The "Pay or Play" Clause in Film and TV Contracts


I was speaking at a conference earlier this week when the discussion turned to the issue of "pay or play" (sometimes rendered "pay-or-play") clauses in film- and TV-related contracts, particularly contracts entered into by actors or other participants in the creative process (such as directors). While everyone on the panel seemed fairly comfortable that "pay or play" has a relatively settled meaning in the film and TV industries, I thought it might be useful to review some definitions of the term which had been proposed by others.

First up, Wikipedia has a surprisingly detailed entry on the topic which includes multiple examples (under the heading "Guarantee (filmmaking)"). According to Wikipedia, "pay-or-play" is an "informal" term referring to "a term of an actor or director's contract that guarantees remuneration if, through no fault of their own, the artist is released from the contract

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