There is generally no requirement that you use or like a product in order to perform in a commercial for that product. However, it is important to remember that, depending on what you do in the commercial, your participation can easily be interpreted as an endorsement of the product. (For example, if you are eating the product or using it or even holding it, this suggests that you like it and/or use it.) Also, some commercials are for political campaigns or religious organizations, which you may not endorse or support.
We’ve compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions here. Please check to see if the information you are looking for is included. If not, go ahead and ask! But if you need immediate attention, please call the union directly at (855) 724-2387.
Is it okay to do a commercial for a product I don't use or don't like?
How do I know if the residuals for my commercial are being fully paid?
The residual payment process for commercials can be complex. The Commercials Contract Department at SAG will be glad to review the payments for any commercials with you. You may contact the department directly at 323 549-6858.
I just joined SAG, but my agent doesn't have a SAG franchise. Can I still stay with my agent?
Maybe. Section 16 (A) of SAG Rules and Regulations requires all members who decide to engage the services of an agent to choose from a list of SAG franchised ones. However, several years ago, SAG and the Association of Talent Agents (“ATA“) / National Association of Talent Representatives (‘NATR’), or collectively, (“ATA”) — which represents many of the agents — were unable to agree on a new franchise agreement that would have covered ATA agencies. At that point, SAG’s National Board suspended enforcement of Rule 16 (A) but only as it applied to members represented by ATA agents. So, for the time being, SAG members can either be represented by an agent that is SAG franchised (and therefore still covered under SAG Agency Rules) or those that are members of the ATA (and therefore not covered by SAG Agency Rules). If your agent is a member of the ATA, you may continue to be represented by that agent, with the understanding that such a representational relationship would be outside of the many protections offered under the SAG Agency Franchise.
Hey, what's going on? When I was a member of SAG in the Hollywood Division, my agent had to negotiate scale plus 10 percent in order to collect a commission. Now I'm a New York member, and my agent takes a commission on scale payments without getting the extra 10 percent. Did I miss something?
No, you didn’t. Many years ago, each SAG Branch voted on whether they wanted their agents to commission scale payments for original session employment or whether to require the agents to negotiate above scale in the original session employment in order to collect their payment. Several of the Branches and Divisions, including New York, voted for the more liberal commission structure—leading to the invasion of scale in those areas. Hollywood members, however, voted to require agents to collect scale + ten for original session work in TV/Theatricals in order to get paid. Remember, these commission structures may not be adhered to by the ATA/NATR agencies.
How can I join Screen Actors Guild?
Please see the Join SAG section of this website. To listen to an informative, recorded message, please call (323) 549-6772.
Should my manager be SAG franchised?
SAG does not franchise or otherwise have a relationship with personal managers, nor can it give you legal advice on that relationship or on any contract that may be offered to you. Should you have a general question about your relationship with your manager, please call SAG's Agency Department for assistance.
What do I have to do to get started as an actor?
There is no simple answer for how to break into the world of acting. Typically, performers take acting classes or study theater in school. Beginning actors often work in non-union background and principal roles in the early stages of their careers, as they get experience and build up a resume. Screen Actors Guild's interaction with performers begins after they have achieved professional status and are ready to join the Guild.
Because of the nature of film and television casting, our members -- like all performers -- must take their own steps towards getting agents, auditions and roles. We do everything possible to create an environment in which our members will be hired, and we look after their welfare once they are hired. The main goal of SAG is to provide competitive wages and safe, excellent working conditions for our members.
While we are not in a position to provide individual guidance to those who are getting into this business, we certainly invite you to explore our website to learn more about the history of the Guild and the business of acting.
Does this mean that once I become a SAG member I may not accept any non-union performing work to supplement my income?
Yes it does!
* SAG members cannot accept an acting role in any studio, independent, low-budget, pilot, experimental, non-profit, interactive, educational, student, or ANY production, unless that producer has signed a Contract or Letter of Agreement with Screen Actors Guild.
* In addition, by joining Screen Actors Guild, members also agree to abide by Rule 9, which states that members of one of the Four A performers' unions (SAG, AFTRA, Equity, AGVA, AGMA) will not accept non-union work in another union's jurisdiction.
Can I earn a living as an actor?
It may take several years for a beginner to earn a living as a performer. You must have a substantial cushion of savings to fund your quest and/or secure consistent alternate work to support you during the early stages of your career.
Even the most talented performers may do everything right and still not end up with acting jobs. Success in this business is an unpredictable combination of talent, training, residence, "look", energy, attitude, and the completely uncontrollable factor -- luck!
You must not take rejection personally! Even a working professional may not earn their income performing in just one medium.
Most professional performers generally need several potential income streams to earn enough money to sustain performing as a full-time career. For example, one year they might have SAG earnings of $7,000, AFTRA earnings of $12,000, Equity earnings of $6,000 and AGMA/AGVA earnings of $8,000. The following year they might have SAG earnings of $25,000 (because they appeared in a national commercial), AFTRA earnings of $9,000, Equity earnings of $5,000 and no AGMA/AGVA earnings at all.
The Actors' Fund is an excellent resource for actors looking to supplement their income. They offer the Actors Work program and many other helpful seminars and services.
Will I be required to accept only union work once I join SAG?
Yes. You must be ready and willing to follow SAG’s rules and regulations and to accept ONLY union employment once you become a member of SAG.
First and foremost of all the SAG rules is Global Rule One. It is the foundation of SAG's strength in protecting and representing its members. Global Rule One states:
"No SAG member shall work as an actor or make an agreement to work as an actor for any producer who has not executed a basic minimum agreement with the Guild which is in full force and effect. This provision applies worldwide."