This post was updated on June 25, 2016, slightly emending the pay rates of stand-ins on commercials.
— The Editor
A common question for people visiting Stand-In Central is how much stand-ins in film and television are paid.
Usually stand-ins are members of SAG-AFTRA, the labor union merged in 2012 from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). As union members, stand-ins are entitled to union wages, which are determined by contracts negotiated with producers. For TV/film stand-ins, contracts vary depending on the production, and with these contracts come different rates for stand-ins.
Stand-In Central primarily deals with TV/film stand-ins. However, stand-ins also work on commercials. This article covers pay for union stand-ins working on commercials from April 1, 2016 through March 31, 2019. (For the latest information on stand-in pay in television and film, click here.)
Current Rates as of April 1, 2016
In recent years, union wages for stand-ins on commercials have increased every three years on April 1st. Stand-ins on commercials in those years were paid the same rate as extra performers on commercials. Stand-ins and extra performers had made $342.40/8 hours.
As of April 1st, 2016, stand-ins on commercials working under a SAG-AFTRA commercials contract received a wage increase to make their “session fee” (wage) for 8 hours higher than that of extra performers on a commercial.
So, as of April 1st, 2016, while extra performers received a wage increase of 7% ($366.35/8 hours), stand-ins received a wage increase of 10% ($403.01/8 hours).
Specifically, the wage of $403.01/8 hours for commercial stand-ins is for “Unlimited Use” commercials. For commercials with 13-week use, the wage for stand-ins is $233.93/8 hours. If that commercial is extended beyond 13-week use, the extension pays not less than $301.72 to the stand-in.
The SAG-AFTRA website includes a rate sheet that shows the rates stand-ins and other SAG-AFTRA workers make under the SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contract as of April 1, 2016.
In most cases, stand-ins on commercials receive their session fee for each spot (in other words, a related commercial) they shoot on a day. Therefore, if a stand-in works on three spots in one day, that stand-in receives $403.01 × 3 ($1,209.03).
For cable commercials, additional spots pay differently. A stand-in on a cable commercial receives $403.01/8 hours for the first spot, and each additional spot pays $100.82.
If you stand in on several spots over multiple days of a commercial, it may be more complicated whether you receive more than one session fee for the day. If you have questions about your session fee on multi-day shoots, contact the Commercials Department of your SAG-AFTRA local.
As union members, stand-ins can also make additional money in various ways. Some of these methods may include:
- working overtime*
- earning meal penalties (when crew does not break for a meal after 6 hours of work)
- working at night (when working during premium time periods)
- working in wet, snow, smoke, or dust conditions (an additional $50.24 added to your base rate)
- working as an extra performer, photo double. or hand model (each is considered an additional session fee on commercials)
Given the overtime many stand-ins put in, commercial stand-ins may regularly gross $600/day or more. Of course, some stand-ins regularly work “straight 8s,” meaning they gross only their base rate because they work no overtime hours.
If you work in multiple spots on a shoot day, overtime is calculated off of just one session fee, not the total of session fees. For example, if you work on three spots in one day, and if you work more than eight hours, your overtime is calculated off of $403.01/8 hours, not $1,209.03/8 hours.
While the pay may be attractive, the amount of commitment involved when standing in may make standing in unappealing to the average person.
Standing in is not a “day job” in the typical sense. Usually, a stand-in cannot leave for an appointment and come back as one might at a typical desk job.
Oftentimes, a stand-in must be fully available for a full day — with absolutely no outside conflicts. It is not uncommon for stand-ins to work 12-14 hours in a day — or longer — and sometimes for multiple days in a row. These long hours can infringe upon family and social life, not to mention health and happiness.
This is to say that for someone looking for work, although the pay may be an attraction, the sacrifice involved in working as a stand-in may make the job impractical or even wholly undesirable.
Have questions about the pay rates of stand-ins? Post your questions below! (Note: To get the best answers for stand-in pay rate questions, contact your SAG-AFTRA local.)