The Picture is Yours Underpaid extras in feature films

A Major Production Company responsible for hits such as Four Weddings and a Funeral and Atonement has been reported as underpaying extras. Extras have complained they are being hired below agreed industry minimum rates to appear in Anna Karenina a movie starring Keira Knightley. The news prompted BECTU to call on producers’ body PACT to police its members and ensure they are operating according to terms agreed by both bodies.

They are being paid £100 for a 12-hour day to work on the big-screen adaptation of Anna Karenina – with the British actress in the title role.  This falls short of the minimum agreed rate under the terms of BECTU’s Film Artistes Association agreement with producers’ body PACT, of which Working Title is a member. The rate is well below the minimum fee agreed under the terms of a Film Artistes Association (FAA) agreement between BECTU, the entertainment union, and Pact, the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television.

The agreement requires any extra working on a PACT film to be paid £83.72 for a nine-hour day, with overtime paid at £7.84 an hour. Under the agreement, Karenina extras should be paid a minimum of £130.76 for a 12-hour day, with expenses for travel, the union claims. Paul Kirby, chairman of the FAA, told The Stage that he was "very disappointed" with the rate offered by Pact member Working Title. “It’s this old thing of anyone can do that [be an extra]. And anyone can, but to do it well is a different thing. On this film the extras’ fees – even at the correct rate – would not be more than 1% of the entire budget,” he said.

Kirby added it is the responsibility of PACT to ensure its members are operating according to industry agreements. The minimum Equity rate for a nine-hour day is £65, with overtime paid after that at time-and-a-half. BECTU called on Shed Productions, the independent company behind shows such as Bad Girls and Footballers’ Wives, to be expelled from PACT, after extras on Bad Girls were hired by a firm which was not using the minimum pay contracts agreed by the FAA and PACT.

Shed Productions is partly owned by Warner Brothers.