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Ms. Bubbette

Dear Ms. Bubbette: John Borrowman President of SAG, Houston writes • Texas - a right-to-work-State • To SAG or not to SAG?
by Ms. Bubbette

September 2000

To Ms. Bubbette,

I just came from the austinactors.net website and read the posting from Anonymous regarding the SAG Disciplinary procedure. I was surprised to see that you also had posted my response to her.

Several questions like hers get forwarded to me. In the interest of making sure that actors have the facts, I do my best to answer. I certainly would not mind your sending similar questions directly to me. In hindsight, however, I think it would have been more appropriate to secure my authorization before printing what was, essentially, my reply to what I considered a communication between Anonymous and me.

I make it a point to check in to the website, just to stay abreast of actors' thinking in the Austin area. I am also curious about your policies (or the policies of the website) regarding posting of unsigned messages. Most newspapers seem to have a policy that a name is required, and that the letter will be attributed to "Name Withheld", if requested. I'm not certain about the underlying philosophy of such an approach. It seems to be a fair one and makes the point to the reader that the newspaper (or website) will not be allowed to become a vehicle for venting of anonymous opinions.

Thanks for your time,

John Borrowman Houston, TX

Dear John,

First of all Ms. Bubbette apologizes for printing your letter, sent in by an actor as an answer to previous questions she had posed, without your authorization. Up until now I have been consulting with Ken Freehill at the Dallas SAG office whenever a SAG question has been asked. I always had his blessing to use his answers to actors' questions. Please be assured I will ask your permission, should this come up again.

We are thrilled to bits that you have discovered austinactors.net. Being still in our infancy we hope that people will forgive our little transgressions as we learn the ropes of journalism? That was Ms. Bubbette's second boo-boo! Using the word ANON when an actor asked for the name to be 'withheld'. The policy of this newsletter IS to put "Name withheld" when requested, (not Anon) to protect the actor from Fallout from Above. Ms. Bubbette takes full responsibility for that slip-up and promises it will never happen again.

We also have the choice, like other newspapers, to reserve the right to reject submissions if they do not follow the spirit of this project. i.e. being helpful, useful or entertaining to our colleagues. If it contains slander or anything that can hurt another actor, director, casting director and so on, we will not print it.

The object of this e-newsletter is to have fun, pass on useful information and to entertain. No more, no less.

Sincerely,
Ms. Bubbette


Dear Ms. Bubbette,

Hello, I am a 23 year old young male that has taken a keen interest in pursuing an acting career. My most recent introduction to the movie business was with the film "Pearl Harbor" which was in my hometown of Corpus Christi. I have talked to many people about becoming a member and they all say the same thing; to become a member, you have to have a speaking role in a union movie, but to have a speaking role in a union movie, you have to be a member of SAG. Basically, what they were telling me was it all depends on who you know. I am a military brat that always found himself in another city once a year, if not more, therefore it was hard to settle down and plant some roots. I have been directed toward an agency here in Corpus called the Infinity Modeling and Talent Agency. However, I was also told to be very careful of the movies that I choose to be in, for if they are not associated with SAG in any way, then my chances of becoming a member are pretty much over. It's very difficult to understand, and since I am not a lawyer or college graduate (basically have no knowledge of "technical" terms), the whole idea of becoming a member seems impossible. Would you have any information to any web sites that can better explain the whole situation. I am very dedicated to this pursuit and am willing to do whatever it takes. Thank you in advance for your time.

cul8r
tim

Dear Tim,

First of all, welcome to the wonderful world of acting.

Always remember this - Texas is a right to work state and the Taft-Hartley Act regulates labor unions. What does all that mean? It means that we Texan actors CAN work in a union movie without being a union actor (SAG). Landing such a role then makes us SAG Eligible. While working on the casting side of many union movies, I found we often cast non-union actors in speaking roles, having to fill out a Taft-Hartley form for each actor to keep it all legit. One of the questions on the form was something like "Why are we using a non-union actor in a union role?" to which we would reply something like "Because this actor was absolutely right for this role - or was chosen by the director" . That catch-22 of " To become a member of SAG you have to have a speaking role in a union movie and to get that speaking role you must be a member of SAG" applies in LA and other Union states. Not in Texas.

Getting that role here is not necessarily through "who you know" . It's more "How talented are you as an actor?" and that usually depends on the quality and quantity of acting classes you are attending.

Raw recruits in any job will nearly always be passed over for the experienced professional, so my advise to you is get those classes and training under your belt, get out and audition for anything in front of camera (keeping your ethical values that is!) whether you get paid for it or not. That means doing low-budget independent movies. How else are you going to get enough experience in front of camera to be even considered for a big-name-movie role? (Does a tennis or golf pro become that by just wishing to be a top player? Or a musician become proficient without practice or guidance? Same deal with actors.) Find out the steps a local actor took (or your favorite actor) before 'making it big' and you do the same thing. Do extra work (which is probably what you did in "Pearl Harbor?") and get used to the 'hurry up and wait' regime of the movies. You may even luck out while being an extra, and be upgraded to a principal role by the director - I've seen it happen many times - which then makes you SAG Eligible. Watch and observe the stars.

Remember that "that overnight success" actor has probably been working for years in insignificant roles and as an extra before becoming 'discovered'. Two that come to mind - Robert Redford (in over 200 productions before getting his first speaking role - so the legend goes) and Kevin Cosner who can still be seen as an extra in earlier movies! And every other big actor has 'been there, done that'. So don't get discouraged. If you want it badly enough and willing to work hard at it, it will happen. But it won't be handed to you on a silver platter - you have to work your butt off!

To read other actors/agents/directors' views on SAG click on Features/Columns (in this website) scroll down to July features, click on "Okay here goes! The SAG strike: Opinions".

Websites for "SAG/AFTRA" http://www.sag.org/ http://www.aftra.org/

Good luck and let us know how you get on. As fellow actors, we care.

- Ms. Bubbette.

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