The Writers Guild of America has struck a new tentative deal with the Association of Motion Picture & Television Producers, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The three-year agreement, which would go into effect May 2, is to include a 3 percent wage increase each year, with an optional 0.5 percent diversion to pension and health contributions – exercised in the first year, for a net wage increase of 2.5 percent. Residuals bases will be increased, Basic Cable wage increases will be higher in the second season of a show, and streaming new media residuals will go up.
There is also an increase in the script publication fee from $5,000 to $10,000 and a reduction of hold periods shows can place on staff writers who are not currently working.
One of the biggest question marks when trying to ensure profitability on a film or TV project is the residuals payment obligation. The talent guild agreements are filled with nuanced rules that can end up costing an unsuspecting producer or distributor much more than anticipated.
Here are five tips to keep in mind, both when estimating the total cost of your film and when negotiating licensing deals to make sure they’re profitable.
Leaving someone off the cast list results in more than hurt feelings.Improper verification of the residuals cast list (i.e., getting it wrong) can generate claims and additional costs. Here are some common errors in creating the residuals cast list:
Omission of SAG- AFTRA Talent
Talent in re-shoots
Stunts and stunt coordinators in second unit
Choirs hired in post-production
Talent called to loop or re-voice
Talent in clips or excerpts from other films or recording used in film
Celebrity look-alikes, sports stars, political cameos hired outside normal casting
Nude body doubles hired as principals
Failure to properly calculate SAG or IATSE residuals proration
Failure to recognize special agreements or waivers negotiated at the time of production
The first million is the sweetest. Under all collective bargaining agreements, residuals on the first $1 million reportable receipts from Home Video are payable at lower percentages. In cases of shared distribution territories, agreements should detail which entity gets the benefit of these lower residual rates. In cases where the agreements do not make this clear, it is to the distributor’s benefit to make the first Home Video reporting.
Watch out for the ol’ PH&W prepay. Advances to star talent are often made prior to production and outside of a payroll service. Consequently, these amounts are sometimes overlooked in preparing the residual cast list and are not credited toward that talent’s Pension Health & Welfare contribution ceilings. This results in overpayment of PH&W on residuals.
Separate payroll services = doubled PH&W contributions. In cases of shared distribution where the responsible parties are using separate payroll services, residual payments made by one party are not likely to be credited by the other against talent PH&W ceilings. This also results in another PH&W overpayment on residuals.
Be an approval-seeker when it comes to setups. When two parties are using separate payroll services, it’s important to coordinate the approval of the residual setup. Making residual payments based on different allocation or proration would be a red flag for an audit.
One of the best things you can do to protect yourself and make your film attractive to distributors is to get your final residuals cast list together while you’re still in production. A residuals payment service can help you assemble the list, and should even be able to forecast the cost of residuals for various release-to markets.
Media Services and Showbiz Software are proud to announce the release of three brand-new mobile apps for iPad and Android tablets. As first reported in the Hollywood Reporter, the production tools were released yesterday in conjunction with the annual Labor Guide Launch Party in Los Angeles, held at the W Hollywood.
The flagship app is the Showbiz Labor Guide, which mirrors the printed edition of the same name, but with easy touchscreen lookup of any wage rate from film and TV union agreements spanning the United States, such as IATSE, Teamsters, SAG-AFTRA, DGA and WGA.
The drill-down menu allows producers and accountants to select region, agreement and occupation code to get wage and hour minimums sorted by schedule (Daily, Weekly, On Call, etc).
The Showbiz Directory app is a standalone mobile database of entertainment industry vendors and crew members in production centers across the country. Media Services eForms is a series of fillable, signable forms for employees working on film, TV and commercial productions. Many of the forms are specific to Media Services’ payroll division: now clients and their crew can fill out start paperwork and send it directly from their tablet devices.
All three apps are currently available in Apple’s App Store; the Labor Guide and Directory can also be found in the Google Play store. The Labor Guide was released with the introductory price of $19.99, while the other two apps are free.
In conjunction with the rollout, Media Services and Showbiz Software raffled off three iPads to attendees of last night’s launch party, where several hundred were in attendance. The New York launch party is slated for December 6 at Chelsea Manor. Register for it here.
We had a blast with all our friends at the Labor Guide Launch Party Los Angeles last night at The Station Hollywood in the W Hotel! Prizes were raffled, Labor Guide Lemonades and appetizers consumed, and scintillating conversation exchanged at our fourth annual running of the event. Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate with us and to our generous sponsors for helping us make it all happen. Already looking forward to next year!
“We’re lucky to have such wonderful sponsors and guests, who just seem to make the party better every year,” said Leimomi Coloretti, Media Services director of outreach and events. “It’s truly an honor to host this event, where we get a chance to connect with all these amazing people in the industry and learn about the great things they’re working on. Thanks to everyone who made it out!”
Media Services and Showbiz Software hit the town with hundreds of our closest friends Thursday night, as we hosted the NYC debut of our Labor Guide Launch Party. Already a staple event in Los Angeles each autumn, the party celebrates the annual release of Showbiz Software’s flagship product, the Showbiz Labor Guide. The New York installment was a first, and given the success of the event, it won’t be the last.
More than 300 film, television, and commercial producers, accountants, and other production professionals joined us for the inaugural New York celebration at the Taj Lounge in New York’s Chelsea district, enjoying networking, drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and prize drawings.
The Showbiz Labor Guide is an essential budgeting and accounting tool for film, television, commercials, Internet and music video production. Published annually, the guide lists up-to-date rates and contracts from all major guilds and unions including IATSE, DGA, WGA, SAG as well as working conditions for every major production center in North America including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Canada.
The New York event featured a special presentation of Media Services’ new software endowment, the Showbiz Software Grant Award, to the New York chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The organization, which hosts the local New York Emmy Awards each year, accepted two Producer’s Toolkit packages which will be redistributed to academy members. The packages contain copies of Showbiz Budgeting,
Showbiz Scheduling, the Showbiz Labor Guide and Final Draft. NATAS NY executive director Jacqueline Gonzalez was on hand to accept the grant award.
“We are committed to supporting the entertainment industry and are excited this grant will help emerging talent with what we consider the best software tools in the industry,” said Media Services’ VP of Sales and Software Development Steve Bizenov of the award. “New York is home to one of this nation’s top production centers and we are thrilled to be part of the community.”
Looking forward to the L.A. Labor Guide Launch Party next Thursday!