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Old June 26th, 2010, 05:07 PM   #16
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This is a very, very important discussion and relevant to just about everyone here.

These days I'm bouncing between all levels of production myself. I know that when I'm on a big union show that I don't have to worry about coverage--in fact I sustained an injury on a movie last summer and production took care of all the paperwork with the state and I was able to immediately start therapy via workman's comp/state disability. But I'm also doing a lot of smaller jobs these days and I'm paying much more attention these days to protecting myself and my gear (every time equipment goes out of my house, even to help out a friend, I have them sign a loss/damage agreement). There are so many more zero-to-miniscule budget productions going on these days that statistically speaking, the number of incidents will naturally rise.

I've seen a definite change in my perspective on all of this and injuries in general over the years. In my early days I was just excited to work and willing to take all sorts of risks, some of which in retrospect were just plain stupid.
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Old June 26th, 2010, 11:10 PM   #17
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A few years ago in India an assistant director died after she was hit by a train while a film shoot was on in a railway station. the director (who had already done two bollywood movies) tried to hide the fact that she died on the tracks and told the police initially that she was hit by a car.

Accidents can happen anywhere, and being protected is the professional way to go about any business.

Having made five no-budget shorts and one micro-budget feature, I know that I should have got insurance (especially on the feature). being in india does afford me the opportunity to skip these things because -
a. I called every insurance company in town to insure my equipment. Nobody was interested.
b. The paperwork alone to insure a cast and crew of forty people was unbelievable.
In spite of wanting to get insurance, I decided to forego it. I understand getting insurance in the west for such activities is much more simpler, and one shouldn't eschew this responsibility.

But which kid with a camera and an idea is going to listen? Especially since he/she has saved for a year or more to get hold of the money to buy the camera. I think the process should be much more simpler - maybe then it'll find widespread use.
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Old June 26th, 2010, 11:34 PM   #18
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I would say that contemporary theatre provides the model that we are heading for. In 99 Seat Equity Theatre contracts, most professionals are basically working for free. Now they may get gigs at a full Equity contract from time to time, but in the real world, there isn't enough funding for enough productions to keep every deserving professional in a real paying job - and I'm presuming that the people in question are talented, well-trained and experienced enough to be able to expect a real wage. And there is genuine social value in 99 seat theatre - brilliant work is being done there. So, it can be with no-budget indie filmmaking, if we find ways to provide appropriate support.

To my mind, we need a non-profit consortium to purchase liability and worker's comp, which then brings small productions under their insurance umbrella. In California, in the past, you've only been able to purchase a Worker's Comp policy for three months - but a three month policy is not what's needed for a two day shoot. So, the producers are paying for a lot of policy that they cannot use. The cost of a liability policy is partially based on the budget of the production but there isn't liability available that reflects a $2k budget being spent over two days - even if it does reflect the million dollars in coverage required by most cities. Insurance companies want to make money and providing Worker's Comp for one week and liability for a $2k shoot isn't going to do that - that's why a non-profit is necessary to bridge the gap.

I've thought SAG should be leading the charge on this, but SAG, of course, has their hands full. Still, their actors would have a lot more union roles available to them if this issue could be resolved in a thoughtful way.
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Old June 26th, 2010, 11:56 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Lori Starfelt View Post
I've thought SAG should be leading the charge on this, but SAG, of course, has their hands full. Still, their actors would have a lot more union roles available to them if this issue could be resolved in a thoughtful way.
Thank you for the very well thought out response Lori.

If I can throw another tidbit in, I know nothing of the functioning of SAG but when I was working broadcast television, we were governed by the CEP union (Communications, Energy and Paperworkers - formerly NABET) while the journalists were represented by The Canadian Media Guild. Well, when the broadcaster went to the Industrial Relations Board and argued that negotiating with 3 unions (2 CEP locals and one CMG local) was undue hardship, the IRB agreed and put the choice of ONE union to negotiate on EVERYONE'S behalf to a vote - as talent outnumbered technicians, the Guild won. And slowly the hard fought rights that technicians had won around terms of service such as meal breaks, turnaround time, shift premiums and the like disappeared while the talent stayed the same or benefited.

Again, I know NOTHING about SAG but I can tell you that as a former acting president of a CEP local (a SMALL freelance media local not affiliated with the broadcaster in question), I PERSONALLY would have SOME hesitation around being represented by a "talent" union or organization and I THINK a number of my colleagues that went through the same things I speak of here feel the same.

And I would LOVE to have my fears proven false, I really would.
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Old July 22nd, 2010, 05:58 PM   #20
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Thank you everyone

Originally Posted by Sam Hancock View Post
Hey Silas-

I'm working on a feature right now, and I've found the most inexpensive insurance to be through "Fractured Atlas." They are a non-profit of of NYC, they are not an insurance broker per se, but they work with insurance companies to find you a good deal on insurance. You do have to be a member to use this service, which costs $95 a year. But there quotes to me have been lower than anyone else- $425 for general liability, $495 for equipment. Because you are only using volunteer labor you should be able to get a "volunteer accident insurance policy" through them for about $175.

I should also say that I have found them to be very easy to communicate with, and really on top of things when it comes to answering questions and addressing concerns.

Hope this helps.

Thanks for the info Sam,
Do you know if the volunteer accident insurance policy would actually replace the W/C ??
I could ask the city and county we are filming in but tell me how it works with the film you are/were making please.

Thanks for the reply and sorry about the delay in getting back
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