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Pay Attention to How You’ll be Paid

There are many different ways a client could offer to pay you for a gig.  You may be paid right after you hear “Cut!” or you may not, and it’s important to understand all of the nuances, so you don’t feel stiffed at the end of the day.  Here are some industry terms to be on the lookout for and the importance of each to your pocketbook:

Cash at Wrap. This means you can expect to be paid in cash as soon as your finished with the role.

Expense Reimbursement/Per diem. These are fees paid to compensate performers for expenditures such as meals.

Salary or Hourly. You will usually be offered a salary for long-term gigs or paid hourly if you are to be booked for at least an hour or longer.  Some clients will pay overtime if you work more than a standard workday.

Commission. This is usually designated for sales-based opportunities such as promotional modeling and brand ambassador spots.  You might receive a certain percentage of the client’s sales if you are booked to market a product or service.

Stipend. A specified, on-time fee for compensation.  You might be offered a one-time payment of a certain amount regardless of how much time you spend on set.

Buyout. A “buyout” is a payment made in advance for any future use of a print ad or a commercial you are featured in for a specific period of time.

Credit only. This is exactly what it sounds like – you can expect to receive credit for your role but will not be paid.

Time for Print. This offer is commonly made by photographers who are looking for models to build their portfolios.  You will not be paid monetarily but will be offered prints (sometimes edited, sometimes not) for your own portfolio.

You may also come across listings with percentages, hours, abbreviations or other potentially confusing terms tied to the payment, such as $100/8 + 10% + OT.  This means you will be paid a set fee of $100 for eight hours of work plus 10% commission for your agent and will receive overtime after eight hours.  If you are confused by specific terminology, always make sure you ask what it means before agreeing to take on a gig.  You want to make sure you and the client are on the same page upfront to avoid an awkward conversation after the fact.  You never want to risk burning a bridge over a simple misunderstanding!

 

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