Indie Video: Everything you need to know to get a SAG actor on the set of your non-union production

Lately, we’ve been inundated with requests for more tricks of the trade. And since the way see it is that writing is only part of the trade of TV, film, and, yes, web production, and stars are a big deal everywhere, finding this article a couple of days ago is perfect timing:


 

SAG-Actor-Frank-865x505by Johnathan Paul

First, before we get started, let’s make sure everyone knows exactly what SAG is. If this word isn’t new to you, then know that it stands for the Screen Actors Guild. This is the official labor union for working professional actors. Much like the Directors Guild of America (DGA) or the Producers Guild of America (PGA), SAG offers its members collective bargaining services such as compensation, benefits, and working condition stipulations.

Whenever I’m directing a film, whether it’s fictional or a documentary with reenactments, I meet with actors to play roles for the parts I need. For the longest time, I never worked with SAG actors. I would instead try to find my talent from a pool of stage actors. And let me say, some of the stage talent I’ve worked with over the years are incredibly skilled at their craft — sometimes more so than the “professionals”.

However, that great stage talent joined SAG, which forced me to learn how to handle the details of working with the union. So, I’m going to impart to you the tips I’ve learned. Hopefully it gives you a leg up on securing the talent for your next project.

1. Hire a Casting Director

gather talent and make the phone calls. This was the single biggest move I’ve made in securing talent. While you can do all of this yourself (and believe me, I’ve done it), having a dedicated person to find talent is tremendously helpful. It frees you up to focus your energy on preparing for principle photography.

2. Take advantage of SAG’s agreements.

Before I started using SAG actors I thought they would be way too pricy for me to ever use in my micro-budget films. And then some of the actors I wanted to work with didn’t know for sure if they could work on non-union projects. What did I find out after talking with a few Agents? Yes, they can work on non-union projects. And, no. SAGactors aren’t always pricy.

SAG has done a great job of diversifying their agreements for student, documentary, experimental, and short narrative films. The rates for each are actually really reasonable. Plus, there’s also the possibility that the actor will wave their rate. But, if they do this, be sure to pick up the tab in other areas….

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