Topsheet provides COVID-19 touchless payroll for productions
Erin Pearson
June 19, 2020

The Complete Guide to SAG-AFTRA Paid Scale

SAG (Screen Actor’s Guild) and AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Arts) were formed during the Great Depression. Once separate entities, now a combined force ensuring fair wages for actors across multiple mediums including film, television, commercials, and radio broadcasting.

What is paid scale for SAG actors?

Scale is the general term for the minimum daily or weekly rates established by the Screen Actor’s Guild. SAG-AFTRA has spent decades carefully forming and negotiating contracts, compensation packages, and pay scales for its members. The contracts cover budget ranges for different types of projects like theatrical, digital (new media), TV, and commercials.

When an actor is paid scale, it means they’re making the minimum pay rate allowed by the production company’s agreement with SAG/AFTRA. Sometimes you’ll hear of an “A list” movie actor working for “scale” as a favor on a low budget project when they would usually get paid hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars for their projects. Additionally, scale rates include various increments of time and delivery methodologies, not just day rates. And oftentimes, actors get scale plus 10, meaning 10% goes to their agent. For a full breakdown of SAG theatrical rates meal penalties, rest requirements, and travel rules, check out our “Ultimate Guide to SAG-AFTRA Theatrical Rates 2020”.

SAG BASIC THEATRICAL AGREEMENT

Keep in mind, in order to ensure your film fits within these parameters, your initial release must be in theaters. If you release on a streaming service, you will likely fit under the New Media/Digital category.

  • Budget Range: Greater than $2.5MM
  • SAG Day Rate: $1,005 / Day
  • SAG Weekly Scale: $3,488 / Week

SAG LOW BUDGET AGREEMENT

  • Budget Range: $700k - $2.5MM
  • SAG Day Rate: $630 / Day
  • SAG Weekly Scale: $2,190 / Week

SAG MODIFIED LOW BUDGET AGREEMENT

  • Budget Range: $250k - $700k
  • SAG Day Rate: $335 / Day
  • SAG Weekly Scale: $1166 / Week

SAG ULTRA LOW BUDGET AGREEMENT (Film and short films)

  • Budget Range: $250k or less
  • SAG Day Rate: $125 / Day
  • SAG Weekly Scale: None

SAG SHORT PROJECT AGREEMENT

Films made under this SAG agreement can be released at film festivals or on free-streaming sites like YouTube and, under this agreement, you don’t need a theatrical release.

  • Budget Range: $50k or less (maximum 40 minutes)
  • SAG Day Rate: Negotiable
  • SAG Weekly Scale: None

SAG STUDENT FILM AGREEMENT

  • Budget Range: $35k or less (maximum 35 minutes)
  • SAG Day Rate: Negotiable
  • SAG Weekly Scale: None

Television Rate

PERFORMERS IN ONE EPISODE

  • SAG Day Rate: $1,005 / Day
  • SAG Three-Day Rate: $2,545 / 3 Day Period
  • SAG Weekly Scale: $3,488 / Week

MAJOR ROLE PERFORMERS IN ONE EPISODE

  • 1/2 Hour Program: $5,528 / week
  • 1 Hour Program: $8,844 / week

PERFORMERS IN MULTIPLE PROGRAMS

This contract agreement applies to actors who are shooting multiple episodes of a show within one week.

  • 1/2 Hour Program: $2,585 / week
  • 1 Hour Program: $2,585 / week
  • 1 1/2 Hour Program: $3,038 / week
  • 2 Hour Program: $3,580 / week

SERIES REGULARS IN 1/2 HOUR

Based on a thirteen-episode season, a Series Regular Contract for half-hour Programs applies to actors who are in half or more of the season’s episodes. If the actor appears in less than half of the season’s episodes, they are considered a “guest star” and their SAG rate would increase.

  • 13 out of 13 Episodes: $3,488 / week
  • 12-7 Episodes: $ 3,993 / week
  • 6 Episodes: $4,656 / week

SERIES REGULARS IN 1 HOUR

The SAG minimum pay scale for Series Regulars on hour-long shows works like the half-hour shows with an increased pay rate.

  • 13 out of 13 Episodes: $4,197 / week
  • 12-7 Episodes: $4,682 / week
  • 6 Episodes: $5,476 / week

Commercial rate

SAG COMMERCIAL AGREEMENT - CLASS A, CABLE, WILD

Most SAG commercials are Class A. A Class A commercial means that your commercial will air in more than 20 cities. Your commercial is Class A if you are shooting a national commercial that will air on four major networks: NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX.

  • SAG Commercial Rate On Camera $712.00
  • SAG Commercial Rate Off Camera: $535.40

SAG COMMERCIAL AGREEMENT - CLASS B

The SAG Commercial Agreement Class B applies to commercials that will air in 6-20 cities and the scale pay is more or less depending on whether or not New York is one of those cities.

With New York:

  • SAG Commercial Rate On Camera: $1,347.14
  • SAG Commercial Rate Off Camera: $963.44

Without New York:

  • SAG Commercial Rate On Camera: $1,098.75
  • SAG Commercial Rate Off Camera: $763.15

SAG COMMERCIAL AGREEMENT - CLASS C

SAG Class C Commercial wage scale agreements apply to commercials that will air in less than six cities. SAG Commercial Rate On Camera: $654.77 SAG Commercial Rate Off Camera: $436.55

New Media

NEW MEDIA SAG AGREEMENT - LESS THAN $250K

  • Budget Range: $50k - $250k
  • SAG Day Rate: $ 125 / day
  • SAG Weekly Scale: None

NEW MEDIA SAG AGREEMENT - $250K - $700K

  • Budget Range: $250k - $700k
  • SAG Day Rate: $ 335 / Day
  • SAG Weekly Scale: $1,166 / Week

NEW MEDIA SAG AGREEMENT - $700K - $1MM

  • Budget Range: $250k - $700k
  • SAG Day Rate: $630 / Day
  • SAG Weekly Scale: $2,190 / Week

Topsheet is a SAG-AFTRA approved payroll company that offers a touchless solution that fits within the parameters of the COVID Safe Set Guidelines. To find out more about how Topsheet can help you get your films back up and running, you can check out our article Topsheet aids in COVID-19 safe sets or go to our homepage and contact us.

About Topsheet

Topsheet is an entertainment tech company specializing in production payroll. We service clients from commercials for Fortune 500 to feature films. We are born in technology, built with filmmakers in mind.


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