Do performers get paid for auditions?
What does “clean contract” mean?
On the front of the standard SAG employment contract, there are 4 separate boxes to check if you do not consent to use of your commercial on the Internet, as a dealer commercial, on New Media, and/or on a simulcast. On the reverse side, two separate paragraphs grant rights to producer for foreign and theatrical/industrial use. Although not a contractual term, “clean contract” is used by producers to mean as a condition of employment, that you must grant these rights at the time of booking at scale, i.e., you may not mark your contract by checking off these boxes or crossing out the paragraphs.
In the event that the producer did not acquire these rights at the time of booking, the performer should check the boxes on the front and strike the paragraphs on the back. By doing so, the producer must come back to you and negotiate for these rights. If there is any question as to whether any of these rights were granted to producer, check with your agent before signing your contract.
Can a producer require the performer to accept a “clean contract” as a condition of auditioning for a commercial?
No. Performers cannot be required to accept minimum fees as a condition of auditioning. A producer is permitted to state the company’s intent to offer a performer the minimum fees; however the producer is obligated to advise the performer at the same time of his/her right to negotiate for better terms and conditions.
What is the difference between a “first refusal” and a “hold”?
When a casting director issues a “first refusal” it means that a final casting decision has not been made; the casting director is requesting that the performer contact him/her before accepting a booking for another job on the same day(s), i.e., giving the original producer the first opportunity to book the person. A “first refusal” is not a booking and the performer has no contractual obligation to get back to the casting director or turn down the second job nor does the producer owe a cancellation fee if the performer is not used. As a professional courtesy, it is suggested that the performer advise the casting director of the second job before accepting the booking.
If a performer has been put on “hold,” the producer has engaged the performer and a cancellation fee is due if the producer cancels the engagement. A cancellation fee would not be paid when a performer is placed on an “avail” and not used.
These terms are not always used properly. If you have a question as to whether you have been definitely booked, you or your agent should ask the casting director, “Is this a booking?”
When is the session payment due for a commercial?
Session payment for a commercial is due 12 business days after the session.
How is overtime paid?
A principal performer receives time-and-one-half for the ninth and tenth hours and double time thereafter, in hourly units. Principal performers receiving more than two times the session fee per commercial per day receive time-and-one-half instead of double time after the tenth hour.
Are session and residual checks for members sent to the Guild?
Normally, session and residual checks are sent to the performer directly, or to whomever the performer has designated on the employment contract (such as to his/her agent). However, checks for Spanish and Asian language commercials, as well as for claims that have been filed, are sent directly to the Guild, and in turn, are forwarded to the performer.
What is the difference between sweetening and multiple tracking (Singers)?
Multiple tracking, which requires an additional 50% of the original fee for solos and duos, is a re-recording over the original track or adding another track, electronically or mechanically, which contains the same material as recorded on the original track. Sweetening, which requires an additional 100% of the original fee for solos and duos, is the addition of a new or variant track over the original track. Group performers are paid an additional 50% of the original fee for unlimited multiple tracking and/or sweetening.
What are holding fees?
Holding fees are paid to a performer in “fixed” cycles, every 13 weeks from the session date, if the producer wishes to retain the rights to air the commercial and wants to hold a performer exclusive to the product. During this 13-week period, a performer cannot accept work in a commercial for a competitive product. For example, if a performer has received a holding fee for a Pepsi commercial, he/she may not accept work for a commercial advertising Coca-Cola during that period of time.
What if a performer does not receive a holding fee?
If the producer has not paid a holding fee to a performer by the first day of the new holding fee cycle, he/she is released from exclusivity and may audition for, and accept employment in, a commercial for a competing product.
Is the producer obligated to send a notice releasing a performer from the commercial?
The producer is not obligated to send a notice releasing a performer from the commercial. If a performer does not receive a holding fee for a new 13-week cycle, the performer has been released from the commercial.
What if the holding fee payment has been postmarked late?
Holding fees are due (and must be postmarked) no later than the first day of the holding fee cycle. There are several choices if the holding fee is not paid on time. The performer may ask for late payment damages and accept the holding fee. Or the performer may reject the holding fee payment and consider him/herself released from exclusivity. Or the performer may reject the holding fee payment and renegotiate the terms of his/her contract pertaining to the commercial if the producer wishes to continue to use it.
How long is a performer “held” to a commercial?
The “maximum period of use” of a commercial is 21 months (a total of seven 13-week holding fee cycles). Provided the producer continues to make timely holding fee payments, the performer is held exclusive to the product for the 21-month period. If the performer (or his/her representative) does not send a timely renegotiation letter, the producer can extend the maximum period of use for an additional 21 months at the same rates as for the original 21 months.
When must a renegotiation notice be sent to the producer (or advertising agency)?
A renegotiation letter must be sent 60 to 120 days (two to four months) prior to the end of the maximum period of use. Check your pay stub to find the end date of the maximum period of use (MPU), and count back 60 to 120 days to establish when you or your agent must send the notice. The letter should be sent to the producer (ad agency) listed on your employment contract. Sending the letter gives the performer the right to renegotiate new rates or to say he/she does not grant the right to continued use of the commercial. It is advisable to send a copy of the letter to the Guild at the same time.
If your agent does not send a renegotiation letter, and the commercial is renewed for an additional 21 months at the minimum scale rate, he/she may not take a commission.
When are payments for residuals due?
Residual payments must be postmarked within 15 working days from the first use in a 13-week cycle. However, payment for all Class A uses that occur from Monday through Sunday are due within 15 working days from the following Monday. In the event that payment is not made on time, late payment damages become due.
What is “Class A” use?
This type of use is considered “network broadcast use.” If a commercial is running on interconnected stations (a network) in more than 21 cities, or sponsors a program (“This program is brought to you by …”) it constitutes Class A program use. The cycle begins with the first use date and payments are made on a declining rate formula for each use occurring within a 13-week period.
For example, the first Class A use is paid at the same rate as the session fee. The second use within the 13-week cycle is $135.80 for an on-camera performer. Uses #3-13 are paid at $107.75 each and the 14th and each use thereafter is paid at $51.65. (Group performers and voice-over performers are paid under a similar formula, with lower rates reflecting their classifications).
What is Wild Spot use?
Wild Spot is a type of use in which a commercial does not air on interconnected stations and does not sponsor a program. Time is bought on individual stations in individual markets or cities. Each market/city is assigned a unit value based on the number of television households and the performer is paid for all units of use within a 13-week cycle.
The Wild Spot payment is due within 15 working days from the start date of the cycle. If the commercial is broadcast in additional cities within the 13-week cycle, the producer may pay for those additional units within 15 working days from the end date of that 13-week cycle.
What are the payments for cable use?
There are two types of residual structures for cable:
What are the payments for Internet use?
There are three types of residual payment formulas for a commercial used on the Internet:
What are the payments for New Media use?
There are three types of residual payment formulas for a commercial used on New Media:
What should I do if I don’t believe I’ve been paid properly?
If you see your commercial airing but are not receiving use fees, you should file a claim with the Union. When you do so, it is helpful to provide as much information as possible, including the date of the sighting, the program, the channel, and the time. If you see your commercial on the Internet, take a “screen shot” of it as proof.
What are the penalties if my check is paid late?
In the event of untimely payment, late payment damages are due as follows: $3.00 per business day up to 25 days or a maximum of $75.00. Additional damages become due in the event that a claim is filed and full payment is not made within a specified time. When a payment is not made on time, generally late payment damages are not included in the check unless a claim has been filed by the union. If your payment is made late and late payment damages have not been included in the check, please contact the Guild to file a claim.
Does a principal performer continue to receive residuals if he/she is edited out of the commercial?
Downgrade. A principal performer is entitled to residuals and may not be downgraded as long as his/her face appears in the commercial. If his/her face does not appear but his/her performance otherwise remains, the performer must be notified of a downgrade and paid a downgrade fee. A downgrade fee is not less than a session fee. Thereafter, the performer will not receive residual payments.
Outgrade. If a principal performer’s photography or soundtrack is completely edited out of the final version of the commercial, the performer must be notified of the outgrade. The notification must be made within 60 days after the completion of employment but in no event later than 15 business days after the first use of the commercial. No additional fees or residuals are paid to an outgraded performer.
Would a new commercial be created if the ending were changed?
Under certain circumstances, the beginning and/or ending of a commercial made for a particular advertiser may be changed without creating an additional commercial for residual purposes. The Contract provisions governing this area are complicated and we suggest that you contact your local SAG office for assistance.
Are public service announcements (PSA’s) covered by a SAG contract?
Yes, members may not work in a PSA unless the company is signatory to the Commercials Contract. If the union has approved the commercial as a PSA, the session fee and Pension & Health contributions must be paid. However, residuals are waived for a one-year period as long as the performer agrees to such terms. Use for each additional one-year period requires the written consent of both the performers and the union. For these extensions, the performer may (but is not required to) waive additional payment. The producer may not request a use period longer than one year at the time of the original session.
Are Infomercials covered by a SAG contract?
Yes. Please check with the Guild to ensure the company is signed to the Infomercial Agreement before working in the production.
Are there any differences between Spanish language and English language commercials in regards to the minimum session fees or working conditions?
No, the minimum session fees and all working conditions for Spanish language commercials are exactly the same as English language commercials. All provisions of the contract apply. In addition, if the producer wishes to also hold the Spanish language performer exclusive to the advertised product in the English language market, an additional 50% of session and use is paid to the performer.
What are the differences between Spanish language and English language residuals?
For Class A or program use residuals, Spanish language performers receive a per cycle payment rather than a “pay-per-play” structure. The four major Spanish language networks, Galavision, Telemundo, Univision, and Telefutura are either paid as program use or Wild Spot, depending on the media buy. For Wild Spot residuals, the television markets are weighted differently than in the English language market to account for the cities with large Hispanic populations. For example, Miami has a unit weight of 4 for the English market and a unit weight of 17 for the Spanish market. All cable use payments for Spanish language commercials are identical to English language commercials.
Are there any differences between Spanish language and English language commercials in how Internet and New Media residuals are calculated?
No, for Spanish language commercials exhibited on the Internet and New Media, the residual payments are identical to English language commercials (see pages 4 & 5).
How is foreign use paid on a Spanish language commercial?
For use in South America and/or Central America and/or Mexico, 4 session fees are due. For use in the Caribbean and/or Puerto Rico, 3 session fees are due. If the producer elects to exhibit the commercial in any country in South America, Central America and/or Mexico IN ADDITION TO any country in the Caribbean and/or Puerto Rico, a total of 4 session fees are due. For use in countries outside of those listed, the residual payments would be the same as an English language commercial (UK: 3 session fees; Europe: 2 session fees; Japan: 1 session fee; Asian-Pacific countries: 1 session fee; and anywhere else: 1 session fee). For use throughout the entire world, 8 session fees are due. Session and holding fees cannot be credited against foreign use.
How are performers paid when the producer makes a Spanish language commercial from an English language commercial?
If the commercial is filmed twice, performers receive two separate session fees and the commercials are considered separate spots for residual purposes. If the commercial isn’t filmed twice and only the voice-over changes, the on-camera performers receive one session fee and one set of residuals.
If performers are asked to translate the script at a session or an audition, do they get paid more?
Yes, an additional 50% of session is paid to any performer asked to provide translation services.
Does SAG monitor the payments for Spanish language commercials?
Yes, all checks for Spanish language commercials are sent to the Guild for verification before distribution to the performers. That way, the Guild can file claims for late or improper pay immediately.
When is the session payment due for a commercial?
Session payment for a commercial is due 12 business days after the session.
How is overtime paid on a commercial?
After 8 hours of work, the 9th and 10th hour are paid at time-and-one-half and all hours after that are paid at double time in hourly units. All hours worked on Saturdays, Sundays or holidays are paid at double time. All overtime for an extra performer is based on the maximum pay the extra performer is receiving on that particular day, i.e., additional compensation for wet, snow, smoke or dust work is added to the daily rate and overtime is based on that new rate.
What is the extra performer’s session payment for an Internet-only or New Media-only commercial?
There are currently no minimum fees set under the contract for a commercial made directly for the Internet and/or New Media. The extra performer and the producer are free to bargain a fee. The Pension & Health contribution rate is 15.5% and is non-negotiable. As of April 1, 2011, the minimum fees for a commercial made directly for the Internet and/or New Media will be the same as a broadcast commercial.
What is an “omni”?
An “omni” is defined as atmospheric words or sounds, such as cheering at a sports event, spoken by a group. This falls within the work of an extra performer.
Is there a section on the employment contract to indicate working in smoke?
Yes. The employment contract contains a check-off box indicating work in smoke. Additionally, the producer must provide each performer with a Material Specification Data Sheet (MSDS) no later than the first day of employment when work in smoke is required. An extra performer is entitled to additional compensation in the amount of $44.30 per day for work in smoke, wet, snow or dust (or any combination of these conditions).
When are meals due? What are the liquidated damages if not fed on time?
The first meal period must be called not later than 6 hours from the call time. All subsequent meal periods are due not later than 6 hours after the termination of the preceding meal period. Damages for violations are $25.00 for each of the 1st and 2nd half hours and $50.00 for each ½ hour thereafter.
How does a background performer qualify for an upgrade to principal performer?
There are several ways to qualify for an upgrade to principal performer. Here are the most common:
Can a producer bargain for extended or unlimited editing rights, and also bargain for the exercise fee when utilized?
Assume, hypothetically, that Producer bargains at the time of engagement for an option allowing unlimited editing rights, and the parties agree to an upfront fee for the option. If the option for unlimited editing rights is subsequently exercised, the Producer must pay the additional agreed upon fee for the unlimited editing rights within 15 working days after notice of the exercise of the option. The option fee itself is due and payable at the time the original session fee is due.
Example: Performer’s original session was November 3, 2006, and an option fee for extended editing rights is agreed to at the time of booking for an amount of $567.10. There is further agreement that if the option is exercised at any time during the maximum period of use, an additional “exercise fee,” separate and above the option fee of $567.10, at an agreed upon rate of $1,134.20, is due. Payment of the original session fee and the option for unlimited editing rights is due 12 working days from the session. The additional “exercise fee” that had been agreed upon is due 15 working days after notice of such exercise.
What if extended or unlimited editing rights are not negotiated at the time of engagement?
Producer must contact performer(s) and separately bargain for extended or unlimited editing rights.
Can a producer ask for a “clean contract” (“all standard provisions at scale”) at the time of audition?
Demanding a “clean contract” (“all standard provisions at scale”) is a clear violation of the Commercials Contracts. Producer may inform performer of intent to hire at scale, so long as the Producer delineates the rights to be acquired. Performers who do not accept the terms as set out by the Producer have the right to audition and negotiate for higher terms.
What if a producer wishes to use, on broadcast or cable, a commercial originally made for New Media or Internet use?
The Producer must obtain the consent of the performer and bargain for payment of not less than the required contract minimums for such uses, plus the difference between what was paid for the New Media or Internet use and not less than 300% of the applicable session fee for 1 year of use and an additional payment of not less than 300% of the applicable session fee for an additional year, subject to the contractual limitations regarding the maximum period of use.
Example: Commercial is made for the Internet, and 6 months into the negotiated 1 year maximum period of use, Producer wishes to air the commercial on broadcast television. Producer contacts performer’s agent for consent, and bargains for use. Original payment for Internet use was $567.10. Therefore, 2 additional payments of $567.10 are due to meet the minimum 300% requirement, plus any broadcast use payments. Holding fee payments must also be paid.
What is the initial term of use for a broadcast and/or cable commercial that moves over to the Internet or New Media?
The initial term of use for move over from broadcast and/or cable to Internet or New Media is one year, for not less than 300% of the applicable session fee. For an extension term, Producer may use the commercial for the remainder, if any, of the maximum period of use, for not less than an additional 300% of the applicable session.
Are producers still required to provide the union with a copy of the employment agreements within 12 working days?
Yes. Producers are required to provide the union(s) with copies of employment agreements for both made for Internet commercials and made for New Media commercials within 12 working days of employment.
Producer is also required to file copies of employment contracts for all 8-Week Use Cycles.
What if Internet or New Media use is not negotiated at the time of engagement?
There are two possible scenarios:
Scenario 1: If a Producer does not initially bargain for Internet or New Media use, and the performer does not check off the “do not consent” boxes on their employment contract, the Producer has the right to pay a minimum of 300% of the applicable session fee for Internet or New Media use for a one-year term. This term begins at the time of use, but may not exceed the original 21-month maximum period of use. Payment for such use shall be paid no later than 15 working days after the first date of use.
Scenario 2: If the performer does check off the “do not consent” boxes on their employment contract, the Producer must first obtain written consent from the performer, and must bargain for use at not less than 300% of the applicable session fee. Term of use is one year from the first use, but no later than the expiration of the 21-month maximum period of use. Payment for such use shall be paid no later than 15 working days after the first date of use.
Can a session fee or holding fee be credited against Internet or New Media use?
It is a subject of bargaining between the Producer and the performer as to whether a session fee can be credited against use with respect to commercials made for New Media. However, for commercials made for broadcast or cable that are subsequently moved over to the Internet or New Media, there can be no crediting of session fees or holding fees.
What if the producer wishes to obtain exclusivity for a commercial made for initial use on the Internet or in New Media?
The performer must then be paid not less than 300% of the applicable session fee for 1-years use plus holding fees. As long as the holding fees continue to be paid the Producer can continue to use the commercial for a second year upon payment of not less than 300% of the applicable session fee, subject to the contractual limitations regarding the maximum period of use.
If a commercial is made for broadcast and/or cable and is moved over to Internet or New Media, does exclusivity still apply?
Yes. The performer remains bound by exclusivity so long as the Producer continues to pay holding fees. Conversely, if the Producer pays 300% of the applicable session fee for use on the Internet or in New Media but does not continue to pay holding fees as required under the broadcast/cable provisions, the performer is released from exclusivity and is free to accept work for a competitive advertiser/product.
When is payment due for extended or unlimited editing rights for New Media and/or Internet use?
If negotiated at the time of engagement: Payment must be made, along with the session fee(s), no later than 12 working days after the session work is completed.
Example: Performer is booked to work on November 1, 2006, and extended editing rights have been negotiated at the time of booking. Payment is due 12 working days after session: November 17, 2006.
When negotiated after the session: Producer must first obtain written consent from the performer(s) and bargain for extended or unlimited editing rights. Payment shall then be made not later than 15 working days after the date that the performer consents to such editing rights.
Example: Performer’s original session was November 3, 2006, and extended editing rights were not negotiated until December 11, 2006. Payment is due 15 working days after December 11, 2006; January 3, 2007.
Can a producer include extended or unlimited editing rights as part of the payment for Internet use or New Media use?
No. If not prohibited by the Performer’s Standard Employment Contract, Producer must first pay not less than 300% of the applicable session fee for initial move over, and extended or unlimited editing rights must be separately bargained for, above the required minimum move over fee.
If editing rights are not separately bargained for, the provisions of Section 26 (TV) and Section 23 (Radio) shall apply.
Is separate bargaining required for each new media platform or does the 300% move over fee cover all?
The 300% minimum is the fee to move over a broadcast or cable commercial into any New Media platform. The bargaining between the Producer and the performer can cover all or only limited new media platforms.
If Producer also chooses to move the broadcast or cable commercial onto the Internet, an additional 300% minimum is due.
Do editing rights apply to broadcast and/or cable?
No. Each commercial moved to broadcast and/or cable from New Media or the Internet are to be paid separately as defined in Section 26 (TV) or Section 23 (Radio), even if the Producer has bargained for additional editing rights for New Media and/or the Internet.
Can a producer include other required payments, such as overtime or meal penalties, as part of the negotiated fee for New Media?
No. Producer may only bargain for session and intended use fees. All other terms and conditions are subject to the terms and conditions of Schedule A Working Conditions.
Penalties and allowances, although bargainable with the performer, are also subject to additional payment and may not be included as part of a negotiated fee.
Pension & Health/Health & Retirement must also be paid separately and must be computed on the basis of all compensation, including compensation bargained directly with the performer.
Means that you are getting equal contractual treatment to others on the project -- pay, billing or any other described postion.
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