If you think about your favorite movie, the last thing that comes to mind is: how long did that actor/actress spend in make-up? After all, it’s only make-up. Some people get it done in under 15 minutes.
Did you ever consider that it took Mystique from the X-men movie franchise, nearly 10 hours in make-up to get ready for shooting?
Crazy, right? Well, there are a series of television roles that require similar timeframes to get the actors/actresses ready for filming.
Types of acting contracts
It is the job of an actor/actress’s agent to negotiate the terms and conditions of their contract with the production company. This includes pay rates, as well as rates for overtime worked, transportation benefits, box office bonuses, etc.
The rate an actor/actress will get paid will be up to the production company. Some believe that it is determined by the budget of the film, the status of the actor/actress, or the level of the movie, whether it is a motion picture or an indie film.
Pay rates for well-known actors/actresses
Apart from the fact that an actress will make $0.78c for every $1 that an actor makes, the rate is determined for the project as a whole. Again, this is negotiated by the agent.
For example, if a well-known motion picture production company were to approach Charlize Theron to star in their new blockbuster movie, her agent may negotiate a fixed price, including perks, for the job.
Let’s say, the agent and the production company agreed on $2 million dollars for the project, plus a car and driver, five first-class tickets for her and her family, box office bonuses, and a percentage of profits, then that is the package she will be paid to be on set, however long it takes for filming to be completed.
Though this is agreed upon in the contract as well.
In these cases, time spent in make-up, however long that may be, forms part of their contract and payment. No additional money will be paid for this time.
Pay rates for less well-known actors/actresses
Then there are the less known actors and actresses. Or, alternatively, daily actors/actresses and supporting roles. These actors/actresses are paid by the hour.
If any time is spent on make-up, this will form part of their contract for the day. It needs to be stated though, there is a very small possibility that a smaller role in a movie will spend as much time in make-up as a lead role.
In other words, you won’t find the waitress in a coffee shop scene spending up to nine hours in make-up to get ready for filming.
Unless, of course, the television show is something like The Walking Dead, where it seems that all actors and actresses on set spend hours in make-up.
For day actors/actresses, their working day consists of nine hours of work, including a one hour meal break.
If the actor/actress spends more time on set, whether due to make-up, having to work longer hours, or for any other reason, the pay is calculated at one and a half the hourly rate.
The nine hour base rate is guaranteed. This means that it doesn’t matter if this time is spent in make-up, participating in a scene, waiting for the next scene to start, or traveling from the base location to the set.
Pay rates for taking off make-up and costume
Okay, so here’s where it gets a little bit more interesting. According to Deadline.com, the Screen Actors Guild’s contract states that actors and actresses must be paid for up to 15 minutes after their dismissal for the day, to remove make-up, hair, and costume.
Basically, what that means is that, if an actor/actress has been contracted to work a nine hour day, and that actor/actress finishes that working day, they are entitled to an additional 15 minutes of pay, at the standard rate, for having to remove make-up, hair, and costume.
But, many production companies are not compensating actors and actresses for this time and it is a violation of their rules. So, if you didn’t know, now you know.
Unionised versus non-unionised actors/actresses
The aim of unions is to regulate the industry and ensure that actors and actresses receive basic rights when it comes to payment and benefits.
In other words, when hiring a unionized actor/actress, there is a minimum amount of money that must be paid to this individual per hour.
This protects actors and actresses from unscrupulous characters in the industry who try to take advantage of anyone who is desperate for work.
Does this mean that non-unionised actors and actresses get paid less? Not necessarily. Payment and terms and conditions are generally up to negotiation.
However, in the case of a unionized actor or actress, there is a minimum standard that the production company must pay the actor/actress for a day’s work.
Whether an actor/actress gets paid for time spent putting on or taking off make-up will depend on the negotiation skills of the agent, the contract details, whether the actor/actress belongs to a union, as well as whether or not the actor/actress is familiar with their rights.
In essence, the bigger the player, the better the benefits.
More well-known actors/actresses receive a lump sum plus benefits for the work performed, regardless of how much time is spent in make-up, as this is covered in the lump-sum payout.
Less known actors/actresses receive an hourly amount, which includes time spent in make-up. And all unionized actors/actresses should receive an additional 15 minutes worth of payment for time spent taking off make-up.
Irrespective, time spent in make-up is calculated into the cost of hiring the actor/actress. There is no additional payment for spending time in make-up, but, there is additional payment for time spent taking off make-up.