by Matt Allen, Contract Administrator AFM Electronic Media Services Division
In recent years, there has been steady sideline work across the US and Canada, in towns and cities, large and small, for television and motion picture production. Because of the diversity of shooting locations, I receive a number of calls from musicians and local officers in various jurisdictions concerning how sideline employment is to be paid and covered. So, I felt this article would be an opportunity to review a few of the basic elements of sideline employment.
Sidelining is when a musician is engaged to mime the playing of a musical instrument on camera. Typically, a musician will perform to a prerecorded track that is played back on the set. The minimum call for a sideline engagement is eight hours. Work hours after the initial eight hours, and during certain nighttime hours (after midnight, for example), entitles a musician an additional amount, based on the musician’s rate.
In some instances, a musician is required to record while being filmed. In these cases, the musician is entitled to a recording scale, in addition to their sideline scale. Also, a special Silent Bit rate is provided in the Theatrical Motion Picture and TV Film Agreements when a sideline musician is directed to perform special business.
There are many motion picture and TV film productions taking place across North America, so if you are ever contacted by a producer (or, if you are a local officer, and a musician or group of musicians in your jurisdiction is contacted by a producer) for a sideline engagement, you first need to confirm that the film is covered by the AFM. It is important that a producer’s signatory status be confirmed before you accept the call, otherwise you risk working on a non-AFM production and will lose the protection and benefits of AFM-covered employment. You may either contact your local to verify whether or not a producer is signatory to the appropriate agreement, or you may contact the AFM directly.
After you have completed the sideline engagement, it is important that you make certain a copy of the session report is filed with the local in the jurisdiction where the work was done. The local will, in turn, send a copy of the session report to the AFM, who will file a copy with the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund (FMSMF). Providing this session report will help ensure the FMSMF will have the appropriate documentation to credit you for your performance in any secondary markets distribution.
Current Motion Picture and TV Film sideline scale information can be found on afm.org, or for more information on sideline work in general, you may contact either track AFM headquarters or your local office.