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Old December 13th, 2008, 03:57 PM   #1
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Dealing with ACTRA or UdA (Canada)

I'm looking at doing a feature with a very low budget for 2009, with ACTRA or UdA actors (the Canadian equivalent of SAG). At full scale, actors alone would cost $40,000 (8 actors, 10 extras, average of 10 full days), which is half of my intended budget, so I've been looking at deferrals. Problem is, neither unions have anything equivalent to SAG's agreement for low-budget features - the best you'll get is 50% deferred from the former, and 25% from the latter. However, for the benefit of (eventually) paying full fees, you have to share a much higher percentage of your profits, and UdA even limits the producer's gains to 20% of the budget!! (although I'm sure a creative accountant could take care of that).

I know a lot of small independent productions use union actors all the time, as there seems to be a grey area where you can pay less than scale without you or the actors getting in trouble. but no one's talking and the union reps sure as hell aren't going to tell me the loopholes.

Has anyone had experience working with ACTRA or UdA actors on a small budget film? Any advice you can offer?
Jacques E. Bouchard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 14th, 2008, 01:48 PM   #2
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Hey Jacques
The last time I checked the ACTRA low budget rate (unless it's changed within the last year) was $100 a day for features under $xxx,k (I cant remember the exact number, but definitely you are in that budget range.) Anyway, that would make your actor budget in the $20k range (based on your rough numbers).

It's possible that the rate/rules are different in BC than Quebec though, which looks like it is the case.

You will not get a full defered rate from the unions, unless you are related to someone high up. :)

Your options really are:
1) Raise the money you need (always tough unless you have a big network of rich friends).
2) Look for non-union actors (tougher to find good ones).
3) Find somewhere else to shoot it with different rules.
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Dylan Couper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 15th, 2008, 08:39 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dylan Couper View Post
Hey Jacques
The last time I checked the ACTRA low budget rate (unless it's changed within the last year) was $100 a day for features under $xxx,k (I cant remember the exact number, but definitely you are in that budget range.) Anyway, that would make your actor budget in the $20k range (based on your rough numbers).
Thanks Dylan.

The ACTRA rep. told me 50% at best ($560/2) and UdA (the French-language equivalent) are 25%. I know I'm not getting the real story, but I'm talking to producers to find out what's what.

I've dealt with non-union, and although some are very good the auditions can be gruelling. Plus, non-union male actors are very hard to find - for every short I did I had to plead, beg and cajole to get them to even come to the audition.

Women, on the other hand, are a pleasure to work with and always give 100% of themselves once they've committed to a project.


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