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Home » Electronic Media Services » Theatrical, TV Film, and Made for New Media Motion Picture Sideline Work

Theatrical, TV Film, and Made for New Media Motion Picture Sideline Work


In recent years, there has been an increase in the amount of sideline work across the US and Canada for television and motion picture productions. Adding to this growth are Made for New Media productions. Because of the diversity of shooting locations, in towns and cities both large and small, I regularly receive calls from musicians and local officers in various jurisdictions concerning sideline employment.

Sidelining is where a musician is engaged to “mime” the playing of a musical instrument on camera. Typically, a musician will perform to a pre-record that is played back on the set. The minimum call for a sideline engagement is eight hours. Work time after eight hours, and during certain nighttime premium hours (after midnight for example), entitles a musician to a higher hourly rate. In some instances, a musician is required to record their instrumental parts while being filmed. In such cases, the musician is entitled to a recording scale in addition to their sideline fee. There is also a special Silent Bit rate provided in the Theatrical Motion Picture and TV Film Agreements when a sideline musician is directed to perform special business.

There are a large number of theatrical, TV film, and new media motion picture productions taking place all across North America. So, if ever a musician or local officer is contacted by a producer for a sideline engagement, the musician or local officer must first confirm with the AFM that the motion picture is covered by an AFM agreement. It is important that a producer’s signatory status be confirmed before a call is accepted, otherwise musicians run the risk of working on a non-AFM production, which will cause them to lose the protection and benefits (such as pension and health and welfare) for AFM-covered employment.

Following the sideline engagement, it is important to make certain a copy of the B-7 session report is filed with the local chapter office in the jurisdiction where the work took place. The local office will in turn file a copy of the session report with the AFM and the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund (FMSMF). Providing a copy of the session report with both the AFM and the FMSMF will help ensure that the FMSMF has on file the appropriate documentation to credit all participating musicians for any and all secondary markets distribution.

The current Motion Picture and TV Film sideline scale information is available online at For general information regarding sideline work, you may contact either the AFM or your local office.

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