Film, Television and Digital Media Production
Low Budget Incentives
Low-budget doesn’t have to mean non-union. One of the biggest concerns we hear is the problem of trying to produce ‘union’ on small budgets. ACTRA is committed to supporting emerging filmmakers so we have created several possibilities for smaller budget productions to be made under our jurisdiction with ACTRA performers.
ACTRA has special agreements and provisions for low-budget, student and member-initiated productions.
Please don’t hesitate to contact your local ACTRA Branch to set up an appointment to discuss these types of productions and how we can work together to put your vision into action with professional performers.
Becoming a Signatory Producer
The first step to hiring ACTRA members is to become a ‘Signatory Producer’. A ‘Signatory Producer’ is one that has agreed to abide by the terms and conditions of the appropriate collective agreement by signing a ‘Voluntary Recognition Agreement.’ Once you have become a signatory, you and your subsidiaries are bound to the terms and conditions of the agreements for any and all productions that you undertake during the life of the agreement. Those terms and conditions include giving preference of employment to ACTRA Members.
If you are a Signatory Producer in one province, you can engage ACTRA members anywhere in the country, and do not have to re-sign when you change shooting locations, except in British Columbia.
Once you have become a Signatory Producer, contact your local ACTRA Branch to let them know you have a new project. The Branch will assign a steward to work with you and will provide you with contract forms, time sheets and remittance statements (if required) as well as any other relevant material, including print copies of the appropriate collective agreement.
Before production starts ACTRA requires each producer to arrange a pre-production meeting to discuss the specifics of that production including such things as whether or not the film will be applying for Canadian Content status, the names of key production personnel and pertinent information about stunts and children.
Each producer is required to post a security bond with ACTRA, which is normally calculated at two weeks average payroll for the project. This calculation would include not just the basic fees but all sums for use fees, and insurance and retirement contributions. The bond may also include calculations based on the contracted fees for the ‘above the line’ talent if other financial arrangements have not been entered into on their behalf. The bond must be received by ACTRA prior to the start of principal photography and will be returned once the final payroll has been received, all payments have been verified and all appropriate paperwork has been received by the ACTRA office.
The National Commercial Agreement (NCA) covers commercials made for television, radio and digital media. It contains provisions and rates for local and regional commercials, and for commercials made specifically for digital media, as well as those moved over from conventional media.
Before production begins, the producer (or in commercial-speak, the ‘engager’) signs a ‘Letter of Adherence’ binding the production company or agency to the terms and conditions of the NCA. An ‘Intent to Produce’ must be filed with ACTRA, giving details of the shoot. Pre-production meetings are not required, but an ACTRA commercial steward will work closely with the producer before and during the shoot in order to help ensure that everything to do with the performers goes smoothly.