Time for a band new jobs rating system?

  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    Seems to me we need a new 21st century system which pleases both the “I want to work - even for nothing - to build up my credits, footage and experience” ….actors….as well as “you should not work for nothing all the time…as it affects all of us” actors.

    I think there is no doubt that we have all worn out the various discussion boards with these observations over the years, but it is a fact, we can see the business and structure of payment for actors shifting ever downwards, to quite often ZERO! Despite all the efforts of our now “open shop” union, its never seems to get any better!

    The open shop ruling by Maggie Thatcher opened the flood gates as far as Non union payments and a greater competitive market than ever for Equity members….like it wasn't hard enough already!

    We have 1000's of new drama schools churning out 1000's of wide eyed bushy tailed new actors. Film schools churning out loads of over charged new film makers and crew! More and more casting directors workshops, how to get more work workshops. Even major TV co's getting away with murder by emplying freebi extras or cast ……its all getting very crowded, disjointed and a downright amateurish free for all status…. to the point of collapse!

    There has been a mild implementation of talk of protection of actors systems; we even had CCP asking for JOBS POSTERS to join the protection of actors etc….but it would seem pretty pointless as the POA was started by CCP in the first place!! Apologies CCP and all casting websites….but there are 1000's of your members who vehemently disagree with you advertising the no pay jobs which should be paying “something”

    CCP will rightfully argue they held a vote a while ago and that the majority wanted no pay opportunities as well. If that is so….that's fine….majority must rule and all that. However, I am not arguing about the advertising of free jobs…I am arguing against the jobs which should not be free or no pay who are using actors for nothing....coz they can!!

    Yesd I have heard the "ahh buit its a free market" argument till I am blue in the face with it and sick of hearing it to be honest!!

    We still need a new system which encompasses the needs of all actors, and workers within the industry!

    Lets be totally clear about the background to all this; older or more experienced actors with good credits and a fuller CV do not want to see jobs which should be paid, going to other actors simply because those jobs are not paying and therefore many actors are not prepared to do them…but see themselves undercut by actors who are not worried about earning money, or because they have tuppeny halfpenny agents telling their clients “its work and you really should take it!” ….or actors who are simply doing it all for a laugh or whatever.

    It is a fact this is all driving wages for actors and crew, ever downwards. Its become one unholy free for all mess! Sorry “Unions” I do accept you are doing your best, however, I fear you have lost control! Unions. All of us have seen the demise of the closed shop, but not done anything about it quick enough to modernise and protect the membership or ourselves more effectively, other than to bleat about poorly attended meetings – or bang on and on about minor rule changes instead of dealing with the fundimentles.

    Actors are crying about the training they paid for, and how unfair it all is that an untrained actor can get work, actors with rich Mums and Dads are working for free, and watering down the status of the industry to the point of nothing more than amateur status! Certain Indie film makers are using free website templates and building themselves up to be to be major production companies, yet they still advertise acting roles and crew jobs with “you will be fed and watered!” For F...KS sake....I can go into a field and eat grass if I want to be fed and watered for my living!

    Film schools are charging as much as 6k “per term” and still not paying actors to be in student films....claiming some charity loophole. NMW experts are running around like headless telling us hiow unfair it is ......WE KNOW!!!!!

    ENOUGH……please….it's gone out of control and something has to change!

    FILM MAKERS EMPLOYERS ETC:

    I don't have any problem or issue with collaborative projects where by money is not paid, but all services are "professionally" provided on the basis of: our skills ‘n kit - in return for project completion and decent footage. That is a fair trade on paper!

    Shooting people website members and all Indie Film makers will surely agree? What actors do not want to see is Indie film makers “paying” for kit and drinks and one or two actors or an important DOP….whilst other equally important cast and crew are getting nowt being told there is no budget for actors!!! ….not just cast….the runners and editors etc etc…..this all effects crew/stage hands just as much as actors!

    However, I accept there are actors who DO want to work for nothing! Perhaps one is starting out, or for many, perhaps this is the only work they can get maybe? Don't shout at me or get nasty..…tiz a fact!

    I do recognise in these current days of Non closed shop, we have a massive pot of hungry actors and crew desperate to work. Same with film makers and play writers, crew and stage hands all wanting to get going.

    Therefore, we all need a new system which encompasses all needs, is fair to everyone and stays within the law. In short, we all need protection from those who claim there is no budget when there is, or jolly well should be!! We also need protection from being undercut all the time too.

    I believe I have an answer! I may be wrong….but read on with an open mind if you have not dropped off already!

    I raised this gently a while ago, and was shouted down by Equity on that forum!! I would like to see the introduction of a JOBS GRADING SYSTEM. I believe this will, or could, cover both theatre and TV and FILM makers, production Co's actors and crew alike

    FOR EXAMPLE

    Lets take ACTOR A: Actor A trained at Drama school, got a lot of paid work and has generally been able to earn a living at acting.

    ACTOR B: Did not train as such, committed to acting as a living, worked out a sort of apprenticeship of acting and learning as they went if you will….but is now just as experienced as actor B. Might not know as much about the classics and or Musical theatre as the trained Actor A…but no matter….they don't want that type of work in any case…..happy to leave that for the trained actor A's or the director who feel that only trained Actor A types will do!

    Actor C: Trained or untrained no matter…..just wants to pad their CV out regardless. If they can get some dosh…Ok that's cool….but really feels since leaving drama school….or not….that they must all work for nothing regardless of project or what other actors are telling them.

    ACTOR A and ACTOR B: Is also represented by a worthy agent who won't entertain non paying jobs.

    ACTOR C: Has an agent who is sadly from the group of ever growing….never get any auditions for our clients but tells them to work for free in order to make their client list look busy and so on!

    I know….bit simplistic…..but bear with me!

    JOBS GRADING SYTEM HOW IT WORKS:

    JOB 1: Actor or Crew required for a paying production…Film or Theatre: Paying standard agreed rates, or at least "good/proper" rates in any case. GRADE 1 ….or G1 rating woudl be given both for the production company and for the actor/crew to be shown on his or her CV

    Ie:

    ROLE: Smithy

    FILM OR PLAY TITLE: The returning

    PRODUCTION Co: Blah blah LTD

    DIRECTOR: Jon Smith

    ACTING ROLE/JOB VERIFIED RATING G1

    For the company on above Job

    PRODUCTION CO: Blah blah Ltd

    DIRECTOR: Jon Smith

    FILM OR PLAY TITLE: The retuning

    PRODUCTION VERIFIED RATING G1

    JOB 2: Non paid…. 100% Collaboration project.

    ROLE: Smithy

    FILM OR PLAY TITLE: The retuning

    PRODUCTION Co: Blah blah LTD

    DIRECTOR: Jon Smith

    ACTING ROLE/JOB VERIFIED RATING G2

    Same for the company….verified with an official rating of G2

    JOB 3: Indie film, Fringe, group of mates….whatever….no payment no fees for anybody.

    ROLE: Smithy

    FILM OR PLAY TITLE: The retuning

    PRODUCTION Co: Blah blah LTD

    DIRECTOR: Jon Smith

    ACTING ROLE/JOB VERIFIED RATING = G3

    Same for the company ….the project can only be rated G3

    With all jobs: An officially approved contract can be simply laid out and signed by actors and crew etc….that the undersigned within this production understand that this is a G1 or G2 or G3 rated production.

    Then on our CV's we can see who has a CV full of verified G1 jobs etc……the casting director, the producers, the directors can all see at an instant who is rated with what.

    An actor with only G3 rated credits can at anytime work on a G1 rated project if the directors want him/her to play that role….and he/she may even get the role when put up against 4 other trained actors despite their massive G1 ratings on the CV!! That covers the open shop system we have to live with.

    Spotlight can still put a break on say: 5 G1 ratings only before membership is granted etc etc CCP: Can state the same if they wish…..or 3 x G1 rates must be proven before CCP membership granted or even…..3 x G3 rates or no rates whatever…..that's up to the likes of CCP, who are purporting to be a Professional casting site. Casting call PRO after all, so one woudl expect to see some osrt of bonifide G rating being required!

    Starnow and the countless others out there can all impliment the same system with G1 to G3 ratings...or not....ist totally up to them, and the actors to decide if its worthwhile joining or not! Whoever the casting site is….the jobs they advertise should have to provide a signed contract which testifies to the G rating of that job though....then we all know where we stand from the off.

    ie: Take a CCP JOB LISTING example

    We are a group of Students from “such ‘n such” film school and we need an actor to play the role of Smithy……the job is G3 rating……end of! It's that simple, if as an actor you have been told it's a G3 job…..your choice. Or if it's to be a G1 rating "paid" role…..then the same official standard contract will have to be signed by everyone concerned…inc Students, Actors and CCP prior to advertising the role.

    THE PURPOSE OF ALL THIS:

    At an instant one can look at a CV or a Companies Production portfolio and see straight away what you are dealing with. Therefore the knock on effect is obvious to me: as an actor, as a production Company, as an agent, as a director, as a stage hand, film crew, ….quite literally anyone: can chose if they want lots of G1 status on their CV or portfolio or a mix of G1 to G3…seems likely to me that we would all want as much G1 status as possible.

    The nitty gritty of all this is this: Who are casting directors going to take more notice of on a CV? Those with G1 ratings or a CV packed out with G3……they may wish to only scan the G3 listings…..that's fine its up to them! The G3 actors might shout, that's not fair…..but it is. If you want to achieve mostly G1 ratings…..work at getting them then!

    Likewise if I am a production Co, I want to show the industry I have as much G1 status in my portfolio as I can, as this will attract those actors and crew with G1 status to want to work with me. If I only have a G3 portfolio in general…..would as many G1 cast and crew want to come and work for me. If they do, that's up to them…..the system means there is nothing stopping them at all. Is that not what we all need?!

    Also; might a production Co wanting G1 status….not have to re-think their financial planning a little harder….and in order to achieve the G1 rating? They will have to provide G1 contracts to “everyone” …..and I mean everyone!!

    It's possible this system may also require a NON G rating as well G3 would cover collaboration where as no G rating at all would mean just that.

    It's up to the production Co's to achieve their G rating, and that may well mean upping the standards and payments accordingly.

    WHO OVERSEES IT:

    Well true….that is something that needs a lot of strategic planning and fine tuning I grant you. It would involve officials from Equity and Bectu, MU and so on, maybe the film council, casting websites, crew and actors. Perhaps a whole new movement…….who understand and completely recognise we are in a democratic…..open shop….21st century world. The industry is rapidly going down the pan for many working and committed professionals who want to only really have a G1 status or rating within the industry and or on thier CV's. Those who are not worried about having a G3 rating or status would not be excluded or prevented from joining in, or starting out at all.

    I have thought that it might take a brand new body of carefully elected individuals and representatives to form this new Grade System body. Ha…we could call it the “The G SPOT”

    Joking aside, would a system like this not offer all members of the industry far more protection by the simple fact and nature of us all mostly wanting G1 status respectively?

    Equity would probably say: Hang on, we do that...we protect you! Sadly ….no…..you do not always do that. Equity might try very hard, but they can only do so much these days.

    I believe, there are many of us actors, and crew alike, committed professionals, who feel we are all been taken for a ride now. It's gone far enough, we accept we are in a recession, but we won't be for ever, and we will still need to be protected.

    I totally accept the tuning and wide amount of work that would be needed to make this work, but I am certain with the right people and with the willingness of all those concerned, that I truly have something here?

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I offer you “The G SPOT!”

    Discuss……nicely huh!!!

    • 1st Nov 2012
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  • User Deleted

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    I like this idea. It creates a more comprehensive overview when looking through castings.

    It seems like quite a big undertaking if it were to be applied across the board in casting terms but I think in the long run it would push for a standard from both sides, particularly when you mentioned about a company wanting to achieve a certain 'G rating'.

    You are right when you say that actors have worn out discussion boards with this issue- but the fact remains... it is still an issue and it would be nice to think that in this day and age something could be done to try and change that.

    I have more to say on the matter, but it's late and I'm worried I shall just start ranting nonsense. It's just good to see that someone is thinking towards solution than forever being frustrated by the problem.

    • 24th Oct 2012
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  • Dan Gregory

    Actor

    Excellent Mark. I shall read and digest thoroughly and try and make some constructive comments.

    • 24th Oct 2012
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  • User Deleted

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    Ok, I'll admit sometimes I'm not altogether serious when I post and use my time on the forum to exercise my sense of humour; but not this time.

    I'm liking the original post in the thread Mark and can see that you have spent a great deal of time and effort in thinking this through.

    The G rating system is something I need to give more thought to myself; but initially how would it work say on a big feature that you (Mark) would expect to have a G1 but there are maybe a handful of crew on there working for no more than work experience or looking for that "leg up" that I mentioned in another thread on the CCP forum a day or two ago.

    As for grading actors CV's, don't all CD's do this already without the G rating system already being in place? Any CD worth their salt can spot a crock of shite a mile off. Mine are clearly listed not as credits but in the "About me" section of my CCP profile; and in any case isn't this grading of actors credits on CV's totally necessary for any actor with a showreel as again any CD worth their salt should be getting all the information they need to cast the actor, or not, from a showreel?

    Best regards to all.

    • 24th Oct 2012
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  • Jenna Sharpe

    Actor

    Congratulations for getting the post through the CCP censorship team Mark ;)

    • 24th Oct 2012
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  • David Vaughan Knight

    Actor

    I must admit I've only scanned this, but are you not talking about a 3 tier system.

    Paid, Low Paid and No Paid.

    I'm pretty sure that already exists.

    • 24th Oct 2012
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  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    STUART: Like I say, the idea would have to be fine tuned. But if you as an actor were paid a G1 rate on a film….then your CV credit would be G1 rated. For the production Co….that job would have to be G2, as not everyone was paid full rate. In order for the production Co to achieve a full G1 rating, they would have to prove that they were paying everyone. I agree to an extent about CD's being able to spot a crock of poo on a CV…..but its not always that easy. I have played "The Driver" type roles which have no name….but were important speaking roles with a 100% G1 rating, one could look at them and not know if they were supporting artiste roles though….I feel strongly that some form of job verification like this is long overdue, and I have a gut instinct it should be a dead simple one a that. Else we get into the need for lengthy committee decisions about is it G1 or is it G1/2 and so on!! I believe these verifications should be very clear cut and transparent.

    DAVID: I think you need to read it thoroughly, as by your own admission you have only scanned it, and have therefore missed the point. Yes we do have a 3 tier system at the moment, but we can't help that, as it's a result of the busting open of the "closed shop" by Thatcher, mixed with a massive need for many actors to join in the industry and working for nothing. I don't see any way of stopping what has been created….only dissolving it over time, or maybe to just live with and define the current 3-4 tier system far more effectively. The argument I am expecting against this, would be from those who "never" seem to attain G1 status, and I inc crew, Agents, Actors….everyone. Claims of "its elitist" or "its unfair" are bound to come forth!! ….its none of those things as it allows for everyone to start at from a level playing field.

    JENNA: CCP should welcome it. Its an extension of a mild verification system for actors credits, for which CCP already have in place. However, I would want to see a G rating of each job listed on here. ie: posts from Shauna yesterday….jobs like that would not even get a G rating at all!

    How atractive would that job be for crew and actors then.....but if there are those who still want to do it....thats up to them.

    • 25th Oct 2012
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  • User Deleted

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    Another thought would be to look at how they do it in the states where once you become a union actor are not allowed to do non-union work anymore. Fringe theatre or student productions can still sign up with the union and pay symbolically but then would also be forced to follow some easy guidelines which protectos union actors work conditions (safety, rehearsal time and so on).

    Of course a lot of people in the states complain about not being able to do non-union work as well but it does however lead to that the quality actors are in the union and to ever get access to them, you need to sign your production with the union as well.

    I think UK equity should do more to address this situation.

    • 25th Oct 2012
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  • David Vaughan Knight

    Actor

    This idea does have its merits, but as you rightly point out Mark who is going to oversee it.

    That is the crux of the matter.

    What body or framework can regulate what constitutes any type of grade or scale?

    On the whole, across the industry, the answer is there isn't one.

    What needs to happen is a coming together of all the relevant bodies and organizations that represent, the various interests of everyone in the industry.

    The associated Unions, Personal Managers Association, Casting Directors Guild, The Agents Association, the Conference of Drama Schools, the Film Schools, Spotlight, CCP and the online casting sites, Film Council, Writers Guild, TV, Film and Theatre Producers, the Broadcasting houses, The Department of Media, Culture and Sport and any other relevant bodies that hold a vested interest.

    They need to sit down together and hold a "State of the Industry" conference.

    It's been 25 years since the end of the closed shop and ten years since the internet began.

    Where is the industry now? Where will it be in a decade? How can we fairly protect the interests of all involved and how can we advance those interests?

    Until this happens it's everyone for themselves.

    BTW I am glad to see Actors A, B and C are still being employed, albeit on the forum.

    • 25th Oct 2012
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  • User Deleted

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    Good idea and would need retuning as you say - I wish there was a grading system (ie quality over quantity) but what I can already imagine is a scenario whereby a job would be advertised as G1 and SOME (not all, of course) employer/production/start-up would turn around at said casting and offer job to actor with 'you're great for this role - we want you but we can't afford the costs, so as it's advantageous for you (actor) and me (company) to credit ourselves as G1 - would you do it for free in the knowledge you will get a G1 for your CV?' Sadly, I can imagine some falling for that. (And back to a siutation of actors taking unpaid roles which are appearing to be G1 - a bit like wanting to do a role because it will be an IMDb credit).

    Maybe that's just my mind thinking some will try and beat the system - but as I say I like the idea in principle, but Lord knows how it would be policed.

    • 25th Oct 2012
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  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    ...as you say David: It would almost certainly require a new body set up specifically for it. However, I did suggest that in my original post.

    Good idea the CDG as well….all aspects of the industry, who are like minded in wanting to achieve as much G1 status as they can for the worke we all produce.

    EMIL: I noted your post regarding USA, but is that not still a closed shop system?….all be it watered down a bit?

    MANDY…Hi!

    Yup I know! There is a fault line in every system and there will always be cheats….Like I say…it needs a great deal more thought and tuning in bringing it together. However, in your scenario, clear proof of payment would need to be shown to "the G rating board" for approval. Obviously not fool-proof….but one can always retain the power to black-list G rated system members who wish to sign up to the system and then get caught cheating!! Harsh…but fair! Too harsh….sod 'em, don't cheat then!!

    I see it as a job rating affiliation for which one can sign up to….or not….entirely up to the person. If it took off, and got widely respected within the industry….who would not want to be part of it…and if not why not….what would one be hiding in any case?!!!

    Spotlight…..Equity and other Unions…Casting sites….Shooting people, Actors, Crew, casting dir's, Agents: Come on….wake up to this, get into the 21st century and recognise the need for a radical change on behalf of your members, your clients and colleagues…..not just "yourselves" and or your profit.

    Actors: You all bleat and bleat about how bad things are…..so make your comments known!!

    • 25th Oct 2012
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  • User Deleted

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    Hi back Mark :-)

    Yes, a 'G rating board' would be the answer to that - with contract and payment proof. (And no back handers! - gosh my imagination is running ahead of itself today). The trouble is, who would run the board (presumably as volunteers), and also it would require quite a few of these volunteers. I'm all for the idea - just trying to move it along with 'how'. Questions bring answers and development!

    Keep going........

    • 25th Oct 2012
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  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    Mandy: Absolutely!!

    Well I guess these things are organic. My thinking is to get it well "aired" and commented on first. The next stage if there seemed to be a liking and good support for this, would be to start meeting a few different associations and folk to get their feelings on it.

    It would be a slow burn to get it as right as one could before launching it! However it would be good to see what actors on here think, as this site is a hot bed of jobs with either little or no pay. No offence to CCP who are doing what they are entitled to do.

    • 25th Oct 2012
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  • User Deleted

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    My thoughts so far then:

    Would it work if Equity appointed a 'G rating board'?

    And, how would credits from many years ago be 'G' rated? ie if payment/contract proof required. Many have some of their best credits from a long time ago.

    Hopefully the subject will continue in some meaningful way - or else it will disappear into the abyss along with some other well intentioned suggestions. There are some very bright actors on here - get posting!

    • 25th Oct 2012
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  • Jenna Sharpe

    Actor

    I like the idea btw Mark but I think instead of G it should be an MK rating :)

    • 25th Oct 2012
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  • Judy Clifton

    Actor

    I absolutely hand it to you, Mark, for applying yourself so diligently to actually attempt to work out a logical system for what is, currently, a shambolic and worrying mish-mash of amateurs and professionals thrown in to one big mixer. Bravo for the time and aching brain effort that went into your creating of a 'new system'.

    Yes, your method of grading should sort out the wheat from the chaff and yet all levels would still have their outlets and opportunities (in the original sense of the word; not the CCP sense). I also happen to feel that CCP (with the emphasis on the P for Professional) should operate a stricter membership control. There is a plethora of amateur-level 'casting' sites around for those who want to dabble in the business or learn the ropes / take their chances. Spotlight manages to operate fair and effective membership controls. Casting Call PROFESSIONAL, otherwise surely just 'Casting Call'..?

    I think this is a subject close to the hearts of many professional actors who wish to continue making some sort of living (hard enough though that is, these days) and who are pro-active about their careers, rather than sitting back and letting agents run their lives.

    I'd be with you every step but where does one begin to make this sort of spirited stand without EVERY professional actor's full and committed backing? There lies the rub.

    Good on you, Mr K.

    • 25th Oct 2012
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  • User Deleted

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    To G or not to G.

    To MK even?

    The thread heralding the winds of change as gently as the butterfly effect.

    Best.

    • 25th Oct 2012
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  • User Deleted

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    Congratulations Mark!

    Instead of just moaning about the problem (which is what I normally do) you have come up with a concrete solution. Okay there are nit-picky problems about who would police it etc but that is true of every new idea in the commercial world. Those problems get gradually solved as the idea develops.

    You are so right that things cannot continue as they are or pay levels will only deteriorate further.

    I think the principle is a great idea.

    You have my whole-hearted backing!

    • 25th Oct 2012
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  • Dan Gregory

    Actor

    Perhaps when this is happening we should ask why places that offer so little to actors are getting Arts Council and Lottery Funding. Professional?

    theatrebristol.net/jobs/brass-works-theatre-an-experienced-female-actor-to-play-sherlock-holmes

    • 25th Oct 2012
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  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    Quite right Dan. £500 for three weeeks rehsl, plus 3 varying weeks of performance over a long period!! It comes too about a pathetic £16 per day!! G3 rating....if that! As you say....how does a project like that receive arts funding? However, we know this sort of thing goes on.....it's what we do about it that counts.

    • 25th Oct 2012
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