Residuals and the Waiting Game

29 06 2015

A quick primer: WHAT ARE RESIDUALS? This is very general, as the world of residuals is a strange and scary place, with lots of twists and turns, and different rates and equations, and math is not my forte. Essentially, when you are paid for working on an episodic (tv show), your pay covers the shoot days, and the first airing of the show – unless the contract states otherwise. Subsequent airings of the episode you shot require the payment of RESIDUALS. The amount of your residuals in television, is based on the original pay you received. If your show is on cable television, the 2nd airing of the show will usually pay you 50% of the original fee you received, with exceptions. A network show pays more on the 2nd airing, and more on 3rd airing and 4th and so on.

For films, the residuals are significantly harder to figure out. Your residuals on film work are based on a complex equation that includes: the number of days you worked, the pay you received, the number of people working on the film that have specific “stakes” in it, and finally, the number of DVD sales. Once the movie moves to tv distribution, and Netflix distribution, etc, there may be more residuals there too. I worked on BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE 2 nearly 10 years ago, and I still get nice little $150 residual checks from that! But that movie is a very popular film, this is not something that happens with GARGATUAN MONKEYS FROM HELL, know what I mean?

The point is, the money you make on the job itself, if it is a SAG/AFTRA productions is not the FINAL amount you will make on that job. Keep that in mind when you are bitching about driving three hours or MORE to an audition, or when you are regional hire and have to drive your ass to another state. 🙂

This next bit is going to be a way for you to benefit from the mistakes I have made with my agent, or folks have made with me as their agent. To protect the guilty, myself included, I will not tell you which is which.

When Newly Signed to an Agency, RELAX YOURSELF

Somewhere along the way, some well-meaning professor or coach or hapless actor-friend told you that with an agent, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”. Inferring that calling your agent to check in is an important thing to do in order to insure you are getting submitted for all the work you SHOULD BE GETTING SUBMITTED FOR DAMMIT! SO in the beginning, maybe you call your agent once a week for the first few months, when you haven’t gotten an audition yet, and you leave a message saying something like, “Hi! It’s Ann Mahoney. Just calling to see if you have any auditions for me!”

Let me say this: IF your agent signed you in earnest, and IF you really are good and well-trained, and have amazing head shots, your agent is submitting you. Sometimes it takes a but before casting directors will call in a NEWBIE! Especially a newbie with no resume! If you aren’t getting ANY auditions after 6 months or so, maybe you got your Uncle to do FREE head shots for you. 🙂 MAYBE you need a little film experience so you have a reel! (See Chapter 6)

Also, it is important to have self-assuredness and self-confidence, but I literally passed on representing a talented 11 year old one time, because they came on so strong. I thought, “If they are like this NOW, what is going to happen when they book work and are on set?” The mother insisted that her daughter be on my “A List” immediately, and elaborated on the agents they had had previously that “didn’t do ANYTHING for her daughter”.

The girl was talented, don’t get me wrong, but talent doesn’t mean you will book immediately and often. I pictured myself fielding endless irate calls from this Mom, about what I wasn’t “doing” for her daughter. I politely declined… and I am REALLY glad I did. All this is to say, you absolutely have to have a good ego in pace to do this job, and you shouldn’t play down your talents and skills, especially to your agent. But don’t be a diva. EVER. Even when you are booking work left and right.

Answer Emails in Record Time

The business has a lot of wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait

wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait

wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait

wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait

wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait

wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait

OH MY GOD GO NOW NOW NOW! UHHHHHHHH…. too late.

Seriously. When your agent emails you – ANSWER. YES even if you haven’t heard from them in months. ANSWER. Check your emails!!!!!!!

More later…


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