Hey American actors: notice a significant reduction in your residuals? You might be able to blame Canada.
As American actors deal with their own union issues, they have discovered that they have to contend with Canadian unions, too. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Canadian acting union, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television, and Radio Artists (ACTRA), is taking a 25% “service charge” from residual checks for non-members… but you can only join the union if you are Canadian.
Therefore, actors from outside Canada — including U.S. actors — are subject to the residual service charge. With many American films and television series shooting in Canada — notably Vancouver and Toronto — because of cheaper production costs, a number of American actors can expect increased fees if they haven’t been receiving them already. It’s worth noting that SAG, the American equivalent union, does not have any service charge on residuals. A spokesman for ACTRA told The Hollywood Reporter that there has always been a 25% service charge, something that The Hollywood Reporter dismisses, using one actor who was charged only 5% until recently as an example. Members of the union are typically charged 5% or less.
Connie Brown, the Chief Financial Officer of the Vancouver branch of ACTRA, the Union of British Columbia Performers, says that the much lower fees for members (i.e. Canadians) versus non-member (i.e. Everyone Else) is a result of “lots of U.S. actors coming up and taking Canadian jobs.” Of course, The Hollywood Reporter refutes this, pointing out that over 75% of the productions shot in Canada are actually foreign productions, leaving it debatable if they are really “Canadian jobs.”
As a result, any non-Canadian actors collecting residuals with a smaller service charge may discover that they aren’t making as much as they used to — and it has nothing to do the exchange rate.