When are actors paid
Who deserves what?
The market for actors is extremely uneven and the range is too large. The unprotected title “actor” can also be used almost anywhere. Those who are serious can study at one of the state drama schools, which always have their admission rituals in autumn. Hundreds of hopeful candidates are then on the way, because you can go to the schools on an ox tour one after the other in the hope that one of the schools will accept you. Sönke Wortmann created a monument to this tour in his film “Kleine Haie”. By the way, purists only accept actors who have trained at the state drama school and who have experience on a stage for a cast.
The private drama schools are as many as they are diverse, and some are even useful. Since they are relatively expensive, it is always difficult to judge whether they will accept someone because he or she is talented or because they need the money.
The state drama schools have very strict selection criteria, which of course vary depending on the school. (In addition to handicraft, acting is also art and allows very different approaches and interpretations.) Each of the established schools shapes and imparts a special “style” (Academy for Dramatic Art "Ernst Busch", Berlin; Max Reinhardt Seminar, Vienna; Otto Falckenberg School, Munich etc.). Most of the students in these schools have theater work in their sights.
Training for the stage is given more weight here than the perspective of working in front of the camera. Young artistic offspring then essentially choose theater directors for the various directors' auditions at these schools.
Private drama schools give the large number of rejected applicants another chance for an apprenticeship. Here, too, selection procedures must be completed.
With regard to a professional perspective, the training in private schools weights the field of work in front of the camera. In view of the large number of program hours with fictional programs, it seems realistic to find a place in this market after the training. Without this assessment, hardly any student would be willing to pay between 300 and 600 euros a month over a period of three years, depending on the institute.
Some of the private schools have earned a good reputation over many years and thus a place next to the state drama schools. No distinctions are made, the graduates judged just as impartially as those of the state schools. In fact, only a very small number of graduates, especially those from private schools, can position themselves in the market; very few of them can even make a living by working as actors.
The fields of work are extremely different. In addition to working on stages, working in front of the camera is the most important area of work.
Even camera work is organized in extremely different ways and requires different qualifications. The spectrum ranges from the careful design of a character for a sophisticated movie to the mere representation of a type with long text passages and no creative freedom.
The real cutting times of an actor's daily workload range from scene lengths of 2 minutes in cinema productions to 45 minutes in daily, almost documentary formats.
For those who find that too tedious, a few seminars are sufficient, which more or less competent trainers are happy to offer just for a weekend.
The differences couldn't be bigger, let's start below:
Extras run through the picture and can be seen in heaps, are supposed to receive 60 euros per day and are taxed at a flat rate (i.e. no income tax card has to be submitted and no social insurance is due).
If you have a sentence to say, you can get roughly double that amount. With more than one sentence plus a bit of play (in the shop: “What do you want?” - “Please here, your change.”) You are no longer an extra, but a small actor who can no longer be billed as a flat rate and 300–500 Received euros.
Actor fees start at 700 euros for young actors without experience (and without an agency), with stage experience it starts at around 900 euros. There are certainly offers that are well below that.
The fees have risen steadily since the private TV stations entered the market, but with the downturn, the fees also went down. The fees have been falling again since around 2002. Before that, program slots were heavily stocked with serial productions, and since 2002 cheaper programs, in particular entertainment programs, talk shows, quizzes and docu-soaps, have been preferred by TV stations, which significantly reduced the offer. At the same time, the boom had caused an oversupply of actors and there were so many actors on the market that high fee demands no longer had to be taken into account.
An end to the misery for actors is still not really in sight, as the new legislation now forces actors to work 365 days in two years in order to be entitled to unemployment benefits that used to help over the worst.
Even if it was purely subsidizing the actors, which was no longer permitted under EU law, the new situation is, however, capable of driving the fees even further down: The lack of social security will mean that even more actors will be involved offer their services on more favorable terms.
Telenovela and daily actors are compensated with monthly salaries between 6,000 and 13,000 euros. Leading actors get a lot more, of course, and the leading actress in a telenovela can easily get between 250,000 and 400,000 euros for a role that spans six months (the actual shooting time is usually much shorter).
In the case of series, a distinction is made between ensemble (permanent "staff" of the series) and "episode roles":
The good German series (13 episodes per year) brings an actor 1,800 euros per day of shooting. For interesting actors in continuous roles, it can also be a little more. Their daily rate is then sometimes 2,200 euros.
In series, especially in so-called weeklys, flat rates are agreed for the permanent staff. Here, too, billing is often done on a monthly basis, with amounts ranging between 8,000 and 20,000 euros.
The television film as the premier class and premium product of TV always tries to work with well-known actors who are also highly endowed. This leaves a lower budget for the other actors, because the actors are also included in the budgeting by the donors.
Of course, a broadcaster also likes to charge a premium for one of its favorite actors, but actually that rarely happens and everything is always added up and the producer has to see how he gets there.
The stars of these films receive daily fees of around EUR 3,500 to EUR 8,000.
Since it is then also particularly popular among actors to play a TV movie, in contrast to the series, the differences to the series are no longer as great as they used to be.
The broadcasters also differ in the fees they pay: ARD and ZDF used to pay the leading roles a repeat fee, today they try to avoid that whenever possible. However, this was not accompanied by an increase in fees, insofar as they pay less today than the private broadcasters. Leading roles usually receive 10% of the original salary. Unlike authors, who were 100%.
90,000 euros to 100,000 euros for a leading role are not impossible. We are now talking about premium prime-time production, not small TV games or the “debut in the third”. For the last two productions, young actors are only offered flat rates that often fall below any standard and amount to only a few thousand euros.
About 15% of all actors are represented by agents who are very committed to keeping fees at a reasonable level.
The fees offered are similar to the range of formats from TV films in cinema quality to documentary soaps. Budgets for docusoaps or fictional daily programs are so tight that daily fees of € 250 for beginners and € 700 for experienced colleagues with a long theater and television vita have become common. Negotiating leeway “0”. A large number of unemployed actors are in competition for an ever decreasing number of roles. Very few can afford to turn down an offer.
The erosion process of the fee heights has also affected the so-called premium formats. A role offer for 1,300 euros for a day of shooting, with self-financed travel from Berlin to Munich with private or inexpensive, but self-supporting accommodation, are common offers. And that for the collaboration of actors on TV movies from private broadcasters, which three years ago were remunerated with € 2,000. Travel and accommodation were of course organized and paid for by production at the time.
With the entry of the private broadcasters onto the market, the fees for actors have certainly developed into spheres that can hardly be calculated.
Only the ZDF was able to maintain an almost stable framework through a restrictive fee policy.
The current situation simply depicts market parameters. An oversupply of actors is offset by a relatively low demand, the number of program slots for in-house productions by the broadcasters for sufficiently budgeted fictional programs (TV movies or series) is significantly reduced in favor of inexpensive international programs (US series or theatrical films). For the few premium products, broadcasters and producers recruit the same actors known to the audience out of fear of rating failures.
Most of the time slots on which in-house productions are programmed are extremely tightly budgeted.
A relatively constant number of inexpensive daily formats provides the lucky chosen ones with work for six months to a year. On almost any condition, these actors are compelled to accept. Of the approximately 18,000 actors available on the labor market, this is likely to be the case for at least 15,000.
We are lawyers specializing in film law. From a legal point of view, film is everything as soon as images move, be it in the cinema, Internet, TV, VoD, DVD.
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