UPDATED with more details: SAG-AFTRA is cracking down on producers who risk safety and who try to cheat stunt performers out of their residuals by signing them to stunt coordinator flat deals that don’t pay residuals. “The union is pursuing claims on this issue and will continue to challenge any miscategorization of stunt performers that it discovers,” it said.
“It has come to the attention of the SAG-AFTRA Stunt & Safety Department that producers have engaged stunt performers to work under inappropriate schedules” of its basic contract, the union said. “For example, stunt performers have been engaged under a Schedule K-III Flat Deal Stunt Coordinator contract rather than on the appropriate weekly Schedule H-II contract. The producer believes that such engagement will allow them to utilize the stunt performer according to the terms and conditions of the Flat Deal inclusive of residuals.”
These contract violations, however, aren’t just about residuals: they can also be dangerous. Under the union’s contract, producers are required to give stunt performers 12-hour turnaround time between shifts. Stunt coordinators, however, aren’t subject to the rule. So by improperly signing stunt performers to stunt coordinator contracts, producers think they can work them on short rest.
“The performer may work in certain situations where they only get five or six hours off, which makes it an unsafe situation,” said a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson. “Sleep deprivation is very dangerous when you have people doing body-burns, high falls and car crashes.”
“We probably get two to three calls every two or three weeks from stunt performers who are being offered this type of arrangement,” he said. “It has been happening for some time. We’re finding that it is becoming commonplace; something the producing community is opting to do or trying to do. But before it becomes a norm, we’re getting out ahead of it and saying it is incorrect. The producers cannot waive the terms or conditions of the agreement.”
The union, however, says that “unless it can be conclusively demonstrated that the stunt performer is coordinating, the terms and conditions of the Flat Deal may not be applicable. Any request by the producer that a performer waive his right to engagement under Schedule K-III is a violation of the Codified Basic Agreement if the producer has not received SAG-AFTRA’s consent to such a waiver.”