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. 

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  • The Theatrical Agreement applies to those films shooting entirely within the United States with a total budget greater than $2,000,000, as well as films shooting outside of the United States.


  • 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.

    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 Theatrical motion Pictures*
    4. SAG-AFTRA-Producers Pension Plan Adherence Letter*
    5. Television/Theatrical Production Checklist*
    6. Complete Pre-Production Cast List
    7. A copy of the shooting script
    8. Day Out of Days
    9. 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.


  • Step 7

    During production, you will need to complete and submit SAG-AFTRA Performer Contracts and Production Time Report Forms (Exhibit G) to your SAG-AFTRA Representative.

    Step 8

    Working With Non-Union 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.


(Step 11)

  • Step 9

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

    1. Final Cast List
    2. Casting Data Report Forms

    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 any of the signatory process, please contact a SAG-AFTRA Business Representative at the number listed below.

    Thank you for working with SAG-AFTRA!

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