Equity Says It Wants Self-Tape Rules In New UK Film & TV Deals Amid Concerns Over Fake Auditions

EXCLUSIVE: Equity has said that it wants guidelines on self-tape auditions to be inserted into collective film and TV agreements with producer trade body Pact.

The union is preparing to start landmark negotiations with Pact in late April over new contracts for actors across the vast majority of UK television series and indie films.

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Equity general secretary Paul Fleming said that the union wants the guidelines to be included given the rise of self tapes and the lack of provisions for casting in previous deals.

He revealed the objective after Deadline has reported on agents sending clients illegitimate invites for self-tape auditions, suggesting that the casting mechanism is open to exploitation.

Equity drew up current guidelines in 2021 alongside the Casting Directors Guild and Personal Managers’ Association (PMA), but they do not contain provisions for fake self-tape invitations.

Fleming said the guidelines should be updated, but he stressed that they assume agents uphold best practice and it would be “absurd” to include rules about not defrauding or lying to actors.

Equity, the PMA, and the Casting Directors Association have all condemned the issues uncovered by Deadline, with the latter saying fake tapes destroy trust in the casting process.

Fleming said inserting self-tape guidelines into collective agreements will make them “enforceable terms and conditions,” meaning Equity members can sue if they are not observed.

Equity is currently consulting members ahead of negotiations with Pact and Fleming said there is agreement between the union and producers that casting will be a key priority alongside issues including AI and streaming residuals.

“We just simply have to reflect the challenges of casting in 2024, which inevitably includes self-tapes,” Fleming said. “But I didn’t have agents pretending that you’ve been requested for a self-tape on my 2024 bingo card. It’s such a bizarre practice.”

Fleming pointed to the fact that SAG-AFTRA inserted self-tape guidelines into its agreement with U.S. studios last year, including a clause about giving actors scripts and character breakdowns at least 48 hours before an audition deadline.

Equity and Pact will negotiate three broad agreements: One covering TV and streaming, another for movies, and a third for supporting artists. Producers commit to the agreements when setting up a project and actors who feature do not have to be Equity members. Away from Pact, Equity is negotiating with the BBC and ITV over deals that mainly apply to soaps.

For the past decade, Netflix, Sky, Disney, and Apple have approached Equity negotiations in the form of ‘side letters,’ which effectively takes the deal with Pact and adds a small premium for their original commissions. It remains to be seen whether they will once again piggyback off the Pact deal with a premium once it is struck.

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