Congratulations for getting through the nerve wracking audition process and earning your first big acting or modeling job. That is the first step to accomplishing your goal of becoming a working actor or model.
Of course getting your first real job in the entertainment industry is not a guarantee of being the next big star, or even from ever getting another job, but it is an exciting first step. Now you must work hard and give a 100% effort to perform to your best ability.
You must impress the producers or production company so that they will be happy and want to work with you again. The other thing to remember is that producers network with each other and they talk.
You need to develop a great reputation, which will create a big demand for your services. We are going to talk about how you get compensated for the work that you do. We will talk about print modeling jobs, commercials, and acting jobs.
Lights, Camera, & ACTION!!!
Acting In Films & TV.
We are going to assume that you are new in the business, but that you have achieved status as a member of SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and that for your first real paying gig, that you will receive as compensation, SAG minimum.
The union protects you in that the production company must pay you a minimum amount for each day that you work. There are different pay scales for every film depending upon the budget of the film. SAG minimum can be anything from $250 per day for Ultra-low budget films, where the total budget can be $500,000, up to approx. $800 per day for a higher budget film.
You will be paid during the process of shooting the film. As you gain more experience, and do more jobs, your agent will be able to negotiate a higher pay rate, and establish your "day rate." Of course in the entertainment industry, almost everything is negotiable, but that will be determined as you progress along in the business.
I know actors whose day rates range from $1500 per day up to actors who appear in studio films who get $100,000 per day. This is assuming that they will be working only a few days on the film. (Perhaps a week or less) If your role is a starring role, the budget of the film will have an amount of pay in the form of a flat fee for that actor.
For example, instead of receiving your daily SAG minimum, you may receive a flat fee of $10,000 for acting in that role. Of course the more famous you become, the higher your day rate will go, and you will create a demand for yourself, which will make them have to pay you more.
For television shows it's a bit different. Generally for appearing as a guest star on a show like "Law and Order" you will generally earn approximately $4000 per week, if you are not a known entity. Once you have become a steady working actor, your agent will be able to demand a higher salary for appearing on the show.
Most successful actors are not huge stars, but working actors that get steady work as guest stars on television shows and meaningful roles in films. If you are the star of a weekly show, the pay increases dramatically.
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On the lower end of the scale, where you are the star of a non major network channel show you will make approx. $10,000 per week, but if you are on a major network (CBS, NBC, ABC, or Fox) you will be making $30,000 to $50,000 per week or more. If the show becomes the hit of the season, you can be making six figures per week, but let's not get too crazy about this.
You keep working hard on improving your acting ability, and let your agent worry about those kinds of things. *(Don't expect as a beginner to earn a starring role on a network TV show).
Sell, Sell, Sell
Compensation For Commercials.
The pay for doing commercials is different than for doing acting in films and television. There are a few similarities. The main one is that there are budgets for commercials, and the pay scale is partly predicated upon the budget for the commercial.
Of course if the production company is looking to use a major star in the commercial, the budget may skyrocket, and it means that may not be a good sign for you. Acting in commercials is different than acting in films/television.
In films or TV, you are acting as a particular character. You must convince the audience that you ARE that doctor, businessman, athlete, policeman, or whatever the character you are playing is. To be a great actor, it really seems that you are not acting at all, but that you ARE that person.
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In commercial acting, you have to also make the audience believe that you use the product, and you have to SELL that product. So, here is how you get paid:
There are local, regional, and national commercials. You will receive a session fee, for actually shooting the commercial. The actual rate of pay is determined by the budget of the commercial, but of course it will not be below the SAG minimum.
Once the commercial starts to air, you will start to receive payments called residuals. If the commercial does not appear on the air after a 13 week period after it's shot, you will receive an interim fee, called a holding fee.
Every time the commercial airs, you will receive a residual payment. If the commercial runs for 3 or 4 months, if it's successful, it might keep running. If it is discontinued, the residual payments stop. It may stop, and then a year later they bring it back on. If they plan on bringing it back, they will contact your agent and let he or she know. At that point, they can renegotiate with the production company.
For a local commercial that airs in your city, you may only receive a flat fee for shooting the commercial. For regional or national commercials, generally you will receive the session fee and then a holding fee (if it has not aired after 13 weeks) and then residuals.
Obviously your total compensation will be the greatest for a national commercial, and will be the least for a local commercial. For a local commercial, you might only make a few thousand dollars or less. For a good national commercial, like for McDonalds, where you are the principle (Main character) you could make $75,000 to $100,000 in a year for that one commercial.
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If you appear in 2 or 3 successful national commercials, you could end up in fat city... um, let's make that phat city!!! A final note, some times a local commercial might end up being non-union. If you are lucky enough to be in SAG, my advice is DO NOT appear in a non-union production, whether a commercial, or a film or television show. If they find out, you will be suspended from SAG.
OK, Smile For The Camera
Compensation For Print Ads.
In print advertisements, you also have to sell the product, but you're communicating in a different way than you would in a commercial. You do have to work on being able to use your looks in a way that expresses certain things.
For example, if you you are selling cosmetics you make it feel like THAT products makes you feel like the most beautiful woman in the universe! You also must make other women believe that if they use the product, that THEY will be the most beautiful women in the world.
Bill Dobbins' Monthly Gallery Of Gorgeous Girls.
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See More Of Bill's Work At www.billdobbinsphotography.com.
First of all, there is no union affiliation regarding print advertisements. So there are no SAG minimums. There are also local ads, regional ads and national ad campaigns. Just like in commercials, the national ads pay the most and the local ones pay the least.
The compensation is not as good as in commercials, but can still be very good. Basically, there are two parts to the pay process. As in commercials, you will receive a session fee for doing the photo session. The second part of it is called a "buy-out." What that entails is that the buy-out prevents you from doing any other print ads for the same kind of product, generally for a time period of one year.
For example, let's say you do a print campaign for Budweiser beer. That means that you cannot appear in any ads for another beer company for a year. Most buy-outs are for a year, though sometimes it could be for six months or for two years.
The longer the period, the higher the buy-out payment will be. There are no residuals in print ads, and that is why you won't make as much money as you would doing commercials. Your agent will receive 20% of your total compensation rather than the 10% that they will get for commercials and film/TV work. That is the bad news. However the good news is that most production companies will pay you the fee for doing the print ad, PLUS the 20% agency fee.
Some Additional Information
If you have more specific questions, you can always contact me via my e-mail, but let me tell you about another way to find out about how much actors make and have made over the years. There is a HUGE website on the internet called IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base) and it lists anyone who is anyone in the film/television business.
It includes actors, directors, writers, producers, makeup artists, casting directors, etc. (I am on it---if you put my name (Kenneth Kassel) you will see some of the casting credits I have received). The reason I bring it up, is that for many stars, it tells you what their salary was for doing a particular film. That is always fun for me to check out.
Go to the site, and check it out. First you will see a photo and where the actor is from, and their birth date. Then it will have the beginning of their bio, and then list all of their film/TV credits. If you look at their bio, it will give a few sentences and then (see more) and if you click on that, you will get their entire bio.
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Check It Out!
View Bob's IMDB Profile Here.
Many times at the bottom of the bio, there will be quotes from them and it shows the salary they made for shooting specific films, which allows you to see their progression, from what they received for early films up to the most recent ones.
Well, I want to wish everyone a great holiday season, and a Happy New Year.
Next Month: Look out for the next column in January--NETWORKING 101