A Guide to Hollywood Unions

In Hollywood, making movies is big business. And where there is big business, the workers unite to form unions. The following list is a sampling of the unions that every large production in Los Angeles will work with in the process of making a film.

This is a partial list of the union organizations involved with collective bargaining for the Hollywood studio system. We have linked union official pages where you will find more information about membership requirements, issues they support, and information about how to join.

These unions can be broken down into two groups: Above the Line (individuals involved with creative side: actors, producers, directors) and Below the Line (individuals who perform the physical production of a given film including editing)

Above the Line


SAG-AFTRA represents more than 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcasters journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals. SAG-AFTRA members are the faces and voices that entertain and inform America and the world. With national offices in Los Angeles and New York, and local offices nationwide, SAG-AFTRA members work together to secure the strongest protections for media artists into the 21st century and beyond.


Writers Guild of America, West

We are the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW), a labor union composed of the thousands of writers who write the content for television shows, movies, news programs, documentaries, animation, and Internet and mobile phones (new media) that keep audiences constantly entertained and informed.


Directors Guild of America

The Directors Guild of America is an entertainment guild that represents the creative and economic rights of directors and members of the directorial team working in film, television, commercials, documentaries, news, sports and new media.


Association of Talent Agents

The Association of Talent Agents (ATA), is not a talent agency. ATA is a non-profit trade association representing the finest talent agencies in the industry. Founded in 1937, ATA is the voice of unified talent and literary agencies. ATA agencies represent the vast majority of working artists, including actors, directors, writers, and other artists in film, stage, television, radio, commercial, literary work, and other entertainment enterprises.


Producers Guild of America

The Producers Guild of America is the non-profit trade group that represents, protects and promotes the interests of all members of the producing team in film, television and new media. The PGA has over 5,000 members who work together to protect and improve their careers, the industry and community by facilitating members health benefits, encouraging enforcement of workplace labor laws, the creation of fair and impartial standards for the awarding of producing credits, as well as other education and advocacy efforts.


Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers

Since 1982, The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) has been the trade association responsible for negotiating virtually all the industry-wide guild and union contracts, including the American Federation of Musicians (AFM); American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA); Directors Guild of America (DGA); International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE); International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); Laborers Local 724; Screen Actors Guild (SAG); Teamsters Local 399; and Writers Guild of America (WGA).

The AMPTP, the entertainment industry’s official collective bargaining representative, negotiates 80 industry-wide collective bargaining agreements on behalf of over 350 motion picture and television producers (member companies include the production entities of the studios, broadcast networks, certain cable networks and independent producers).


American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a membership association of more than 435,000 U.S. composers, songwriters, lyricists, and music publishers of every kind of music. Through agreements with affiliated international societies, ASCAP also represents hundreds of thousands of music creators worldwide. ASCAP is the only U.S. performing rights organization created and controlled by composers, songwriters and music publishers, with a Board of Directors elected by and from the membership.

ASCAP protects the rights of its members by licensing and distributing royalties for the non-dramatic public performances of their copyrighted works. ASCAP’s licensees encompass all who want to perform copyrighted music publicly. ASCAP makes giving and obtaining permission to perform music simple for both creators and users of music.


Below the Line


The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada was founded in 1893 when representatives of stagehands working in eleven cities met in New York and pledged to support each others’ efforts to establish fair wages and working conditions for their members. Our union has evolved over the succeeding 119 years to embrace the development of new entertainment mediums, craft expansion, technological innovation and geographic growth.

I.A.T.S.E. local organizations cover many production crafts people from Art Directors, Costume Designers, Make-Up Artists and Hairstylists, Studio Lighting Technicians, Set Painters, Script Supervisors.

Here’s a longer list of I.A.T.S.E. Local Organizations.

International Cinematographers Guild

An I.A.T.S.E. organization, The International Cinematographers Guild represents the most talented camera professionals and publicists in the world. The technicians and artisans in our union are the creators of the visual images on the big screen, the television screen and our computer screen.


Teamsters Union 399

This Union represents workers in the motion picture industry, including firms that produce feature films, television programs, commercials, and live theatrical productions. Since the inception of the Union in the early 1930s, we have enjoyed a longstanding tradition of providing quality service to the motion picture and theatrical trade industry.


Motion Picture Editors Guild

The Motion Picture Editors Guild (MPEG) is a national labor organization currently representing over 7,200 freelance and staff post-production professionals. Ours is the world’s premiere craft guild that sets the standards for excellence in the post-production industry. The requirements to become a member of the Guild and placed on our Industry Experience Roster ensures the highest level of professionalism.


Animation Guild

The Animation Guild is Local 839 of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE). We are a labor organization that represents animation and visual effects artists. We do for our members what every labor organization does: negotiate wage minimums and working conditions, provide pension and health benefits (specifically through the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plan) and act as an advocate for our members over disputes between employees and employers. Our goal is to provide a seamless cloak of benefits and the strength of a collective voice to our members across the animation industry. Our offices (see image below) are located at 1105 N. Hollywood Way in Burbank, California.


Motion Picture Sound Editors

The MPSE is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide a wealth of knowledge from award winning professionals to a diverse group of individuals, youth and career professionals alike; mentoring and educating the community about the artistic merit and technical advancements in sound and music editing; providing scholarships and mentorship for the continuing advancement of motion picture sound in education; and helping to enhance the personal and professional lives of the men and women who practice this unique craft.


Watch “Cannibal: The Musical” – Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s first Musical

Before “South Park” and “Book of Mormon”, Trey Parker and Matt Stone made a musical for Troma about people eating Colorado explorers in 1993.


From Troma:

“Cannibal” is the true story of the only person convicted of cannibalism in America — Alferd Packer. The sole survivor of an ill-fated trip to the Colorado Territory, he tells his side of the harrowing tale to news reporter Polly Prye as he awaits his execution. And his story goes like this: While searching for gold and love in the Colorado Territory, he and his companions lost their way and resorted to unthinkable horrors, including toe-tapping songs! Packer and his five wacky mining buddies sing and dance their ways into your heart…and then take a bite out of it! Cannibal! The Musical is Oklahoma meets Bloodsucking Freaks. Brought to you by the Troma Team and Trey Parker — the Rogers and Hammerstein of Horror!

Full Length Movie (Troma Promo at beginning)

Vincent LaForet: Black Magic Cinema Camera is Beautiful & Befuddling

The man credited for ushering in the DSLR revolution offers a detailed and reasoned review of the Black Magic Design Cinema Camera.

The key for me, is finding a tool that is ready to use now, one that I can use “as is” and that requires the least amount of tinkering and accessorizing before it can be put to use on a project. This likely has to do in part with the endless tinkering I had to do with the Canon 5D MKII as I worked with a multitude of companies over the past 4 years to make HDSRLs production-worthy with a multitude of (unfortunately) necessary accessories.

Many of us love to innovate, to push the boundaries, and to discover new solutions to make a tool excel beyond its initial potential. Yet, truth be told, most of us would benefit from focusing more on how best to tell our stories, or on making the story stronger – that tends to pay off more richly in the long run that spending time on accessorizing our uber camera.

To that point, I’m not sure that the Black Magic Cinema Camera will fit the bill “out of the box” for a lot of users out there looking for a production ready camera. The lack of certain key features and some of the choices Black Magic made – notably the size of the sensor (15.81mm x 8.8mm producing a 13 stop range 2.5K 12-bit RAW, 2432X1366 pixel CinemaDNG filesmake it difficult to put into immediate production use without a bit of accessory love.

That being said: this is exactly what I would say about most HDSLRs and even many digital cinema cameras…

Vincent Laforet | Read the Full Article

Peeling Back the Hidden Pages of History With Hyperspectral Photography

A camera that can see into the past? Without breaking the laws of space and time, historians are using hyperspectral cameras to peer into some of history’s mysteries.

For historians, paper is a cruel mistress. Though dried tree pulp has done more to advance record keeping (and consequently our understanding of history) than perhaps any other invention, its fragility and mutability are endlessly frustrating. Things written on it fade. People erase old manuscripts and write over them. Worst of all, it makes excellent kindling. The 20th century saw the discovery of priceless troves of exciting documents across the globe, but these fragile, faded ancient texts have proved notoriously difficult to work with.

Today, though, a renaissance of historical research is under way, thanks to cameras that see far more than our poor benighted eyes reveal to us. A technique known as hyperspectral imaging promises to reveal information that has remained unseen for centuries—text scraped off palimpsests that were reused by monks 1,500 years ago, words concealed under blackened pages, fingerprints that confirm a great man held a particular document when he spoke. Current work in Jerusalem, Egypt and Washington, D.C., will provide new insights into humanity’s cultural origins and settle centuries-old scholarly debates.

American Photography Magazine | Read the Full Article

Francis Ford Coppola on Sound

As early as the Apocalypse Now movie in 1979 when Francis Ford Coppola and sound designer Walter Murch pioneered a quadraphonic sound system for the film tour, Coppola has made sound and audio technology an important part of filmmaking, including building a dedicated mixing facility, American Zoetrope. In 2010, under the direction of Coppola, Zoetrope was turned into one of the first post-production facilities to install a Meyer Sound EXP cinema loudspeaker system on its rerecording stage and has since upgraded the other rooms to EXP. Tetro and Twixt are two of his movies that were mixed on an EXP system.

submited by IQ member Caleb Herring

Top 18 Strategies and Tactics To Get stuff Free or Massive Discounts

Chris Jones offers up a few pointers on dealing with the Independent filmmaker’s monetary concern.

1. Ask
Most people don’t ask for help. Don’t assume the answer will be YES or NO. Ask.

2. Ask in a different way
Pick up the phone, hand write a letter, do anything to avoid just sending an email. If you do need to send an email, make sure you include all your contact details (phone, email, website etc.). You would be amazed how few people have an email footer with their contact details. Do you? If you don’t go and fix this now. Nothing is more enraging than wanting to help but not being able to do so as the person can’t even be bothered to communicate professionally.

3. Make the offer clear and short
No-one has time to read lengthy communications, watch clips or browse your site. So keep it short and straight. When asking for help, set a little context (who you are and why you need help – and when I say a little, I mean a little, not some self aggrandising or begging opus). Then make the request and explain what you will do in return. Again, short and sweet. Thank them for their time and make it easy for them to come back to you, even if it is to say no. Because when people write back and say no, they are letting you know they care enough to respond – that door is still open for future possibilities, and now you have a relationship.

Chris Jones Blog | Read the Full Article

Make Your Own DIY Inline Dimmer Switch

John Hess demonstrates how to wire up an inline dimmer to help control the strength of your lights.

Keep in mind that most lights “warm up” when you dim them and unless a CFL says it’s dimmable, you’ll have weird results when dimming those bulbs.

As always with Electrical wiring, be extra careful and follow the instructions on your dimmer.

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