You’re at an audition. You’ve arrived early for your appointment, as all good actors should, and you’ve been waiting patiently to be seen. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. It’s coming up on an hour since your appointment time and there are still several actors in front of you. No way you’re getting out of there without hitting “overtime.” A casting assistant comes through and snaps up the sign-in sheet. You hear whispers from other actors in the waiting area: “Are you going to sign out?” “No way! I hear she never calls in actors who push the hour rule.” “Me too. I have a friend who used to come in here all the time until he pushed for the fee. Now his agent can’t get him in the door.”
Suddenly, you’re called into the room. It’s your time to shine. Good luck! You’ve gotten so worked up over the chatter in the waiting room about this legendarily-intolerant casting director that you blow the whole thing. Bye-bye Class-A National. As you exit the room, you instinctively head for the sign-in sheet, but it’s still clutched tightly in the arms of the casting assistant. “We’ll take care of it,” she assures. Don’t be so sure. And don’t worry about what impression you’re leaving, by insisting that your rights be protected.
Seriously. Actors often fret about coming off as whiny when they complain about an extra five minutes beyond that hour limit. Look, insisting on what you are due does not make you whiny. It makes you a professional who knows the deal. Being whiny makes you whiny. So rather than complaining, just be professional. Sign in, sign out. Be a pro and get paid like one.
From the SAG website (specifically the FAQ section on Commercial Contracts):
Do performers get paid for auditions?
- 1st and 2nd Auditions: no payment is due for the first hour from the call time or arrival time, whichever is later. For each additional half-hour, a performer is entitled to $33.45.
- 3rd Audition: a performer is entitled to $133.75 for the first 2 hours. For each additional half-hour, $33.45 is due.
- 4th Audition and thereafter: a performer is entitled to $267.50 for the first 4 hours. For each additional half-hour, $33.40 is due.
- Remember to use your SAG member ID number, not your Social Security number, to prevent identity theft and to sign in and out. If you are entitled to audition overtime and do not receive a check within 12 business days, contact the SAG office so that a claim can be filed.
If you are not yet in SAG, you should still get in the habit of signing in and out at auditions. If the project for which you’re auditioning is nonunion, there will very likely be a sign-in sheet that doesn’t even have a column for signing out, but some nonunion projects use SAG-like sign-in sheets, so look it over when you’re signing in to know whether to head back and sign out once the audition is over.
Tips on signing out from Anne Henry of BizParentz.org include the following:
- Sign out in ink. Otherwise, “CDs in trouble know that they can erase times to avoid the fees.”
- Ask for the sign-in sheet. “Casting assistants will mysteriously take the sign-in sheet away if they know the auditions are running over, but they also know that they have to give it to you to sign out.”
- Get in the habit of always signing in and out. “If everyone did this, it wouldn’t be uncomfortable for anyone to sign out when things are running late.”
- Don’t fear repercussions. “Parents especially get paranoid about this and kids get held to the end of sessions because CDs know the parents will likely not sign out. This is wrong! The more people who sign out, the better. Don’t worry about being blackballed. They can’t blackball everyone!”
- Follow-up. “Call the SAG Commercial Contracts Department the next day. Just say, ‘I wanted to let you know that we were at a SAG audition yesterday that went overtime. I’m hoping you will keep an eye out for that sign-in sheet,’ and let them do their job, following up from there.”
- It’s not just for SAG members! If you’re nonunion but auditioning for a SAG project, you’re covered too. “Yes, SAG will need your Social Security number to pay you, but you can call SAG with that information, rather than putting it on the sign-in sheet.”
- Call time, not arrival time. This one’s important, as many actors think they’re due some pay when they’re not (and start psyching themselves out for no reason). “It is one hour from your call time, not from when you arrive. If you are late for your call time, you forfeit any payment. Why? Because by being late, you are contributing to the problem! It also won’t do you any good to arrive early just to get a payment. Call time, not arrival time!”
- It’s your right, as a dues-paying SAG member. “Union dues are a lot of money and this is one of the benefits we get. But if you don’t sign out and you don’t follow up with SAG, SAG won’t be able to do much for you.”
It’s important to note that once SAG makes a claim for actors to be paid, no individual actors’ names are turned over to the CD or the client in question. SAG simply initiates action to get all of the actors who were held an hour beyond call time paid, regardless of who made the claim. Payments are filtered through SAG; so many concerns about CD blacklisting are unfounded. The casting office will never know who blew the whistle on the late session. That’s another benefit to the protections offered by SAG.
Remember, there’s strength in numbers. Actors talk a lot about unity (especially around union election time), but sometimes forget the basic truth that when they choose to act as a group, they have more power. So, start by signing out every time — all of you. It may seem like a small step, but it’s something that should happen without fail. You sign in, you sign out, you move on.
Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000287.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.