As a producer, one of your top priorities is securing your payroll for the cast and crew. Understanding the process of posting a security deposit from start to finish can help you get your production up and running—and, just as importantly, recover your money as soon as possible once production wraps, with minimal headaches along the way.

In a three-part blog series, we’ll guide you through the steps required to post a security deposit with the three major collective bargaining groups in film and television production–IATSE, DGA, and SAG-AFTRA–to help make the process as painless as possible.
 

THE BASICS

The security deposit required by IATSE is relatively straightforward: two weeks of payroll plus fringes (defined as taxes and benefit costs beyond the crew’s salary) at the peak of production.
 

THE PROCESS

Once you become signatory—when you actually sign an agreement with the locals—an IATSE representative will be assigned to your production and will work with you to determine the deposit terms. While two weeks is standard, there are cases where it can be negotiated down, depending on the type of project and your relationship with the union. Your payroll company will then help you calculate the agreed-upon amount and hold that money on behalf of IATSE.
 

GETTING IT BACK

Once your payroll company has your deposit, it can’t release it back to you without the explicit approval of your union rep. In the case of IATSE, you can submit a request to release part of the deposit to cover payroll costs for your last week of production.

To get the ball rolling, you’ll need to submit a formal request to him or her (an example of which can be downloaded here) at least 3-5 days before you’d like the deposit returned.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Be explicit about the status of your production in your request: 1) Where you are (in wrap week, post-production, etc.); 2) The amount of your total deposit and what you’re requesting to draw down; 3) The predicted remaining IATSE payroll liability; 4) That all money owed through the current date has been paid in full.
  • Once your request is received, your rep will reach out to the various locals to confirm the crew has been paid and there aren’t any outstanding issues or grievances.
  • Union reps are regional and work on multiple projects at one time, so the more info you can provide, the easier it will be for him/her to get approval from the locals.
  • IATSE requires that at least two weeks of payroll for post-production editors remain on deposit after your project wraps—though the amount held is often more, in order to cover any subsequent issues or grievances that may arise.
  • The amount that IATSE approves for return may not match the amount requested.

  

THE TIMELINE

Within 30 days, with the full amount returned upon completion of all work covered by IATSE.

  
GET OUR BEST PRACTICES

Download “Demystifying Payroll Security Deposits: A Go-to Guide,” a handy reference for understanding the security deposit requirements of all three unions.