Saturday, July 21, 2012

What Residuals Are Not

People are funny. Over and over I get asked the same question about the current TV and print campaign I'm in: "So do you get paid every time that runs?"

The other day I answered, "Yes, every time someone opens a magazine with my face in it, I get a dollar!"

First off, this was not a union job. But even under a union contract, it's not like there's a little meter running somewhere and every time a commercial runs it goes "ding" and another 30 cents goes into my bank account.

What happens is the advertisers figure out ahead of time when and where they want to run the spot and every quarter they send you a check for what that's worth. There's a complex set of formulas governing the different types of usage -- network, cable, local, primetime, etc., etc.

And they do essentially the same thing with a non-union contract. Only they pay a flat fee called a "buyout." They get to run it for 13 weeks or a year or two years or however long the contract extends.

Now this can be harmful to the actor's interests if the fee that's been negotiated is really, really low and the commercial runs ALL the time. (Think mattress and carpet ads.) But a good agent will do the math, figure out what the value is of a particular ad's run (where and when and for how long) and will negotiate the buyout accordingly.

So yes, in one sense I get paid every time the ad runs. Because the fee was based on the projected usage. And I got a pretty nice fee for both the TV and print elements of the campaign.

So do not worry. And, on the other hand, do not envy. All is fine.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Stuff that happens in 3s

Out of town on business. A group of us fly out to Dulles, arriving at 7 pm with a 2-hour drive through the Virginia countryside to our hotel. The following happens:

  1. GPS gets the address of our hotel wrong and instead of arriving at the Marriott, we end up at a dead ringer for the Bates Motel 15 miles away. Not fun when you're going on 10 pm with an O'Dark-thirty wakeup.
  2. Heading out to the client bright and early and ... the car doesn't start. Dead battery. The three of us break into action. One calls for cab, the other checks on a substitute rental with a different agency and I call our agency to have the car towed away and shot. We're only 10 minutes late.
  3. I have a previously scheduled webinar to do for 250 or so alumni of the University of Chicago. So I break away from our all-day meeting to a conference room to get set up an hour beforehand. Can't get on wireless with my Mac for some reason. But I have a backup plan: a stick drive with my presentation in formats for both Mac and PC. I borrow a company PC and ... corporate firewall prevents download of necessary software. Now it is less than 5 minutes from showtime. I PDF the presentation and email it to the moderator, then I get on the phone and have her advance the slides, with me following along separately on my iPad not knowing if she's getting it right while trying to find different, inventive ways to say "next" 80+ times. All in all, it seemed to go pretty well.
It's been a helluva 24 hours. Alarm is set for 5. Which is 4 Chicago time.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Badlands, Goodlands


There's an oil boom going on in North Dakota and we got to witness it firsthand on a five-day, 2000-mile trek to my 47th state.

Unemployment is practically zero, and workers are pouring in from all over the country and the world. Our waitress one night was from Salt Lake City. She misses it and doesn't much like her new home, but it's where the jobs are.

The landscape is dotted with trailer park "man camps" to hold all the workers from the oil and associated industries. Row after row of cheap housing is being thrown up as fast as they can build it.

In one tiny western town, the nicest, newest hotel there is, La Quinta, charges $175 a night -- if you're lucky enough to find a room there. It's mostly leased long-term to workers, who are given plastic booties at the entrance to protect the new carpet from their mud-covered boots.

They're totally reconstructing a long stretch of Interstate, not because it's in bad shape but because the state coffers are flush with cash right now.

All of this because of fracking, which, depending on what you read, is either a miracle technology promising to secure domestic energy independence or an environmental catastrophe that threatens to irrevocably despoil the land and water.

For now, at least, there are still places untouched by all this activity. The Badlands in Theodore Roosevelt National Monument being one of them. It's beautiful country -- one of the few places you can see horses in the wild.

So glad we got to see it while it's still there.