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Allegedly Entertainment Law Podcast SAG-AFTRA Strike Actor Mark McCullough

Why The SAG-AFTRA Strike Matters In The Digital World w/ Special Guest Mark McCullough

allegedly with Bo and Ryan | Season 2 Episode 13

Allegedly… with Bo and Ryan Podcast S2E13| Transcript

Ryan: [00:00:00] Welcome to Allegedly with Bo and Ryan, the only entertainment and law podcast that brings you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth… Allegedly.


Bo: [00:00:10] I’m Bo Bowen.


Ryan: [00:00:12] And I’m Ryan Schmidt.


Bo: [00:00:13] And you’re listening to Allegedly with Bo and Ryan. We’re coming to you from our law offices in beautiful, historic Savannah, Georgia, where we’ll be chatting about pop culture, hot legal topics in the news, and doing our best to change the way people think about the law and lawyers.


Ryan: [00:00:29] But first, a little about us. Bo is well known to be unbeatable in court. In fact, he is such a fierce competitor that he once won a staring contest with his own reflection.


Bo: [00:00:39] And little known fact about Ryan. Sharks have a week dedicated to him, and two more dedicated to his mustache.


Ryan: [00:00:48] Together, we are Savannah’s consummate renegade legal titans.


Bo: [00:00:51] And the only entertainment lawyers in the free world who have never lost a single case… Allegedly. Well, hey, there, folks. Welcome back to Allegedly with Bo and Ryan. I’m Bo.


Ryan: [00:01:04] And I’m Ryan. We’re your backstage passes to the fascinating world of entertainment law. And here to help you navigate the twists, turns, and hopefully not get sued.


Bo: [00:01:14] Well, that is the plan. And today, man, oh, man, have we got a hot topic on our hands today? In fact, Ryan, this may well be the most important and talked-about subject in the world right now. I’m talking about, of course, is it scientifically possible to look cool when you’re running in flip flops?


Ryan: [00:01:38] No, Bo. That’s next week’s episode.


Bo: [00:01:40] Oh, my apologies. Right, as always, Ryan. No. Today, we obviously we want to discuss and break down the current actor’s strike between the Screen Actors Guild or SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers or the AMPTP.


Ryan: [00:01:57] It’s a big one. And to help us break down the strike, we have a very special guest. He’s an actor, writer, director, and, might I add, a proud member of SAG. We’re thrilled to introduce our special guest today, the multifaceted Mark McCullough, a native of Savannah, Georgia. Mark ventured into politics and law after earning his degrees, before a life altering accident shifted his focus towards entertainment. You may have caught one of his compelling performances in films like “Gravity,” “American Made,” “Arsenal” and “Logan Lucky,” as well as a television series such as “The Walking Dead,” “Quantum Leap,” and “Cobra Kai.” He is a consummate triple threat. Mark has also explored the other side of the camera, writing, acting, and directing in “A Savannah Haunting,” a film inspired by his own real life supernatural experiences. When not on set, he shares his experience with aspiring actors with his acting program, The Working Actor’s Lab.


Bo: [00:02:47] Well, we are talking about, of course, none other than the Mr. William Mark McCullough. Welcome to the show, Mark. How are you doing, my friend?


Mark: [00:02:57] I’m doing great, guys. Thanks for having me on here. I’m super excited.


Bo: [00:03:00] Absolutely. You know, Mark, I was thinking, I don’t know if you remember this, but when you and I first met, we talked a little bit and realized we actually kind of had quite a few parallels in our lives. Do you remember that?


Mark: [00:03:15] Mhm.


Bo: [00:03:17] I feel like, you know, well let me tell you what I mean. You know, obviously we both grew up in Georgia. We both graduated college from Mercer in Macon. Then we both went to law school in Washington, D.C. and then both ultimately ended up working in the entertainment industry here in the same town: Savannah, Georgia. [We’ve] even worked together on some projects. And at one point, of course, we were even rocking the same mustache. Mark. Come on.


Mark: [00:03:51] I’d say you rocked it much better than I did.


Bo: [00:03:53] We, you know, finally, of course, after all those parallels, you end up being, you know, this world famous actor known for his rugged, good looks and being in world class shape, while I also ended up almost like that, but kind of exactly the opposite.


Mark: [00:04:12] I’m just excited that, you know, it finally came full circle. We both represented our movie “A Savannah Haunting” when we were in production. And you know, it’s such a difficult time making a movie, and the legal issues can be so complicated. And you know, Bo’s help and guidance really saved the day. We would have been absolutely lost without that.


Bo: [00:04:33] Well, I appreciate that, Mark. Of course, one of my favorite Mark stories, Ryan, is that for as well as I know Mark and as long as I’ve known him, I was 100% convinced for two full seasons that he was playing a character named Alek on one of our favorite shows, “Banshee.”


Mark: [00:04:55] Yeah, I remember that.


Ryan: [00:04:58] That’s one of our favorite shows. He’s like, Yeah, Mark’s on that show.


Mark: [00:05:01] You know, the crazy thing about that, I got an interview last year from this, from this reporter. My manager reached out to me, connected us and the reporter the reporter contacted my manager after watching that show and thinking it was me. And so we’re doing the interview, and he starts asking about that s how. I was like, “Uh, dude, I wasn’t on that show”


Bo: [00:05:23] Awesome.


Mark: [00:05:25] I looked at that actor and he does look a lot like me. Kind of crazy.


Ryan: [00:05:28] Oh, for sure. So for anybody that’s listening that’s not familiar with your work, can you tell us about yourself, your background and your career?


Mark: [00:05:36] Sure, you know, like like both shared. You know, I went to school at Mercer. And like a lot of guys, I got out of college, [was] just kind of lost, and didn’t know what to do. So I went to law school and, you know, I didn’t really want to be a lawyer, but I didn’t know what else to do. And when I was kind of–at the very beginning–trying to figure out life, I taken a trip down to Nicaragua and got in a really bad car accident and spent about five weeks in the hospital and made me just reevaluate life, and realize, you know, I’m doing something that I don’t really like. It doesn’t excite me. I’m not passionate about it. And I had buddies from law school who were super passionate about it. I’m like this isn’t for me. And I’d studied acting in college, but unfortunately I didn’t learn anything about how to get a job. So I graduated with just no idea. You know, I knew the craft of acting, but not how to turn that into a paycheck to pay my rent. But anyway, after I had the car accident, I just packed up and moved to LA. I didn’t know anybody. Didn’t know anyone. And I also didn’t know anything that I needed to know. And I started, what I lovingly refer to as, my ramen noodle years. You know, just blindly flailed around in LA, like trying to figure things out. You know, I had no money, no connections. And, you know, I loved it. And I was working on a lot of, like, short films, and and student films, and low-budget films I hope no one ever sees. But I learned a lot. And eventually I kind of figured out how this business works and was fortunate enough to be able to to actually start making a paycheck doing it. And I’ve been very fortunate to make my living as an actor for almost ten years now. But it was only after a very long time of being very stupid and making every mistake, literally, that any actor can possibly make. You know, when I have free time, I like to coach, teach actors a little bit. And really, there’s nothing special about what I teach. I just kind of guide them into not doing the really stupid things that I did when I started out.


Bo: [00:07:38] Kind of the goal of our podcast.


Mark: [00:07:40] Exactly.


Bo: [00:07:42] So, well, you know, that does segue well, Mark. You talk about making your living as an actor and how difficult that can be into our actual, you know, topic today. And the reason we wanted to have you on. How long have you been a member of the Screen Actors Guild, Mark?


Mark: [00:07:57] I joined in 2007.


Bo: [00:08:00] Okay, now, for anyone, you know, that for whatever reason has not heard yet, [or] that may be confused as to how we got here. What led to the strike? How would you boil it down, Mark? I mean, what are the root causes of the current actors strike?


Mark: [00:08:20] I think there’s a couple of issues. I mean, I think for one, you know, there there’s a lot of angst. I mean, the writers kind of got it started, you know, when they were discussing their issues, because many of their issues are in ways shared with the actors. And, you know, I know for me personally, you know, I’ve seen a huge impact on my income due to streaming models. And I’m sure we’ll get into details on this later. But but I think it was: the streaming platforms have really blown up and the contracts were not they weren’t created in a way to reflect working in the streaming world. And when the contracts were first created dealing with streaming, it was a very, very tiny percentage of our of our workload. You know, most of our work was network TV, or cable, or film. And now streaming just amounts for just a huge portion. And because of the fact that residuals and your pay overall with streaming is just I mean, it is a tiny, tiny percentage of what it would be on those other other methods of of showing films and TV shows, it’s made it more difficult to make your living as an actor. And I think that there was a lot of just angst about that. And, you know, there’s a lot of other issues that have been kind of boiling in the background. And to be honest, I think by the writers having the guts to go on strike, it really gave the the actors kind of the impetus to say, you know what, we can do this too.


Mark: [00:09:48] Well, yeah.


Bo: [00:09:48] I mean, when you think about streaming, you know, part of you that thinks, well, you know, streaming has been around a long time, I mean, shouldn’t they have addressed this in previous iterations of this contract? But you think back to when the last one was negotiated, that was right before Covid. And Covid really did make a huge difference on streaming and the popularity of streaming and the prevalence of it. And I mean, it’s a whole different world now than it was three years ago.


Mark: [00:10:20] Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, I’d say now 90% of my jobs in the last couple of years have been on streaming versus, you know, regular network.


Mark: [00:10:29] Well.


Bo: [00:10:30] Can can you kind of break that down a little more specifically? Like what is it about like, what is the difference if you have a, you know, a role that’s on television, like network television or a movie versus streaming? How does that impact you personally?


Mark: [00:10:47] Sure. So for TV, you work on, let’s say, a CBS show, you work on that show, you get paid for your time for working that week or weeks, however long you’re you’re working there. But that’s not really where you make the majority of your income for the year. Where you make your money is every time that episode airs again, you get paid again. And each time it airs, you get less than you did the first time. But, you know the idea is you’re working on multiple shows, they’re playing multiple times, and you’re kind of getting repaid each time that happens. So it kind of creates this this wave of income. Year one, you work on five TV shows. You get paid up front. Year two, they start playing a rerun. So you’re getting those five shows, payment of residuals. Plus, assuming you’re working on additional shows, you get paid for that. Year three, you’re getting residuals in prior two years plus the third year. You know, it kind of grows. And so your career is able to grow and your income is able to grow. With streaming, that’s not the case because there’s no there are no reruns of streaming. Right. And the streamers won’t release their their viewership. So with Netflix says, oh, we’ve got a show that’s out, that’s number one on our platform, that means nothing, because we have no idea how many people are actually watching that show. And there’s basically when you work on a streaming show, you’re going to get paid up front for the weeks or days that you work on the show. And then the residuals are going to be almost non-existent. Um, with film, with non-streaming film, actors participate in the profit of the film. So if you work on a film that is hugely successful, the actors get a percentage of that success. As long as the movie makes makes money. Now, if you work on a film that that bombs the box office, you don’t get any residuals. Well, if you work on a film on streaming against the same issue, there’s no release of numbers, so you have no idea how well it did. So to give you an example, you know, I’ve got a friend and I were just talking about this the other day. He worked on a on a regular, you know, out-in-theater movie, with a huge director and a big star. And over a three year period, he made about 150 grand in residuals on that film. He worked on a similar sized movie for Netflix. Big Star, Big director. And the three years after that movie came out, he made $500 in residuals. That’s how [different it is].


Ryan: [00:13:10] Wow. So it seems it seems like those numbers that the streamers are keeping from everybody really impacts the ability to come up with a even a calculation; a way to calculate how those residuals are paid out.


Mark: [00:13:25] Exactly. Because the way it works, these streaming services, they have this huge library, and lots of those shows aren’t very successful, but they’re just there, just in case. But some of the shows obviously are the ones that draw audiences to those platforms. And yeah, when you work on them, like if a million people watch them or a thousand people watch them, it’s not reflected in the actor’s residuals at all.


Ryan: [00:13:47] So you’ve mentioned the changes in the industry. You know, inflation, of course, is an issue. You know, different things that are changing that affect the actor’s bottom line. You know, some some people online I’ve seen different comments–I’m sure you’ve seen this, too–you know, what would you say to people who think that this strike is nothing more than a bunch of millionaire celebrity actors crying poverty?


Mark: [00:14:10] Well, I mean, realistically, the number of millionaire actors is so small, you know, it’s like, uh, I’m sure a lot of people see the numbers kind of floating around online. But 13% of SAG members earn enough money every year to be eligible for health insurance. And that and that amount is about $26,000. So that means that 87% of SAG members make less than $26,000 a year. The top 1% of SAG actors make 100 grand or more. And obviously when you start getting to the Tom Cruises and Brad Pitt’s, that is 0.00001% of SAG actors. And to be quite honest, it’s irrelevant to Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt what SAG does or doesn’t do, because they’re not they’re not being paid based on a SAG contract. They’re being paid because they’re superstars. Um, you know, the issues at hand really are more addressed towards primarily what I refer to as the blue collar working class actor, which is what I am. You know, the kind of actor who, except for maybe your mama and your dad and your best friends, they don’t know your name. If they see you at the grocery store, they might go, ‘You look like a guy I saw on a TV show.’ They don’t know who you are.


Bo: [00:15:24] Oh, you’re that guy?


Mark: [00:15:27] Yeah, you’re the guy. It’s funny for me all the time, the gym or the grocery store, people come up and say, Man, I saw a movie last night, and you look just like that actor. And usually it’s me. But, you know, unlike Bo’s story, where you watch two seasons of guys not me, but …and again, I love Tom Cruise, I mean, you know whatever, but [for] the Tom Cruises of the world, um SAG is I won’t say irrelevant, but it has much less impact on their day to day existence than than the blue collar working actors. So it is certainly not about those guys. It is really about those folks who either make their living as an actor and they’re trying to pay their bills, take care of their family, do whatever, or those people who have aspirations to do that.


Bo: [00:16:11] Yeah. Speaking of Tom Cruise, we were just talking the other day about the fact that the new ‘Mission Impossible’ movie is out, and it’s so funny; like, I love those movies. They’re basically the movie equivalent of Tom Cruise himself. Just that manic energy, you know. But but you’ve actually you’ve worked on a movie with Tom Cruise, Right? Did you get to know him well in that experience?


Mark: [00:16:36] Yeah, I mean I wouldn’t say know him well. I mean, we weren’t like hanging out and having drinks together, but I did spend about two months with him; and I spent a lot of those two months sitting in the cockpit of an airplane, just me and him. Um, and, you know, I tell everyone who will listen that I have nothing but respect for Tom Cruise, and he is the hardest working dude I’ve ever met in the business. And that hard work comes from a place of ‘let’s all make a great movie.’ I saw him repeatedly be kind and thoughtful and considerate of folks that many times are not considered. You know, people like craft services, parts and extras and and folks, [that] it’s easy to kind of like overlook them if you’re if you’re kind of a jackass. And Tom Cruise purposely–I saw him over and over–go out of his way to acknowledge those people, acknowledge the hard work and give them some positive feedback. Um, it’s interesting. We were down in in South America and the last ‘Mission Impossible’ had just come out and I had not seen it yet, and I just knew he was going to ask me if I’d seen the movie. And I was like dreading that question, right? So I’m sitting there on the plane and like, we’re getting ready to do the scene. He looks over and he says, ‘you see the new movie?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, not yet, Tom.’ You know, like what you don’t want to do is tell Tom Cruise to his face you haven’t seen his new ‘Mission Impossible’ movie. But but yeah, he was he was you know, it’s kind of fun for people at cocktail parties in Hollywood to make fun of Tom Cruise or whatever, and he certainly doesn’t need me defending him. But when I hear that at a party, I always go to his defense because I saw him be nothing but a professional, hard working guy who loves filmmaking and just pushes everyone to do the best job they can. But he pushes them from a place of love.


Bo: [00:18:16] I mean that’s really good to hear because, I mean, he’s he’s so mercurial. Is that the word?


Ryan: [00:18:21] Yeah.


Bo: [00:18:22] Like, it’s like he’s he like. It’s just so hard to get a read on because he can be so, like, odd sometimes when you see him and like, when he’s giving interviews.


Mark: [00:18:32] Sure.


Bo: [00:18:33] So it is good to know that he, you know, is a good guy.


Mark: [00:18:36] Here’s the thing too, He’s he’s been a superstar since 1982. You know what I mean? Like Tom Cruise walks in a room–and this happened, it happened multiple times where a bunch of people on set, no one’s looking at the door–Tom Cruise walks in the room and, you know, he walks in the room, he carries an energy with him that regular folks just don’t have. But if you look at his contemporaries from the 80s who kind of got in the business at the same time as him, and they were kind of movie stars of the era, look at their careers now versus his career. Now he’s still doing massive, huge films. He’s still a superstar. Many of those other guys are not. And I think the reason for that is people love working with Tom Cruise. And, you know, you can be a jerk for a little while, but eventually folks will go, you know what? Life’s too short. And I think the reason he works all the time and does these massively successful films is because the people who are working for him now, he’s going to push you like a good coach would push you if you’re a football player or something. But you know, it’s coming from a place of ‘let’s all make a great movie,’ and it’s not coming from a place of ego or self-centeredness.


Bo: [00:19:42] That’s great. Well, you know, thinking back to what we were talking about a moment ago about some of the issues with the strike and with streaming and how they you know, they don’t release these numbers. But I mean, I guess the real question is why? Because, you know, they have the numbers. I mean, no one believes if they say ‘we don’t have any way of tracking that,’ well, that’s obviously bullshit. I mean, otherwise, how is Netflix having their top ten every day, you know, on the site?


Mark: [00:20:11] Exactly!


Bo: [00:20:12] So how are they getting away with not releasing these numbers?


Mark: [00:20:17] To be honest, I have no idea. I have no idea. I’ve been asking this for years because for as long as network televisions have been around, the Nielsen ratings have been a part of that. Right? It’s just it is part of the system. And why the streamers don’t release this information, I don’t know. It it would certainly be the fairest way to allocate residuals based on how well the shows are doing. You know, if they’re getting watched a lot, they can share in the in the success of that show. And if it’s a show that’s not getting watched as much, you know, they don’t have to pay out as much. But I don’t see the upside to that. I don’t know why they’re hiding those numbers unless they’re not doing as well as, you know, they want people to think, but I don’t know.


Bo: [00:21:00] But even if so, I mean, you would think that the ability to resolve these issues would be so easy if they just were straightforward with it. And so so I guess, you know, going back to that–


Mark: [00:21:12] Well, for them now, why would they? I mean, they got it great right now. I mean like, for them before the strike, there was not an issue to resolve. If they’re paying $500 in residuals where another similarly funded film is paying 150 grand in residuals, that’s pretty good for them. Right?


Bo: [00:21:29] Well, you know, and I think that’s the primary issue on at least that side because you have seen these profits for these streamers just skyrocketing while, you know, the payments being made to the actors, the writers and everyone else is just plummeting.


Mark: [00:21:48] Well, I don’t know. I don’t know. I mean, it you know, I was talking to a to a guy at a huge studio a couple of weeks ago–and this was right before the the the SAG actors went on strike–and he was saying that the the huge studio that he works at, which does have a streaming platform connected to it, he predicts that it’s going to go under in the next six months to a year. Um, and his take on it was that a lot of these streamers are on very shaky ground because there’s been such a huge growth in streaming, [but] there’s only so many eyeballs right now. There’s many, many more streaming platforms [than eyeballs]. And so it’s, you know, there was a point where Netflix was just throwing money at at filmmakers because they were the only game in town. And I mean, I saw something earlier this week that last year there was, I think, 599 episodic of–I’ll use the word–TV, but obviously streaming whatever. But 599 episodic shows created, whereas five years ago it was fewer than 200. So that’s been a massive increase in the number of shows that are watched. So I think some people are predicting that what’s going to fall out of this is that a lot of these streaming services are going to go under and it’s kind of going to consolidate, um, so that there’s fewer shows being made, but they have more eyeballs on them, therefore more revenue on them.


Bo: [00:23:11] Yeah, I would think consolidation is going to be inevitable. I mean, you’re already starting to see it, you know, I mean, just what was it, just a 2 or 3 weeks ago that a Paramount Plus took over Showtime? And I mean, I think you’re just going to continue.


Ryan: [00:23:24] Max and Discovery Plus and all that.


Mark: [00:23:26] Right.


Bo: [00:23:27] You know, HBO, one of the most known brands in the universe, [said] ‘Let’s go with Max.’


Mark: [00:23:36] Exactly what that was all about?


Bo: [00:23:38] But but at any rate. Well, you know, I think. Okay, so that’s pretty easy to get your head around. You know, the fact that we’ve got to address the streaming services in a way that’s fair and gets people that are the creatives and put all the work and the effort in, get them compensated fairly. But let’s talk a little bit about the other main issue. Because to me, it’s while it does, it’s a little more you know … it doesn’t it doesn’t make just, you know, the dollars and cents part of it, but it’s the by far the scarier part, and that’s the use of AI. And particularly when you talk about generating actors likenesses. I mean, that’s that’s one of the main points of this conflict. I understand.


Mark: [00:24:23] Yes.


Bo: [00:24:24] Ryan and I had an episode recently where we talked about where I could potentially be headed. It was some pretty scary shit, you know, So so, you know, you’re obviously deeply involved in the industry. What are your thoughts on that?


Mark: [00:24:39] Well, I have a lot of thoughts on that. You know, I, wrapped recently on a big budget, $250 million film. And at the end of every day, they would take me into this, it was a trailer, basically, that you go you step into a a like a globe of cameras that would take pictures all over your body, Right? So they literally had a 3D version of you that they can use to if there’s an issue on your scene that you shot, they can fix it without bringing you back, without having to reshoot. So they have the capabilities now to to to replace actors. I mean, probably not going to be perfect just yet, but they can do really good work with it now. And it’s terrifying. I mean, for me, it’s much bigger than just the entertainment industry. I mean, I think there’s a lot of people who are in danger now. My thing is like, yes, we should certainly fight as actors and writers to prevent the studios and networks from from using AI. But to be honest, I think it’s got to be a bigger fight. I think the only way to truly protect those creatives is through national legislation. Because the contracts will, if we’re able to work out contracts with the studios to limit the use of AI, that’s only going to limit those studios who are in a union contract. Anyone can start a company tomorrow making movies using AI. If they’re not a part of those union contracts, they can do whatever they want to. The way to stop those corporations from doing it is to enact some type of legislation to put a limit on it.


Bo: [00:26:16] No, you’re absolutely right. You know, Zuckerberg just steps up tomorrow and says, Welcome to AI Studios.


Mark: [00:26:23] Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And if that organization is not part of the union contract boom, he can and and we’ve all seen it. I mean who would have guessed in 2005 that Netflix was going to destroy Blockbuster, right? This little upstart destroyed Blockbuster. And all it would take is a well-funded AI studio, not limited in any way, to overthrow the studios in a matter of years, if they’re able to produce AI content.


Ryan: [00:26:51] It’s true. I just saw on that new Disney+ series, ‘Secret Invasion,’ even the intro where the music’s playing, that was 100% generated by AI. So now you think about the animators who otherwise would have been hired to do that. Just, you know, it’s a cost-saving tool, it seems like, at that point.


Mark: [00:27:14] Sure.


Bo: [00:27:15] I mean, you know, and you’re right about it ranging far beyond just the entertainment industry because, I mean, you think about even the legal industry and, you know, people coming into court with, you know, video evidence proving someone committed this crime and. Right. Meanwhile, they were 600 miles away.


Mark: [00:27:37] Exactly. Yeah. Yeah.


Bo: [00:27:39] So. Well–


Mark: [00:27:40] Yeah, it’s got some major consequences that I mean, I’m hoping that lawmakers take very seriously and start addressing.


Ryan: [00:27:51] Yeah. I mean, it seems like the challenge there from some of the discussions on Capitol Hill is where is this technology currently at and where is it going? So we can address these problems. I mean, obviously, the copyright laws need to be updated. We haven’t got real reforms since 1976. But also, you know, a lot of these problems seem to be revolved around like the right to publicity and people’s likeness. So, I mean, right now, that kind of protects, you know, famous, well-known public figures. But this stuff can can rip off anybody. So that seems like that’s another area that needs to be legislated around.


Mark: [00:28:29] Sure. And then also, like one of the things you’re talking about is using just thousands and thousands of various actor’s images and background people’s images to create unique individuals on, you know, on the screen that aren’t a particular person. Um. I’m sure they’re not far off from that. And basically when that happens, I mean, yeah, if you’re famous, you can probably work out some kind of deal with the studios that they use your likeness and you get paid a lot of money because people want to see Tom Cruise in a movie, even if it’s AI Tom Cruise. Nobody’s paying money to see William Mark McCullough in a movie. You know what I mean? Like the AI William Mark McCullough, no one cares about. So, yeah, it’s scary. It’s really scary.


Ryan: [00:29:10] I was I was seeing when SAG was talking about the breakdown in negotiations, they were talking about one of the proposals that the AMPTP was proposing that they said was “groundbreaking” was that they wanted the ability to scan background actors, pay them for half a day’s work, and then use that likeness in perpetuity without any permission or additional pay. You know, my thought with that is, you know, how often is it that background actors eventually kind of elevate to those starring roles? So what happens in that situation? You’re like, Hey, kid, you already gave me your rights, you know, ten years ago. So I’m not going to pay you.


Mark: [00:29:48] Sure, sure.


Bo: [00:29:49] I’ve been negotiating contracts with actors on behalf of productions and vice versa for a long time. And, you know, for many years you’d have a little phrase in an agreement that says, you know, okay, we have the right to, if necessary, to ‘simulate’ your performance. And the intent was always, you know, if we had to change a line or whatever, like you said, you don’t have to bring them back from one little thing. But if a studio starts relying upon that one word, ‘we can simulate you.’ And now that means they can do anything they want and they have now the ability to do anything they want? I mean, that’s truly terrifying.


Mark: [00:30:29] You know, when I was told on set, hey, come over here, we’re going to capture your image, I was like,’uhh whoa.’ So I immediately reached out to my agent to ask about it. I was like, this, ‘This does not sound good to me.’ And, you know, I was assured that under the current contracts, they can’t use our our our likeness to do new scenes. You know, you can’t do additional scenes, but they can do it to like said, [to] fix things. So yeah, I mean, there’s so many there’s so many things around AI that I think while, each of us in our own particular line of work has to be focused on how it affects us and how to protect ourselves as much as possible, I think we also have to look at it holistically as a country, about how how do we want to see ourselves as a people in relationship to this new technology that, to be honest, who the hell knows what’s going to happen? You know, I mean–


Bo: [00:31:22] Of course.


Mark: [00:31:23] AI scares me on a broad scale. I know there’s promises  of possible really good outcomes, but there’s some really dark downsides that are that are out there as well.


Bo: [00:31:33] But that’s the whole thing. It’s almost impossible to foresee. I mean, we were talking the other day, it’s like, you know, you go back to seeing Pong on a television for the first time and then looking at that and saying, okay, this is where the video game industry is going to be 25 years from now.


Mark: [00:31:52] Right?


Bo: [00:31:52] Absolutely impossible. No one could have ever dreamed the you know, the light year leaps that would have occurred, you know, in a very short period of time.


Mark: [00:32:03] So Bill Gates wrote a book in 1995 about the future of technology and doesn’t mention the Internet. Do you know what I mean? Like, who knows what’s going to what’s going to happen? Yeah, it’s crazy.


Bo: [00:32:15] Well, let’s, you know just so so we have this clear in terms of who is actually striking. Now, there’s a lot of people that fall under the umbrella of SAG-AFTRA.


Mark: [00:32:27] Yes.


Bo: [00:32:28] So can you kind of give an explanation of what it is as an organization and who all it represents total, but and then who in particular is affected by this strike?


Mark: [00:32:39] Sure. Well, it was originally SAG, which was the Screen Actors Guild, and it handled folks who who acted in things that were shot on film. And AFTRA handled people who worked on video and radio. So it would be like soap opera actors and folks working in radio. SAG was movie and TV when it was shot on film. Obviously almost everything now is digital, so that became a silly distinction. So they combined. I hope I don’t leave anyone out. So obviously SAG represents actors, they represent background actors, they represent stunt performers. Um, they represent voiceover artists, I think, uh, like hosts, people who like talking to a look at a what is it called? The teleprompter? Those folks. Um, I’m sure there’s some other people that I don’t even know about, but but that’s the big group right now. The strike is specifically against films and TV shows that are being made by studios, networks, or streaming services that are part of the AMPTP or whatever that that description is. It doesn’t affect commercials, it doesn’t affect video games, and it doesn’t affect independent films not attached to those those big entities that they’re striking against, if those independent films get a waiver from SAG. It also doesn’t affect non-union projects. Obviously, there’s lots of movies that are made non-union, that have non-union crew, non-union actors. So those those are the kind of the the the big categories I think hopefully didn’t miss.


Ryan: [00:34:18] Well, let’s talk about that. That’s really great that you said what doesn’t apply to the strike. Well, what about what actors can’t do right now and how does that affect your day to day life right now?


Mark: [00:34:30] Well, the biggest is I can’t work on TV and film. It’s interesting. I actually got a I got a commercial like I normally for whatever reason, no one wants to use my face to promote their product. So I don’t ever I’ve never made a dime from a commercial. And I actually got a commercial audition yesterday. I thought it was kind of funny because I don’t get those, but it’s the only I got a commercial audition and a video game audition where basically they do the body capture because those are allowed. Um, but it affects me, number one with work. That’s the biggest effect. The other thing is, is promotion. You know, a big part of being an actor is marketing your product. And, you know, I really preach that to actors a lot. Well, we’re not allowed to go on social media and promote any project that we were working on that’s coming out. We’re not allowed to go to film festivals, to do podcasts specifically about a TV show or film we have coming out. So for me, like I’m in a TV show that came out yesterday that right now is number one on Netflix, but I can’t like post about it or whatever. Even though I’m not. Who cares? No one’s running a Netflix [because of] my post. It’s, you know, it’s about my marketing stuff. You know, I’ve got a big TV show coming out next month that’s being struck, so I can’t talk about it. So for me, it’s the marketing. You know, I can’t do any articles about any of the projects I have coming out while the strike is going on and I can’t work. Um, and that affects a lot of actors in a way. We have to make, like I said, the minimum to keep your health insurance every year. Um, you know, for me personally, the whole year has been rough because generally speaking, pilot season starts right after the end of Sundance, end of January every year. And there’s a big, huge burst in auditions from the end of January through about the end of May. And I normally get on average 8 to 10 auditions a week. This past year, between end of January and the May, I got one audition per week and it was because so many productions were afraid that the WGA and SAG would strike. So they didn’t go into production. They didn’t want to start production, they’d get shut down halfway through. So there was a dramatic decrease in the amount of work this year. And then obviously when the strikes started, you know, it basically shut down 99% of the work. So it’s been very impactful right now.


Bo: [00:36:50] I would think that when you talked about, you know, the residuals and profit sharing and things like that, even if something’s already complete and in-the-can, they may not want to even release it now because the actors can’t go out and promote it.


Mark: [00:37:04] Right! Absolutely. That’s absolutely true.


Bo: [00:37:06] So, but and you did mention there are a few things you still are allowed to do, like like I know ‘Bride Hard’ is a good example here. Locally, it was granted an ‘interim agreement.’ Some people call it a ‘waiver,’ with SAG to start back up production because it is a truly independent film, not affiliated with any AMPTP entity in any way. Right. And so in those circumstances, they can apply for that interim agreement and continue to operate, correct?


Mark: [00:37:38] That’s correct. There’s still a few questions out there that I’m looking for answers to as a filmmaker because, you know. As an independent filmmaker, I’m not associated with any of the studios. But what I don’t know is if you get one of those those interim agreements. Are you allowed to eventually sell your project to someone who’s being struck right now?


Bo: [00:37:58] I can answer that for you.


Mark: [00:37:59] Oh perfect.


Bo: [00:37:59] The answer is absolutely not. You can once the strike is concluded, but not during the strike. Absolutely.


Mark: [00:38:09] Okay. But yeah, once the strike is over, you can sell it to whomever.


Bo: [00:38:11] Absolutely. 100%. You just have to, in order to qualify, you have to, if you’ve sold one single right to anyone even remotely affiliated with an AMPTP, you’re not going to get that interim agreement. So but once it’s over and essentially what you’re doing with that interim agreement is saying, we agree that we will honor whatever the ultimate terms are that are negotiated when the strike is over. That’s what you’re having to say. But um–


Mark: [00:38:42] This is why you’re such a great entertainment lawyer. All the time. It’s fantastic.


Bo: [00:38:47] You’re welcome.


Mark: [00:38:47] Can’t wait to share this information.


Bo: [00:38:49] But I had a question for you about that, though, that I was kind of curious with these interim agreements and waivers. Um, even if a production is granted an interim agreement, is there a possibility that some actors may not feel comfortable working on a set and acting just because of the optics of it? And it may look like they are not honoring the strike?


Mark: [00:39:17] Absolutely.


Bo: [00:39:18] I mean, how do you feel about that?


Mark: [00:39:20] Well, I don’t have an issue with it because, you know, if if SAG is cool with it, I’m cool with it. Right? You got to pay your bills. But I get it. I mean, I you know, I remember a few years ago, I was working in a foreign country where the production was shooting and they brought like a handful of American actors to shoot there. And it was mostly locals. And it happened to be on Labor Day. It was one of the shoot days and one of my my actor buddies who’s working, he’s like, ‘I’m not working Labor Day.’ And they, you know, the production is like, well, we’ll double the pay. We’ll triple the pay. And he’s like, ‘I’m not doing it.’ I was like, ‘okay, I get it. I get it.’ You know? So I respect what what anyone wants to do. You know, I certainly get folks going, you know, ‘I just feel better not working at all during the strike.’ Um. But I also totally understand when people say, ‘Hey, I’ve got an electric bill to pay and I’ve got to feed my kids, I’ve got to work.’ You know? And if SAG is giving the waiver or the interim agreement, then then they’re saying it’s okay, so it’s okay with me. So but will there be fewer actors willing to work? Absolutely. Guarantee there’s fewer actors who they just don’t want to even be, they don’t want to mistakenly be thought that they’re crossing a picket line.


Ryan: [00:40:30] No, that makes sense. And of course, the writers are also on strike. You know, we did a whole show about the writers strike a couple months back, and it looks like this is actually the first time since 1960 that both SAG and the WGA were on strike at the same time. Do you believe that that solidarity between the unions is ultimately going to help in those negotiations?


Mark: [00:40:51] Absolutely. I mean, basically, except for for these these, you know, exceptions to the general rule, nothing’s going to be made. Um, you know, with the writers on strike. There’s plenty of scripts floating around that could potentially be made. But with the actors joining with the writers, you just, what are you going to do? You know what I mean? You can’t make stuff without the writers and without a script. So I think it certainly puts a lot more pressure on the folks to come to the to the bargaining table.


Mark: [00:41:23] You’re right.


Bo: [00:41:23] You have to believe because, I mean, you’re talking about 11,000 members of the WGA versus 160,000 of SAG. You have to believe the WGA was like, come on, please strike, let’s do this. But, you know, thinking, all right, let’s thinking a little bit in the future, now, I remember talking to you back during Covid and, you know, of course, you know, everything shut down overnight. And you were particularly impacted by that. In fact, you want to talk a little bit about that, What you dealt with?


Mark: [00:41:59] Sure. So we we were scheduled to start filming a Savannah haunting on March 23rd, 2020. We had scheduled the film, budgeted the film for that start date, and we got shut down two days before we were going to start because of Covid. And we didn’t start back up until August. And I had, we were shooting primarily at my house, so I had like my my entire driveway was filled with a semi truck filled with film equipment. We had built fake sets in my house that I couldn’t get from the back of the house to the front of the house without walking outside and walking around. It was kind of crazy. Um, so it definitely impacted us. Now once once things started happening again. I mean, you did have this this like six month period where nothing was being made. So when the, when the, the floodgates opened, there was certainly a pretty big uptick in the amount of work that was happening. I think the same thing is going to happen now. Like the longer these strikes go, when they finally negotiate a contract and they will obviously at some point, I think there’s going to be a huge explosion of work. So I think it can be you know, it’s rough right now, but I think it can be very positive for SAG actors, especially those SAG actors who don’t have a lot of credits. Those actors who are just kind of starting out getting their feet wet because the more experienced actors with bigger resumes, they can still only work on one film or TV show at a time. And so if you have a bunch of stuff shooting at the same time, those people are her high in demand will get sucked up very quickly. Well, they’re still roles that have to be filled and I think this will be a great opportunity for newer actors or less experienced actors to jump in there and get work that normally it may be a little tougher for them to get. So I think for for those folks, it’s going to be overall a pretty good positive for them.


Bo: [00:43:57] Well, I think you may be forgetting AI William Mark McCullough, now starring in 100 things simultaneously.


Mark: [00:44:05] So there’s that [laughter].


Bo: [00:44:05] So but but, you know, Ryan and I recently reviewed a print out of the current negotiation status, I think it was from last week. And to say the least, Mark, it was not encouraging. I mean, they were they were definitely a few areas of agreement, but there were a hell of a lot of SAG-AFTRA demands that just said rejected, rejected, rejected. I mean, have you seen that document?


Mark: [00:44:32] Oh, yes, yes, I read that document. It is disheartening for sure.


Bo: [00:44:38] And I think one area I was really surprised to see such kind of vociferous pushback was on the timing of payments to actors for services rendered. I mean, SAG is requesting additional penalties if actors aren’t paid for their work in a timely manner. And the AMPTP say, Oh, no, that’s not necessary, we’re not going to do that. But have you ever personally run into that issue?


Mark: [00:45:06] Let me tread lightly. Um, Yes. I worked on one of the biggest TV franchises in the world, I won’t say when. And I didn’t get paid, and my agent kept reaching out, reaching out, reaching out. And I just didn’t get paid and get paid. Eventually, I reached out to SAG to say, ‘Hey, I’ve been paid. And it had been six months.’ And they’re like, ‘Well, after six months, they’re not obligated to pay you.’ Like what?


Bo: [00:45:37] Good Lord.


Mark: [00:45:39] People’s coffee budget for the day is more than my entire paycheck for the for the shows. But I think it kind of fell through the cracks. Yeah, that certainly happens. I would say that’s not something for me personally, that was a that was a certainly an outlier. I’m usually paid pretty timely. The project that I just worked on, there was a little snafu with the timing of payment, but we got it worked out pretty easily. Uh, for me personally, I can tell you there’s there’s some other issues that I think are very impactful, especially on those actors in the Southeast. One of the biggest is what’s being referred to as geographic discrimination. And I have seen this dozens and dozens and dozens of times in my own career where I’ll get an audition for a show that’s shooting in Atlanta and I get an audition from Atlanta agent for a role. I’ll get an audition out of LA, my agent, for the exact same role. Out of LA,the roll is called a guest star paying, I think the rate now is like $10,800 an episode. Out of Atlanta, the same roll is called a co-star paying $4,000 an episode. That is dramatically different. And classically, you know, those those terminologies–guest star co-star, series regular–are based on the content of the character. So, for instance, on a show, if you’re a co-star, what that usually meant was your a character that gives life to the scene, but your character is not a part of the story. So let’s say two of them series regulars, are at a diner talking about whatever the case they’re working on. The waiter who comes up and asks if they want a coffee would be a co-star. His line, you know, ‘Would you like another coffee?’ It’s not, it doesn’t move the story forward. It makes us as the audience go, Oh, this is a real world they’re in. So the co-stars kind of populate the world. The guest star would be a character that’s in the story that’s not in all the episodes. It may only be in one episode, but their character is an integral part of the story. So let’s say on a ‘Law and Order,’ you know, a guest star would be the character who’s accused of murder that week. So their character is absolutely integral to the story. And that was kind of the classic breakdown. Well, that’s just thrown out the window now because I’ve worked on big TV shows where my character was the focus of multiple episodes and it was called a co-star because I booked it out of Atlanta. I’ve worked on shows in LA where I’m in one scene in the show for two minutes and got guest-star casting because that character was super important, has nothing to do with how many scenes you’re in, how many lines. [The question] really [is] the character is integral to the story or not. And and so for someone who’s a working actor in the southeast, that is that is a pretty dramatic impact [a] on your upfront pay, but your residuals are based on what your upfront pay is. So if you’re making less upfront, you’re going to make less in residuals. That’s a big one. Another big one for me in the Southeast is and this has happened so many times, you book a show and you’re told you’re going to be shooting from, let’s say, I book, the show, March 5th. And they say, okay, ‘Mark, you’re going to be working from April 1st to May 1st,’ and then a week before filming starts, they send me an email saying, Oh, we backed it up three weeks, still working for a month, but it’s going to be starting three weeks later. And almost the date starts, it gets backed up a month. This happened to me two years ago. I booked a show in March, told I was going to start in April. I didn’t walk on a set until September 1st, so that entire time I’m booking out, which means my agent is not getting me auditions for other shows because they’re presumably going to work at the same time. But my actual work time got pushed back further and further and further and further. So I basically went months not doing a whole lot of work because I’m on hold for this other show, but I didn’t get paid a dime for that hold. That needs to be addressed if you’re going to put someone on hold and move them repeatedly, the actor should be compensated for that. And that was something that was rejected. The geographic discrimination was rejected. Um, so those for folks who are in the Southeast, those two things I think are really important.


Bo: [00:49:51] And that’s all part of the current negotiations.


Mark: [00:49:54] Yes, because they were just flat out rejected by the producers.


Bo: [00:49:57] Well, I have to say, do you know are they even are they even meeting right now? Are there two sides even talking?


Mark: [00:50:04] I don’t think so.


Mark: [00:50:05] You know, I mean, they may be doing it off the record, you know, backchannels, but I don’t think they’re doing it for the public to know about.


Bo: [00:50:12] I mean it’s certainly, there’s no indication that there’s an immediate end in sight. I mean, for certain I mean, um, but I mean, I have to believe, I mean, would you agree, that kind of the general consensus is we’re really at an extremely important crossroads here, and there’s really no choice but to kind of buckle in and, you know, address these issues now, no matter what it takes?


Mark: [00:50:40] Right. Yeah. I mean, I think both sides are pretty entrenched. Um. You know, I’ve heard, you know, talk–I don’t know if it’s if it’s legitimate or not, but I’m sure you’ve all heard the same thing–that the producers strategy is to just hold out until the writers and actors run out of money. Um, so, you know, I don’t know if that’s true or not, but if that’s the case, that they’re taking a long term approach to trying to get their way. I mean, I get it. If you’re a studio and you can use AI, and not have to pay actors, and not pay writers, and not have a crew and not to do I mean, yeah, I mean, I get totally why they want to not give that up. That makes sense from a financial perspective. But by doing that, they basically completely decimate the the workers in the entertainment world. I mean, it seems like these other things are, they just seem common sense based. That should be pretty easy to reach. And things like, hey, ‘if you’re going to if you’re going to work on a streaming show, it should pay you as an actor about the same as if you worked on a network show.’ Like, I don’t I don’t know why that’s even a hard issue to to hammer out or, ‘hey, if you’re going to call this role a guest star out of LA, it should also be a guest star in Atlanta or New Orleans or Chicago.’ You know, like that just seems like so fair and straightforward. I don’t know why they’re having a hard time coming to terms with that. They I, I think is a much bigger deal. I mean, that’s going to be something that I’m very curious how that’s going to work out.


Bo: [00:52:08] Well, two other little questions I want to ask you, then we’ll let you go. Mark, I really appreciate your time today.


[00:52:13] No, this is good.


[00:52:14] One, you know, we’re already seeing certainly the impacts of the strike on content. You know, I mean, even with the writers strike, obviously the talk shows shut down. You know, we saw where the cast of Oppenheimer got up and walked out as soon as the strike happened. So can you kind of walk through just a little bit about, you know, what are the actual practical impacts the strike is going to make on content and on the, you know, the consumers who want to watch new content in the future.


Mark: [00:52:49] Well, I mean, the longer the strike goes, the less stuff is going to be available, less new stuff. I mean, you know, you can. Obviously independent films will be made, but there’s no such thing as an independent TV show. You know, any TV show is going to be made in association with some type of streaming service or network. So if this thing goes a long time–and what I’m hearing from a lot of people is that it is likely to go a long time–I think it’s going to be pretty impactful on on content. You know, certainly those folks who have their favorite shows, they can expect to wait a long time to see the next season.


Bo: [00:53:23] Well, that and that brings me to my last question for you, Mark. I’m going to ask you to play a role. Okay. This is we are not AMPTP here, so, but I want you to be Nostradamus. Okay. So what is your best prediction on where this is going and how long you believe it’s it’s likely going to take?


Mark: [00:53:49] I think it’s I think it’s going to take 6 to 9 months to come to a conclusion. I think it’s going to go long. My my guess is. The streamers are going to come up with some type of, of, uh, payment schedule, like if they don’t want to release their, their viewership numbers, my guess is what they’re going to do is say, okay, on your network TV show, someone works as a guest star on one episode, what is the average residuals an actor makes over a five year period on something like that? And then they can just pay that amount, something along those amounts up front so they don’t have to release their numbers. I think that’s something that could be worked out. I think most of these things can be worked out. I think it’ll probably, you know, they’ll give and take here and there. Um, I just have no idea what the, I mean, they’re probably, you know, if the past is any [indication of] the future will be some type of Band-Aid that’s put on it. I hope not. But, um, but, you know, I’m terrible at predicting things. Uh, so don’t take my thoughts on this at all.


Ryan: [00:54:53] I mean, we all are, right?


Mark: [00:54:56] That’s. But if I were betting money, I would bet 6 to 9 months will be on strike. And I do think that the actors and the writers will get most of what they want, because at the end of the day, I mean, the studios and the networks, I mean, hell, you have to have content. And if you don’t have content, you will collapse. So I think they’re going to have to make these, you know, at least a lot of concessions or move further towards the actors and writers than they’ve done so far. But like I said, for me, the big outlier that I just have no idea about is AI.


Ryan: [00:55:29] Well, that makes sense. I mean, Mark, thank you so much. I mean, you’ve really helped us provide a clearer picture of what’s going on with this strike. And before we let you go, to the extent you can, you know, fill us in on what you got going on professionally right now.


Mark: [00:55:44] Sure. Well, I don’t think I’m prevented from having a conversation on a legal-based podcast.


Mark: [00:55:50] Nice.


Mark: [00:55:51] So as long as. But yeah, right now I got a I’m on this season’s ‘Sweet Magnolias,’ which is number one right now on Netflix. Um, next month I’m on Apple TV show ‘Manhunt’ which was the most expensive show made last year I think it was $162 million for seven episodes shot in Savannah, which is cool. I don’t get to work at home a lot. Uh, interesting thing. When I first moved to Southeast, the very first role I ever booked was John Wilkes Booth, man who killed Lincoln, in a low budget movie. And in this TV show I play the man who hunts down and kills John Wilkes Booth. So it was kind of a fun thing. Um, and then I got a movie, another movie that was shot in Savannah called an ‘LA Minute’ hitting video on-demand on the 28th, I believe. So I got a few things coming up that’ll be fun. Um, so yeah.


Bo: [00:56:39] Yeah. that’s awesome. Well, if to the extent some of our listeners want to learn more about you, where can they find you online? What’s the best, What’s the best resource?


Mark: [00:56:48] Probably Instagram. If you go to I think it’s W. Mark McCullough I’m pretty easy to find on Instagram, and if you’re an actor who’s looking for like, uh, classes or I post little videos about just giving tips on acting, I have an Instagram page called ‘Working Actor Lab,’ also on YouTube, ‘Working Actor Lab.’ Now with my free time, I’m able to make more videos and just again, just offer advice on the stupid shit that I did when I started. Just like, ‘Hey, don’t, don’t do all this stupid stuff that I did.’


Ryan: [00:57:22] Well, we really appreciate your time, Mark, and Bo and I certainly stand with you and your fellow actors during this strike.


Bo: [00:57:27] Yeah, absolutely. So stay strong, my friend.


Mark: [00:57:31] Thanks, guys. It was really great chatting with both of you and. Yeah, I appreciate it. And love what you guys are doing.


Bo: [00:57:38] Thanks. And we will talk to you soon, man.


Mark: [00:57:41] All right, buddy.


Bo: [00:57:41] Mark, Mark is the best, right? Absolutely. I mean, and this strike is a really big deal. I mean, it is it’s impacting everybody in the industry. I mean, including us, you know, I mean, and it’s–


Mark: [00:57:56] And it’s and, even like caterers and hotels and I mean, there’s so many like, have you heard anything about this? I know it’s been mentioned a few times at the Film Alliance meetings about Breeze flying to Savannah from LA, because I heard last week that people believed one of the reasons that they didn’t start that that flight is because they were fearful of strikes coming. Have you heard that?


Bo: [00:58:19] I have not heard that.


Mark: [00:58:20] But the whole reason they’re doing that, that whole leg is because of all the movies and TV shows that shoot here. And they were fearful of starting that leg and the strikes happening and they’re just like got empty airplanes. I don’t know if it’s true or not.


Ryan: [00:58:32] Well, that makes sense. That’s been one of the big things that the film commission here in Savannah has been really fighting for is that direct flight.


Mark: [00:58:40] Oh, it sucks. I mean, let me tell you, like I go to LA fairly regularly. And I’m sure you guys do too. And it literally is an all day affair. Like last time I flew back from LA a couple months ago, I got, you know, the plane was running late. I got to Miami late, missed my connecting flight from Miami to Savannah. I got stuck. I mean, it was just a nightmare. So it’s like basically. Usually ten, 12, 14 hours, making it from here to LA. Such a pain. [A] direct flight–even if it was like a shitty airline like Breeze, I would use it all the time. You know what I mean?


Bo: [00:59:13] Next up, a word from our sponsor, Breeze.


Mark: [00:59:19] It sucks, but it gets you there.


Bo: [00:59:20] Exactly, but–


Ryan: [00:59:21] That’s their slogan.


Mark: [00:59:23] So, but the fact of the matter–


Mark: [00:59:25] Y’all have a good one. Let’s all grab a drink or something sometime when you’re free.


Bo: [00:59:29] That would be great. Thank you, man. All right.


Mark: [00:59:31] All right man. I’ll talk to y’all soon.


Mark: [00:59:32] We appreciate it. Okay, Bye.


Bo: [00:59:35] You know, like we were saying, right? I mean, this really is difficult on–not just the writers, not just the actors–but, you know, every single aspect of the industry, including entertainment lawyers. Um, you know, everyone is being impacted. But what I have been heartened by is the fact that almost universally, I think that everyone recognizes that this is a turning point. I mean, it really is a time to just draw a line in the sand for not just for actors and writers, but the whole entertainment industry.


Ryan: [01:00:17] Oh, absolutely. I mean, it’s crucial for all of us, especially those in the industry, to understand all those factors that are in play. But remember, we’re not just here to keep you updated. We’re here to help you navigate these issues and make sure you know your rights and what you’re entitled to.


Bo: [01:00:34] That’s right. And on that note, we will be back in two weeks with more updates on the world of entertainment law. And until then, I’m Bo and I’m Ryan.


Ryan: [01:00:44] And that’s been Allegedly with Bo and Ryan. Catch us next time.

about the hosts

Bo Bowen

Charles “Bo” Bowen is Savannah’s preeminent corporate and entertainment attorney. Bo’s clients range from dozens of well-known movies and television shows to small local businesses to large multinational corporations. When asked if it’s true he can draft corporate resolutions and partnership agreements in his sleep, Bo cracks a sly smile and responds, “In fairness, there’s really no other way to do it.”

It’s that quick wit that has helped catapult Bo to the top of his profession. Clients love him because he’s confident, fast, and entirely entertaining. According to Bob Cesca, a national political commentator, writer, and radio host, Bob had hired lawyers all over the country but had never met one like Bo. “From the first moment I met him, it felt like we had been lifelong friends. When I reached out to Bo, I was very upset over a legal issue that had been plaguing me for months. He instantly made me laugh, but he also made me feel calm, safe, and protected,” said Bob. “And then he literally picked up his phone and resolved the entire case with one call.”

Bo takes great pride in righting wrongs, no matter the opponent. So lest you believe his ready smile and quick laugh are in any way representative of his skill, a few minutes in the courtroom will quickly disabuse you of that notion. He is a highly skilled and ruthless psychopathic assassin, metaphorically speaking. His fearlessness and success in the courtroom against all foes, no matter how powerful or seemingly invincible, has inspired fierce loyalty from his clients and earned him nicknames such as “giant killer” and “dragon slayer.”

Bo came to the conclusion early in his career that being a lawyer is not much fun, so he started The Bowen Law Group with the modestly-stated ambition of completely changing the way law is practiced. By all accounts, he has succeeded.

When asked how he would describe Bo, Bob Cesca thought for a moment. “Bo combines the swagger and charm of George Clooney with the quick wit of Mark Twain and the legal ability of Perry Mason,” Bob finally responded. “I’ll put it this way: Bo is the lawyer that God would have invented if He had thought that at all a good idea.”

Ryan Schmidt

Originally hailing from New Hampshire, Georgia transplant Ryan Schmidt is an Attorney at The Bowen Law Group. A lawyer passionate about protecting the rights of creatives and business owners, Ryan’s law practice focuses on entertainment and music law, business formation, contract disputes, non-compete litigation, and creditor’s rights. 

Ryan, who toured extensively as a singer/songwriter prior to law school has been featured on the NBC’s “The Voice” and Apple iTunes’ “New Music Page” and was named “Critics’ Choice” at the Starbucks Music Makers Competition. As a professional musician, he experienced firsthand the cutthroat nature of the business and the restrictive contracts creatives are too often asked to sign. Answering the call to be a fighter for his fellow artists,  content creators, and influencers, Ryan knew he needed to pursue a career in law. And so, Ryan attended Belmont University College of Law in Nashville, where he graduated at the top of his class, summa cum laude, after serving as Executive Officer for both Belmont’s Law Review and Federalist Society.

Before moving to Savannah, Ryan clerked for a Nashville-based law firm representing clients in the music industry, fine arts, and digital media. Since joining The Bowen Law Group in 2018, he has represented countless clients in various business and entertainment matters.

For Ryan, being an advocate is not only his duty but also his privilege. As a lawyer, he stands in between what is and what should be. Each day is another opportunity to narrow that gap.