Date published:

May 10, 2021

What is a Forced Call on a Film Set?

Filmmakers are certainly busy individuals that work hard. Both cast and crew frequently find themselves working incredibly long hours on the set, more often than not, away from home. Because the industry is so busy, and the risks of overworking are so profound. Unions have rules in place to ensure film industry workers are afforded the appropriate amount of rest and relaxation that they so rightfully need, and deserve. Cast and crew are often on call and expected to show up on set at random crazy times. And it’s most definitely not at their leisure. But, when a forced call on the film set comes up? There’s a good chance that someone’s going to be in trouble!

What is a Forced Call?

A forced call is the term that is used to describe fast turnarounds for workers on film sets. Who work a “shift” and are then called back to work within a short (usually 12 hours) time period of their previously ended shift.

For union workers, a forced call is the term used to represent a violation of the mandatory rest period that is afforded to filmmakers (both cast and crew members) after a call. 

Essentially, a forced call acts as a rule. In which workers who have a call time that is less than 12 hours after their release. From their previous call duties the night before, may charge an added “penalty” fee.

Sometimes called a “short turnaround”. The forced call is basically a penalty that actors, cast members, and crew can charge studios for expecting them to appear back at work less than 12 hours after they left work the prior day.

Unions and Forced Call

So, what does a union have to do with a forced call on a film set? A lot actually! The unions stand behind those who are contracted to work through them and require employers to follow the rules.

This includes providing mandatory rest periods for employees and contractors who perform work for vendors. For example, SAG-AFTRA has mandatory rest periods.

For which, any failure to provide the adequate time of rest in between work days. Also known as calls. This can result in a forced call penalty for the vendor. 

According to this particular union, performers are provided daily rest periods when contracted as day, 3-day (TV only),  and weekly performers. Under these circumstances, vendors must provide 12 hours (or in some cases 11 hours) of rest in between scheduled calls for performers or else they risk forced call penalties.

Penalties

Under these contracts, forced call violation penalties can cost the vendor a full day-rate up to $900. Whichever is less. But that’s for every violation that occurs.

Forced calls provide the crew member very little time to do much more than drive home, eat, and basically sleep for six hours before going back to the set. It’s a recipe for misery, exhaustion, and mistakes – but it’s also a recipe for a forced call penalty!

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