Monday, December 29, 2014

The Films Up for SAG-AFTRA Awards This Year

One of the wonderful benefits of being a union member of SAG-AFTRA is that I get to watch the most wonderful films each year. They either make them available to me via a super-fast download or I get actual DVDs if I can't or don't wish to go to a screening at a theatre. Any way you slice it, this is dessert of the most wonderful type. I love films and I'd watch four a day if I could. Yes, I love them that much and I used to rent 4-5 videos a weekend at one time. The personal movie marathon I enjoyed was nothing less than creative gluttony on my part. I just ate it all up and wanted more, especially when the films were really good ones.

I guess I have an off-the-cuff remark for this current bit of largesse that comes my way each year around December. I remember standing in the production section of a TV show waiting to go on when one of the associate producers asked if I had joined "the union." Union? I didn't know anything about a union and no one had ever mentioned it to me before even though I'd already been on five segments or so of this current show.

"Oh, if you join the union," the young woman casually said, "they'll have to pay you." Pay me? I could get paid for going on this show? It was worth exploring and was just another example of my "Just a Crumb" theory. Don't know about my theory?

I will go to any seminar or brainstorming meeting with the thought that, if I come away with just a crumb, I've got it made. I never expect more than that crumb and it never fails me. Spend two hours or a day in meetings and look for those crumbs. Then scoup them or it up and go away smiling because you've just been given gold, if you know how to use it. And use them I have. Got my first professional journal article out of one of those crumbs and that worked into my first national TV appearance and it was off to the races on TV.

I asked a few questions, got a scant bit of information and with that I called the union offices, applied, made my payment and I was in. And, yes, they began paying me whatever fee, within reason, I asked. I got more than scale because I fell into that rather pecular category of a novelty act. Not a dog-and-pony act, but not an actor, on-air announcer or performer of any type they had ever listed, either. I was a novelty, a true blue psychologist who knew how to use sound bites to full advantage. Yes, sound bites, for what it's worth, always come easily to me and the media loves that. I never suffer from that bete noire, dead air. I can talk when it's needed and they love that, too.

Of course, even union members don't always get paid because when you are on a "news" show there's no pay. So, dear readers, everyone you see on TV isn't raking in the dough the way you believe, unless they are listed as a "consultant" to the particular network. These folks are usually retired military or retired government employees.

Now, instead of talking, I am going to do some serious watching. What am I looking forward to? Of course, "Gone Girl" and "The Imitation Game" and "The Theory of Everything" and, yes, a big of course to "Birdman." I heard a guy we haven't seen much of for too long, Michael Keaton, is back. I really hope I like that one a lot because Keaton has been in several of my favorite films. Let me count the ways: Beetlejuice, Batman, Multiplicity, and Pacific Heights. The last one reminds me of "One Hour Photo" that Robin Williams did. Complete change of pace for both.

I want to see "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and "Mr. Turner." Too bad "Ida" was a 2013 film and not in this year's crop.

Another DVD just flew into the mail chute as I was sitting here working on this Mac. It's "The Judge" and I'm going to try to keep an open mind on this one. Yes, Robert Duvall is a very talented actor (no dialog in "To Kill a Mockingbird" was there?) and so is Robert Downey, Jr. We'll see how it goes.

Will "Boyhood" be another "Stand By Me" or touch on some of the maturational nuances of "Summer of '42?" I don't know. The Weinsteins have a way of promoting films to make them winners, even if they don't send out DVDs--and why don't they? Ok, Harvey, why no DVDs?

Who knows. Twelve years to shoot a film so the kid can actually grow up on screen? A bit too long to wait to finish a film. Sounds so Quenton Tarantino to me. Isn't that what he's doing with the next installment of "Kill Bill?"

I won't be sitting in those fuzzy theatre seats for this round of films, but it will still be one of those surreal experiences, hopefully, of transporting me into a different place and time--and all of it will be screen magic. I am hopeful that the magicians won't disappoint.

Wait just a moment. I need ice cream right about now. Ok, ice cream break is over. Bring on the flicks. No, no, not the flacks because we've seen far too much of them lately scurrying around to get yet more media coverage for people who do nothing but posture in awkward poses and try to look like they're delighted to do so. That is, of course, unless you're Kanye West, then you always scowl.