If you're shooting a feature with SAG actors after July 1, 2015 and your budget is under $2.5 million (which for most of us will be the case), it's going to cost a bit more.
At SAG-AFTRA's first meeting of 2015, they unanimously voted to approve a 25% raise for productions that qualify under the Ultra Low Budget, Modified Low Budget, and Low Budget Theatrical agreements. In addition, the union initiation fee will remain at $3,000.
Here's the bit about pay increases from their meeting:
The national board unanimously voted to increase the rates provided in the Ultra Low Budget, Modified Low Budget and the Low Budget Theatrical Agreements. Rates for these contracts have not increased in a decade. New rates will reflect a catch-up adjustment of 25 percent effective July 1, 2015, and may be adjusted periodically as needed with a one-year notice of any such increase.
Ultra Low Budget: Under $200,000
- Day Rate: $125
Modified Low Budget: Under $625,000
- Day Rate: $335
- Weekly Rate: $1,166
Low Budget: Under $2.5 million
- Day Rate: $630
- Weekly Rate: $2,190
It's worth noting that you must shoot in the US with these agreements, and the rates don't include pension and health benefits, which are paid to the union on top of the actor's rate. When you look at the fact that these rates have remained the same for a decade, you realize that this pay increase is more or less just keeping with inflation. Right now with the Ultra Low Budget agreement, an actor costs $100 a day for 8 hours, but when this new rate comes into effect, that will increase to $125.
People on both sides of these agreements will have valid points about what the pay increase will mean for future productions, but if you're a filmmaker, it's something you'll need to consider for future productions. You can find more information about the current theatrical agreements over on the SAG-AFTRA page here. A great resource to check out regarding union contracts would also be SAGIndie.