Friday, September 27, 2013

Lots of misinformation out there about unions and acting.

Ten clarifications on becoming SAG-AFTRA!

First, to join SAG-AFTRA you need three days as a union background performer or one day in a role.

Second, initiation does cost three dayplayer days plus dues, but you make it up quickly if you pursue professional acting.

Third, if you join in a local, such as Nevada, you can join for considerably less money. When you work in a union secure state like California you pay the difference as of the day you join, not the current initiation.

Fourth, the AFTRA-SAG Credit Union (when will they change their name) will advance you the initiation fee.

Fifth, there is no such thing as SAG Eligible. The term was created by those who are not professional enough to join, agents who want to be able to keep you working both sides of the fence and thus not making what you are worth, and the Hollywood self promotion "shortcut" mentality.

Sixth, becoming a SAG-AFTRA actor does not mean an increase in income. While the money under contract is much better than non-union and the protections do not exist in the non-union workplace, the reality is that there is far more non-union production than union. Quality, respect for talent, use of established actors with experience are all limited, but these producers are often starting out or just in it for the fast money. My advice is if you feel you are professional, take the temporary decrease in income and focus on your craft and seeking union work. Do what  you love and the money will follow.

Seven, your time and talents deserve the respect that comes with a union card...pension, health payments, protection of your safety and working conditions, a grievance process, and guarantee of payment or an advocate to gain you pay without costing you a dime (and with interests if you not paid in a timely manner).

Eight, to quality to join you must work in a full budget film, television or commercial production. While SAG members may work, with a contract, in low and ultra low budget, on spec or showcase production, on the Internet or Web, or in other ways, these are benefits for the members and do not qualify non-members to join.

Nine...without unions there would be no protections on the set. Non-union talent has been left high and dry in remote locations, left liable for expenses or legal violations by the production, had to sue for pay or even a copy of their work, found themselves without any insurance, left without water, hot meals, facilities and medical when they are needed. The union protects union talent.

Finally, initiation and dues are what pays for the services and protection the union brings to all workers, including actors. If you do not join, or you stop paying dues, you are harming other union talent and by extension, the overall talent market.

Be union proud!

Welcome to SAG-AFTRA.

More to come...

Art Lynch

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