Pre-Production: Understanding Talent Costs

In pre-production, you will need to decide how to pay your talent. There are many ways to go about this depending on what you can afford.

Day Rate

The most common arrangement for an actor is to receive a day rate. The day is set at either 10 or 12 hours. After that, an additional overtime fee will need to be paid. This way, your actors are committed to staying on set until you wrap.

Cut of Profits

In the case of big name actors, you will usually need to offer them a cut of the profits of the film. This is due to the attraction caused by having their name on the poster. You can also offer this option to an actor if you do not have much to offer as a day rate.

Background Actors

Extras are usually paid by the hour. So, you should try to schedule these scenes together in order to reduce costs. Though they will be getting less than your leading actors, there are probably many more of them.


You could offer no pay to an actor until after the film makes some money. The problem with this is that very few people will believe you, so your pickings will be slim.

Talent costs can rack up. But, remember that you get what you pay for.

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