History of SAG (The Screen Actors Guild)
Screen Actors Guild is the nation's largest labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG has a rich history in the American labor movement, from standing up to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940s to fighting for artists' rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry in the 21st century. The guild was formed to eliminate the exploitation of actors. During the 1930’s actors were forced to sign long contracts, they were not given breaks and forced to work extremely long hours. Not only did they have to work under these poor conditions it was like their life was signed away to their studios. Under these contract studio basically could tell how to eat, sleep, and breathe. They not only dictated their professional lives but their personal lives as well. The scariest part of it is that most contacts did not have an end date so actors were forced to live under these rules for years. The Screen Actors Guild was formed by six actors Berton Churchill, Charles Miller, Grant Mitchell, Ralph Morgan, Alden Gay, and Kenneth Thomson. With 20 branches nationwide, SAG represents nearly 200,000 working actors in film, television, industrials, commercials, video games, music videos and other new media. The Guild exists to enhance actors' working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artists' rights. Headquartered in Los Angeles, SAG is a proud affiliate of the AFL-CIO.
Acting in Your Interest Brochure
• This brochure details many aspects of SAG membership, including:
• How the Guild protects your paycheck
• Pension and Health Benefits, including qualifying criteria
• How to get involved with your Guild
• Support programs
• Financial assistance programs
• Supporting other unions
• Affirmative action and diversity
• Democratic participation in SAG
• Young Performer information
• How to reach SAG
• Member benefit programs
Membership in the Guild says that you are an experienced professional who requires certain minimum standards for wages and working conditions (work hours, turnaround, safety, etc.). Guild members agree to work only for producers who have signed a SAG contract. While actors can, of course, negotiate terms above the minimum, by requiring SAG contracts for every SAG member on every job, we can ensure that all actors are fairly compensated for their work. Without Rule One, many actors would be subject to exploitation.
This brochure is for perspective actors who want to become members of the screen actor’s guild. It is also intended to provide information to anyone interested in what the Screen Actors Guild is for the document is very organized explains clearly why being part of the union is important to an actor. This brochure reassures the actor that they are that being a part of the union will help them have a better career. It is encouraging because getting a SAG card is very difficult.
How to get your SAG Card
The double edged sword--You can’t act if you don’t have a SAG card and you can’t get a SAG card unless you act!
Frustrating? Yes I know! Many agents will not employ an actor if they do not have a SAG card and most major casting notices require SAG talent for their projects. This is because they can get fined if they accept non union talent. Also the Screen Actors Guild processes all of the necessary paperwork for an actor to work so it’s easier to hire a union actor then a non union actor. There are several ways you can get your SAG card.
It was created so that non union actors can automatically join the actor’s guild. This is good news! So if a casting director wants to use you in a union project and you are non union they can Taft Hartley you. This means you are automatically qualified to join the union without going through the long process. This does not happen too often but is gold to an actor.
Join thru a sister Union:
If you belong to a sister union and worked a principle role you are eligible to join the Screen Actors Guild. Sister unions include:
• A.F.T.R.A. (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists)
• AGVA (American Guild of Variety Artists)
• AGMA (American Guild of Musical Artists)
Just because you belong to a sister union does not mean you are automatically a SAG member. You still have to apply and pay membership fees in order to join.
Other ways to get your SAG card
You can get your SAG Card by working as an extra. If you take this route the goal is to get three vouchers. Sound easy? Well hate to break it to you but that is not the case. There are hundreds of extras who work onset on a production and say that production has one voucher who’s going to get it. It’s like putting a mouse in front of 100 cats they will fight toe and nail for it. Now don’t get me wrong if actors get vouchers everyday and some are lucky enough to get them faster than others but it takes work. But we all know that working hard to get what you want is part of the business and it’s all about networking. Get seen; show those directors your talent and getting your SAG voucher will come easier than you think. Signing up for extra work is easy you can do this on by signing up for casting companies such as my personal favorite LA CASTING.
Being an actor is tough and everyone is not cut out for this business. My rule is this if you can see yourself doing another job that makes you even a little more happy than acting don’t become an actor! You have to love what you do so much that you can’t see yourself doing anything but act. If this is you you’re ready for the business. So remember you cannot be a working actor without a SAG card but the union was created so that when you do you’re not exploited. Good luck on getting your SAG card but remember to BREAK A LEG in your auditions!!!