Making the leap to union productions is a big moment in any producer’s career. It’s a move brimming with opportunities, but heavy with new rules and regulations to be aware of.
These include SAG-AFTRA Production IDs and IATSE MPI Production IDs, important elements of a production’s ability to track pension, health, and welfare payments to their employees.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what you need to know in order to obtain these unique identifiers, as well as their significance in the entertainment industry.
First, let’s break down what a Production ID is and is not. This is important because there are two ID numbers that you will come across in union production.
The first is called a “Signatory ID.” This is the account number the Union (in this case, SAG-AFTRA or IATSE) assigns to a production company itself. It’s like a social security number, and it will never change.
A Signatory ID is required for all remittances, and failure to provide the ID in an accurate and timely manner may result in late reporting.
However, the Signatory ID is NOT the same identification number as the SAG-AFTRA Production ID or an MPI Production ID (associated with IATSE).
Let’s discuss the SAG-AFTRA side first.
The SAG-AFTRA Production ID is the account number assigned by the union to track pension and health on a signatory’s individual projects. For instance, if a signatory has five different movies and shows in production, each one will share a signatory number. At the same time, each of their SAG-AFTRA Production ID numbers will be different.
When production wraps, SAG-AFTRA’s health plan department will often contact the film payroll house to confirm contributions have correctly been reported. (This is one of many good reasons to be sure you’ve chosen a payroll company that works with SAG. Like Wrapbook!)
The SAG-AFTRA Production ID is used as the unique identifier to clear a project before the security deposit can be released back to production. If an ID number hasn’t been submitted - or if the ID number is incorrect - late fees can be incurred by production.
One easy way to tell the difference between a Signatory ID and Production ID is by looking at the ID numbers themselves. For SAG, a Signatory ID typically begins with “1” or “01,” while AFTRA’s signatory IDs typically begins with “A00.” For older SAG projects it’s possible the number could start with a 7, 8, or 9.
Meanwhile, Production IDs typically begin with “0055” or “55” for SAG projects or “A0” for AFTRA projects.
To obtain these ID numbers, a production must contact SAG-AFTRA and sign an agreement that governs the production.
Once that is signed, a SAG-AFTRA production ID will be assigned to the project. Contact can be made by calling the union directly, or through a union representative if the company producing the film has one.
MPI Production ID numbers are associated with IATSE obtained and function very similarly to SAG-AFTRA Production ID numbers, with one major distinction.
Where SAG-AFTRA only has one health plan, IATSE has several, and they're all managed by outside companies. This means that IATSE itself will not assign your production either your employee or your production ID.
That responsibility falls to MPI (Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health). After signing your IATSE agreement, you must sign a second agreement with MPI, who acts as the employer with regards to pension and health. They will then assign your project an MPI Employee number and a Production ID number.
Critically, MPI may not automatically provide you with your MPI Production ID number. To request it, you will need to submit the contract you signed with IATSE. Once MPI responds with your MPI Production ID number, you can provide it to your film payroll company.
As with SAG-AFTRA Production ID numbers, IATSE MPI Production ID numbers are essential for tracking and reporting worker benefits. If you don’t report them accurately, your film payroll company can’t submit benefits to MPI. And if you don’t submit on time, there can be consequences.
Finally, it’s important to remember that MPI doesn’t cover all IATSE and Teamsters members! Your IATSE union rep will be able to help you determine which health plan(s) your project will need to contact in order to make sure all your bases are covered.
At Wrapbook, we want to make sure that all of your payroll needs are covered on time and accurately. That’s why when researching film payroll companies, make sure to look for mandatory submission of Signatory and Production ID numbers... Like we do!
When you create a union project in Wrapbook - whether SAG-AFTRA or IATSE - the system will automatically populate a Signatory and Production ID box.
Failure to provide accurate information could result in late reporting, which can have a negative impact on a member's health eligibility. That’s a terrible position in which to put your employees.
In addition, your production could be liable for late fees incurred due to late reporting.
However, since it’s common for even experienced production companies to not know each project’s SAG-AFTRA or MPI production ID numbers, Wrapbook's film payroll services have a back-up plan in place.
Once a week, Wrapbook compiles a report that details all the SAG-AFTRA and IATSE projects created in the system that week. That report is then submitted to SAG Health and MPI so Wrapbook can confirm the employer and production ID numbers before entering them on behalf of the client.
Of course, this isn’t the only costly mistake you can make doing film payroll. We’ve got a guide on how to avoid more mistakes right here.
Taking the big step into union production can be overwhelming, but with Wrapbook, you can rest easy.
Our mission is to make film payroll simpler than you ever thought possible. Armed with the proper knowledge of SAG Production ID numbers and IATSE MPI ID numbers, you can be sure that your health and pension payments will be reported seamlessly.
For more information on running film payroll, check out our practical guide to the process, and to learn more about Wrapbook and our services, be sure to check out our Who’s Behind the Scenes of Wrapbook.
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Wrapbook's newest resource is our podcast, "On Production," which features experts in the field and tips on how to navigate the production world. Check it out!