Show Me the Money – Residuals 101

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Show Me the Money – Residuals 101

Mel MacKaron

By Mel MacKaron
National Board Member and New Mexico Local 1st Vice President

We often get asked about residuals. Actors want to know what qualifies and also when they can expect payment. So here are a few answers:

What factors are my residuals based on? Residuals are based on formulas that take into account such things as the contract in place during the specific year, time spent on the production, the production type and the market where the product appears (TV, video/DVD, pay television, basic cable, new media).

Who is entitled to receive residuals? All performers hired under or upgraded to a principal performer agreement whose performance remains in the final product are entitled to residuals. This includes performers, professional singers, stunt performers, stunt coordinators, pilots, dancers employed under Schedule J and puppeteers.

Do background actors receive residuals? No, background actors do not receive them, unless they are upgraded to principal performers.

Do you receive residuals for an initial release? No. Initial compensation covers a project’s preliminary release for the market in which it was produced. Residuals are due only for use of a production in media markets beyond the exhibition covered by initial compensation.

When are residuals due? Here’s a quick guide: 

Made for television, then released to: 

• Network prime time - 30 days after air date 

• Non-prime time network - 30 days after air date 

• Syndication – four months after air date 

• Foreign free TV - no later than 30 days after producer obtains knowledge of the first foreign telecast and never later than six months after that first telecast

• Basic cable – quarterly when the producer receives revenue

• Supplemental markets – four months after initial exhibition, then quarterly when the producer receives revenue

 

Made for theatrical, then released to: 

• Network prime time - 30 days after initial broadcast, then quarterly when the producer receives revenue

• Free TV, non-network – four months after initial broadcast, then quarterly when the producer receives revenue

• Supplemental markets – four months after initial exhibition, then quarterly when the producer receives revenue

Note that it generally takes about 30 days, but sometimes up to 60 days to process payments. You should see payments show up on your residuals tracker about 30 days after the due dates listed. If more than 60 days after the due date go by and there’s still nothing on the tracker, you should reach out to the union regarding a possible claim.

There is much more information related to residuals, and your best source of information is the SAG-AFTRA website. Also, if you know that you are clearly due residuals, but have not received your money, fill out a Residuals Inquiry Form or call the Residuals Claims Department at (323) 549-6507. They will investigate the issue for you. It may take some time, as yours is not the only claim, but they will get the research done for you.

Have a great and productive year!

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