Voting for the SAG Awards

By: Contribute Last Updated: January 4, 2010

One of the benefits of being a Screen Actors Guild member is I get to vote for the SAG Awards. It's a rather neat experience.

In Saturday's mail at home was the official ballot, due Jan. 21, 2010. The 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards are Saturday, Jan. 23 and is broadcast on TNT.

Last year was my first time voting. Movie studios lobby for their films. For example last year I received a DVD in the mail of The Dark Knight from Warner Bros. Plus last year, most studios provided you a free ticket to see the movie in your local theater "For Your Consideration" just for the asking." Every advertisement for the awards in the SAG publications, every letter, every promotional piece contains the phrase "For Your Consideration."

Last year my wife and I took them up on the offer and went to see.....geez, I can't remember. What I can remember is the ticket person needing to call the manager of the theater over to look at the voucher I had printed off from the SAG website for free admission -- just one.

This year I haven't received any DVDs, or gone to the SAG site to see if the offer stands this year, which I assume it does. I suspect winning major awards means a lot to the bottom line of the film studios.

Many people ask me if I'm a member of SAG. When I answer "yes" they're often surprised. I show them my membership card.

You see, you have to qualify to join the Screen Actors Guild. Now, I'm not a SAG membership expert but I do know to join you need to have at least one speaking line in a SAG, or union, movie production. I have three in "Public Enemies."

I'm not exactly sure of the criteria, but I believe extras -- or background actors -- who do not have a speaking role credit can join if they have so X number extra parts. I don't know what that number is.

Assuming you meet the SAG membership criteria, there's a fairly hefty one-time initiation fee. Then the annual dues are very modest, and they take a small percentage of your earnings made through acting. My compensation for the role in "Public Enemies" more than paid for the initiation, so I thought "Why not?"

Of course they hit me for a percentage of my movie earnings, too.

Did I have to join? No. Under the Taft-Hartley laws, a person is exempt from joining the union -- SAG --for one movie or commercial production. After that you must join to do any other union work.

Since I didn't know what doors "Public Enemies" might open, I thought joining might be "an investment." Not yet, although I have two agents and have auditioned for three national commercials (that'll be another blog).

So back to the topic at hand. Somehow I need to figure out how to preview some, if not most, of the SAG Award nominated movies. Otherwise, I'll feel guilty being an uninformed voter. I might have to rely some on movie reviewers whom I respect.

Of course those of you who live in Porter County, Indiana know what I'm talking about when I mentioned "uninformed voters." However, it doesn't seem to bother them to go to the polls not having a clue (another blog topic).

So if anyone out there has any suggestions on movies to vote for, please let me know. I'm all ears.