They Call Me Flipper

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They Call Me Flipper

Peter Lawson Jones 

By Peter Lawson Jones

Flipping ... it’s not just for homes, cars or dolphins anymore. As a proud member of SAG-AFTRA, you will often have the chance to “flip” projects from non-union to union. Although my rate of success in flipping projects may fall short of Steph Curry’s rate of proficiency in shooting free throws, I have convinced at least a half dozen producers over the past few years to go union.

Short and student films, new media projects, special occasion videos and voiceover work provide the most fertile ground for flipping. Most people producing such projects are unfamiliar with union requirements and believe, unjustifiably, that a SAG-AFTRA contract would be cost prohibitive and accompanied by an unreasonable amount of red tape and documentation. As soon as you demonstrate to them — with the assistance of the good folk like Chelsea Rodgers in our Ohio-Pittsburgh Local office — that their fears are unfounded and that having the union imprimatur is a benefit in raising the status of the project and attracting a better pool of talent, they quickly become open to the idea. It’s especially true if they really, really want you as a part of their creative team. Yes. Your undeniable talent is the lever that enables the flip. If the producer or director is convinced that your being a member of the cast is essential to the success of the project, they will be more than willing to consider going union.

Have I lost a few opportunities by insisting on the union label and turning down projects that were unwilling to enter into a SAG-AFTRA contract? Of course. But none of the projects I’ve spurned has won an Oscar, and none of the actors who ended up with the role I turned down have made a million at my expense. Moreover, as a proud SAG-AFTRA member who is deeply appreciative of all that the union has done to protect my rights as an actor and ensure that I am reasonably compensated for my work, I am not at all reluctant to say no to such projects.  

If you would like to discuss the process of flipping projects at greater length, please feel free to contact me through the local by emailing Remember, the more we flip, the more opportunities we will create for our union brothers and sisters and for ourselves in both the near and long term.    

New Ohio-Pittsburgh Regional Commercials Code

Speaking of flipping work, the new and improved Ohio-Pittsburgh Regional Commercials Code is ready for use. The local held a kickoff seminar for members in Pittsburgh at Olive or Twist on Oct. 23 and in Cleveland at the DoubleTree in Independence on Nov. 6. 

We are currently in the process of signing signatories to the new code. If you, advertisers, or producers have questions or are interested in using the new code, please contact local Business Representative Chelsea Danley Rodgers at Let’s work together to make ads go local and union!

Click here to see the details of the regional code.