Screen Survey - ATPA & AFFCA


It is time to renegotiate the Equity screen agreements.

For small screens – the Actors’ Television Programs Agreement 2013 (ATPA) covers the minimum pay and conditions of work for programs made for TV, PayTV, subscription video on demand (SVOD), online and voice only work.

For large screens – the Actors’ Feature Film Collective Agreement 2012 (AFFCA) covers the minimum pay and conditions of work and residuals for Australian feature films.

This is an important survey. We want to know what your priorities are. Please answer all questions if you can. Don’t miss the important questions about film residuals at the end.

We will also be consulting with Agents.

 

Authorised by Zoe Angus, Director, MEAA Equity.

MEAA values your privacy (read our privacy policy here). This information will only be used internally by the union to identify key goals and objectives for our industry. By providing personal details MEAA may contact you directly to request further or more detailed feedback.

Section 1: Are you getting properly balanced hours and rest?

Is there enough rest time on screen productions? Should Equity increase the minimum turnaround time (the time between wrap on one day and your call the next) from 10 hours to 11 hours?

Strongly Support
Support
Not a priority

Lately, some producers have requested that cast and crew work “continuous hours”. Continuous hours means there is no set time for a group meal break. Instead, each person is allocated a break time that fits around scene shoots and catering is available all day. In return, if the shoot day goes for longer than 10 hours, performers get triple time payment (instead of double time).

Have you ever worked continuous hours?

Yes
No
Would you support working continuous hours on some screen productions?
Strongly support
Support
Not a priority

Do you have any other suggestions to improve the hours and rest arrangements on screen productions?

Section 2: Building a diverse and inclusive industry

The Indigenous Committee MEAA (#ICMEAA) would like to see paid cultural leave, such leave for sorry business, introduced into Australian screen agreements. Do you support this claim?

Strongly Support
Support
Not a priority

Equity screen agreements contain the commitment to the principle of diverse casting. Do you support strengthening this commitment?

Strongly Support
Support
Not a priority

Do you support extending the principle of diverse casting to include age, gender and socio-economic background?

Strongly Support
Support
Not a priority

Section 3: Industry Code of Conduct

On 1 September 2018 the new Entertainment Industry Code of Conduct commenced. The Code outlines the law in relation to harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying in the screen and live performance industries. MEAA expects our members to comply with the Code but we also stand for fairness to all in the complaints procedure. MEAA would like to incorporate the Code into the ATPA and AFFCA. This means if any disputes arise around safety and/or harassment, the matter can be dealt with in the Fair Work Commission, rather than the Courts.

Do you support this claim?

Yes
No
Unsure

Section 4: Time for a better deal for child performers?

Currently, child performers (under 16 years) earn 50% of the adult performer rate. Would you support increasing the child performer rate to 75% of the adult performer rate?

Strongly Support
Support
Not a priority

Section 5: Superannuation

The minimum legal requirement is that employers pay superannuation at 9.5% of your pay. Under AFFCA it is 10% and under ATPA it is 10.5%. Financial modelling suggests the contribution needs to be set at 12% or above in order to provide a real benefit for retirement, particularly in freelance industries where people work short-term projects.

Would you support increasing superannuation?

Strongly Support
Support
Not a priority

Would you be prepared to offset some of the wage increase in order to increase superannuation (for example, to forego 1-2% of the pay increase for 1-2% more superannuation)?

Yes
No

Section 6: Stunt Performers

Under the Equity screen agreements, performers are paid a lesser rate for rehearsals (BNF) compared to the shoot rate. Stunt performers believe they should receive the same rate for rehearsals and shoots given the risk in performing/rehearsing the stunt is the same.

Do you support this claim?

Strongly Support
Support
Not a priority

Section 7: Options on TV series – how long can you be bound?

Under the ATPA, if you’re a weekly performer or a performer in a Major Role, the producer can require you to return for subsequent seasons for up to 3 years. These are called “Options”. Agents tell us sometimes producers will only offer a few weeks work on season 1 but jeopardise the performer’s access to work on other projects for that entire 3 year period because they insist on the performer keeping themselves available for unreasonably long periods waiting for the next season. Performers need greater certainty with Options. To address this - do you support:

A performer can only be contracted under Option if they are weekly and receive a minimum guaranteed number of shoot weeks.

Yes
No

The performer will be guaranteed no less than this number of shoot weeks in the subsequent season, unless the parties agree otherwise.

Yes
No

Currently, the producer must advise the performer of the window when the next season is likely to start (earliest and latest likely start date). This window should be confined to a limited period, for example, three months, so that a performer can also access other work.

Yes
No

A performer under Option should be guaranteed all episodes produced.

Yes
No

Section 8: Working on a serial?

Performers working on a serial are paid a higher rate for filming more than one episode in a week. Producers can ‘pick forward’ scenes from future blocks (that is, film a scene from a later episode), without additional payment, provided the actor gets an episode loading for that later episode when they subsequently film it.

Should there be a separate loading for pick forwards?

Yes
No

Section 9: Online-only productions

In 2016, Equity introduced a new industry standard for online only productions. Many of these productions are a series of short ‘webisodes’ and the performer can sometimes shoot the whole series in one day.

Would you support the introduction of a content limit for the daily fee? This would mean that a ‘daily’ performer could only record up to 30 minutes of screen time after which they would receive another daily fee. This principle applies to TV Voice Animation.

Strongly Support
Support
Not a priority

Section 10: International SVOD platforms (eg Netflix) are not covered

The ATPA covers subscription video on demand (SVOD) programs when made by a local digital streaming platform, for example, STAN. It does not cover programs made by an international streaming platform like Netflix and Amazon. Equity negotiated a production specific agreement with Netflix to cover Tidelands, their first Australian commissioned program.

Do you support reaching an agreement with Netflix (and other international SVOD platforms) to cover other upcoming Australian screen productions?

Yes
No

There are some areas of disagreement between Equity and Netflix about what should go in the agreement. These relate to licence period, up-front minimums and options. When Netflix make a show in the USA they pay a one-off residuals payment to buy unlimited SVOD usage forever. When Netflix make a show in the UK they pay a one-off residuals payment to buy a 15 year period of usage which means after 15 years the program may be sold again and performers have the opportunity to see further residuals. Canada also imposes a licence period rather than providing SVOD usage in perpetuity.

Do you support limiting SVOD usage to a term of no longer than 15 years?

Strongly Support
Support
Not a priority

Do you support the claim that instead of Australian minimum rates applying to international SVOD platforms, higher upfront minimum rates should apply?

Strongly Support
Support
Not a priority

Netflix want to be able to contract performers so they have the Option to return for later seasons for a longer period. In the USA, performers can be bound for a 7 year Option period. In Australia it is 3 years. Netflix want 5 year Options.

Which of the following best characterises your position? *

Provided the Options clause is tightened (as per Section 8), and the minimum fees are higher than Australian minimums, this can be agreed.
This should not be agreed for everyone but could be permitted as part of individual negotiations. Subject to the performer/agent retaining the right to insist on the 3 year Australian standard.
The Australian standard 3 years Options should apply.

Section 11: Time to update residuals for Australian feature films

Under the Australian feature film agreement, your upfront fee almost entirely buys all usage of the film. Your fee pays for:

• All “theatrical” usage (that is, cinema usage)
• A 5 year period to play the feature film on Australian free to air TV (after which residuals apply)
• All Pay TV usage
• All “ancillary” usage (that is, everything that is not theatrical or broadcast, for example, Netflix, Qantas streaming, DVDs)

The residuals payable under the AFFCA are:

• If the film is played on Australian free to air TV after 5 years, performers share 15% of the licence fee
• After 4 years, revenue from TV and ancillary sales in North America, performers share 3.6% of that revenue
• Profit share – if the film makes a profit, performers share 10% of the Producer’s share of net profit.

The last time Equity re-negotiated the AFFCA was in 2012. Since that time, “ancillary” markets have exploded and ATRRA 2016 has reduced the period a TV program can be played before residuals are payable from 7 to 3 years. Given these changes, do you support the following?

Residuals should be payable on ancillary usage

Yes
No

Residuals should be payable on pay TV usage

Yes
No

A 5 year window for free-to-air usage without paying residuals is too long. This should be shortened to 3 years (in keeping with ATRRA 2016)

Yes
No
Performers sharing 15% of the licence fee for the film being played on commercial networks after 5 years is too low. This share should be increased
Yes
No
Residuals are payable after 4 years on revenue from North America. This window is too long and should be shortened
Yes
No
The producer should provide the residuals report and any residuals owing to MEAA for checking and disbursement
Yes
No
Do you have any comments about how residuals could be improved?

Section 12: Time to talk Pay

Equity works hard to regularly increase the industry minimum rates on screen productions. Over the last two years, Equity has achieved increases to the minimum union rates for Television/Digital of 8.2% and for Feature Films totalling 11.2%, well above the sluggish private sector average of 1.9% p.a.
 
Now it is time to talk money. Which of these statements best characterises your position? The MEAA Position should be:
The pay increase should be substantial
The increase should be a percentage or two above rises to the cost of living so that wages stay ahead of costs
The claim should be modest, matching the cost of living (CPI) increase
A substantial increase which is then discounted by 1-3% in order to pay for an increase to superannuation

Section 13: What are your priorities?

Please rank these claims from 1 to 5, where 1 is the most important.
  1 2 3 4 5
Increase to minimum rates
1
2
3
4
5
Improved residuals
1
2
3
4
5
Securing a good agreement with Netflix
1
2
3
4
5
Improved superannuation
1
2
3
4
5
Improved rates for child performers
1
2
3
4
5
Cultural leave for First Nations performers
1
2
3
4
5
Tighten the Options arrangements
1
2
3
4
5
Make our industry more diverse and inclusive
1
2
3
4
5
Content limits for online productions
1
2
3
4
5
Industry Code of Conduct to be included in the Agreement
1
2
3
4
5
Are there any issues that are missing from this survey that you think need to be addressed?

Section 14: Background

First name
Last name
Email address
Member number