So I'm going to continue with this post as if you at least know the basics of SAG and doing your project union or nonunion.
There's a reason they tell you to file your paperwork THREE WEEKS in advance. There is absolutely no way you can film with union actors and that name actor you sooooo desperately wanted attached to your film without approval from SAG.
Because of the recent merger there's even more paperwork to fill out during the preliminaries (as you can see from the pic above) so get ready.
SAG has a lovely breakdown on their site of the different SAG agreements HERE I guarantee you, you will need to get very familiar with it.
Your budget will dictate whether you are SAG Low, SAG Modified or SAG Ultra Low. Once you find which one applies, START READING!
But here's a preread for you that SAG sends over when you first apply: DOWNLOAD PDF DOCUMENT HERE
A few things to know:
When working with Minors under 16, a Welfare Worker/Set Teacher is required at ALL times, regardless if they are in school or not. Most set teachers usually charge about 400-500/day. So if your lead is a kid, please make sure to budget in an extra 400/day every time that kid is on set.
For example: if kid 1 is scheduled to work 15 days out of your 20 day shoot schedule, then budget $6000 more dollars for your Set Teacher.
Also, if there is a large group of minors, then prepare to get TWO Welfare Workers/Set Teachers. They are only allowed to monitor no more than 5 children. So if there is 15 kids in a scene, yes, you need THREE TA's.
If your minor is 16, then a Set Teacher is only required for tutoring during the school hours. So try to schedule that child after school or on the weekends or holidays.
And really really important is the number of hours that you can have that child on set. Make sure your AD or 2nd AD factors in the THREE HOUR TUTORING TIME per SAG that the minor is REQUIRED to have.
Now, there are some set teachers who will work for cash and their rates are negotiable (no less than $200)...but you didn't hear that from me!! LOL!
A good website to find Welfare Workers/Set Teachers is www.StudioTeachers.com
What you as the producer/production company employing performers are required to do is pay for pension and health. There's a few documents that you HAVE to fill out and return to SAG when doing your paperwork. It is a MUST
What a lot of filmmakers forget to budget for is that 16.8% of the total of ALL of the SAG actors employed.
For example: out of your 400k budget, your actors line item in the budget may total about 60k. So your fringes is 16.8% of that, 10,080. PLUS the CA State Tax Burden Fee (yes there is such a thing) at 22%, totalling $13,200 AND add to those numbers the fee for payroll.
So instead of that little 60k you were anticipating to pay your cast add that 10k +13K= $83,000 AND don't forget that 2k to the payroll company for their services = $85,000 TOTAL for your SAG actors, fringes, taxes & payroll.
Do yourself a favor and plan your payroll appropriately! They will cut the checks weekly and save you the headache. I can't stress enough to avoid the mistake that newbies do and try to do it themselves!
The common misconception is to employ your actors for 12 hour days and anything over that is overtime. Errrrrr uhhhhhhh noooooo! LOL!
Actors are treated like regular employees, EIGHT HOUR DAYS and anything over is considered overtime and paid time and a half, by 1/6 increments (meaning every SIX MINUTES). Anything over 10 hours is paid double time. This does exclude lunch but that doesn't help you much when you and your AD have scheduled 12 hour days and your lead is needed for every single one of those 12. Either budget your OT accordingly or budget your stand-ins and get some rehearsals prior to filming! It will be quite shocking when you get the payroll invoice and see all the OT, especially if you didn't budget for it.
... LONG STORY SHORT
Go to the SAG website, get very familiar with the contracts. And then, after you've finished reading, go to a SAG workshop (most of them are free) and ask a ton of questions. VIEW SCHEDULE HERE
And then if you are like me, you will save their number in your phone and call your SAG rep frequently during principal photography to make sure you have crossed all of your t's and dotted all of your i's!