There was a time when most VO work was union work. This was a time when you had to go to a studio to work, when studios were expensive to set up, when there was no internet. Then, technology did what it always does. Changed everything.
As it became possible to work remotely, the business opened up to more and more talent and producers. And over the years – with instantaneous global connections, and with the costs of producing audio and video continuing to drop, making gear accessible to everyone – more and more new work was created, and the union to non-union ratio shifted in many types of work.
That creates a problem for many VO talent today. Are you a union actor wanting some of the well-paid non-union VO work out there WITHOUT downgrading your status to “fee paying non-member” (Fi-core) or working off the card? Are you a non-union VO with a healthy client list and want to join the union but are afraid you’ll have to give up ALL your non-union work?
There’s a lot of misinformation out there. Much of it stems from an oversimplification of Global Rule One where the overriding myth is “if you’re union you can’t do ANY non-union work”. That’s simply not true. We’re not talking about financial core. And we’re not talking about working off the card. We’re talking about becoming and remaining a full member of SAG-AFTRA with all benefits, while being able to access some of the non-union work that’s out there in abundance – and without being in violation of GR1. It IS possible. Not with all types of work and not wit h all jobs. You just have to know what and how.
A 20+ year union member, former member of the AFTRA NY Local Board and Broadcast Steering Committee and current member of the SAG-AFTRA National Voiceover Performers Committee, Melissa Exelberth knows the ins and outs of where the union and non-union worlds – and work – collide. She can help you figure out what type of non-union work you can do while remaining a full member, how you can do it and how to create a focus that allows you to do both.
Disclaimer: Though a member of the union’s VO performers committee all advice and opinions are her own.