Before you get the idea that I am just writing to bash SAG, because I am going to a little bit. You need to know that I am a BIG supporter of the guild. I have been a member of SAG (and AFTRA) for over 20 years. I am a member of the SAG Native American Caucus and a volunteer Director at the SAG Conservatory / AFI for over 12 seasons. I have acted as Sergeant at Arms and I actively participated in the last strike. I also do more than most members (and Americans) do, and that is VOTE!
With that out of the way, I am not happy with SAG. There will always be something that a member can find fault in. We rent when we used to own our own building, the way SAG sold out the background performers when they first took jurisdiction, performers with disabilities have fallen so far off the radar that they don’t even keep stats for them, a casting website “iActor” is finally up, 15 years late, the lousy deal we got in the last contract in regard to DVD’s, etc.
But regarding the strike, first we were unsure and then we thought the WGA took care of a lot of our issues, now it seems to be a coin toss. I think there will be a strike but I hope not. A week after the WGA settled their strike I found myself at one of those small A-List Hollywood insider parties. The ones in million dollar homes with producers and Oscar winners, butler service, pictures of people with Andy Warhol, the Queen and JFK on the wall, etc. You know the type. Anyway when the small party got smaller the producers started dishing on the potential of a SAG strike, they insisted that there will be a strike. Remember this was just after the WGA strike ended, when we were all optimistic. One very big producer said something that I found very interesting. He said that “aside from the top level…actors are not partners in the industry”. Ouch!
They have respect for crew members but not the actor. I think it is because of the often lack of professionalism. I am blaming SAG! They have no standards, no training and no concerns other than Dues, Health and Pension and a bit of Safety. What other union allows untrained, unprofessional people to represent them. Could you imagine trying to join a Carpenters Union while barely knowing what a hammer is? There are no standards to even something as simple as how a resume should look. “Featured” has come to mean extra work, but it is not. Arriving late, not knowing how to hit a mark, maintain an eye line, repeat blocking in different frames or act on set -ON CAMERA, cost production money! Do we deserve a raise? Is it fair to learn on set when we are being paid, very well, to perform as professionals? I could go on but my point is this. I urge SAG members to insist that our guild negotiates hard and is not fast to strike. A strike would effect a lot of people but sadly the over 80% of SAG members who earn a living from non acting jobs will be the least effected. For the working actors and those that may become one someday, we need a piece of new media, a say in product placement, as it deprives us of potential commercial revenue, and more compensation for DVD’s. Then we need some standards put in place so that we will have deserved what we got. For too long has the word Actor been codeword for “Flake”. I am also a Director / Producer so I see both sides. I want the best for SAG members and I want them to deserve it! Join me in holding our union accountable!
Yours in solidarity,