The Wrapbook Team
September 2, 2022

The Essential Guide to SAG-AFTRA Rates 2022

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Whether you’re making a feature or a commercial, one of the first decisions a producer must make is whether or not you’re going to cast SAG actors. While made up with some of the best talent in the world, working with the Screen Actors Guild comes with its own set of rules. And perhaps the most important rule is paying SAG rates.

At its core, SAG rates are the minimum amounts of money talent must make for a given production. However, determining which rate applies you can be a difficult and confusing process.

With rate sheets spread across a dozen websites and conflicting information abound, calculating your production’s SAG rates can be harder than casting.

Luckily, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide, breaking down the SAG rates of 2022 so you can determine what you might owe for a principal performer.

We also drummed up a tool to help you find the right SAG contract. Take a look...

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What are SAG AFTRA rates?

SAG-AFTRA rates are the minimum amounts of money the Screen Actors Guild will allow its members to work for on a given project. Offered on both a daily and weekly scale, SAG rates are often determined by the project type, budget constraints, and distribution plan.

Using this information, you can determine which SAG “agreement,” or contract, your production falls under. From there, you find the fees.

Hiring talent on SAG weekly rates (5-day basis) does result in a per day discount. However, that does mean you’ll have to pay for the rest of production on those days too.

It’s important to note that you’ll likely have to pay up to an additional 20.5% on your SAG payroll for health and benefits, called “fringes.” However, depending on the agreement, this percentage will fluctuate. See the specific agreements below.

Additionally, you’ll need to ensure that you have an insurance policy that’s SAG-friendly. Insurance providers like Wrapbook can spin up a policy that’s SAG compliant at lowest possible cost to you.

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HAVE YOUR BUDGET HANDY

Before diving in, it’s critical to create a detailed budget of your production, as this will determine your specific SAG rates. Plus, before you can even roll the camera, you’ll have to submit both a budget and a copy of your screenplay to SAG.

The SAG AFTRA Theatrical Rates of 2022

If you're producing a feature then you're in the right spot - SAG Rates 2020

If you're producing a feature then you're in the right spot - SAG Rates 2022

Making a feature film with SAG talent? Then your production probably falls under a SAG AFTRA Theatrical Agreement.

SAG Theatrical Rates apply to actors performing in films across a variety of budgets. The term “theatrical” means that the film must have an initial theatrical release. If you’re producing a film directly for streaming, you might fall under a New Media Agreement. Although in the age of streaming, the term can carry a different meaning.

Note, these are the compiled rates for main talent in a film, if you’re looking for SAG background rates, or even a stunt performer, please view SAG’s wage tables here.

SAG BASIC THEATRICAL AGREEMENT

SAG’s Basic Theatrical Agreement applies to films with budgets greater than $2,000,000. While premium talent is usually paid far above the SAG minimum, this is the rate actors can expect to make on a low budget studio project or a moderate indie film. The SAG day rate is $1,082, and $3,756 for the week.

Valid from 7/1/22 through 6/30/23:

  • Budget Range: Greater than $2MM
  • SAG Day Rate: $1,082 / Day
  • SAG Weekly Scale: $3,756 / Week

SAG LOW BUDGET AGREEMENT

The SAG Low Budget Agreement applies to films with budgets between $700,000 and $2,000,000, making this the SAG pay scale of most independent films. Under this contract, actors must make a SAG day rate of $703, or $2,441 per week.

If you’re working with some actors who aren’t in the guild, don’t worry. Under this agreement, those actors are allowed to work with a Taft-Hartley agreement, as with most SAG agreements.

Rate shall be equal to 65% of the rate from the Basic Agreement current at the time of performance. SAG has not updated anything beyond July, 2022 so it stays at $703.

  • Budget Range: $700k - $2MM
  • SAG Day Rate: $703 / Day
  • SAG Weekly Scale: $2,441 / Week

The P&H rate for performers is 21%. The P&H rate for background actors is 20.5%.

*Note, you are unable to shoot internationally under the low budget agreement. Instead, please see basic.

SAG MODERATE LOW BUDGET AGREEMENT

The SAG Moderate Low Budget Agreement applies to films with budgets between $300,000 to $700,000. The SAG day rate is $379, while the SAG weekly rate is $1,315. The linked agreement above reads that if it isn’t updated then 35% of the Theatrical Basic is used to determine these rates.

Non-union actors are allowed, while background actors are not covered.

While this agreement may seem like it perfectly applies to your film, it’s important to note that you need to release your film initially in theaters to qualify. If your film is released directly to a streaming service, like Hulu, your SAG scale rates might fall under New Media.

SAG has not updated anything beyond July, 2022, so day rate stays at $379.

  • Budget Range: $300k - $700k
  • SAG Day Rate: $379 / Day
  • SAG Weekly Scale: $1,315 / Week

The P&H rate for performers is 21%. The P&H rate for background actors is 20.5%.

SAG ULTRA LOW BUDGET AGREEMENT

Despite having three low budget options, the SAG Ultra Low Budget Agreement only applies to films (and short films) that are $300,000 or less. While there is no weekly SAG scale for “ultra low budget” projects, the SAG day rate is $216. This is based on the 20% of the basic agreement’s day rate.

If you’re looking for a SAG short film agreement, this is likely the right place to start.

SAG has not updated anything beyond July, 2022, so rate stays at $216.

  • Budget Range: $300k or less
  • SAG Day Rate: $216 / Day
  • SAG Weekly Scale: None

The P&H rate for performers is 20.5%. The P&H rate for background actors is 20%.

SAG SHORT PROJECT AGREEMENT

SAG Short Project Agreements cover films that have total budgets less than $50,000 and a maximum running time of 40 minutes. (Note: This does not apply to episodic nor animated projects.) Unlike other SAG day rates, actor salaries are completely negotiable.

And unlike other SAG AFTRA Theatrical agreements, you don’t need to ensure a theatrical screening under this agreement.

Films made under this pact can be released at film festivals, on free-streaming sites like Vimeo or YouTube.

Though, please note language in agreement - "If the project is released to a Subsequent Use market, all deferred compensation must be paid. For Principal Performers, deferred compensation under this Agreement for this purpose may not be less than 20% of the applicable day rate from the Basic Agreement current at the time of performance per day for Principal Performers."

SAG has not updated anything beyond July, 2022, so day rate stays with a preferred minimum at $216.

  • Budget Range: $50k or less (maximum 40 minutes)
  • SAG Day Rate: Negotiable (preferred minimum: $216)
  • SAG Weekly Scale: None (preferred minimum: $1056)

The P&H rate for performers is 20.5%. The P&H rate for background actors is 20%.

SAG STUDENT FILM AGREEMENT

SAG Student Film Agreements cover films with budgets less than $35,000, a maximum running time of 35 minutes, and producers that are currently students at an accredited U.S. university. Like the SAG Short Project Agreement, there isn’t a set SAG weekly scale or even a set day rate – it’s all negotiable.

While a theatrical release isn’t required to qualify, there is a fair amount of paperwork needed to fall under this contract.

  • Budget Range: $35k or less (maximum 35 minutes)
  • SAG Day Rate: Negotiable
  • SAG Weekly Scale: None

The P&H rate for performers is 20.5%. The P&H rate for background actors is 20%.

The SAG AFTRA Television Rates of 2022

If you're making an episode of something, these are your rates. - SAG Rates 2020
If you're making an episode of something, these are your rates - SAG Rates 2022

With streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime entering the scene, there’s more television work for SAG actors than ever. However, calculating your SAG rates for TV is by far the most confusing.

Unlike SAG agreements for film (where everything is determined by budget), in the world of television, rates are determined by the number of episodes you’re going to create, and more often than not, the episode’s length. And if it's Network TV, it may be more complicated.

*A Note on Network Television

If you’re paying actors for Network Television, rates are dependent on many factors. For one, the type of program needs to be considered. And wrapping your head around something called “The Netcode” can get complicated fast.

Traditionally, the Netcode was divided into either “front of the book” or “back of the book” rates— where front of the book deals with either non-network or network non-primetime programs, (like soaps, game shows, award shows, or specials), while back of the book rates were often used for dramatic programs.  

And then there are background actors. 

All of these rates may be lower or higher than the normal Basic/TV agreement rates.  

 Every negotiation will be different. Expect the unexpected.

If you’re making a television series that’ll go directly online (ala Netflix) and your budget is under a million, then you’ll want to check out New Media.

But if you’ve got a penny more, you’re in the right place. Here are the 2022 SAG rates for performers in television. We should note that these rates are for performers of cable and streaming shows. For network shows, producers should plan to budget an additional 15 percent.

PERFORMERS IN ONE EPISODE

Need an actor for just one episode of your series to say a few lines? Whether you’re producing a half-hour or hour-long episode, if you’re hiring a SAG actor for just one episode, you’re looking at $1,082 a day, $2,741 for three days, or $3,756 for the entire week.

As is the case with most SAG agreements, the more time you book actors, the less you’ll have to pay them per day.

Valid through 6/30/23:

  • SAG Day Rate: $1,082 / Day
  • SAG Three-Day Rate: $2,741 / 3 Day Period
  • SAG Weekly Scale: $3,756 / Week

MAJOR ROLE PERFORMERS IN ONE EPISODE

If you’re booking a big name guest star in one episode, then in the eyes of SAG this is usually classified as a major role performer. Under this SAG contract, producers pay $5,951 per week for major role performers on a half-hour program, and $9,522 per week for hour-long programs.

However, if your major role performer is appearing in an episode within the first season of your show, it’s possible you may only have to pay the regular rate for a performer (above).

Valid through 6/30/23:

  • 1/2 Hour Program: $5,951 / week
  • 1 Hour Program: $9,522 / week

PERFORMERS IN MULTIPLE PROGRAMS

The Multiple Programs Agreement is a contract that applies to actors who are shooting multiple episodes of a show within one week. If you’re producing a daily talk show or variety show for streaming or cable, this is your pay bracket.

SAG rates for multiple programs are put on a weekly scale, with $2,784 per week for both 1/2 Hour and 1 Hour Programs, $3,272 per week for 90 minute programs, and $3,856 per week for two hour programs.

Valid through 6/30/23:

  • 1/2 Hour Program: $2,784 / week
  • 1 Hour Program: $2,784 / week
  • 1 1/2 Hour Program: $3,272 / week
  • 2 Hour Program: $3,856 / week

SERIES REGULARS IN 1/2 HOUR

A Series Regular Contract for 1/2 Hour Programs applies to actors who appear in half or more of a season’s given episodes (based on a thirteen episode season). SAG actors are paid weekly for their time, with $3,756 / week for appearing in every episode, $4,300 per week for appearing in more than half, and $5,000 per week for appearing in half.

If an actor appears in less than half of a season’s episode order, talent would then be classified as a major role (guest star). Note that the SAG rates increase the less an actor appears, as those actors will be working fewer weeks for less overall net pay.

Valid through 6/30/23:

  • 13 out of 13 Episodes: $3,756 / week
  • 12-7 Episodes: $4,300 / week
  • 6 Episodes: $5,000 / week

SERIES REGULARS IN 1 HOUR

The SAG pay scale for Series Regulars on 1 hour shows functions exactly like 1/2 hours. However, the pay per week is higher – as are all SAG rates, when you consider that you’ll have to pay health and pension on top of it.

SAG actors are paid weekly for their time: $4,520 per week for appearing in every episode, $5,042 per week for appearing in more than half, and $5,897 per week for appearing in half.

Valid through 6/30/23:

  • 13 out of 13 Episodes: $4,520 / week
  • 12-7 Episodes: $5,042 / week
  • 6 Episodes: $5,897 / week

The SAG AFTRA Commercial Rates of 2022

You'll need to know many cities your commercial will air in - SAG Rates 2020.

You'll need to know many cities your commercial will air in - SAG Rates 2022.

Whereas Theatrical SAG rates depend on budget, SAG commercial rates depend on where and how many times you’ll be airing the commercial.

Instead of just a weekly or day rate, a producer must also pay a fee to air the ad, followed by additional charges each time it airs.

In short: the more times a commercial is aired, the more a SAG actor makes.

However, SAG offers different agreements that allow producers to essentially “buy in bulk,” depending on where the commercial will be airing.

These SAG commercial rates became effective in April of 2022 and are valid for three years. Set to expire March 31st, 2025. We will update this section accordingly.  

In addition to these rates, commercial contracts will require a 19.25-20.5% pension and health contribution.

SAG COMMERCIAL AGREEMENT - CLASS A, CABLE, WILD

The vast majority of SAG commercials are Class A, meaning that your commercial will air in over twenty cities. This is your bracket if you are shooting a national commercial that will air on four major networks (FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS). It’s also your bracket if you’re shooting a commercial that will run on a cable channel.

It’s likely also your SAG agreement, if you’re shooting a wild spot. Unlike national or cable ads, wild spots are commercials that air in over twenty specific cities.

Wild spots are used for products and services that only exist in certain cities–you wouldn’t air an In-N-Out commercial on the east coast. Instead of airing on a set network, wild spots only air on specific stations and markets.

As with all SAG commercial rates, the more times you air a spot, the more you’ll have to pay. The 1st use SAG commercial rates are:

  • SAG Commercial Rate On Camera $746.70
  • SAG Commercial Rate Off Camera: $561.50

SAG COMMERCIAL AGREEMENT - CLASS B

While not as popular as Class A, the SAG Commercial Agreement Class B applies to commercials that will air in six to twenty cities.

Unlike the SAG rates for Class A, you have to pay slightly more if New York City is one of your cities, which is why most opt for the first agreement. The 1st use rates are:

With New York

  • SAG Commercial Rate On Camera: $1,412.88
  • SAG Commercial Rate Off Camera: $1,010.46

Without New York

  • SAG Commercial Rate On Camera: $1,152.37
  • SAG Commercial Rate Off Camera: $800.39

SAG COMMERCIAL AGREEMENT - CLASS C

The least used of all three SAG Commercial Agreements, Class C applies to commercials that will air in less than six cities.

The 1st use rates are:

  • SAG Commercial Rate On Camera: $686.72
  • SAG Commercial Rate Off Camera: $457.85

The SAG AFTRA New Media Rates of 2022

If your project is going straight to the web, start here - SAG Rates 2020.

If your project is going straight to the web, start here - SAG Rates 2022.

Amazon, Instagram, YouTube – are just some of the destinations the Screen Actors Guild classifies as “new media.” Whether you’re making a film or series, they both fall under this agreement as long as your budget is between $50,000 and $1,000,000.

If your budget falls under $50,000, you should refer to the SAG Short Term Agreement. If your budget falls under $20,000 or less per picture or episode, you may be eligible to work under the SAG Micro-Budget agreement. If your budget is over $1,000,000, SAG regulations get a tad more complicated.

If you’re producing a film, your project is now classified under SAG Theatrical Rates. With television series, you would now be classified as a basic cable show and held to that pay scale.

NEW MEDIA SAG AGREEMENT - LESS THAN $250K

For New Media projects less than $250,000 (but greater than $50k), expect to pay performers a minimum rate of $125 per day. Like other low budget agreements, there’s only a SAG day player rate.

  • Budget Range: $50k - $250k
  • SAG Day Rate: $ 125 / day
  • SAG Weekly Scale: None

NEW MEDIA SAG AGREEMENT - $250K - $700K

New Media productions with budgets between $250,000 and $700,000 should expect to pay major performers either $335 per day, or $1,116 per week.

  • SAG Day Rate: $ 335 / Day
  • SAG Weekly Scale: $1,166 / Week

NEW MEDIA SAG AGREEMENT - $700K - $1MM

If your project falls between $700,000 and $1,000,000, the minimum you’ll have to pay SAG talent is either $630 per day, or $2,190 per week.

  • SAG Day Rate: $630 / Day
  • SAG Weekly Scale: $2,190 / Week

NEW MEDIA SAG AGREEMENT - OVER $1MM

At this point, your project has crossed out of New Media and into its traditional counterpart. For films, you should refer to SAG Theatrical Rates. For series, SAG Television Rates.

Wrapping Up

Understanding SAG rates can be a tricky endeavor for even the most veteran of producers. As with anything related to SAG, when in doubt, you should always defer to their organization’s website.

For more on SAG compliance, discover how to budget SAG payroll.

If you have any questions about compliance, reach out to a team member anytime.

Disclaimer

At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

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The Wrapbook Team

The Wrapbook Team consists of individuals who are thrilled about building modern software tools for creators. We’re a team of compassionate and curious people dedicated to solving complex problems with sophisticated solutions. You can find us across the U.S. and Canada.

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