A common question of visitors to Stand-In Central is how much TV/film stand-ins are paid.
Usually TV/film stand-ins are members of SAG-AFTRA. Wherever SAG-AFTRA covers the work of background actors, it typically also covers the work of stand-ins. These stand-ins are entitled to minimum union wages determined by contracts negotiated between SAG-AFTRA and producers. The contracts vary depending on the production, and so with different productions may come different minimum pay rates for stand-ins.
In recent years, most union wages have annually increased for TV/film stand-ins on July 1st. In the “Contracts & Industry Resources” section of the SAG-AFTRA website, there are various wage tables. These wage tables show the current stand-in pay under various SAG-AFTRA contracts.
Below we detail the current minimum pay for TV/film stand-ins.
Current Stand-In Pay (as of July 1, 2022)
Theatrical & Dramatic Television Pay
Pay for stand-ins on films and on most dramatic television shows is determined every three years or so through bargaining between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP. The collective bargaining agreements they achieve determine the minimum pay rates for stand-ins. For film, the agreement is known as the “Theatrical Agreement,” the “Codified Basic Agreement,” simply the “Basic Agreement,” or very simply as the “CBA.” For most dramatic television series, the agreement is known as the “Television Agreement,” the “TV Agreement,” or simply the “TVA.” Both of these agreements share a large section found toward the end of the Theatrical Agreement called “Schedule X” covering the minimum pay for background actors. (Stand-ins are classified in the these agreements as “background actors.”) Schedule X has two parts. Schedule X, Part I, covers the minimum pay for stand-ins in the Los Angeles Zone, while Schedule X, Part II, covers the minimum pay for stand-ins in the New York Zone.
Non-Dramatic Television Pay
Pay for stand-ins on non-dramatic television shows like game shows and awards shows, variety shows, as well as on soap operas (“serials”) and some dramatic television series is determined every three years or so through bargaining between SAG-AFTRA and network producers like ABC, NBC, CBS, et al. The collective bargaining agreements they achieve determine the minimum pay rates for stand-ins on these kinds of productions. For this realm of television, the agreement is known as the “National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting,” the “Network Television Code” or simply the “Netcode” or “NetCode.”
Pay for Other Union Stand-Ins
Union stand-ins on commercials work under a different collective bargaining agreement, so they work at a different rate 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.
Additional Compensation for Stand-Ins
Working under a union contract, stand-ins can also make additional money in various ways. Some of these methods may include:
- working overtime
- working in wet or smoke conditions
- 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-$500/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. After taxes, their paychecks may be as low as $140 for 8 hours or less of work.
How to Determine a Production’s Contract and Minimum Stand-In Pay
The production listings on the SAG-AFTRA website may list the union agreement under which a particular production is working.
Production listings can be found on specific SAG-AFTRA Local pages under “Career Resources” (where available and when you are logged in). For example, you can find the New York-area production listings by clicking on “Production Listings” on this page.
Note: Because of the coronavirus pandemic and fewer SAG-AFTRA staff, production listings have been measurably incomplete, and their contract information has sometimes been vague.
Stand-In Work Hours
While the pay may be attractive, the amount of time commitment involved when standing in may make standing in unappealing to the average person.
Standing in is not a “day job” in the traditional sense. Usually, a stand-in cannot leave for an appointment and come back as one might at a typical desk job. Stand-ins also don’t typically work 9am to 5pm, but instead work at erratic hours that can sometimes stretch from very early in the morning, to very late at night, to overnight — all in the same week.
Oftentimes, a stand-in must be fully available for a full day, for several weeks, or even for several months — with absolutely no outside conflicts. (These demands are at least in theory, if not in actual practice). 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 attractive, the sacrifice involved in working as a TV/film 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.)