A New Deal for Screen

Our screen industry needs to invest in performers. Without performers, there is no screen industry.

For the first time in seven years, actors are at the table with producers to negotiate two new collective agreements that set wages and conditions for working on film and television.

Under negotiation are the Actor’s Television Programs Agreement (ATPA) and the Actor’s Feature Film Collective Agreement (AFFCA).

We need to win agreements that continue to preserve benchmark industry standards and deliver improvements around residuals, superannuation, cultural leave, diversity and intimacy guidelines.

In a highly competitive, cut-throat industry, it is getting harder and harder for performers to remain in the industry and pursue their craft. We can address this by winning a new deal for screen which:

•  Improves household income levels for performers through an increase to minimum rates, superannuation, and improving and expanding residuals for feature films.
•  Improves the opportunities to work for performers through fairer TV options for subsequent series to allow greater flexibility for performers to work on other projects; improved commitment to diversity on our screens; and cultural leave for Indigenous performers.

The reality is that almost 60% of actors earn less than $20,000 a year from their craft, and 40% earn less than $10,000. Only five per cent of Australian actors earn the national average wage.

Pay rates have been stagnating for the past few years. And on retirement, the average actor has superannuation savings of just $35,000.

A sustainable living wage for performers will provide widespread benefits by ensuring that the entire screen industry is sustainable. The industry needs to invest in performers so they can remain in the industry.

That’s why we need a new agreement that delivers both a real pay rise for now, and financial security for the future by increasing compulsory employer superannuation contributions to 12% (from 10% for TV and 10.5% for film).

At the most recent meeting with SPA, producers flagged a number of cost cutting measures that would make it even harder to sustain a living as an actor in this country, such as halving the rehearsal fee and automatic termination and suspension rights if an actor doesn’t turn up to work.

The outcome of these negotiations will have a huge impact on Australian actors for years to come. That’s why all Equity members have to get involved.

In last year’s national screen survey plus cast visits, phone calls and emails, thousands of actors and performers told MEAA:

  1. They want more opportunities to work – so we are seeking to improve the current TV options clauses so that you have minimum guaranteed work if you’re going to be contractually required to return next season and more flexibility to accept other work during an option period;
  2. Members are also saying there is a need for more financial security due to the insecure nature of the work so that they can continue to stay in the industry – that is why we are seeking improved residuals for feature film as well as lifting minimum pay and leaving a legacy of improved superannuation;
  3. Members are also calling for a more inclusive industry – that is why we are seeking to expand and build upon diversity clauses and requirements for producers to aim for more diversity on our screens, as well as including a new cultural leave provision for our First Nation performers;
  4. Members are telling us that safety in the workplace is important – which we have been addressing with the implementation of a new screen code of practice over the past 12 months, which deals with bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination on set. We also aim to make it mandatory that our new Intimacy Guidelines – based on the work of Ita O’Brien who we brought out last year for workshops around the country – are attached to all TV and film contracts.

Negotiations began last year and it is clear that Screen Producers Australia are going to play hardball, demanding cuts to hard-won conditions in return for any pay rise for actors.

At the most recent negotiating meeting in July, SPA put forward a number of cost-cutting proposals including the right to suspend or terminate a cast member without any corresponding right of appeal, cutting in half the fee for attending rehearsals, a reclassification Loop Group (background voices) artists as Extras, and to reduce the minimum call time from 4 hours to 2.5 hours, the removal of a special loading paid on international co-productions, no extra payment for publicity work for a feature film, and unfettered use of an actor’s image to promote a film or TV production.

It is clear that if actors are to win a fair pay rise, they are going to have to stand together for their rights at work.

A group of your fellow members on the Equity Screen Committee are taking these issues to producers on your behalf. The Equity Screen Committee is made up of:

Wayne Blair, Fiona Press, Geoff Morrell, Michala Banas, Michael McCall, Dustin Clare, Alan Fletcher, Nadine Garner, Ian Meadows, Dan Spielman, Brooke Satchwell, Michael Balk, Robert Collins, Joy Hopwood and Nicholas Coghlan.


Actor's Feature Film Collective Agreement (AFFCA) Summary, November 2020

Summary version of the Actor's Feature Film Collective Agreement. Includes updated rates and allowances as at 1 November 2020. Covers both feature and short length productions.

282.43 KB 2906 downloads
Last update: October 21, 2020

Actor's Television Programs Agreement (ATPA) Summary, November 2020

Summary version of the Actor's Television Programs Agreement. Includes updated rates and allowances as at November 1, 2020.

207.43 KB 1999 downloads
Last update: October 21, 2020

To win a real pay rise and better superannuation, we need a majority of performers to be committed to the campaign as MEAA Equity members and be prepared to stand together to win pay increases.

If you are not already a MEAA member, join today. If you are a member, encourage others to join.

Remember, membership:

•  Is a tax deduction.
•  Includes free journey insurance (ie. cover for major injury on your journey to and from work).
•  MEAA can provide advice and support on contracts or your rights at work.
•  You have a role in in how the union is run through democratic structures.
•  Cost is based on your annual income from the industry. See the full fee structure here.

The screen industry is ready to get back to work and contribute to the economic recovery. But government policies are holding us back.