Stand-In Pay (as of July 1, 2015)

By | 2016-06-23T12:32:02+00:00 July 8th, 2015|Lessons|8 Comments

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.

Current Rates as of July 1, 2015

In recent years, union wages have annually increased for TV/film stand-ins on July 1st.

As of July 1st, 2015, stand-ins on films and many television shows working under a SAG or SAG-AFTRA contract (specifically, under Schedule X), make $180 for 8 hours. Stand-ins on other television shows under a Legacy AFTRA (aka Exhibit A) contract make $186 for 8 hours.

The productions listings on the SAG-AFTRA website list the contract a particular production is working under.  The SAG-AFTRA website also includes wage tables that show the rates stand-ins make under various contracts.

Stand-ins on commercials, stand-ins on promos, stand-ins on new media (including high budget subscription video on demand), et al., work under much different contracts, so they work at different rates not covered in this article. Also, individual projects may negotiate non-standard contracts with the union, so stand-ins on those projects may make non-standard rates as well.

Additional Compensation

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)
  • when also photo-doubling (when a stand-in is on camera in place of another actor)

Given the overtime many stand-ins put in, TV/film stand-ins may regularly gross $300-$400/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.

Time Commitment

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, several weeks, or even several months — with absolutely no outside conflicts. It is not uncommon for stand-ins to work 12-14 hours in a day — or longer — for five days a week — and sometimes for more days than that. 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, ask SAG-AFTRA directly.)

About the Author:

Ben Hauck (Editor, Stand-In Central) has stood in on a number of projects shot in the NYC area. In addition to day-playing, he has stood in on major projects for John Oliver (Last Week Tonight), Jason Bateman (The Longest Week, Disconnect, and The Switch), Jason Sudeikis (Sleeping with Other People), Seth Rogen (The Night Before), and Peter Facinelli (Nurse Jackie and American Odyssey). Ben is an actor and improviser, author of the 2012 book Long-Form Improv (Allworth Press), and host of The Acting Income Podcast. http://benhauck.com

8 Comments

  1. Carina Rhea October 8, 2015 at 2:08 am

    Don’t forget about mileage compensation! Having stood-in on 3 tv shows last fall, I can definitively say that this year is an entirely different ball game. The great pay rate coupled with far less productions, despite the passing of AB1839, has meant those of us with an exceeding amount of experience as stand-in’s are currently sweating for more work. This is not the type of work with any modicum of promise for newbies. It’d help us all greatly if our head count didn’t factor in with the number of union background required per show. So while the pay is as great as ever, the work has become more scarce. Here’s hoping next season we will see a flourish of more pilots and tv shows filming in the LA area. I think I speak for all below-the-liners when I say I’d love to see more production trailers teeming the streets of LA. It’d make our highly coveted jobs far more abundant!

  2. Aaron Roberson January 3, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    What would rate be for a non-union stand-in that is booked by casting agency?

  3. Ben Hauck, Editor January 4, 2017 at 12:02 am

    Hi Aaron!

    Please note the latest version of Stand-In Pay for union actors on films and dramatic television is here:
    https://standincentral.com/2016/07/06/stand-in-pay-as-of-july-1-2016/

    As for your question, the rate for a non-union stand-in depends on the rate the production sets, or what the stand-in can negotiate.

    If you are booked as a stand-in through a casting office, you may be able to negotiate for a higher rate. To do so, when the rate is discussed, accept it or else counter it. You may need to field how best to do this in the given situation. If you offer a counter, the casting director will probably need to consult with production in order to approve a higher rate. You might risk losing the job if you want a higher rate, but if you can afford to lose the job, you are generally in a better bargaining position than if you can’t.

    Know your value. Union stand-ins on most film and television projects make (as of July 1, 2016) $189/8. As a non-union stand-in, you will probably command less than that, though you may personally command more if you want to try to negotiate for it. In fact, you might use the $189/8 rate as a benchmark if you are in a position to negotiate for a higher rate.

    Good luck!

  4. Heather May 15, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    What about photo doubles for a feature film? Same rate?

  5. Ben Hauck, Editor May 15, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    Hi Heather,

    For the last number of years on union productions (namely, feature films shot in the Los Angeles or New York City areas), photo doubles are paid a $10 adjustment on the background actor rate. In other words, figure out the 8-hour rate for BG actors, and add $10 to that and you have the PD rate.

    The union contract is up for renegotiation currently, as the latest one expires on July 1, 2017. Anticipate a possible change (increase?) in the BG actor rate, which may (may not?) increase (hopefully?) the PD rate.

    Stay tuned!

  6. Lynn Ann Castle July 8, 2017 at 5:59 am

    I am a well trained actor for Stage and Screen. (SAGAFTRA AEA). I love doing stand in work because the paycheck is steady and I am a very skilled an energetic thespian.
    The upside is not only the training and networking, but I get to use the skill set I have to earn a living. Also there is the ability to stash a lot of cash. This enables the actor to reinvest in marketing tools (photos,technological devices) clothes and gives a little economic breathing room for getting out to auditions for principle jobs. Plus, so busy working no time to spend money!

  7. Nopes September 1, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Hello I am a non_union background actor. I recently got a chance to work as a stand in on a TV show. I was casted as a non union general background then on set an AD/ PA bumped me to Stand in.
    I know that as of 2017 non union background acting pays $12.00 an hour- and on my check they I was paid $14.25

    Is The $2.25 raise on the hourly correct?
    Seems somewhat low but I’ll take what I can. 😉

    By the way nowhere on my check does it state that I worked as a stand in no mention of it in the desc.
    It was just an adjustment on my hourly.
    Enjoy your day.

  8. Ben Hauck, Editor September 2, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    Hi Nopes,

    Where do you live/work? I’d be curious to know to understand the standard rates for paying non-union background actors in your area.

    Stand-In Central tends to detail the work of union (SAG-AFTRA) stand-ins, especially on dramatic television and theatrical film projects. We also sometimes cover stand-in work on commercials and non-dramatic television. So the above rates are for union stand-ins.

    That said, I would just have to assume that your production gave you the additional $2.25 adjustment for the stand-in work. I can’t say whether that is correct or not — it may be that any contract you worked under dictates whether that is correct. 🙂

    As for a 2017 update on stand-in pay, see this more recent post:
    https://standincentral.com/2017/08/30/stand-in-pay-as-of-july-1-2017/

    I hope that’s of some help!

Leave A Comment

Get Email Updates!

The Stand-In Central Tips & Tricks Blog updates Wednesdays at 10pm Eastern. Get emailed when new posts are out!