When a character dies, the show’s producers pay the actors, usually in the form of an actor’s fee, a percentage of their gross pay, and a percentage of their work for the day. But sometimes a character is killed off during the course of the day (for example, if the actor’s character leaves the set early). These actors are paid what the script called ‘post-mortem compensation’ – a percentage of the actor’s post-mortem compensation plus their base pay.
How do you keep paying actors?
Sometimes a death happens while the writer/director is editing – there might be a scene or a set-up that’s a bit too complicated for the writer to get things down correctly, or maybe the writer is a bit late to the event. In these circumstances, the writers or cast will take advantage of the post-mortem compensation. The writer/director will then receive a percentage of the post-mortem compensation until the post-mortem pay and post-mortem compensation is paid out in full.
What is the Post-Mortem Compensation Scheme?
The Post-Mortem Compensation Scheme is similar to the producer’s post-mortem compensation. However, the post-mortem compensation is based on the amount of work per-day that the character was working on on the day of the death. For example, if a character was working at a bar for 8 hours, then the post-mortem compensation would be based on their ‘work-per-day average’. Alternatively, the post mortem compensation is based on the character’s ‘pre-mortem compensation’ – the final paycheck for post-mortem compensation, which is calculated by using the gross amount of work the character did on the day.
Example: John Fenton, a young actor hired for the part of a policeman, is playing the part for 6 hours and 24 minutes. John Fenton earns $500 per day, but at the end of the day he has earned $650 ($600 ÷ 6) = $800. John Fenton’s pre-death ‘work-per-day average’ for the day is: $250/8 Hours
(6 x $500/day = $750)
John Fenton’s post-death post-mortem paycheck for the day is calculated by dividing the original $650 by his pre-mortem compensation. If John Fenton was still working, he would have earned $600 ($600 ÷ 6) = $950, because
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