You’re making a short, right? I mean, you wouldn’t try to make a feature for $20 – would you? Because if you’re making a short, the pay is 100% negotiable. If you’re making a feature, I hope you have a Costco card to help you stretch that $20 into meals for an entire crew for the length of your shooting schedule. Grips get grumpy when they’re not fed.
Don’t get us wrong: we salute your independent spirit. But there are two responses to the second part of your question (and we hope you’ll hear us out).
1) The union made a tradeoff with super low budget filmmakers like you. Instead of deferring pay, and then hitting you with a brutal backend balloon payment that would prevent you from distributing your film (just ask your friends about their Experimental Contract horror stories), they decided to institute a flat rate. And there are NO upgrades. None. It’s a good deal.
2) At some point you have to ask yourself, “What kind of movie am I making? Something with zero production value and a slim chance of distribution, or something that Sundance is gonna screen at the Egyptian Theater?” If it’s the latter, spending a couple of hundred bucks now is going to pay off in the end.
You didn’t sign the SAG-AFTRA signatory agreement without reading the whole thing, did you? Did you? No matter. This is one of the easiest fulfilled contractual requirements you’ll ever run across. The contract simply states that somewhere in your end credit roll you must place the SAG-AFTRA logo, along with a statement acknowledging the cooperation of the union in making your film. That’s it.
Now, we’re going to go ahead and answer your inevitable follow-up question: Where do I get the SAG-AFTRA logo? Why, just contact the SAG-AFTRA Theatrical Department at 323.549.6828, and they will email it to you.
We’ll close with one free piece of unsolicited advice. ALWAYS read the WHOLE contract before you sign!