Thursday, October 9, 2014

Are you getting your full pay?

A few years ago I worked on a feature film and about nine months after I wrapped, I was called in to do some ADR work (I had to add some dialogue to my part). Okay, great - I get a nice check for an hour or so of work.

But, when the check came, it seemed a little light. I had done some ADR work a few months before, on another project, and the pay was more. Of course that was a TV show and this was a film, so maybe the pay was different.

But, just to satisfy my curiosity, I called the theatrical contracts department at SAG-AFTRA. And this is what I discovered: if the film has a regular contract (not low-budget, or student), you get a half day of pay if you are called in to do ADR work LESS than 6 months from when you wrapped. Which is what the payroll company had sent me. But - as in my case - if it's been MORE then 6 months since you worked on the film, they owe you a full day of pay for the ADR work!

I called the payroll company and they said they'd check that rule and call me back. And, about an hour later someone called me and apologized, and said they'd get another check out to me right away to make up the difference (which they did). Were they trying to cheat me? No, I don't believe so. (After all, it's not their money, they're just hired to write the checks.) The person making out the payroll just wasn't aware of that rule.

Was this a big deal? Well, yes - the difference in pay was $400.00 and that was worth making a few calls.

The lesson to me was - check your checks! Most union producers and payroll companies are honest, but every time there is a new contract negotiated between SAG-AFTRA and the producers (every 3 years), there are rules that change, so it can be difficult to keep up (although the payroll companies should try to be up-to-date on all the rules that affect payments).

And don't worry - no one is going to "blacklist" you for trying to get what's owed you (and hey, if that producer won't hire you again, ask yourself - do you really want to work for someone who doesn't pay you what you're owed?).

Like I said, most professional people in this business are honest, but mistakes happen. And if you think this has happened to you, it's probably best to call the contracts department at SAG-AFTRA rather than your agent, who may also not be up on all the rules and regulations of a contract. 



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