Producer’s Guide to Working with SAG-AFTRA on an
Ultra Low Budget Theatrical Motion Picture
Download Producer's Guide Here
SAG-AFTRA Signatory Producers have access to the world’s most talented and professional performers for their projects, but becoming signatory does require completing a small amount of paperwork. We understand that dealing with paperwork isn’t as much fun as shooting your project, so to ease this burden we’ve created this simple guide to completing the signatory process.
The Signatory Package Zip Files that are posted on the Production Center at SAGAFTRA.org are provided so that producers may review and consider them before beginning the signatory process. They are for demonstration purposes only---documents with signature lines are watermarked “SAMPLE” and cannot be executed.
For your reference, the Signatory Package Zip Files are divided into 2 folders: Signatory Documents and Production Documents. You will use the Signatory Documents to sign with the Guild, and the Production Documents to manage the production and post-production phases of your project.
Once you have decided to begin the signatory process, start by following the steps outlined in the Pre-Production section below.
These are the steps you must take at least 3 weeks prior to your first day of travel, rehearsal, or principal photography, whichever comes first.
- Unless you have already done so, start by filling out the Preliminary Information Sheet Low Budget Modified Low Budget Ultra Low Budget 4.22. Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. A SAG-AFTRA Business Representative will contact you within a few days to explain the steps to becoming a SAG-AFTRA Signatory Producer. He/she will also send you a packet of information and documents. The documents in that packet are not samples and can be fully executed.
- At this point you should send us the following documents from your packet:
- Information Sheet Theatrical 4.24
- Adherence Letter Theatrical 2011 2.1 (Return two signed originals)
- Ultra Low Budget Agreement 1.9 (Return two signed originals)
- Adherence Letter Pension And Health Plans 2.3 (Return two signed originals)
- We also need to know who is employing the actors. If your company is a:
- Corporation – We will need your Articles of Incorporation and completed Corporate Resolution 3.11.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) – We will need your Articles of Organization, LLC Operating Agreement, and completed Limited Liability Company Resolution 3.19.
- Partnership or Joint Venture – We will need your Fictitious Business Name Statement (if applicable) and Partnership Agreement (if applicable).
- Note: It’s very important that the information you provide in this step is consistent with the information submitted in Step 2 above. For example: if you’ve submitted your company’s official name as Film, L.L.C. in Step 2, submitting it as Film LLC (without the punctuation) in Step 3 could cause problems with your paperwork.
- Also send the following required production documents:
- A completed Pre-Production Cast List 5.1
- A copy of the shooting script
- A completed Day Out Of Days Form 6.15
- Line Item Budget; this budget must be detailed and complete, including all above-the-line and below-the-line costs.
- Once we’ve received and reviewed all of the applicable documents listed above, your SAG-AFTRA Business Representative will contact you and let you know the amount of the security deposit, which you must deliver to the union as follows:
- Security Deposit (in the form of a cashier’s check or wire transfer) and related Security Deposit Letter 3.5 and W-9 Form-Request For Taxpayer ID Number & Certification 9.24.
Important Notice Regarding Signatory Documents
Who may sign? Signatory documents must be executed by an authorized person or persons.
- Corporations – Any person who is authorized by the President or Secretary of the Corporation on the Corporate Resolution. The Corporate Resolution may be signed only by the President or Secretary of the Corporation.
- Limited Liability Corporations – The Manager or Managing Member as indicated by the Articles of Organization, the Operating Agreement and authorized by the Limited Liability Company Resolution.
- Limited Partnerships – The General Partner as identified in the Partnership Agreement.
- Sole Proprietorships – The Individual Owner.
- D/B/A (“Doing Business As”) – The Individual.
During production, complete and submit the following to your SAG-AFTRA Business Representative:
- Delivery of each week’s payroll checks to the Guild: Itemized checks made payable to each performer must be delivered to your Business Rep no later than the Thursday following each payroll week.
- Delivery of each week’s total SAG-Producers Pension and Health contributions check to the union: In addition to the payroll checks, you must deliver a check made payable to the SAG-Producers Pension and Health Plans in the amount of the total SAG-Producers Pension and Health contributions for the previous week’s payroll, accompanied by a completed Pension and Health Report of Contributions Theatrical 6.6.
- A completed Performer Contract Ultra Low Budget 6.32 for each performer employed, plus the completed W-4 Form and I-9 Form for each contract. The current W-4 and I-9 Forms may be accessed at http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99194,00.html.
- Production Time Report Exhibit G 6.14 (submitted on a weekly basis).
After production, complete and submit the following items to your SAG-AFTRA Business Representative:
- Final Cast List Information Sheet 7.1
- Detailed Line Item Final Cost Report
If you have any questions, please contact your SAG-AFTRA Business Representative.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS ON ULTRA LOW BUDGET PRODUCTIONS
Complete the signatory process as far in advance of using performers as possible.
Always keep copies of all documents that you provide to SAG-AFTRA for your records and retain them for the future.
If you intend to use minors in your production you are required to comply with the SAG-AFTRA minors provisions in General Provisions, Section 50 of the Basic Agreement and if the State that the minor resides in or the state that you are filming has stricter requirements you must also comply with those. California Labor Laws are very specific – you will need to apply for a work permit in advance of production and the minors you employ also need to obtain work permits. California Law requires a state certified studio teacher/welfare worker to be present at all times when a minor is on set, even on days when school is not in session.
A parent or guardian must be present at all times.
Purchase Workers Compensation Insurance and Public Liability and Public Disability Insurance in advance of production. If you intend to use a payroll company, check to see if your payroll company will provide Worker’s Compensation Insurance.
If you intend to use a payroll company (strongly recommended) contact the company well in advance. They will advise you on the documents they need and time frame for receiving them to make sure that all payments are issued on time. Performers are employees and payroll taxes and withholding are required both by law and by the Ultra Low Budget Agreement. Information on payroll companies and other resources is available on the SAGindie website at www.sagindie.org.
Employment Contract Requirements
All professional performers must be given an employment contract, W-4 Form and I-9 Form no later than the first day on the set. A performer has the right to review the contract and bring it back completed, but have them immediately complete the W-4 and I-9 Forms in all instances so that payment will not be delayed. The performer, agent (if applicable), the Guild and your company will require a copy of the executed contract. The current W-4 and I-9 Forms may be accessed at http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99194,00.html.
Production Time Reports
A production time report must be completed for each day and signed by the professional performers present on that day. The Guild will need a copy of each day’s time report. (This form is included in the original signatory packet.)
Nudity – There are very specific rules regarding nudity or sex acts – please read Section 4, page 105, of the Basic Agreement for rules regarding interviews and work. “The appearance of a professional performer in a nude scene or the doubling of a professional performer in such a scene shall be conditioned upon the professional performer’s express, written consent.”
Stunts – If you have stunts in your production, you should be aware that the stunt coordinator rate is not reduced under the Ultra Low Budget Agreement. There are specific rules regarding stunts and safety on the set. If you have questions regarding this, please call the Guild’s Stunt & Safety Department at (323) 549-6855.
Rehearsal time is work time and requires the performer to be paid a day’s pay – rehearsal is defined as “The reading of lines, acting, singing or dancing, in preparation for the performer’s performance, in the presence and under the supervision of a representative of Producer… Rehearsals shall be counted as work time…” If the director decides to bring everyone together to discuss the script, the locations etc. that’s a production conference and no compensation is due but if he/she decides to have a performer act out a part of a scene, read lines etc. that’s a rehearsal. A read through of the script by the performers is a rehearsal.
Meal periods are due every six hours. The minimum is 30 minutes and the maximum is one hour in length. The penalty is $25 for each half-hour or part of an hour (for instance if the meal period is 35 minutes late, the penalty will be $50 for each performer affected).
Overtime accrues after 8 hours of work (not counting meal periods) at time and a half up to and including the 12th hour. If the performer works over 12 hours, overtime is due at double time based on either an hourly rate at the Modified Low Budget rate of $268 per day or the performer’s day rate, whichever is higher. In some instances travel time is work and would be included in the 12 hours – check with your Business Representative to determine this. For a definition of an overnight location for a performer – see Section 10 of the Ultra Low-Budget Agreement.
Performers are due a 12-hour rest period once they are dismissed from the set. If it’s an overnight location then the 12 hours begin when the performer arrives back at the hotel (set to set for locations within the studio zone, hotel to hotel for overnight locations).
Time of Payment
Performers are due payment by Friday of the following payroll week. A payroll week starts on a Sunday and ends on a Saturday. Any days that the performer works in the payroll week are due by Friday of the following week. Checks with a breakdown of the salary, overtime, penalties (meal penalty or rest period penalty if applicable) and withholding must be delivered to the attention of the Business Representative at SAG-AFTRA no later than noon on the Friday following each week of work – together with the production time reports and employment contracts for any performers starting work within the same period. Late payment charges are $10 per business day for each performer for each day late! If the company is not using a payroll company to issue the performers’ checks, then a separate check, payable to the SAG-Producers Pension and Health Plans for the total amount of contributions due on the salary amounts, accompanied by a completed Weekly Report of Contributions form, must also be delivered with the performers’ checks. A payroll company will usually make the payment directly to the SAG-Producers Pension and Health Plans office – we suggest you ask them to make the payment on a weekly basis and not wait until the end of the month.
Return of Security Deposit
In order to return your security deposit, your Business Representative needs:
- A completed Final Cast List Information Sheet 7.1 A PDF Form is available in the Production folder in your SAG Signatory Zip File and at SAG.org and included in the original signatory packet.
- A final cost report – similar to the budget detail that you provided before but detailing actual costs.
- Production time reports (Production Time Report Exhibit G 6.14) and/or performer contracts that have not already been provided to the Guild. PDF Forms are available in the Production folder in your SAG Signatory Zip File and at SAG.org and included in the original signatory packet.
- Any outstanding documents that the Business Representative requested and has not received.
How long does it take?
The SAG-Producers Pension and Health Plans office will be sent a copy of the Final Cast List Information Sheet 7.1 and asked to report whether the contributions have been received. You will be notified if any discrepancies are found.
Provided there are no claims outstanding and all documents are received, the deposit will be returned within 3 weeks. Please follow up with the Business Representative to make sure the Final Cast List Information Sheet 7.1 is received shortly after sending it in and again approximately 10 business days after the Final Cast List Information Sheet 7.1 is received to see if there are any outstanding issues that may delay the return of the deposit.
We hope you find this checklist useful and suggest that you distribute it to all appropriate production staff after adding the name and telephone number of the Business Representative(s) assigned to your production.
We encourage you to call if you have questions and wish you success.