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How do you get into the union


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#1 John Carreon

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 12:00 AM

Hey Everybody,

What's the Union and how do you get into it?

I have worked on 3 independent features...2 Super 16mm, 1 35mm...a gazillion music videos on various formats...and short films that exceed counting...so I have a decent foundation...but how do I go about getting into the union? And is it worth it for me at this beginning stage of my career?

Thanks a bunch,

John

P.S. I live in L.A.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 12:24 AM

I believe even for assistants, as for DP's, to get into IATSE Local 600, you have to have worked 100 days, paid work, within a 3-year period backdated from the time of application, in the U.S. or its territories. And the paid work has to have been in the job category for which you are applying (I don't know if 2nd AC work can count if you want to join as a 1st AC, but I suppose many people join as a 2nd AC and then later move up and change classifications...)

If you're lucky, those 100 days of work were paid through a payroll company because it's easier to get a letter from them confirming the dates and Contract Services (who handles all the applications) are more likely to accept that documentation. In theory, letters from producers also count, but Contract Services can be more brutal about rejecting some of those days if they think the letter is not legit. It's hard for them to dispute a payroll company.

Only send copies of the info, letters from payroll companies, producers, etc., to Contract Services because they have been known to lose stuff.

Once you qualify, you have to pay a membership fee plus quarterly dues.

It's only worth joining if you are at a stage where you will be offered more and more union work, although I've noticed that AC's are more likely to join earlier in their career than DP's. Here is Contract Services' website:
http://www.csatf.org/

Note that Contract Services is NOT the same organization as the union. They are more like the buffer zone between IATSE and the Producers Guild, and it's the producers who pay their salaries, not IATSE.
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#3 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 02:46 AM

David covered it. I just joined out of necessity. I had accumulated too many commercial days to continue without being a member. Ironically I joined using my feature days so I wouldn't be limited as to what I can work on.

The whole process from the day I dropped off the paperwork to the day I was on the roster was almost exactly 3 months. A huge pain largely because most of my work was not through payroll companies. They required IRS returns, 1099s for each production, signed contracts for each, letters from producers, and my agent's invoices. That's how much proof they want. So keep good records. CSATF is terribly overwhelmed and understaffed, it seems.

Unless you are passing up union jobs, there is absolutely no reason you need to join. If you need to ask, it's probably not time. Save your money for now.

P.S. Your subject heading says "I'm lazy and haven't done any research" That's not the best way to advertise yourself in such a competitve field
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#4 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 03:58 AM

(I don't know if 2nd AC work can count if you want to join as a 1st AC, but I suppose many people join as a 2nd AC and then later move up and change classifications...)

Actually, there is no difference between 1st's and 2nd's as far as the union is concerned. There is only one classification for assistants.
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Aerial Filmworks

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Tai Audio

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The Slider

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