Updated: Sep 23, 2018
By: Jess Canty
So my post today is going to be a little bit all over the place because there are a few things that some of you have run into in the past month that I think could benefit the entire group.
SAG-AFTRA The union of actors. The place that protects you from poor working conditions, shoddy producers and makes sure you get paid. We are definitely pro-union here at Cinterra - for me I think it was studying theater history and learning that there was a time in history when Actors couldn't be buried in cemeteries that really made the whole "artists need to band together" thing stick.
IF YOU ARE SAG Please get thee to the website and make sure you are all paid up on you dues. We are seeing more and more breakdowns that say "Talent must be SAG in good standing." We've had a couple of occasions recently where people have booked jobs, and then Casting reaches out to verify their SAG status and oops! Not in good standing / dues are owed and everyone is scrambling at the last minute right when the booking is supposed to close. Not the best impression to leave with casting - even if you do fix it. And a lot of sturm und drang for no reason.
IF YOU ARE SAG-E PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE right now go on the website and check that you are TRULY listed as SAG-E with the union. They are understaffed and underpaid - paperwork gets lost. Social Security Numbers can be entered into systems incorrectly. That "pending new media job" that you did can have its SAG status revoked after you think it made you SAG-E (learned this the hard way this week). Do not pass go - do not collect $200. Go straight to SAG's website now and verify your status. If you are SAG-E please send an email to talent with a screenshot of your eligibility by end of day Monday.
JOINING SAG FOR A JOB If you are SAG-E and you hear from your agent that there is an offer for a SAG job - please be proactive and ASK immediately if you will be required to join SAG to work this job. Likely you will have to. You should attempt, if at all possible, to go get this done while the offer is pending and your agent is working on closing it. Like same-day. Remember that SAG is closed on the weekends and doesn't open till 9AM each day and closes at 5PM - so not necessarily friendly to call-times that start on a Monday at 7am (and your offer came in Friday morning).
VISITING SAG When you visit SAG there are a couple things to keep in mind:
I would imagine that the majority of the day of the person at the front desk is spent fending off people who know NOTHING about how SAG works but want to be "actors." So when you walk in the door, they are likely coming from the place of "is this a crazy person." And am I going to have to explain AGAIN that "no, you can't just join SAG, you need to work union jobs to join."
Many people that work there are attempting to be actors / had the dream of being an actor but now they are working at SAG. If I know one thing about human nature, I can imagine it is difficult for some of the people working there to spend the other half of their day truly happy for the actors that are eligible to join - it is a big step, and one that someone working there may not have yet achieved.
I bring this up because when you go over there you need to expect that it is going to take at least an hour. Grab a Starbucks next door before you go in, and get ready to deal with bureaucracy. Meaning you will likely be sent to at least 2 different offices or be made to wait while your paperwork is sent to at least 3, before anything is resolved. That and be the nicest person that they will deal with that day. Use your actor-charm. The same charm you turn on in the audition room? You need it at SAG in order to get what you need done, done.
AUDITIONS 99.999999% of the time you should go to the audition. If we / your agent gets you an opportunity, I am going to talk you into auditioning. Even if it is a small project. Even if you don't like the material. Even if you don't want to do the project.
WHY? Let's take two examples from this week:
Actor gets invited to audition for something that is supposedly "SAG" but breakdown lists $0 pay. Is this a typo? We're not sure. Actor goes to the audition anyway. Its great practice. They get along with the CD - so another new connection. And when they are walking out of the audition the CD from the project holding auditions next door says "excuse me, would you mind auditioning for my project? We're looking for someone like you." Imagine if this actor didn't go because it said $0 pay. They would have missed out on TWO opportunities.
Actor gets invited to audition for a project that after they read the sides they KNOW is some of the worst writing they have ever seen. Looks terrible. BUT, they were CD Selected and haven't been in this office in a while. They go to the audition and not only do they feel like they did an amazing job (#nailedit) but they re-connect with a CD that they haven't seen in 6 months.
Actor gets invited to audition in-person for a project in Atlanta. Round-trip flights are less than $300. This casting office has seen them on tape multiple times. They've never actually met their SE rep in person. They go - because all of this face-time with both this casting office and their SE rep is invaluable. It indicates a seriousness of purpose.
Bottom line - in examples #1 and #2 I am HAPPY to make an excuse for you after the fact if the project is shit or the pay is shit. But you GO to the audition. We can deal with that later. The audition is STEP ONE and there is almost zero reason (barring content that you are truly uncomfortable with for political, religious or #metoo reasons) not to audition.
In example #3 - we will help you make excuses for out-of-town auditions. We will try to put you on tape. We will tell your agent that flights are $700 if they are $700. But when the flight is $250 round trip and you've been on tape for this CD multiple times before you gotta bite the bullet for that regional rep. You gotta show up. If you aren't willing / able to do that then let's talk about dropping your regional rep.
GIFTS and THANK-YOUS This town runs on gift-baskets and thank-yous. It is because there are often a lot of people that are working on your behalf that you can't PAY for their work (i.e. a CD). Thanking them and being creative with gifts, but remaining professional is the key. We had an actor book a job recently and afterwards they wanted to send a gift. We discussed the possibility of dropping it off in person vs. delivery. We landed on delivery because it looks more pro. It says "I thank you, but I'm cool enough to sit back and have it delivered on my behalf (i.e. this town also runs on courier services). Its confident - you trust that the person / office will remember who you are even if you are not there in person with the item(s). I think we made the right call, because this actor has been invited back to the show.
I'LL TIE THIS ALL TOGETHER ANYWAY...
I need to know everything you know. I cannot help you if you don't involve me in the process. In each of these situations - I was able to help the client through dealing with SAG, or strategizing about getting on a plane, or talking through hitting just the right tone with a gift because the client called me to discuss. We talked it out. We weighed pros and cons together.
I will step in front of the proverbial train for you. I will take the heat and responsibility off your shoulders (even if you screwed up), I will fall on my sword (because seriously nothing is THAT big of a deal). I will tell half-truths if it will help you. But I can ONLY do this if you get me involved. I need to know the good, bad and ugly.
I believe that we can solve pretty much any situation - but I can't be blindsided if that is going to happen. Let's not be a ship tossed at sea during a storm - let's be an expert crew that knows how to get through the storm because we're so good at sailing. So when you are stuck, or you are wondering if you should send that gift, or you are concerned about an audition. CALL ME. SEND UP A SMOKE SIGNAL. This is what you hired me for.