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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Videotaping Non-Union Theater with SAG Actor

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Tony writes:

“I was able to get some video of the festival show that I was just in, and I posted the videos on my MySpace. The composer said it was no problem from her side but that one of the girls in the video is in SAG so I have to ask her because SAG could fine me. I contact the SAG actor but she said, "I don't know anything about that stuff. sorry." Should I just take the video down? I don't want SAG's legal people coming after me. Thanks for your help.“

This is a very good question- there are actually two quick things to address here.

First, there is nothing to worry about with SAG. Theater is not under SAG’s jurisdiction, so a recording of a theater piece for non-commercial (personal) purposes is not their concern. If you used it to created a filmed documentary, that would be of concern to them, but to place this video on your website is not a problem. Getting personal permission from the creative team (including the actors) is always a good idea, though, because you want to make sure everyone’s intellectual property is respected.

The second, and more important issue- Was your show produced under the AEA showcase code or the Festival Code (the NYC 99 seat waivers that allows union actors to ”showcase“ their work without compensation)? If not, as a SAG member your co-star is not supposed to work for any non-union producers and she could get in trouble for being in the show. When an actor joins a union, they are agreeing that they will no long work for a non-union producer in any jurisdiction- theater, film, TV, radio, etc. Every producer they work for must be a signatory of the union in their jurisdiction. In this case, your shows producer would have had to produced the show under an Equity (AEA) code to allow your co-star to perform.

Obviously, you have no responsibility with regard to her union status (even with regard to the video taken), but I wanted to mention it because it is a serious issue that the unions are contending with, and it is a heated topic that is often misunderstood. Let me know if you have any further questions- you can leave them as a comment so others can take part.

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out

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