Wednesday, September 15, 2010

SAG AFTRA and AEA: To join or not to join?

Sometimes you don't even have a choice.  Look, I am a union guy.  I believe that actors should earn fair wages.  After all, coming up, we are the most ripped off profession in the world.  Just do a quick google search and you will see "networking seminars" on sale for $500+!  These seminars make outrageous claims like "You will have a huge career jump" or "You will brush shoulders with the who's who of the casting world." 

Lies I tell you, lies!

If these seminars were marketed towards any other profession they would be shut down and the organizers would be incarcerated.  I'm serious.  You can't charge money for an interview!  That is essentially what they are doing, too.  They call is "networking" - bullshit!  It's a friggen interview.  End rant.

The point of the above rant is that, by joining an acting union, you are making a stand for fair wages for fair work.  You are making a stand that employers should not only pay you for the day, but they should allocate a portion of that cost to your pension.  By joining a union you are effectively shoving your middle finger in the face of clip joints like "The Network" and "Actors Connection." 

Monday night, when I was on the phone with The Onion CD's and being offered a role, I was asked if I belonged to AFTRA.  I told them no, I belong to SAG.  They asked me if I was a "must join".  I told them "I don't think so." "If you were a must join, would you join?" 

Of course I would.  This would be the first job landed with my legit agency and I needed to get the ball rolling with them and I'd like to get in good with The Onion, as I love their sense of humor and they seem to bring actors back for repeat work.  What is a "must join?" You ask.  I answer: when an actor does an AFTRA job, he/she has 30 days to do as much AFTRA work as possible, then starting on the 31st day, if you want to work AFTRA jobs again you must join their cause, you must join AFTRA.  It's totally fair and I agree with it.  It also costs $1600.00 - so the good news is that I can now join AFTRA because I forgot that 2-3 years ago a JVC commercial I did was AFTRA.  Check it out here, it's the first clip on my comedic reel.  So unbeknownst to me, as of 31 days after March whatever 2008, I was an AFTRA must join. 

Since I was cast late Monday night, well after AFTRA was closed, The Onion was not able to get a definitive answer and I was unable to give them the correct answer.  That was my bad.  Either way I would have done the job and assured them that I would join AFTRA.  I hope they didn't get too much of a scare when they were notified that they had indeed cast a "must join" actor and was already on set.  Geeze, woe is me. 

So I will join AFTRA this week.  Mrs PhillyRay and I talked about this and she had a funny remark.  "Do you have anymore acting clubs to join or is that it?"  Ha, no worries Dawn, this is it. 

PhillyRay actor and card carrying member of SAG since 2005, AEA since 2009, AFTRA since 2010. 

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