by Julia Pierrepont III
LOS ANGELES, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Leaders of a U.S. entertainment labor union representing media professionals on Friday called for closer cooperation between U.S. and Chinese media artists during interviews with Xinhua.
"There are so many stories to tell in the U.S. and China, and as the world increasingly focuses on China and wants to know those stories, we need to protect the artists that tell them and advance our culture," said David White, national executive director of Hollywood's Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).
"We want to do that in cooperation and collaboration with China, so our countries and people better understand each other," he added.
SAG-AFTRA just wrapped up a precedent-setting visit to China on Friday. As one of the most powerful organizations in Hollywood, it represents nearly all performers on camera and behind the microphone.
"We are honored and delighted to participate in this historic visit to China to meet with our honored counterparts in China," Gabrielle Carteris, president of SAG-AFTRA, told Xinhua after the visit.
Since 2017, the China Film Association and the U.S.-based not-for-profit International Cultural Collaborative have been co-sponsoring cross-cultural summits in Los Angeles to share perspectives and meet with their Hollywood counterparts, like SAG-AFTRA.
"It's important to connect with young filmmakers early and grow with them. So we have contracts for every budget level in the industry, from ultra-low budget all the way to big studio pictures. These contracts set the standards for the whole industry and our members are not allowed to work on films or shows that don't sign them," said Carteris.
During the visit, participants also discussed residuals, which are small extra payments given to actors and actresses when their projects are re-shown after the initial release.
"It's very little money, but it can add up and allow talented professionals to stay in the business," said Carteris.
SAG-AFTRA contends that residuals help performers to maintain a living between their roles, and help stabilize the entire industry by keeping trained and professional actors available for productions when they are needed.
The union also hosts a series of training programs designed to keep their members relevant and provide them with tools and classes they need to help them master the craft of acting, find an agent or manager, and assist them in other ways.
Pamela Greenwalt, chief communications and marketing officer for SAG-AFTRA, stressed the need to be prepared in advance for any type of crisis that might arise.
"This was an important beginning," White said. "We are looking forward to more and more of these productive exchanges in the years to come."