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    SAG-AFTRA Agreement Details: What's Next?

    The actors’ strike has ended and the entertainment industry is in the process of fully getting back to business. 

    Read on for the main need-to-know points of the SAG-AFTRA agreement along with some insight into what comes next for the industry, and how GreenSlate is partnering with accountans.

    Deal details

    The successor agreements go into effect on Nov. 9, 2023 and continue through June 30, 2026. The deadline to complete the ratification vote is December 5th. 

    Here’s a selection of some of the most relevant, consequential agreement details as found in the summary agreement.

    *On November 24 SAG-AFTRA released the full agreement memorandum

    Wage minimums

    Starting with wage minimums, they’re going up. Twice in one year in fact, which is unprecedented.

    Minimums shall increase by 7% effective Nov. 9, 2023, by another 4% effective July 1, 2024 and by another 3.5% effective July 1, 2025.

    • Background [actors]: Wage Increases: Minimums for general Background Actors, Stand-ins, and Photo Doubles will increase by 11% effective Nov. 9, 2023; 4% on July 1, 2024 and 3.5% on July 1, 2025 [Source]

    Artificial Intelligence 

    AI was the biggest reason the final negotiations took so long and were so contentious. This is where the AI regulations landed in the end according to SAG-AFTRA:

    Screenshot 2023-11-13 at 12.56.49 PM

    Screenshot 2023-11-13 at 12.56.33 PM

    What does it all mean? Basically, a win for actors around the use of AI.

    Under the terms of the agreement, in most cases, actors must be paid their contracted rate for any time saved by using an employment-based digital replica (EBDR) of the actor. This creates a disincentive to replace human labor with AI, as it eliminates potential cost savings.

    However, there are concerns about the broad language of the agreement and the consent required for the use of digital replicas in post-production. Consent is not required in most cases for a range of changes made using AI, which could impact actors’ creative control over their performances.

    Benefits

    The contribution ceiling for half hour TV or new media motion pictures increases from $15,000 to $25,000 effective the first Sunday after the date that is one year after the AMPTP receives notice of ratification. The contribution ceiling for one hour TV or new media motion pictures increases from $24,500 to $35,000 effective the first Sunday after the date that is one year after the AMPTP receives notice of ratification. [Source]

    Residuals

    Kayla Cobb writes in The Wrap that the expanded compensation structure in relation to AI also applies to residuals. “Moving forward, performers who fall under the category of employment-based digital replication will earn residual compensation on their work whether their performance was in person or their digital replica was used.”

    Schedule Breaks

    *Effective the first Sunday after 1 year from notice of ratification to AMPTP*

    • Schedule F:
      • Theatrical Motion Pictures: from $65,000 to $80,000
      • Half-Hour TV and New Media Motion Pictures: from $32,000 to $37,500
      • One Hour and Longer TV and New Media Motion Pictures: from $32,000 to $45,000
      • Multi-Part Closed-End Motion Pictures: from $40,000 to $47,500 per picture and from more than $4,650 to more than $5,150 per week
    • Schedule K: The Schedule K, Part III flat deal minimums for stunt coordinators employed on television motion pictures will be increased 10% on Nov. 9, 2023, 6.5% effective July 1, 2024, and 5% effective July 1, 2025
    • Schedule D: $5,150 or less per week and $35,000 (from $32,000) for television motion pictures, $6,350 or less per week (from $6,200) and $65,000 (from $60,000) for theatrical motion pictures 
    • Schedule E: $5,150 or less per week for television motion pictures, $6,350 (from $6,200) or less per week for theatrical motion pictures 
    • Schedule G-II: $5,150 or less per week for television motion pictures, $6,350 (from $6,200) or less per week for theatrical motion pictures 
    • Schedule H-II: $5,150 or less per week for television motion pictures, $6,350 (from $6,200) or less per week for theatrical motion pictures 
    • Schedule H-III: $5,150 per week for television motion pictures, $6,350 (from $6,200) per week for theatrical motion pictures [Source]

    Background Actors

    Background actors will receive greater compensation. “Time spent creating a digital replica is now classified as work and will be paid accordingly. Now when a background actor is called in only for replication, they will be paid ‘for a full day.’ If that replica is used as a principal character ‘the actor gets paid a principal’s rate for the estimated days they would have worked.’”

    Background Counts: Increase the number of background actors to which Schedule X, Part I (West coast zones) applies as follows:

    • From twenty-two (22) (excluding swimmers, skaters and dancers, but including certain stand-ins) to twenty-five (25) (excluding swimmers, skaters, dancers and stand-ins) on television motion pictures. 
    • From fifty-seven (57) (excluding swimmers, skaters and dancers, but including all except one stand-in) to eighty-five (85) (excluding swimmers, skaters, dancers and stand-ins) on theatrical motion pictures. 
    • Stand-in as Rehearsal Actor: Stand-ins engaged on half hour multi-camera series who are required to rehearse and/or perform (whether on or off-book) in the role of a cast member with other cast members during any run-through (e.g., a Producer run-through or network run-through, but not a table read) will receive an adjustment of $150 for the day. 
    • Photo Doubling: Background actors who are required to do photo doubling and memorize and deliver scripted dialogue on camera will receive an adjustment of $150 for the day. [Source]

    Per Diem

    Per diem amounts increase twice during the term.

    • On the first Sunday following ratification, to $70 (from $60) per day, broken down as $14 for breakfast, $21 for lunch, and $35 for dinner.
    • On the first Sunday two years after notice of ratification, to $75 per day, broken down as $16 for breakfast, $22 for lunch, and $37 for dinner. [Source]

    Streaming Bonuses

    When the deal was reached, SAG-AFTRA union leaders said streaming services will pay actors bonuses amounting to roughly $40 million a year as part of the tentative agreement.

    While the success metric is the same as what the WGA negotiated, the actors - to put it simply - essentially got double what the writers got in terms of a 100% success bonus instead of 50%.

    According to THR, part of the deal includes what some call the “Robinhood Fund.” In the final days of negotiations, “the SAG-AFTRA president held out for the ‘Robinhood fund’, which will redistribute [25%] of the money actors earn on streaming [bonuses]. Studio sources call the fund ‘socialist’ and some guild members worry it could be abused.”

    Intimacy & Diversity 

    The tentative agreement includes new requirements around intimacy coordinators and hairstyling:

    • New makeup and hairstyling requirements, including experts for performers with diverse hair textures and skin types
    • A first-ever requirement to hire intimacy coordinators on set for scenes involving sex and nudity

    Holidays

    • Effective January 1, 2024, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Juneteenth are added as contractual holidays. [Source]

    What's next

    Get ready, soundstage booking scramble is upon us. Puck News' Mathew Belloni lays it out, “For instance, we’re already seeing a full-on scramble to secure sets and soundstages. Actor schedules, which are hard to manage in normal times, are gonna be a nightmare to handle now. Imagine the complications inherent in re-assembling casts on shows and movies that have been shut down for months while also honoring commitments to projects that are scheduled to shoot in the new year. Not to mention crews, post-production, craft services, everything.”

    Extreme demand for actors could make it difficult for filmmakers to secure talent according to THR. “The moment a deal is done, many expect a flood of new projects and deals, a burst of business that could create its own problems with too many filmmakers chasing too few actors and scheduling slots.”

    Orders for TV shows could potentially decline, says Mathew Belloni. “The adjustment of the strikes has become a template for a potential new normal after a decade of unprecedented growth. ‘We’ve given the networks a pause to consider their spend and their buys, and their strategy simply means LESS,’ one agent texted me.” 

    Hollywood is back in business, but the ripple effects of the strike and streaming shakeout are just starting.

    2024 domestic forecast impacted by delayed releases. One movie theater industry analyst says release date delays during the strikes will cut the domestic 2024 full-year forecast by $1 billion.

    Hollywood could be facing a "painful" next episode. According to Axios, "Hollywood's economic structure is being rewritten as studios make massive budget cuts to appease jittery investors."

    Empathy will be needed in spades for a smooth transition back to work. This year has been extraordinarily challenging for everybody in the industry. The strikes were tough on everyone, and each person is going to have their own feelings about the decisions and actions that were taken. But as things get back to “normal” it will be important to be a bit patient with each other as it may take a beat for everyone to get back up to speed. Leading with empathy will help your crew, cast and production partners learn to work together again, and rediscover the joy this work provides. 

    Incentives management needs to be on the ball. Michele Miller, VP of Production Tax Incentives says there’s going to be a mad dash “to get tax incentives set up prior to the start of production in the days and weeks after the strike ends.”

    Miller lists out a checklist filmmakers should follow with their productions as they ramp up (and look for savings). 

    • Review all available incentives across the US
    • Compare incentive rates along with qualified expenditures by program
    • Analyze budget and develop qualified spend estimates based on program rules
    • Ensure you are aware of all application deadlines and reporting requirements
    • Hire an accountant well versed in film tax credits
    • Register your production company within the jurisdiction you are claiming a tax incentive in, if required
    • Use an accounting software that makes it easy to code your expenditures for the tax incentive and track your incentive throughout production
    • Engage a payroll company that is aware of statewide tax and loan out withholding & registration obligations
    • Consult the Film Office and certified auditors on the final review process

    ✅ GreenSlate is partnering with accountants

    GreenSlate’s SVP, Head of Accountant Relations S. Brett Gantt, has some salient and useful advice for production accountants.

    Be ready to be called back to work for projects that have been halted. So get in touch with your team and let them know your availability asap.

    Have your priorities and criteria in order for what you’re looking to work on. Because when you get a call to work on a production, those jobs can (and will) go quick. You need to be ready and prepared to act on those jobs when they come up, so get in touch with your team(s) and let them, and us, know your availability asap. 

    Writer’s offices will open up and likely have a small accounting staff until around mid-January. So you can anticipate that over the holidays there will be lots of prep to get things back up and running with soundstages, sorting out cast and crew and the like.

    We are here to help. Check out our client job listing page where you can also upload your (current) resume and subscribe for future updates.

    There’s still time to get training with GreenSlate, and you can subscribe for training updates if you like. So if you don’t know GreenSlate, you can arm yourself with more experience for when you get that call for a job.

    Why not have the best tools ready to roll? 

    ✅ Looking for a production payroll solution? Get a GreenSlate demo.

    November 14, 2023

    Updated November 27, 2023

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