Money makes the world go round, it doesn’t grow on trees, and it cannot buy happiness. Money can, however, buy coffee and biscotti, which is just about the same thing!
All joking aside, we all want to be compensated for our hardwork and effort. Sooner, rather than later! When it comes to being paid in the acting industry, the speed of which your cheque is received depends mainly on the project and the production company.
Union projects are paid out according to union rules. SAG-AFTRA and ACTRA each have their own union specific policies. You can check out the links provided for their up to date information! Union cheques arrive quickly, usually within 3 weeks.
Non-Union projects are really at the mercy of production. The law in Canada for payment of services is 90 days. Non union productions take their time, an Agency will submit the invoice the day after you shoot and then wait. There are a few production houses that are amazingly swift and on top of all accounts payable that pay out within 30 days. This is unfortunately not the norm. Some sage words of advice? Anticipate the worst but hope for the best. 30 day payout is a welcomed surprise, 90 days is the expectation.
When it comes to buyouts it can be very very frustrating in the non-union world. A buyout is only paid to the actors that survive the final edit. So when you see a session rate and buyout listed on a breakdown, it doesn’t mean you will necessarily make the buyout amounts. An Agency has to wait for production to inform us on who made the edit and who’s buyout invoices they need. There are times when the campaign has started airing and they have still not requested the invoice for the buyout. There are few production companies that are very very slow moving to pay out buyouts. Buyouts are usually large sums of money and its hard for the actors not to assume it is their agency that is delaying payment. This is simply not the case, when the cheque arrives, you are notified, end of story.
While neither you, nor your Agent can control when your payment is issued, you can help the process by providing your information and having all necessary applications/contracts/paperwork done ahead of time or at least in a timely manner. General information to have on hand , and ideally already submitted to your agent:
Your email address
Your Phone # (house & cell)
Your address – mailing and physical if applicable
Make sure all of your information is up to date, and let your agent know as soon as there are any changes.