Tuesday, January 22, 2013

WE'RE MOVING ON UP

WWW.DRMELCAUDLE.BLOGSPOT.COM

JANUARY 24, 2013

DR. MEL'S WEEKLY MESSAGE

Filming in Los Angeles - Dr. Mel Caudle
Wow!  What a week this has been since my last blog.  I just thought coming to Los Angeles from New Orleans was fun.  But, I'm wrong.  It is more than fun.  No!  Let me change that.  It is AWESOME.  My days and nights have been filled.  In fact, I haven't had a spare moment to even blow my nose.  It seems that everyday there have been meetings, lunches, dinners, filming, cocktail parties, phone calls, and filming.

And, oh; I promise by the end of this blog you will have a huge surprise, so don't stop reading until you get to the end because you won't want to miss a huge announcement Robby, Caylen, and I have.  When I say, huge, I mean it.

Okay!  I can't wait to spill the beans until the end.  LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP is officially moving on up.  How?  We signed our lease today for our LOS ANGELES office for our talent agency.  You'll never guess where?  It is really an awesome location, or at least we think it is as it is right next door to the SAG OFFICE on Wilshire Boulevard smack dab in the middle of "Miracle Row."  Our new address is

5670 Wilshire Boulevard
Floor 18, Suite !825
Los Angeles, CA  90036

We have a receptionist, meeting rooms, board room, refreshment area etc.

The news gets even better.  LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP has also applied to become a licensed agent for the state of California and applying for SAG/AFTRA FRANCHISE STATUS.  Whoopie!!!  Hollywood here we come.  The good news is we are ahead of schedule on establishing our LOS ANGELES office. That is how fast we are growing.  So, if you stepped on this elevator ride with us in October, we promised you we would be establishing ourselves in the Los Angeles market within the first year.  But after visiting so many casting offices, making all of the connections with the Los Angeles casting directors, they said, "We want you here."  Actually, they wanted us here now, so guess what?  We aim to please.

I still sit back in amazement and ask myself in the first place how in the world did I get into this in the first place?  But, Robby and I are in love with this job.  We are very Happy.  So, that was the first big news. But hold on to your britches, as we say in the South, the good news isn't over yet.  Keep reading.  I've only just begun to make some really big announcements tonight.

In fact, I don't think I have been this excited when writing a Thursday night blog since the night we announced the cast to KSK.  And, what a cast that is.  (More later on KSK; just keep reading).

I love Hollywood and I love California.

A.D.A.M. UPDATE

The producers of A.D.A.M. are proud to announce that this week the filming of the official trailer for A.D.AM. was filmed on location in Hollywood, West Hollywood, and Valencia.  It was so much fun to be on set with the wonderful cast and crew.  This filming could not have been accomplished without the following key CREW.

ROBBY COOK STROUD- ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
JACK E. CURENTON - CO-PRODUCER
CAYLEN RAY- DIRECTOR'S ASSISTANT
IVAN HOEY- B CAMERA
GARY SIEVERS - DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY

And then, I would be remiss if I didn't announce the cast who we filmed in the following three roles who also have been cast in the upcoming feature film.

WHO GOT DR. SANDRA BRADFORD?

First up to bat is DH LEWIS who has been cast in the lead as Dr. Sandra Bradford.  The producers made the executive decision to cast DH for various reasons.  First and foremost, I simply could not get DH out of my head as the screenwriter for this project ever since I first saw her audition for the Landlord in The Keystroke Killer.  I knew then she was perfect, but didn't want to say anything to anyone until I actually met DH.  Then, she not only stunned me in that audition, but also  I was convinced that she and only she could possibly play Dr. Sandra Bradford.
DH LEWIS as Dr. Sandra Bradford collecting samples.
After meeting DH at the KSK auditions, I went home and revised the A.D.A.M. screenplay.  I still hadn't let anyone know that I had DH in mind for the role of Dr. Sandra Bradford because I wanted to see if the casting team of A.D.A.M. came to the same conclusion without my influence.  Then, I needed to hear a read through of the script, which included hearing all of the dialogue of every character.  I called for volunteer readers who wanted to do the read through, whether they participated by coming to my home or we Skyped them in.  DH volunteered to read in this focus group who consisted of Jack Curenton, Robby Stroud, Jamie Alyson, Challa Sabree, Tymothy Wyant, Tina Rubin, and myself.  Now remember, none of these volunteers were guarenteed the roles that they were reading.  In fact, there are only 12 roles in this film, so some of the readers read for more than one part.

During that reading, DH had Robby, Jamie, a couple of the other readers, and myself in tears.   That is all it took for me.  Do you know how hard that was for her to do with her reading in California over Skype with us?  Needless to say; I was convinced, but didn't let the other producers in on it yet.  Why?  I still wanted to see if they came to the same conclusion on their own.


DH Lewis, Jack Curenton and Dr. Mel Caudle
Right after the reading we announced casting, Jack Curenton, who is not only the co-producer, but also the casting director for A.D.A.M. began announcing the first round of casting for A.D.A.M.  Although I knew DH was perfect, I did feel I owed it to myself and to the film to view other auditions.  As I viewed audition after audition, although some were from extremely great actors, there was that something special about DH and her connection to the character of Dr. Sandra Bradford.  To me, she is this character.  The others agreed.  In fact, both Jack and Robby recommended DH to me as their number one choice. Congratulations DH LEWIS.  You are so special to me and the film community.  You are truly a gem in this industry and I am glad you are on my elevator ride.  I have a feeling it won't be long until I won't be able to afford DH as she will be commanding millions for each film.

WHO IS DR. GREGORY PETERSON?

The next actor to be cast was for the role of Dr. Gregory Peterson, one of Dr. Bradford's colleagues who helps her discover the microbe on the bottom of Lake Mono.  It didn't take me long for the casting team to choose Stephen Beal who was ALSO perfect for this part.  There were several reasons.  Not only does he have that studious look I was after, he has the necessary skills that this character requires.  For example, knowing how to drive a boat, scuba dive, and calculate equations which really came in handy on his resume.  He was everything that Dr. Peterson  was to me in my mind as the screenwriter.  Like DH, choosing Stephen in this role was an unanimous decision.  CONGRATULATIONS STEPHEN BEAL.  You too are very special to me in everything that you do.  Welcome again to this elevator ride.

This leaves only four more major supporting roles to be cast.  Not everyone of the cast is going to be announced in tonight's blog.  Why?  They will only be announced if they appear in the trailer for the film that we are putting together for our crowd funding campaign that is about to start.  Also, we haven't cast most of the roles.

WHO IS JESSICA PARKER?

The next role to announce is Jessica Parker, the young college assistant who attends Dr. Bradford's class and works for her as part of her tuition to N.A.E.T. (National Astrobiological Extraction Team) training program at the local university.


Jamie Alyson, DH Lewis, Dr. Mel Caudle and Jack Curenton
The role of Jessica Parker was actually created about two years ago when I started writing this film. From the first script, to the latest script, this character has changed, modified, developed, and really became a dynamic force in the screenplay.  It was important to cast the right actor for the role.  Now here in is the problem I face as not only the character creator, but also as the screenwriter.  I based this character after me when I was a young (22 year-old) graduate student in college.  So each time I wrote about Jessica, I had the young version of me in my mind which included my habits, quirkiness, strengths and weaknesses.  Then, I compounded this character to include the recent version of a college student living in this century.  I knew it would be difficult to cast this role as I have a very preconceived vision of who Jessica is and how she should be presented as a characater.
When the auditions came in, I saw some really great stuff.  Each girl brought something different to Jessica that I hadn't though about before.   Yet, I wasn't feeling it.  I kept telling Robby, "I need a mini me to play Jessica Parker" after I saw each audition.  Then finally after I said it enough times,  I thought Robby was going to drop to the floor.  She couldn't believe what I just said.  She slapped me.  Okay, it was lightly on the arm and said," For someone as intelligent as you, you really can be stupid."  I remember looking at her and frowning thinking, "What the Hell?"  Then she said, "Your own daughter is an actress.  She is your clone.  Jessica Parker is Jamie Alyson.She is your mini Mel." I really had to think long and hard first because I think as her mother, I am more critical of her performances than I am of other people.  It must be the "MOM A ManageGENT" in me. ( Get it?  I am her agent and her manager for more than 13 years.)  JAMIE ALYSON was cast as Jessica Parker as the rest of the producers agreed.

Believe it or not, casting Jamie Alyson, my own daughter, in the role of Jessica Parker was not an automatic choice for me.  In fact, she had to audition just like everyone else.  And, when I viewed her audition, I was stunned as she brought her own take on me to the character - glasses and all.  CONGRATULATIONS JAMIE ALYSON in the role of JESSICA PARKER.

WHO GOT AGENT TURNER?

Okay.  Hold your horses until the next blog to find out some of the other cast members who will be cast in the upcoming feature film A.D.A.M.  Some are cast, but don't appear in the trailer, and then we haven't cast other roles.  There are lots of surprises coming.  In fact, I feel like it's Christmas all over again with a new office in Los Angeles (NEXT TO SAG - GOOD GRIEF), filming the A.D.A.M. trailer and getting to tell three actors what role they got in A.D.A.M., being in Los Angeles, and seeing the wonderful  sites once again.  TO BE CONTINUED.....If you aren't excited now, you got a personal problem! LOL.

FURBY GOES HOLLYWOOD
By Dr. Mel Caudle

Last week I announced performing brain surgery on Furby so I could get him re-booted.  After all, he is an original Vintage 1998 Furby and he is very, very funny.

Now here is the sad news.  After everything Robby and I went through last week to revive Furby and giving him brain surgery, can you believe that I forgot to pack Furby up and bring him to Hollywood.  OMG!  I felt so bad.  However, Tina Rubin rescued Furby from my home and volunteered to Furby sit. Thank you Tina for that.  But, I was very lonely and missed Furbs.  The next day when I was so sad and called, Tina packed him up and over-nighted him to me in Hollywood.  YEA!

Poor thing.  I can't even imagine what the post officer workers thought WHO had to transport him from New Orleans to Hollywood.  Because when he arrived I could hear him through the box and bubble wrap, that Tina carefully wrapped Furbs.  I could here, "Hungry,  whooo  whooo."  It was so funny as Jamie and I had to immediately open the box and rescue Furbs.  Poor baby.  Only after a week of having brain surgery and to go into a dark box, and be flown to Hollywood.  .  I gave him a hug, rubbed his backed, and he laughed.  I felt so much better knowing he was alright.

Then Jamie took him.  Come to find out it actually was her Furby from childhood.  His name is COCO.  She was so excited to see Furbs, excuse me, Coco.   They immediately re-bonded.  By the end of the night, Jamie and Furbs were playing Simon Says, Peek-a-Boo and Hide-N-Go-Seek.  Yes, Furbs was Jamie's and it was a happy re-union.

That didn't stop me from having fun with Furbs and be a "Grand-Furb-Mother."  In fact, Robby, Caylen, and I took Furbs on Monday to Hollywood to see the sights.  What I didn't count on was that Furby became one of the sights on Hollywood Blvd.  He had a grand time getting his picture taken with Mickie Mouse, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and on the Star of  The Muppets.  He laughed and danced down Hollywood Blvd.

However, each time we would stop and take a picture of Furbs, I would also video him with my camera.  We drew a crowd every time.  Why?  Elifino!  But people on streets were so intrigued by Furbs.  They would stand and watch us film Furbs.  I really can't say I blame them as I love him too.  And, when Furbs joined two local street musicians as they played on "Bucket" drums, the crowd grew as Furbs talked and danced away.  The  huge crowd formed in excitement over Furbs with the street musicians.  Many wanted their pictures taken, not with the street musicians, but with Furbs.  Wow!





When I took him up the stairs to get his picture in front of the Hollywood sign, more chaos and attention.  He got his picture with a group of strangers as he hopped into the picture. (Picture next week, I can't upload from this computer.)

FURBS LOVES HOLLYWOOD.  In fact, he has now been officially on three film sets, all in one week. The first film set was for IRONMAN III.  I'm not joking.  While we were making our way down Hollywood Blvd in front of the Graumans Chinese Theatre, they were filming a Christmas scene for IRONMAN III.  Of course we stopped and had to get pictures of Furby in front of this set.  Then, all of a sudden, we see the Christmas trees.  We rested Furbs on the security gate rail to take his picture and the guard accidentally knocked him off.  He felt so bad.  So, Robby, as bold and brave as she is, said, "You can make it up to Furbs by placing him on the set, in the Christmas tree, and letting us take his picture."  We assured him, no one would notice, especially the Script Supervisor.  Guess what?  He went for it.  Furbs made it on set. He's now got his first cameo. GO FURBS!



Next up, was the Jimmy Kimmel Show.  They were filming outside of his stage interviewing people.  Oh, yea!  You got that right.  Furbs made it on the set.



The next set was for the A.D.A.M. trailer.  Jamie took him with us to film on location, and while filming he started talking.  It was a perfect take, and we kept him in.  Then, I had to have Robby call Hasbro because if I use that footage, I have to have clearance.  To our amazement, Hasbro didn't say, "NO!"  In fact, they were intrigued.  We have to send them the script, the treatment, and our EPK package.  But, they love the idea of Furby in a film. Really?  I was in shock, but as Robby always says, "The answer is no until you ask." She asked, and now Furbs is going to be a star.  I count on it.



The last film set he made it on was the filming of the short film DEMENTED HALF:  RE-AWAKENING.  He didn't make it in the film, but he was on set for the filming.

Needless to say, Furbs has had a grand time in Hollywood.  When I leave Saturday, back to my home in New Orleans, it's going to be a battle between Jamie and I who gets custody.  Stayed tuned.

MORE PICTURES TO COME WHEN I HAVE MORE OWN COMPUTER.  I AM IN LOS ANGELES AND I CAN'T DOWNLOAD WHAT I NEED.  STAY TUNED.

FINANCIAL CORE 101

What is Financial Core?


Financial Core (fi-core) is a right granted by the U.S. Supreme Court and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rulings that allow workers in all unions (not just actors) to NOT join a union and still work union jobs. Basically, you become a dues paying non-member in the eyes of your union and you are entitled to work both union and non-union jobs. You cannot be forced to join a union, but you must pay your fair share in the form of initiation fees and union dues. 

The History of Fi-core


As states industrialized and made their own laws about whether they were to be a union state or a right-to-work state, union states supported legislation like the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which required workers to join a labor union in order to continue work under a union contract.  Right-to-work states allowed unions to exist in their jurisdictions, but workers could not be required to pay anything to the union as a condition of employment and union membership is completely voluntary.  Today there are 22 right-to-work states, including entertainment heavy Florida, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, Georgia, and Texas.  California and New York are both union states.

A problem arose within the union states in the late 1950s. Unions had quickly become a very strong political force in this country.  What about the members who did not want their forced dues money to be spent on political causes?  They had to join the union in order to work but that membership was essentially stepping on their constitutional freedom to vote.  The answer was Financial Core, a concept defined by a 1963 Supreme Court ruling called NLRB v. GENERAL MOTORS. 


This ruling says:


The burdens of membership upon which employment may be conditioned are expressly limited to the payment of initiation fees and monthly dues. It is permissible to condition employment upon membership, but membership, insofar as it has significance to employment rights, may in turn be conditioned only upon payment of fees and dues. Membership as a condition of employment is whittled down to its financial core.


In other words, the union can make you pay for the costs of union business, but they cannot force you to pay for political or ideological activities. 


Another landmark Supreme Court case, COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS OF AMERICA v. BECK (commonly called the Beck Decision, or Beck Rights), further solidified the definition of fi-core and said that workers who declare financial core status only have to pay the fraction of the dues that is directly related to contract negotiation, enforcement, etc.  In the Beck Decision, the court ruled that only 21% 
of Mr. Beck's union dues were related to contract negotiation, so that is all he had to pay. SAG contends that approximately 98% of dues money is directly related to collective bargaining, contract negotiation, etc.. 

SAG and AFTRA themselves have a few court rulings to their credit:  In BUCKLEY v. AFTRA, 419 U.S. 1093 (1974) where AFTRA violated the NRLA by coercing Buckley into becoming a full-fledged member, and the Supreme Court ruling of MARQUEZ v. SCREEN ACTORS GUILD, et al (1998) where the union was chastised for denying Ms. Marquez work because she had not paid SAG dues, but also for not informing her of her right to fi-core status.

These cases may bring to mind similar familiar stories in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and other right-to-work states where talent were coerced or misinformed that they had to join the union in order to work on union projects.   


On February 17, 2001, President George W. Bush signed an executive order that unions are obliged to inform all prospective members of their financial core rights or Beck rights before they join the union. 


How Financial Core Applies to SAG, AFTRA or AEA


Financial Core is made possible through a Supreme Court decision which would forbid SAG, AFTRA or AEA from taking disciplinary action against any member who works on a non-union project.  You want to act and the opportunities for union employment are slim.  This is a legal way for you to work on both union and non-union projects without any hassles from the unions. But, if you don't express your rights with the law, it won't happen.  Always remember, the squeaky wheel always gets the grease,"  This is how you can continue to work in your chosen craft regularly and not have to turn down job opportunities that you may desperately want if you are SAG.  CALL SAG AND ASK THIS QUESITON FOR YOURSELF AND SEE WHAT THEY SAY.  


In a global economy where there are fewer and fewer union projects each year, financial core may be an option for you.   Again, don't just take my word as I'm am not an attorney.  I have simply been in this business for a very long time.  Do your research.   It is always best to contact your entertainment attorney on all matters where a problem exists.  However, if SAG/AFTRA has not informed you of your rights, UMMMMMM......Just check it out.

How to go Financial Core with SAG


If you decide that you want to go financial core with SAG, it is my understanding that all you simply have to do is this: 


Send a certified letter to the SAG legal department, stating your wish to "enable your financial core status." 


Los Angeles address:  


5757 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, Ca. 90036 

Miami address:  7300 N Kendall Dr, Suite 620, Miami, FL 33156


If you are currently a union member and live in a union state or a right-to-work state, e.g.; Louisiana, you must first resign your union 
membership and then declare your financial core rights.  

If you are currently a union member, live and work in a right-to-work state, and have no aspirations of working in a union state, then honorary withdrawal may be what is right for you.

If you are not yet a union member, and you live in a union state, you would wait until you were a must-join and then claim your rights, rather than join.  You do this via certified letter to the union, return receipt requested. You are never considered a must-join in a right-to-work state.  


A sample letter might include the following language:


Dear Executive Director of Screen Actors Guild: 
Since I object to that portion of my compulsory union dues which does not finance the contract process, I hereby resign full constitutional membership in the Screen Actors Guild and (declare myself a financial core status worker) or (declare and enable my financial core status) in all jurisdictions of your contracts with employers.  I make this declaration within the meaning of financial core worker as defined in the series of US Supreme Court decisions culminating in CWA v. BECK. 

Please recalculate my financial core dues amount owed within the existing Screen Actors Guild policy and NLRB guidelines. 

Signed, 

Name, Address, Union I.D. or SS#


The union should then send you a bill for the reduced dues.  SAG generally sends a bill marked "non-member".  You must pay the dues.  Again, this is not a Honorary Withdrawal.  Another tip might be to carry your bill with you as proof that you have, in fact paid your dues, in case producers or casting directors get confused by the terminology as not everyone does the amount of research and investigation that I do.  In fact, Robby and I spent most of the day today at the SAG/FRANCHISE OFFICE, which is located across the street from our NEW OFFICE.  Trust me when I say Robby and I went in full of written questions and needed the answers in which we asked.  We were blunt, asked the right questions and we did get answers directly from the SAG OFFICE.


SAG will probably try to talk you out of it, but don't let that stop you.  You will still have to pay SAG dues, you will still get all your health and welfare benefits, in essence, you are still like anyone else in the union. That is what I was told.  But, again, who knows, you maybe told something different.  So always ask and investigate.


The reality is that you will still be categorized as a member on a traditional SAG Station 12 Confirmation so the only people who will know that you are Fi-core is you, your agent and who ever else you decide to inform.  What you won't be able to do is run for SAG office, vote in any SAG elections, or participate in some SAG-related functions.  

It's Your Decision


You have a tough, personal decision to make no matter where you live and work as an actor.  In the end, you must do whatever you think is best for your career.  Do you want to vote for the next SAG president or increase your opportunities to work?  There are an increasing number of non-union projects each year and a steadily decreasing number of union projects.  Non-union projects often don't pay anywhere near the SAG rates, but some pay quite well.  The financial payoff may not be as big, but you can still take those SAG gigs when they come along.  You may not book any more than you do now but you'll have access to more employment opportunities.  Ultimately, you're not giving up much.  You're just enhancing the opportunity for potential employment.  Many SAG actors have done it, many more Los Angeles and New York SAG actors are in the process of doing it, Charlton Heston, of all people, endorsed it, and it's your legal right to enact it. 


In the end, CHECK THE FACTS, DO YOUR RESEARCH, AND BE IN THE KNOW!  I'll never give up on educating.  It was my first love and still remains with me today.  I'll never tell you what to do because I feel in the freedom of choice.  I may not like what you say, what you believe, but I will always defend your right to believe this way, and what you say about it, even if it is different from my own.

(Compiled from various sources.)

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