Actors resorting to Debt Recovery action to get paid

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actors taking debt recovery action

A large number of Actors from shows such as Call the Midwife, have had to resort to taking debt recovery action to ensure they get paid according to reports in the Deadline.

Mad Dog 2020 Casting, a 25-year-old British agency that supplies background actors to major productions, is facing legal debt recovery action after failing to pay scores of clients.

Legal Debt Recovery Action

Equity and Bectu, two of the most prominent UK creative industry unions, are pursuing legal debt recovery claims on behalf of members who are owed thousands of pounds from jobs they completed in 2023.

Below-the-line actors who worked on shows including Doctor Who and Call The Midwife have been caught up in the debacle, which has rumbled on for months.

Mad Dog promised to process all outstanding payments by the end of January, but a month on, countless extras remain impacted.

Equity said 24 of its members have claims against Mad Dog. It is unclear how many Bectu members are embroiled in the issue.

A poll of nearly 12,000 background actors on private Facebook group Heavy Pencil showed that at least 88 people were still chasing payment as of last month. Collectively, they were owed a minimum of £21,000.

Mad Dog has apologized to clients and said it remains committed to clearing the backlog, with some people reporting that they have received their paychecks. Mad Dog added that jobs undertaken in 2024 will be paid in a “normal manner.”

Deadline understands that Mad Dog is attempting to piece together financing to clear the backlog and is confident that it remains solvent. The agency has blamed the twin U.S. writer and actors’ strikes for its financial issues.

Under UK regulations, it is unlawful for an agency to withhold payment from clients for more than 10 days after receiving funds from a producer, broadcaster, or streamer. The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate has been alerted to the Mad Dog issue, but would not comment on whether it had launched an investigation.

Late payments crisis

Mad Dog has taken a reputational hit because of the late payments crisis. Deadline is aware of a number of top producers who are prepared to quietly sever ties with the agency. They were reluctant to put their concerns on the record in case it created more issues for those yet to receive payment.

Bectu head Philippa Childs told Deadline: “Our priority is ensuring that our members are paid the money they are owed. Despite previous assurances that Mad Dog would do all it could to resolve this issue in a timely manner, they have not met this commitment and we are no longer confident that they are operating in good faith. We are therefore now pursuing legal action against the company on behalf of our members.

“In the midst of a continuing cost of living crisis and a very challenging year for film and TV workers, it’s imperative that freelancers aren’t left out in the cold by delayed payments.”

In a statement, Mad Dog said: “The company has a backlog of payments for some artists who worked on projects in 2023, and is very sorry that this situation has arisen.

“We remain committed to paying everyone who is owed pay from 2023, and this is our priority. As part of turning the situation around, everyone who works for the company in 2024 has been and will continue to receive their pay in the normal manner.”

The BBC has told Mad Dog clients that it is aware of the issue and is monitoring the situation.

Many actors are self employed so not getting paid will not be an option.

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