Central Casting and SEG in the 50s.

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Central Casting and SEG in the 50s.

Post by cowgirl » Mon Apr 24, 2017 4:56 pm

ralphm1999:35247 wrote:In the 50s there were 4 extras casting offices.    3 did all the casting for the independent production companies.   Central Casting was the big gun and did all  the extra casting for the major studios.     CC had 3 casting directors, and a phalanx of telephone operators and secretaries.      Each casting director was assigned to several major studios handling all their requirements.   Of course when a call came in for a big request  such as filling a jousting tournament in the 1700s in a British scene, all the casting directors would work on it.  

We the extras had call in hours that began at 3PM and lasted until about 7PM.    We would dial a number (phones used to have cumbersome dials on them) get a busy signal hang up and dial the number again.   There were no repeat dial buttons on those old phones.    With any luck we would finally hear it ring and ring and ring until after 50 rings we would hang up, wait 10 minutes and start again.    But once in a while a female voice rattles of Central.   Quickly we would shout our names and she would just as quickly reply “try later”.    That was the signal we were not to call back for at least 15 minutes to which no one paid any attention.    Once  every 10 ‘try laters’ the operator would repeat our names to the casting directors and then say ‘try later’.   And then all of a sudden “hold the line”, a casting director would come on the line, he would rattle off the name of a studio, the time, any special instructions , you would reply ‘ok’ or ‘thanks’ and  the line went dead but you were booked……   This was the torturous procedure we went through every day.   Once you were on a show and you were called back, the studio would notify CC and you would not have to call in.    Every so often a casting director would call you at home because some AD had requested you.    Myself and many of my extra peers we would beat the bushes for bookings.   Once you are on the lot you did the forbidden thing and visited other sets, sought out the AD and  asked to be booked.    In all of Hollywood the Ads were always polite and very often booked us this way as they knew how hard it was to be booked thru CC.   CC also took care of all our payroll.   Once we arrived at a booking, the first thing we got was our vouchers usually at the gate where we entered the studio.   The voucher was actually a one day extra work contract.   It had all the legal gable de gook and a release for our use in a motion picture etc.   At the end of the day, the AD would enter any adjustments sign it and give us a carbon copy.   The vouchers went back to CC who took care of the payroll and sending us the check.    

During my final two years of extra work I never had to call in again as Four Star always  took care of me.

SEG.

Screen Extras Guild.  It was compulsory to belong to SEG to work in any motion picture.   There was an exception called 'waivers'.   A studio could hire unlimited waivers within some very strict rules.   There would have to be at least 125 SEG members hired first.   A waiver could not wear a costume, could not be recognizable on film, could not be closer to the camera than 50 feet.   Essentially this was written in the guild rules to allow the studio to fill up a good portion of a stadium or a park such as they did on 'It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World'.  

SEG was harder to get into back then than to become a member of SAG.   There were only two routes.   The most common, go up to CC every Wednesday for an interview and audition until you were accepted or gave up.   Once CC accepted you you had 30 days in which to pay your initiation fee to SEG.   During those 30 days CC always seemed to have enough bookings for you to pay the fee.   No such thing as non-union extra which is very common today.    The guild was your parent.   It took care of every aspect of extra work.   Pay scales, meal penalties, special business, silent bits, hazardous pay.  It had a staff of 5 full time inspectors (forgot their actual name) along with office staff and the board of directors and president   all of whom were SEG members.     Whenever you felt that you did not get paid according to the guild rules, you filed a claim against the producers with the guild.  One of the inspectors  went out to the studio and had the scene in question played for them and then decide if your claim was valid.  If the inspectors felt the claim was valid, the studio was ordered to pay along with a penalty.  If the studio refused it usually went to arbitration or even to a trial court.   A studio might feel inclined to fight a claim if it was for all the extras on a set that could be 400 or more extras and become a substantial amount.  

The  other way to get into SEG was by demand of an influential person such as a director, major star, or producer.
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Re: Central Casting and SEG in the 50s.

Post by cowgirl » Mon Apr 24, 2017 4:56 pm

rooster davis:38976 wrote:Ralph, I checked for you on imdb.com . Read your fascinating history. One thing I thought I would mention, a slight booboo in your bio says 'they found ourselves...' in the part about being a kid during the Nazi activity. Thought you might want to fix that.
"Keep your 'sites' on The Rifleman"
"The Rifleman hits the 'Mark' every week on abc."
A cowgirl's work is never done.

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Re: Central Casting and SEG in the 50s.

Post by cowgirl » Mon Apr 24, 2017 4:57 pm

ralphm1999:38977 wrote:
rooster davis:38976 wrote:Ralph, I checked for you on imdb.com . Read your fascinating history. One thing I thought I would mention, a slight booboo in your bio says 'they found ourselves...' in the part about being a kid during the Nazi activity. Thought you might want to fix that.


Thanks. Actually I'm aware of that.  Did not think anyone ever reads the bios.  But it's nearly impossible to get IMDB to add or fix anything.  I've got around 50 shows submitted for almost a year that they have not or will not add to my page.   The IMDB bio is a copy of the bio I wrote on my personal page.   When I first submitted it, IMDB rejected it as their rules are that all bios have to be written in the 3rd person.  So I went through it changing everything I could spot to their format.   You can see my original bio on my web site:

http://ralphmoratz.com/shoah.html
"Keep your 'sites' on The Rifleman"
"The Rifleman hits the 'Mark' every week on abc."
A cowgirl's work is never done.

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