Union Vocabulary

Screen Actors Guild: Has jurisdiction over productions produced on film originals. Also, dual jurisdiction on non-air broadcast/industrial codes.

American Federation of Radio & Television Artists: Has jurisdiction over video tape and radio production. Also, dual jurisdiction on non-air broadcast/industrial codes and some local commercial codes in various regions.

A F of M
American Federation of Musicians: Jurisdiction over some musicians.

Actors Equity Association: Jurisdiction over theatre/live performances.


The SAG-AFTRA commercial contracts are negotiated nationally and applies to the country as a whole and covers session and any type of use in any city as spot buy, as cable, as dealer, as Program A-B-C (network), as Internet, as theatrical, as foreign, etc. unless they have their own local SAG-AFTRA code to be made and played only in their local. Contracts are negotiated between the unions and the AAAA’s plus joint makers.

Until the merger is final, AFTRA contracts for commercials, negotiated locally, which apply only to each region and definite surrounding areas. Productions under these agreements are defined as: ‘Made and Played’ in that region only and must be signed as signatory for each Made & Played in that area. Under the definition of Made & Played, for example, local talent cannot be used and then add out of state voice over done in another region. Under these regulations all talent are paid under National codes, not local codes. Out of area talent may be brought in with the agreement they will work under the local codes. This qualifies as Made & Played locally.


A test of face or voice. No fee required for 1st or 2nd audition if done within time specified by codes. Fees required after 2nd audition and for any overtime on any audition.

Spot is either made for cable only or made for regular broadcast and also placed as cable or local cable. Use for cable network stations and local cable stations and media buys for use must have buys supplied. Cable good for only one year from date of record. Local cable buys must be supplied listing cable franchise and number of subscribers.

Fee paid for session that is cancelled other than major act of God. Each code has rules for what the fees are.
Fees attached if not cancelled in timely fashion of 24 hours.

CHILD LABOR LAWS Producer needs to make sure children have the permits and all paper work pertaining to the State you are shooting in. You would need to contact someone from that state to learn about rules and regulations. Each state is different. In California, all children are paid with a portion of all gross earnings going into the Coogan Trust Law trust fund. The parent or guardian must furnish these papers to you to deposit these funds directly into the child’s account. Producer must also know all SAG-AFTRA rules for length of day, parent or guardian on set, nurse, teacher, play time & place to rest, meal breaks, snacks, etc. If working in Canada, children do not work overtime, not allowed.

All talent contracts should be completed by the Producer and given to talent to sign when finished on set. All contracts are signed by the Producer and by the Talent. Talent should complete the I-9 and the W-4 and sign both. The Producer must sign the I-9.

Trust fund for minors must be paid per job. A portion of all gross earnings goes to this fund and parent or guardian must supply paper work for this account so it can be paid into. This is the law of California-it must be done.

Every 13 weeks (3 months less 1 day)

A spot made by a manufacturer that is delivered to a local dealer or manufacturer who then contracts for time as a wild spot and can tag with their own tag message. (Letter to Dealers signed by you and them stating first and last day to be aired, and restricting them on only tagging.) This should be done on any Dealer Spots. NOTE: they cannot edit in any other fashion, nor can they sell or give footage to anyone else, etc.

Taped-filmed-recorded commercial to be used for demonstration only to client. May not be upgraded for use. Demo rates apply to type of performance.

A performer doing more than one part in any production. Talent fees paid on each part or character portrayed.

Re-classifying a principle to an extra in a commercial. Restrictions apply. If done, talent must be notified in writing as to downgrade.

Substituting the on camera voice of one performer for a new voice over only. Restrictions apply and written permission from the on camera performer required.

Changing or rearranging contents of a commercial. Extreme restrictions apply, so, when in doubt please contact the union office.

Anyone who appears on screen and does not meet requirements for a principle. These are people who are background atmosphere and who take little direction.

Paid on a day when no work performed.

Restrictions apply-please call.

The amount of money specified in the television contract that must be paid each consecutive 13 weeks in order to “HOLD” a particular performance/commercial whether it is used or not, or if it is intended to be used. If this fee is not paid every consecutive 13 weeks for 21 months, it becomes a dead commercial and cannot be used again without negotiation by talent/agent and talent/agent can negotiate for a higher fee at that time.

The immigration I-9 form is required by government regulations for each talent to insure that they are legally in the United States. If not a citizen, they must have either a Federal Identification number or a Social Security number to be able to work in the time from you need them. All of the above must be obtained prior to working. This form must be completed for each talent you hire. Talent completes the entire top portion and you verify that you have looked at the documents needed and you both sign. It would not be a bad idea if talent produced photo copies of the documentation or if you would photocopy information and attach to the I-9 completed form. This form is mailed along with the W-4 and contract to the payroll company. This form MUST be completed. Failure to do so could result in a $10,000.00 fine for you or your client.


Payment is due from every code. If made under commercial codes , additional fees are due. Use must be disclosed in the contract. If talent does not state specifically, in contract, it cannot be used. Any use must be negotiated prior to contract signing. Talent will not be paid if only a small segment, not defined as a commercial, is used. If Made under Industrial codes for Internet use, as a program fees are due. There are a number of restrictions on types of Web-site and Internet use that do not have to paid a fee.


Additional payment only for session for each product per talent.

The penalty for not making payment to talent within specified period of time on sessions and use fees.

Document signed by anyone who produces/records commercials/industrial performances, agrees to hire talent according to all of the various SAG-AFTRA, A F of M codes and pays talent according to their rules.

A shorter or longer edit of an existing commercial. Only one lift per commercial permitted without additional payment. Only applies to television.

21 months-CABLE-1 year

Talent is entitled to meal breaks between each 5th & 6th hour of work, and shall be no less than ½ hour to 1 hour that is not paid as work time. If you go over the 1 hour limit, they get paid for any time past the 1 hour. If you have a long day, this extra ½ could throw you into additional overtime payments. If you go under the ½ hour, it is not considered a meal, and you would be charged penalties until you stopped for a meal break. ‘Meals’, means an adequate, well-balanced serving of a variety of wholesome, nutritious foods. Furnishing of snacks, such as hot dogs or hamburgers, shall not constitute a meal period. Talent should not be paid Per Diem for any meal that you furnish.

For each ½ hour that meal breaks are missed, there are monetary penalties. They are paid until you stop for meal breaks. These penalties keep increasing per each ½ hour that meal breaks are missed..

The additional hourly fees for any work between the hours of 8:00pm and 6:00am.


The performer is not seen or is not recorded as on camera and only reads lines as a solo-duo group. Voice over only.

The performer’s face appears on the screen and can be identified. The performer speaks dialogue or remains silent. The performer is identified with the product. This performer cannot be considered an extra performer. The performer can be solo-duo-or member of a group.

Any hours beyond the 8 hour working day for one camera. There is no overtime rate for Off Camera Performers, you just pay addition session fees.

Removal of a performer from a commercial ‘BEFORE’ initial use. Talent/agent notified in writing, with payment, if due.

As a signatory, client must cast union talent for the type of performer needed. If union talent cannot be found to do what is needed, client has the right to cast a talent that is actively seeking to work and has work in the industry. This means all union talent should be hired 1st. Each city has a mile radius as to how far out you can go without casting union. Please call us or check your contract book.

In general, this is anyone whose face appears alone or is identifiable with the product or who speaks a line of dialogue. Off camera performers are principles.

ABC-CBS-NBC-FOX-SYNDICATED, where ONE tape is sent to network and sent down the lines to other stations other than cable and is airing for specified programs. (example: CBS NEWS-one tape goes to CBS New York and airs in all stations carrying CBS NEWS and is usually a national advertiser like Kraft) Media buys must be supplied and sent to union.

Rehearsal is considered work time and paid as full day. If over 8 hours overtime is due.

A penalty fee paid to reinstate use of television commercial if the holding fees had not been paid on time. This fee cannot be applied to any use fees.

Means client have the right to hire non- union talent for which client must complete the Taft Hartley form for each talent, per job. Client must be working in a Right to Work State to do this (Missouri is not right to work). It only means that the talent does not have to join the union, but still have the to right to work on any union job. Does not mean that the Signatory has the right to do an all, non- union spot without reporting and paying through the union. Signatories have to pay by all union rules wherever you work.

When work day, premium rates apply and if travel days, premium rate apply.

SCALE The specified amount governed by the SAG-AFTRA, A F of M-EQUITY codes to be payable to each talent for work done. This is base scale payment only and does not include any agent fees-Pension & Health through the union-employers portion of payroll taxes-workmen’s compensation payments-paymaster fees.

A commercial made for and used at a particular time such as Christmas, Valentines Day, etc. Restrictions apply-please call. Box on contract must be checked or it must be written on contract that it is a Seasonal Commercial.

The amount of money stipulated in the contracts for the talent to actually perform on a particular day and time WHETHER OR NOT THE MATERIAL IS USED OR NOT.

Working for over 16 hours for EXTRAS, this includes any travel time, meal periods and time to turn in wardrobe or property has stiff penalties. They receive any extra days pay per hour, and if this runs into Sat/Sun or Holiday, then they receive double.

SMOKE RULES Per OSHA, talent must be notified and given a list of ingredients for smoke used in case of allergic reaction. Union says give list on day of shot, I say give list a couple of days before hand to make sure no problems the day of shoot, and id need be you would have enough time to replace talent.

Term clearing talent to see if member, member in good standing, must join, not a member and never been Taft Hartley, or member in bad standing which would have to pay dues before he could work for you. You would call your local SAG-AFTRA office to check talent’s status before a shoot.

Producer completes this form stating the talent chosen has never worked for the union or has only worked within the last 30 days. You must state a reason as to why client chose the non- union talent over a union talent and attach copies of resumes and head- shots stating that they are actively looking to work in this industry. Producer completes, signs and sends copy to the local union office. Also, a copy should be attached to the talent contract going to your payroll company. If you are in a right to work state, the producer should complete this form for every non- union talent hired, for every job.

Additional fees paid to performer who makes changes as to time-location-prices-phone number etc. if done at original session. These are considered editing and are very specific and restricted.

Designate a clock on the set as talent clock-in/clock-out. Everyone is synchronized to the same time.

A legal contract transferring the obligation for all talent payments from one signatory to another client/producer/signatory and copies of contracts signed by all and mailed to union for approval. This is VERY IMPORTANT and should be done anytime you re-sign a client or they re-sign you or anytime you complete any project which you do not retain the controls for air use or editing in any fashion.

Performers are due payment for hours traveled including waiting at airports, etc. You must pay all hotel & air fares along with per diem for meals, mileage if they drove, etc.

Payment of additional money to re-classify a performer to higher category. Payment for any air use is over and above the initial session payment.

The amount of money paid over and above the session payment that allows for the different types of air and other uses. Each type of use has different pay structures due.

Money specified for travel, rehearsal, fitting fees, overtime, hazardous duty pay, missed meal penalty, cancellation fee, smoke use fee, etc. These are all considered work time. All hotel and airline tickets are to be paid by producer. Any direct expense: cab fare, rental of wigs, wardrobe, mileage, etc., are to be paid to each talent. If meals are not furnished, per diem at set rates is to be paid in advance.

Please supply scripts or storyboards so we can check to see if some things could keep only one spot with different version. Example, McDonalds, spot is same scene inside a McDonalds, one shows breakfast foods, a second shows hamburgers and a third shows chicken sandwiches. This is one spot with 3 versions, talent would receive additional full fee to read or be filmed if in the food portion only and rest of talent would receive 50% fee. Or something’s might only be tags, which do not make more than one spot. When in doubt call or fax or email to us.

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