Author Topic: When to join the AEA?  (Read 4866 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Caroline Naveen

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 56
    • View Profile
  • Experience: High School
When to join the AEA?
« on: Nov 30, 2013, 01:10 pm »
It's the big question that is somewhat difficult for people to ask sometimes...and wanted to ask a few questions on behalf of all the new SM's out there. Any advice, suggestions or answers to any of the general questions would be greatly appreciated! Even if you only have time to answer one, it would be wonderful!

My Personal Situation:
In my case, I have handed out EMC Registration forms to hundreds of actors and SM interns, but because of my age was never tempted to apply myself. However as I rapidly gain more experience it is becoming tempting to gain points toward my card since I am working the shows as a member of the SM team anyway. I've witnessed several people lose momentum in their career due to applying to early, and want to insure that this does not happen to me. There is still time as I am not yet out of high school, however opportunities like this are not available everyday. Is it best to work towards my card while I am still living with my parents and not paying my own way? Or is it better to apply during college or after college?

General Questions About Equity:

How does being an equity member effect your ability to work at a community theatre?

After joining Equity is it possible to work as Non-Equity? If so under what circumstances?

Can someone please explain the scheduling rules set out by the AEA? For example I know that Equity members can only work for so long during tech and scheduling rehearsals for two shows on top of each other can be interesting because of these rules, but what exactly are they?

Is it possible to work for a reduced or free rate at a professional theatre if you believe in the cause and/or want to be a part of making the show a success? If so how?

I find some of the required Equity breaks to be extremely irritating sometimes as they tend to land at the most unfortunate times...it is my opinion that everyone gets together to make the best show possible and of course must be treated fairly, and sometimes the AEA appears to be very cumbersome in this area. Even when people want to work they are not allowed to because of Equity rules. This is one of my concerns when joining the AEA is the inability to work when I want/need to. What is everyone else's general opinion on this?

What are the overtime rules?

Information For New Stage Managers:

Equity is a short name for the Actor's Equity Association a union for actors and stage managers also called the AEA.

EMC registration forms must be filled out to become a member a membership candidate.

Once a membership candidate you continue to fill out the same EMC form for every show that you do at a professional theatre. Shows only apply at registered professional theatres and the forums must be signed by an authorized person at the theatre. (Forums are generally collected by the SM or a PA to deliver to this person who mails it to a Regional Equity Office.)

To become a membership candidate you must fill out an EMC forum and include 100 dollars for application.

To my knowledge all EMC forums are the same.

Once you have worked 50 qualifying weeks as a member of the EMC program you are now a member of the AEA and must be signed to an equity contract when working with an equity theatre.
« Last Edit: Nov 30, 2013, 01:22 pm by Caroline Naveen »

Maribeth

  • Superstar!
  • *****
  • Posts: 1018
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: When to join the AEA?
« Reply #1 on: Nov 30, 2013, 04:10 pm »
First of all, I would recommend you do more research on what it means to be an AEA stage manager. There's information on this forum, as well as the AEA website, that addresses many of your questions.

My Personal Situation:
I've witnessed several people lose momentum in their career due to applying to early, and want to insure that this does not happen to me. There is still time as I am not yet out of high school, however opportunities like this are not available everyday. Is it best to work towards my card while I am still living with my parents and not paying my own way? Or is it better to apply during college or after college?
I would not recommend someone in high school, or even college, joining AEA as a stage manager. It is a serious career commitment (as well as a financial commitment). Even if you think right now that you can't imagine doing anything else with your life, you may not feel that way in 5 years. If, in your 20's, you still feel this way, believe me, the opportunity will still be there. Also, it's great that you've been given a lot of opportunities at your age, but in general, an AEA theatre is not going to hire a 16-year-old stage manager. Give yourself the benefit of time and experience, and reconsider in a few years. There are a lot of opportunities available when you're young, like internships/apprenticeships at other theatres, that may help you down the line. There's a thread here about going equity "young"- and by young, most people on the thread were referring to their mid-20s.

Something else to consider is the cost of joining AEA. There's a $100 registration fee to join EMC. There's an $1100 initiation fee- if you are EMC when you join, your $100 goes towards that. They will take the rest of the $1100 out of your paycheck until it's paid off- it has to be paid within 2 years of joining. You don't get any membership privileges until you have paid $400, which has to happen within 6 months. Additionally, there's a yearly fee of $118, paid half in May and half in November, and working dues of 2.25% of every paycheck. None of this includes premiums for health insurance, which is a different topic altogether.

How does being an equity member effect your ability to work at a community theatre?

After joining Equity is it possible to work as Non-Equity? If so under what circumstances?

Can someone please explain the scheduling rules set out by the AEA? 

I find some of the required Equity breaks to be extremely irritating sometimes as they tend to land at the most unfortunate times...it is my opinion that everyone gets together to make the best show possible and of course must be treated fairly, and sometimes the AEA appears to be very cumbersome in this area. Even when people want to work they are not allowed to because of Equity rules. This is one of my concerns when joining the AEA is the inability to work when I want/need to. What is everyone else's general opinion on this?

What are the overtime rules?
You would not be able to work (as an SM or an actor) at a community theatre. You would not be able to work at a non-AEA theatre. You would not be able to take a non-AEA SM gig at an AEA theatre. To get your card too early restricts your opportunities in a major way. At this point, you don't know where you'll be living in 5 years. If you want to move to a different city and get work there, it can be helpful to get your foot in the door as a non-Eq SM, and work your way up.

AEA rules exist to protect their members. Break rules, cumbersome or not, ensure the safety and working standards for actors and stage managers. If you are AEA, you have to be prepared to enforce these rules. (Does that I mean I won't answer a question from the director on my break? No. But having these rules in place protects me if the theatre wants me to come work on my day off for no additional money, or work until 2a.) In my opinion, if you want to work without these restrictions, then joining AEA is not for you.

The rules regarding rehearsal hours and overtime vary by contract. You can look up all of the contracts on the AEA website- I would suggest looking at something like the SPT contract. You can see that it varies wildly in terms of # of performances, rehearsal hours, minimum salary, etc based on what size the contract is.

Check out this thread on the EMC program, as well as the info on the AEA website on EMC. You're not an AEA member automatically after 50 weeks- you must then sign a contract with an AEA theatre. Until you sign the contract, you are not a member and can still work at non-AEA houses. You also do not need to be EMC to join AEA- you can be offered and sign an AEA contract without any weeks at all.

Quote
Is it possible to work for a reduced or free rate at a professional theatre if you believe in the cause and/or want to be a part of making the show a success? If so how?
This does not sound like you want to be a professional stage manager, making a living at this job. If the show's success depends on you taking a reduced salary, it is unlikely to be a success anyway. Being a part of a show's success as a professional SM means doing your job well, not sacrificing your salary. If this is what's important to you, community theatre may be a better route to take, at least for the time being.

This is not meant to be discouraging in any way- just that joining AEA at your age is not the best career move. Consider your other options and revisit this idea when you're older. Take advantage of the opportunities that you have right now. Equity's not going anywhere.

Likes:


MatthewShiner

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 2477
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA
  • Current Gig: PSM THE LION KING NORTH AMERICAN TOUR; Assc Director and Production Supervisor HUNCHBACK International
  • Experience: Professional
Re: When to join the AEA?
« Reply #2 on: Nov 30, 2013, 06:59 pm »
I am going to use a word in my response that is very loaded.  I think you are truly coming at this from an “amateur” point of view.  And I mean that in the sense of doing it out of love – and no so much for doing it for a living.

You do have a lot of investigation to do in to what it is to do this as a job – and the various AEA contracts – that will answer the more concrete questions about breaks, overtime, and so forth.

What I love about your posts, and it’s even here in this post, is the true and genuine love you have for theatre – and you are worried about AEA Work Rules will get in the way of people doing what they need to do to pull together and do a show.  But, that really only works if people are doing a show just for the love it – like a lot of amateur theatre.

But, here’s the thing in the arts and entertainment industry – this is my job.  This is how I pay my rent, pay my child support, pay off my student loans, put away money for retirement.  Even after 25 years in this field, I am not able to pick and choose shows just because I love them, I need to keep working to make money.  And because it’s a work environment, the work rules need to be put in place.  There are producers and general managers I have worked in with my past, who have taken advantage of my love of theatre to get out of overtime, make me work 16 hour days, etc, etc – to save them money – and they have made money on the back of my hard work. 

Look there are ways around a lot of rules you talk about?  Want to work Community Theater - you can discuss with AEA being a guest artist.  Want to work for less than salary, you could always donate a portion of your weekly salary back to the organization.

Union employment is not for everyone – I don’t think anyone should join as an AEA SM until after college, and after they get a sense of the what the job is in the big picture (the job changes focus as you move out of community theatre or educational theatre . . . and requires a lot more leadership then you may have had in the past, and is a strong combination of technical, artistic and administrative skills).  If you are interested in community theatre and the magic that happens there – then perhaps you should find a career that would allow you to pay your bills, and then continue to work community theatre.  There is nothing wrong with doing this for the love of it.  Just because you like stage management, doesn’t mean you need to do it for a living (I always use the . . . “I like video games, but I am not sure I want to do it for a living”).  In the end, here’s the secret, I loved this job at one point, but doing it for a living, and HAVE to manage both the job and the career is the quickest way to beat that love out my life.  I am still very passionate about it, and a huge advocate it – but it’s not a blind infatuation.

 I wish every show was special.  I wish everything was magical.  I was every project I did was because of love.  But at the end of the day, it’s a job.  A job I have to do, a career I have to drive.

I have said it many times before, becoming an AEA stage manager is running your own business.  You wouldn’t open up a restaurant without knowing the health department rules and the labor laws for you state, right?  And you wouldn’t run a restaurant trying to figure out ways around those laws, right?  That’s a bit about what being an AEA stage manager is – you have to enforce those rules that you are responsible for enforcing.  (Now, you will learn tricks about not breaking up the forward movement – by finding the natural breaks . . . maybe you take a ten after 65 minutes, before you start the next scene . . . so you don’t have to break in the middle.)

You are in high school – please, take some time and have fun, explore other options.  Stage Management in the professional world is crap job, middle management at best, often the scape goat, and putting in long, arduous hours.  Make sure you know what you want out of life – before you commit to a career that may dictate things like where you have to live, where you have to work, hours you have to work, the lifestyle you will have support.

There are entire areas of theatre you might not have been exposed to – company management, production management., general management, producing, devo, arts administration, theater education, audience development, outreach, etc, etc . . . these are things that often are just not in the curriculum until later down the career path – or you get exposed to them as you work professionally in the career.

Maribeth I think answered some more of your specific questions – I am sorry I gave more “fatherly” advice, but I just want to make sure you get a different picture.  Not every theater project is one about love – it’s often about money.

So, when do you join AEA - when you are ready to make the commitment, and understand what the career is a job.  And remember, once you join, there is no beginner AEA status, you are competing with LOA-STC ASMs all the way to Broadway PSMs.  AEA Stage Managers are AEA Stage Managers (and to make things even more complicated, AEA members are AEA members, so sometimes you are competing with Actors who dabble in it.)  You have to understand how you fit in the market you are trying to enter, if it's worth the financial investment you are willing to make.  And if you are in for the long term . . . sometimes career take off like a rocket, sometimes the simmer . . . they are almost always a non-direct path. 

And often the choice of joining or not becomes painfully obvious.

Check out this link

http://smnetwork.org/forum/the-hardline/how-did-you-get-your-card/msg28102/#msg28102
« Last Edit: Nov 30, 2013, 07:03 pm by MatthewShiner »
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

Likes:


Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
3 Replies
2968 Views
Last post Feb 20, 2006, 04:34 pm
by erin
0 Replies
3882 Views
Last post Sep 25, 2007, 08:59 am
by PSMKay
6 Replies
3224 Views
Last post Jul 05, 2015, 05:31 am
by SMMeade

riotous