What should you be paying talent?

On StarNow, Casting Professionals connect directly with the talent, and can offer whatever fee they feel is fair for the job on offer.

StarNow talent range from complete beginners through to highly experienced professionals, and will have different pay expectations accordingly. 
Some beginners may be happy to work for a lower budget to gain experience; while some more experienced talent will be looking for a commercial rate they feel reflects the skills they will bring to the job.

StarNow doesn’t provide a suggested rate card, or take a booking fee or commission from what you pay the talent.   We do ask that if your production falls under National Minimum Wage guides for your region that you abide by those guidelines.

What if I can’t pay anything?

StarNow connects aspiring and professional talent with opportunities in all areas of the entertainment industry. As part of this, we understand that unpaid or low-paid collaborations can be great for building experience, networks, showreels, and portfolios.

If you’re a student filmmaker or someone looking to collaborate, or are just not sure if you fall into the group of Casting Professionals where payment should be discussed, check out our no/low pay advice or check out the bottom of this page where we talk about commercial versus very low budget productions.

Please note that any roles involving nudity must pay at least the national minimum wage.

If you’re still unsure which bucket you fall into, email us at contact@starnow.com.

I have a budget, but don’t know what kind of fee I should offer?

This can be as complicated or as straight forward as you want it to be. We encourage you to be fair and to aim to pay something that rewards the time the talent has put into working for you, and the skill they bring to the role.

A good starting place is to take a look at National Minimum Wage in your area. This is the bare minimum talent will be expecting as an hourly rate, if you have a budget and intend to pay your talent. It’s also the law!

Ideally though, a fee encompasses more than just a simple hourly rate.

Here are some good questions to ask yourself:

Exposure: What kind of exposure will the talent receive for doing this work? Generally speaking more exposure equals greater fees. While you might think talent would be excited about exposure and do anything to book a part that offers this, remember that if an actor or model becomes associated with your brand, it may mean that they don’t book other work for a time, as other producers prefer a fresh face. For example, if a model books a job doing a Coke TV commercial, you can be sure that no other beverage company will be booking them for a very long time.

Usage: How many places will the talents work appear? Are you booking them for a TV commercial? Great, but hang on, will that commercial also appear in the cinema, along with stills from the commercial showing up in every bus stop in town? Producers will often calculate a fee to cover every area of usage.

Rollovers: Will the work appear once? Will it play on TV relentlessly for a month, and then come back again a year later? Contracts will often state that work can be used for an agreed period of time, and beyond that time, the talent will be paid a percentage of their fee again (up to 100%).

Deferred payment: Research this option if you are doing a feature film that may get a distribution deal at a later date. You can arrange to make payment at that point, rather than at the time the work is done.

What else will help me decide how much to pay?

Have a think about the level of skill you need, to nail this job. 

Do you need someone experienced to pull this off, or could someone up and coming work well?

Less experienced talent may be willing to work for less to gain experience in the industry, while more experienced talent may expect to be paid more for their skills. So, it will be a trade-off.

Remember, experienced talent can make life easier on set:

  • Do you need an actor who can to hit a mark and find their light first time?
  • Do you need a photographer with good quality camera equipment?
  • Do you need a model with a wide range of clothes and great experience to suit your shoot?
  • Do you need a sound technician with their own equipment?
  • Do you need a make-up artist with a good range of make-up?

Have a think about the kind of production you’re putting together

If you have a super small budget, and all the talent are being treated the same, understand what is involved and are keen to take part (For example, an Indie film set where everyone is living on the smell of an oily rag), pay what you can. Be honest and up front about it, and it will probably be a valuable experience for all involved. Short films, webisodes, no budget feature films, small business promotions such as website stills or catalogues often fall into this bucket.

For commercial productions with professional crews that will have bigger industry reach, we strongly encourage you to consider whether you are paying what the job is worth, whatever the experience level of the talent.

Some factors that would generally indicate a production is commercial include: most people on set being paid, a profit being made from the end product (e.g. ticket sales, increased product sales), or budget being assigned to the production in other areas (e.g. script, marketing, location).

If you still need help, you can also search the Internet for union rates in your area. These provide a good guide for the minimum rates expected and some unions even have template contracts you can use.

Has this answered your question? If not, please contact us