WORKING WITH SAG-AFTRA

Educate and inform yourself in the basics of working with SAG-AFTRA

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Working with

Screen Actors
Guild - AFTRA

(SAG-AFTRA)


Summarized guidelines for working with the Screen Actors Guild - AFTRA (SAG-AFTRA)

 

What is a SAG bond and why do I need to pay it?

 

A SAG-AFTRA deposit (also known as a SAG bond) is a refundable security deposit that is paid to SAG-AFTRA prior to the start of a production. The SAG bond is usually equal to the amount of the estimated performers’ payroll wages for the first two weeks of the production PLUS the applicable SAG-AFTRA Pension and Health (P&H) contributions based on the calculated amount of payroll.

 

SAG-AFTRA will also add in additional amounts for the “employers” payroll tax portion of the performers' wages. Typically, these “fringe” amounts can be anywhere from 40% to 66% of the estimated earnings, depending on various production criteria.

 

For example:
Week #1 estimated payroll:
Week #2 estimated payroll:
$  35,000.
$  75,000.
TOTAL ESTIMATED SAG-AFTRA PAYROLL: (for two weeks) $  110,000.
x  50% for "fringes" $  55,000.
TOTAL  SAG-AFTRA  DEPOSIT: $  165,000.

Your SAG-AFTRA business representative will be able to provide you with a more specific deposit amount once you begin your SAG-AFTRA signatory process.


It is important to note especially for first time producers that the SAG bond is NOT the same as a "payroll deposit" that is paid to the payroll company. The SAG bond is held by SAG-AFTRA through the end of production and is released back to the production company once all of the Producer's obligations to SAG-AFTRA performers have been confirmed by SAG-AFTRA.

 

WANT AN ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION TO THE SAG BOND?   Read up on BondIt »

 

Can the SAG bond be used for payments to the SAG-AFTRA performers?

 

No. The SAG bond CANNOT be used for payments to the SAG-AFTRA performers. It is merely held as "security" should the production company fail to comply with their SAG-AFTRA agreement. Please read the next question about the ABS Payroll Deposit so that you will understand the actual CASH requirements that you will need IN ADVANCE prior to the beginning of any filming.

 

Is the ABS Entertainment Payroll Deposit the same as the SAG-AFTRA Deposit?

 

The ABS Entertainment Payroll deposit is NOT the same as the SAG bond which is collected by SAG-AFTRA prior to the start of a production. In other words and IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT THAT YOU UNDERSTAND this concept:

 

YOU ARE ACTUALLY "DOUBLE-PAYING" YOUR PAYROLL IN ADVANCE PRIOR TO ANY FILMING!

 

THIS WILL AFFECT YOUR CASH FLOW REQUIREMENTS SO TAKE THIS INFORMATION INTO ACCOUNT WHEN MAKING YOUR BUDGET OR GETTING FUNDS FROM YOUR INVESTORS!

 

Remember – you cannot use your SAG bond towards the actual payroll costs. That money will have to "sit there" for months after the production cycle is completed until SAG-AFTRA releases it. You have to have enough CASH funds to cover both the SAG bond PLUS the "real/actual" payroll.

 

WHAT IS THE ABS ENTERTAINMENT PAYROLL DEPOSIT?

 

The ABS Entertainment Payroll deposit is an initial deposit that we collect prior to the start of production based on an estimate of what the total cost of the payroll will be. This estimate is calculated off of the total amount of gross payroll a production company expects to pay out to their employees during the course of their project.

 

In addition to the "gross" amount of the estimated payroll, the deposit also includes the Employers' Payroll Taxes, Workers' Compensation Insurance, SAG-AFTRA Pension and Health Contributions, and any processing and administrative fees.

 

The ABS Payroll Deposit is collected IN ADVANCE of production and the funds are used to pay the performers and crew members. This is called a "draw down" deposit. As the payrolls are paid out, we "draw down" from the available funds (similar to a bank account). If the funds become too low, we will request additional funds from the production company.

 

At the end of production, any unused funds are returned to the production company along with a closing statement.

 

What is the current rate for SAG-AFTRA Pension and Health contributions for theatrical productions?

 

The current rate for new employee SAG-AFTRA Pension and Health (P&H) contributions is 17.30% of gross pay excluding non-pensionable items.

 

What is a SAG-AFTRA non-pensionable item?

 

A SAG-AFTRA non-pensionable item is an item of gross pay earned by the SAG-AFTRA performer for which SAG-AFTRA Pension and Health (P&H) is not calculated on.

 

For example, if you had an employee who earned $100.00 for the day plus a wardrobe allowance of $11.50 (a non-pensionable item), the SAG-AFTRA P&H contribution would be $16.80 - ($100.00 x 16.8%). The pension contribution is NOT calculated on the wardrobe allowance portion of the employees' earnings.

 

The following is a list of SAG-AFTRA non-pensionable items:

 

  • Forced Call
  • Late Payment Penalty
  • Meal Penalty
  • Mileage
  • Reimbursements
  • Wardrobe Allowance

 

What is a SAG-AFTRA non-commissionable item?

 

A SAG-AFTRA non-commissionable item is an item of gross pay earned by the SAG-AFTRA performer for which Agent Fees (commissions) cannot be calculated on.

 

For instance, if you had an employee who required an Agent Fee of 10%, who made $1000.00 in regular earnings and $250.00 in meal penalties (a non-commissionable item), for a total of $1,250.00, the Agent Fee (commission) would only be $100.00 ($1000.00 x 10%) and not $125.00. The following is a list of SAG-AFTRA non-commissionable items:

 

  • Forced Call
  • Late Payment Penalty
  • Living Expenses
  • Meal Allowance
  • Meal Penalty
  • Mileage
  • Per Diem
  • Prop Allowance
  • Reimbursements
  • Rest Period Violation
  • Turn-Around Pay
  • Wardrobe Allowance

 

What is a SAG Exhibit G Form?

 

A SAG Exhibit G Form (also known as a "Performers Production Time Report") is the official form used by SAG-AFTRA to record hours worked by SAG-AFTRA performers. This form is a "daily" form and is signed by all cast members indicating their time worked each day on the production. Click here for a copy of the SAG Exhibit G Form

 

Who is responsible for making SAG-AFTRA Pension and Health (P&H) contributions?

 

The Producer is always responsible for making SAG-AFTRA Pension and Health contributions. However, when using ABS Entertainment Payroll Services, we do all of the necessary SAG-AFTRA P&H reporting and processing for you. We make the necessary contributions to the P&H plans on behalf of the production company.

 

It is important to know that this report must be "in balance" with the SAG Final Cast List Report if the production company wishes to get their SAG bond back in a timely manner. Producers sometimes make the mistake of trying to do this report themselves, which usually delays the refund of their SAG bond.

 

Who is responsible for providing SAG-AFTRA with the "SAG Final Cast List"?

 

It is the responsibility of the Producer to provide SAG-AFTRA with the SAG Final Cast List at the end of the production. This important report contains the performers' information such as name, address, social security numbers, and dates of employment as well as "pensionable" earnings.

 

Many production companies try to do this report themselves and find that they have made errors primarily because they used the performers "total" salary instead of the performers "pensionable earnings".

 

At ABS, we will prepare and submit your SAG Final Cast List and will make sure that your SAG Final Cast List is "in balance" with your SAG Pension and Health report so that you can get your SAG bond back quicker.

 

When is payroll due at SAG-AFTRA?

 

For most feature films, payroll is due at the Screen Actors Guild - AFTRA offices on the Thursday following the last day of the payroll week worked by a performer. The standard "studio week" is from Sunday through Saturday.

 

At the beginning of the "new" week, the SAG-AFTRA paperwork is turned in to us, we create the payroll checks and they are delivered to SAG-AFTRA on Thursday for processing. SAG-AFTRA then records the checks and they are mailed out to the performers by SAG-AFTRA.