View Full Version : How much does a union director make?

05-13-2005, 06:01 PM
This guy wants me to direct his short film and wants to pay the key players union wages. What is the union day rate for a director in the LA area? Thanks!

Erik Olson
05-13-2005, 06:32 PM


05-13-2005, 06:58 PM
cool thanks, i doubt that guy will be able to afford me lol

Jim Brennan
05-13-2005, 07:01 PM
overland...is your sig from better off dead?

Erik Olson
05-13-2005, 07:04 PM

Erik Olson
05-13-2005, 07:07 PM

Oh, you know, you might call DGA and find out if they have an experimental contract for low-budget independents. They have a fairly semi-rigid-not-always-flexible training program that you might not want to become too involved in on such a small project.


05-13-2005, 07:21 PM
No, that sig's from Joe Vs. The Volcano...

05-13-2005, 07:30 PM
It's $3500 to get into the DGA on an independant or low budget (Under $2 Million) project. Howerver the total entry fee is $7000 and the remaining $3500 needs to be paid on the next gig.
Dues depend on hours worked. I think It's about 1K per year. You also need to be sponsored or be hired by a union project to get in. Kind of a good old boys club.

05-13-2005, 07:41 PM
I don't intend to join the directors guild anytime soon.
This guy thats putting together this short somehow wants to go by union rules for some reason.
If he wants to pay union wages fine by me, but no way I want to join the union now.

Erik Olson
05-13-2005, 08:36 PM
I changed my signature just to mess with Barry - the one from two hours ago was indeed from Better Off Dead.

If he wants to work union rules and rates - well, that's up to him. It is a rare bird who wants to worry over matters like minimums, meal penalties and forced calls. I did collective bargaining for several years and might be able to shed a little light on typical agreements for local work. Jurisdiction and matters like distant travel or hazardous work will certainly alter these guidelines:

On the matter of rates, you can figure your hourly wage into a day rate (most often based on a ten-hour minimum) at whatever you feel appropriate, fair and equitable to your client or producer.

DAY RATES (and how not to get screwed) -

In California (where labor laws specify overtime protections), we structured these against a straight eight and two hours in time and one-half instead of a flat ten. You can effectively divide a desired day rate into eleven (e.g. $400 / 11 = $36.37 / hour x 8hrs (ST) = $290.96 + $54.56 / hour x 2hrs (OT) = $109.11) or $400.07 again for your guaranteed min. rate.

Some guys like to work day rates because round numbers are easy, but end up getting short-shrift on longer days. In such cases when days will go long, they tend to favor the above formula because it affords protection outside of a ten-hour day. You're more likely to see 12s or 16s on a film set.

Normal rate breakdowns are 8 (ST), 2-4 (OT) and doubletime beyond that regardless of meals or breaks.


A full non-working hour should be provided at every fourth or fifth hour, depending on contract. So, if you report to work at 7am, you should be fed not later than 12pm. A subsequent full meal would be served not later than 6pm and so on. Craft services, even those featuring stinky cheese, do not qualify as meals - instead they are a "walking break".


When a meal is provided, the crew may stay on the clock. Often, there is a two (2) hour return guarantee even when a meal has been provided, though they almost never go beyond two.


When a crew-member is on-own for meals (even with per diem) he is off the clock for the duration of a least one hour. A guaranteed minimum return, usually of four (4) hours is typical. If more than four hours passes (off the clock), a new full minimum is established. Union shows frown on uncompensated split shifts, and they are almost never allowed.


Crews shall not work through a scheduled meal. Meal penalties are effectively DT, or one extra hour compensated for each hour at the prevailing rate that goes beyond the scheduled break.


The crew shall have a minimum of eight (8) hours between each working day. When less than eight hours occurs between any working day, the crew shall be compensated in doubletime (2x) for the duration of the day.

As another thought, I'd be somewhat wary of jurisdictional issues if there are actual cardholders from any local involved (e.g., SAG/AFTRA, DGA, IATSE, IBEW, Teamsters) - they often bristle if there isn't a broad organized representation, even if they're from a different labor unit.


05-13-2005, 09:44 PM
i love my hot meals every 6 hours, no doubt about that, if that doesnt happen i act unprofessional!!!

05-14-2005, 01:48 AM
I changed my signature just to mess with Barry - the one from two hours ago was indeed from Better Off Dead.
DOH! Hence your cryptic answer of "maybe..."


Erik Olson
05-14-2005, 08:56 AM
Naughty Franck...


05-14-2005, 11:10 AM
Dues are $200 a year if you don't work. Dues are based on your earnings per year.