Sidelining Intro


Sidelining: how to find the work, and how it works for AFM Locals

Whenever you see a band playing in a movie, a string quartet in a commercial, or a drummer in a scene in TV show, musicians are doing Sideline work. Sidelining takes place all over North America, wherever production companies set up shop and need to film musicians playing.

Let us help you to make those sidelining jobs AFM!
First, take a quick glance at the rates for film/TV and commercials here.

When a production company schedules a shoot, they will almost always need to get permits from local governments, park administrators, etc. Every state and province in the United States and Canada has a film commission to help the companies do permitting . These commissions have staff who will know far in advance what productions are coming to town, and often have a heads up on what sorts of local employment is available.

We have compiled a comprehensive list of film commissions here. In many cases those commissions may be able to refer you to a local film office or liaisons attached to the production shooting in your Local’s jurisdiction. Developing a relationship with your local film commission is one of the best ways of learning well in advance of trucks rolling in who will be filming in your community, and whether or not there is an opportunity for AFM musicians to sideline in the project.

When you identify a project that is using musicians, you can then assist the production company and aid local musicians in getting their employment on the appropriate AFM contract. You can also contact the AFM for help.  When AFM musicians work under the appropriate sideline agreement,  they will not only be paid for their day’s work, with pension and health benefits, but they will also become participants in the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund (FMSMF) for that project, or, in the case of commercials, participate in reuse payments.

In most cases, sidelining happens well before the decision is made about where music underscoring will be done.  So, if the sidelining in your local is AFM, that also unionizes all the music for the film, TV show or commercial – no matter where production moves next.  That means that all future scoring and use of sound recordings in the project will continue to be AFM, even after the sidelining in your Local is completed.

When sidelining is done AFM, your Local’s musicians benefit, and your Local can develop relationships with production companies that can generate future union employment and work dues. Our Pension Fund is strengthened both by the direct contributions from the employment and by the unallocated revenue from our residuals fund. Meanwhile our Federation is strengthened financially and musicians across the AFM will also benefit. Our union contracts work!