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#1 Kyle Sather

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 10:51 AM

I was just curious as to how someone might go about getting into a Union, maybe the gaffers union for example?

I just wanted to know some background imformation on the topic, websites, etc. Is it difficult to get into a Union?

and maybe a bit of information and what happens after you get into the Union, benefits and job opportunities?

Thanks, Kyle
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#2 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 11:20 AM

I was just curious as to how someone might go about getting into a Union, maybe the gaffers union for example?

I just wanted to know some background imformation on the topic, websites, etc. Is it difficult to get into a Union?

and maybe a bit of information and what happens after you get into the Union, benefits and job opportunities?

Thanks, Kyle


There is a list of Hollywood unions at www.whatireallywanttodo.com. Just click on the "Union" link at the top. Each of the union locals has a webpage and in most cases they describe what they do, what they offer, and the membership requirements.

In general, once you qualify for a union local, you'll pay an initiation fee and then dues throughout the year.

Most union locals do NOT get you work, although many have an "available list" that you can place your name on if you are not working.

If/When you accrue enough hours, you will qualify for health insurance and other benefits.

Aside from the set pay rates, protections against abuse, and other benefits, membership in a union is more or less the "ticket" or "pass" you need to work on the large budget projects.
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#3 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 07:24 PM

At least on the East Coast, the union encompassing gaffers, sound guys, grips, and other people who aren't camera so therefore I don't know specifically who they are, is Local 52. To get into Local 52 you have to donate a kidney and at least part of your left arm. People in the union will then decide if your kidney is worthy of joining Local 52. If not, you owe them a firstborn. The firstborn may or may not be shouted down at meetings and therefore denied membership. I don't really know anything else about what it takes to join Local 52. I just know it's very prestigious.

I CAN tell you that to join Local 600 in NYC, here's one way, apart from getting the hours. You can go to www.cameraguild.com and get the number for their office, which I am too lazy to go to my phone and look up. Then you can call that number and ask for Mark Bentley, Chaim Kantor, or David Blake, all of whom are very nice. Mark is generally the best to talk to, as he handles all the new kids. Tell him you're interested in joining and give him your address. He'll send you some info, including a questionaire to fill out regarding your previous industry experience. Send in that, your resume, and 3 references. They will then put you in line to take the next test, which is usually in the fall. It costs $325 to take the test although they might have raised the cost. The test involves a written component of about 100 questions as well as a practical exam involving 3 cameras: a 16mm camera (usually Aaton), an Arriflex 35mm camera (usually the 435 or 35-3), and a Panavision 35mm camera (usually a GII or Platinum). You must get an average of 65 or above (out of 100) to pass the test.

By the way, the union has review sessions as the test gets closer...you meet at all the rental houses and go over the equipment and even some stuff like paperwork. So they prepare you pretty well. When you pass the test, you will be eligible to join Local 600. At this point you can either wait until you get a call for a union job, or if you want to join sooner and you have about $2000 hanging out, you can do that too. The assistants' initiation fee is $5000 although they might have raised it. When you join initially, you pay an installment of that fee plus your first dues plus an IATSE membership processing fee of maybe $100? I forget the exact numbers.

Then, you will sign a bunch of paperwork including the bylaws and constitutions, the policies regarding the California Experience Roster for Eastern Region members, and some other stuff. I'd have to look at it, it's been about a year for me since I joined. Anyway, then you're a member, so hooray for that. You eventually will get your cute little union card in the mail. Every month you pay an installment of the initiation fee and then every 3 months, in addition to your monthly installment, you pay quarterly dues.

Whew...I basically kinda told you what Mark will probably tell you too, but hopefully it will help you out...best of luck!
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#4 Evan Stulberger

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 02:20 AM

Thank you Annie, that was really helpful.

Did it become much easier to get jobs once you joined?
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