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What is an actor contract?

A standard actor contract is required by the actors in all fields in the industry like film, live performance, and TV. This standard should adhere to irrespective of the area of interest. The standard contents in the contract should be given adequate attention while creating one. If such a standard can not be written, then it should be downloaded.

Bagging that acting role of your dreams may appear to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In this euphoric state, you may consider the signing of an actor contract PDF to be obstacles between you and your stardom.

However, signing an actor contract is much more than a formality; it is a medium to safeguard your interests and to ensure that you are duly compensated for your efforts. Plus, it ensures that you, as an actor, are not sued for quitting a film.

A well-prepared actor contract tends to protect both the actor who might be a freelancer and the producer. It is drafted by attorneys that specialize in entertainment law. They are attorneys that understand risk and terms involved in the career of acting. Also, it helps to consolidate the fundamental business terms and conditions between both the freelancer and the client.

Actor Contract Template
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Imagine if a freelancer has to appear on a show on television. Or you are featuring in a fully-funded film. You should use the contracts which are based on complete and standardized equity fees and contain lots of great deals, repeat and overtime charges, and copyright clearances.

What should be included in an actor contract template?

Discussed below are essential and standard contents of an actor contract. Also included are some questions that should be asked before signing the contract.

1. What is the nature of the project covered by the actor contract?

You should know the start and last dates of employment that are stated in the clause of the actor contract before assigning your signature. For instance, if the client wants to sign the freelancing actor as an employee on Television. Then, it is required that such an actor dedicated a significant amount of years to the contract. 

2. How many hours of work should I include in my actor contract PDF? 

The actor contract should state the total number of hours that the client wants the actor to dedicate to the new job at hand. For instance, the deal might include a clause stating that the actor must be dedicated and available for 11 hours every day for the job. Also, it may indicate the number of times and dates that such freelancing actors will have to perform. This one is another important that a freelancer should consider before signing.

In addition to specifying the start and end dates of the employment, actor contract PDF may also specify the dates and hours that you may have to commit to. If you happen to have any other jobs or commitments, put them in perspective before signing this clause of the actor contract.

3. How is compensation determined through the actor contract template?

Details that indicate the compensation that is determined for the actor should be highlighted in the actor contract. Different ways are known to get this done. These include payment per performance, a flat rate for the act, and hourly payments. It is the responsibility of the freelancer to request a specific compensation, which is equivalent to those paid to other actors having similar roles.

4. Is there specific merchandising needed for the actor contract?

This one depends on the acting role that such a freelancer is to take. Sometimes there are potentials for merchandising for some appearances like books, posters, and t-shirts. However, some of these might not be stated in some actor contracts. An actor should try and seek professional advice on how to ask for a percentage on his merchandising proceeds.

Actor Contract Template Sample
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5. Is the actor contract exclusive?

This one is an essential content of the contract because it can restrict the actor's right to feature in another acting. Here, a strict employer wishes to prevent the freelancing actor from starring in another production While his or her production is under processing. This exclusivity provision will prevent such a freelancer from showing in other films, television shows, commercials, and many more. 

For instance, an employer might intentionally prevent his employed actor from displaying in business during the agreed period of the existing contract. As a freelancer that offers acting service, you should consider reading and noting the consequences that might arise from exclusive clauses.

6. Need a public liability insurance for your actor contract?

Here, the employer should obtain public liability insurance if you need one. This insurance is essential because there might be an occurrence of an accident while acting on the stage. However, this agreement depends on the job at hand. Various insurance is available that actors in the past have benefited from when their employer gets them covered.

What are the essentials of an actor contract?

Whenever there is a breach of contract by the employer, the agreement should have indicated that the freelancing actor must notify the guilty employer about the violations before deciding on taking other known legal actions.

You must also consider the exclusivity of the actor contract as it may limit your right to engage in other forms of employment while you are working on the said project. In the event of a breach of contract, the actor contract may also outline the corresponding remedial measures for offenses like missing rehearsal, failure to show up at an event, and so on. Similarly, the employer will also be under obligation to honor the contract and offer a reasonable fix for the same.

Actor Contract Template Example
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8. Terms of employment in the actor contract template

The clause where the terms of employment are outlined helps in identifying the dates from and to when the actor will be employed. The end date may vary depending on the nature of the production and could be pre-finalized or contingent.

Through this clause in the actor contract, you can be aware of the possible time commitment that is required from them.

Actor Contract Template PDF
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9. Clause relating to usage of name and likeness (actor contract)

Certain actor contract PDFs may request the actor to grant rights to the employer to use the actor’s name and image for the project. This clause gives you the opportunity to use it as a bargaining chip to secure a handsome compensation for the usage of your image, name, or likeness for merchandising or promotional purposes.

10. Promotion, publicity, and merchandising through an actor agreement

In order to promote and publicize the film, you may have to make appearances at events, which go beyond the scope of filming and production. You may have to attend talk shows, premiers, shows, and other public platforms to create a buzz around the film.

In this regard, you may seek additional compensation for the extra efforts. Further, you can also negotiate terms to receive a percentage of the merchandising proceeds.

11. Travel, food, and accommodation compensation covered by the actor contract

An often overlooked feature of an actor contract PDF are matters relating to travel, food, and accommodation compensation. Production houses may specify whether they offer such amenities on-set or at shooting locations, or provide monetary equivalent where you have to make your arrangements.

12. Payment after signing the actor contract template

The payment and compensation form the crux of the actor contract PDF. In addition to shedding light on the compensation, it will also define the various modes of compensation, which could be flat-rate, hourly, per-performance, or percentage of the collection.

With the incorporation of these elements in your actor contract PDF, you can be aware of what you are signing up for and whether you are getting fair pay for your efforts. Normally, actors or their agents can negotiate the contracts and are not required to lawyer up.

Read and re-read the actor contract PDF until you have had the chance to sleep on it. Sign only after you are sure that you have given it enough time and attention to consider all your options in your best interests.

Advantages of an actor contract PDF

The greatest advantage of signing an actor contract PDF is that it binds the individual to what is clearly outlined in the agreement. Once everything is in black and white and legally binding, there is less scope for exploitation.

Further, an actor contract clearly outlines the roles, responsibilities, and expectations upon which the actor needs to come through. Ultimately, it prepares the actor and the production house for the level of commitment that is needed for the duration of the project.

The actor contract PDF may indicate the number of rehearsal hours that the actor needs to put in, the payment that the actor is entitled to, and part or whole ownership of the creative product. 


Before signing any contract, you should watch out for the above-discussed tips to avoid the consequences of your actions. You can as well take a look at our actor contract template to guide while reviewing your actor contract.

Use this template

The simplest way to create a legally sound contract. Check out an example below

Actor Contract Template

This Contract is between Sample Client (the "Client") and John Doe (the "Actor").

The Contract is dated [the date both parties sign].


1.1 Project. The Client is hiring the Actor to do the following: The Actor will assist the Client with acting services.

1.2 Schedule. The Actor will begin work on August 21, 2020 and the work is ongoing. This Contract can be ended by either Client or Actor at any time, pursuant to the terms of Section 6, Term and Termination.

1.3 Payment. The Client will pay the Actor a rate of $90.00 (USD) per hour. Of this, the Client will pay the Actor $300.00 (USD) before work begins.

1.4 Expenses. The Client will reimburse the Actor's expenses. Expenses do not need to be pre-approved by the Client.

1.5 Invoices. The Actor will invoice the Client weekly. The Client agrees to pay the amount owed within 15 days of receiving the invoice. Payment after that date will incur a late fee of 5.0% per month on the outstanding amount.

1.6 Support. The Actor will not provide support for any deliverable once the Client accepts it, unless otherwise agreed in writing.


2.1 Client Owns All Work Product. As part of this job, the Actor is creating “work product” for the Client. To avoid confusion, work product is the finished product, as well as drafts, notes, materials, mockups, hardware, designs, inventions, patents, code, and anything else that the Actor works on—that is, conceives, creates, designs, develops, invents, works on, or reduces to practice—as part of this project, whether before the date of this Contract or after. The Actor hereby gives the Client this work product once the Client pays for it in full. This means the Actor is giving the Client all of its rights, titles, and interests in and to the work product (including intellectual property rights), and the Client will be the sole owner of it. The Client can use the work product however it wants or it can decide not to use the work product at all. The Client, for example, can modify, destroy, or sell it, as it sees fit.

2.2 Actor's Use Of Work Product. Once the Actor gives the work product to the Client, the Actor does not have any rights to it, except those that the Client explicitly gives the Actor here. The Client gives the Actor permission to use the work product as part of the Actor's portfolio and websites, in galleries, and in other media, so long as it is to showcase the Actor's work and not for any other purpose. The Actor is not allowed to sell or otherwise use the work product to make money or for any other commercial use. The Client is not allowed to take back this license, even after the Contract ends.

2.3 Actor's Help Securing Ownership. In the future, the Client may need the Actor's help to show that the Client owns the work product or to complete the transfer. The Actor agrees to help with that. For example, the Actor may have to sign a patent application. The Client will pay any required expenses for this. If the Client can’t find the Actor, the Actor agrees that the Client can act on the Actor's behalf to accomplish the same thing. The following language gives the Client that right: if the Client can’t find the Actor after spending reasonable effort trying to do so, the Actor hereby irrevocably designates and appoints the Client as the Actor's agent and attorney-in-fact, which appointment is coupled with an interest, to act for the Actor and on the Actor's behalf to execute, verify, and file the required documents and to take any other legal action to accomplish the purposes of paragraph 2.1 (Client Owns All Work Product).

2.4 Actor's IP That Is Not Work Product. During the course of this project, the Actor might use intellectual property that the Actor owns or has licensed from a third party, but that does not qualify as “work product.” This is called “background IP.” Possible examples of background IP are pre-existing code, type fonts, properly-licensed stock photos, and web application tools. The Actor is not giving the Client this background IP. But, as part of the Contract, the Actor is giving the Client a right to use and license (with the right to sublicense) the background IP to develop, market, sell, and support the Client’s products and services. The Client may use this background IP worldwide and free of charge, but it cannot transfer its rights to the background IP (except as allowed in Section 11.1 (Assignment)). The Client cannot sell or license the background IP separately from its products or services. The Actor cannot take back this grant, and this grant does not end when the Contract is over.

2.5 Actor's Right To Use Client IP. The Actor may need to use the Client’s intellectual property to do its job. For example, if the Client is hiring the Actor to build a website, the Actor may have to use the Client’s logo. The Client agrees to let the Actor use the Client’s intellectual property and other intellectual property that the Client controls to the extent reasonably necessary to do the Actor's job. Beyond that, the Client is not giving the Actor any intellectual property rights, unless specifically stated otherwise in this Contract.

3. COMPETITIVE ENGAGEMENTS. The Actor won’t work for a competitor of the Client until this Contract ends. To avoid confusion, a competitor is any third party that develops, manufactures, promotes, sells, licenses, distributes, or provides products or services that are substantially similar to the Client’s products or services. A competitor is also a third party that plans to do any of those things. The one exception to this restriction is if the Actor asks for permission beforehand and the Client agrees to it in writing. If the Actor uses employees or subcontractors, the Actor must make sure they follow the obligations in this paragraph, as well.

4. NON-SOLICITATION. Until this Contract ends, the Actor won’t: (a) encourage Client employees or service providers to stop working for the Client; (b) encourage Client customers or clients to stop doing business with the Client; or (c) hire anyone who worked for the Client over the 12-month period before the Contract ended. The one exception is if the Actor puts out a general ad and someone who happened to work for the Client responds. In that case, the Actor may hire that candidate. The Actor promises that it won’t do anything in this paragraph on behalf of itself or a third party.


5.1 Overview. This section contains important promises between the parties.

5.2 Authority To Sign. Each party promises to the other party that it has the authority to enter into this Contract and to perform all of its obligations under this Contract.

5.3 Actor Has Right To Give Client Work Product. The Actor promises that it owns the work product, that the Actor is able to give the work product to the Client, and that no other party will claim that it owns the work product. If the Actor uses employees or subcontractors, the Actor also promises that these employees and subcontractors have signed contracts with the Actor giving the Actor any rights that the employees or subcontractors have related to the Actor's background IP and work product.

5.4 Actor Will Comply With Laws. The Actor promises that the manner it does this job, its work product, and any background IP it uses comply with applicable U.S. and foreign laws and regulations.

5.5 Work Product Does Not Infringe. The Actor promises that its work product does not and will not infringe on someone else’s intellectual property rights, that the Actor has the right to let the Client use the background IP, and that this Contract does not and will not violate any contract that the Actor has entered into or will enter into with someone else.

5.6 Client Will Review Work. The Client promises to review the work product, to be reasonably available to the Actor if the Actor has questions regarding this project, and to provide timely feedback and decisions.

5.7 Client-Supplied Material Does Not Infringe. If the Client provides the Actor with material to incorporate into the work product, the Client promises that this material does not infringe on someone else’s intellectual property rights.

6. TERM AND TERMINATION. This Contract is ongoing, until ended by the Client or the Actor. Either party may end this Contract for any reason by sending an email or letter to the other party, informing the recipient that the sender is ending the Contract and that the Contract will end in 7 days. The Contract officially ends once that time has passed. The party that is ending the Contract must provide notice by taking the steps explained in Section 11.4. The Actor must immediately stop working as soon as it receives this notice, unless the notice says otherwise. The Client will pay the Actor for the work done up until when the Contract ends and will reimburse the Actor for any agreed-upon, non-cancellable expenses. The following sections don’t end even after the Contract ends: 2 (Ownership and Licenses); 3 (Competitive Engagements); 4 (Non-Solicitation); 5 (Representations); 8 (Confidential Information); 9 (Limitation of Liability); 10 (Indemnity); and 11 (General).

7. INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR. The Client is hiring the Actor as an independent contractor. The following statements accurately reflect their relationship:

- The Actor will use its own equipment, tools, and material to do the work.- The Client will not control how the job is performed on a day-to-day basis. Rather, the Actor is responsible for determining when, where, and how it will carry out the work.- The Client will not provide the Actor with any training.- The Client and the Actor do not have a partnership or employer-employee relationship.- The Actor cannot enter into contracts, make promises, or act on behalf of the Client.- The Actor is not entitled to the Client’s benefits (e.g., group insurance, retirement benefits, retirement plans, vacation days).- The Actor is responsible for its own taxes.- The Client will not withhold social security and Medicare taxes or make payments for disability insurance, unemployment insurance, or workers compensation for the Actor or any of the Actor's employees or subcontractors.


8.1 Overview. This Contract imposes special restrictions on how the Client and the Actor must handle confidential information. These obligations are explained in this section.

8.2 The Client’s Confidential Information. While working for the Client, the Actor may come across, or be given, Client information that is confidential. This is information like customer lists, business strategies, research & development notes, statistics about a website, and other information that is private. The Actor promises to treat this information as if it is the Actor's own confidential information. The Actor may use this information to do its job under this Contract, but not for anything else. For example, if the Client lets the Actor use a customer list to send out a newsletter, the Actor cannot use those email addresses for any other purpose. The one exception to this is if the Client gives the Actor written permission to use the information for another purpose, the Actor may use the information for that purpose, as well. When this Contract ends, the Actor must give back or destroy all confidential information, and confirm that it has done so. The Actor promises that it will not share confidential information with a third party, unless the Client gives the Actor written permission first. The Actor must continue to follow these obligations, even after the Contract ends. The Actor's responsibilities only stop if the Actor can show any of the following: (i) that the information was already public when the Actor came across it; (ii) the information became public after the Actor came across it, but not because of anything the Actor did or didn’t do; (iii) the Actor already knew the information when the Actor came across it and the Actor didn’t have any obligation to keep it secret; (iv) a third party provided the Actor with the information without requiring that the Actor keep it a secret; or (v) the Actor created the information on its own, without using anything belonging to the Client.

8.3 Third-Party Confidential Information. It’s possible the Client and the Actor each have access to confidential information that belongs to third parties. The Client and the Actor each promise that it will not share with the other party confidential information that belongs to third parties, unless it is allowed to do so. If the Client or the Actor is allowed to share confidential information with the other party and does so, the sharing party promises to tell the other party in writing of any special restrictions regarding that information.

9. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. Neither party is liable for breach-of-contract damages that the breaching party could not reasonably have foreseen when it entered this Contract.


10.1 Overview. This section transfers certain risks between the parties if a third party sues or goes after the Client or the Actor or both. For example, if the Client gets sued for something that the Actor did, then the Actor may promise to come to the Client’s defense or to reimburse the Client for any losses.

10.2 Client Indemnity. In this Contract, the Actor agrees to indemnify the Client (and its affiliates and its and their directors, officers, employees, and agents) from and against all liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) related to a third-party claim or proceeding arising out of: (i) the work the Actor has done under this Contract; (ii) a breach by the Actor of its obligations under this Contract; or (iii) a breach by the Actor of the promises it is making in Section 5 (Representations).

10.3 Actor Indemnity. In this Contract, the Client agrees to indemnify the Actor (and its affiliates and its and their directors, officers, employees, and agents) from and against liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) related to a third-party claim or proceeding arising out of a breach by the Client of its obligations under this Contract.


11.1 Assignment. This Contract applies only to the Client and the Actor. The Actor cannot assign its rights or delegate its obligations under this Contract to a third-party (other than by will or intestate), without first receiving the Client’s written permission. In contrast, the Client may assign its rights and delegate its obligations under this Contract without the Actor's permission. This is necessary in case, for example, another Client buys out the Client or if the Client decides to sell the work product that results from this Contract.

11.2 Arbitration. As the exclusive means of initiating adversarial proceedings to resolve any dispute arising under this Contract, a party may demand that the dispute be resolved by arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association in accordance with its commercial arbitration rules.

11.3 Modification; Waiver. To change anything in this Contract, the Client and the Actor must agree to that change in writing and sign a document showing their contract. Neither party can waive its rights under this Contract or release the other party from its obligations under this Contract, unless the waiving party acknowledges it is doing so in writing and signs a document that says so.

11.4 Notices.

(a) Over the course of this Contract, one party may need to send a notice to the other party. For the notice to be valid, it must be in writing and delivered in one of the following ways: personal delivery, email, or certified or registered mail (postage prepaid, return receipt requested). The notice must be delivered to the party’s address listed at the end of this Contract or to another address that the party has provided in writing as an appropriate address to receive notice.

(b) The timing of when a notice is received can be very important. To avoid confusion, a valid notice is considered received as follows: (i) if delivered personally, it is considered received immediately; (ii) if delivered by email, it is considered received upon acknowledgement of receipt; (iii) if delivered by registered or certified mail (postage prepaid, return receipt requested), it is considered received upon receipt as indicated by the date on the signed receipt. If a party refuses to accept notice or if notice cannot be delivered because of a change in address for which no notice was given, then it is considered received when the notice is rejected or unable to be delivered. If the notice is received after 5:00pm on a business day at the location specified in the address for that party, or on a day that is not a business day, then the notice is considered received at 9:00am on the next business day.

11.5 Severability. This section deals with what happens if a portion of the Contract is found to be unenforceable. If that’s the case, the unenforceable portion will be changed to the minimum extent necessary to make it enforceable, unless that change is not permitted by law, in which case the portion will be disregarded. If any portion of the Contract is changed or disregarded because it is unenforceable, the rest of the Contract is still enforceable.

11.6 Signatures. The Client and the Actor must sign this document using Bonsai’s e-signing system. These electronic signatures count as originals for all purposes.

11.7 Governing Law. The laws of the state of Colorado govern the rights and obligations of the Client and the Actor under this Contract, without regard to conflict of law principles of that state.

11.8 Entire Contract. This Contract represents the parties’ final and complete understanding of this job and the subject matter discussed in this Contract. This Contract supersedes all other contracts (both written and oral) between the parties.


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