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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.

Email joinfaa@bectu.org.uk to find out more about the union's support.

LATEST: New rates app for members

Once members have downloaded the app, they simply enter the details of their engagement (length of day, travel, any special requirements for example) and the app calculates the sum due. Use of the app will not only help with accuracy but should speed up the checking out process at the end of a day’s shoot.

Members have been asked to send feedback and/or any observations on functionality to faarateapp@bectu.org.uk That said, the branch committee is also keen for members to read and understand the PACT/BECTU agreement covering background artistes. The current agreement dates from 2014 and is due for review this year.

More about background artistes

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.

Email joinfaa@bectu.org.uk to find out more about BECTU's support for background artistes and to request an application form. 

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

The latest PACT/BECTU rate card, also attached to this page, came into effect on 6 January 2014. Talks are held every other year and a new agreement is expected later in 2016. The agreement sets out rates for a standard day, a standard night call, a shift call, travel allowances and more.

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 is a regular contributor to consultations affecting its members. Read BECTU's latest submission to government on behalf of background artistes (November 2015).

*Check out the BBC's Rip Off Britain (35 minutes in), broadcast on 24 Sept 2015, for a contribution from BECTU's Spencer MacDonald on the challenges for background artistes.*

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 7 December 2016. 

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