This article was published in SAG-AFTRA Chicago's Playback magazine. It is a couple of years old but is still very relevant regarding FiCore.
Just yesterday afternoon my agent called me with an audition, and as always I was very happy to be called in for a casting. I love knowing when I go out for auditions, if I get it, not only does it mean a nice paycheck for my day of work, it also means I’ll be getting residuals when it airs.
Not ten minutes later did I get a call back saying the producers don’t have the money for SAG actors, hence my audition was canceled. I couldn't help but think of all the actors who will go on that audition and simply take what they can get. Believe me with the economy as it is these days, I empathize with the urge to simply take what I can get.
But if we, as individual actors, continually take what we can get without taking a stand for what we are worth, casting agents and producers will come to expect that of us as a whole.
I struggled with the issue of Financial Core vs. Full Membership—and after doing a Sears Christmas commercial I decided it was time to figure it out. And I have to tell you that all of my agents, hands down, said go Fi/Core. With that resounding advice I figured why not? Well, I can tell you why not. …
I did three non-union commercials and one industrial during my stint as Fi/Core. It’s been close to two years now, and one of those commercials is still playing both on television and on the website—with no hint of residual pay. And the industrial experience I had was a nightmare. I spent over ten hours on the set with only two breaks. And if that wasn't bad enough, several of the other actors were talking about how much they were making for coming in for only an hour. It was the same amount I was being paid for all 10 of my hours.
I continued to justify it with the fact that at least I was working. But the fact that I was Fi/Core was like an itch that just wouldn't go away. It was something I was never truly comfortable with. Finally, when I made the decision to simplify my life and go exclusive with one agency I got it straight. Aria Talent made it clear that being a full member of SAG was the only way to go. Since signing with them, I haven’t been on any non-union auditions. Do I miss it? No. I did a lot of running around for a long time, with small paychecks and endless runs without residuals. I also booked a national commercial that made a significant difference in my income for close to two years. In fact, it was triple the amount of money I made on all three commercials and the industrial I did during my tenure as Fi/Core.
As a full member of SAG I am incredibly grateful to be a part of community that takes a stand for actors as a whole. We are worth so much more than we give ourselves credit for. Think about it, all the years of auditions, running around back and forth across town, the classes we have taken to hone our craft, those who have spent time earning BFA’s and MFA’s—all that time and hard work should be accounted for and that is definitely the case when you are a full member of SAG.
Take a stand for all that you do as an actor, believe in the fact that when you land a national, regional or local spot, it will be worth all the non-unions put together. But lest I lead you astray and have you thinking it’s just about money…believe me it isn't: take time to reflect on the familial aspect of the union. Long lines of sisters and
brothers have gone before us paving the way so that we can make a living doing what we love most. If we all stand for that, we will make it so.
You are not a member of SAG-AFTRA if you are financial core, so if you have resigned your membership to become a fee paying non-member, you are misrepresenting yourself to casting directors if your resume says SAG-AFTRA fi-core on it. You are either a member or not. Fi-core is not a part of the union. It is anti-union.http://www.sagaftra.org/getthefacts/ficore2.html