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What is a standard actor contract?

A standard actor contract is a written agreement of employment between an actor and the client or employer. This is a legally binding document, so it protects the interests of both parties involved and outlines all their terms and conditions to complete an acting job.

Whether you’re in films and movies, live performance, or TV, a standard actors contact will go a long way in helping you secure your rights and create an atmosphere of professional and prestige.

When you expect to get more than one acting role, then an actor contract template is going to be your next best friend. With this, you'll be able to have all your standard requirements written down and ready to go for when you know the role is yours.

Note: Ready to get straight into it? Sign up to Bonsai to make your own freelance actor contract now

What’s the difference between an actor contact and release form?

It’s important to remember that an actors contract is different to a release form. An actor contract provides security in employment and protects the rights and interest of all parties involved, whereas a release form will state the actor gives permission to use their performance in conjunction with the project.

Basically, if you want your show to belong to you, you’ll need your actors to sign release forms.

What should be included in a standard actor contract?

Below you can find some standard sections and details to include in your actor contract template. For freelancers, you can also check out what to include for freelance contracts

Detailed descriptions of the work

This is the part of the contract where you’ll outline what the role and responsibilities of both parties are, as well as any performance expectations and requirements.

Besides the glitz and glamour of being an actor, you also have a responsibility for performing at a certain level that the director, producers, and you agree upon. Carefully detailing your performance expectations will help you and your client get a clear image of what is expected from you during your performance, and give you a bar to aim for.

For a director or production company, creating call sheets and outlining the specifics will give you more control over the entire production. This will allow you to communicate your wishes to the actor a whole lot better for when it's showtime.

Hours and timeline of the project

You should agree to the start and end dates of the employment before you sign. For instance, if the client wants the actor to sign on for a TV series, they may have to dedicate months or years to the performance. This could affect the type of employment contract that’s needed, such as a retainer contract or freelance contract.

The actor contract should also state the total number of hours that the client wants the actor to dedicate to the new job. For instance, the deal might include a clause stating that the actor must be available for 11 hours every day for the job. Also, it may indicate the number of times and dates that freelancing actors will have to perform.

Payment details

Here you’ll want to include your payment conditions, which could be payment per performance, per hour, or a flat rate for the performance. Creating your own invoice with your preferred payment payment is a good idea to have prepared and ready to use.

How much you charge is totally up to you and will vary depending on the other party involved. It’s always wise to discuss your payment options early on in the contract agreement as this can usually make or break a contract.


Every actor contract should include a section on expenses. This means an actor will be compensated for travel, accommodation, food, or anything else that’s relevant to the production. A production company may specify whether they offer such amenities on-set or at shooting locations, or provide monetary equivalent.

Sometimes, a location agreement may be necessary, as actors will have to move to different locations to be able to perform on set.

Merchandising agreement

Many actors will have to come to a merchandising agreement for appearances in books, posters, t-shirts. Sometimes, you may have to make appearances in talk shows, premiers, and other events which go beyond the scope of filming and production. While this may not be applicable to every actor, it’s important to discuss whether or not this applies to you in your actor contract. You should always seek professional advice for anything related to merchandising and what you should be asking as compensation.

Certain actor agreements 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.


This is an essential section for actors because it can restrict their right to feature in another acting role. Sometimes, an actor will want to take on other roles that get offered to them during the timeline of the contract. This means they might be unavailable on certain days and disrupt the flow of production.

An exclusivity agreement doesn’t have to be either yes or no. You can come to an agreement on what days, dates, months, or year the actor has to be on location. Outside of those agreed times, they can be free to do whatever acting job they choose! Keep in mind that a flexible exclusivity agreement should include restrictions on any physical changes the actor may undertake for other roles.

It’s a good idea to get yourself some legal advice from an attorney about exclusivity rights in your country.

Termination of contract

Every contract needs a termination clause. This could be after the film, movie, or finished product has premiered, or a date that the production company and director specifies.

It should also include any reasons for an early termination and who's responsible should one party break the contract. Two or more parties should agree to these reasons for a seamless signing experience.

Other factors

Other factors to consider are public liability insurance for the business, photography sessions for the actor, or intellectual property rights.

Liability insurance is something to consider because it will cover the business should any accidents happen on set. Photography sessions may be necessary for actors, which include principle photography and when the principal photography begins. Intellectual property rights can be important when considering ownership of catch-phrases, imagery or something else that requires permission to use.

Only you will know everything that’s needed for your contract, however, a actor contract template is a sure-fire way of making sure all your needs and requirements are met for every contract agreement.

Actor contract example template

We’ve added an actor contract sample below for easy viewing. With that, you can see exactly what a contract should look like and how beneficial it is to have a contract template with Bonsai.

What's the benefit of using Bonsai, instead of editing a template yourself?

Let’s admit it, creating and editing a contract yourself is a lot of effort that can slow down your journey towards stardom. However, contracts are a necessary form for every actor. So, instead of spending a lot of time making one from scratch, you can use an actor contract template from Bonsai.

Everything that's necessary for you to get a fair deal will be included in the template. What’s better is that every template can be easily edited and customized to fit your professional requirements.

How to create an actor contract with Bonsai

1. Select Your Template

Choose our specialized contract template, or start with a blank template. Add your client name, project name, preferred currency.

2. Add Your Basic Info

Next, fill in your basic information. This includes your location (country and state/province), your legal entity (if you operate via an LLC), and your client’s legal name (company or person), and contact details.

3. Add Your Scope of Work

Describe the scope of work in as much detail as possible. You can also attach a separate statement of work file here if you wish.

4. Add Your Payment Info

Determine how and how much your client will pay you for your marketing services here. You can choose from a flat fee, milestone payments, or hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or per-word rates.

You can also outline payment terms (net 15 days for invoices, for example), late fees, and contract start and end dates here.

5. Review & Sign Your Final Contract

You’re ready to review your fully fleshed-out and vetted actor agreement. If you want to make any edits to the template, you can do it at this stage.

And if you’re happy with the finished contract, you can click “SIGN CONTRACT” to e-sign it with legally binding electronic signatures from both parties.

As we said, it’s simple! Now you can return to your Freelance Dashboard to track when the contract has been delivered, opened, and signed.

Acting contract FAQs

What is fair compensation for an actor?

An actor’s rate will always be dependent on a wide variety of things. Fame is one that many other professions don’t have to worry about, and of course, big name movie stars will charge a lot more than your average TV show extra.

However, for the U.S, fair compensation for an actor is around $20 per hour. Remember that it’s not only experience or fame that will determine a fair rate but also the type of production it is, what state or country it’s in, and many other reasons.

What happens if an actor breaks the contract?

Depending on the termination clause that you and the actor agrees to, you may be entitled to compensation should an actor break their contract with you. If this situation occurs, you should always get advice from a legal expert or attorney about what the right procedure is.

It’s not unknown for actors to break a contract, so by preparing your contract early on to deal with this circumstance is always a wise move.

Note: Create your own actor contract today with Bonsai and you’ll have more time to focus on getting that acting role of your dreams.

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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