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Background Artistes

Background artistes, represented through the Film Artistes' Association (FAA) section of BECTU, are a growing part of the union.  Request an application form.

As freelance workers, background artistes, often known as extras, provide an essential service to film makers and independent producers. Whilst these workers may not be in the foreground of a particular shot, their skills are vital to the quality of the final work.

Whether we are talking about powerful crowd scenes in the latest blockbuster, the historical accuracy of a period drama, or a group shot in a favourite Soap, background artistes bring vital skills, flexibility and knowledge to the production process.
 
The FAA, through BECTU, works to ensure that background artistes are properly recognised and justly rewarded for their contribution to film and programme-making.

Pay talks

Biennial negotiations with PACT have brought improvements in pay.  NB: The latest rate card, also attached to this page, came into effect on 6 January 2014. Full details of the FAA/PACT agreement are available to union members. 

Agencies

Perhaps the biggest industrial issue facing background artistes is the poor practice of many agencies which charge upfront fees to register artistes but fail to make the necessary efforts to place people in work.
 
The union was instrumental in the establishment of the National Association of Supporting Artistes Agencies. Sadly the organisation is no longer in operation but the fact of its existence, even for a short time, shows a will amongst the reputable agencies to promote best practice to deliver better support to the artistes on their books. The best agencies continue to operate however the less good continue to disappoint.

Industry consultation

BECTU was a key stakeholder in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills' consultation into the conduct of agencies which reported in March 2010.  Read BECTU's submission. The government's decision not to ban upfront fees for supporting artistes continues to be a campaigning issue for BECTU. Latest info on the union's work on behalf of supporting artistes here.

Additional member benefits

In addition to collective representation, the union's background artiste members, also have individual access to the full range of Benefits and Services provided by BECTU. Key benefits include:

  • a free listing on Crewbus, the union's online freelance directory;
  • access to EarlyBird, a listing of upcoming productions published regularly
  • advice on reputable agencies;
  • legal services covering work-related issues, including personal injury;
  • legal services covering issues outside work;
  • a copy of the FAA /PACT agreement listing full entitlements and rights for background artistes on PACT productions;
  • representation in the event of a dispute on a production;
  • advice on Schedule D and NI issues (Tax Guide for Freelances, downloadable from this page for logged in members only);
  • support with debt collection;
  • union journal, Stage, Screen and Radio.

If you are serious about working as a background artiste and about being treated as a professional, we invite you to join the FAA section of BECTU. Request an application form.
 
Contact national official, Willie Lesslie, to find out more about BECTU's support for background artistes.

Last page update 15 January 2014.

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