To my peers: why wouldn’t you offer more to your actors when you can?
If you’re producing a web series on a dime, great. But if it goes somewhere, gets turned into a movie or a successful pitch to a network, why not offer in writing some guarantee to your actors up front about that. Something more than what SAG-AFTRA requires.
If you’re producing theater on a dime, great. But what happens if you keep raising ticket prices, it extends, sells out. Why not offer the actors more than the small stipend you put in the breakdown for your code production. Not something AEA requires, but something you promise upfront if it’s a hit.
If you’re producing under a SAG-AFTRA agreement that allows you to defer pay, what if through some extra-successful pre-production you find some extra funding – why not pay the actors more than the zero dollars SAG-AFTRA stipulates?
If you’re a playwright and you’re getting paid (even though I know it’s likely to be peanuts for a ton of time you spent creating this play), and if you’re covered by the Dramatists Guild or some such, but the actors who made your play an unexpected success, with royalties to you from Sam French sales beyond what you had imagined … well, those actors are not covered by a good contract, so why not offer, voluntarily as the enlightened artist that you are and not at the behest of AEA, why not offer subsidiary rights? Why not offer to share your profits with the actors who helped you create those profits?
If you’re shooting under SAG-AFTRA’s ULB agreement, and paying your actors a mere $125/day, but hey it goes great and you get distribution, why not bump your cast an extra chunk of change? SAG-AFTRA doesn’t require it, but why not put that in writing. It costs you nothing unless your film goes somewhere.
So, this is me saying I’d like to see more producers and actor-producers move from “we have no money, end of sentence” to “we have no money now, but our aim is high and here is a lovely contractual obligation I am voluntarily promising you if this happens to be one of those projects that go somewhere, and yes indeed it is in writing and it’s not some sort of vague oral statement about how I’ll reciprocate somewhere down the road.”
I don’t want to go full Melania and tell you to #BeBest, but why not #BeALittleBetter?