Here's a quick intro for aspiring actors and stunt performers on how pay and different types of pay work in the film business.
Types of Roles: Actors and stunt performers can have different types of roles in a film or television production. The three most common types of roles are lead, supporting, and background roles. The lead roles typically have the most screen time and dialogue, and therefore are paid the most. Supporting roles have less screen time and fewer lines, but they still play an important part in the story. Background roles, also known as extras, have no lines and are usually paid the least.
SAG-AFTRA: If you are an actor or stunt performer in the United States, you should become a member of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). This union negotiates contracts with production companies on behalf of its members, which can result in better pay and working conditions.
Payment Types: There are several ways actors and stunt performers can be paid in the film business. These include:
Daily Rate A flat fee paid for each day of work on a production. This is the most common payment method for background actors.
Weekly Rate: A flat fee paid for a week of work on a production. This is often used for actors and stunt performers with speaking roles.
SAG-AFTRA Scale: The minimum pay rates negotiated by SAG-AFTRA for actors and stunt performers on union productions. This is based on the budget of the production and the actor's role.
Residuals: Additional payments made to actors and stunt performers when a production is aired on television or released on home video. These payments are based on the amount of airtime or sales the production generates.
Negotiating Pay: If you are offered a role in a production, you should negotiate your pay with the production company. Research the industry standards for your type of role and experience level, and be prepared to make a counteroffer if the initial pay offer is too low. You can also negotiate for other benefits, such as travel expenses or a percentage of the profits.
Taxes and Expenses: Actors and stunt performers are usually considered independent contractors, which means they are responsible for paying their own taxes and expenses. Keep track of your earnings and expenses throughout the year, and consult with a tax professional to ensure you are paying the correct amount of taxes.
By following these guidelines, actors and stunt performers can navigate the complex world of pay in the film business and ensure they are being compensated fairly for their work.