Trish and Harold's Weblog

News, information, and random thoughts from the busy lives of Trish Egan and Harold Phillips.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Starving Artist? You Don't Have To Be... And The OMPA Agrees!

Hey there kids - as I was doing some year-end tasks (pulling together mileage records, invoicing producers, seeing where the retirement accounts are - yeah, retirement accounts.  Trish and I are actors - in Portland, OR - and we have money set aside for retirement.  It really can be done, ya know...) it occurred to me that I haven't shared this article I wrote for the December issue of the Oregon Media Production Association's monthly newsletter, The Call Sheet about just this sort of thing.  See, for the past year I've been working with the OMPA's Talent Committee to put on a series of workshops that give film and TV workers resources to live a sustainable life... well, it's all right here in the article:
OMPA’s Talent Committee Takes On The Myth of the “Starving Artist”
By Harold Phillips

Most people working in our industry have been exposed, at some point, to the romantic notion of the “starving artist” – that person who lives in poverty, works three jobs to make ends meet while pursuing his or her creative endeavors on the “off-hours,” and is often hungry (but nourished by those endeavors.) 

It’s a romantic notion, to be sure, and our hat’s off to anyone who can make a life like that work for themselves and their families.  OMPA’s talent committee, however, doesn’t believe our members need to starve to work in this industry.  On the contrary – we believe that our industry is only weakened if those working in it are living “hand-to-mouth.”

Of course, we know first-hand how difficult it is to make a living in film, TV, commercials and new media here in Oregon – the variable work, the sometimes (if not often) low wages, the unpredictable schedule… we also know there are ways to take charge of one’s life and business that will not only help those working in our industry “make a living” – but LIVE a stable life.

Over the past year the Talent Committee has presented a series of seminars aimed at giving OMPA members and others in our industry the resources they need to get their business and personal lives in order.  In February, the Committee held a workshop on tax planning.  In September, we presented a panel discussion on health insurance options.  This coming January, the Talent Committee plans a panel discussion on saving, investment, and retirement.  These seminars, and others the Talent Committee has planned for 2012, are presented free of charge for OMPA members (and are open to the public for a nominal fee.)

As our members toast the end of 2011, we hope they’re also analyzing the challenges and missteps that may have occurred this past year… and that they’re laying plans to make 2012 an even stronger year.  The Talent Committee’s seminar series is there to help with those plans.  We hope you’ll join us in the coming year as we explore ways to make our industry stronger, by keeping those working in the industry from starving.

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Monday, December 05, 2011

Holiday Shopping Is Here - But Who Are YOU Buying From?
Hey everyone

I know, right?  Two blog posts in two weeks?  I haven't blogged this much all year, it seems... but hey, I've got a couple of minutes before I have to be at my next appointment, and what am I going to do... eat lunch?  Ha!!

So, my dad occasionally forwards me emails.  Yeah... he's turned into that guy.  Now, don't get me wrong - I don't get 50 emails per day with cute photos of dogs and "funny" videos and such (well, not 50...) Honestly, he's pretty selective about what he forwards around.  He's been on the receiving end of those email barrages, and he doesn't want to clog anyone's inbox with things they don't care about. 

He sent one recently that I think all of us ought to care about, though.  I didn't write it, so don't ding me for the language or spelling errors... but the sentiment is right-on-target in my book.  Oh, I may have added a couple links of my own into the text...
As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods  - merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in
a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates
from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamines on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift
certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about
a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this
isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town
Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or
motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave
your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet atyour hometown theatre.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of lights, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that
China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.

THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

Forward this to everyone on your mailing list -- post it to discussion
groups -- throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in
your city -- send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations,
and TV news departments. This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn't that what Christmas is about?
Ok, so I don't know that this is a "NEW" American tradition... in point of fact, Trish and I have always tried to buy American (and buy LOCAL) when it comes time to give a gift.  It's not easy - go into any Target, Wal-Mart, or other "Big-Box" store and you'll spend an hour searching the shelves to find an American-Made product... and make no mistake, when you do find one it'll probably be a little more expensive.  That extra money you spend buying a Cuisinart instead of a Sunbeam, however, is going to factory workers in this country - not factory workers in places like China or Taiwan.

I was glad to see that the emailer suggested supporting your local arts groups when thinking about giving LOCAL gifts.  When he forwarded this message, Dad made sure to mention that giving the gift of locally-produced films is another good idea - and you know, I couldn't agree more.  There are over twenty Oregon-Produced films in my Oregon Film and TV Market Amazon store, and several more locally-produced films available through other retail outlets. Giving your friends and family members a DVD this Christmas puts money in the pockets of people working in Oregon's film and TV industry, and allows them to produce that next feature and hire even more of your friends and neighbors for it.

One last note - You can still buy American when you shop online. has over 29,000 American-made products (many produced by small businesses around the country) that are ready to ship out anywhere in the country. 

Look, guys, it's the "season of giving." We want to make the holiday season bright for our friends and family, but we also feel a little more prone to help those who haven't been as successful or fortunate this year.  In some cases that means bringing cans of food to the food bank or dropping a couple coins in the Bell Ringer's kettle... but this year, you have the chance to keep someone employed - and maybe even create a few more jobs once the receipts are tallied.  It's certainly worth taking a couple extra minutes to think about where the product you're purchasing was made, and checking to see if there's a domestically - or locally - produced alternative.

Hope you're all doing well...


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