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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Non-Union Commercial Buyouts

A question from a reader, posted in the comments section of the article here

Hi! I wanted to just clarify some things just so I am sure I'm understanding correctly. I just did a non-union commercial and on the contract it said compensation: $500 per day for 4 days (inclusive of all rehearsals, wardrobe fittings and session fees). underneath that it said $1500 (representing the BUYOUT fee for all usage as outlined in this agreement. I thought that meant I would be receiving both sums of money. My pay for the 4 days shoot AND then the buyout pay. My agent said the buyout is inclusive in the pay I got and they included what the buyout fee was as the amount that would be paid 110% if they decided to use it a second year. It looked confusing on the contract. Is my agent correct? Are you saying that the buyout is usually included in the initial payment? Thanks so much.

Hello there! Thank you for your question. Please note that I'm a union actor so much I'll be speaking to is what's expected with union negotiations. It is known that non-union productions are not bound by the same agreements so they may be different than what I'm about to describe. 

First, it's not as common for there to be buyouts in Union projects. They have standard rates for those who want to have the TV commercial run per use or, for internet commercials - per weeks /months / 1st year. Email me if you'd like to see that contract:

I have always understood non-union buyout to be SEPARATE from the day rate. I have never heard of it being included as it was described. I imagine you could see something like, "$*** day rate, which includes a $*** buyout." But that's not what the contract seems to say here.

It looks like they're saying that it's a one year buy out, with a second buyout of 110% of your day rate plus the same buyout rate should you choose to renew for one year. The only way to know is to call the casting director yourself, if yer agent won't enquire for you.

I would always recommend that you have a lawyer or contracts professional take a look at any contracts you have been given. If you have a close relationship with a casting director, you can also ask them to look at it. 

Hope this helps!

Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

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. She is the Founder/Coach of The Actors’ Enterprise, co-founder and Managing Director of The Seeing Place Theater, and writes an “Experts” column for Backstage. To learn more, check out and find her on Twitter @ErinCronican.

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