** 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,
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:
- 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.
- I am free to write about whatever the heck I want to in my blog. God bless America and the First Amendment.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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