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Canadian prodcos seek break on talent wages

Canada's main producers' group and actors' union are meeting in November to hammer out new pay guidelines for participants on low-budget, fact-based productions.
November 1, 2003

Canada’s main producers’ group and actors’ union are meeting in November to hammer out new pay guidelines for participants on low-budget, fact-based productions.

Faced with the popularity of factual programs, yet challenged by the small budgets on which they operate, producers need the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) to accept revised wage scales, says John Barrack, the Canadian Film and Television Producers Association’s (CFTPA) chief negotiator and vp of industrial relations.

A sticking point, he notes, is a clause of their existing agreement that sees ACTRA members paid the daily rate for every episode shot in a series, even if some or all segments of a show are filmed in a single day. The minimum daily fee for a principal performer (such as a host) for a general production is CDN$525 (US$395). The minimum for a narrator is CDN$360 ($270) daily. ‘[This is] about trying to find a fair arrangement that matches the reality of production financing in this genre,’ Barrack says.

ACTRA exec director Stephen Waddell says he is willing to negotiate. ‘The pressure to produce content as inexpensively as possible is creating an imperative to move in the direction of this less expensive style of production,’ he says.

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