Tips and AdviceHow to Get Paid to Do Auditions

How to Get Paid to Do Auditions

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SAG-AFTRA launches Innovative self-taping auditions guidelines for low-budget projects. Also, SAG-AFTRA launched a program to allow talent to showcase their skills and creativity in a more streamlined process. 

To ensure the safety and security of self-taping auditions for lower-budget productions, SAG-AFTRA has implemented a series of new protections. As stated by the guild, this move is intended to provide more stability and assurance during financial uncertainty “to address members’ concerns about this common yet frequently challenging practice.” All low-budget projects can now only feature a maximum of five script pages for the initial self-taped audition, but they may request additional page readings in case you make it to callbacks or Zoom meetings.

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An appointed Self-Tape Committee will be responsible for streamlining the collaborative efforts of different union committees related to self-taping “with an eye toward added safety enhancements for other entertainment contracts,” the guild said.

After careful consideration, SAG-AFTRA’s National Board has approved the new low-budget self-taping guidelines adopted at their 2021 convention and reviewed by all internal committees.

“These improvements come in the wake of a union-distributed member survey to assess the state of self-taping in the industry,” the guild said. “The results of that survey and extended research done after the conclusion of the original study were considered by leadership and shared with members in several online streaming productions.”

According to the survey results of 9,300 members (5% of the guild’s total population), an overwhelming 92% revealed that they had to self-record and upload their auditions for roles. Additionally, 15 percent reported auditioning virtually with Zoom or other live platforms, while less than 4 percent admitted having in-person auditions as job requirements.

Astonishingly, 91% of responders stated that they had to furnish their own recording equipment for self-taped auditions; an alarming 82% said the audition was requested on the weekend; 60% shockingly reported being asked to read an immense number of script pages, and 34% experienced lengthy and unreasonably arduous auditions without payment. They asked a whopping 22% of actors to do a stunt or some sort of physical activity during their recorded audition, and 8% had been requested to perform provocative actions such as kissing or any intimate activity. In comparison, 6% reported that they’d been asked to wear revealing or no clothing.

A staggering number of respondents (almost half!) revealed that their disability caused them to turn down their chances to audition, and 5% stated they had difficulty submitting self-taped auditions due to their inability.

A majority of respondents reported spending their own money to self-tape auditions, with 41% incurring what they deemed as “onerous” expenses. Alarmingly, 20% paid over $100 for a single audition taping session alone! Furthermore, 3.5% encountered requests that made them feel unsafe when asked to self-tape an upcoming role.

Here’s a video SAG-AFTRA made about the survey:

According to the guild, “This data, along with meaningful self-tape improvements secured in the 2022 Commercials Contract, will inform continued improvements across the union’s other contract areas. Provisions achieved in the 2022 commercial contracts include prohibiting requests for unsafe activities, multiple makeups or styling changes, angle changes in a take, and the use of multiple locations. Additionally, no special equipment or paid services may be required to audition, and sides must be provided 24 hours in advance.”

Though actors employed by Film or Television are contractually obligated to receive half a day’s pay if they audition but aren’t hired, most never end up collecting this benefit, it has been officially noted in Screen Actors Guild and SAG-AFTRA contracts since 1937, which is why it’s so important for actors to file a claim if they wish to collect their due – even though the majority don’t bother with filing that paperwork.

As of September, SAG-AFTRA declared that it would actively pursue claims for audition pay in unique situations.

“Until further notice,” In an announcement on their website, the guild declared, “members should expect the union to pursue audition pay claims in the following circumstances, provided that the performer is not offered employment in the picture and that the requirements of the audition pay language within the schedule applicable to the role being cast are otherwise met:

  1. When the producer or casting director expressly requires the performer to memorize their lines in advance.
  2. When the performer participates in a network or studio ‘test’ as that term is commonly understood in the entertainment industry. For context, ‘tests’ are typically used to cast series regular or feature lead roles, typically involve multiple performers who are expected to be ‘off book,’ may include makeup, hairdressing, and wardrobe, and will have a network or studio executives in attendance.
  3. When a performer is owed pay for waiting time over one hour as provided in the applicable schedule.”

About SAG-AFTRA:

The SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) is an organization that works to protect and promote the rights of performers across all media platforms – from film and television, to radio and podcasts. It’s made up of more than 160,000 members worldwide who are dedicated to the safety and wellbeing of professionals in their field.

The organization was formed in 2012 after the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and American Federation of Television & Radio Artists (AFTRA) merged into one union. In addition to acting on stage, film and TV, SAG-AFTRA also represents dancers, announcers, stunt coordinators, reality show contestants, recording artists and more. 

One of the main functions of SAG-AFTRA is to negotiate contracts with employers that set out fair wages and working conditions for its members. This includes negotiations on minimum salaries for talent as well as maximum hours worked per day, vacation days off, proper use of residuals generated through a performance or reuse of footage. The aim is not only to ensure fair compensation for actors but also to create a safe work environment where industry professionals are treated with respect.

SAG-AFTRA also provides resources such as workshops on topics related to the entertainment industry; representation from legal teams in cases where an individual needs assistance; career counseling; guidance on taxes; discounts for goods or services offered by select companies; access to health insurance plans; retirement benefits; a library of scripts and much more. 

For those looking for a career in entertainment or wanting to take advantage of all that SAG-AFTRA has to offer its members, joining is simple: just fill out an application form online. Members receive access to exclusive benefits created specifically with performers in mind – making it easier than ever before to pursue your passions while staying protected under this powerful union.

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Megan Diane
Megan Dianehttps://www.projectcasting.com
Hi, I'm Megan Browne, the Head of Partnerships at Project Casting - a job board for the entertainment industry. As Head of Partnerships, I help businesses find the best talent for their influencer campaigns, photo shoots, and film productions. Creating these partnerships has enabled me to help businesses scale and reach their true potential. I'm excited to continue driving growth by connecting people with projects they're passionate about.

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