc. When you're shooting for only 25,000 these are significant additions. My go-to accounting guys charge a minimum of $700 for payroll services for a feature. That said, I don't know what the understanding at SAG is, but I've made several ULB shows that did $100 for a 12 hour day without doing payroll expenses. I think for the smaller films SAG often looks the other way, and figure that as long as none of the actors are complaining they'll let it lie... but don't take my word for it.

Updated rates: In 2015 SAG raised the rates of the SAGIndie contracts to: Ultra Low Budget: $125; Low Budget Modified: $335 daily or $1,166 weekly; Low Budget $630 daily or $2,190 weekly.

Happy birthday to the National Film Society

Congratulations to Patrick Epino and Stephen Dypiangco on their first anniversary of launching the National Film Society. They started the National Film Society with the intent of taking over the world. Well, that may not have been their intent, but it's been the result. Since they've launched they've been picked up by PBS and have been lauded for their unique and quirky style of reporting. They've been very generous to me, naming Surrogate Valentine as their film of the year (or something like that) last year. Anyway, I don't need to promote them here, because the only people who read this blog are people who know me, and consequently are well aware of Patrick and Stephen. So, simply congratulations guys. Love what you do and keep at it.


The anxiety of the man uploading video to withoutabox on deadline day...

Monday was the deadline for the Sundance Film Festival and myself and every other filmmaker in the world was anxiously trying to get our submissions in on time. Being rejected from Sundance is an annual event coinciding with Christmas that allows me to be just a little less jolly during the holiday season, and just a bit more bitter when I go watch the films that did somehow get in. Seriously, living in Utah I do try to see some of the festival every year, mostly to cheer on my friends who did get in. It's a great festival and I do not envy the programming department which seemingly has to view every movie made that year.

Most festivals in the US let handle their entries. Withoutabox is a web site where you can search festivals and in a one-stop sort of way, apply to as many as you like. The web site is owned by Amazon, which owns IMDb. One of the conveniences of withoutabox is that you can upload your video to their site for festivals to view, so you don't have to submit DVDs to all the individual festivals.  Withoutabox's video feature is an extension of IMDb's video content platform. Well, it seems like a good idea, but so far the technology doesn't seem to be there yet. Hopefully reporting on this will help others in the future as they try to upload their own projects.

I went to upload my latest project THE LEMONADE TRADE, which is an 8 minute movie, and a 500MB Quicktime file. My first attempt didn't seem to be working...

"Do not leave this page during the upload," it says quite clearly. So, do I listen?
The status bar is empty and the bar above where the URL seems to be stuck at only a quarter. But what should I do? It tells me that it's uploading, and in no uncertain terms says DO NOT LEAVE THIS PAGE. Well, I let it run for several hours, finally started again and got the same thing. This I let run for about six hours. In the meantime I had sent a help inquiry and had finally gotten a response.

I was told I should be using Chrome or Firefox. I was on Safari. That information up front would have been helpful. Since the day was already up, I was granted an extension due to technical difficulty.

Firefox or Chrome weren't much of an improvement. The status bar was showing that it was reading the file, but it would freeze up after three hours or so. Then the Help Message I got suggested using an mp4. Again, that would be good information from the beginning. On their website they say only Flash Videos (with Sorenson or VP6 codec compression) or Quicktime.

Firefox finally showed me something going on in the status bar. Every thing looked good. Finally, after a total of about 15 hours of attempts it looked like I was on my way. After about five hours, however, I discovered it had frozen up.

Well, it was time to get Old School. I burned a DVD in about four minutes and dropped it in the mail. So much for convenience.