Stand-In Pay (as of July 1, 2016)

By | 2016-06-23T12:37:41+00:00 July 6th, 2016|Lessons|2 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, 2016

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

As of July 1st, 2016, stand-ins on films and many television shows working under a SAG or SAG-AFTRA contract (specifically, under Schedule X), make $189 for 8 hours. Stand-ins on other television shows under a Legacy AFTRA (aka Exhibit A) contract make $195 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. (For stand-in pay on commercials as of April 1, 2016, click here.)

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

2 Comments

  1. Kenyatta Simpson July 7, 2017 at 10:28 am

    hello, my name is KENYATTA SIMPSON and I just became a proud SAG member over 5 months ago, I was wondering how long does it take to be a full-time stand-in. About 3 months ago I was chosen to be a stand-in for SAMUEL L. JACKSON for the day on an upcoming film called, “LIFE ITSELF”. Also about being a background extra (which I’m also proud to say I am) is it really hard to get work, the tv season is starting now and as much as I have been applying, I’ve gotten nothing. When I was non-union at one time I worked 6 days straight in a week, now I was amazed last month I actually had 4 days in June. I’ve been going back to temp work to make ends meet although my passion is to make acting my true calling.

  2. Ben Hauck, Editor July 7, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Hi Kenyatta,

    Thanks for posting. Full-time stand-in work is hard to come by, oftentimes determined by whether there are actors working who match your characteristics. If you look like a lot of actors working in your area or share a lot of working actors’ characteristics, you may find you work more often than others who don’t match a lot of actors’ characteristics. By my estimation, the most common characteristics probably are gender, height, skin color, hair color, and body type. You may also find you land stand-in work because background casting directors or background PAs know your abilities as a stand-in and offer you stand-in work.

    That said, with respect to joining SAG-AFTRA as a member and finding it difficult to find work, you can try a) calling the local chapter of your union for guidance, and b) calling The Actors Fund (http://actorsfund.org) for guidance or help. Many actors work more than just jobs as actors. Also, try attending an orientation meeting at SAG-AFTRA and voice your questions and concerns there — I’ve heard other new union members voice the same and get feedback.

    For additional advice about stand-in work, click on Ask Stand-In Central and read some of the links on that page.

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