The legendary final episode of M.A.S.H. — the most-watched single episode of television in history — has a magical moment near the top of the show. An announcement comes over the camp loudspeaker stating that an agreement has been signed between the North and South Koreans, proclaiming that “THE WAR! IS! OVER!” Mass celebration ensues.
That’s what it felt like this past week, when the announcement came that after 118 days on strike an agreement had been reached between SAG-AFTRA and the studios, and everyone could get back to work.
SAG-AFTRA has called the new agreement “a landmark achievement for the union,” and highlighted the “meaningful protections” and consent rights around AI — which had been a big sticking point in discussions with the studios.
SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher and National Executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland talked on Friday about new revenue and compensation “for performers working in streaming,” as well as other gains, like higher wage minimums, audition protections and so on.
An 80-page summary of the full agreement will be distributed to eligible guild voters today. Starting tomorrow the full voting membership will commence with the ratification vote, which will run through the first week of December.
With the agreement in hand, the industry can start working again. Some studio films such as Deadpool 3 and Beetlejuice 2 will get right back to it as soon as this week. It will take a little time for most other productions to get back up to speed, many of which will probably not be able to do so until the new year.
That said, the agreements also mean that there is about to be an enormous amount of content created, and with it, great opportunities for actors to find work after cooling their heels for the last four months. Although commercial shoots were unaffected by the strike, movies and television will be back in play.
The self tape is still very much in vogue in a post-Covid world. That being said, in-person auditions were a part of the new agreement.
In-person stipulations include limits on the number of pages required for initial auditions and callbacks, compensation for memorization, protections from nudity in the audition process and opportunities for virtual or in-person interviews on a first come, first served basis, with additional accommodations for performers with disabilities, senior performers and minors.
With the influx of projects going back into production, more actors than ever will have the chance to find meaningful work. Make sure your resume and headshots are up to date, and keep your eyes peeled for every casting call you can find. If possible, make sure your lighting setup for self tapes are top-notch and most of all, be prepared.
Casting director Mark Bennett advises, “We’re looking for a degree of commitment that we feel mirrors our own. Communicate your enthusiasm through your degree of preparedness.”
Emmy-award-winning casting director Jeff Greenberg echoes this, saying, “Master the material, so you don’t need to hold it.” He adds, “And really use yourself. There’s no one like you.”
Jennifer Cooper, who has cast some of the biggest TV shows on the air right now, picks up on the latter theme. “Focus on what’s right for the story and right for you as an actor. Because I feel like when actors make decisions based around being cast, it’s so hard to get it right,” she says. “Your actual take and your actual essence is what I’m most interested in, as opposed to everybody trying to come in and fit it into the box that they think that I’m looking for.”
Remember that even though it doesn’t always feel like it, the casting director is on your side. “The first thing that I’d love an actor to walk in with is just a mantra that whoever is behind the door is there to support them as an artist,” says casting director Maribeth Fox. “Trust yourself as an artist and know that we’re there to support you. If you get the job, it makes us all look good.”
So get out there and get to work!
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