Friday, April 03, 2015

Not gonna do it...

To join...or not to join?

With all of my moaning and groaning about how SAG union people get to do everything first, I've decided that I'm not going to join up.  All my old friends and even new acquaintances have told me that they are barely working once their union cards arrive.  It seems no one wants to touch them for regular work. Most of them are embarrassed to say that they are working only once a month -as opposed to pre-union days when they were working up to 5 days a week!

Last month, I got my long-awaited third waiver.  Jubilation and ecstasy flowed all over my body -for about a week.  I had crossed into a realm that I thought would never happen: if I wanted to, I could now join the union.  And initially I was psyched up to do it.  Planning how I'd use my "showbiz bank account" for the $3200 fee... as soon as I made that much this year.  I'm only half way there as of now.

But as I kept discussing how best to go about getting regular work as a SAG extra with my friend "Vinnie the cop", ...it sounded like I'd have to succumb to play the same role over and over -that of a cop.  Cop roles are usually the most popular jobs for SAG people.  First you invest a few hundred for the uniforms (winter and summer) and then hope that you get into "the rotation" of the "casting powers that be".  And of course becoming a core participant on one of the cop shows is the ultimate goal.  You get called regularly and the union wages roll in. Sounds like a plan. A very looooooong range plan. Things are never that simple.

Only one thing wrong with it: I do not want to play the same bg-role all the time.  Part of the fun of being a non-union extra is that you get to go to different sets, see different celebrities and "play different roles" (in various period clothing).  I love period pieces. Something about them makes you feel alive as you experience different sensations! As of this writing, I've had thirty roles just this year alone.  Most of my union counterparts averaged one per month. One of them even wants to give back his union card just so he can work more.  Too bad that there isn't a SAG-AFTRA union office where, once you're a member, you can be assigned to a job at reasonable intervals (provided that you are a reliable professional who shows up on time and does the work).

And so... at this time, as strange as it may seem... I may be earning less but enjoying the variety of roles much more than the advantages of being in the forefront of the food-line or complaining to the union rep about the working conditions. Perhaps acting strange IS one of the paths to becoming an actor.

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