Become a Signatory

So you want to hire SAG-AFTRA performers for your low-budget film project? Here’s how you get started…

Signatory Process Steps

First off, you should try to start the process 4-6 weeks before you’re set to begin shooting. It can take a while to get all your paperwork in order…

Have a completed budget. Line-item isn’t needed, but you’ll need a good idea of production (including post) costs…

Have a completed script. SAG-AFTRA will need to know how many characters/speaking roles there are…

Are you filming entirely in the United States? Perfect! (SAG-AFTRA low budget productions must shoot entirely in the U.S.)

Figure out which agreement your film will fall under:

Student Film Agreement

  • 35 minutes or less
  • Total budget less than $35k
  • Actor salaries are deferred
  • No consecutive employment (except on overnight locations)
  • No premiums
  • Allows the use of both professional and non-professional performers
  • Producer must be enrolled at an accredited college or university
  • Sample Student Film Agreement [PDF]

Ultra Low Budget Agreement

  • Total budget less than $250k
  • Actor day rate of $125
  • No consecutive employment (except on overnight locations)
  • No premiums
  • Reduced overtime rate
  • Allows the use of both professional and non-professional performers
  • Background performers not covered
  • Sample ULB Agreement [PDF]

Low Budget Agreement

  • Total budget between $700k – $2.5MM
  • Actor day rate of $630
  • Weekly rate of $2190
  • No consecutive employment (except on overnight locations)
  • No premiums
  • Reduced overtime rate
  • Taft-Hartley allowed
  • Reduced number of Background Performers covered
  • Requires initial theatrical release
  • Sample LB Agreement [PDF]

Short Film Agreement

  • 35 minutes or less
  • Total budget less than $50k
  • Actor salaries are deferred
  • No consecutive employment (except on overnight locations)
  • No premiums
  • Allows the use of both professional and non-professional performers
  • Background performers not covered
  • Sample Short Film Agreement [PDF]

Modified Low Budget Agreement

  • Total budget between $250k – $700k
  • Actor day rate of $335
  • Weekly rate of $1166
  • No consecutive employment (except on overnight locations)
  • No premiums
  • Reduced overtime rate
  • Taft-Hartley allowed
  • Requires initial theatrical release
  • Sample MLB Agreement [PDF]

New Media Agreement

Do you qualify for any incentives?

Diversity-in-Casting Incentive

  • ONLY applies to Low Budget and Modified Low Budget Agreements.
  • Do you have a minimum of 50% of your total speaking roles and 50% of the total days of employment cast with Performers from protected groups (Women; Senior performers over 60; Performers with disabilities; People of Color)?
  • Do you have a minimum of 20% of total days of employment cast with performers who are People of Color?
  • If yes to all of the above, you can increase your total production cost:
    • Modified Low Budget: from $700k to $1.05MM maximum.
    • Low Budget: from $2.5MM to $3.75MM maximum.

Background Performer Incentive

  • ONLY applies to Modified Low Budget Agreements.
  • Are you employing a minimum average of 3 SAG-AFTRA Background Performers for each day of principal photography?
    • If yes, you may be allowed an additional $112k to your production cost.

Now you know which agreement your film falls under, and whether you might qualify for an incentive. Great, you’re on your way! Fill out a Preliminary Information Sheet for the Short or Ultra/Modified/Low Budget agreement.

Have any questions while you’re filling it out? Check our FAQ page. If you still can’t find an answer, shoot us an email (sagindie@sagaftra.org) or give us a call (323.549.6064)

Sign Now!

Once your Preliminary Information Sheet is complete, email it to signyourpicture@sagaftra.org – or look up your local contact and fax it to that office. Woohoo, you’ve submitted to become signatory!

It’s Been Real

Now you’ll be handed off to a SAG-AFTRA Business Representative, and they’ll be the main contact for the rest of your paperwork. Your rep should follow-up with you within 2-3 business days after you’ve submitted your Preliminary Information Sheet. If you don’t hear from them, place a call to SAG-AFTRA’s Theatrical Contracts Department at 323.549.6828 to make sure they received your information.

And don’t worry, you can keep in touch with SAGindie too at 323.549.6064 (just remember, SAGindie doesn’t process ANY paperwork. But we’re available for pep talks and neighborhood gossip if needed).

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