In my last column, I outlined the steps a producer must follow in order to become a signatory for a SAG-AFTRA short film. If you’ve received the “Agreement Cleared and Activated” e-mail from SAG-AFTRA, pat yourself on the back! You have completed the most confusing and laborious part of your contractual obligation! However, though the hard part is over, there’s still a bit more paperwork remaining. After receiving your letter of clearance from SAG-AFTRA, your business representative will contact you with a second signatory packet that will include the required production documents. P
Step 3: Production
While the production packet will initially seem a bit daunting, most of the documents are purely informative or for “in case of….” scenarios. Included are:
- Accident Report to fill out in the event of an injury
- American Humane Society Mailer that must be completed if you employ any animal actors
- Pension and Health Memorandum (an FYI form, unless you’re paying actors)
- Studio Map to indicate boundaries of where you can ask actors and crew to drive without reimbursing for travel expenses. The zone extends 30 miles in each direction from the center, which located at the southeast corner of Beverly Blvd. and La Cienega
- Production Notices and Resources describe policies on anti-sexual harassment and discrimination, guidelines for employing a minor, safety bulletins, title changes, and requirements for screen credits and placement of the SAG logo
The documents that are required for all producers to fill out within the production process are:
- Performer Contract – Four original copies. You must give this to the performer to sign at the end of the first day of filming. One copy will go to the performer, one copy to the performer’s agent/manager, one to SAG-AFTRA, and one for your records. You must deliver these contracts to SAG-AFTRA AND the performer’s representative within 4 days of the first day of work! You may be fined $10/day for any delay to submit the contracts. Also, keep in mind that the name as Producer/Production Company must match the name that the agreement is filed under! In my case, it was filed under my name rather than production company, so I filled out “Emily Callaway” under both “By” and “Proudcer”.
- Performer’s Confirmation of Receipts must be signed by all performers to acknowledge receipt of Performer Contract
- Production Time Report. You must have a separate time report for each day of rehearsal and filming, and each actor must fill out the time sheet at end of a day of work. Keep track of when each actor goes into make-up and when you break for meals.
- MVP – number of Meal Penalty Violations that day. Remember that you must feed your performers within 6 hours of their call time or else you will receive a meal penalty violation! Second meal must occur within 6 hours of performers returning to set after first meal. Meal penalties are a state law in addition to a SAG-AFTRA law, and as a producer, you will be penalized for not feeding your performers appropriately at a rate of $25/half hour (for short/student/ULB films only – more for features!). It adds up! Disgruntled and hungry SAG-AFTRA actors will report you, so stay on top of your time!
- Forced Call if you required performers to report back to set less than 12 hours after wrapping. Forced calls mean that you have to pay your actors their day rate, which for a SAG-AFTRA short would be $100/day, which is the amount you agreed to defer to actors. FORCED CALLS ARE NOT DEFERRED MONIES, and you will owe each actors $100 immediately. I didn’t chance it to see if SAG-AFTRA would actually enforce this on a low budget short, and I wouldn’t recommend rolling the dice on this one! You DON’T want to get on SAG’s bad side!
- No. of Outfits Provided indicates the number of outfits the performer wore that day that came from his/her own wardrobe.
- Minor Tutoring Time/Stunt Adj.: Fill out as N/A, unless you’ve employed minors/stunt actors. In those cases, you’re aware of the additional stipulations/requirements of you
- Deferred pay under the short film contract only allows for 8 hours of work! Overtime UNTIL 12 hours can be deferred and added to the $100/day contract, but overtime AFTER the 12th hour will be double the hourly rate and owed to the actor upfront! Do not go over 12 hours!
- Final Cast List
Step 4: Post-Production
Breath a sigh of relief… you’re almost there! Very little paperwork remains once you’ve reached the Post-Production stage of your film.
- Make copies of Performer Contracts, Performer Confirmation of Receipts, Time Sheets, and Final Cast List for your records, and submit the originals to the attention of your business representative. In my case, I was able to do all at one time, as we only shot one weekend. But, do remember the rule about returning the contracts within 4 days of the first shoot date!
- If you encounter issues with clarity of dialogue in post-production, you may have to schedule an ADR session. If ADR is required, you’ll need to fill out the ADR MEMBER REPORT and return it to SAG-AFTRA within 48 hours of your ADR Session.
- You must include the words “”Special Thanks to SAG-AFTRA” in your credits. Additionally, must include the SAG-AFTRA logo or union bug in the credits.
- Note that all credits must be of a readable size and font, and that there are time standards that must be observed as far as the speed of at which the credits can be exhibited. See Production Notices and Resources from your production packet for a breakdown of the time standards.
That’s it! You’re done! While the paperwork can be overwhelming for a first time filmmaker, supporting your fellow union actors and creating your own film at the same time is an incredible accomplishment. Congratulations!