Hockey, Halt and Catch Fire, and the ACTRA Council Election

Nappoholics Anonymous is a weekly column featuring twelve random thoughts by actor Tony Nappo. Some are funny, some are poignant, some bother him, and some make him weep from sadness while others make him weep for joy. Here are his thoughts: unfiltered, uncensored, and only occasionally unsafe for work.

1. Top 5 Least Favourite Holiday Movies as Voted by Turkeys

5- Dead for the Holidays

4- All The Right Stuffing

3- Rosemary’s Gravy

2- The Last Wing of Scotland

1- Guess Who’s Coming to Be Dinner?

2. My message to Anthony LaPaglia after episode 2 of Bad Blood. Some actors take criticism way better than others.

3. From the first draft of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran-

On Scarves: When “straight” dudes wear scarves (not the winter kind), they are almost always unbearably pretentious. Oh, sure, there are exceptions like Isaac the tailor, but the guy is probably bi anyway so it doesn’t count. Anyway, so, yeah, there are some exceptions but it’s really effing rare, man. Really rare.

4. Started watching the brilliant show Halt and Catch Fire on Netflix. Is it me or does the actor Lee Pace kinda look like Peter Outerbridge fucked Nicolas Cage and they had a baby? Or maybe it’s more Edward Norton fucked Tobey Maguire. Either way, it’s a fantastic show. I highly recommend it.

5. With the Leafs kicking ass and the sun shining every day, I have to admit I am very grateful for the omnipresent road construction happening in our fair city. Torontonians really need one solid reliable thing to complain about daily or we’re completely fucking lost.

6. So far the leading contender is You Can’t Sue Us If He Doesn’t Work Here Films.

7.

8. I have no doubt in my mind that if hockey sticks had caused the death of twenty children in an elementary school playground, there would be very little hesitation in Canada before banning and destroying every hockey stick in the country.

9. Someone else’s joke of the week, courtesy of my cousin, Tom Nappo (owner of Gananoque’s Nappo’s Sports Bar and Pub)

10. I was sure my TUG LIFE clothing line for compulsive masturbators was gonna do a lot more business than it did.

A rare miss.

11. One of the benefits of spending time with Kate and a puppy is that every time I get in trouble for something, I can always confidently defend myself by saying, “At least I didn’t shit on the floor.”

12. I’ve said this before but I’ll repeat it here as there is an ACTRA council election approaching: I don’t see how a union’s reason to exist is to create more jobs. A union exists to make sure that when you do get a job, you get paid a fair rate and your workplace conditions are safe. And a union isn’t there to “compete” with non-union. Because the way they do that is by finding as many different ways to pay actors less money, that’s how; by negotiating for the producers and not the members. The reason I mention this is that many people running for council keep mentioning these bullet points as if they were positives. And, to be honest, it’s a refrain I have been hearing for some time and it doesn’t benefit the actors in this union at all. It seems that ACTRA just wants ALL PRODUCTIONS to be union productions. Why is that? They are union projects in name only. A “union project” doesn’t mean what it once did. The term has been watered down so much, in fact, that it doesn’t really have any meaning at all except that every performer involved is paying their dues to ACTRA.

When I was starting out in this industry, when you went to work, the least you could be paid was scale. Scale was a dollar amount that had been fought for and earned by union members, over the years and at the time. But now ACTRA has signed off on programs such as TIP, whereby a union actor is going to work for about a quarter of that scale dollar amount. What kind of union signs off on that? Can you imagine Canadian auto workers saying suddenly, “You know what? That minimum rate we fought for and negotiated for years? Fuck it. We just really enjoy making cars and honestly would be happy to do it, basically, for free.” Any union member who works on one of these films is being paid non-union rates. That’s not creating more work, that’s creating a need to work four times as much to make what you should have made on one job.

On top of that, the prepayment buyout that was implemented maybe fifteen years ago or so was introduced as an alternative to paying ACTRA members residuals on film and TV projects. It attracted a lot of work and we made good money, at the time. But the buyouts were initially 105 percent across the board (as I recall) and 135 percent on the larger budget features. Over time, ACTRA has allowed those buyouts to slip to 75 percent and then 50 and then 25. There have even been cases where there wasn’t a buyout but a conditional possibility of residual payments that, of course, never came. Additionally, the buyout period was set at four years—meaning you see no money on any sale of a given project made in the first four years. Well, most sales these days are made before a project goes to camera. After four years, what sales are you getting residuals on? Crumbs. That’s what we are getting. When is that four-year time period going to be decreased to reflect the realities of the present day industry? I’d like to see it cut down to two years, at least, as just a first step. The producers won’t be losing much, relatively speaking. And we would start collecting our crumbs a little earlier than we do. That would at least resemble progress. And when do we cut out the bullshit buyout percentages altogether? If you can’t afford 105 percent, then you aren’t actually buying me out, you’re just giving me a fucking tip.

Why not combine the two shit components of the buyout and try to make it a better deal for the actors. A 100 percent buyout buys an actor out for four years. 75 percent buys one out for three, 50 percent buys one out for two, and 25 percent buys out for one.

The industry in Toronto has never been busier, in my recollection. This is the time to push for changes. Now. And this upcoming council should be the people pushing for it. What happens if the industry dries up again, as it inevitably will at some point due to tax credits or someone else’s incentive programs or the Canadian dollar value or disease or war or natural disasters or any of the thousand things that we can’t control. We’ll be stuck with these shitty deals AND no work. And what will the producers do then? Crush us like fucking ants. Desperation is not a good place to negotiate from. Let the non-union work at non-union rates be non-union. Let them make shit films with shit actors. That USED to be the motivation to make a union film—better actors. A producer had more motivation to raise money to pay actors at least union scale with a respectable buyout so that they could make a better film. But if they can get us for nothing, why the fuck would they bother?

All this to say, if you are looking to create work opportunities for me or try to win back non-union work, you’re not gonna get my vote. And I encourage as many union members as possible to read up on the folks that are running and seek out the candidates who are planning on passionately fighting for some significant changes and to try to roll back, if not undo, a few of these monumentally shit deals that will definitely not benefit us all in the long term.

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Written By

Tony is Italian, he’s from Scarborough, he’s an actor, he’s a father, he’s a really good house painter, and he doesn’t believe that most things matter, ultimately, at all.


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