Get Cast™ Class 5
What you need to know about unions
Everything about SAG-AFTRA
Everything about SAG-AFTRA
What is SAG-AFTRA?
- Talent and artists all over the country can be represented.
- National SAG-AFTRA offices are located in New York and Los Angeles.
- Who is represented by SAG-AFTRA? Approximately 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists, and numerous other media professionals.
- SAG-AFTRA is a significant career step for every working professional in the media and entertainment industry.
How to qualify
- SAG-AFTRA membership is available to those who work in a position covered by SAG-AFTRA (or AFTRA or SAG agreement).
- Qualifying through background actor roles: You must have completed three (3) days of work as a background actor under a SAG-AFTRA (or AFTRA or SAG) agreement.
- Performers can join SAG-AFTRA if the applicant is an up-to-date member of an affiliated performers union (ACTRA, AEA, AGMA, or AGVA)
- You may consider joining SAG-AFTRA once you are offered your first principal union job.
How to join
- You can check your eligibility: https://www.sagaftra.org/content/how-join-sag
- You can apply with the online application, the union will check the legitimacy of your experience.
- Proof of recent union employment must also be provided.
- All new members pay a one-time-only initiation fee, plus the first semiannual dues at the time of joining.
- The national initiation fee rate is currently $3000.
What are the benefits to joining the union?
- Formal contracts protecting your rights as a working artist.
- SAG-AFTRA negotiates wages and working conditions in order to maintain standards for members.
- Often, SAG-AFTRA jobs will offer higher paid parts than those roles that are non-union.
- Pension & Health/Health & Retirement. Members earn credits toward retirement and health care each time they work.
- The SAG-AFTRA Conservatory offers a variety of workshops taught by industry pros who will assess and enhance your skills as an actor.
- Access to iActor. SAG-AFTRA’s free, members-only online casting directory.
Other SAG-AFTRA Benefits
- Receive special access to casting directors.
- The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Casting Access program provides free audition preparation workshops with prominent casting professionals in Los Angeles and New York every week and in cities nationwide.
- Access to seminars to Help Actors Navigate the Business.
- The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Life Raft program offers seminars to educate actors, including Commercials 101, agent panels, how to prepare an actor’s taxes, developing your own project, parenting young performers, set etiquette and many others.
- Programs are available to SAG-AFTRA members who want to explore new or industry related career paths: Career Transition for Dancers, The Actors Fund–Actors Work Program, The Motion Picture Player Welfare Fund. All of these are free services to SAG-AFTRA members
What is SAGe?
- You may have seen actors' resumes before that have the mention SAGe or SAG-AFTRAe near the top. This means they are SAG-AFTRA eligible.
- Being SAG Eligible tells casting directors and your next employer they don't have to go through extra effort to make you a union actor if they want to hire you for a union project.
- SAGe actors are in the more versatile place in the industry because independent directors can hire a SAG worthy actor and union jobs will give you all the benefits of the union.
Are there any negatives to joining SAG-AFTRA?
- The most important thing to consider is Global Rule One. This is the rule that says you cannot take any non-union work once you become a member of an actor union. That means you can't work on non-union films, commercials, television shows or even internet videos.
- Joining a union often means getting access to jobs, but that is not the case here. SAG-AFTRA members do not get help from their union to find acting jobs.
- Once you are a SAG actor, the competition for each role is fiercer, as you are competing against professionals at higher skill levels.
- If you're starting an acting career, joining the union prevents you from getting a lot of acting experience you need to build your resume. This includes many short films and student films that don't have SAG waivers, off- off Broadway plays and non-union commercials.
- For film acting, one of the best things you can do is land a role in a good independent film that goes to film festivals. Otherwise, to be able to hire a SAG-AFTRA actor, independent producers need to become SAG- AFTRA signatories and independent filmmakers are often unable afford to do this.
So, when should I join?!
- Join when you "have to."
- If you HAVE TO join SAG- AFTRA, then you are likely ready to get your actor union card.
- Waiting to join will give you more opportunities to meet up-and- coming contacts in the industry.
- Unless you landed the lead in a SAG film or your role in the film will be a huge opportunity for your career, you should wait to join SAG and take advantage of SAGe instead.
How to take advantage of being SAGe
- Being SAGe makes you a prime pick for a casting director. They are getting a professional actor for a fraction of the cost.
- As a desired SAGe actor, you will be able to maximize your income by raising your day rate so you can afford to pay the SAG fee (currently $3000).
- You will still have the opportunity to meet up and coming directors while also being exposed to the current directors in the business
Next Week - Class 6: Secrets and Backdoors
- Connect with the CD: Connect instantly with the casting director when you walk in the room by building rapport.
- Tools and tips you can use to boost your acting career immediately
- Learn how to take everything you learned and turn it into an actionable plan.
- Learn a few industry secrets that can quickly push you ahead of most other actors in the minds of casting directors.
- Learn an advanced technique to memorize your lines easily and quickly, with little effort on your part.
- Learn about the other programs ASI offers and how you can take your career to the next level.
“You’re not there to win the role, you’re there to win the room.”
–Rae C. Wright
–Rae C. Wright