Across the Board (ATB) Talent, founded in 2008 by entertainment professional and entrepreneur Guy Kochlani, is a full-service licensed Talent Agency. ATB represents its talent "across the board:" theatrically, commercially, in print, hosting, voiceovers and dance. The limited client roster and staff of 10 enables ATB to remain committed to the goal of developing high quality talent while providing the personalized atmosphere of a management company.

Across the Board’s talent has been seen on numerous TV shows, films, commercials and theatre productions. Their models and photographers have been a part of major fashion campaigns and have been seen across the pages of domestic and international magazines.

ATB is honored to announce its move up into the big leagues. Using talent from across the board, ATB is currently packaging a major feature film as well as television series. As the client list becomes larger and more high-profile projects are being tackled, founder and CEO Guy Kochlani avows: “No matter how much we expand, our original business model will always remain on point. We provide one-on-one care and service to each client, no matter what.”

ATB represents talent and models in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York, with offices in Los Angeles and New York-Times Square. There are plans to open offices in London, Paris, and Tel Aviv.

For more info, check us out at WWW.ATBTALENT.COM

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

AGENCY TIPS, VOLUME II: Understanding Unions & Casting

Hollywood is a funky sort of place built on tradition and intricacies.  Everything works in a very particular way, and to break the trend is to be ostracized.  Falling in line and following the established rituals is practically as important as the acting itself.

Newcomers tend to become very confused by all the different facets of the industry.  “What’re the guilds?”  “How much do I get paid?”  “People will take me seriously if I say I was a featured extra, right?  I mean…I was featured!”  These are common inquiries, and lucky for you we at Across the Board Talent have all the answers you’ll ever need!

1.  Should I Join a Union?  SAG, AFTRA…or Both?

These questions top every agency’s Frequently Asked Questions list, and the answer remains consistently the same: maybe, it depends.  The business of acting is interesting and unique in that is made up of both variables and absolutes, with the two never mixing.  Ask five people and you’ll get seven different answers.  You need to analyze your career, where you are and where you’re headed, and decide with your representation what works best for you.

But before we get into that, let’s take a look at what exactly it means to be part of an actor’s union, particularly the Screen Actors Guild.  Their mission statement (according to the SAG website) is “to enhance actors’ working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artists’ rights.”  SAG represents “over 125,000 actors who work in film and digital motion pictures and television programs, commercials, video games, corporate/educational, Internet and all new media formats.”  Basically, they have their hand in every facet of the entertainment industry that requires legitimacy.

“But Alex, how do I get into SAG?  I heard something about being Harley Davidsoned in?”  There are actually two ways to become what is known as “SAG Eligible.”  The first way is to book a principle role in a SAG project (feature film, television series, etc.), in which case you automatically become eligible due to the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 (also known as the Labor-Management Relations Act).  The purpose of the Taft-Hartley Act is to monitor the activities of labor unions, as well as to “promote the full flow of commerce, to prescribe the legitimate rights of both employees and employers in their relations affecting commerce, to provide orderly and peaceful procedures for preventing the interference by either with the legitimate rights of the other, to protect the rights of individual employees in their relations with labor organizations whose activities affect commerce, to define and proscribe practices on the part of labor and management which affect commerce and are inimical to the general welfare, and to protect the rights of the public in connection with labor disputes affecting commerce.”  Union leaders original called the Taft-Hartley Act a “slave-labor bill,” and President Harry Truman vetoed the Act, calling it a “dangerous intrusion on free speech,” but Congress overturned his opposition.  I bet you’re starting to wish you had paid attention in that Political Science class during Sophomore year, huh?  

The second way to become SAG Eligible is to book three separate background jobs (i.e., featured extra) on three SAG projects.  With each job you may be given a SAG voucher (if you're lucky, as there is a limited amount), moving you one step closer to becoming a fully-fledged member of SAG.  Then double-check your eligibility on the SAG website, pay the necessary $2,500, and enjoy!

SAG Voucher from
If you’re new to acting, however, SAG status can actually be detrimental to your career.  SAG Eligibility gives you a choice: to join or not to join.  This is the best place to be for a newcomer, as you can still participate in those non-union projects while simultaneously going out for the bigger union gigs.  Though SAG offers a wide array of attractive union benefits and compensations, it is sometimes best to hold-off on that till you become a more reputable performer.  If 80% of the auditions and bookings you’re getting are non-union projects, it may be worth holding off on joining SAG.  Once a SAG member, you are forbidden from working on any non-union projects. 

(The only exception to this would be to declare SAG Financial Core, which means that you become a “fee paying non-member,” forfeit your membership and are viewed as anti-union by all Guild members.  This is only for last resort, “I can’t pay my rent” type of scenarios.)

Joining the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) is another story.  AFTRA is “is a national labor union representing over 70,000 performers, journalists and other artists working in the entertainment and news media,” and its application process is far simpler than SAG’s.  All that is required is payment of the $1,600 initiation fee, and BAM!  You’re in.

The big news lately has been about the reported unification of SAG and AFTRA.  If you’re an AFTRA member and SAG Eligible, should you join SAG now or wait till after the two unions merge?  The [rumored] application fee will be $3,000, so if you see SAG in your future, send in your down payment now.

At the end of the day the decision of whether or not to become a union member rests on the current status of your career.  Certain projects – particularly the high-profile ones – require membership to at least one major union.  This is a big, important choice, and one that needs to be properly evaluated with your representation.

2.  Reoccurring, Guest Star, Co-Star…What’s the Difference?

Casting rank affects a number of factors, in particular pay grade and credit.  A lead actor will (usually) have a higher salary – and billing – than a supporting actor.  There are obviously exceptions to the rule (Marlon Brando in 1978’s Superman: The Movie), but the ranking system is fairly straightforward and formulaic. 
Marlon Brando in Superman: The Movie

            Feature films have a very basic classification procedure, with there being three major categories—lead, supporting, and featured.  Each class is self-explanatory: the lead role is the star, the driving force of the film; the supporting role helps (or prevents) the lead from reaching and achieving his or her goals; a featured role can range from any sort of smaller role, from a bit part to a background extra (for more on that, please read this post).

            Television is a bit more complex; since it’s a serialized format, the supporting cast of characters is constantly changing.  Old faces are always returning to fight or support our lead series regulars.  The possible number of role classifications is far greater.  To help better understand all the technical jargon that’s often thrown around, please refer to this extremely useful diagram:

ABC's Modern Family
            The technicalities of being in the business of professional acting are not particularly complicated.  All it takes is perseverance, dedication, the absolute will to succeed and not ever, ever giving up.

Lights, camera, action.

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By Alex Tafet