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Old March 2nd, 2006, 02:11 PM   #1
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Actor's Points? Percentages? How much?

I am about to sign a few actors to a low-paying feature gig. We want to include a percentage of future profits in the contract, but I honestly have no clue where to get that number from. The film is ultra-low-budget. Sub-$10,000, and will in all likelihood be a business loss. This is totally not my end of these things usually.

How many points should I promise them? 1? 10?
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 02:13 PM   #2
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None. Have them sign a release which gives them no points at that level. That's my opinion. Tell them they can have a copy for their resume.

Good Luck!
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 03:17 PM   #3
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Is there any reason why you feel back end points are necessary on a film that you don't intend to make money off of? Are points an incentive factor to get these actor attached to your film? My suggestion would be to pay them a daily rate and call it a wrap. If they are non-union you are not bound to any minimums. If points are what they want as a condition to star in your film, I'm sure you can find good talent that would work for a daily rate. If you are compelled to offer them points, it totally up to you. There are no guidelines or standard percentages.

We shot a short, The Spin Cycle, in 2004 and we paid the two actors $50 (each) a day for the two day shoot. Our budget was right a $5k. It was tight but we managed to make a good film that made it into nine film festivals.

Once again, it's your call and your money!
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 03:23 PM   #4
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Is there a minimum to give at actors?
Sorry about the off topic question, but take for instance if you would make a feature film, completely on your own budget, with something saved up like 25.000 dollar, how much would you pay your actors?
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 04:47 PM   #5
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If the actor is not a member of a union such as the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) or the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) you are not governed by any minimums. However the The Actorsí Equity Association (AEA) frowns upon taking advantage of non-union actors. You should budget for good talent but stay within you limits. It will show in the end when your film stinks because of bad acting. That ol' saying, "you get what you pay for" can really hurt when you are editing your film in post and the acting is not there. You might have to end up re-shooting some scenes at additional cost. All I can say is pay for good acting. The actor can make or break your film and in the long run, it may be worth paying more.

How much is the question. Once again, there is no chart with highs and lows or recommended amounts for non-union actors. Just to give you an example of SAG and/or AFTRA actors; one with speaking parts can earn a minimum daily rate of $716 or $2,483 for a 5-day week.

You might offer your actor a daily rate of "x" dollars and tell them this is negotiable. If they are experienced in salary negotiations, they might say for a role like this I've been paid "x" in the past. If their quote fits in your budget, tell them it's a deal and annotate that amount on their deal memo. If not, go back to the table with what you can afford. If they say no you can always look for another actor that you can afford.

Hope that helps.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 06:07 AM   #6
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I would say that the SAG or AFTRA minimum day rates gives a good idea of what the fair market value of talent would be even if they're non-union. REmember that the unions also have provisions for deferred compensation for low-budget and no-budget indies. Whether one wants to deal with union rules, regulations, and beaurocracy or not, the base pay rates and provisions seem to be a good guideline for fair business practices whether you're hiring union or non-union talent. People gotta eat and the grocery doesn't ask to see a union card to decide what to charge you for your loaf of bread.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 09:03 AM   #7
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The actors stand to gain more recognition than the film-makers (who are invisible, after all), so I think it is perfectly fair for actors on indie films to be unpaid. Who's paying you, after all? It also depends on the talent pool; if you can't find the quality you want, pay up!
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 09:36 AM   #8
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Don't promis them anything,pay them for the work and get them to sign a release saying you have all the rights to use the footage however you want,now and in the future.Stipulate they can make no financial claims against you.Most actors will happily do that,at the end of the day your film could be the one that gets them the exposure and recognition they so desperatly seek.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 11:56 AM   #9
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Just my thoughts:

First let me say I have no real experience creating a film. Now that most will dismiss my opinion, here it is.

I would offer a slight percentage on any profits. If I were an actor I would think rather highly of someone who does that. I think it's a good gesture but I wouldn't make it super high. If the film never makes anything you don't have to pay them the "bonus".

Where would Lucas be if he hadn't done that ?????
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Old March 8th, 2006, 08:23 PM   #10
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Lucas PAID crew & actors .. then gave bonus as GIFT.

there is NOT going to be any profits so YOU accept that before you start production ( it's in the back of your mind) .. as you say you have NO real experience ... any actor that has experience knows the odds already and knows they will never see a dime - they 're looking for experience or a good script - keep your end of the bargain and do a GOOD job on it and FINISH it = a unfinished film does nothing for a actor.

IMO give them deferred sag $$at 2X the rate = if the film makes $$ they get some if it doesn't they get nothing -
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Old March 9th, 2006, 05:51 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emre Safak
The actors stand to gain more recognition than the film-makers (who are invisible, after all), so I think it is perfectly fair for actors on indie films to be unpaid. Who's paying you, after all? It also depends on the talent pool; if you can't find the quality you want, pay up!
I don't think it's unfair to use volunteer talent but I do think it should be an all or nothing deal. There's certainly nothing wrong with some actors and filmmakers hooking up together to make a no-budget film, sharing the risk between them. But do one or the other - either go unpaid with a deferred compensation arrangement so they will get paid in the off-chance the film is a hit and ends up making money or pay them at the going fair market rate - ie, union scale or close to it - for their services. It makes me uncomfortable to offer "employment" to talent trying to earn a living at their craft and then expect them to work for free or only for what they'd earn flipping burgers on their day-job. Basically treat them as fellow professionals, even the newcomers. It's just too easy for volunteerism to slip over into exploitation of people who are hungry for exposure.
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Old March 9th, 2006, 10:24 AM   #12
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misunderstood

In my reply I was just addressing the issue of the % of the profit issue. I certainly would pay the actors for their time up front. I wouldn't expect anyone to work for free or a promise unless it's for a charity thing.

I was referring to Lucas himself took a percentage as payment which ended up funding the SW stuff. If he wouldn't have cut that deal Starwars may have never been made.
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Old April 4th, 2006, 02:33 PM   #13
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If you were going to give the actors a percentage of any profits...what would be the standard percentage for lead and background actors? Thanks.
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Old April 4th, 2006, 03:14 PM   #14
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Keep in mind that if you use SAG actors, you have to clear it with the union, which in this case would mean applying for an experimental film contract. SAG will let you defer actor pay, but there is an enormous amount of paperwork involved, and you have to buy workers' compensation insurance. We did a feature length length film under that contract (haven't found a distributor yet) and the forms were something of a nightmare. On the other hand working with professional actors was a great learning experience.
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Old April 4th, 2006, 03:20 PM   #15
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I'm sorry, I should have been more clear. All of my actors are non-union. Thanks again.
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