Lets start another big debate...shall we? :)
This is another touchy issue that I've noticed in the area and thought it might be a good thing to have a discussion about - since so many of us in New England do enough extra work and get our three wavers - when, if ever, is a good time to join SAG in this area?
It seems to me that many people are in a rush to join SAG since it gives the perception of being a "legitimate" actor since you're in the guild along with all the stars and get paid nicely on big budget films and so on. And there also seems to be a perception that once an actor joins SAG that they will automatically be getting a lot of work and will therefore be on their way to "making it". On the flip side, however, I've seen many actors get their wavers solely from doing extra work and then as soon as they join SAG, they're basically out of work since extra work is all that's available and they haven't yet built up their skills enough to be able to get speaking SAG roles. Yes, there are some indie SAG projects in the area, but far too few to keep all the SAG actors working and therefore the competition for these roles would be very very tough. Due to this lack of "meat" roles for SAG actors in this area, I don't think that going SAG here is a good idea unless you want to become a professional extra, which of course there is nothing wrong with.
I am of the opinion that an actor should only go fully SAG if they land a big part in a SAG film and the company is willing to buy their SAG card for them. To me, this is a good line to draw since if you are of the level that someone is willing to buy you in, then chances are you are going to be able to get a decent amount of work as a SAG actor, regardless of the area where you live because (hopefully) you are then at the point that other productions will take notice of you and be willing to fly you to wherever they are for their films. And yes, I really do mean fly you elsewhere because as far as I can tell, there isn't a lot of SAG work (other than extras) in New England.
Personally, I'm SAG Eligible - I have my three wavers and I intend to keep it that way for as long as possible because there is a vast amount more non-union work here than there is union work, and I want to be continuously working as much as possible, even if that means not getting paid all the time. If it came down to it and I was offered a small speaking role in a SAG film where I would need to join to be able to do it and they were not willing to buy my card, then yes, I would go SAG, but I would go SAG Financial Core.
Which brings me to another talking point: SAG Financial Core.
I am always amazed at how many SAG actors do not know about the financial core, especially when working in this area. Being part of the financial core means that you are SAG and will get paid SAG wages on SAG films and can do all that sort of stuff, but you can also do non-union work too. Sounds pretty good right? The best of both worlds. There is of course a catch - while you have to pay all the SAG dues and fees and so on, you do not get health insurance coverage (which I understand you have to reach a fairly high level of yearly income to qualify for this anyway) and you are not able to vote on the SAG elections for president and so others...I personally think that this is the way to go here if you are forced into joining SAG because this way, you can be always working, and making decent money on the SAG films.
Of course since I'm not SAG at this point, I could be absolutely wrong about all of this, so what do you think? When is a good time to join SAG? Is there SAG work (other than extra work) in this area? And what do you think about the Financial Core? Feel free to share some stories - those of you who have gone SAG, do you regret it or was it a good decision?