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Tips for Background Actors: SAG-AFTRA Considerations – Part Four

Over the last three posts (see Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3), we have given you, a SAG-AFTRA background actor, valuable information to assist you in making good on your Union representation. As you can see from the posts, being a member of SAG-AFTRA pays, and the production must treat you according to the rules. It’s that simple. So remember your rights because not requiring this from the production, not only sets a bad example for other members, but also undermines the efforts of the Union. That being said, as soon as possible you should download, familiarize yourself with, and keep handy the SAG-AFTRA rules that we have been discussing over the last few weeks found here.

This week we conclude our discussion on topic.


big_thumb_aa832285080c9a5658d43ba7bb395f4f-1 (1)Other Additional Pay Scenarios


Work performed in smoke or smoky conditions is also entitled to additional pay of $14 dollars per day on top of the daily rate and the same conditions as the “wet work” apply. You can refuse the work and are still entitled to one half pay for the day.

Other special pay conditions and the extra pay are:

  1. The production requires body paint or oil on more than 50% or more of body: $18 per day
  2. The production requires a glued in a hair weave or beard: $18 per day
  3. The production requires you to wear your own beard or weave: $18 per day
  4. The production requires to you to furnish a special costume/ formal wear: $18 per day
  5. The production requires to furnish a police costume: $36 per day
  6. The production requires you to provide a complete wardrobe change: $ 9 per day
  7. The production requires a 2nd or more complete wardrobe changes a day: $ 6.25 per day   So that’s $9 per day for the first complete wardrobe change, and add $6.25 per day to the $9 for the 2nd, 3rd… wardrobe changes.

Clearly, your pay can add up for your background work under SAG-AFTRA if you are on top of your game. As previously pointed out, always be on the look out for work that is outside of the customary work and be prepared to get paid for it!

NOTE: Under the rules, if you are required ever to work with explosives, this is in a category by itself. You must be upgraded to the role of a principal performer and must be able to consult with the stunts coordinator and special effects person.

Joining SAG-AFTRA as a Background Actor

Not yet a member of the Union, but inspired by our posts to become one?  One way to do it is to acquire three SAG Vouchers by working on SAG-AFTRA productions. You will get one voucher per production. Check out this article for more info. But how, you wonder, can you unnamedwork on a SAG-AFTRA production if you are not yet a Union member? Isn’t a SAG-AFTRA production limited to hiring Union talent? In most cases, yes, however…


Taft-Hartley is a law passed by Congress that allows a signatory production like SAG-AFTRA to hire a non-signatory performer. Sound too easy? It is. The condition is that the talent must possess a quality or essential skill for the role and a Union performer cann
ot be found. There is not much limitation as to what the special quality or skill is because that’s up to the production.   You must submit a Taft-Hartley report to the Union when seeking to qualify like this. Because this way is so popular, there have been scams and lawsuits in the past regarding phony vouchers, so beware. You never want to represent something to the Union that’s false because it’s likely to catch up with you.

Be patient and persistent as you pursue your career, and the payoff will come. See you on the screen!



Disclaimer: Please note that the information contained within this blog post and site is offered simply as a consideration to visitors who are in the entertainment industry and are seeking to learn more about various areas of entertainment, be it in film, movies, television, music, digital, new media, film financing, merchandising and/or branding. As such, the information so provided should never be construed as legal advice. If you need further assistance or legal advice for your specific matter, please do not hesitate in contacting a Los Angeles entertainment attorney (film, television, music, digital, licensing, financing, talent representation) at The Hollywood Lawyer by (1) emailing us at; (2) calling us at (323) 300-4184; or (3) filling out our online form


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