'Groom Lake' Falls Foul Of SAG

By Amy
March 15, 2001 - 2:38 PM

Outside financing woes and confusion over who exactly is meant to be footing the salary bill for at least 22 performers has seen the Screen Actor's Guild issue a stop-work order for it's members on William Shatner's (Kirk) latest project, sci-fi move 'Groom Lake'.

The film, which started shooting in November of last year, was both written and directed by the former Star Trek captain and counts among it's co-producers J.R. Bookwalter, veteran of numerous horror and sci-fi productions. It was shot in Arizona under the guild's modified low-budget contract which, theoretically at least, allowed production costs to run less that $500,000. The actual total cost figures for the film are not currently available. Production on the movie wrapped in late December - actually several days before the stop-work notice arrived - leaving numerous actors and stunt-crew unpaid.

And unpaid they've stayed, despite Full Moon Universe, the film's distributor, replying to the notice on the 11th of January saying that payment should be forthcoming by the end of the month. The $10,000 bond posted by the company in the event of problems such as this is almost certain to fall short of the mark, with two stuntmen alone together claiming $4,000 in total back wages.

While Full Moon Productions Llc. is listed by the SAG as the film's producer, the parent company, Full Moon Universe, claims that this is not the case. "Full Moon is the distributor, not the producer," its director of publicity, David Budge, told David Robb from the Hollywood Reporter. They name co-producer Bookwalter's own production company, Tempe Entertainment, as the defaulters - and then through no real fault of their own. "We're aware that there have been some financial problems, but we're also confident that they are being worked out as we speak. The problem seems to come from the fact that there was some outside financing promised on the project, and, at the crucial juncture, unfortunately, it did not come to pass," Robb said, adding that "it is being worked out now, and everybody is going to get paid."

Payment, however, is still unforthcoming and the matter was turned over the legal arm of the Screen Actor's Guild on February 16th. Guild executive administrator of theatrical contracts Anne Talltree has commented that "The guild is going to pursue all avenues to ensure payment to the performers." More information on the dispute can be found at this Hollywood Reporter article.

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