Everything You Need to Know About SAG Studio Zones

21 August 2019

Working with members of The Screen Actors Guild comes with a lot of rules and just as many fees. However, one way to trim the budget on a shoot is by filming in a SAG Studio Zone.

In this article, we break down what exactly SAG Studio Zones are and where to find them.

What are SAG Studio Zones?

Set by The Screen Actors Guild, a studio zone is a set radius around a city, in which SAG actors are responsible for getting themselves to set.

Of course, the studio itself also has to be in that zone.

When both the actors and set are in the same zone, actors can’t expense any gas mileage or travel costs to the production. That’s why before you start a shoot, you should carefully budget for SAG fringes like these.

Example: Shooting in San Francisco

Let’s say you’re producing a commercial in San Francisco, using SAG actors. After looking up the most current SAG rates, you would also take into consideration where your talent lives.

Let’s say your talent lives in Los Angeles. Because the studio is in SF, you have to foot your talent’s travel expenses.

What are SAG Studio Zone rules?

The rules of SAG Studio Zones are pretty simple to grasp. When talent is commuting to a set within the SAG Studio Zone, their clock begins when they arrive to set for hair and makeup.

When talent is commuting outside of a SAG Studio Zone, the clock starts *the second they leave their residence**. This time is recorded on the talent’s Exhibit G Form.

If the set is “not a reasonable driving distance” away from the talent’s home, then you’ll have to pay for a travel day, including airfare, hotel, and meal per diems.

Where are the SAG Studio Zones?

Currently, there are only two recognized studio zones – one in Los Angeles and another in New York City.

As you may have guessed, this is because the sheer bulk of production in America occurs in these two cities with thousands of actors, writers, and directors all in the same neck of the woods.

SAG Studio Zone: Los Angeles

The Los Angeles SAG Studio Zone is a thirty mile radius, centered at the corner of La Cienega and Beverly Blvd.

Behold, the SAG Studio Zone of Los Angeles
Behold, the SAG Studio Zone of Los Angeles

Since the early days of Hollywood, before the Screen Actors Guild, the industry always recognized a thirty mile zone, abbreviated to TMZ.

And yes, that’s where the tabloid gets its name from.

When the SAG Studio Zone in Los Angeles was formed, it naturally encompassed the same area.

Producer’s Note: Different Unions Have Different Studio Zones

If you’re working with other unions, like the DGA, you’ll notice they share the same studio zone as Los Angeles. This is the case with many other unions.

However, each has its own nuances. Unlike SAG, many other unions’ studio zones can be expanded by use of a permit.

At the same, other unions have studio zones set up in other cities, like San Francisco.

That’s why it’s important to hire a great payroll company that understands ins and outs of each union.

Unlike other payroll companies, Wrapbook handles SAG payroll for no additional fee.

SAG Studio Zone: NYC

The SAG New York Studio Zone is an 8 mile radius starting at Columbus Circle.

The most current SAG Studio Zone for NYC
The most current SAG Studio Zone for NYC

Unlike the LA SAG studio zone, New York has a much smaller radius. Partially due to New York’s smaller size, the NYC studio zone is different depending on which union you’re working with.

As is the case with Los Angeles, the other studio zones for New York follow a thirty mile radius.

Wrapping Up

Unlike other SAG rules, SAG Studio Zones were drawn to save producers time and money. That’s why you should always get your talent’s address when casting for your upcoming projects.

What other SAG rules do you want us to write about next? Let us know in Messenger.

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