What you should do when the production company doesn’t pay you.

July 13, 2015

What you should do when the production company doesn’t pay you.

Earlier this year, Bruce Willis’ new movie shut down production after producers could not afford to keep production running.

We previously posted several casting calls for the upcoming feature film ‘Wake’ but, according to Variety, producers had to end production of the movie before filming was ever completed.

Financing problems have shut down production of action-thriller “Wake,” starring Bruce Willis, which had been shooting in Cleveland.

“Benaroya Pictures is working quickly to remedy the delay in production on the feature film ‘Wake,’ and we are optimistic we will resume principal photography in approximately 2-3 weeks,” the company said in a statement.

As Variety pointed out, this is the second time Benaroya Pictures shut down production for a movie after filming has started due to financial issues.

You may have a great time on set, love your time working on with A-list actors, and getting your chance to be featured on television-but those things don’t keep the lights on. If the producers suddenly stops paying you, either with a promise to make it up later or no explanation at all, you have rights. Here’s what you need to know.

The answer may not be that easy. You like networking with actors, and all you want to do is get paid for your work so you can keep working and feed your family. Of course, quitting is always an option, but then you would not get paid and without a job, you have a chance of getting blacklisted.

It’s easy to just say that you are going to “sue” but the real world is more complicated then hiring a bunch of lawyers. Maybe you’ve complained to the production assistants, or casting directors and the casting director gives you a check for some of the back pay. But, it’s happened again. Maybe this is the first time this has happened, or everyone else is in the same boat you’re in.

Here’s what you should know when the production company doesn’t pay you.

 

1. An employer failing to pay you for wages for your work is illegal

The situation is actually far more common than you might think. Many background extras go months without getting paid, production assistants lose vouchers. Whatever the situation, the important thing to know is that an employer failing to pay you wages for work you’ve performed is illegal. At the end of the day the production company and the casting company cannot brush you off, and they can’t just promise to pay you when they get around to it or things “work out”.

Here’s what you should do. Make sure you get personal contact info for everyone you can, go to your state’s Labor Division website that handles wage claims for free. You are entitled to your back pay and penalties, no attorney needed, though you may also want to contact an employment law attorney.

In fact, in many states you don’t even need to get a lawyer what’s owed to you. Reach out to yourstate’s labor department to find out the best way to move forward.

Quit now, if you don’t think the money is coming.

Most people would say to continue working. But, you may want to go with your gut instinct and just quit. You are better off spending your time and energy looking for a production company that will pay you for your work instead of working for free. Whatever the cause of your reluctance to leave is, try to get past it and look at the money. You’re working for free, your kids are hungry, and you are putting your trust on a group of people who already aren’t paying you while you wait. If that sounds bad, that’s because it is.

If you decide to continue working, here’s what you should do

 

Even though quitting is probably the best option for most people, some may find it difficult. If you do decide to stay, here are a few things you should do.

1. Talk to the casting director and producers.

If you are committed to staying at least long enough to give them a chance to pay you, have a frank discussion with your boss about what’s going on and what you should expect. Get to the bottom of the money situation and insist on honest. If they can’t be honest with you, then you should walk away.

2. Build up your acting resume

If you do decide to stay, start working on your resume. Network with other actors, models, and producers. even if you’re heading to set with the hope that things are getting better, you should also act like you are losing your job. Start signing up for other projects, audition for other new roles, and reach out to your talent network.

Look for real, serious change. Even if you decide to stay, and even if production does pay you later, look out problems in the future with the casting company or production company. Someone at the top should be getting fired for it, and there should be serious changes to make sure it doesn’t happen again. If you don’t see that kind of change happening, then leave.

 

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Our first and best advice is that you should quit and spend your time looking for someone who’s capable of paying you for the work you do. If you do decide to hang in there, whatever the reason, we hope that these tips will help you decide where the limits of your acting career, and make a smart decision as to whether you should tough it out or quit.

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