I find myself faced with a decision about my acting career. In the next week, I need to figure out if I can afford to or not to join AFTRA.  There's a really strong chance that the two actors unions are going to merge. Everyone I talk to say it's all but a done deal.  So I have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to join SAG without having to get vouchers, without having to qualify.

Ok, lemme back this up a minute.Right now there are two actors unions (actually there are a few more than that, but only 2 really affect film and television), SAG and AFTRA. The two unions are operated a bit differently. SAG is primarily Film, while AFTRA seems to be taking over TV. AFTRA you can just join. A farmer in the middle of Iowa with zero experience or even interest could join if he wanted to pay the $1600 (ish) registration. SAG, on the other hand, you have to qualify for. You have to get 3 vouchers or a lead role in a SAG production. And vouchers are not easy to get; everyone seems to want them. Plus, you have to pay $2400 (ish) when you do qualify.

So right now all the members of the 2 unions are voting. Ballots are due back by the 30th, I think, and the vote will be counted on the 31st. Once they have a final tally, if the votes are in favor, it's a done deal. There's no extra time for people to join last minute, there's no ramping up, it's just done. They'll still have to figure out logistics and all that, but there's no more open door.

So, all that said. I need to figure out if I'm joining this piece now, or waiting until I qualify. I know I have to join sooner or later, as this is what I want to do. I want to act, be on screen, tell stories, become other characters. And I know I will have to join the union at some point.

The question is:
  • Do I spend the $1600 now? Join the union now? Save myself $1400 in the long run, but go seriously over-budget in the meantime? I don't have any savings right now, and I owe Uncle Sam a good amount of money on my taxes this year.
  • OR Do I wait? Be patient? Wait to qualify? Spend more money in the long run, but potentially be more able to afford it?
I don't really know. My instincts are pulling me in both directions: Save $1400 by joining now, and when I go back to extra work, I'll be getting paid a lot more, and trust God to get me the work to pay my bills. OR Save $1600 now, trust God to put me in the right place to do it later.

I know if I don't join, I will regret it, but I don't know if I'll regret it if I do join. There is a potential problem if I join too early. I could maybe lose work because I'm union and there's still some non-union work I can do. Although, I could go fi-core (lose my voting rights, but be able to work whatever I want).

It's a hard choice, and I only have about 6 days.  I have to join by the 29th just to be on the safe side.

Question of the Day: What's your opinion?


Finn the human said...

In my opinion, you should wait. The most important thing for you now is to start a savings plan and knock down your debt. Money saved is flexible and can be applied any where you need it. Keep at it with the yard sales and pinch your pennies, assess what's vital for the attainment of your goals and concentrate your efforts in those directions. Remember: The borrower is slave to the lender!

D. said...

I don't really have any debt. All my credit cards get paid off each month, and while I have a student loan, it's only about $70/month. The only immediate debt that I have is to the IRS. So, yes, while I am living tightly, it's do-able. I'm not going to starve or get evicted.

Anonymous said...

So... What did you decide?