Moderate Low Budget Project

Dear Independent Producers,

  • SAG-AFTRA is pleased to announce two new agreements for low budget projects in addition to some updates to existing agreements. These changes will be effective February 1, 2020. More information will be available online shortly.

    The first new agreement is the Ultra Low Budget Project Agreement (“UPA”). This will replace the previous Ultra Low Budget Agreement entirely as well as replace the Special New Media Agreement for non-episodic productions budgeted under $300,000. Some highlights of the UPA include:

    • Applies to non-episodic content only
    • Applies to projects filmed entirely in the United States
    • Applies to projects with a maximum budget of $300,000
    • Rates for day performers are set at 20% of basic agreement scale* and will increase annually with scale
    • Producers no longer have to declare their intended exhibition market and residuals will be based on the initial release of the project

    The second new agreement is the Moderate Low Budget Project Agreement (“MPA”). This will replace the previous Modified Low Budget Agreement entirely as well as replace the Special New Media Agreement for non-episodic productions budgeted between $300,000 and $700,000. Some highlights of the MPA include:

    • Applies to non-episodic content only
    • Applies to projects filmed entirely in the United States
    • Applies to projects with a budget greater than $300,000 and a maximum of $700,000
      • Diversity in casting and background actor incentives are available
    • Rates for daily and weekly principal performers are set at 35% of basic agreement scale* and will increase annually with scale
    • Producers no longer have to declare their intended exhibition market and residuals will be based on the initial release of the project

    The Low Budget Agreement will now be called the Low Budget Theatrical Agreement (“LBA”), and rates for daily and weekly principal performers will be set at 65% of basic agreement scale (and will increase annually with scale). The LBA will remain limited to projects with an initial theatrical release, with budgets greater than $700,000 but no more than $2,000,000. A diversity in casting incentive will remain available.

    The Special New Media Agreement will remain limited to projects with an initial new media release and will now have four categories. Categories A and B will only apply to episodic content made for new media. Categories C and D will apply to both non-episodic and episodic content made for new media.

    • Category A will have day performer rates set at 20% of basic agreement scale* and background actor rates set at 75% of background actor scale. (Rates will increase annually with scale.)
    • Category B will have daily and weekly principal performer rates set at 35% of scale* and background actor rates set at 75% of background actor scale. (Rates will increase annually with scale.)
    • Category C will have daily and weekly principal performer rates set at 65% of scale and background actor rates set at basic agreement scale.* (Rates will increase annually with scale.)
    • Category D will have principal performer and background actor rates set at basic agreement scale. (Rates will increase annually with scale.)

    More information will be posted shortly. We look forward to working with you on your next low budget project!

     

    *Stunt coordinators must be covered and paid the rate set forth in Schedules K-I, K-II or K-III of the Codified Basic Agreement that is current at the time of photography

Quick Start Guide for Independent Producers

  • If you are planning to commence or resume production on a SAG-AFTRA covered project that requires any in person interaction between individuals, the union will be requiring materials related to your COVID-19 safety protocols. While this document doesn’t cover everything you need to know, this guide is intended to help you get started on the process. 

    Read Guide

Moderate Low Budget Project Agreement

  • The Moderate Low Budget Project Agreement applies to those films shooting entirely in the United States with a total budget of less than $700,000.

Casting Incentives

  • SAG-AFTRA offers two casting incentives to Moderate Low Budget Project filmmakers that may increase the total production cost maximum.

    • Qualifying for the Diversity-in-Casting Incentive increases total production cost maximum to $950,000
    • Qualifying for the Background Actor Incentive increases total production cost maximum by $112,000

Pre-Production

  • Step 1

    These are the steps you must take prior to your first day of travel, rehearsal/table read, or principal photography, whichever comes first (we recommend giving yourself at least three weeks).

    Start by completing the Signatory Application for Moderate Low Budget Project Agreement.

    Within a few days, you will be emailed a packet of information and documents.

    Step 2

    Required Documents

    Complete and return the following requested documents:

    1. Signatory Producer’s Company Formation Documents
    2. Company Authorization Form
    3. SAG-AFTRA Agreement for Independent Producers of Non-Episodic Projects*
    4. SAG-AFTRA-Producers Pension Plan Adherence Letter*
    5. Television/Theatrical Production Checklist*
    6. Moderate Low Budget Project Agreement*
    7. Complete Pre-Production Cast List
      1. If utilizing the Diversity In Casting Incentive, you will be given a Diversity Pre-Production Cast List in addition to the standard version.
    8. A copy of the shooting script
    9. Day Out of Days
    10. Line Item Budget

    *These items may be sent by your Business Representative via DocuSign to the authorized signer. Contact your Business Representative if you have any questions.

    Step 3

    Required Documents (cont.)

    Also complete and submit documentation that indicates who is employing the performers:

    • Corporation – Provide your Articles of Incorporation and executed Bylaws.
    • Limited Liability Corporations (LLC) – Provide your Articles of Organization and executed Operating Agreement.
    • DBA - Fictitious Business Name Statement with Clerk’s stamp

    NOTE: It’s very important that the information you provide in this step is consistent with the information previously submitted.

    Step 4

    We also need to review any agreements you have that affect the ownership of the film and its story. These are called Chain of Title documents. Chain of Title documents usually include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • A copy of Form PA or eCO (relating to the screenplay) and proof of its registration with the US Copyright Office (USCO)
    • All assignment agreements relating to the film and the underlying rights, including proof of filing each with USCO (For example, certificate(s) of authorship, “work made for hire” agreements, and copyright assignments); and
    • Copies of all distribution, license, and/or sales agency agreements pertaining to the right to distribute the Picture in all media and territories worldwide.

    Step 5

    Once we’ve received and reviewed all of the applicable documents, your SAG-AFTRA Business Representative will contact you and let you know what financial assurances are needed. Financial assurances usually include, but are not limited to, the following:

    1. Security Deposit (in the form of a cashier’s check or wire transfer) and related Security Deposit Letter and W-9 or W-8BEN form,
    2. Security Agreement(s),
    3. Guaranty Agreement(s),
    4. Assumption Agreement(s),
    5. Interparty Agreement(s),
    6. Intercreditor Agreement(s),
    7. And all other financial assurances that may be required, including, but not limited to, a Collection Agreement and/or a Residuals Reserve with corresponding Custody Agreement.

    Step 6

    When all of these requirements are fulfilled, your SAG-AFTRA Business Representative will give your production “clearance,” allowing you to verify with the Union that the Performers and Background Actors you’ve hired for your project are in good standing and can work. This is referred to as the Cast clearance process.

Production

  • Step 7

    During production, complete and submit the following to your SAG-AFTRA Business Representative:

    1. Delivery of each week’s payroll checks to the Union: Itemized checks made payable to each performer must be delivered to your Business Representative no later than the Thursday following each payroll week. (Please note, this Agreement requires production to engage an entertainment payroll house to process performers’ payroll.)
    2. Delivery of each week’s total Pension and Health contributions: In addition to the payroll checks, you must deliver a check made payable to the SAG-AFTRA-Producers Pension Plan in the amount of the total Pension and Health contributions for the previous week’s payroll, accompanied by a completed Pension and Health Plans Theatrical Weekly Report of Contributions.
    3. SAG-AFTRA Performer Contracts for Modified Low Budget Theatrical Motion Pictures
    4. Complete a Production Time Report Form (Exhibit G) for each day of production.

    Step 8

    Working With Non-SAG-AFTRA Members

    If you are hiring a principal performer or background actor who is not yet a SAG-AFTRA member, you should submit the applicable Taft-Hartley Report to your Business Representative, along with a head shot and resume.

Post-Production

  • Step 9

    After production, complete and submit the following to your SAG-AFTRA Business Representative:

    1. Final Cast List
    2. Casting Data Report Forms
    3. Detailed Final Cost Report

    Your SAG-AFTRA Business Representative will conduct a final review of your file to determine what, if any, outstanding items remain in order to begin the security deposit return process.

    And that’s it!

    If you have any questions throughout the process, please contact your SAG-AFTRA Business Representative.

    Thank you for working with SAG-AFTRA.

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