Hello. I was in a hidden camera pizza hut commercial. it was aired nationwide and played about 10 times a day. I filled out tax paper work, but I want to know if I'm going to be paid residuals for this commercial? Thanks for your help.
Hi, Cassandra. It all depends on what kind of contract you were on. First, was it a union commercial (SAG or AFTRA?) Second, were you a principal actor or background?
Non union commercials very rarely offer residuals- most of the time, your initial payment (or "session" fee) serves as a "buyout" meaning that the fee paid covers all future airings in any market, as many times as they wish to air it. The union contracts provide protections in this area, and stipulate that the producer must renew the commercial after the initial time period is up, which includes paying actors a residual fee. Usually, union commercials are renewed on 13 week basis and have a residual structure for both regional and national packages.
As far as I understand it, only principal actors receive residuals on commercials. Background actors are paid a one time session fee for the shoot, which constitutes a buyout. In the SAG Commercial Contract Digest, a principal performer is defined as, "Anyone whose face appears silent and is identifiable and whose foreground performance demonstrates or illustrates a product or service or illustrates or reacts to the on or off-camera narration or commercial message. Persons appearing in the foreground solely as atmosphere and not otherwise covered by the foregoing shall be deemed extra performers."
To find out if you are due residuals, the first thing you should do is look at the written contract you signed and see if it is union or non union, and principal or extra/background. If it is a union project, you can call the union and ask to speak to the business representative who handles commercials in your area. They will be able to tell you what the contract stipulates.
For more information about union television commercials, you can go to the union websites:
SAG Commercial Contracts
AFTRA Commercial Contracts
I hope this is helpful for you! Please feel free to let me know if you have any other questions.
UPDATE: Read this article on non-union actors and residuals.
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Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out http://www.theactorsenterprise.org.