Thank You

This is my last post for the year 2016. First, I would like to thank you for reading. I write this blog because it helps me vent about my frustrations. I am lucky enough to work enough to have things to vent and be frustrated about.
2016, on a personal level, was the worst year of my life. I lost my mother (which I am not even coming close to accepting), and I won’t even get started on politics. I have never been political and now I find myself actually depressed about it.
I cannot complain about work; however, I can complain that the budgets are getting smaller and smaller and that I have to hope to get twice the amount of work to meet my numbers but I am so grateful to my clients, directors, and producers for continuing to put their faith in me and my company. I have an incredible staff – assistants, casting directors, studio managers, and more. Everyone puts in 110%.
Slow times are scary. I never know when the phone will ring, so we hope and when the phone does ring, we are available and ready to work our butts off. You never know what the next day will bring so we do not take any job for granted…full rate, half rate, free. We all do what we have to do to keep everyone happy, it is also an amazing feeling to employ so many actors. It takes all of us being ready and responsible to do a great job. We are all needed to make the process work – casting directors, agents, and actors.
I cannot even imagine what actors go through. I appreciate the actors that are responsible – the actors that treat the process like an art but also a business. We have a lot of work to do in 2017. We need to find a way to have everyone understand the benefits of being more responsible to their agents when it comes to their schedules. I have said it over and over again and I’ll continue to say it, but right now I just want to say thank all the people that have made the effort to make New York casting great.
Training is important. I work with some incredible directors that love working with smart and talented actors. Never think you know it all. I learn something new every day. The last 4 months have been great – a nice amount of SAG work with quality creative and top productions. Non-union is still there and just as important. We work hard on all of it. People need to sit still. Commit your time to making our work top quality all the time. Doing four auditions and then jumping on a plane is not a commitment. Booking a job and then jumping on a plane is not taking your job seriously.
I hope for a healthy and happy New Year to everyone. I never gave much thought to that phrase before this year…a lot of firsts. A huge thank you to the agencies, production companies, directors, and producers that continue to put your faith in my team and I. Happy New Year from all of us at Beth Melsky Casting.

Thank You

Actors: Life After the SAG/AFTRA Contract

I am not a political person but it has been impossible to ignore the circus of this year’s election. I am thinking about the way the process works and the amount of strategy used. I started to think about the SAG commercial contract, when it was expiring and the  renegotiation. I never thought of two smart sides using strategy to come to a fair settlement. I actually think I was very naïve in believing it was actors on one side and producers on the other. I was very sure that actors were feeling the lack of union work and were afraid if they went on strike, the union would never bounce back. I do not think for the everyday actor that they were concerned about rates, increases, or rule changes.

Actors getting involved in an increase of day rates, or first class airfare, or an 8 hour work day are not things the average voting actor was concerned with. I have found that most commercial actors do not know most of the rules in the SAG contract. Many do not ever know the rate for an 8 hour work day. They rely on agents or managers to inform and advise them. Agents and managers…that had no say in the negotiation. SAG actors were sitting back and watching while more than 60% of all auditions were non-union. Many actors did not care about the terms. They were so afraid that if they voted for a  strike that there would never be any SAG commercial work again. All they thought or heard about was the last strike and that if they went on strike again it was over for them.

I now believe that they should not have gone on strike because with the all the changes (digital, social media, etc.) that this contract was a good compromise.

We (casting directors, directors, producers and more) have all been hit hard financially while the world of advertising tries to figure itself out.

No matter what, when a client is dealing with a small budget to get their brand out there, they still can’t afford 8 hour work days, work outside the zone, P&W of 17%, etc. I have so many clients that actually investigate going union. It’s not the day rate, it’s all the other things I mentioned. I never thought that they were shooting non-union to prove a point. Maybe it was part of a negotiating strategy.  The buyouts for internet and social media are reasonable for now.  “Broadcast “ union commercials cost so much money in residuals that a lot of what I see is that they run one cycle (13 weeks) and then they move over to internet, where not only are they being viewed more, it becomes an additional buyout which is affordable under SAG.

The truth is, a lot of network commercials are being shot to air on a special events that will be watched live by millions of people. Commercials made for the super bowl are the best example. I felt that if they could have gotten rid of residuals and offer buyouts based on usage, then there would be more commercials running on broadcast TV. The union is never giving anything back. That would be like lowering an employee’s salary. I think continuing to fight for the part of the contract that will end up obsolete instead of trying to figure out the future would be more productive. Find a better balance. 

I hope network TV  will never go away. I watch a lot of it as well as the other available options. It seems to me that people need commercials more then they realize. You go shopping and know the toilet paper you want because you have seen an ad that stuck with you and you don’t even know that it is stuck in your head . If all our watching became ad-free like Netflix, then how would products advertise? It seems to me, as a person that can’t pay my rent without advertising, that it is necessary. Isn’t there a way or a compromise? Even Netflix advertises so people will know that they exist…commercial free. If there was no way for them to advertise then how would we know? How would we know about all the new original programing if they couldn’t promote these shows on Broadcast, cable, etc. Maybe I am completely wrong and uninformed, but it scares me. Social media is so fast and even less clear on how advertising works and how effective it is. Product clients can’t pay SAG rates when they have no idea if it is being watched or selling anything.  It was like going from print to TV. It feels like history is repeating itself when cable TV was added to the contract and the union decided there was no future in it. Having a reasonable union that understands all sides so they can work together seems so important. Talent agents, casting directors, and managers were never asked their opinions. We are on the ground living it everyday. I don’t think the people that were in a position to vote ever felt that everyone’s goal was the same.

I was convinced (since most of the casting I was doing leading up to the negotiation) that after it was over, there would continue be more non-union work then ever. I knew that all the big agencies and their signatories were doing more and more digital work and were stuck in how to move forward. Nobody knew what to do with Twitter, Snap Chat, etc. The actors won with broadcast and the producers/signatories won with Internet and New Media. Everyone knew that Broadcast was getting less and less and just had to hope that as low as the rates were, it would cut down on non union.

I think the point I’m trying to make (and maybe not doing a great job of ) is everyone made the best deal they could. Could they have gotten rid of first class? Yes. Would it have made a difference? Yes. Could they have come up with a tier system for P&W and would it have made a difference? Yes.

What I am understanding now and did not see was the strategy behind the negotiations. You do not flood the market with SAG network auditions before a possible strike. You sit back and let all the SAG actors see how much non-union work there is and they get scared. Great strategy. I actually believed going into the vote that there would barely be any union work again and three years from now everyone would jump ship. After the vote and the contract was passed, I had more union work than I had had in a year.

I was thrilled, but surprised. It would be nice to be able to do every job on a SAG contract while still allowing agents and casting directors to meet and employ new people without the fear of penalties. Creative changes all the time and, often times, we need to search for new types. If we are shut down then creativity will not move forward. Also, the membership amount is higher than actors can afford, since most internet or social media ads pay much less. This negotiation made actors afraid to become union members. Less auditions with more bills. The union said, for the commercial contract, that it was their highest revenue year yet. My answer to that is “celebrity endorsements.” How much of that money came from that?

This strategy (after watching the nonsense of a presidential election) became very clear to me. It was a very smart way to go and I truly think we have a chance of merging the gap even more if people involved would be honest, acknowledge the future, and consider a way for actors to work on union contracts and the advertisers can afford to offer them.

If I am lucky enough to be busy casting, I see they need to try and work together to make things better for everyone, not get political and out strategize the other side. Let’s stop the CIRCUS mentality and in 3 years, maybe ask the opinions of the people who are knee deep in it.

As my mother said, there are 3 sides to every story…yours, mine, and the correct one.

You can’t get there if you don’t ask everyone.

Actors: Life After the SAG/AFTRA Contract

Help Your Agent Help You

Now it is time to defend the agents and reach out to seasoned actors, as well as new. July and August were not only very busy, but most of the work was SAG. If there is ever a time that casting is going to be busy in New York, it is the summer. I have been doing this for 30 years; summer is busy.

I am going to give a major tip on how actors can make their relationship with their agents better and create less stress between casting directors and agents. I am going to start with Abrams Artists and the agent that I work with there, Tracey Goldblum. She works 20 hours a day and only cares about doing a great job. She will also defend an actor even when they have not done their part, so help her do her job.

Now for the most important tip and the thing that is making our jobs the most difficult – stay in New York and be available to work in the summer. Come November when there are no auditions, it is not fair to complain to your agent.

On top of so many actors wanting the summer off, you do not inform your agents of your schedule and the agents learn that you are unavailable after I have spent the day prepping and scheduling you. That means I have to do my job twice, sometimes even three or four times. I am so confused as to why sending your schedule is such a big issue. If you had a full time job you would have to put in for vacation. Also, how many e-mails does everyone send in a day? This is just one more and it is part of your job as an actor. Give your agent your schedule. It doesn’t matter if it is work related or not. For an agent to take their time to submit you and push for you, get an appointment, and then find out that you are not available is unfair to all of us.

Your commercial agent should be made aware of any pending legit work, booked work, readings, vacations, etc. In this day and age, keeping your schedule up to date is easy. If an agent submits you, thinks you are available because you didn’t book out, calls you with the appointment only to find out you are not available because you “forgot” to book out, it will not only be remembered but the agent might hesitate to submit you the next time.

It does not matter if you have not gotten an audition in a month. Agents still need your schedule so if an audition comes up they are prepared. If you have a secondary job and can only audition part time, it is so important to inform your agent. You are not just another body. We are all working hard to do great casting sessions, but lately the lack of responsibility has made it very difficult.

Doug Kesten at Paradigm and Carol Ingber of Ingber and Associates, will get a breakdown from me and check everyone’s schedule before they submit. Actors that have not updated their schedule will not get submitted. Doug, in a lot of cases, will pick up the phone (I know…a new concept) and check in with some actors that he thinks will be perfect, before submitting them…very time consuming. Other agencies, like Don Buchwald and Associates, that have a much larger client list do not have the time to do that, so it is really important to update them with your schedule.

Agents want appointments and do not want to take a chance on someone that hasn’t checked in. I don’t give an agent a time slot or a time span. I give an agent an appointment for a specific actor. If lose the actor, the agent loses that appointment time, and has less of a chance of booking the job.

The lack of responsibility is costing actors auditions and making me hesitate on scheduling you again. You are also driving your agents crazy.

Please, all actors, even if you have more than one agent, keep your full schedule up to date with all of them. Do not assume your legit agent is communicating with your commercial agent or that your manager is keeping your all agents in the loop. We are all grown ups and need to be responsible for ourselves. Please help this business; become responsible again. It might make casting easier and create a situation where we don’t have to set up such big casting sessions to make sure we are covered.

One last request, give Tracey Goldblum a hand. She has more scheduling issues than anyone and I think her clients need to help her out.

 

Help Your Agent Help You

Summer Casting and Puppy Mills

It has been a few months since I wrote my last blog. As I mentioned, my mom passed away suddenly and my world has changed. I have never experienced a loss so devastating that I feel I have no control or understanding of what I’m feeling. I find working is the best thing for me and I am so grateful that since mid-June, it has been very busy. She died June 8th. I had the time to do what I had to do to bury her and have my family and all of our friends come to my house and honor her. It was like Karma. The minute the third day of Shiva was over, I knew I had to get back to the office and work. One quiet week can slow down my cash flow and on top of being a casting director, I had to try and figure out what my mother had done with my business finances for over 20 years. I knew she was making every dollar stretch and letting me run a great casting company. She loved her job and did it the old fashioned way. She made me feel safe and that things would always be okay. Through busy times, slow times, things like Netflix, union, non-union, crazy low budgets, and so many changes over the last 20 years that she ran things, she stood by me.

Casting directors are freelance. Whether you own a company with your own space or you rent space, you have to work so hard to do an an incredible job, every time, regardless of how hard the casting spec is or how little we are getting paid, or even how underpaid the actors are. We do this to keep the business going for all of us.

There are jobs that I work on where the casting fee is more important than the quality they might get. I cut my rate often to try and gain new clients and to prove we are great at what we do and then maybe the next time they will find more money. I never undercut other casting directors to get a job. I do not even know what my competitors’ rates are. If that is what they care about, then they do not really care who is casting. I also think the process and the job of a casting director is not always understood. We add real value. Top directors and agencies understand the value of a good casting director – one that is well respected, that understands rules and the SAG contract, can be a huge asset. This knowledge and relationship with actors and agents can help in getting top quality talent.

I think that with all my focus on work right now I see things a bit differently. It has always been important to me to do a great job. It is just who I am but now I worry that casting could end up being eliminated. I believe that commercials are the only way to see products but the broadcast quality work is becoming less frequent. The chain of events that comes along with that is actors missing commercial auditions and being accountable for their schedules does not matter. We have had more SAG network work this summer than we have had in years. We can never quarantine what work is going to be like, but summer is always a safe bet for quality work in New York.

I do not know how to make actors understand this. I did a session for a great product and if an actor booked this, it could pay their bills for a year. I lost 25 people because they all took Friday off because it is summer. Really? I will not be given another chance. My client needed the session today. I have had multiple sessions every Friday for the last six weeks. I am not going to turn down the work because of this made up rule. Next time, they will just cast in LA. SAG actors that have been so frustrated with the amount of non-union work should not only notice what has been going on, but should rethink their schedules. If these issues are not thought about and addressed, then how can we move forward and try and keep things going?

I have family, employees, agents, and so many actors that depend on my hard work. Sometimes I feel the agents and actors are not doing their fair share to help fix things. I have a great understanding of family emergencies now more than ever, but that term is used very loosely…a dentist appointment, a therapy appointment, etc. Auditions come first. There are a lot of actors out there and you probably will not get another chance so before you have a crazy reason to not make an audition or ask for a time change, please think about how hard we are working to set up quality casting sessions. No, we never know, but we are always prepared. This is what I spend my time thinking about now. At times it feels hopeless.

One last thing that I would like to talk about: It has nothing to do with casting. I am a huge animal lover. I ride horses. I love horses. I love dogs and I have two of my own. My youngest son’s friend decided he wanted a dog. In this day and age, everyone knows that there are thousands of dogs that need to be rescued and adopted. He went to a pet store, thinking he was buying a pure bred from a breeder…makes no sense.

Well of course it turned out the puppy was from a puppy mill and everything he was told was a lie and all the paperwork was forged. And nothing about giving the dog back because then what? Puppy mills must be closed down and a good place to start is with pet shops. I will help in reporting this and having this store shut down. This is horrifying to me and would love to learn as much about putting an end to puppy mills as I can. Just putting it out there that I am interested in helping.

 

Summer Casting and Puppy Mills

Advice to Actors

Last weekend was July 4th and I felt like I could have taken my blog post from one year ago and just used it again.

We are in a business without any real schedule…no guarantees as to when it is going to be busy or slow or if it will be union or non-union work. A year ago, I begged actors to take their vacations in the winter. I never know when the phone will ring and the chances are I will be given no real lead time to do my job properly. Many times, I get a call in the morning to cast that same day.

Because it’s Thursday in the summer and you have no auditions for Friday, many of you leave for the weekend. Why don’t you be the actor that sticks around and is available for the Friday afternoon last minute auditions? Keeping yourself around and available gives you an edge. What’s the rush? Where are you going?

As usual, July 4th has become a weeklong holiday. Actors not being available can cost a casting director a job. Be the actor that sticks around and see what happens. I don’t think I have ever heard the excuse, “He has a flight” as many times as I have heard recently. Where is everyone going? Aren’t flights expensive? If there was ever a time to sit still and make the decision to be responsible, it would be now. There has been a nice amount of SAG (network) work and I cannot tell you how hard it was to get 20 actors confirmed last Friday. Be that actor that is available on a Friday in the summer and I bet your agent will push for you. We do not get to go again. We do a session with the best available. Many times we are only given one day to cast and if our first 20 choices have decided to get on a plane I have to find another 20 actors that will be great options.

Being an actor is a “hurry up and wait” profession. Casting directors, or at least those at Beth Melsky Casting, make themselves available 24/7. I never turn down anything because I am getting on a plane. I fly through the night. I am committed to my job because that is a big part in being successful.

The beginning of June was personally the worst time of my life. I did not expect my clients to understand and did not want to put them in an awkward situation so I forged ahead. June is usually a very busy month but I am spiritual and I believe karma played a big part in allowing me to do everything I needed to and then it picked up strongly so I could catch up. July is starting out strong and August (the month that all actors think they should or can take off) has been a great month for New York casting in the past.

All I am asking is to give it a try this year. Please help us casting directors do a great job and give clients a reason to think New York casting is very important. Your availability is what helps us do a great job. I am asking for a one-summer commitment. I do not always know my schedule so do not call and ask me if your actors can leave early and take long weekends. I get calls at night for the next day and honestly it is not my responsibility to give you the green light to leave. Being an agent and an actor is a job. I do not give my staff Fridays off because I am not sure what will come my way. Would you expect that if you had a full time job? What is the problem with sitting still?

The other ongoing issue, and it’s not getting any better, is actors not booking out. Why don’t you do it? You can go four weeks without an audition and then your agent submits you and I guess because you haven’t heard from them you think it doesn’t matter. The agent submits you to me; I pick you and give you an appointment. The agents check schedules before submitting as to not waste my time. If it is clear, they submit with what they think is accurate information. More than 50% of the time, it turns out they have wasted my time and they have to call me with their tail between their legs to cancel your appointment. Often times, I do not give them a replacement. That means the agent has worked a whole day without even a chance of booking the job and making any money.

One of the most disappointing occurrences, and it happens too often, is when an agent calls one of their clients with an appointment only to be told that the actor moved to LA. That is irresponsible and shows such a lack of respect for the people that are working as hard as they can to get you work. The responsible actors are the ones agents will feel comfortable submitting last minute.

Also, informing your agent of bookings that might happen through a legit or theatrical agent are also important. Not only are they happy that you are working but it might not take you out. Knowledge is power.

The last thing I want to talk about is the word “booked.” That word only means one thing to me. You are on another acting job. For the amount of times I hear that word in a day, I would say the business is beyond booming. The casting sessions going on are not reflecting the amount of actors “booked.” Having a part time job or taking other work is not being booked. Honesty is what allows us to try and work out auditions. Do not use that word loosely.

 


 

And now I wanted to give Nikki, a casting assistant at my office who most of you probably know, the chance to post:

I appreciate everyone who reads Beth’s blog regularly. I love my job and I love what we do at Beth Melsky Casting; however, there are some lessons to be learned. I want to touch on the point of booking out. I wish everyone could understand what goes on in Beth’s office. Beth puts out a breakdown, agents submit, and Beth HANDPICKS whom she wants to see and who is right for the job. She preps her sessions with diligence and precision. Everyone has a specific appointment time. Often times, you are reading with another actor or two or three. When I lose someone on a session because they have not booked out, I get quite frustrated too (so does your agent, by the way…I know this because I talk to each of them). I have to tell Beth whom we lost and why and then she has to go back through the submissions and try to find someone else who is right, prolonging the process and prepping double. Doing this over and over and over again is exhausting and frustrating. Please book out with your agents. Thank you to everyone who does. We are all on the same team here, trying to get a job done. Let’s work together in this. I want you all to book jobs, too!

 


 

I am begging everyone to give a lot of thought to what I am asking and if I am wrong, I won’t ask again. Help to make this an easy summer and maybe even put a smile on my face.

Beth Melsky

Advice to Actors

Responsibility is the Key to Success

This post is very personal to me because my mother died on June 8th.

She worked for me for 25 years and was at her desk two weeks before she died. She ran the finances of all my businesses so that I could concentrate on being a great casting director and build a successful business.

She did things the old fashioned way and took care of the people that worked for me.

She ran all of my father’s production companies and was smarter with numbers than anyone I ever knew.

She made my accountant’s job easy, did payroll so I didn’t have to pay a service, and knew how to make every dollar work while even handling the taxes herself. She loved numbers. She loved the puzzle of accounting.

I was so lucky. I never asked questions. I knew I could trust her and that she would not only do everything legally, but do everything right as well.

Given all that, as a business owner I should have known more. I never wanted to step on her toes and I thought she would always be there. I knew that if one day she couldn’t do the job then I was screwed.

My mother loved working and also served as the mother and friend to everyone at BMC. She took a huge interest in everyone’s life as well as always having an opinion. You had to earn my mother’s interest and once you had it, you were good. My mother didn’t sugar coat how she felt and could be very sarcastic.

It took time to figure out her sense of humor. She was a little person with a powerful personality. She  also loved giving and never expected in return. I am happy to say that I think she gave me a few of these qualities.

Now, on to the most important message to actors, agents, managers and really anyone that wants to be successful.

I was taught responsibility. Nothing comes easy. I worked hard since I was 15 years old. We were not poor but my mother felt that I needed to learn to work. If I earned $20, she would put it in the bank and then give me $5 spending money. I had to earn my allowance . She taught me how important it was to save . My allowance was her money, but I didn’t get it if I wasn’t working.

When I started to work I was told that it was a real life commitment and that I had to take it very seriously. No calling in sick for no reason. No “I’m not in the mood.” People were counting on me and it was an important lesson.

This is the lesson that I write about in almost all of my blogs. Being an actor requires you to be responsible. You have agents and managers working hard for you and I will never understand why you don’t feel responsible to them with your schedule. If it was an office job, you would be fired. Being responsible helps build trust. It also shows commitment. I will schedule an actor that maybe I’m not sure is as talented over an actor that I know is never responsible and hasn’t earned trust. Being in our business doesn’t mean that you don’t have to treat it like business. If a casting director gets two actors submitted, they are both right for the role, but can only see one….who’s going to get the audition? Being in our business, which is creative, doesn’t give you a pass on logic.

I think I have heard the term “getting on a plane” more times than I can count in the last six months. Where is everyone going? How can you afford to always be going away? Why can’t you make a commitment, be responsible, and sit still for a while. I do. I never know when the phone is going to ring with the next job but I make sure I am there to take it. That’s called being responsible and committed to a career choice I made and seeing it through. If every time it got slow I “got on a plane,” I would be out of business. I understand if you get booked on an acting job but maybe 1% of the time that is the case.

Figure out how to be responsible to a career choice you have made and give it a chance. Inform the people that are working hard for you of your schedule. Be patient, sit still, and give it a chance to work. As a casting director, I notice the pattern with the people that refuse to take five minutes out of your day to inform your agent or manager of your schedule. Everyday. I also remember the responsible actors and if I have a last minute session, which happens often, I remember who’s responsible and it works in you favor. Agents should not need to call you to find things out. You probably send 50 e-mails a day. This might be the most important one. Summer is usually busy and in the past, August is great. There is a nice amount of SAG work right now. Why would you think a summer vacation is more important? When you are famous, you will have plenty of time for vacations. Make a commitment, be responsible. If this business is a hobby, you need to be honest. Honesty is huge.

So I thought I would share the best lesson that I got from my mother – be responsible. It worked for me.

 

Responsibility is the Key to Success

Lets Move Forward

The SAG/AFTRA commercial contract was approved overwhelmingly. There is no reason to dwell. We need to move forward. As union members, it is important for you to understand the new rules.

There is a clause about NDA’S that I think everyone should understand. It seems it is automatic on every commercial job that you are under an NDA. You don’t have to sign an NDA for it to be enforced. Casting directors have been putting them out for years on jobs that are new concepts or have celebrity talent in them. We have, many times, not let actors know the name of the product, just the conflict area. Since social media has made it so easy to talk about things and publicize it, I think actors get excited to share things and clients do not want their new ideas shared in that way. They have competitors as well…remember?

I think when actors audition they need to assume every audition and the material are under that rule. Never ever take scripts with you. This has now become a SAG/AFTRA rule and it is not worth taking any chances on. It is so easy to find out where the leak came from and nobody needs trouble. Casting directors even sign them saying that we will not post scripts and, if we do, they will not have certain info on them, like product names or logos.

New York rarely posts scripts. Beth Melsky Casting rarely posts union breakdowns, unless we are looking for something very unusual. We are very old fashion and believe that verbal communication with agents helps them understand the creative and gives us the chance to talk about seasoned actors as well as new actors that they feel have great potential. The less that is posted, the less chance there is for problems. However, that is not why we choose to prep by communicating. We do it the old fashion way because, even though it might take more time, it is more effective in doing a great job.

If we are casting non-union, I think you should follow this rule as well. Our clients expect that from us and we will continue to put out NDA’S when requested on non-union jobs. Social media has changed this industry and you must be careful. If you were a stock broker, would you tell everyone what you did all day? This is a job.

Our casting process allows me to present my client with the pros, as well as working hard to add new and interesting choices. This is a very important balance. Again, Beth Melsky Casting does this across the board. We also respect and set up our casting sessions the same way. Everyone gets a time and we work hard to get actors in and out as fast as possible. For actors that are used to going to non-union auditions and thinking that “anytime works,” that is not the way we work. Please take your appointments seriously, take everything you are told seriously, and the audition process in my office will go very smoothly. Union or non-union, all sessions are important and all casting needs to be presented with quality. Actors are treated with respect and the actors need to respect the casting process. Non-union is not going away…so let’s present it the same and build a greater level of respect. I think, even with union casting, or the lack of, actors are being forced to put it lower on their list of priorities; therefore, union sessions can end up equally as hard to put together. I get both sides and I just ask that everybody (not just actors ) try harder.

I think actors need to assess their careers, decide their priorities, and choose what is best for them. Joining the union if you are able, staying non-union or even going financial core, none of us have a crystal ball so all you can do is decide what is the best path for you right now and how you might earn the most money in your near future. Going fi-core after you have become a union member is a big decision. Just as joining the union, if you have the opportunity, is a big decision. Going fi-core is easy but deciding to be union again is not so easy. While you are fi-core you cannot audition for union work. It’s not as if you can book something union and then pick up the phone and say, “I want to be SAG again.” It is a process that will take way longer then you would ever have in being able to do the job and will cause huge problems for the casting director and the signatory.

If you make a decision to be a member again then you must start the process before you audition for union work. You cannot do both. Actors that have worked non-stop non-union might very well see a big change in the amount of auditions you end up getting. Do your due diligence. You cannot let it figure itself out. Actors that have been union for many years decide to go financial core because being a union member is no longer helping their careers. You cannot use the option of fi-core as a way to toggle back and forth. If you make the choice to join and it does not work out for you, you can file to go fi-core. Just make sure that is what you will be happier with. Everyone’s career is different. I think there are times that actors should join and times they shouldn’t, but it is not up to me to advise you.

With the Internet and social media, advertising is a changed world. I know actors were hoping that this contract would help change the amount of non-union work, but unfortunately advertisers are not seeing enough of a return to increase budgets to cast union. This belief also greatly affects casting directors. We used to have day rates. Now we are being offered flat rates and it is hard for us as well. We work twice as hard for half the money, but I cannot let that affect my quality, staff, or services.

We all have to hope that with time and knowledge things will get better for all of us. Maybe it would have been great if the negotiations (since it seemed they were going well) were extended and took more time. That is easy for me to say. I do not know the process. I do know that things will hopefully continue along because products still have to be advertised and in three years when the commercial contract is up again, we will not only be more knowledgeable, but the future of the way things can and will work will be shown over that time.

In the meantime, everyone should do what he/she is doing. Pay attention to the flow and future of advertising and do not make rash decisions. Three years in our world is a short amount of time but a lot can been learned.

Like I have said before, knowledge is everything. We are all in the same position…and hope time helps for the next contract.

There are no easy answers. If I could turn the clock back twenty years, I would. Social media and technology are moving faster then we are and I do not see it slowing down. Maybe casting will become an app (haha). I do not think there were any clear winners here but a war is not the answer.

My personal opinion does not matter. I do not have a vote but it all affects my business. Something I very much have to keep going. Let’s work towards a future that can works best for everyone so actors can just think about acting. Beth Melsky Casting is here for everyone.

Lets Move Forward