A proud union member for nearly 30 years, it pains me to hear the misinformation from both union and non-union talent about how both camps operate.
One thing I keep hearing from people is that if you’re in the union, you can’t audition for non-union work.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re a union dude/dudette, and you’re thinking to yourself, “Not me. Not if I want to stay straight with SAG-AFTRA.”
Actually, you are being just a bit too hard on yourself.
Hope this helps!
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Hey David, my question which I may not understand correctly is that if the producer states non-union in the specs and a union member gets the role, wouldn’t that upset the producers by trying to convince them to go union when it specifically stated non-union in the original specs? I would think that the union member wasted their time. I’m thinking about commercials sent by the agents, not audiobooks nor narration. Post your thoughts please. Kim
Commercials are not usually a type of VO that you’re able to do this with, as they are residual based. But even then, if a producer wants a particular talent bad enough, and that talent has told them they are union, they might consider going union with project after all. That’s what the union hopes for!
Would you give an approximate percentage or count of how many commercial VO non-union auditions that you personally was able to convert to union from your agents? Also, how do you apply this technique with your own agents?
I would want to check if it’s a waste of time, am I alienating the client, or they just don’t care and go for it? Just send to the agent that you’re a union talent if the agency agrees to send in the non-union audition since they sent it to you in the first place since the talent fits the specs.
Obviously, if the potential client doesn’t budge, I feel that as a union talent, I’m a rock in a hard place and that’s a tough situation to be as a talent to turn down money. I absolutely think that talent should already be in a position to turn down money if this is a technique to consider using. I’m at the point that I have more than one business and may consider this technique if it’s worth my time. Kim
Again… Commercials are not usually a type of VO that you’re able to do this with, as they are residual based. I’ve never converted any. I don’t try. I do it with IVR, I do it with store announcements, and other CO-ED work.
Thanks for your clarification.
Good to know. Union stuff still confuses me, even after talking with more than one person at the union. OK30 Status, must join status, union dues, all that sort of thing. I just got a background extra part and had to tell the casting director over and over to not pay me union scale because I’d have to join the union if she did. And when I look at the pay for one day of background extra work vs the cost to join the union, I’m like, “Please pay me nonunion!” Thanks for the video David.
Chris, if memory serves, there is a payment plan available to take care of your Union dues if that’s the way you want to go. You don’t say what your local would be (I’m with the Philly local and I also work in NY and Jersey), but I’d give them a call and get the straight scoop on payment plans.
Thank you for this one. It greatly clarifies some things for me. I had thought about the idea of convincing productions to go union for when I do join the union though I hadn’t thought it through as clearly as you stated here. I have run into quite a lot of union actors at non-union commercial auditions and was even at a callback a while ago where it was just myself and a union actor and I didn’t get it. I was starting to think that there are a lot of union actors working off the card (which is also quite possible) but now I’m thinking it is also possible that they may be convincing the productions to go union if they want them. Gives me some great food for thought to not write off all those auditions when I do join the union.
David, I have been a union member almost all my working life. Even in non-union shops I joined employee bargaining groups. I first became a union member right out of high school in the trade unions. I joined the Newspaper guild in Detroit, just before the largest strike in its history.
I find SAG-AFTRA to be obtuse, obscure, arcane and member unfriendly. It is also prohibitively expensive and because of its limited outreach appears elitist. From what I’ve seen from the outside of its internal stratification it also appears cliquish.
Of course at my age, the union offers small inducement and my union activism has waned, so most of this is moot.