In June, a casting call for James Dean and Marilyn Monroe look-alikes went out for a Mercedes, Japan, commercial. During this process, the casting director was actively searching for a signatory to represent this foreign advertiser and enable this production to utilize professional performers under a SAG contract.
On the morning of the auditions, to the surprise of the casting director, so many more people than expected arrived for the audition that performers had to wait in the parking garage due to fire code and overcrowding concerns. The casting director ultimately determined that although only 85 performers had been scheduled to audition, the online casting service, through a computer malfunction, had sent notice of the audition to 500 performers. While the casting director was investigating, a SAG Field Representative was dispatched in response to complaints received by the Hollywood Commercials Department. The casting director accommodated as many performers as possible, auditioning approximately 250, and even called some of the accidentally-scheduled performers back for second auditions.
Six claims inquiries for audition overtime were filed with the Commercials Department in connection with the incident and a business representative was assigned to investigate. Several factors were considered before a determination was made to not file a claim for audition overtime:
1. It was a non-union production at the time of audition. No signatory had been engaged yet. (This is not a Rule One Violation. Performers are encouraged to audition for non-union productions in the hope of organizing them under a union contract, but performers must ensure any work they accept is union).
2. It was a computer malfunction that was beyond the casting director’s (and potential signatory’s) control and was an isolated situation.
3. The casting director is pro-performer and pro-SAG. She was actively searching for a signatory in order to be able to engage professional performers under a SAG contract.
4. The casting director has subsequently refused to utilize the services of that particular online casting service due to the confusion and inconvenience it caused her and all of the performers.
Ultimately a signatory was engaged, but it is not certain this project was ever produced due to the untimely death of the make-up artist who was critical to the success of the production.