Production

The Guide to SAG Day Rates and SAG Minimums

Assemble

By Assemble

August 18, 2021

Italian film producer Dino De Laurentiis once famously said “If no producer, no movie”.  As someone who produced over 500 films, of which 38 were nominated for Academy Awards, he also knew without recognizable talent, you have no distribution.  

However it’s not just motion picture studio releases that depend on the skill of professional actors.  It’s important to note, if you want to get your film seen and sold, you’ll arguably need union talent in major roles, which means you’ll need to know the SAG-AFTRA rates and rules.

What is SAG-AFTRA 

SAG-AFTRA brings together two American labor unions: Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Both were formed in the 1930s, tasked with fighting for and securing the strongest protections for media artists.  In 2012, the two unions merged forming a very powerful block that represents the interests of film, radio and television professional talent.  

SAG-AFTRA Contracts List

SAG-AFTRA negotiates contracts that cover the work of media professionals in front of a camera or behind a microphone.  The type of project will determine the type of collective bargaining agreement which applies and what the producer will have to pay the talent.  

Below is a list of the different contracts SAG-AFTRA offers:

What Producers Need to Know

If you are casting actors that are affiliated with the union, be it for an hour program or a film, you need to know the minimum wage day rate or weekly rates based on the theatrical agreements that apply to your production.  The SAG minimum rate is determined by the type of project, the budget of the production and the intended distribution.  You’ll need to provide all this information if you are going to enter into an agreement with SAG.You should submit an application to SAG-AFTRA no less than 4-6 weeks before your first date of work, including travel, rehearsal, and principal photography. 

For the purposes of this article, we will go more in depth on four main areas:

  1. Theatrical Contract Rates

  2. Television Contract Rates

  3. New Media Contract Rates

  4. Commercial Contract Rates


1. Theatrical Contract Rates

For theatrical productions, SAG-AFTRA offers 7 tiers of contracts:

Theatrical

The Theatrical Agreements apply to those films shooting entirely within the United States with a total budget greater than $2,000,000, as well as films shooting outside of the United States.


SAG Day Rate Per Performer

Rates for 07/01/21- 06/30/22
Rates for 07/01/22- 06/30/23
Performer $1,056 $1,088
Stunt Performer $1,056 $1,088
Stunt Coordinator (employed at less than “flat deal” minimum) $1,056 $1,088
Airplane Pilot (Studio) $1,412 $1,454
Airplane Pilot (Location) $1,837 $1,892

SAG Weekly Rate Per Performer

Rates for 07/01/21- 06/30/22

Rates for 07/01/22- 06/30/23
Performer $3,664 $3,774
Stunt Performer $3,664 $4,054
Stunt Coordinator (employed at less than “flat deal” minimum) $3,664 $4,054
Airplane Pilot (Studio and Location) $3,936 $4,054
Airplane Pilot (Flying/taxiing – daily adjustment) $1,211 $1,247

SAG Day Rate Per Background

Rates for 07/01/21- 06/30/22
Rates for 07/01/22- 06/30/23
Background Actors $182 $187
Special Ability Background Actors $192 $197
Stand Ins/ Photo Doubles $214 $220

 

 Low Budget Theatrical

The Low Budget Agreement applies to those films shooting entirely within the United States with a total budget of less than $2,000,000.

Performer Rates for 7/1/2021 Rates for 7/1/2022
Day Performer $686 TBA
Weekly Performer $2,382 TBA
Daily Stunt $686 TBA
Weekly Stunt $2,558 TBA
Daily Stunt Coordinator (employed at less than “Flat Deal” minimum)* $1,056 TBA
Weekly Stunt Coordinator (employed at less than “Flat Deal” minimum)* $3,936 TBA
Stunt Coordinators (Employed On A “Flat Deal” Basis) Per Day* $1,641 TBA
Stunt Coordinators (Employed On A “Flat Deal” Basis) Per Week* $6,474 TBA

 

Moderate Low Budget

The Moderate Low Budget Project Agreement applies to those films shooting entirely in the United States with a total budget of less than $700,000.

Performer Rates for 7/1/2021 Rates for 7/1/2022
Day Performer $370 TBA
Weekly Performer $1,378 TBA
Daily Stunt $370 TBA
Weekly Stunt $1,378 TBA
Daily Stunt Coordinator (employed at less than “Flat Deal” minimum)* $1,056 TBA
Weekly Stunt Coordinator (employed at less than “Flat Deal” minimum)* $3,936 TBA
Stunt Coordinators (Employed On A “Flat Deal” Basis) Per Day* $1,641 TBA
Stunt Coordinators (Employed On A “Flat Deal” Basis) Per Week* $6,474 TBA

 

Ultra Low Budget

The Ultra Low Budget Project Agreement applies to those films shooting entirely in the United States with a maximum budget of $300,000.

Performer Rates for 7/1/2021 Rates for 7/1/2022
Day Performer $211 TBA
Daily Stunt Coordinator (employed at less than “Flat Deal” minimum)* $1,056 TBA
Weekly Stunt Coordinator (employed at less than “Flat Deal” minimum) $3,936 TBA
Stunt Coordinators (Employed On A “Flat Deal” Basis) Per Day $1,641 TBA
Stunt Coordinators (Employed On A “Flat Deal” Basis) Per Week $6,474 TBA

 

Short Project 

The Short Project Agreement applies to those projects shooting entirely in the United States with a maximum total budget of $50,000 and a maximum total run time of 40 minutes. Note that this does not apply to episodic nor animated projects. 

Performer Rates for 7/1/2021 Rates for 7/1/2022
Day Performer $211 TBA
Daily Stunt Coordinator (employed at less than “Flat Deal” minimum)* $1,056 TBA
Weekly Stunt Coordinator (employed at less than “Flat Deal” minimum) $3,936 TBA
Stunt Coordinators (Employed On A “Flat Deal” Basis) Per Day $1,641 TBA
Stunt Coordinators (Employed On A “Flat Deal” Basis) Per Week $6,474 TBA

 

Student Film

The Student Film Agreement applies to student films that satisfy course requirements at an accredited educational institution shooting entirely in the United States with a budget of less than $35,000 and a run time of less than 35 minutes (short films). Most terms will be subject to negotiation between producer and performer, therefore SAG does not provide a rate table. 

Micro-Budget Agreement

What Projects Qualify?

  • Entertainment Content – the type of project that would typically sign a new media agreement or the Short Project Agreement or the Student Film Agreement

  • Budgeted at $20,000 or less per picture or per episode (if multiple programs)

  • Recorded entirely in the US (and its territories)

  • Live Action 

  • Scripted and Unscripted 

  • Permitted Exhibition:

    • Film Festivals

    • Free to the Consumer New Media (AVOD)

    • Required Screenings for Academy Award Consideration 

    • Public Access TV

    • For Demo Purposes

    • In The Classroom (student producers)

What Doesn’t Fit Under this Agreement?

This Agreement won’t be right for everyone. The following would not qualify for the Micro:

  • Animation 

  • Commercials

  • Corporate or Educational Videos

  • Music Videos

  • Audio only content including audiobooks, podcasts, and radio plays

  • Video Games

  • News/Broadcast

  • Projects including any nudity or simulated sex

  • Projects including any hazardous stunts

  • Projects where the producer has received any compensation in exchange for the right to distribute or exhibit it

What Are the Terms of this Agreement?

Most terms will be subject to negotiation between producer and performer, so SAG does not provide a rate table. Please note that this Agreement does not create eligibility to join the union. 

2. Television Contract Rates

The Following salary rates apply to: (a) new series and new television programs, the principal photography of which commences on or after July 1, 2014; (b) ongoing series, the principal photography of which commenced prior to July 1, 2014 under the terms and conditions of the 2011 or any predecessor SAG Television Agreement.  Here are the complete rate sheets for Television.

Live Action Television and Basic Cable

Performer Rates for 7/1/2021 Rates for 7/1/2022
Day Performer $1,030 $1,056
Weekly Performer $3,575 $3,664

 

2020 Producer SAG-AFTRA TV Animation Agreement Animation


SAG-AFTRA Television Animation Series
Rates for 7/1/2021 Rates for 7/1/2022
Minimum Compensation per film or segment of film more than 10 minutes in length $1,056.00
$1,088.00
Minimum Compensation per film or segment of film 10 minutes or less in length $957.00 $986.00
For each voice after the third for performers employed on films or segments of films 10 minutes or less in length $309.00 $318.00
Fourth audition for the same role (first two hours)
$79.00

$81.00
Time spent in fourth audition in excess of two hours (in 1⁄2) hour units) $19.75
$20.25

 

For more information, view the  complete Animation Rate Sheet.

3. New Media Contract Rates

The New Media Agreement covers original and derivative entertainment productions made for initial release on new media platforms. This could be anything from hour shows to a short clip. 

For Budgets of at Least $50,000, But Less than $250,000

All Performers except Stunt Coordinators $125 per day
Background Actors & Stand-Ins $96 per day

 

Stunt Coordinators:

Rates for Daily, Weekly and “Flat Deal” Stunt Coordinators track the rates in Schedule K-I, K-II, orSc K-III of the Basic Agreement that are current at time of photography.

Position Current Day Rate Current Weekly Rate
Stunt Coordinator $1,030 $3,840
Stunt Coordinator Flat Deal $1,274 $4,898

 

For Budgets of at Least $250,000, But Less than $700,000

Day Performers $335 per day
Weekly Performers $1,166 per 5 day week
Background Actors $125 per day
Stand-Ins $135 per day
Daily Stunt Performers $335 per day
Weekly Stunt Performers $1,251 per 5 day week

 

Stunt Coordinators:

Rates for Daily, Weekly and “Flat Deal” Stunt Coordinators track the rates in Schedule K-I, K-II, or K-III of the Basic Agreement that are current at time of photography (see above chart).

For Budgets of at Least $700,000, But Less than $1,000,000

Day Performers $630 per day
Weekly Performers $2,190 per 5 day week
Background Actors $166 per day
Stand-Ins $194 per day
Daily Stunt Performers $630 per day
Weekly Stunt Performers $2,350 per 5 day week

 

For Budgets $1,000,000 and Above

Full rates as set forth in the 2017 SAG-AFTRA Television Agreement. Please note full terms and conditions of the SAG-AFTRA Television Agreement may apply to this budget level as well.

Here is the entire  rate sheet.

4. Commercial Contract Rates

The Commercials Contracts cover advertising programs generally under three minutes in length and intended for use on television, foreign, theatrical, radio and new media.

Instead of a weekly or day rate, principal actors in SAG commercials earn a session rate. However, a producer must pay a fee to show the ad, followed by additional charges each time a commercial is aired.  The more times a commercial plays, the more a SAG actor makes.

SAG offers different agreements including Upfront Use Packages that allows a one-time payment  to principal performers.

Most SAG-AFTRA commercial agreements fall into five categories

  • Class A: Commercials broadcast simultaneously in 21+ cities and/or as the program sponsor.

  • Class B: Commercials broadcast simultaneously in 6-20 cities 

  • Class C: Commercials broadcast simultaneously in 1-5 cities 

  • Cable: Commercials broadcast on cable networks.

  • Wild Spot: Commercials broadcast on individual non-interconnected broadcast stations.

With all SAG commercial rates, the more times you air a spot, the more you will have to pay.  Here is a link to the full commercial rate sheet including meal penalties, pension and health contribution rate and wardrobe allowance.

In this chart, we’ve listed first use commercial rates for each class. A is the most common. With class B, you have to pay slightly more if New York City is one of your cities in which your project falls. 

TYPE Class A Class B Class C Cable Wild Spot
SAG Commercial Rate On Camera $712.00 With NY:
$1,347.14 Without NY: $1,098.75
$654.77 $712.00 $712.00
SAG Commercial Rate Off Camera $535.40 With NY:
$963.44
Without NY: $763.15
$436.55 $535.40 $535.40
SAG Commercial Rate On Camera Groups Per Person: 

3-5:

$521.20 
6-8:

$461.50 
9+:  $381.60 

Rates are the same w/ NY or without NY:
3-5: $857.96
6-8: $758.66
9+: 

$620.24

3-5: $567.44
6-8: $504.33
9+: 

$412.39

3-5:

$521.20 
6-8: $461.50 
9+: 

$381.60 

3-5: $521.20 
6-8: $461.50 
9+: 

$381.60 

SAG Commercial Rate Off Camera Groups Per Person: 

3-5:

$301.90 
6-8:

$262.10 
9+:  $213.70 

Rates are the same w/ NY or without NY:
3-5:

$857.96
6-8: $758.66
9+:  $620.24

3-5: $251.45
6-8: $209.32
9+: 

$171.66

3-5: $301.90 
6-8: $262.10 
9+: 

$213.70 

3-5: $301.90 
6-8: $262.10 
9+:  $213.70 

SAG-AFTRA Day Rates and Minimums Wrap-Up

The saying goes “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amatuer”. It may be daunting to sift through all the fees and rates required by SAG-AFTRA, but at the end of the day having your creative project in the hands of professional talent will give you the most return on your investment.  For further research, click here to access  links to contract information, rates, FAQs and resources that help members and producers navigate the media and entertainment industries.

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