Green talent rarely think about the payment process when jumping into the talent world, but working talent find the payment process to be a hot topic of discussion. So how does the payment process work?
Production companies build long-standing relationships with agencies. One of the benefits of working with represented professional talent is having a go-between in the payment process when dealing with talent (and even the crew sometimes). Union work is simple and regulated by the specific union governing the production agreement.
Non union work, on the other hand, is more subject to market, production, and type of work. The non-union talent will usually work the commercial, film, etc, and leave the set. Agents invoice for all their talent on that set once work is completed. In some cases, production has specific requirements in the process and the agent must follow that system. This may mean that the agent waits for a PO Number or access to an online payment system, which may take a few days to receive.
There seems to be an unspoken (or universally understood) rule when it comes to the time frame for payment. Productions decide on their individual payment time line, which is frequently based on the project completion. In the industry, the accepted time frame to complete most non union projects is said to be 90 days. Thus, there are some production companies who choose to operate on a 90 day turn around for invoices. On the flip side, there are other companies who pay upon receipt, which means that the talent could be paid within a few weeks.
Once the agency receives payment from production, most agencies require a time lapse for the bank to clear the deposited funds. This can take up to 10 business days in some cases. In the end, a talent can expect to receive payment from their shoot anywhere from a few weeks to a few months (90-120 days) afterwards. The agent will typically withhold the agency commission and cut a check to the talent for the balance.