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Friday, February 1, 2008

What does" deferred pay" really mean?

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I saw this question posted on the Backstage Forum, and I posted an answer that I wanted to re-post here:

When you are cast for a role and they say it's deferred pay, does that mean they will pay you later in a form of a check? If so, shouldn't I sign some form of contract that states they will pay me on a deferred basis.

TAE responds:

Deferral usually means that you will only get money if they make a profit after they meet their expenses. In theater, sometimes this means they will give actors a cut of the ticket sales after expenses have been met. For film, it could mean a percentage of the profit if the film gets a distribution deal (whether it be for a release in theatres, on TV, or sales of DVDs.) I know a producer who, after several years, got a distribution deal on DVD, but after meeting expenses the SAG actors ended up being paid $9 each as a part of the deferral agreement. This is normal, especially for low budget agreements.

All of that aside, a contract is always a good idea (whether money is offered or not) so that that each party's expectations are mutually understand and agreed upon. Working on a union project makes this easy, because the paperwork is already drawn up for you and you know that certain minimums will be met. But with non-union projects, you need to work much harder to make sure that your rights are protected.

I hope you find this useful- good luck!

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

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