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SAG-AFTRA Considerations for Background Actors: Part Three

Over the last few weeks, we have discussed how you, as a SAG-AFTRA background actor, can make your Union membership work for you (see Part 1 and Part 2). By now you understand your regular pay, overtime pay and holiday pay. Here’s a quick recap:

SAG Minimums for Background Actors (Extras)

Minimum Daily Pay as of 2013:                                            $148.00

Pay for the 9th consecutive hour of work:                          Time plus ½

Pay for the 10th consecutive hour of work:                         Double time

Pay for work on the 6th or 7th consecutive day:               Time plus ½; double time

Pay for work on holidays:                                                       Double time

Pay for dangerous, hazardous, or rough work:                  Pay to be negotiated

tumblr_lz4ah9asqp1roadvgo1_1280-1Remember, you now have this information–use it! Producers are busy people with 1001 tasks on their minds the day of the shoot. So, it is up to you, as part of the Union, to look out for yourself and your interests. If you feel as if the Union minimums are not being followed, be polite, but firm and BEFORE you begin work, say something like, “I’m really excited to be a part of this production. But under SAG-AFTRA, I am only able to work for (insert the condition here… $148.00 per day, time plus ½ for 9 hours, etc.) It’s awkward, it’s stressful, but it’s what you are required to do as a Union member. Your representatives have worked hard to get these rules in place for you, but it’s up to you to make sure they are working. So stand up for yourself if you need to!

And remember, you’re protected under the Union from retaliation. If they tell you they don’t need you after this or you feel like they retaliate, contact your Union. Remember if you refuse or they send you home, you are still entitled to receive one half pay or payment for actual hours worked, whichever is greater. With that in mind, let’s continue this discussion of the information found in the SAG-AFTRA rules for Background Actors located here.

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Now picture this…you’ve just landed your first gig as a Union extra! You’re uber excited to show up, hit the set, and get to work! Then you receive a call from the staff who tells you that the director has made a last minute change and feels that the scene would just ooze pure romance if the two principal actors stop, embrace, and share an intimate kiss in tomorrow’s forecasted rainstorm. So you and your co-extras would be required to run for cover in the background of the principal actors in the rain. “Okay.” You mumble, as you hang up the phone. STOP!

Before you get to the set and get to work, this type of “wet work” falls into an extra pay category for SAG-AFTRA background actors. According to the rules, you are entitled to an extra $14 per day to perform under these conditions unless you are wearing swimming or surfing gear for the scene (which is not the case in our scenario.) The same rules as before apply– the staff must let you know beforehand that you will get wet, and you have the right to refuse. But, if you refuse, you will still be entitled to one half pay or payment for actual hours worked, whichever is greater. So in our scenario above, you should call the staff back and gently, but firmly remind them of this BEFORE you begin the work….

Inspired by our posts to join SAG-AFTRA as a background actor? Join us next week as we, conclude this discussion with other “extra pay” roles as well as how to get in on the action.



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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