Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dear SAG, Please Take My Money!!

Immediately after moving to Los Angeles, I learned how important it is to be union; that it’s the first big milestone when becoming a professional actor.  In my naivety in those first few months, I actually went berserk one day when I booked a SAG student film.  Thinking, "Wow, everyone talks about how hard it is to get become eligible, and yet here I am, mere weeks in Los Angeles, and on one of my first jobs I’m lucky enough to get it!"  …Um, no.  They don’t give it to you for that. 

The disappointment sent me on an obsessive mission to secure this elusive accomplishment.  I wanted it.  I wanted it bad.  I wanted it more than I wanted the sun to rise in the morning.  And yet, four years later, it still had evaded me.  It was infuriating.  How the hell can the “first” big milestone not have happened in four years?  It was even more frustrating to have to resist the temptation to slap all those no-talent smart-asses who make a point to flash their cards and mock you by asking, “What’s the big deal?  It was the eeeeeasiest thing in the world for meee.”  Just shut the fuck up.

This year, I resigned to the age-old advice: when it’s the right time, it will happen.  I just focused on setting up a business, making connections, hustling roles and doing the best work I possibly could.  Then it honestly just fell in my lap.  I was sitting at home one Sunday evening, eating fro-yo and watching Jeopardy.  (My two guilty pleasures.  And, yes, I DVR Jeopardy.  Don’t judge.).  I got a phone call…

“Hi Anony, this is producer so-and-so.  I’ve seen you at a workshop and I like your work.  I want to offer you a small role in an upcoming production of mine.  Oh and it’s SAG, so we’ll have to Taft Hartley you.  Congrats.”

I was stunned.  You’ve got to be kidding me.  This is how it happened?  And without an audition?!  Somehow when I imagine all the big moments of my future, I’m always fabulously dressed with an amazing back drop.  Didn’t exactly play out that way for this big moment, I was in sweats and no makeup.  No fan-fare and without warning, SAG caught up to me while I was dressed as a couch potato.  (But I did go berserk again.)

I may be crazy, but since it was pretty unlikely that I’d be cast in another SAG project in the couple weeks it would take for my paperwork to process, I went ahead and sent out sixty-some announcement cards that I’d just joined.  Hey, I might as well start marketing it now!  Then I called the SAG office to set up an appointment to come in and join this week as soon as my eligibility was finalized.  They apologized, saying it can sometimes take up to three to four months to process the paperwork.  Uh, what?!?! 

*Sigh*…Does nothing run smoothly in this industry?  Must every step an actor take be a battle?  I had sixty handwritten announcements sitting in mailboxes all over town proudly announcing that I was already a member.  Also in somewhat of a ballsy move, I submitted to an agent who was only looking for union talent thinking I would be union in just a matter of days... and yep, I signed with that agent.  I started to worry that I’d counted my chicks before they’d hatched.  Not to mention mad!  Call me crazy again, but I have every intention of booking another job or two in those three to four months!!

But after taking a moment to think about it, I figured SAG would want my two grand if I begged them to take it, so I started calling around.  After two transfers, two unreturned phone calls and an email to my producer, I finally reached the business rep in charge of my production: 

“I’m so sorry, I tried to be as informed as possible and thought I’d be able to join this week.  Is there any way you could help me out and expedite the paperwork process?”

“Oh sure.  We can always bump you to the front if you’re looking to join right away.  We have all your paperwork here; we’ll get it done this afternoon.” 

Just as I thought… SAG ain’t no fool.  Cash can always get you in the door.  All should be said and done any minute now.

Do you remember the end of The Social Network when Zuckerberg keeps hitting refresh on his Facebook page, waiting for his friend request to be accepted?  That's me for the last two days, maniacally checking my eligibility on the SAG website.  It keeps coming up the same… not eligible.

Seriously?!  Do I need to walk into the SAG office with the $2300 in cash to light a fire under someone’s ass??  Despite the fact that I’ve already waited over four years, somehow these last few days feel like a lifetime.  For someone who notoriously wants things yesterday, being at the mercy of the data entry clerk at the SAG office who doesn’t give two cents about my career is the exact definition of living hell.  Ugh!!

Breath, Anony.  I should go do some yoga. 

1 comment:

  1. And such is the reason you never count your chickens before they hatch. I've heard horror stories amongst casting and producing friends of talent who claim to be union already and are still in the process, holding up their end of the paperwork and giving them horrible headaches as to dealing with your true status of being SAG-e or must-join. Glad you got on the ball to hustle with them, but know it isn't a case of SAG not wanting you to join. There's a process for a reason and like most things, it's not instantaneous.