• Janett Salas

Getting Paid When Your Working on a Film Set



It seems like in many creative professions, no one talks about how to turn your creative passion into a paycheck. I wanted to make a video and blog detailing some money making information to help newbies get paid.

In this blog post and video, I discuss writing invoices, tracking mileage, and rules you should know about working on a film set that are important to your paycheck.

First, Some Common Film Rules

Hours / Lunch / Portal-to-Portal

Usually, on sets, you’ll be working 12 hours for a day rate. Every 6 hours of work, you usually get a meal. I say usually because non-union sets don’t follow these rules to a T, but most of the time this is what is expected.

Meals are usually 30 mins long from the last person that goes through the lunch line. So if they call lunch at 1pm but the last person doesn’t go through the line until 1:20pm, then lunch isn’t over until 1:50pm. Unless lunch is 1 hour long, if lunch is one hour long, then lunch ends after 1 hour of it being called, regardless of the last man.

So if you are hired for a 12 hour day and lunch is 30 mins, you will actually be on set for 12 hours and 30 mins because lunch is not included in your 12 hours.


Your 12 hours start at your call time wherever you are required to report. So if you are required to report to the set at 6:30am, that is when you start. But if you are actually required to get coffee before you show up to set, then you start work when you arrive at the coffee shop at 6:30am.

This is called Portal to Portal. This is very important for actors but is also important for crew for the exact reason I just said. This is to prevent people from being overworked and under-compensated. If you are expected to prep or finish up something at home, you are still on the clock for that time and can get paid overtime for it if needed.

Petty Cash

If you are sent on a run and aren’t given any petty cash and you end up spending your own money on a purchase or for parking, keep your receipts and include that in your invoice for reimbursement.

If you are given petty cash or a company card for runs, still keep your receipt and exact change to give back to them. It’s super important you have itemized receipts for their accounting.


Second, Invoicing & Timecards

Sometimes you’ll need to send in an invoice and sometimes you’ll fill out timecards.

If you are doing timecards, keep a note of your call time, lunch breaks, and wrap time, because you’ll be writing those all down at some point.

If you are doing Invoicing, you will also want to keep track of that, but you’ll need to email in your own invoice. There are plenty of invoice templates available online, the most important thing is to list out your days, rate, and contact info and mailing address.

Lastly, Mileage

If you had to drive your own car while working, not including getting to work and to your house, then you’ll want to send them a mileage invoice.

Some production companies have their own milage forms just like some have their own invoicing forms, but if they don’t - again there are plenty of options online. Make sure you use the most update milage rate, for 2019 it’s 58 cents per mile. Write down each time you had to drive your own car on the clock, where it was to, the miles, and the cost of mileage for each trip.

Again this is portal to portal- so you do not include your mileage from your home to location or vise versa.


A great app I use is MileIQ, and it tracks your mileage every time you drive and you can classify your drives as business and person. It’s a great way to know exactly how much you drove on the job for these invoices, and also for tax season, you can deduct all your business drives for the year.

If not, you can just keep track using Google Maps or just by looking at your odometer.


I know this was a lot of information, hopefully, it was all useful for you and it'll help you on your first set experience or even your next. If you want to stay connected, subscribe to my YouTube channel or sign up for email updates for new blogs!


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