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 3-6 weeks before you’re set to begin shooting. It can take a while to get all your paperwork in order…
Have a completed budget. The budget determines which SAG-AFTRA contract applies to your project, so you’ll need to know your 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 U.S. states and territories.)

Figure out which agreement your film will fall under:

Student Film Agreement

  • 35 minutes or less
  • Total budget $35k or less
  • Actor salaries are deferred
  • No consecutive employment (except on overnight locations)
  • No premiums
  • Allows the use of both professional and non-professional performers
  • Background actors not covered
  • Producer must be enrolled at an accredited college or university
  • Sample Student Film Agreement [PDF]

Short Project Agreement

  • 40 minutes or less
  • Total budget $50k or less
  • Actor salaries are negotiable
  • No consecutive employment (except on overnight locations)
  • All principal performers covered
  • First 10 background actors covered (in background zones)
  • Allows for screening at film festivals, free-to-consumer new media platforms, screenings for Academy Awards consideration, private screenings, and public access TV
  • Sample Short Project Agreement [PDF]

Ultra Low Budget Project Agreement

  • Total budget $300k or less
  • Actor day rate of $206*
  • *Effective through 6/30/21. Minimum rates for principal performers is set at 20% of Basic Agreement scale and will increase annually
  • No consecutive employment (except on overnight locations)
  • No premiums
  • Reduced overtime rates
  • Allows the use of both professional and non-professional performers
  • Background actors not covered
  • Sample Ultra Low Budget Project Agreement [PDF]

Moderate Low Budget Project Agreement

  • Total budget between $300k – $700k
  • Actor day rate of $361*
  • Weekly rate of $1251*
  • *Effective through 6/30/21. Minimum rates for principal performers is set at 35% of Basic Agreement scale and will increase annually
  • No consecutive employment (except on overnight locations)
  • No premiums
  • Reduced overtime rate
  • All principal performers covered
  • Taft-Hartley allowed
  • Background actors not covered (unless using Background Performer Incentive)
  • Sample Moderate Low Budget Project Agreement [PDF]

Low Budget Theatrical Agreement

  • Total budget between $700k – $2MM
  • Actor day rate of $670*
  • Weekly rate of $2324*
  • *Effective through 6/30/21. Minimum rates for principal performers is set at 65% of Basic Agreement scale and will increase annually
  • No consecutive employment (except on overnight locations)
  • No premiums
  • Reduced overtime rate
  • All principal performers covered
  • Taft-Hartley allowed
  • First 30 background actors covered (in background zones)
  • Background actor rate of $178 (through 6/30/21)
  • Requires initial theatrical release
  • Sample Low Budget Theatrical Agreement [PDF]

New Media Agreement

  • For budgets over $50k and all new media episodic series
  • Requires initial release through a new media/internet platform
  • SAG-AFTRA’s New Media Department handles these contracts
Do you qualify for any incentives?

Diversity-in-Casting Incentive

  • ONLY applies to Low Budget Theatrical and Moderate Low Budget Project 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:
    • Moderate Low Budget Project: from $700k to $950k maximum
    • Low Budget Theatrical: from $2MM to $3MM maximum

Background Performer Incentive

  • ONLY applies to Moderate Low Budget Project 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 Form via DocuSign. Have any questions while you’re filling it out? Check our FAQ page or contact us. (Note: These links will redirect you to the DocuSign website.)

Sign Now!

Once you’ve submitted your Preliminary Information Form via DocuSign (be sure to print and/or download a copy for your records!), you are now on your way to being a signatory. Woohoo, that was easy!

Now What?

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 Form. 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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