Do you produce online content? Maybe you have a popular YouTube channel or you put videos on your website to drive interest to your work?
Whatever the situation, if your are or plan on using SAG-AFTRA actors you will want to be aware of SAG-AFTRA New Media Signatory Agreements.
SAG-AFTRA stands for ‘Screen Actors Guild-American Federation and Radio Artists’. As you probably know SAG-AFTRA is a powerful labor union that represents over 160, 000 actors!
Traditionally we think of this representation in the prisms of film, television and radio, however, SAG-AFTRA also covers online media.
In this post I will be giving producers of online content an overview of the new SAG-AFTRA New Media contracts, and some of the top advantages of becoming a signatory. (FYI, if you also need certain form agreements for your project check out the templates that I offer, here.)
This information applies to entertainment content like webisodes, reality shows and motion pictures that are initially released online.
What is the New Media Signatory Agreement?
In order to engage SAG-AFTRA talent for your online production you must become a signatory to the SAG-AFTRA New Media Agreement, which can be done through a paper application or by applying online.
You can find the online application to sign SAG-AFTRA talent here. Just click on “SIGN ONLINE” after clicking the link above and then you will need to sign up (or in).
If you have any issues you can contact them at (323) 549-6789 between normal PST business hours or through chat in the upper righthand corner under “How Can We Help?/Contact Us”. SAG-AFTRA also offers monthly informational workshops and other events, which can be found on its website.
Here is a video that will give you a good overview of SAG-AFTRA New Media Signatory Agreements.
If you would like more details you can read the full post below.
How To Qualify for SAG-AFTRA New Media Agreement?
For a production to qualify it must be:
- Original content and Derivative, intended solely for entertainment purposes
- Be submitted at least 3 weeks prior to the start of principal photography
- At the time the signatory application is submitted, it must contain the cast and their roles, a sufficient plot, and at least one qualified SAG-AFTRA member who is in good standing. Performer status is obtained by completing a Cast Clearance Report for each performer 24-48 hours before the start of production.
- Intended for initial exhibition via the Internet, mobile devices or any other platform now known or which may be adopted excluding motion pictures, video games, commercials or any type of production or medium otherwise covered by any other SAG-AFTRA agreement.
Including but not limited to:
- The Producer-SAG-AFTRA Codified Basic Agreement
- SAG-AFTRA Television Agreement
- SAG-AFTRA Net Code
- Producers-SAG-AFTRA Codified Corporate/Non-Educational and Non-Broadcast Contract
- SAG-AFTRA Infomercials Agreement
- SAG-AFTRA Infomercials Agreement
- SAG-AFTRA Interactive Media Agreement
- The SAG-AFTRA Interactive Media Agreement
- SAG-AFTRA Commercials contract
- and SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contract
To Become a Signatory to the SAG-AFTRA New Media Agreement
You are required to submit the following to SAG-AFTRA with initial production information:
- Completed Preliminary Project Sheet
- Line-item budget for the production
- Copy of the script
- Copy of formation documents (if signing as a business) or Driver’s License (if signing as an individual)
- **Higher budget productions also may need to submit additional paperwork for financial assurances and potentially a bond.
High Quality Talent/No Minimum Pay Scale!
Unlike the other signatory agreements, the New Media Agreement does not require minimum compensation. Initial pay is negotiable under the SAG-AFTRA New Media Agreement.
There are no minimums under this contract; however, local, state and federal minimum wage laws still apply.
Payment is due to the performer no later than five business days from the date worked. Pension & Health or Health & Retirement contributions are due on the negotiated initial compensation, at a rate of 17% for both principal performers and background actors.
Exception applies to any production shooting partially or entirely outside of the United States. If shot outside the United States, those productions are subject to the full rates, terms, and conditions of the applicable SAG-AFTRA agreement.
You Can Hire Both SAG-AFTRA actors and non-union
All Principal Performers and the first ten (10) Background Actors per day must be covered under a SAG-AFTRA contract. If within reason you need to hire a non-union member for any covered role, you must submit a Taft-Hartley report, within 15 days of the first date worked, stating your reason for hiring that performer over a union Performer.
Pay Deferments Allowed
You are able to defer payment to your performers under the SAG-AFTRA New Media Agreement if your performers agree to the deferral. A deferral in payments means that you agree to make X payment when Y happens.
Example: A producer agrees to pay all principal performers $100 per day of work performed if and when the production receives DVD distribution and after the producer recoups production costs of $5,000. When deferring payment to the performer, P&H or H&R will also be deferred until the performers’ payment is triggered.
Residuals Not Always Due!
Residuals will be due for use in new media only if an original, made for new media program’s final total cost, as exhibited, is $25,000 or more per minute and it is exhibited on a consumer-pay-platform beyond 26 weeks.
You Can Distribute Through Other Platforms After Releasing On New Media
You may distribute your covered new media production beyond new media, after the initial new media release, without the prior consent of your performers or an upgrade in payment; however residuals will be paid for the use of Made for New Media productions in traditional media based on the appropriate existing SAG-AFTRA Agreement formulas.
Applicable agreement is determined by 1st intended platform for release.
** If you release first online and then get picked up by other media (tv, dvd) you only have to pay residuals to actors! This will be evaluated but probably a way people are going to try and cheat the system because there are no minimum wages.
Is It Necessary To Become A Signatory If I Am Just Producing Youtube Content With My Other SAG-AFTRA Friends?
Yes, because this falls under SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction you must become signatory as you and your fellow performers must be covered and protected by the provisions of a SAG-AFTRA agreement in order to be in compliance with Global Rule 1.
Producers are Required to have Insurance Under the Basic New Media Agreement
Per the agreement, the Producer shall obtain and keep in force during the term of employment of any performer a policy of comprehensive public insurance insuring the performer(s) against any liability arising out of the performance by the performer in the course and scope of their employment. **Workers Compensation Insurance is a state requirement for employers. Please ensure to abide by all state rules/requirements and note the producer is responsible should any accidents occur on set.
For more information visit the SAG-AFTRA website. Source: SAG-AFTRA
I hope you found this information about SAG-AFTRA agreements useful. If you are using their actors you really want to be careful your following the proper procedures so you don’t jeopardize all your hard work!
Please take a moment to share or comment.
See you soon. Rich.