Most Favored Nations or MFN is particularly useful for SAG Ultra Low and Modified Low Budget films, where the pay scale is considerably reduced from the SAG Basic Agreement day/weekly rates. If my client is only getting $100/day on a SAG Ultra Low Budget project (a film budgeted for under $200,000), I want to ensure that all actors on the film are working at this rate as well. If the producers offer a higher rate to another actor during casting, then they must increase my client’s rate to match the higher rate.
MFN also works with dressing rooms, film festival tickets, transportation to and from set—if my client’s “private dressing room” on location is a curtain in a corner of a high school auditorium, is he or she is driving himself or herself to set, or we can’t get the producers to guarantee a seat at the premiere, then you can be damn sure I don’t want other actors on the film to have their own private air conditioned honeywagon, sedan pickups to and from set, or first class flights to Cannes. If my client is willing to work at this reduced rate in order to allow the producers to spend their money on hard production and post-production costs, then this should apply to all the actors in the cast. For this reason, MFN on lower budgeted pictures allows for camaraderie among cast members–all for one, one for all. If the entire cast is wiling to work on a project for a reduced fee, the success of the project becomes the priority above the desires of the individual participants.
Sometimes, producers will need to carve out exceptions on their MFN obligations. For instance, if I am negotiating a deal for a client who is being cast in a supporting role on a film that has Philip Seymour Hoffman attached, you can be damn sure my client will not be getting MFN with PSH for anything. Thus, if the producers agree to MFN, the clause will read: “…no less favorable than all other talent except for Philip Seymour Hoffman. “ Sometimes these carve outs are for character names, instead of particular actors, if the parts have not been cast and it is clear that whoever is playing that role would be in a position to get a better deal than those with less prominent roles.
Please note: The information contained herein does not constitute legal advice and is intended for educational and information purposes only.