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Actor Agreements

Some BASICS of ACTOR’S Agreements 

Thursday, March 3, 2011 by Doron F. Eghbali Despite the fact Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) governs and regulates actor’s working conditions, travel and residuals and even minimum fee requirements, not all actors are SAG members and not all production companies are SAG signatories. In addition, principal photography might occur in foreign jurisdictions outside SAG purview and high-level actors often negotiate far beyond SAG requirements. Hence, let us explore some basics of actor’s agreement.Actor's Agreements Lawyers

Actor Agreements in Los Angeles & Beverly Hills.
1. CONDITION PRECEDENTS TO ACTOR’S CONTRACTS

There are usually some condition precedents to actor’s contracts. This means unless and until such conditions are met, the producer may not be contractually required to perform under the contract.

Some of the basic condition precedents include but are NOT limited to:

  • Obtaining and being qualified for insurance at NORMAL premiums. This requirements could be overcome if actor during negotiation agrees to pay for any higher premium out of pocket, if acceptable.
  • Obtaining appropriate work visas.
  • Obtaining and providing pertinent tax documents.
2. ACTOR’S COMPENSATION
A. SAG MINIMUMS

SAG sets out minimum fees for actors, nonetheless, high-end actors often surpass such minimums.

B. ACTOR’S PREVIOUS COMPENSATION

Similar to writers, the producer or studio will consider what the actor has been paid for previous rather similar projects. What the actor has earned in the recent past for similar work is often used as a FLOOR for negotiations. Such quotes are often given either on per picture basis OR on per week basis. Other factors – some of which – discussed here are also considered.

C. ACTOR’S ACHIEVEMENTS OR LACK THEREOF 

Another extremely important consideration – in an actor’s compensation – is any accomplishments garnered so far, especially, just prior to the project at issue. For instance, winning an Academy Award, Golden Globe or accumulating critical acclaim or even box office success are salient consideration in obtaining more dollars. In addition, some actors might attract viewers in foreign countries, so that they possess “foreign value”.

D. ACTOR’S WILLINGNESS TO FORGO HIGHER COMPENSATION FOR “OTHER” REASONS

Often, actors are willing to accept less money that they “deserve” in exchange for other considerations. Such considerations often revolve around actor’s willingness or rather penchant for working with a particular director or on a particular project. In fact, in such situations, there are more immediate considerations than just “deserved” compensation. In such circumstances, actors might agree to more back-end in exchange for less up-front, especially when the projects budget warrants such move.

E. ACTOR’S EXTENT OF INVOLVEMENT IN THE PROJECT 

Another important consideration in actor’s amount of compensation is the role and the length of such performance. It is easy to fathom the more complicated, prominent and lengthier a role, the more compensation the particular actor receives or should receive.

3. ACTOR TO GET PAID FIRST, IF POSSIBLE

It is incumbent on actor’s representatives to ensure the compensation due actor be placed in ESCROW. This is especially of paramount of importance when the producers are independent, foreign or not-financially stable. Despite the subtlety of this issue, most producers should concede if actor, in the absence of escrow, flatly refuses to perform. In fact, actor does not want to start acting and after investing considerable time, energy and capital, with dismay realizes producer cannot or does not pay.

Actor’s Film Performance: Pre, Post and Concurrent Issues with Performance 

Thursday, March 31, 2011 by Doron F. Eghbali 

Actor’s film performance starts not from principal photography and does not end with shooting the scenes. Such performance actually starts from actor’s reading of the script and deciding to accept the role to control or approval over the script to the actor’s make-up and physical appearance in the film. In addition, such actor’s performance encompasses the final editing and the way the final product is altered or diminished, thereby altering or diminishing the actor’s performance.

ISSUES RELATED TO PRE-PERFORMANCE

1. APPROVAL/CONTROL OF SCRIPT BY ACTOR OR LACK THEREOF

Between actor and producer inevitably exists some kind of friction as to the amount of control or approval each one contractually can exert over the project. On the one hand, actor prudently desires to ensure the role accepted is the role actually performed after numerous revisions of the script.

On the other hand, producer desires flexibility to modify or alter the script depending on fluid conditions such as:

  1. Casting Issues: Reducing the significance of some roles to accommodate others. For instance, the possibility of altering or modifying the script to accommodate a star actor and tailor the dialogue to showcase a particular’s star’s strengths rather than weaknesses.
  2. Budgetary and Contractual Issues: It all comes down to money. It is often possible the producer concludes it will be too expensive to shoot in certain locations or it is absolutely necessary to cut the script to comply with censorship or studio guidelines or the film is literally too long.
  3. Balancing Issues: The reality is there are so many other participants involved in creating a movie and there are not just the actor and producer. In fact, myriad stakeholders ranging from studio, distributor to financiers, director, co-stars and possibly writers desire to exert some kind of control over the film. In such situation, the producer prudently seeks to balance such often divergent interests.

2. MAKE-UP AND PHYSICAL APPEARANCE
 

Actors rightly are concerned about any drastic transformations demanded by the role and not disclosed to them in full or in part. Such transmutations might not be befitting the actor’s its public persona and whether or not such persona is appropriate for a particular role.

ISSUES CONCURRENT WITH PERFORMANCE

There are a couple of issues that often arise concurrent with actor’s film performance. Such issues relate to the dynamics between the actor and other personnel especially other actors on the set AND rarely the actor’s desire to have exclusive control over the performance.

1. Actor’s Dynamic with Other Film Personnel

Actor’s concern might not include only the actor’s relationship with other actors, but also such dynamic with the director and production personnel. In such instances, problems might arise as to the compatibility, stature compared to others and even the quality of their work. For instance, some actors might demand – depending on their level of control laid out in their contract – a particular director, photographer, cinematographer or star-quality supporting cast.

ISSUES RELATED TO POST-PERFORMANCE

As indicated before, the salient issue connected with an actor’s post-performance concerns edition of the movie. In fact, it is well known that in Hollywood “films are made on the cutting-room floor.” In such scenario, it is prudent actor demands and receives assurances the end product audiences will see would not be very different from what the actor reasonably came to believe. Undoubtedly, the producer, as always, longs for the most possible flexibility to ensure the ultimate film is not hamstrung by contractual obligations.

Need legal advice related to your Actor Agreement in Los Angeles or Beverly Hills, CA? Contact Law Advocate Group, LLP today!

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