2017 sees NINETY YEARS of the FAA – & we’ve been listening to our members…
As a ‘spin-off’ from the Films Artists Association, the FAA Agency’s remit is to (a) raise the profile of and find employment for its registered professionals, while (b) being led by our unique perspective upon the needs and circumstances of SAs.
In recent years, the landscape of our industry has changed massively. The market for SAs is now flooded and those of us with experience, who feel we offer a higher level of professionalism and expertise, have found ourselves drowning in a sea of new faces. We accept that the market for SAs should be fluid and open to new talent; however, the value of the professionalism we offer has become overlooked – new ADs, for example, are trained to suspect SAs as essentially being Joe Public who has walked off of the street… That is not who we are!
Many new ADs, having been exposed to the new breed of SA who “takes time off from their real job”, are barely even aware that we exist – when they come to book their Crowd, it never occurs to them that there are hundreds of us who have been doing this for decades. (Seriously, one of our members worked on the 1956 “Moby Dick”.)
The FAA Agency is setting out to ensure that any AD can now find these people – all in one place!
The professional SA values his or her reputation above everything – we are by nature self-employed and so have to persistently maintain high standards of performance. We are very aware that we are engaging on a long relationship with our clients: we know that new runners will become Third ADs, who will become Second ADs – and so on. This is our living. We turn up on time and, recognising the importance of continuity, never fail to turn up on that second day; we never distract Principal Artists on set, by asking for autographs or photographs; we never talk to the Press. Many of us may be capable actors, but we perceive our role on set to be closer to crew – we help the ADs help the Director achieve his creative vision. We do not get in the way, dazed and star-struck.
We are not daytrippers, numpties or muppets!
Why should I, as a professional Supporting Artist, join the FAA Agency?
This is an agency run by SAs for SAs. We commit to the following:
- No deals. We only use the union-negotiated rates of pay.
- Low commission rates.
- We will not allow the selective cherry-picking of parts of the agreement by our clients – in return for high standards of service, we expect our clients to stick to the letter of the agreement.
- No admin fees.
- Low book fees for FAA union members.
- No commission taken from travel, haircut, uniforms, etc.
- We intend to cater our online database to reflect our artists’ particular skills: for example, SAs who have a track record of acting, or many years of on-set experience, will be able to showcase that experience; SAs who prefer crowd work or working in a less pressurised capacity will be able to express that preference.
Why should I, as an employer of SAs, use the FAA Agency?
Have you ever asked yourself where the experience is in your extras booking agency? It’s true – some (the better, in our opinion) agencies do employ ex-SAs as bookers. After all, they’ve actually been on set…
As an agency run by heavily experienced SAs, we have a particularly strong understanding of the on-set requirements of ADs and Producers. Between us, we have seen thousands of hours of active service – we’ve seen every on-set disaster in the books and we’ve seen many bad SAs, put in the wrong place at the wrong time. Often because the agency in question has its own motives for putting them there…
We believe that in recent years, with the recession and increasing competition between more and more agencies, an unhealthy tendency has developed: the agencies have been forced to make their money not from their clients, but from their SAs. Think about it: if you can cover your costs by getting every SA on your books – no matter how inexperienced they are – one day’s work, you’ve covered your overheads and everything else is profit.
The side-effect of this is that too often you place new, inexperienced daytrippers on set – to the cost of your client. We’ve heard horrendous stories of expensive reshoots because the SAs kept looking into the camera – and this happened very recently, on a high-profile movie…
This will never happen with the FAA Agency: we aim never to send you the wrong man or woman for the job. The only ulterior motive we have is to ensure that people who have been putting the time in for years have a fair chance to stay in the business. And yes, we have investors, but more than any agency in the business, we come from a ‘worker’s collective’ angle – our offices are at BECTU and our overheads are low…
Now we’ve raised the bar pretty high, so this is what we commit to:
- On every job, we will ensure that you have genuinely experienced SAs with a real vested interest in making this work.
- Any new SAs we choose to place in the field will be monitored on set by our own people – at the first sign of a phone or camera, we’ll be all over them. Because we have a lot to prove to you!
- Hence fewer no-shows…
- And we won’t tolerate lateness…
- We recognise that signing out at the end of the day can be pretty stressful. We’ll always field a “senior SA” who can help with any confusion and manage our people. If there’s a dispute, rather than dealing with a wall of faces, you’ll only have to deal with one.
- In association with the AD’s branch of BECTU, and potential funding through Skillset, we’re looking at training courses and boot camps to establish accreditation for our members and theirs – together!
Bring on the 90th anniversary!
There’s going to be a big party next year. Since 1926, our members have been playing a proud part in the British Film Industry. Call us what you will – extras, background, walk-ons, ‘noddies’, SAs – we’ve been tirelessly plodding away, uncredited, for nearly a century.
With the FAA Agency, we’re saying: this is us – we’ve put the time in. Let us show you what we can do.