Rate Card & Deal Memo

After over a year of data collection and analysis, the Bectu Art Department Rate card 2021 has now been issued.

The rate card and supporting notes were presented to HoD's in a zoom consultation meeting held on 22nd April 2021. The meeting was attended by HoD's from a range of production budget bands. Following a Q&A, rates were accepted as relevant and realistic and it was agreed that the rate card would be published with support from HODs.

We will also be in contact with PACT to discuss our findings and the resulting rate card.

Please also read below for information on how the 2021 Rate card was formulated

Bectu Art Department Rate Card 2021

A Rate Card built on Parity

For the 2021 edition of the Art department rate card, we have spent 9 months thoroughly considering data from crew surveys, past rate cards, comparable industry reports and the rates of other departments within Film and TV. The aim was to produce a workable rate card built on parity across job roles within the department, and with other departments. We have considered the following points:

  • Why are Art Department rates so much lower than the construction rates?

  • How can we ensure that HoDs and Crew members have confidence in a new rate card?

  • What kind of rate card is useful for producers?

  • Why is there a lack of parity of rates between some comparable job roles within the Art Department?

This document sets out to explain our findings and the resulting rate card.

Please do take the time to look over our research below.

A comparison with the Construction Department

A comparison of Art Department and Construction roles by hourly rate.

In spring 2020, the Bectu Art Department Branch ran a rates survey. We compared the rates reported by Art Department members on MMP £30M+ with the rates on the 2020 Construction rate card. The survey showed that the average contracted hourly rate for an Art Director (MMP £30M+) at the time of the survey was £38.34 p/h

The lowest rate recorded for Art Directors in this budget band was £30.31 p/h and the highest earning £42.73 p/h.

The Construction rate card for MMP £30M+ listed minimum rates as follows:

  • HoD Carpenters = £58.86 p/h (minimum contracted rate)

  • Supervising Carpenters = £49.95 p/h (minimum contracted rate)

  • Chargehand Carpenters = £41.25 p/h (minimum contracted rate)

  • Carpenters = £34.96 p/h (minimum contracted rate)

82% of the Art Directors who completed the Bectu Survey were paid less than Chargehand Carpenters on Major motion pictures in 2020. A Chargehand Carpenter has little or no responsibility to the budget, design or completion of work beyond that day or week.

Comparison of hourly rates of Construction (Minimum rates as per 2020 Ratecard) and Art Department (Average rate paid as per 2020 Survey)

Comparison of hourly rates of Construction (Minimum rates as per 2020 Ratecard) and Set Decoration and Graphics (Average rate paid as per 2020 Survey)

Responsibility Diagram

A comparison of Art Department and Set Decoration roles in terms of job responsibility.

As part of a wider project to help producers, industry new starters, students and other departments better understand what each job role does within the Art Department, the BECTU Art Committee worked together to produce a document with job descriptions for all grades and a flow diagram to show departmental hierarchy and how information and responsibility is passed across the team.

We aligned grades according to their responsibility and skill level within their specific line of command with a view to visualising who should be achieving parity. If we aligned Sound engineers, Editors or Lighting beside Art, roles would be paired by responsibility, so we used this criteria to align Construction, Art Department, Set Decoration and Graphics roles.

A Diagram showing the alignment of responsibilities of both Construction and Art Department.

Responsibility Parity within the Art Department

Art Department = Set Decoration = Graphics

Rates for the Set Decoration team are lower than their equivalent role in the Art department. In order to rebalance the rate card, a long term projection is needed with weighted increases over time. This will bring the rates in line and achieve a parity that the Set Decoration department deserves.

The Set Decorator has creative and budgetary responsibility of what appears on screen. Often working in partnership with the Production Designer to create the aesthetic through colour, texture and objects on screen. They are even nominated and recognised alongside the designer for industry awards in Design. Their role is at least as invaluable to the film as the Supervising Art Director and their grades again have been lined up for this rate rate card.

In recent years the Set Decoration department and responsibilities for the rest of the team have grown immensely. Set Decoration crew often run large teams of internal and external manufacturers. It is no longer possible to use a few hire companies and retailers to source for the sets. It is not uncommon on the large productions for Set decoration to have their own art directors, concept artists, painters, modellers etc which was always traditionally only found within the art department. A meeting was held with 163 Set Decoration crew members, where 93% voted that Set Decoration rates should have parity with Art Department rates as per the alignment of the roles on the Responsibility Diagram.

The Graphic roles have also changed drastically over the last decade or so and increased responsibilities have been taken on. Graphics Art Directors / Lead Graphic designers should have rate parity with the Art Directors. At the top level, on larger films, it is now an HOD role where the Graphics Art Director crews the graphics department, submits labour and spend budgets at the beginning of prep as well as managing these throughout the job. They often work directly under the Designer and also take responsibility for meetings and requests from producers and director. They manage and schedule the graphics work for all departments and all the sets, with often little or no supervision by either the Set Decorator or the Supervisor.

The following diagram shows the increased lack of parity between certain grades on the Bectu rate cards over the last 9 years. These roles are aligned on the responsibility diagram, but clearly are not aligned in terms of rates.

Gender Parity

Gender has become an identifiable feature of the increasing pay gap between departments and within the Art Department itself.

Departments that are nearly 100% male are getting guaranteed 2.5% annual pay increases, even in the middle of a job. By contrast, other more female strong departments are left with rate cards unrecognised by the main Studios or PACT. A refusal to increase rates either in line with inflation or in parity with other departments means a real terms pay decrease for some. The result is a widening gender pay divide.

Bectu has compiled data on the percentages of gender in each department as seen in BECTU membership and found that the following departments have these gender splits:

Charts collated from Bectu Membership data 2020

In order to help the studios and their producers to understand the gender rate divide, we have created the 2021 Rate Card in a format that can be directly compared to Construction Rates.

In recent years, PACT has refused to enter into a dialogue, negotiate or recognise our department rate card and as a result, we believe that by this they are directly responsible for a growing gender pay divide in the industry. The studios publicly make corporate promises to close the gender pay divide for work of equal nature.

Although the studio arms do not disclose a full pay gender pay report:

The 2018 The Walt Disney Company UK: GENDER PAY GAP report declared;

“We believe that equal pay is a more insightful measurement. Why?

Because we are confident that at The Walt Disney Company UK,

men and women are paid equally and fairly for doing the same job.”

The 2019 Warner Brothers Studios Leavesden (WBSL) Gender Pay Report, declared;

“Equal pay refers to any pay differences between men and women who carry out the same jobs, similar jobs or work of equal value. Across WBSL’s business, our employees receive equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender.


We remain committed to improving our gender pay gap. As well as continuing to support and offer existing initiatives, we will continue to develop and implement new initiatives designed to improve and close our gender pay gap.”

Lack of Historic Art Department Annual Increase

  • The CPI (Consumer price index) was 18.86% over the years 2012 to 2020

  • According to the Office for National Statistics, £100 in 2012 is equivalent in purchasing power to £118.86 today, an increase of £18.86 over 8 years.

  • As can be seen in the figures below, Art Department rate increases have not kept up with cost of living which equates to a real terms pay cut while the industry has grown larger and busier than ever.

Art Department Rate increases from 2012 to 2020 (As per Bectu Rate Cards)

Rates of Creative Industries outside of Film

Film and TV rates are getting left behind

  • Graphics designers outside of Film are paid a higher hourly rate and work regular office hours often with worker benefits.

  • 2017 the BFI Skills audit of the UK Film and Screen Industries. The report identifyied a widening skill shortage in the British Film Industry. Art Directors, Concept Artists & Draughtspeople are some of those on the list of key technical roles in short supply. (See page 23 of the report)

  • Of 799 art department crew surveyed by the Bectu Art Department Branch in spring 2020, 5% saw themselves leaving the film industry within the next 5 years and a massive 25% were not sure if they would remain working in film. Many of these cite long hours and unstable income as the key reasons.

  • Unless we continue to create competitive salaries for the skills we need that keep up with the wider creative industry, we will fail to retain or attract the numbers of skilled crew we need to service the growing Film Industry.

Create Industry Salary reports:

BFI Skills audit_UK Film and Screen Industries 2017

Hanson Search AD Salary Guide 2019

The WorksSearch Salary Survey

Aqueant Salary survey

Major Players Salary Survey

YunoJuno Freelancer Rates Report

Art Department Rate increases from 2012 to 2020 (As per Bectu Rate Cards)

The PACT 2019 TV Rate Card

Addition of Budget Bands Across TV Production

In 2018, as part of a BECTU - PACT joint survey, PACT surveyed their members on TV rates. However, PACT pulled out from sharing these figures with BECTU and issued a TV rate card independently. PACT printed 'BECTU agreement' as part of the heading regardless of the fact that BECTU were not consulted and gave no endorsement.

The PACT TV rate card was created from data submitted by their members, from 80 productions. These rates, unrecognised by BECTU, are still circulating and are out of date and unreliable.

PACT made claims that the BECTU produced rate card was “wildly inaccurate” and did not match their data. However, the BECTU survey of 799 Art Department members in 2020, revealed that many Art Department members were being paid the rates as stated on the BECTU rate cards for TV.

Nevertheless, this survey also revealed that there was a huge disparity across productions, particularly in the top band for TV, which is £3m+ per hour. Some crew had been paid lower, and in some cases as low as the PACT 2019 rate card.

We believe that due to the large increase in the number of productions with budgets that are significantly above £3m+ per hour, the existing rate card can no longer be used as a catch all for all productions in that band.

We are suggesting that the TV rate card is now separated from the Film bands so they can be viewed clearly and additional budget bands (shown in red) are created that better reflect the increasing size of budget and project taking place in the UK.

Band 5 - TV (£9M + per hour) (Equivalent and referring to MMP Film £30M+ rates)

Band 4 -TV (£6M < £9M per hour)

Band 3 - TV (£3M < £6M per hour)

Band 2 - TV (£850k < £3M per hour)

Band 1 - TV (< £850k)

Band 5 projects are similar in scale and budget for their set builds as they are for MMP £30M+. Delivering sets at that scale require the same experience, skills, hours of work and knowhow regardless of whether the set is made for TV, Streaming service or Film. For that reason, we have aligned the Band 5 - TV (£9M + per hour) with the MMP rates for Film.

For the lower Bands, we started with the PACT issued card and for each one added 3 x years of inflation as a starting point at 2.5% per year. We then compared the result to the answers from the Art Department 2020 survey and found these calculated figures were still too low in many cases.

We also paired some rates according to the responsibility diagram. Some grades were paired with other better paid grades at the same level of responsibility, and in some cases rates were increased by additional amounts to reach a line that related down in scale to the band above it and that role in the department.

Budget Bands Across Film Productions

There is a need for further bands across film productions,

We have added an additional band within the Film rate card to align with the format of other department rate cards.

Major Motion Picture (£30M +)

Motion Picture (£4M to - £30M)

Feature Film (£1M to - £5m)

Film, micro budget (< £1M)

How We Calculated The Rates

Once we had collected all this research, we then set about collating it into a viable rate card.

We have reformatted the rate card for the coming year, both with the addition of the extra bands as mentioned above, and also with a departure from the minimum and maximum bands of rates. Instead we have calculated Minimum and Recommended rates.

The rates are now broken down to a recommended weekly, daily and hourly rate that either achieves parity with construction this year, or has a note and plan to achieve parity by a year in the future. It has been worked out individually for each grade based on the gap that needs to be made up.

Minimum Rates:

As a starting position, we took the minimum rates from the 2020 rate card and added 2.5%. We then applied data collected from the 2020 spring rates survey to adjust these minimum rates so they spanned more consistently across the grades. The survey received 797 submissions in total.

Where data was sparse, due to insufficient entries for a particular grade, we used data from grades above and below to form a mean line to create a consistent minimum rate.

As already explained, for the TV rates, we took the PACT 2019 rate card as a starting point. Please see above for further details.

Minimum rate refers to up to 2 years experience at that grade.

Recommended Rates and parity with Construction:

Using the Responsibility chart we placed our hourly rates side by side with construction.

Hiring in our department is portfolio dependent and based on personal experience so it can be hard to put a single rate to a grade. Many people felt that a range better allows experience to be reflected by personal rate.

This is one reason why as a department the rates overall have not increased year on year. Every person acting singularly, occasionally winning a rate increased by personal experience does not help increase rates fairly across all grades in the department. Some personalities will move forward while many will find their rates stagnate.

We found in the 2020 Survey that the majority of people in the art department do not feel comfortable negotiating their rate, so for the 2021 rate card, we have a ‘Recommended Rate’ alongside the minimum rate which refers to 3-7 years experience at that grade.

People with 8 Years+ experience at that grade it has been noted clearly on the card, should be able to negotiate their rate according to individual experience as many people choose to stay on or return to a lower grade and offer greater knowledge and skill, but do not want to take roles with increased responsibility.

A Recommended Rate will provide a far more useful single figure for producers and HoD’s to use in budgeting a show and we have seen that it is in the budgeting that the rates need to be applied.

The process to coming to a Recommended Rate that we felt worked for each grade and each band was:

  • Starting with MMP Film Band 3. Take the middle rate between the highest and lowest of the range for each

  • Check what the average was for respondents for each grade at each band in the survey

  • Check how many survey entries this includes to make sure it is representative

  • Check for any very low anomalies against years of experience and discount if first job

  • Check for any very high anomalies and discount if over 8 years experience

  • Take the MMP £30M+ figures and if close match to paired construction role by responsibility chart

  • If rate cannot be matched with a 2.5% increase, then compound interest was added of between 4-6% over the next 10 years, the date selected and maked in the ‘Parity’ column to show the intent to increase that grade by that % until the Recommended Rate reaches that of the pair role.

  • The % difference between the minimum rate (last years min + 2.5% in most cases) and the new recommended rate was then calculated and this figure used to calculate the new recommended rate for all grades through all bands

  • Each figure was then checked against the 2020 survey results + 2.5% to ensure they were representative, and where required, minimums were raised or % differences altered manually to reflect the research

We intend to release this research and rate card publicly so people have faith in the work done to qualify the numbers.

Construction has a yearly increase of 2.5% recognised by PACT. We propose to do the same on all grades that are not additionally factored higher than previously described.