Acting : What Would You Work For? by Walter Hendrix III

Walter Hendrix III

What Would You Work For?

If you were offered a speaking role on a project but there was no pay, would you be willing to work for an IMDb credit and a Taft-Hartley or are you dead set against non-paid projects? Let me hear you.

Jessie Bernard

Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought in order to get a Taft-Hartley the production has to be SAG and if the production is SAG then you must get paid even if its SAG-AFTRA Ultra Low Budget which is $100 a day? But I do still do non-paid projects for IMDb credit if I really like the story or character or the people/persons producing it.

Walter Hendrix III

To get a TH, the project does have to be union however pay depends on the contract for project.

Carol Sims

I would work for the TH and I dod work for no pay if I like the script or project.

Taran Hunter Hall

As long as it is a good part and I get to work with good people I do a lot of unpaid roles.

Tabitha Baumander

I'm a writer and I know for a fact my first and maybe my second or more production is likely to be for the resume and net me not a penny. Some things you just do so you can have em to point at and say I did that.

Benjamin Alany

It seems like this is the way it goes in the early stages of one's career. In my case, I can make good money as an extra, but generally speaking roles have been for indies and student film, etc., for no pay. It's a bit backwards, but I don't see a way around it. It does have to be a role that I can feel good about, though. If I'm not getting paid, I want to at least be able to look back and say: "That was a cool character, project, etc." I won't do self-deprecating stuff, or things that perpetuate negative stereotypes too much.

Justin Henriksen

I'm new to the site and really working hard to establish myself as an actor. I understand that to get your feet wet in this business, you have to pay your dues. I'd be more than willing to work for free if I knew that it would give me experience and open up the door to new projects.

Cindy Myskiw

Here is Manitoba Canada, that is what half of our work is. It is mostly independent films and they give credits. If I waited for only paying jobs I would never work. Give me credits any day, but the pay would be nice once in a while.

Eric Manning

Sometimes it's more about making art than money! I'm building a reel and am honored when chosen to be part of a project.

Ralph Barnette

I always vet projects for professional standards whether paid or unpaid. Mostly I rule out unpaid projects as I don't moonlight; making films is how I pay the bills. I do look at merits of a project beyond a paycheck though. A great script is high on that list of considerations; another is the relative experience of the main instigator(s) of the project, the perceived competence of said instigator(s), the degree of development of the project, and finally whether the budget is real, unreal, and/or non-existent in relation to the project. I just worked sound (and a few other consultancies) on a project for a young director with a great idea, huge energy, and a group of talented and dedicated young crew. I got to know the director while he was in high school, worked on a couple of his productions for free, loaned him equipment for no cost for a couple other productions, and answered a call years later when he felt (rightfully so) that he needed an experienced person on the set of what he expected to be a breakout film. I didn't do this one for free, but I turned down a different project in the same time frame that would have paid twice as much. I felt his project had great potential and I knew him to be a level-headed, serious, well-organized director. The film is in post and looking great.

Micky McGregor

I'll support all arts, and offer services as long as it doesn't come at a cost to me.

Walter Hendrix III

Micky, technically, all unpaid projects come at a cost to you. It costs time and gas. I think everyone needs to decide which project is good for them, paid or not, and know if what they're greeting is beneficial to them. I'm union and still work some unpaid, union projects.

Michael R King

I think if I really liked the script and had a feeling of comraderie with the cast and crew, I would be willing to work without reimbursement of any kind. However, IMDb credit and food is a nice touch.

Andre Hunt

I'd like to know what an unpaid union project is.

Stephen Nagy

Depends on how much time the project would take & if I was working on something that I got paid for at the time. However if it involved sports, especially something associated with MY Yankees, Cowboys, Notre Dame football or Wash. Capitals, then I probably wouldn't turn it down.

Hardy Awadjie

Depends on how much time I have to dedicate to it and if I have other commitments. Anything over three days and I'd probably pass. Plus I don't know of any actors that are "dead set against non-paid projects". The idea of doing non-paid is to build experience and credentials so that they can move up to actually getting paid for their skill.

Dita-Marina Obert

As a freelance photographer I have done numerous unpaid work in the past in exchange for free tickets to shows and the chance to sell my photos to the cast and crew members. If I was offered a speaking role on a film, I may agree to do it depending on if any of my favorite actors would be appearing in that film.

Walter Hendrix III

I think most people are missing the Taft-Hartley portion of the comment.

Andre Hunt

I completed a short film this year, outside all jurisdictions, on an invisible budget. But every time I worked with an actor, I paid them. Whatever I could, usually about fifty bucks for a couple of hours each time, and then I was there for them when they needed my help in other areas. This just filling out and sending a Taft Hartley for them is just being cheap. Sure, those crowd scenes with a budget of four grand for an entire movie may leave you begging, but my bottom line is that people are not here to be used. They are not a means to an end. The value of the experience is not about the end product, it's about the work and the commitment to sharing risk, ideas, and passion. I have a t-shirt I made up. It says, It's not about you. It's printed backwards.

Simon © Simon

I guess it depends on your position. IT is easier to find a job when you have one. I think if the project is worth while. Connected to a "go-getter" I am willing to put hours on my computer and spend a 150 hours on an edit or sfx. With the caveat, No money fine, but if money is made I want my cut. Along with credit, a copy and release for me to use it, as I see fit. What is good for the Goose... If you have a budget, then I think it is pretty low to pocket the money, so you can go to dinner while we brown bag it. I do not think A heavy hitter producer 'worth their salt' would want anyone underneath them to work for free. On that note, all training, schooling and travel expenses being equal. Equipment does cost money.

Pedro Vasquez

I would work on a project for "free" if I was given assurance that MY scripts would get read by someone in position to "pass it on" if they saw merit. Is that fair? :-)

Janet Scott

Nicely put Pedro....

Michael R King

Wow Gary, your post comes across as the type of director no actor wants to work with. It sounds like you think actors are a dime a dozen and people to chew up and spit out. Care to clarify what you mean because I don't think that was your intent.

Michael R King

Wasn't trying to be rude Gary. I was just telling you how it came across and asked you to clarify. In fact, my post stated that I didn't think it was your intent to come across that way.

Thomas Bailey

... I'll be honest, I didn't see anything wrong with Gary's post. What he said is pretty much true, unless your a name talent, you don't have the luxury of passing on projects because you're not getting paid. The fact of the matter is that at this level there are hundreds of people that are willing to take your place for little or no money so they too can build their resume. It sucks, and I feel like you should always be paid for your work (in any industry), but to get anywhere you have to put in the leg work.

Patrick Ginter

The foundations of your worlds, Were in your own building. That were not always clear, And sound.

Andre Hunt

No, just check your wallet. Well established could also mean comfortably ahead on the bills. Wait till you get really hustled. One of my actors kept trying to get me to use some gal from L.A. Sent me pics...tried to actually intimidate me into thinking I needed to have a woman to get more people to watch the film, etc. Turned out he was hoping that if I put her in, he might get laid. Favor for favor. Pretty sleazy, no? Pretty real. This one's even better...he then wanted me to call a scriptwriter, someone who "knew" Jack Nichoson...sold a script for 250 thou...etc. I needed no script writer. At all. But, trying to keep things nice and friendly with "the talent", I said...tell him to email me. No dice. These predators want to nail you on the phone...wear you down. And, for their records, they wanted it either on their phone bill or email that you contacted them first. I never did, and periodically my actor would ask...did you call him...did you call him....So finally I asked him where this guy lives, exactly. He said, "He lives with his mother." Beautiful. When he asked one more time if I called him, I said "Yeah, I did. His mother answered and said he was in the bathroom, and he was spending way too much time in there." (I never called). This "knowing" somebody crap is as old as the industry...hustle and jive is very much alive. Especially in L.A....I get shivers.....I got a bit off topic there....oh well....

Johnny McCaffery

Depending on the story, script and if the director has any idea what he or she wants!

Neva J Howell

If I read a story and felt true passion for the role, I'd fight for pay .... if the money just wan't there and I thought I'd regret letting the role go, I'd probably do it, for myself and my own creative desires. If it' sjust a role and I have no passion for it, nope, gotta pay me to get me for one of those and even then, might not take it unless I really needed the money cause life's too short to spend it doing stuff that doesn't move me.

Dita-Marina Obert

What about a SAG voucher?

Ralph Barnette

What about the old-fashioned way? Save your money, have a decent budget and make something worth having.

Walter Hendrix III

Dita, that's the TH.

Roberta Decker

For a start career but would accept if it were to help me grow as a professional as well.

Ralph Barnette

Growing as a professional is always a good thing in my opinion. But I find most un-budgeted and low-budget projects these days are very disorganized, or mean well but simply lack the planning and experience of at least a few professionals to be of much use to anyone's development or reel material.

Patrick Ginter

Hello , You are so right. Why not cover yourself, With the best. With good pay. As it is a hard planet. To live with out pay. Kind regards.

Logan Scott Matthews

Experience is Important. I would be all for it.

Lew Osteen

You should get you first credit however you can. It opens doors

Ralph Barnette

I learned as a teenager when I used to hitchhike around the country that you don't just take a ride in anything that comes along. I found the same to be true of film credits - some rides can do more harm than good.

David Hernandez

No contract no work! People seem to believe that making a no pay film will get them discovered, that and you tube. I suppose if you have time to burn and no one is hiring you it is something to do. You might do well, however the others working for free as well may make the film tedious to watch. Therefore you may find yourself paying a higher price and not creating opportunity. When someone has to pay for production then you have people who really are concerned with the final product. Unless you are doing pro-bono work for a good cause you may find yourself spinning your wheels. No pay and a speaking role is a throw of the dice. How often do you win when you gamble. Then in the other side of the coin, you can't win if you don't play.

Ralph Barnette

If those with controlling interest in a project are not invested in it enough to care about paying you as a professional, then why should you bother? Now, a collaboration between professionals tends to be a rather different matter. That I can support under most circumstances.

Jennifer Lynn

I have found Independent films a great way to build a resume. I may not be paid for these roles, but as a new actress I find what I learn from the audition process all the way through the filming process to be invaluable. That being said, I would love to start finding paid roles. Until then, I will not turn my back on those who are will to take a chance with me and teach me along the way.

Rick Jey

Both individual feelings are valid and have their points...Jennifer and Ralph. I enjoy the work either way as I build a stronger foundation. Now day's with gasoline prices it would be great at least to have that expense covered not to forget hotel expenses. Building a profile is the main point in order to get the better paying assignments.

Daniel Johnson

I think that to become a truly great actor you need to learn your craft, and that means unpaid shorts, student projects, filming things with friends etc etc -- it's the same for all people in the industry. We're never as good as we think we are. But over time, we learn our craft -- until we get to the point that our talents and experience are undeniable! And then the money will flow. It wouldn't hurt to do it for free, for the credit, for the experience. Way it up against your life --- can you afford to do it for free? Can you get the time off work? Will it be useful for you? If yes, DO IT! Otherwise some actor will do it for free and that actor will be a step closer than you to the career that you're both chasing. Daniel

Rick Jey

Very well put Daniel. 69 years old and still honing my craft. It seems to be a lifetime achievement. Thanks from everyone for your comment. I would love you to do my screen reel. Rick Jey

Daniel Johnson

Would be great to do your reel, if only you were in London!

Rick Jey

Very true. I am sort of out of your neighborhood. My loss. lol Thanks!!

Matthew "M@tch" Ray

Welcome to LA where people are hungry to produce low-budget movies in this DIY generation: If you need to shop yourself to agents and need reels (& can afford it)- then go for it. As long as you get ALL the contact info for the gig the day you're on set (callsheet), so you can track down your clip(s). Make sure to add a permission clause to anything you sign.

Deborah Roberts

if an actor or actress or a newbie actor/actress the I feel that there should be paid on the distribution of the film I had 2 words to speak in the Bill onBBC1 I received £150 plus's every time it is shown over the world I receive £10 each and every day it is shown

Jeffrey S Karantza

I do non paying projects for friends. I have been offered several parts that were not paid in the past couple months. I would like to do every part i have the chance to do but it doesn't work that way. If they offered a Taft-Hartley contract i would be on it like a paid job. They are not easy to get where I am at due to the right to work state. Just because its not paid doesn't mean its now the right role for me. I just have to not do all the free ones i am offered so i have time for the paying gigs that keep the house payment made and the gas in the cars....

Rick Jey

Yes, Deborah I like to get those unexpected checks in the mail, too. And Jeffery I too have to get paid to keep the electricity on. lol Both of you have weight to your comments. Rick Jey

Patrick Ginter

Hi, one is free to walk the day in,Liberty. Life was a given wisdom. Helded in the blinking of a human eye. The fireing of great, V 2 like rockets , Takeing up more satellite's. Is adding to more force's to the inner planet's tyhoon's Adding more harm. To an already very bad field of force's. The human race have got to find another way. To have satellite's. Orbiting the earth. All we do is act in film's. Payed or not. But i have never eating so good in my life. Then on a film set. Like the. Minder, Or Dr Who. It was pure greatness. By very kind staff. On the makeing of a future film. Think how lucky we all are. The harm layed on its lands in the last few days. Kind regards.

Rick Jey

We have daily blessing that comes to us as life itself comes to us like bombarding asteroids within our space.

Patrick Ginter

Hi, I will have to work for good pay. Or nothing at all. Or i will go under. I started in the film industry back in, 1974 Working as a film extra for the, FAA. And befor that. I worked at , Bermans costumers in, London. And the rest was, History. Entering the, FAA. I had a very good time. I worked one year full time over 12 years. It was not ment to be. So i turned my . hand to, Quantum kinetics research. To pass the time, Waiting for film work. And payed. But none came. And now in, 2013. I can define almost anything in kinetics. And build a magnetic shielding. That can widen space and time. In the forces of the matters of energy s. I waited for film work. From my agent. Back in,1979. Once again, None came. So my researching want forwards in , History. On a world very few. Learned nothing about in kinetics researching. I now stand in a field none can define. In a new science. And my film industry did not come forwards, But what did come forwards in film work, Was so enjoying it was unreal. In kindness on me. I have nothing to feel hard done by. Even the lack of work, Over 25 years of the film industry. I had the time of my life when work did come around, From my film agents. From watching science fiction on spaceships in films. I have learned to build one at a low cost. In my kinetics research. . Kind regards.

Rick Jey

Very interesting Patrick. YES, life goes on with or without. Thanks for commenting.

Patrick Ginter

The asteroid miss's the earth. To come. Learned in a pattening and shapeing of a inner sphere' Unknow knowledge of science. I never would have made it as a world leader in acting. I had very bad schooling. And have hardships spelling. So a film extra suits me fine. With only a few words to say in the film. And thats another reason. Why i never made it as a big actor. Such is life. Outher wisdom was given. In my kinetics researching. None can define. Kind regards.

Andre Hunt

Actually, if you lived in Russia, you'd never say the asteroid misses the earth. Asteroid's and that country are like Vodka and lips.. By the way, some big fat Russian spacecraft is falling to earth around Monday-Tuesday. Not all of it's going to burn up. Finally you get to use that fall out shelter for something besides storing the inflatable pool.

Deborah Roberts

Hi to you I'm Debbie I am looking for some work, I live in a Royal Town called Kingston-u-Thames, this is in a county of Surrey in the United Kingdom many thanks Debbie

Diane Racine

What does this have to do with working for no pay? I've had speaking parts before, but as I am just starting to get back into the business and using my old reel is frowned upon I did an AFI short film last weekend. It was fun and the young filmmakers were a delight to work with. Walter, I say do it.

Patrick Ginter

Hell of a place, Ani't it. Thanks , O K.

Cora Anne Williams

It depends on the project , if its a lead role then maybe, if its just a one line then no ,

Alina Chorna

Still would work for Union unpaid, good speaking parts. Good for your reel, good to have more credits on IMDB, and better to do at least something acting-wise, then nothing at all, and to have more experience, and to meet more people. Will not do it for free if it's non-speaking role. Those have to come with compensation, otherwise there is no point to bother and to waste your time. At times when I needed a Taft-Hartley, however, I would do those non-speaking parts in order to get TH, but not anymore, I am done!

Rick Jey

Good overview Alina. It seems that it is whatever floats each persons boat. Just remember to have a life preserver and paddle on board if you can. It's tough to be up the river without a paddle. "Never burn your bridges behind you". Rick Jey.

Neva J Howell

Bob, I'm someone who got Taft-Hartley from a non-speaking role. It was a yellow pages commercial and all I did was look up and down the street in a puzzled manner. For some reason, I did that in a way that tickled somone more than the other 1,500 who stood in line for the role that day. It can happen.

Neva J Howell

Yes, it was a principal role and principal contract, even though I had no lines. OK, yeah, I see what you are saying now....going back over my years in L.A. and ... vague recollection of one person getting bumped up from extra to principal and Tafted ... that was so long ago though. You sound far more up to date so I'll just bow out now. Thanks!

Patrick Opitz

I would be willing to work for credit and material for local projects that wouldn't cut into my day job. If you want travel and a commitment longer then three days at a time that will cost.

Kristina Hughes

I would probably not work for free. I have strong demo reels, I have good clips. I'm not really interested in working with someone who is just starting out (assuming this is the case). I'm also not interested in having to pay for my own (meals...seriously the provided ones on no budgets are not good, clothes, dry cleaning, coaching, transportation, housing, etc.). If the script was "that amazing" and the crew "incredible" and I knew the project was going to actually get made, I'd need to see other completed projects and know the film festival distribution plans. If this allowed me an opportunity to make incredible connections, get amazing footage and have an opportunity to maybe speak on panels, have something to use on my website, in my 'Hughes Happenings' newsletter (http://www.HughesHappenings.com) etc. then again, I might be swayed. For those of you who are working on no/low budget projects, PLEASE use this, it's FREE. It is a legal, binding contract that is and has been enforced, it's also been updated and you will be be alerted to future updates as well. http://www.CopyProvided.com. Hope this helps!

Matthew "M@tch" Ray

Kristina- that is a most amazing contract. I can't tell you how many times I've hand written in something similar to my contracts to no avail. Thank you.

Diane Racine

Kristina, wonderful website, etc. You are a true pro. Help!!!!!!

Kristina Hughes

Thanks guys! Please share the link with your cast members and friends in The Biz. The more performers equip themselves with tools like this the better. Also, do keep us posted on your successes with the contract and I will have the page updated. I'm always happy to point folks in the direction of real tools and real, bold articles/webinars to help them with their careers. (On a side note, If you want in, connect with me via my profile, share your email if you want. I won't share it & you can opt out of anything I send. I'll be responding to my requests over Thanksgiving. Just wrapping up series, script polish and my mom is visiting :>))

Carol Sims

I look for work that touches my spirit and also my pocket but sometime the two are not at the same place at the same time; so I will work for a taft-hartley . Non payment is not really that. I gives me a chance to work!

Lew Osteen

Yes! IMDB credit opens doors

Rick Jey

It really depends on the project, but an IMDB credit or a Taft-Hartley would not hurt. Getting paid for travel and housing for the shoot time is really helpful on the budget.

Ralph Barnette

I look for collaborative projects with good interaction among professionals; those things make any project worth considering, paid or unpaid. IMDB credit is almost a must unless it's a very small or experimental project; TH is cool if it fits the package.

Rick Jey

Thanks Bob. Your overview really breaks it down from your personal experience. I hope other Stage 32 members get as much out of your explanation as I did. THANKS! for sharing.

Rick Jey

Ralph. Very good strategy and very informative. Thanks for sharing!

Walter Hendrix III

Bob, any SAG-AFTRA work that you receive a Taft-Hartley will get you eligible. In the SE region (where I am), the dues are the same but the fee is $1194. However, since southern states are all right to work states (along with a few others), you do not have to join once you become eligible. You can remain eligible forever if you wish. I was eligible for about 2.5 years before I joined. I do, however, agree with you about the lack of importance of IMDb ratings. The reason for this is all the services that will artificially inflate your page hits and cause you number to lower without you ever really getting any credits. I know of two personally who had only three brand new BG credits and had IMDb rankings below 15k.

Roberta Decker

I would work on any type of film. Unfortunately I never did anything professionally, but would love to do and start my career.

Rick Jey

Roberta...go for it.

Walter Hendrix III

Bob, the rules in must join and right to work states are different. You are correct about the rules if you're in a MJ state however, unfortunately, those rules don't apply in RTW states. As a result, the performer is under no obligation to join and there is no penalty to anyone who hires them at any point after becoming eligible. Cheap labor is part of the appeal of the southern states by the entertainment industry now. I just went through the same thing here. There's never been a hiring requirement here and I was told not to look for one any time soon, if at all. SI is treated like regular BG and it is extremely rare to get any type of bump from regular BG pay (which, BTW, is about 2.5 times less than the union rate [and, let's not even talk about the guarantee, OT, or working condition]) for this job. Also, I know numerous eligible actors working on union productions in principal roles who make half scale with no residuals or union protection. Because production companies are able to do this without penalty here, several jobs that could go to union performers don't. And because there is no hiring requirement, it is extremely rare to get union BG work and I've never seen or heard of it done on any major project other the rare union commercials that are filmed here.

Walter Hendrix III

I'm originally from Michigan as well but I live in Georgia now. There is no coverage or protection for BG here and SI is considered BG here unfortunately. SAGe gets the union treatment on set when working principal roles but don't get all the perks and protections afterwards.

Jeffrey S Karantza

I have actually had this convo since the post with my acting coach and several others in a class. They state of Ga being a right to work state has alot of people confused. In the right to work states no one can make you pay to gain the right to work a job. Meaning that even actors who are union have been able to work non union films. Joining sag and working a project that is not sag contracted is usually against the union rules but being explained to me this way it is acceptable in a right to work state if you work a non union project. The state laws protect you from retaliation from the union for stepping outside of their guidelines. I have not confirmed this with legal counsel but having come from an actor with 30+ years in the union, I would be pretty sure he has the facts as this is his home state. I was a former union carpenter and know the benefits to being a union member. Pay is better as well as benefits, and they will stand up for you when things are done wrong. You are entitled to great insurance and pension plans. It also is looked at like a stepping stone to career goals. If you have the chance to be tafted I would tell anyone that it is a step you will need to do at some point in your career so take the offer when you get it. You can stay sag-E in georgia indefinitely because it is a right to work state. You have the ability to work whatever projects you want and join the union when the time is right for you. I think even a non paying project that is offered is a way to move your career forward. Even with agents, some will not look at you unless you are sag-e so that is also a perk to taking the work. It opens doors to new chances and new representation. There are some great people in the atlanta sag office and the ladies there will answer your questions. They have always taken the time to talk to me when I have a concern or need information on one of my own projects.

Rick Jey

Walter, please define BG and SI.

Kristina Hughes

BG='s Background (non-speaking role) SI='s Stand In (non-on-camera role where you help set the space the speaking actor/s will work in)

Kristina Hughes

If you are going to work for no-pay (or low pay) make sure you use this FREE, legal binding contract. Copy Provided Agreement Form (updated in 2013 to include your name (credit) in online KeyWords for search engines). Access it at http://www.CopyProvided.com.

Michael R King

So, my understanding is that due to the union rules and tax breaks, movie making in Georgia is booming and there is a mass exodus from LA. So, as an actor it would be prudent to look at RTW states and the percent increase in movies filed there in determining where I should relate?

Rick Jey

Thanks Kristina...that is what I understood them to be but I wanted to make sure I was correct in my thinking and experience. So many things change in a lifetime especially in definition and identify.

Michael R King

Relocate

Kristina Hughes

At this point in my career, I would ONLY work for no-low pay IF I was going to meet great people that I felt I could network with, the production team has strong demo reels, awards, nominations, etc. from prior projects so that I might want to use this in my next demo reel edits, if this project was so strong that I felt it might lead to great PR opportunities (something to feature in my Quarterly Newsletter. You can see examples at http://www.ShowBizSender.com), red carpet/press junket/other interviews on blogs & podcasts. Also, I am a firm believer in asking for mileage & dry cleaning expenses to be covered. No actor should lose $$$ by working on a no-low production and they should not be afraid to ask for that to be covered. I have and it's not been an issue.

Rick Jey

Yes, thank you Bob...that is what I have always understood but so many things change in a lifetime. lol

Jeffrey S Karantza

yes as Kristina said the BG in a little deeper definition is the actor or actors who are walking or sitting in a scene placed usually by the 2nd 2nd assistant director to fill space and create a background movement for a shot. These are non speaking players who are paid at almost minimum if not minimum wage on most productions in right to work states. The SI (stand in) is the person or persons that are hired by the productions at usually 150 to 200 a day in most right to work states. These people are used for blocking movements for the camera and lighting departments. Some of them are asked to run the scene as the actors would to allow the directing team to see where some lines will be delivered or where certain movements will take place in a dialog. This allows the assistant camera men to measure the space from the camera to the actors and gives them marks to follow with the camera focus as well as sound to be placed to get the best audio. Lights and props are also placed using these people so there is a smooth transition to the actual 1st team ( speaking actors) to just come in and run a rehearsal before shooting on film. Most places treat SI as crew, they will eat with crew and have the same call times as crew with some exceptions when they will pull a stand in from the background for a couple scenes a day. The right to work states make it hard for someone to get into sag because they do not hand out the required 40 or so union vouchers per production to background. Somehow they find a way to keep these from BG because if they were to use a BG extra that was union the rate would jump from 68.00 for 8 hours to 128.00 for 8 hours or the people would no longer be hired due to the increased rate. They can pay 2 people on that one union performers wage. Lots of little secrets to why things are done the way they are and some of the wage issues are with the casting companies themselves. They have the ability to bump people and set higher rates for BG but that cuts into their total profit at the end of the day. Hope that makes sense to you. I have worked with several background casting companies in the past year and assisted in principal casting on a couple shows as well as being a working actor. I have seen things from low paying jobs that will not pay for 30 to 45 days to some that are shot and go over budget and just do not pay people. There are alot of issues with extras casting that need to be addressed besides the issues of rate. I believe as the states film productions increase it will all be handled as other states have had to do in the past. At some point the SI and BG will have people to represent them and find solutions to ongoing problems.

Rick Jey

Thanks Jeffery. Just had a speaking part in the new production Belleville,The Movie. A nice step in the right direction.

Kristina Hughes

This 2 part article might be of interest so I thought I'd share it: Making The Most Out Of Being A Background Artist - Part 1 By Holdon Log If you are starting out with goals of working on commercials, or in TV or Film, then a good place to start is on the set as a Background Artist. You’ll receive a paycheck and you’ll learn.... http://www.holdonlog.com/pages/AN-BA-1208.html

Jeffrey S Karantza

That article does have some good information. It is always smart to get to know who the production team is. The ad's could be working projects of their own and may be a good source for future principal work on lower budget films. As far as it talking about filling hours towards benefits, that only applies to states who hire sag union background performers. It is a little different in a right to work state. They do not count your hours towards any benefits until you become sag and then only on projects you are hired under sag contract. In Georgia for instance, you could be on 100 sets and work as a bg for all those days but not receive any credit towards union pension or insurance. It depends on the state and the contracts you accept when you take a job. Productions are required to hire so many union before they hire non union if the film is governed by sag low modified contract or better. Now in a right to work state this is a little different. They have found a way to bypass this, as I have in over a year in atlanta have yet to meet 1 single person who has ever gotten a taft for a BG job. Where these taft contracts go is a mystery to many as no one including the AD's can not tell you where they go. Maybe they count the ones they use for principal and stunt as those 40 or 42 required contracts. I am not sure exactly how that works. I have a meeting with the director of the local union and will be sure to ask them about this when I go so I can answer that question when presented to me in the future. Back to the comment though, It is not bad to get on set of a film as background as it does give you a check. It also teaches you the terms used and teaches you the way a production is done. How they do their shots in what order as well as what departments do what jobs. My first acting gig in atlanta was as a day player and having never been on set before I talked to the background to learn what I needed to. I also had a great crew to help me not be in the way of others when we were filming. I also know that if you stay in the background role for too long it can also be a bad thing. Many will argue this point with me and have lost in the past. It is possible for you to be labeled as a BG performer only. Now this is not always a bad thing. Some people do not want to go further then this as some are people who are retired and just want to make a little extra money. That is fine if you fall in that bracket but, if you are wanting to make a career then at some point you will have to stop and I will explain why. You are working on a film for a series regular or a supporting role for full rate. Full rate is roughly 900.00 a day on a larger production. You complete this job and then take a background role on another show that is an affiliate of the last production company. Trust me when you look and see CW network and think they are their own company it is not so, Then could be a sub of someone like ABC which is who they are linked to. Investigation Discovery is also a sub of NBC. So you take the background job at minimum wage and then you audition for another day player role. They have your employment file and instead of offering you full rate as the last time, they see you worked for 68.00 a day immediately after that production was finished. They now see you will be willing to take far less then full rate. Now they low ball you at 250 a day or 300 a day knowing you will take the work if they stick to the numbers because you were paid minimum wage just a week before. An agent will tell you when you are booking speaking roles you need to walk away from BG work for this and a few other reasons. Not only do you make less but so does your agent. You should as a day player be making as much as possible so do not give them the reasons to reduce that amount. I am a series regular and make 1 1/2 rate because I walked on certain kinds of work with agents advice. This allows them to have leverage to get you as much money as possible for your work. At the end of the day this is a business for most and needs to be treated as such. You are your own company and must market yourself in the most productive ways possible. Again this applies to non union states and is for those in states like Georgia and Louisiana. If you are a resident of California or NY then BG could be a great way to fill your needed hours to receive you much needed insurance and pension plans. You must know the laws and rules in the state you work to be sure as to what to do . A good management and agent relationship will guide you to the best path for you as individual performer/company.

Jeffrey S Karantza

It varies from state to state Bob. Here in Ga some productions will pay up to 200 a day. On drop dead diva for instance the BG are at 79.75/8 and stand ins are at 150/12. It depends on the production company. Dumb and dumber to was paying their stand ins 175/12 for a days work. This is a right to work state and there is no union for BG or SI outside of typical sag union membership. With that being said and this state being a right to work productions hire non union members to play these parts allowing them to pay what ever they want. Union commercials are a different story. A recent home depot commercial was paying BG 100/8 and speaking characters at 600/8. The rules for commercial shoots are slightly different from a film low modified or modified contract. Many companies here will shoot as a non union production because they do not have to provide many of the perks and pay in on the actors pensions. Every state is a little different so you must know the state laws and the level of contract you are signing if it is a union contract. As far as union working non union work I said I had not confirmed that rule. I was told that by a actor who works regularly. In the right to work state it is illegal to retaliate against a person who works a non union job. It is illegal to tell someone in georgia they must pay someone in order to work. How that applies to film and tv unions, as I said I am not sure. I will be talking and getting the answer from the sag reps here. I do not know if the DGA has the same set of guidelines as sag does. I will be sure to find out for sure.

Kristina Hughes

Michael, before relocating. It's important to find out WHERE the roles are cast. (LA, NYC, locally) If you are considering being a LOCAL HIRE...is that mostly for day player type roles or do they cast REGULARS? Where do you see yourself fitting in are you focused on day player or series regular types of roles? Also, what locations offer great networking opportunities (panels/festivals,mixers,etc.), access to great training,etc. That might help in your decision. If you find you are trying to connect with those in the position to refer, recommend and hire you, this has been a huge help: http://www.performertrack.com/webinars-home-pw-SWSW-od.html Jeffrey, thanks for the "THUMBS UP" on the article. Happy to share great resources!

Patrick Ginter

Hi, I would have to work for pay, And a wage at the end of the week. And with my unions kin regards. In all my life. I have never know. No outher , British film industry. And its the only kind i need. As the human race always come at you for fund. In fees and bills. And food helps pass the time.

Austin Hamilton

Yes I would work for imdb credit in a heart beat its shows what I can do opens doors

Sam Mandavi

Yes! i will for Credit!!

Lew Osteen

Go for the credit! It does open doors

HannahFaith Rader

I would work for credit and exposure for a speaking role, but probably only if it were local enough to make it worth the trip.

Ralph Barnette

Working IMDB credit is a good thing, but it does have it's drawbacks. When considering hires for cast or crew I always look beyond the credits when it comes to IMDB, such as the quality of a given production and some actualization of what the person actually did on set, such as a BTS photo or video that shows them doing a job. Without these things IMDB credit can be a tough sell when you are starting out.

Patrick Opitz

Great advice Ralph.

Ralph Barnette

Always glad to be of help, I had to take a call but her's the rest. One of the major short comings of IMDB and many other services that mostly deal with film/TV is the lack of commercial projects listed. I'm not really knocking them for this because I realize they are focused on the film and TV programming industries. But for industry cast and crew, all those no-pay, small-pay, news crew, car lot commercials and the like don't make it to IMDB unless you're doing a Capitol One or Heineken ad. And many times those don't get there either. These are the projects people really cut their teeth on, and knowing someone has this background experience can have a huge impression. When a crew has to push to get the 11th or 12th page shot in a longgg day, the experience of working fast with a news or small TV crew under pressure, not to mention actors who can hit their marks at the end of the day without cracking, well that's what I look for in the resume, photos and other descriptive details not necessarily gleaned from IMDB and similar services.

Kristina Hughes

Hi Ralph, Here's a tip: That's what I use "Other Works" for: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0400744/otherworks?ref_=nm_ql_pdtls_2 Once my gig makes it to the front page (if it does) I go in and delete it from Other Works. As talent though, it's a tough call on listing commercials b/c of possibly conflicts. It might be good for crew though but I think they are thinking more worldwdie audience than local/regional. Your can always ask them in their Help Desk. BTW I always scratch my head when doing research though that they list porn film credits! LOL

Chara Burgh

It depends on the project. If I could use it for my reel, perhaps. If it's a project I think is amazing, then probably. The IMDB credit doesn't mean much to me.

Walter Hendrix III

I think everyone has gotten away from what the biggest prize of all is. The big prize is the Taft-Hartley. Because of all the services around that inflates visits to deflate IMDb ratings, I agree that, if you are not mid-teens or lower with your IMDb ranking, IMDb is really nothing more than a way to track and show your work; not unlike a resume. However, a Taft-Hartley, especially for principal work is hard to come by. The question was would you work for no pay (because you are not working for free because you do get something in exchange), IMDb credit, and a Taft-Hartley, which would be a principal waiver (because the role is speaking) thereby making you SAG-AFTRA eligible after you've completed your work. Now, with that in mind, how many people would work a project for no pay?

Ralph Barnette

I would still be reluctant to work for no-pay. The number of paying Independent/non-union projects are growing every year and even with T-Hs in the mix, no-pay is many times just a use. I'm not anti-union (I never cross a picket line, a throw-back to my 60s protest roots), but I do think some adjustments need to be made - the whole point of unions is to get fair pay.

Michael Deutch

Yes, definitely. I'd do it for the experience and to build my resume. Of course, I'd prefer pay ;-)

Seán Martyn

depends on the budget I mean if everyone else is going getting paid and you won't be then I wouldn't do it do your research before committing to it but if its a legit low budget nobody getting paid thing then I would take the IMDB credit and run with it

Rosie Pearson

Acting on project s that are not paid help to get you paid work and connections. I have done lots of unpaid work that has led to some amazing projects !!! I do believe that acting is a job and needs to be respected as any other so there we should be paid for being a actor but every body has to start some where ! Hard work dose pay off . Also as long as I am acting paid or not I am happy as it's my passion !!

Pedro Vasquez

What's the project, Walter? I've never acted before, but I'd act for no pay - in a small role - just for the experience. Good luck to you. P Keep writing/acting/producing/directing/or whatever it is you do!

Brandon Koots

I would definitely do it. I don't do acting for the money that you can get. I do it because I love acting so much. I have a passion for it. Acting is such a beautiful thing. I would do it because it also gives me experience for other projects in the future. Also it's fun to entertain people

Nathan T. Esser

Done a lot of non-union work, now I want to do Taft Hartley

Cindy Myskiw

I do it all the time.

Raymond McDonald

I would definitely work for IMDB credit!! To me exposure and experience is a great asset until I'm a superstar:) Yes getting paid is great but not the only goal in an acting career.

Sherri Dahl

unpaid projects lead to paid projects!!

Ralph Barnette

Not necessarily. Most projects these days , unless articulated by a real pro, tend to be too poorly organized to lead to additional work. I say work with the better organized projects, paid or not. Then you may find additional work through solid pro contacts, at least that is my experience.

Suzanne Bronson

No! I am SAG E and IMDB credit and copy will not begin to cover the costs of SAG initiation. Nor my acting classes, nor my headshots, etc. Why has it become acceptable to expect those in the entertainment industry to work for free? Would you work your "day" job for free if your boss begged? No. B/C the landlord requires ACTUAL $. And if my "day" job pays me and I have to take a day off to work on a shoot for IMDB credit, why would I want to do that? Not to mention, that of all those shoots I have worked for free in one form or another, none of those people bothered to pay it forward by recommending me to others. If they want to pay SAG for me to join, then that's something worth considering, but HELL NO! I know what I am worth. I have never had an unpaid project lead to a paid project. Sherri Dahl, do you have actual experience of that, or is that the lie you to tell yourself to justify being free labor. I actually had a person call me whom I had auditioned for (a paying job with his industrial film company) to come be background for free (but copy for my reel). I was so insulted, that was a phone call I didn't even bother to return. You have to know your worth and draw a line somewhere.

Patrick Wise

I think you have to look at the whole picture. Is it a role that you want enough to do it for free? That would be the biggest question in my book. If it's a good role, and it fits within your schedule, I don't see the problem. Not every production has the funds of a big studio. But again it's on your situation. I've had to pass on some unpaid projects I would have liked to do because of time issues. I bartend to pay the bills, therefore I work most weekends. Unfortunately many projects film on weekends. It's hard to say what will come from any given role, maybe just something extra for your reel, maybe the opportunity to show a different side of your talents than what you are usually looked at.

Patrick Ginter

My self loves the film industry two but its a hard world to survive in and hold ground one has to eat and wages let you do this so pride comes at a price or is it hunger.

Cherie Wyatt

Right now at this point in my career I would definitely work for credit as I’m trying to build up my resume. It’s almost like volunteer work always lead to paid employment how I look at it.

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