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What You Need to Know About the New SAG-AFTRA Agreement: Background Actors

With the 118-day strike finally resolved and a new collective bargaining agreement up for a ratification vote, there is a lot to digest and understand about how things will be moving forward. With that in mind, Casting Networks is producing a series of articles in which we will break down particular parts of the new agreement and discuss how it affects you.

This entry focuses on background actors.

During the course of the strike, the AMPTP tried to portray SAG-AFTRA as a bunch of spoiled actors who were asking for too much and making unreasonable demands.

The union fought back by putting forward the background actors and working stiffs who make up the vast majority of the union’s membership, and who had the most to gain and the most to lose in the negotiations.

SAG-AFTRA won the public relations war in a rout. Public opinion of the work stoppage widely favored the actors and, in the end, probably helped to convince the AMPTP members that they were fighting a losing battle.

The resulting deal not only paid special attention to the needs of the working class membership, especially background actors, but it also prioritized gains for those performers. These include increases in wages, mandatory count minimums and other improvements over the previous contract.

Wage Increases

Minimums for general background actors, stand-ins and photo doubles will increase by 11% as of November 9.

The minimums will increase again by 4% as of July 1, 2024, and another 3.5% the following July 1.

To clarify, the increases will be compounded over the previous number, not the original. For instance, the increase to take effect on July 1, 2024, will be on the minimum that took effect on November 9, with the additional 11% gains, not the minimum as of November 8. The same, then for the 2025 increase, will be above the one that took effect the year prior.

Background Counts

The minimum number of background actors top which Schedule X, Part I (West coast zones) applies as follows: rise from 22 (excluding swimmers, skaters and dancers, but including certain stand-ins) to 25 on TV movies.

The numbers for a theatrical movie increase from 57 (again, excluding swimmers, skaters and dancers, but including all but one stand-in) to 85.

Increased Pay for Rehearsal Stand-ins

If you’re a stand-in working on a half-hour multi-camera series and are asked to rehearse and/or perform — either on or off book — in the role of a cast member and with other cast members during any kind of run-through, you will receive an adjustment of $150 per day (eg: a producer or network run-through).

A table read does not count as making one eligible for the $150 increase.

Photo Doubling

As with stand-in work, photo doubling work will earn a background actor extra pay. Any background actor required to do photo doubling and memorize and deliver scripted dialogue on camera will receive an adjustment of $150 for the day.

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