IntroductionI've developed this page with the intention that others - performers, advertising producers and agencies as well as advertisers themselves - benefit from our experience. Cape Town is a location used by the global film industry, which in turn plays an important role in the development of our local economy. As soon as I published this page I informed the CEO of Saatchi in Germany (I also contacted a few Saatchi people in New York). Although I haven't yet received a response from them, I have received a surprisingly aggressive lawyers letter initiated by the film producer. There are a few documents linked at the bottom of this page, and please email me if you want any more detail, I'll be glad to share anything on this story. Whilst I have been told that the way we have been treated is common, I have only had one experience and this is our story. My daughter was two years and two months old when she was identified by her playgroup teacher as a child that may have what was required to appear on TV. The playgroup teacher was approached by someone hired by a TV production company to assist with this casting process.
After two auditions my wife was told that my daughter was selected as a potential candidate for the role. She was verbally instructed to appear the next day for the first day of filming and a per day fee was mentioned. It was also mentioned that the advertising agency was Saatchi and Saatchi, the ad campaign was for the Procter and Gamble - Pampers brand - Easy Ups product and - if successful - the work would include performing for film cameras and still cameras for what may take three or more days.
I am now aware that my daughter was identified as a potential performer through what is called in the industry as 'street casting'. Using this method of identifying performers the producer gets to bypass the fees traditionally added to the costs of production by a casting agent. At the time I had no idea of what should be done to protect my daughters rights as a performer. Due to the prominent names of the manufacturer, product and advertising agency we expected a level of professionalism and did not pursue the matter.
Subsequent to being informed that my daughter was the chosen performer - and within a week we were informed that she would appear on TV across Scandinavia within the following week - I realised that a contract should be in place. Since there was no contract in place we immediately began to empower ourselves with knowledge of how to protect our rights. Here are some of the lessons we've learned..
LessonsWithout going into too much detail the following are some of the issues that I have identified regarding the protection of performers rights:
Lesson: View the contract with caution, it's there to protect BOTH parties and to make expectations clear. Make yourself aware of what standard contracts contain. Besides the important financial issues also be aware of your rights to obtain information regarding any usage that may or may not be made of you. Since you have no control over access to information (details of usage and hi-resolution copies of product), make sure the onus is on those that do have access to the information to provide it to you. The producer is usually disconnected from the client so make sure the practitioner is the client or the agency, the producer is usually seen as the 'facilitator'.
Lesson: In our experience we did not have or use an agent. I suspect that an agent would know all these lessons so if you are using one, quiz them on this. Be careful when contracting with your agent as they may not apply this level of rigour in dealing with the 'practitioner'.
None of this information - which we felt is pertinent to performers and well within their rights - was forthcoming. After the due dates had passed we communicated that the agency was in breach of contract. This was met with little reaction and some efforts were made to appease us. Only after repeated efforts, the only successful communications were achieved when the facilitators (and agency executives) were disintermediated. We still have not received the times and dates of when my daughters ad was used. We have learned that this information is available at no additional cost to most agencies (of substance) via their subscriptions to media monitoring services (e.g. Telmar). We are still following this up.
Lesson: Be proactive and insist on protecting your rights. Unless you waived these rights in the contracting stage, international law allows you the right to know (exactly) when and how you have been used in any media. I believe that many performers feel this may have a negative impact on future career opportunities, I am personally convinced that all professionals will respect you more for standing up for your rights.
Lesson: You have the right to access information and even if you are not used, I believe that still allows you to receive some copies of any original materials made with your contribution. It is important to keep this in mind before you start (i.e. don't waive these rights in your contract) and all the lessons mentioned above still apply.
In South Africa the National Association of Model
Agencies (NAMA) is established to assist in the development of
performers rights. They have a standard contract as well as terms and
conditions as well as a standard rate for all licensed usage of
For more information you may want to try to contact Paula, 021 433 0300 or namaoffice at iafrica.com (unfortunately she never replied to any of my emails, even after she confirmed telephonically that she would)
Please do not have any expectations that these people or organisations are looking after your interests. You must be prepared.
Last update and final outcome updated 20 January 2005
A couple days ago (18 Jan 2005) I heard from the facilitator; "it is my pleasure to hereby inform you that the client has purchased the buyout Option D for In-store - Scandinavia for 1 year at 75% as per contract. The commercial will be shown in Denmark in a chain of stores as from 24.01.2005 until 31.03.2005."It so happened that a Mozambiquan colleague - who lives in Sweden - was in the room with me when I received this. I showed him a copy of the TV ad and he confirmed that most Swedish TV watchers (and he didn't consider himself as one) are very familiar with the ad. Furthermore, he viewed the ad on TV in Sweden in December (last month). This new info is directly conflicting with the statement received from the facilitators lawyer sent on Aug 27 2004 stating;
"We further wish to confirm that the television commercial in question has now been discontinued and the geography of the said usage, together with the type of media utilised and the period of flighting were specifically conveyed to you by representatives of our client"As an outcome of this web site, I've received a few of emails of support from other performers (thanks Derra St. Denis, please email me if you are another), it appears that all the film producers think that performers want too much. Appears that they only think of more money. When it's NOT a case of money, they don't know what to say. I'm aware that my daughter got paid a standard rate and we never excercised any pressure on monetary issues. We just wanted what was standard and to get the information pertaining to her usage. At no point have we been given any information. We had to discover everything on our own. Now that I have discovered, I am pleased to hear that my daughters face is known across Scandinavia, and I know that it's our right to know how many times her ad has been flighted. Can anyone explain to me why Saatchi and Saatchi can't have the decency to log into their media monitoring service, get the figures and send them onto us (as per what they have contracted to do)? Why does the National Association of Model Agencies (NAMA) not respond to numerous requests? If this is how film producers (and the representative of performer agencies) operate, how can we expect to grow the industry in Cape Town?
During my experience I did many Internet searches for others experiences in this regard. Since I hardly found any advice on how to protect our rights, I have decided to publish this information and escalate the issues as far as possible. I do hope that this is useful for you and honestly hope that it can assist to ensure more responsible service providers and assist to further the development of the Cape Town film industry (some names have been removed to protect privacy).
Unfortunately we were not succesful in getting the information that we wanted and as an outcome we've decided not to perform commercially any more. Good luck to you all and I do hope this website helps.
Sample Contracts and NAMAs standard terms and conditions
"Saatchi and Saatchi", "Procter and Gamble", "Pampers" and "Easy Ups" are registered trademarks of their respective owners. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Previous version of this page, Oct 2005, and Nov 2005. Please send any feedback or comments to