How To Taft-Hartley Yourself | Workshop Guru

** MAY 16, 2017 UPDATE: We were notified that SAG-AFTRA will no longer be processing Taft-Hartley reports for low budget new media projects. We made a GuruTips video explaining this in more detail and what it means for you. Don’t worry, there are still steps you can take to not only produce your own content, but get into the union too! Click here to get all the updated information. **

** SPECIAL NOTE ON MARCH 23, 2016 FROM AJARAE: Yesterday, a representative from SAG-AFTRA called me and demanded that I take down this post.  When I refused, she threatened me with legal action. Please read my addendum at the end of this post to find out why I said nope. **

ORIGINAL BLOG POST:
Happy Guru Tips Tuesday! We’re back on track and today I’m explaining exactly how you can take control of your career and Taft-Hartley yourself! Joining the on-camera actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, is a big step and a major milestone in an actor’s career. But sometimes actually getting in can seem like a catch-22. In order to join the union, you need to book a union job, but to book a union job, you need to be in the union… so what can we do? As it turns out, a lot!

It can be stressful, I know, but there’s still hope. It takes some time and energy but after watching this video you’ll feel confident that you can pave your own path to getting into the union.

As I explain in the video, there are a few ways to join SAG-AFTRA. The first is getting 3 union background vouchers. This is extra work, and it sometimes can be up to chance. Not often are non-union actors given union vouchers, so this is definitely not a method you should rely on. The second way is by being a member of one of SAG-AFTRA’s sister unions (AEA, ACTRA, AGMA, AGVA) and working a principal job at least once. The easiest (and sometimes hardest) way is to get Taft-Hartley’d.

You can read more on SAG-AFTRA eligibility here, but I want to show you how you can Taft-Hartley yourself! All it takes is an idea, a friend who’s in SAG-AFTRA, some time to fill out paperwork, and lots of patience.

Start your journey to creating your own content as a SAG-AFTRA signatory here.

But I also want to leave you with this piece of advice: Joining SAG-AFTRA right now isn’t for everyone. It can be really limiting with the amount of union acting jobs out there (remember- you can’t do any more non-union work!) and you have to make sure you can be on par with the other SAG-AFTRA actors you’re auditioning with. Be sure to watch our previous GuruTips on When To Join SAG-AFTRA so you can be confident in your decision!


Now I want to hear from you! Are you planning on joining SAG-AFTRA anytime soon? What method are you going to use to get in? Share your story in the comments below and you’ll be entered to win an exclusive WorkshopGuru prize!

I know that you have lots of questions, and I want to make it easy for you to get them answered. Do you have a burning question that you want me to answer in Guru Tips For Actors? Email us your questions and we’ll address it in a future #GuruTips episode!

You all rule,

Ajarae Coleman | Workshop Guru

ADDENDUM TO POST – MARCH 23, 2016:

Yesterday I spoke to a representative of SAG-AFTRA who demanded that I “remove [this] video immediately.” When I asked her point-blank if there was something incorrect about the video, she really had nothing to say other than “you’re not a representative of SAG-AFTRA” and “this goes against the spirit of the agreement.” She described this as an area of “immense abuse” that they are trying to put an end to. When I told her that I wouldn’t take the post down, she threatened me with legal action. Okay…. Bring it on, I suppose. But I want to be as clear as possible with all of our much beloved and respected readers/viewers, and also with anyone who thinks I shouldn’t be talking about this. So please note the following:

  1. I am not an authorized representative of SAG-AFTRA. I don’t work for SAG-AFTRA. I am, however, a proud, voting, dues-paying member of SAG-AFTRA who adheres to all the union guidelines.
  2. I am free to write about whatever the heck I want to in my blog. God bless America and the First Amendment.
  3. I am not advocating that anyone hastily throws together some fake production and Taft-Hartley themselves. Rather, I believe the New Media contract represents an excellent opportunity for actors to take their careers into their own hands, create a role for themselves in a project that they can be proud of, work with professional union performers to bring their vision to life, and become SAG-AFTRA eligible in the process. Actors have every right to be producers. New media makes it relatively cheap and easy to express ourselves in our art form. So let’s do this!
  4. When you produce your new media project, you MUST give preference to professional (union) performers. You may be fined (up to $500 per performer) if SAG-AFTRA files a claim against you and determines that you did not give preference to a union performer. So be careful about this, and don’t cut any corners.  The woman I who called me told me that a $3000 fine had been assessed on a producer last week.  “This is not a joke,” she said.  Nobody says it was, but whatever.  We get the point.
  5. I do not appreciate the fact that a representative from my union attempted to intimidate me, threaten me with legal action, and prevent me from sharing information with my fellow performers. To be clear, I was prepared to take the post down if she had given me a good reason, and especially if there was something inaccurate about the post. But it seems to me that there wasn’t a good reason.
  6. There are numerous other instances of people blogging about this so-called “inappropriate topic of discussion” on the web. I searched Google for about four minutes and found five instances in other people’s blogs. I can’t help but wonder whether these folks were also asked to remove their posts and threatened with legal action. The fact that these posts are still up (years after they were posted) tells me that I probably don’t have very much to worry about. You can check out the ones I found if you’d like… I’m sure there are many more: Backstage Article: SAG Eligibility: The DIY Way, Backstage Article: 4 Ways to Join SAG-AFTRA, Backstage Article: What Non-Members Need to Know About SAG-AFTRA, David Lawrence’s Acting Answers Blog: What’s the Fastest Way to Get Into SAG-AFTRA, and the Crappy Candle Blog.
  7. I also know for a fact that there are career coaches who are charging actors a lot of money for this information. Maybe the problem is that this post is free and any proactive actor can choose to take action on it? The whole issue is just extremely disappointing to me.

So thanks again for reading! I hope y’all have a great day, and happy creating! I can’t wait to see what inspiring projects come out of this.  If you do it, please share a link in the comments! xoxox

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Ajarae is an actress and entrepreneur living in Los Angeles. She founded Workshop Guru in 2012, which expanded into Acting Resource Guru in 2017, to help actors save time and money on classes and workshops, and give them a powerful voice by publishing anonymous actor reviews of acting schools, casting directors, talent agencies and management companies. You can see Ajarae on shows like ABC’s SCANDAL, REVENGE, PRIVATE PRACTICE, and THE CATCH, CBS’s THE McCARTHYS, 2 BROKE GIRLS, and NCIS: NEW ORLEANS, NBC’s DAYS OF OUR LIVES, TNT’s PERCEPTION, I'M SORRY on TruTV, and more. She raised over $17,000 and co-created an action comedy television show called SMACK Unit, currently has national commercials running, and has cultivated rewarding relationships with her agents and manager.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the information. Would you mind clarifying something about creating your new media contact in order to Taft Hartley and become SAG-e: apparently, SAG-Aftra are clamping down on these contracts in order to become SAG-e because apparently, this loophole has been taken advantage of. Do you know if this is correct? It would horrible if it were and I’m really hoping it’s not, otherwise becoming SAG-e will be a long distance dream. Many thanks in advance.

  2. HI, Georgia! Thanks for asking this. SAG called me yesterday, so this is top of mind for me (see my addendum to the original post after talking to SAG-AFTRA). SAG-AFTRA is “clamping down” and trying to make sure that no union performers are passed over for roles. As long as you follow the guidelines, and can justify your reasons for casting non-union professionals, you should be fine!

  3. Ajarae, you rock, girl! I loved how you took care of that phone call. Like a true BOSS! Thank you so much for all that you do for the actor community!

  4. Hi, it´s the first time that I´m visiting your blog, thank you so much for all the inspiration and help that you are sharing with us! I have a question: If I create a new media contract for my project, how much is the fee I have to pay to taft-harley myself?
    And of course I have to have one SAG AFTRA actor in my project. Do you know if this actor can be SAG fi-core?
    Thank you so much for your help! And for all the great videos!

  5. Hi, Anna! My pleasure. There is currently no fee to Taft-Hartley actors under the new media contract specifically. I don’t know whether your SAG actor can be fi-core. That is a great question to ask your SAG representative when you sign up as a signatory. Please let us know!

  6. Hi Ajarae,

    I have a quick question about Taft-Hartley. I am trying to become SAG eligible for agents and managers. I watched your video on this and I have a quick question. Can you become SAG eligible by collecting 3 extra vouchers from any SAG-AFTRA project? Or does it have to be more specific than that? I’ve seen some breakdowns where its a Union project, but they are paying a non-union rate to extras. Does that still count? I worked on Magic City a while back as an extra which was a show for the Starz network which of course was Union, I am wondering if that counts.

    Thanks!

    Alex

  7. Hi Ajarae,

    I have a question about your awesome Taft-Harltey video. When you were creating your own Taft-Hartley production, did you have to purchase production liability insurance? It is just kind of expensive. Any possibility of having my actors waive liability? Does SAG accept anything like that because they do want a certificate. Thanks you!

    -Max

  8. Hey, Alexandra! You specifically have to collect 3 SAG-AFTRA background vouchers for that background project. If you are non-union, you are more likely to get non-union vouchers (and non-union pay). It happens sometime that non-union actors are given union vouchers (for various reasons), but it’s certainly not the most reliable way to gain union eligibility, in my opinion. Good luck! Keep us posted.

  9. That’s a great question for your SAG rep, Max! I honestly am not sure whether they would accept a waiver of liability, though I will say that when I created my production, we purchased insurance. We had a lot of expensive equipment that we were borrowing, and we were doing stunts! It was imperative that we protected ourselves and our actors. If you do end up needing to purchase insurance, get creative with ways to pay for it. You could always raise a bit of money… Good luck, and let me know what happens with your project! Very exciting!

  10. Thank you so much for the information! What company did you purchase insurance through? When filling out estimates with Film Emporium, the numbers get very confusing and it’s difficult to make an accurate estimate without a representative from an insurance company guiding me through it. Wondering if you have any recommendations for small brokers/insurance companies who will be affordable, reliable and helpful in aiding with the insurance purchase process! Thank you!!

    • Hi Jordana!
      Stay posted, we may have something coming up in a future #GuruTips with a great resource list! 😉

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