BY CHRISTYANNE SAN JUAN
Photo courtesy of Palm Springs Women in Film and Television (PSWFT).
Palm Springs Women in Film and Television (PSWIFT) and College of the Desert’s media program hosted a breakfast mixer Sept. 27 in the Cravens Multi-Purpose Room. Dozens of people involved and/or interested in film, television and new media attended the event. Speakers spoke about COD’s media program, PSWIFT and the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).
COD’s culinary students prepared a continental breakfast for the approximately 70 guests. The morning began at 7:30 a.m. with an announcement by PSWIFT member and Riverside County Film Commissioner, Bettina Breckenfeld about a new update in the Riverside County Film Commission. “Filming is alive and well in Riverside County,” Breckenfeld said. “We currently support and promote filming in all 28 cities in the county, as well as in California as a whole,” said Breckenfeld.
Breckenfeld went on to inform the guests regarding a new film incentive that will begin in June of 2020, in which the Commission will be able to maintain film productions and filmmakers based in California. The new film incentive also encourages productions to hire people living outside the Thirty-Mile Zone (TMZ), an area used by entertainment industry labor unions to determine rates, work rules, and work compensation for workers.
Prior to the commencement of the film initiative, productions were more inclined to hire those living within the TMZ so that those workers would have to provide for their own transportation, meals and other expenses. However, the implementation of the new film incentive would provide more job opportunities for film and television professionals across California, making for a more diverse filming industry in the state.
Breckenfeld subsequently praised COD’s film, media and journalism program for the work they do in preparing students for the film and media industries. She said, “training facilities like College of the Desert are vitally important to filmmaking in Riverside County and California as a whole. We need trained crew and trained personnel in the county to support the productions that come here; so that when they do get the incentive, they’re incentivized even more to come outside the Zone and work in other areas.”
COD’s instructor of media production, Laurilie Jackson provided news regarding the growth of COD’s media program including KCOD’s new home. The radio station has now evolved into a real radio station located across the street from COD, our new building is home to film, radio, television and journalism classes. Students are collaborating and working together to produce media content in a unique way.
“We’re growing and it’s really exciting,” Jackson said. “We plan on moving to Palm Springs in a few years. We’re developing new relevant curriculum, programs, certificates for students and our film classes will be offered in Palm Springs in the spring 2019 semester.” Jackson said the growth of the program’s enrollment and support from the community is proof that film and media are thriving industries and students need to be well equipped and prepared. “It;’s our job to make sure they are ready,” Jackson said.
SAG-AFTRA’s National Secretary and Treasurer, Jane Austen took the time to describe the impact of SAG-AFTRA on current workers in the film and media industries as well as those who aspire to join the field and divulged the large amount of production that is done in California due to tax incentives.
“These incentives make it so that our members have plenty of work, and SAG-AFTRA ensures that they are protected,” Austen assured. “It is protection for members and makes sure that they get the wages they are owed for their work, as well as health insurance, residuals, and pension.”
SAG-AFTRA is a labor union that secures the strongest protections for its media artists, along with working to extend and expand those protections. The union commits to organizing all work done under its jurisdictions, including negotiating fair wages, working conditions and health and pension benefits. This allows SAG-AFTRA to preserve and expand members’ work opportunities, enforce their contracts and protecting members against unauthorized use of their work.
SAG-AFTRA has approximately 160,000 members nationwide, representing talent such as actors, singers, dancers, puppeteers, broadcast news, broadcast entertainment professionals and recording artists. Becoming a member of SAG-AFTRA is considered to be a commitment to working professionally in the film and media industries. To find out more on how to become a member of SAG-AFTRA, visit their website at https://www.sagaftra.org/.