July 8, 2019

The Producer's Guide to SAG Payroll Companies

The Wrapbook Team
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Like cellphone contracts or Spirit Airlines, SAG actors can come with a ton of hidden fees. From meal penalties to agent fees to overtime, you’ll end up paying your SAG actors way more than their “sticker price.” 

It’s one of the many reasons productions use SAG payroll companies.

In addition to understanding the nuances of SAG fringes, film payroll companies are the only way you can pay the union’s members. They’ve been vetted by the guild to ensure that its members get paid on time.

In this article, we’ll break down what a SAG payroll company does and provide a list of every SAG-approved company you can use for your next shoot.

What are SAG payroll companies?

In order to work with its actors, SAG-AFTRA mandates you must work with one of its allowed entertainment payroll services. There’s no way around it.

In the simplest terms, SAG payroll companies cut checks or issue direct deposits to your actors.

In broader terms, film payroll companies determine what taxes to withhold, ensure that gross wages are calculated correctly, see to it that actors are paid on time, and arrange for SAG Benefits to receive appropriate funds for pension and health.

Each week, they process payments in accordance with SAG rules.

The Producers Guide to SAG Payroll Companies - Wrapbook - Acting
SAG payroll companies ensure that performers are paid in full compliance with SAG-AFTRA guidelines.

Before you write off SAG payroll companies as nothing more than glorified middlemen, know they also handle some critical duties for your shoot. 

And that brings up another question…

What do SAG payroll companies do?

Most novice producers think working with SAG actors just means paying a union-mandated minimum day rate. While SAG-AFTRA pay rates are critical, the guild’s regulations are actually far more complex and complicated in practice, which is yet another reason why productions turn to film payroll companies.

In addition to ensuring payments are sent in an orderly fashion, entertainment payroll companies ensure that you’re always compliant with the latest SAG rules, so you don’t find yourself facing fines.

At the bare minimum, SAG payroll companies assist with:

1. Submitting health and pension

For every SAG actor hired, an additional 20.5-21% on top of their wages must be paid to the SAG-AFTRA Health & Pension Fund. (Depending on the agreement, fringe rates may vary.) What this means is that if your actor makes $100 dollars for a day’s work, you’re expected to chip in an extra $21 for their health and pension. 

Skilled producers plan for these and other SAG fringes when building their production budget. SAG payroll companies review your actors’ timecards, providing you the actual amount that you’ll have to pay.

For each actor, they submit a health and pension report directly to SAG-AFTRA and send your funds.

The Producers Guide to SAG Payroll Companies - Wrapbook - Worker Guild Dropdown
Wrapbook’s digital platform balances speed, power, and affordability.

By processing your actors’ timesheets through Wrapbook, your health and pension fringes will be calculated automatically. An invoice for your actor will appear under ‘Pending Payroll,’ where you can click to send payment.

2. Calculating overtime fees

While 1st ADs try their best to keep shoot days running smoothly, things don’t always go according to plan on set. Sometimes, the cast and crew have to work overtime.

The most current SAG overtime rates are based on an eight-hour scale. Go over those eight hours, and you’ll have to pay an increased rate.

For most contracts, it’s 1.5x for the first two hours after you hit eight hours. And after that, you’ll pay double.

By using your timecard entries for each day on set, film payroll companies can calculate any overtime you owe your talent, paying special attention to the specific SAG contract under which your actors are working.

3. Enforcing break penalties

Whether you’re working on a feature film or corporate video, you need to give your SAG actors set breaks. 

From travel days to meal breaks to hold days to 12-hour turnarounds, there are many situations in which you may have to pay an actor for time spent not working. In addition to being mandatory, these situations often come with fines if you don’t follow the rules.

This complication is one of the reasons we wrote a whole post on how to budget SAG-AFTRA payroll.

With Wrapbook's film payroll services, we'll calculate your break penalties automatically when you submit your Exhibit G forms. And since Wrapbook sends your film payroll each week, it’s easy to keep track of penalties before they become a serious issue.

4. Providing workers' comp

Whether you’re working with SAG actors, nonunion actors, or just friends who have volunteered to act, you can’t run a professional production without workers' compensation insurance.

At its core, workers' compensation (or workers' comp) shields your production from liability when actors or crew get injured on set or on the way to set.

To illustrate, if two PAs get into a car accident while picking up walkie talkie batteries, they would be covered under your workers' comp insurance.

The Producers Guide to SAG Payroll Companies - Wrapbook - Filming
Workers’ comp offers critical protection for everyone involved in the highly unique work of filmmaking.

While your film insurance agency may be able to provide workers' comp, it’s usually handled by your entertainment payroll company. Usually, you’ll still need to work with a separate agency to acquire general liability insurance for your production, as SAG doesn’t allow you to work without it. 

Wrapbook, however, is an exception to the rule. Wrapbook can meet all your payroll and production insurance needs under one roof. 

5. Withholding taxes

Like all payroll services, SAG payroll companies help to keep you compliant with both federal and state employment laws, as well as union regulations. They manage payroll taxes for you, ensuring that you pay and withhold the correct amounts.

To accurately calculate payroll taxes for you, film payroll companies need the information in a W-4 or W-9 to ensure that taxes are withheld correctly.

But this is easier said than done.

As productions rush to the shoot day, it’s easy for W-4s, W-9s, and any other startwork documents to fall through the cracks, leaving you without the information necessary to properly pay your people. That’s why many producers use digital onboarding services to collect all the necessary documentation.

Wrapbook offers digital onboarding as a core component of its film payroll services. As you add a new crew member to your production, their forms are automatically filed for you.

The Producers Guide to SAG Payroll Companies - Wrapbook - Worker Onboarding
Wrapbook collects your crew members’ information when they join your production to ensure that you only pay what you need.

When onboarding for an employee is complete, it’s marked with a check mark. Compared to its paper-restricted predecessor, Wrapbook’s digital tools make onboarding faster, easier, and more secure.

Production Payroll

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The complete list of SAG payroll companies

Armed with a better understanding of what exactly SAG payroll companies do, we can finally move on to the fun part: finding the right one for your production.

Below, we’ve compiled a complete list of film payroll companies that work with SAG-AFTRA. By no means a top list (we already made one of those), you can instead use this list when assessing your SAG payroll needs.

  1. Wrapbook
  2. ABS Payroll
  3. CAPS Payroll
  4. Cast & Crew
  5. Entertainment Partners
  6. Extreme Reach
  7. Greenslate
  8. Media Services
  9. NetPay Payroll
  10. NPI Payroll
  11. Talent Fund
  12. Talent Paymaster
  13. Talent Services International
  14. The Team Companies

What makes one SAG company better than another?

While the above payroll companies may be able to process SAG payroll, what separates one film payroll company from another is price and technology.


While Entertainment Partners and Cast & Crew are the well-known names in SAG payroll, they’re not cheap. Make sure you find out about ALL the fees. 

Some charge for postage and handling, some require a deposit, some have minimums, and many charge an additional "software" fee. 

With Wrapbook, it's all inclusive, and we strive to make our pricing as straightforward as possible. Our services also make further savings possible by offering both payroll and SAG-compliant production insurance


Since the dawn of Hollywood, traditional film payroll has been an analog process, filing cabinet after cabinet with literal tons of paperwork and documentation. Technological solutions can help speed up the process and dramatically reduce waste.

For example, Wrapbook is changing this by digitizing film payroll completely with a single, intuitive platform that facilitates onboarding, payroll, document sharing, timesheets, and kit fee reimbursements.

Timesheets and invoices can be submitted with ease from anywhere that internet is available. With the Wrapbook app, cast and crew can even submit documents through their smartphones. And if you ever run into trouble, you can always chat with our customer success and support team.

Wrapping up

At the end of the day, it’s important to find a SAG payroll company that’s responsive and affordable. Whether you’re making a local indie or the next Avatar, Wrapbook can help you process SAG payroll with more speed, ease, and efficiency.

Use our SAG-AFTRA agreement finder to source the agreement that's right for your next project or watch our demo to check out our full range of payroll and production accounting services.

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Last Updated 
July 8, 2019


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.

About the author
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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