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What You Need to Know About the New SAG-AFTRA Agreement: Self Tapes and Auditions


With the 118-day strike finally resolved and a new collective bargaining agreement obtained, there is a lot to digest and understand about how things will be moving forward. With that in mind, Casting Networks is producing a series of articles in which we will break down particular parts of the new agreement and discuss how it affects you.

One of the complaints that SAG-AFTRA members had voiced before the strike was the feeling of exploitation around self tape auditions. The COVID-19 pandemic closed casting rooms for years, resulting in a self tape boom, with increased expectations for actors. This was one of the more contentious parts of the negotiations, according to some reports.

Casting Calls, Sides and Page Limitations

Sides and casting calls must be distributed no less than 48 hours before the submission deadline, giving performers plenty of time to look over and prepare using the required materials. If a role is cast, a producer must alert performers of this if they ask about it.

Those who had issues with needing to learn too many pages for an audition had their concerns addressed, with an eight-page limit for a first self tape and 12 pages for any further callbacks.

Memorization has also been nixed.

Performers are no longer required to memorize materials for an audition, nor will they be penalized or prohibited from using sides or some kind of prompting device.

Performers with disabilities may request reasonable accommodations for materials in a format accessible to the performer.

Self Tape Requirements and Costs

One downside of the new agreement is that companies are not required to compensate performers for any self tape audition. That seems more than reasonable, however, when one considers the gains in this area.

For one thing, the quality of the self tape is no longer so high as to provide a prohibitive cost to the performer, who may not be asked to record at a resolution higher than 720p (quick tip: the action mode of a late model iPhone captures 1080p).

At the same time, producers are not allowed to use any uploading or delivery site for self tape that is not free. Nor can they demand actors use any editing software or specific equipment. No charges can be made to performers, in fact, for any general casting call or anything related to one.

Permissions and Expectations

Exploitation of performers in the form of nude scenes has been especially egregious, but that will no longer be an issue. No performer may be requested to appear nude or wearing anything more revealing than a bathing suit “that could be the word at a public pool.”

Stunts are also out. Performers can no longer be asked to perform them in an audition.

The amount of information required of a performer in an audition or self tape has also changed.

From now on, a producer is only allowed to ask the following in a slate: name, height, city of residence, current location, information about special skills and a head and shoulders and/or a full body shot in portrait orientation. For minors, a producer can ask about age and birthday.

Overall, the protections have improved across the board, and while the audition process might not be any easier than it was, the process will cost you less money and demand less of you.

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