Even if you don't work in the acting industry, you've probably heard of SAG-AFTRA. The company is ingrained in the foundations of the entertainment sector and may be found in practically every major production. SAG-AFTRA plays a number of roles, just like the members it represents. Let's examine the organization's nature, its history, and its significance.
A description of SAG-AFTRA
American actors in film and television are represented by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). The Screen Actors Guild, like other labour unions, works to safeguard its members while simultaneously advancing the well-being of the industry it represents. The SAG is headquarters in Hollywood, the centre of the American film industry, which shouldn't come as a surprise, even if there are many branch offices spread out around the nation.
Despite the fact that you've certainly heard the term mentioned before, you might still be wondering what SAG AFTRA is. I'm completely lost!" Because the US takes pride in not understanding unions or paying artists a livable salary, don't berate yourself for your ignorance.
Let's correct the record.
SAG AFTRA has 160,000 members, which is a substantial number. This article gives an excellent overview of the organization's history and membership growth, helping you decide if it's the appropriate fit for you:
SAG's mission has many facets. The union's ability to negotiate contracts that address issues like benefits, working conditions, pay scales, and other issues is one of its most crucial functions. SAG also bargains for residuals on behalf of its members. The organization also encourages its members to pursue employment possibilities and facilitates their access to a range of health benefits. Since 1995, the Screen Actors Guild Awards have also played a significant role in Hollywood's cultural landscape, frequently making predictions about which movies will do well at the renowned Oscars.
Understanding SAG AFTRA's history is necessary to comprehend how its membership is so large.
SAG-history in Brief:
On March 30, 2012, SAG-AFTRA was formally established. AFTRA and SAG have both been there since the 1930s. The two unions operated separately until 2012.
In 1933, during what is also known as the Studio System and the Golden Age of Hollywood, SAG was established. The actors, however, were subject to exploitative contracts with studios that showed little regard for them or their well-being during this golden age, which did not benefit them.
Thus, SAG was founded for the same reason that other unions do: workers seeking a just part of the pie they helped to create. SAG was able to stand out for actors' rights both on and off the screen thanks to the strength of collective bargaining.
In 1937, when SAG was settling its initial contract, AFRA—the American Federation of Radio Artists—was established. A year later, AFRA would negotiate its first contract; in the 1950s, it would change its name to AFTRA to include employees in the emerging television industry.
Both the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA have experienced strikes since their respective foundings, established strict rules for how their members are to be treated on films, and amassed sizable memberships. Although there have been discussions about joining the two organizations since the 1930s because of their obvious similarities, the official union didn't occur until 2012.
What makes SAG-AFTRA significant?
Being a member of SAG AFTRA is crucial for securing basic rights like access to healthcare and safety on the set, and it is crucial if you are an actor. It is vital to comprehend functioning with unions if you work in or around the entertainment sector.
When they work for at least one day on a production that is overseen by a producer who has negotiated a contract with the Screen Actors Guild, principal actors are deemed "SAG-eligible." Prior to being forced to submit an application for membership, the SAG-eligible actor is permitted to work for up to one month on SAG-affiliated projects while benefiting from the union's umbrella protections. After working for three days, background actors are SAG-eligible. An actor or actress cannot participate in non-union projects after joining the Screen Actors Guild.
Because of the union's (understandable) appeal among actors, if you're a creative in need of a throng of performers, you'll at the very least give a non-union production some thought. The Screen Actors Guild's prohibition against allowing its members to participate in non-union productions is a salient feature. Producers that decide to pursue the non-union path will therefore be excluding themselves from any actor who is a member of the group.
Almost every actor you recognise is a member of SAG AFTRA, with the exception of your friend who is performing in a Les Miserables community theatre production. In fact, virtually every film or television programme you can think of is a union production.
However, this does not imply that all actors are union members. There are many plays that require players yet don't require union performers.
Consider a low-cost driver's education video. Yes, this is a respectable production, but Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, or Tom Holland are not necessary. Due to union minimums and restrictions, a union project will cost extra. Thus, the director of the driver's education film will choose to cast non-union actors who live nearby.
So, not everyone is a fit for the Screen Actors Guild. Being a member of SAG-AFTRA would prevent you from working on small, non-union films, which are the ones that are most likely to come your way at this point in your career if you're an actor who is still relatively unknown and trying to develop your reel.
Additionally, it should be mentioned that non-union performers are permitted to work on union sets. There are two caveats, though.
Union performers are given preference throughout the casting procedure in various entertainment cities.
1. You can only work on two union projects before being required to join the Screen Actors Guild if you reside in a union-friendly state (i.e., one that does not support the "right to work" movement).
2. There are valid reasons not to join the union, but if you've succeeded to a certain extent, you'll want to know how to join SAG AFTRA.'
Getting into SAG AFTRA
The age-old question of how to join SAG-AFTRA has never been answered (2012). Check to see if your profession is under SAG-purview AFTRA's first: actors, models, voice actors, DJs, influencers, or other media professionals. This is probably not the right union for you if you work in the steel industry.
Once you've done that, there are three ways to become a member of SAG AFTRA.
1. Perform a speaking or main role in a union production for at least one day. Fortunately, there is a less tough approach (see option #2) because this can be a challenging obstacle to get over.
2. Work three or more days as an extra or background actor on a union production.
3. Join a performer's union that is linked with you. Among them are ACTRA, AGVA, AGMA, or AEA.
Once more, it's crucial not to rush into joining a union. While belonging to a union ensures a minimum wage, safety, and other benefits, it can also prevent you from finding employment. If you don't reside in Los Angeles or New York, this is especially true. If you reside in Raleigh, for instance, the majority of the acting work you encounter will likely be non-union.
However, if you ultimately want to work as an actor in a major entertainment centre like L.A. or New York, you'll need to join SAG-AFTRA. You will have more advantages, protection, and power as a result of doing this.
Nov 23, 2022