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Contracts for Actors: A Comprehensive Guide – Part 1


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When an actor is recruited for an acting role, they are often obliged to sign a contract with their employer. This is also known as an actor agreement or a contract for performers. 

Some components are similar to all acting contracts, regardless of whether the assignment is for a film, TV show, commercial, or live performance. 

What is an Actor’s Contract?

A contract is an agreement between two or more parties intended to be legally binding if the agreement is breached. Actors typically sign contracts to commit themselves to what is described in the agreement (for example, the number of practice hours per day) or bind the other party to the document (for example, how much they would pay the performer). 

You might wind up signing an acting contract for every project you work on, whether it’s for a regional theater production, a Broadway show, a television pilot, or a feature picture.

Also Read: Everything You Need to Know About Film Industry Contracts Pt. 1

What are the Different Types of Contracts?

Equity, the actors’ organization, has negotiated collective agreements for all sorts of artists, including stunt performers, working on shows in the following categories for artist contracts:

  • BBC
  • ITV
  • TAC
  • Television and movies produced independently
  • Commercials on television and radio
  • Audio Recordings
  • New technologies: the internet, podcasts, mobisodes, and motion capture.
  • Non-broadcast videos

These agreements for artists contain working terms and circumstances such as the number of performances, hours, breaks, health and safety, dispute procedures, usage rights, royalties, and touring, among other things.

Equity also has a pension plan. On each contract, artists have the opportunity to opt into the plan. The Production must then guarantee that the necessary deductions are made and that the employer’s payment is paid into the program.

The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists negotiate artist contracts in the United States. These two unions merged to form the SAG-AFTRA.

Also Read: Everything You Need to Know About Film Industry Contracts Pt. 2

When is an Entertainment Lawyer Necessary?

Actors with agents rarely require the services of a lawyer to work on their contracts, although there are exceptions.

Many performers negotiate their contracts for lesser roles. However, if you have an agent, they will undoubtedly be the one negotiating on your behalf. It is imperative to analyze the agreement before entering into a first-time deal with a possible agency or management. Remember that you may always engage a lawyer to review an acting contract before signing it. 

This can be a wise investment for more significant non-union transactions or long-term commitments. Meeting with a lawyer to examine the fundamental provisions might cost between $200 and $400 per hour. 

Employing a lawyer for a contract worth less than $20,000 may not be worth the legal expenses. However, for more extensive or longer-term contracts, employing independent counsel is a good idea for peace of mind—and to avoid potential difficulties later on.

The Wrap

A standard actor contract is a formal agreement between an actor and their client or company. This is a legally binding contract. Thus it protects both parties’ rights and includes their terms and conditions for completing an acting assignment.

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