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Anonymous Showbiz Confessions Post #1

November 19, 2012

All of this week’s posts are written by my fellow Green Room Bloggers (not myself…or are they?), but I have published them all under my username to protect their identities. Hope you enjoy their confessions!

Going Non Union

I was lucky enough to join all three unions when I had to. I wanted my Equity card more than anything but I didn’t buy in or sneak through a backdoor. I put in hard work and it led me there. I was a must join for SAG but it was on a commercial that more than paid my initiation fee, but when I joined AFTRA I felt like I got mugged. I had to pay $1600 to do a job that paid less than half of that. I booked a one word (not even a whole sentence) on a network tv show that got cut. Too bad so sad, but these three er…two unions don’t keep me alive.

Now I am not here to bash SAG (SAG-AFTRA) or AEA. They have done some good things for me. I had a big issue with a show I was in and AEA stood up for me. SAG jobs always pay well and they tend to make sure things run smoothly. But my issue is not with what they do right, or even wrong, it’s with what they can’t do.

I wasn’t an actor when the strike happened that supposedly made it so easy for jobs to go non-union, but I shouldn’t have to suffer from it. I only joined the SAG and AFTRA because I had to or else I would lose work. I think there is value in being a union actor, but at the end of the day, my bank accounts value doesn’t change.

According to SAG-AFTRA Global Rule One “No member shall work as a performer or make an agreement to work as a performer for any producer who has not executed a basic minimum agreement with the Guild which is in full force and effect.” But SAG never acknowledges that most producers (in NYC especially) do not execute said agreement. Thus we union actors have an even smaller pool of jobs of which we can work.

I did a film in Florida and many of the local actors were SAG. They were booking non-union stuff every day. I asked them how this was possible and apparently SAG considers Florida a right-to-work state. Meaning there aren’t enough SAG jobs to tell SAG people they can’t work on non-union ones. How is this fair? Sure NYC has more producers and hence more shoots and SAG jobs, but it also has 10 or more times the amount of actors and competition. It’s not like SAG NYC helps me get jobs or even auditions, and since I don’t have an agent, how do I even get seen for the only jobs I am supposed to be allowed to do?

I still get calls from casting people and agents for non-union auditions. I usually turn them down, but I had a talk with my partner (and myself) and realized, I need to work. As much as I want to uphold my union standards, and not “scab,” fact is I am trying to build a life, a career and a portfolio. My partner and I want to buy property one day, we want to pay off our debt and we want to be able to have a nice dinner when we want, not when we run into some money. As much as I want to be a fine upstanding union member, I also want to be a living human being who can pay my rent doing what I love and not working 5 restaurant shifts per week.

I am no longer losing sleep worrying SAG will show up at my door with the naughty stick. I won’t lose sleep feeling like a bad actor or an ungrateful union member, I will sleep well knowing that I worked today, I will sleep well knowing that we can buy that appetizer and not worry about the bill at the end of the meal, I will sleep well knowing I have a bed to sleep in. And would SAG ever even find out anyway?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Josh G permalink
    November 23, 2012 10:50 pm

    Im sorry, but you misunderstand what ‘right to work’ means. SAG has no say on what states are right to work and which arnt. Right to Work is part of state law that says that a union agreement cannot bar non-union members from working a union job and vise versa. SAG would rather this not happen, and it has nothing to do with the ‘fairness’ of working in FL vs. NY.
    I understand your critique, but it would due you well to actually understand the concepts that upset you.

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