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Laurieby Karen Michel Pavlick

My child is stuck in the body of an actor!

I sit in a small outdoor cafe looking at all walks of life in gratitude for all of the questions you have entrusted me to answer.

And I think, you could ask a handful of people about how to get into acting and you would get a handful of different answers. Everyone’s journey into this acting world is unique; just take a look at all the books out there written about how to get into acting! Every story is a personal journey and that’s what makes getting into acting exciting, there is no one-way!

However, there is no other way to understand the business of acting than to be in the same book, let alone on the same page.

QUESTIONS: How does my daughter join SAG or any union? Does she have to be cast in a paid role?

ACTORS: I think one of the biggest misconceptions that actors have about the unions is that once you become a SAG member or union member, endless possibilities of work show up. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Though the unions protect the actor and offer many benefits, it doesn’t come with guaranteed work.

However, it’s important to know how one can join, so yes, a principal or speaking role in a SAG project will automatically make you eligible to join SAG.

You can also work as a background actor on three different SAG films or commercials and after you have collected 3 vouchers for 3 different jobs, then you must join SAG by your next gig.

I became Taft-Harley during my first non-union commercial. On set the producers told me that I was Taft-Hartley, making the commercial union. This was great news for me, because not only did I get a bump on my day rate, but also, I received residuals every time the commercial aired. Being Taft-Hartley allowed me to still do non-union work until I booked my next SAG job, which happened to be a national Pillsbury commercial, just a few weeks later. I remember running to the SAG offices to pay the initiation fees the day before my shoot, so I could show up on set!

So, before you try to join the union, just to get a SAG card or put SAG on your resume, make sure you understand once you become union, you no longer can do non-union. And there are some great non-union jobs that can build great resumes

QUESTIONS: My son did an extra role for a photo shoot and the contract said, “This project is a buyout, unlimited use, for unlimited time.” What does that mean?

ACTORS: Exactly that. The company basically “buys you out,” by giving a one-time payment or flat fee for the project. No residuals or other payments will be due no matter how long the project plays or prints. You want to check if there are any “exclusivity rights” which would keep your son from doing any other projects that could be in “competition.” For example, in SAG commercials, once you book a car commercial, say Toyota, you cannot audition for any other car, like Mercedes, until your Toyota commercial stops airing. If you book McDonalds, you can’t audition for any other fast food commercial, etc. However, SAG rules are that you receive “holding fees” every thirteen weeks until the commercial stops airing. In buyout situations, there is only one sum of money and that’s it and you’re held to that.

So, if your agent hasn’t looked over the contract or if you don’t have an agent, don’t be afraid to ask. If you are getting the run-around, then run! You never want to sign a contract that you have no idea to what you are signing your image away to!

This is where I have seen a major dip in the business. More and more projects are getting away with hiring actors for very little money while using the talent’s “likeness” as long as they like.

Recently, I turned down a potential $7,000 job opportunity because I just didn’t believe in the project.

Even in this economy, I haven’t allowed my mind to be limited to the many jobs to be had, and I know that will continue to pay off for me.

Let me ask you this…IF you were to write a book on how to get into acting, what would your title be? What would the back of the book say about you? Write it down and then someday you may surprise yourself by living your story on how you got into acting.

Start Networking with fellow actors and parents on my Facebook page, QUESTIONS AND ACTORS, click LIKE and ask. 🙂

Go to my facebook page, Questions & Actors, click LIKE and start communicating with fellow actors and parents!