Every actor is aware of the union or non union dynamic that is always at the forefront of every performer’s career. But one option that flies under the radar most of the time is the Financial Core Status, or also known as Fi-Core.
In a previous article, Union Or Non-Union – we weighed the options in choosing union or non union status for your acting career and got down to the most important aspects of that decision. But today in this article, I’m going to give you an in depth look into a third option that you have when figuring out if SAG-AFTRA is the right fit for you. Like union status, Fi-Core is definitely a choice for those who are monetarily ready to make the investment. But it also offers actors the pleasure of basically working both union and non union projects. This opens up your opportunities to act to a very high degree, but it’s important to be completely educated on what you’re getting yourself into.
Over the years I’ve spoke with actors, who are Fi-Core, and they absolutely love it. One in particular, Ian Roberts, an actor/stuntman most notably known for his work in Superman Returns, once told me on the set of our indie film, “Fi-Core offers me the choice to not pass up a great creative opportunity that may have non-union status. When it comes to working as an actor, I want my options to be unlimited.”
Actor, master improviser and host, Ben Hauck is another who preaches the benefits of the financial core status. Ben has been highly successful in this industry and is just as knowledgable as he is successful. As stand-in for John Oliver in HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” he was honored in 2016 by the Television Academy for his contributions to the variety talk series. Ben holds a BFA in Acting from Otterbein and won the 2013 Emerging Artist Award for his trademark “improvised sermons” at the Unscripted New York Improvised Theatre & Film Festival. Author of the book “Long-Form Improv”(Allworth Press), Ben is internationally known as a teacher of long-form improvisation, having taught and directed long-form improv in New York City, Toronto, and London. He is also the host of “The Acting Income Podcast” on iTunes. This podcast covers topics related to earning an income as an actor as well as multiple episodes on the topic of Fi-Core. The awesome thing about Ben is that he has made it his passion in some ways to advocate actors when it comes to joining Fi-Core. After speaking with him recently, I’m excited to share the wisdom he relayed on the subject.
“Financial core status is a right guaranteed by the United States Supreme Court to pay a labor union only for collective bargaining and related activities. The financial core worker is able to work on union jobs while paying to the union an “agency fee,” which is essentially dues payment that is smaller than what full members pay.
The financial core worker also does not have to obey union member rules, insofar as they keep up with their agency fees with the union. One rule SAG-AFTRA has is Global Rule 1, which is the requirement that members have to work only for signatories. When you are financial core, you do not have to obey that rule, which translates to the ability to work both for union signatories as well as for non-union productions. I’ve put together a workbook on financial core status that you may be interested in reading, which is available here: http://ficorecentral.com/workbook.”
This is definitely a viable option to at least learn about, at this point, if you’re not ready to make a commitment. Some people will have different opinions as to what’s the best route for you, but you owe it to yourself to always look into things thoroughly. Ultimately, our objective as performers is to make the move that gives us three things: 1) We’re continuously challenged as an actor and can experience consistent growth in our craft and the business side of things. 2) We’re provided with unlimited creative income opportunities that not only support our careers, but our lives. 3) We’re provided with several choices that readily enable us to enjoy what we love to do, act. By factoring in all three of these components, the choice becomes easier in discovering which option is the best for you.
All in all, you owe it to yourself to look into the Fi-Core status.