Monday, September 13, 2010

Tools of the Trade: Getting Your SAG Card

It’s a classic catch-22. How do you get a role in a feature film? You need a SAG card. How do you get a SAG card? You need to get a role in a feature film.

So you want to be a card-toting, dues-paying member of the Screen Actors Guild. Who doesn’t? Being in SAG means access to roles that actually pay money! But getting into SAG is difficult for one simple reason –

SAG doesn’t want you to get in!

There are already thousands of SAG actors that don’t work consistently. The majority, in fact. Yet every SAG actor has an equal vote in all union issues, most of which don’t apply to them yet. Letting more members into SAG just means more unemployed actors making decisions that affect the small percentage of the membership that actually is working.

So they make it wicked hard to get into SAG. And wicked expensive – initiation fees were $2,277 last I checked. But if you want to move your career forward, getting into SAG is necessary and in my opinion, it can be done.

Here are the ways:
  • Taft-Hartley – A fast pass into the ranks. Easier if you’re under 18, a celebrity in a different field (like Jordan Farmar), or if you have a crazy talent like fire-eating that happens to be needed on How I Met Your Mother this week. Make sure your resume lists all your special skills, but only if you can actually do them. Taft-Hartleys seem to be more common in the commercial world, so try to get a commercial agent right away.

  • Background Vouchers – Get with a good call-in service and be professional. Show up on time, bring good wardrobe choices, and stay where you’re supposed to be. 2nd 2nd ADs like actors who listen to them, work hard, and don’t complain.

  • Via AEA or AGVA – Snag a lead role on stage or in a theme park, and a year later you can become SAG Eligible. Disney’s Pixar Parade, anybody?
But most of all, be diligent! It’s a long road, but you’ll get there eventually. If I can do it, so can you! Click here to read Part 2 of this series!


  1. One of the newest ways to get your SAG Card via taft-hartley is to create a webseries. I did just that back in May and am now SAG-Eligible. I don't plan to join until next year but I'm happy that I've at least gotten past the obstacle of the catch-22! So for any of your readers out there who have writing skills, look into the SAG New Media Agreement and become SAG-E on your own!

  2. Good point Brandi - thank you! Web series are a booming business and definitely a valid entry into SAG. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Teresa, you are awesome! Thank you! I am currently producing a web-series called "The Gamer's Girlfriend" I was just working on this process.

  4. Thanks followmepro! I hope your production goes well. I'm about to star in a Web series myself. I'm looking forward to it - hopefully it will help some of my co-stars become eligible for SAG!