There are different ways an actor can get compensated on a feature film: 1) Flat compensation, which is an “up front” daily or weekly rate, payable in lump sums or on a weekly basis; 2) back end compensation, which pays an actor out on the “back end” of a project, once the film has been released and starts to earn money (if ever); and 3) residuals, which compensates an actor for re-use, after a project’s initial release (I’ll tackle this topic in another posting).
Flat Compensation: This is a flat rate you will be receiving on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Sometimes you can get your fee all in one lump sum upfront, which your representatives should negotiate for you in the event the production company is not established or well known, and there are concerns about their ability to pay their cast and crew. As a SAG member, producers must comply with the union’s minimum day/weekly rates, with a reduction in those basic minimums for projects under $2.5 million.
Profit Participation: Deferred compensation, contingent compensation and box office bonuses are all different ways an actor can make money on the back end after a film’s release. When someone mentions “back end” compensation, they are usually referring to contingent compensation or profit participation, where if the film makes a “profit,” then the actor gets a percentage (a/k/a “point”) of the profits. Back end compensation provides actors additional opportunities to earn money on a film dependent upon the profitability of the film. Actors receive back end participation if the producer’s are trying to sweeten the deal and give the actor more incentive to take the job and get them fully behind the project.
Please note: The information contained herein does not constitute legal advice and is intended for educational and information purposes only.