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Frequently Asked Questions

HOW MUCH DO I GET PAID?
Pay Rates for Performers

**IMPORTANT NEWS**

ACTRA Toronto has confirmed that, as of January 1, 2018, Non Union or AABP members (anyone on a white voucher) will have a pay increase in line with the new minimum wage guidelines of $14/hour. The 8 hour minimum will still apply.

Directly from ACTRA TORONTO website:

INCREASE FOR 2018! As of January 1, 2018 pay for Background performers  - as per the IPA - is now:

  • ACTRA/ ACTRA Apprentice  $26.75/hr + applicable overtime (8 hour minimum)
  • Non Union Talent/AABP $14.00/hr straight pay (8 hour minimum)
  • On all ACTRA/UNION sets, BG are paid for a minimum of 8 hours of their time.
  • So if the shoot is less than 8 hours (this doesn't happen very often though) you are still paid for 8 hours of your time.
  • If the shoot goes 10, 12, or even 16 hours (much more likely scenario) then are you paid for your actual time (less an hour for lunch, which they provide for you).
  • Rates vary for NON UNION sets and you would be advised at the time of booking what the rate will be.
  • Visit the IPA directly for more detailed information about current rates for Performers in Ontario on Union sets, Click here for the IPA Rates.
WHY MUST I BOOK A SET APPOINTMENT TIME?
At OnSet Talent Agency it is important that you take this as seriously as we do. We have streamlined our registration process and are very excited to now offer PRE-REGISTRATION online!  Once you have emailed us expressing interest in being on OnSet Talent Agency's BG roster, we will then send you a personal registration link to pre-register on our comprehensive database. In order to finalize your registration, a quick follow-up visit (by appointment only) is required at our office to have your photo taken and to meet us and you'll be ready to get on set!  Please note: your profile will not be visible to casting directors until you have come in to finalize your registration. Having a set interview time allows you to demonstrate to us that you are reliable, responsible and are appropriately prepared; ALL traits that are a MUST for booking you on a show. People that cancel multiple times, don't show up to finalize their registration at all, show up late and are ill-prepared are not the talent that we want to represent or that we want to be representing us.  

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN A BACKGROUND AGENCY?
  • Does the Agency have an office? Having an actual office where you can meet with and talk to your Agent is a good indicator that the Agency is credible and committed to being in the industry and working hard for you.Your agent should be a real person. Avoid an "agency" that has only an online persona and no physical office or person you can meet. Our comprehensive database is a valuable casting tool, but be wary of simply paying to be on a ‘database’ with an entity that likely has no experience or any relationships with casting. We now offer pre-registration online, however, everyone must follow up in person at our office to finalize their representation as a Background Performer on our roster.
  • How long has the Agency been in business? The length an Agency has been in business is another great indicator of it’s standing in the industry. It takes time to develop relationships with Casting Directors and productions. Be wary of ‘new agencies’ making all sorts of promises. There are only a handful of BG Casting Directors and they have already established professional relationships with the solid, experienced agencies. OnSet Talent Agency began representing talent in 2002 so we’re going on our 16th year in this tough business!
  • TTAA Membership The Toronto Talent Agent Association (TTAA) is a professional organization comprised of reputable background agencies in the GTA. All member agencies are required to sign and abide by a strict code of ethics and conduct. OnSet Talent Agency is a founding member agency of the TTAA and sits as current co-chair.
  • Reputation Reputation matters. We've worked hard to establish an excellent one and we work hard to maintain it.
WHY IS PAYING A REGISTRATION FEE NECESSARY?

It is standard industry practice for a reputable agency to charge a nominal registration fee for non-union or AABP talent.  Anywhere between $75-$150/year is reasonable. We charge $100 (which is the equivalent of just over $8/month). This registration fee covers many administration costs in running a busy agency including the administration of building and maintaining an electronic photo database, taking photos and ensuring that your profile is always up to date.

Be wary of background agencies that never charge any fees. They are likely struggling to build a roster so will do anything for you to sign with them. Unfortunately, not paying a registration fee will not get you any more work as these agencies are unestablished and likely have no actual casting connections or relationships and are not likely in it for the long haul.

CAN I BE AN EXTRA WITHOUT ANY EXPERIENCE?
Absolutely! As long as you are reliable, responsible and have a flexible schedule, you can do BG work. We will take the time to go over everything with you so you are are well prepared.  Doing your homework (such as reading this website!) helps too!
CAN I SLEEP ON SET?
Absolutely not. Despite the fact that there could be a lot of 'down time' you are being paid to be there and to be alert, ready and prepared to work. You can be kicked off the set - without pay - for sleeping. Just like any other job.
CAN I BRING MY GIRL/BOYFRIEND/FRIEND TO SET WITH ME?
No. You are at work!  Only peformers who are on the security list are permitted on set.
I’M SO EXCITED! CAN I POST PICS OF BEING ON SET ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
NO! We know it's exciting to be on a shoot - but you cannot, under any circumstances, post anything about the shoot - or post any pictures - online. Period.
TAX TIME & T4’S
Please remember that OnSet Talent Agency is not your employer.
You are employed by the production company(ies) and they are the ones that will be providing you with your T4.
Sometimes they may mail it directly to you, but more often than not they will mail it to us on your behalf.
We have no way of knowing if a T4 will arrive for you, or not, at our office as OnSet Talent Agency is not the one issuing them.
Due to the high volume of T4’s that we receive at our office from production please be advised that we do NOT mail them out.
If you have other agents as well, it may go to your other agent even if you send your cheques to us, and, again, we have no way of knowing this.
However, IF a T4 has arrived for you then we will send you a courtesy email to let you know.
Once you have received such an email you may then come into the office (Mon-Fri from 9:30am to 4:30pm) to collect any you may have.
Alternatively, you can always obtain a complete list of ALL of your T4’s (from all sources) directly from Revenue Canada.
If you do not receive an email telling you there is a T4 here for you then we did not receive one for you.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? GLOSSARY
ACTRA: The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists. Professional Actors Union. ACTRA COUNT: The number of union background performers designated for each production. It can be different for each one. Some productions may have a 10 ACTRA count, some may have a 30 ACTRA count. After the ACTRA count is met, then non-union performers are hired. ACTRA FULL MEMBER: A full member of the professional actors union. ACTRA APPRENTICE: An apprentice with the professional actors union. ACTRA ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND PERFORMER (AABP): Still get paid the non-union rate. No over time applies. Is not permitted to work on any non-union shows. AABP performers are not included in the ACTRA count. NON-UNION/CASH: A performer who is not part of an actors union. Also called "cash" because in the early years of the film industry, they were paid daily with paper cash at the end of the shoot day. Production now pays all performers by cheque which takes about 2-4 weeks to arrive. AD/2ND AD/3RD AD: Assistant Director. The people who literally run the show - identfiable by walkie in the ear and probably a thousand pens sticking out of their pockets. BASE CAMP: Main location for crew members on a location shoot. BG HOLDING: Designated meeting or waiting area for background performers. BOOKING: A job! Once all details have been confirmed, we will say "YOU ARE BOOKED" or "BOOKING YOU" - without this, your job is not confirmed. BOOKING REQUEST: Email with details of a booking - not a confirmed job offer. Usually includes questions or requests clarification. Always read all details and answer all questions when replying. These are specific to each booking and only sent to performers who are appropriate. We do not sent booking requests to our entire roster. We take the time and only send them to performers who we feel fit the look that the casting director is asking for. Please reply to EVERY booking request that we send you to let us know if you ARE or ARE NOT available for the booking. CASTING DIRECTOR: Person hired by production to cast/hire talent for the production. CALL TIME: Industry term for the time you start work. NEVER BE LATE. COMMISSION: Compensation received/paid for agents' services. DECLARATION OF RESIDENCY: Form you must fill out your first time on on each different production you are on. It declares you are an Ontario Resident for tax purposes. DIRECT BOOKING: When you book a shoot directly with production or casting without going through an agent. This is not permitted if you have an agent/representation. EMPLOYER: The person/company who employs you/pays you. THIS IS NOT YOUR AGENT, THIS IS PRODUCTION. EXTRAS: Background performers - talent used to fill in and complete the background of a scene (walking by on the street, 'eating' in a restaurant, standing in line at the bank, watching a sports game, etc). GO-SEE: Similar to an audition - you "go" so the casting director/producer can "see you". It's basically an open casting call and an opportunity to meet the casting director in person. LOCATION: Area allocated for the production. PHOTO DOUBLE: An extra hired because of their specific resemblance to an actor. PICTURE CASTING: When the casting director specifically casts you by your picture. SHUTTLE: Transportation provided by production to get to a set or location that is outside of the designated geographical zone (generally outside of the GTA). S.O.C.: Silent on camera. Actor role that does not speak. SSE: "Special Skilled Extra". Specific category of extra that's hired for a particular skill. Pays a higher rate. STAND-IN: A performer who's job is to 'stand-in' the place of an actor for lighting and focus purposes. STUDIO: Large building used for shooting. T4: Legal document provided by your employer for tax purposes. Generally only one is issued by the payroll company,  so it is possible that if you have more than one BG Agent, only one agent may receive one for you. PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE NOT YOUR EMPLOYER AND AS SUCH, DO NOT ISSUE THESE DOCUMENTS. TALENT AGENT/AGENCY: Person or persons who represent performers/talent and market them to the casting directors. TIME REPORT SUMMARY: Pay stub. UPGRADE: When an extra is chosen to speak on camera and it becomes an 'actor' role. If this happens on set you must contact your agent IMMEDIATELY so we can arrange for a contract for you. There is a time limit for an upgrade to go through (30 days) so let us know right away if you are lucky enough to have this happen. VOUCHER: Time sheet that you receive when you report to work. You must sign in and out on the voucher and hand it in at the end of the shoot day. They will give you a copy as well. KEEP YOUR COPY. It is your receipt/proof that you worked. WARDROBE: Industry term for your costume or clothing requirements. Applies to clothing/accessories given to you or that you wear/bring yourself. WHSA: Ontario Worker Health and Safety Certification. Mandatory for all performers. WORK PERMIT: Documentation required by all performers who are not Canadian Citizens to prove they are legally entitled to work in Canada. Issued by the Government of Canada. You must take a copy on set with you. WRAP: "It's a wrap" or "You're wrapped" means you're finished work for the day, can sign out, and can then leave (after you have signed out).
IMPORTANT LINKS
How to get your body measurements? How to measure yourself for a men's suit? ACTRA Toronto TTAA What's currently filming in Toronto? It's important to remember that this is a list of everything shooting, including animated shows, reality shows, and other productions that do not require BG performers, or have very limited BG on their sets. Even though a production may be listed as 'currently shooting' they could really be on 'hiatus' (which is basically their vacation time) and means they aren't actually shooting right then. IPA: Independent Production Agreement all the information on the current rates for performers on all ACTRA/Union Productions as well as the IPA itself. https://www.actratoronto.com/producers/independent-production/