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#1 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 08:02 AM

cover somebody on a TV show for a day and the rate was
$60 an hour and
$550 a day on the rental ( 1/5th his weekly rate).

Insulting for producers to offer that on a day call (actually bad for an operator to accept that rate and weekly rental full time in 2009).

If anybody accepts this rate as a day call they are doing all of us a HUGE injustice and we outta.....
so don't do it guys. The rate cutting and low balling is getting out of control.
Pass on those crappy, insulting rates. Keep the rates AND rentals to a fair and acceptable standard!!
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#2 RobVanGelder

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 09:45 PM

That's what I ask here in Thailand..... knowing that my Thai competitors will go UNDER this by 50-60%! .....and that includes an assistant and a minivan for transport.


Life in the US is more expensive, of course. But not by that percentage.
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#3 Brian Freesh

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 10:21 PM

$550 a day on the rental ( 1/5th his weekly rate).


Having come from the world of rental houses, and not having done much freelance, this stuck out to me. Rental houses normally do a 3-day week (often 2-day lately, and less for the video houses). Is it standard to do a 5-day week with Steadicam owner operated gear? I just assumed it was a 3-day week standard as well, but I guess if you're not competing with rental houses it makes sense.

Thanks,
Brian |-)~
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#4 Lohengrin Zapiain

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 05:53 PM

rates here on the north are getting ridiculous when it comes to "low budget". I usually don't go under 800 on a day-call and 2400 for a weekly rate (that is RENTAL alone)

sadly I got offered a gig (a Feature in did) where they offered 1800 a week ( RIG INCLUDED !!!!!!!!)... that is 360cad a day for labor AND Rig.... I could not believe my ears!

Sadly somebody took the job and that is only doing harm to the rest of us as PM's work on precedents so once they get something for a certain amount of money they expect to get the same deal on the next show.

SHAME ON THE LOW BALLERS!!!!!
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#5 Charles Papert

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 06:50 PM

Brian:

To answer your question, the Steadicam rental for episodic used to average $3000 a week, based on $1000/day, 3 day week. Somewhere along the line, the studios thought it would be hilarious if they pro-rated that by dividing by 5. Thus if you work anything short of a full week, they will pay you that daily number (which will always be less than if it was "properly" calculated). Like I said, hilarious.
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#6 Brian Freesh

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 06:59 PM

Brian:

To answer your question, the Steadicam rental for episodic used to average $3000 a week, based on $1000/day, 3 day week. Somewhere along the line, the studios thought it would be hilarious if they pro-rated that by dividing by 5. Thus if you work anything short of a full week, they will pay you that daily number (which will always be less than if it was "properly" calculated). Like I said, hilarious.


ROTFLMAO

Thanks for the clarification.
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#7 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 07:47 PM

rates here on the north are getting ridiculous when it comes to "low budget". I usually don't go under 800 on a day-call and 2400 for a weekly rate (that is RENTAL alone)


Actually that's low. Day Call rental is at least $1000 and $3000 week Most of the time we try to get more than that since we are not full time.
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#8 Steve Fracol SOC

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 03:34 AM

rates here on the north are getting ridiculous when it comes to "low budget". I usually don't go under 800 on a day-call and 2400 for a weekly rate (that is RENTAL alone)


Actually that's low. Day Call rental is at least $1000 and $3000 week Most of the time we try to get more than that since we are not full time.




...and we all should be working to get that back to at least 3,500 - 4,500 per week (3 for 5) for rental (day call 1,200-2,500-depending on your gear/type of job)...and 100 per hour labor/min. I recently had this conversation with a long, long, long, longer time in the rig operating person than I and we agree (all of us collectively-not laying blame on anyone in particular-and not excluding myself) have allowed our rates to get this low. We gotta think about that other campaign...what was it...I think it was....JUST SAY NO!

We have many very good operators out there today thus making the competitive nature and rate structure to be challenged by producers at all levels. They just feel they will find someone to do it. They often get burned but also get lucky sometimes with a new operator that is good but charging lower rates trying to build a reel. Those are the people hurting our business. Try to build your reel on student films and other stuff like music videos. Lots of opportunities for that out there...

All I know is every long format job I do it seems that I end up spending 3-6,000 on new accessories/stuff for that particular job. It seems our spending for gear to do a better job is never ending...but I am not complaining. Well sort of complaining...it's just that if they try to pay lower rates I would not buy the new gear to make the job better or easier thus making the job not as high quality, etc.

They (producers) in the end get what they pay for.

My point...charge a respectable rate.

thats my .02

Fracol
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#9 Charles Papert

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 01:02 PM

...it's just that if they try to pay lower rates I would not buy the new gear to make the job better or easier thus making the job not as high quality, etc.

They (producers) in the end get what they pay for.
Fracol


Actually, I continue to discover that a surprising percentage of the most experienced (and highest paid) operators are using old gear and minimal accessories. There are of course a few "gear heads" out there but you'd be surprised at some of the names who get by with Clinton era state-of-the-art. This would likely disprove the theory that the quality of the job is directly linked to the shininess of the gear. As to easier, well, that's often a nuance that is lost on anyone but the operator.

More to the point: there are many reasons why an experienced operator may take a low paying job. We've seen various of our colleagues go through divorces, illness, injury, all that lovely stuff and end up ready to take whatever they can get; sometimes it's just a matter of building a relationship with a DP or director and the best that can be done is to insist on the deal being "no-quote".

Before anyone pipes up that their agent gets them better money than they can get themselves, I've done it both ways and for me overall it ends up about the same. It's certainly easy to have someone negotiate for you, especially if you aren't much of a negotiator, but I don't see that as being the answer to all this--I've been undercut on jobs by guys who have representation. I just held out for top rate on a job that really deserved it, both on the labor and gear side of things (specialized setup, marathon shooting style); the producer initially took it without much fuss but as things got closer, got cold feet and dumped me for someone cheaper.

The reality is that we have been having this exact discussion for a very long time, 15 years maybe. Ironically, back then there might have been something we could have done about it. Now, with many times the number of operators out there, it's just not going to happen. Hate to be negative about all this, just trying to be realistic. Less is being spent on all aspects of production, and our once super-specialized and premium-commanding profession has become just another cog in a machine that is being expected to turn faster on less grease. We all know that a better, more efficient operator will save the production thousands of dollars a day than someone who requires more takes or takes an extra 30 seconds each time to balance the rig; good luck trying to convince producers of that (I've tried, and will never stop trying).
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#10 Brant S. Fagan SOC

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 04:51 PM

Since that weekly gear rental pricing has been getting harder and harder to maintain, I have a new style of handling this with UPMs.

Once we start discussing rates and rentals, I immediately remind them that MY weekly rental has a NO PRO-RATE condition. If they or accounting tries to pro rate the rental, then we go back to the number used to derive the weekly rate which is usually $1,000./day. Period, no discussion.

This came up on my last two shows of which one was a feature and the other was episodic. Both tried to pro rate and both were reminded of the deal we made back in the beginning. Both UPMs made sure accounting understood the deal and did things right.

We ALL have to fight to make this understood at all levels in all markets. Don't assume, make it happen.
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#11 Charles Papert

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 05:43 PM

Good if you can get it. Many UPM's are more than aware of this concept and will say that it is studio policy to pro-rate. And while some can be bargained with, a growing number are now in "take it or leave it" mode and will simply go down the list until they find someone who will take it. Unfortunately, if they don't find someone, they are more likely to give in to the last person they talk to, rather than going back up to the first call and making the concession with them--it sometimes helps to be at the end of the chain!

Listen, we all have to try and get as much as we can. Each of us has to figure out our personal bottom line and hold to it as much as possible. These are tough times and they are all out to save as many shekels as possible. Just remember that when they say "I'd really appreciate if you could help us out with this one", 9 times out of 10 there is no appreciation, it's not about "helping", it's just a technique to keep us from the money we deserve (and it will just go into someone else's pocket if we don't fight for it).
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#12 Janice Arthur

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 09:18 PM

Hi all;

Charles' answers are again well said.

We can't put the genie back in the bottle, we've made our niche so attractive to everyone its become now no longer the speciality it once was. Good and bad, lots more jobs but lots more ops.

It all comes down to how much have you worked lately and how hungry are you.

Its been a bad year for most and we've got bills to pay. Would $500 for a small industrial beat sitting at home today? If I am hungry or bored or whatever it might make the difference between paying the bills on my desk. I always say you forget the pain when the check comes, and its true most of the time.

If its been a good year or week or month that $500 can go begging but if not, I might take it.

It has also become an issue of small cameras. I've got a Pilot and I know what that rents for but it is unclear to me whether it can command the "regular" rate. Often times it means a smaller shoot and they can't afford as much as the bigger jobs. One operator I know charges the same no matter what the rig, he turns down anything less. I think it commands less money because I don't think they can pay the regular rate. I have clearly under-quoted some jobs with it but have scored lots of work with it, so who's to say?

About 15 years ago, as Charles said, it all started changing. I didn't get the regional jobs anymore because someone there could do it. The production company needed a Steadicam not the highest one, not a Preston and even if the local guy wasn't perfect he was what they could afford and he was local. Money.

I've got a Clinton-era rig (works fine) and I've used up lots of depreciation on some gear I've bought over the years but to go out on a limb for a lot of cash scares me right now because I don't know the equation for making it back. It is different.

I've also come up with a truism lately that says anything I knew 15 years ago does not apply today. Its correct for most things and this is just one more.

Lastly, rental house guy, I said well its a weekend shoot isn't that just a one day rental? (like it used to be) He said, "Everything is open for discussion." So true.

JA
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#13 Philip J. Martinez SOC

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 08:06 AM

HI

I know you are all seasoned operators with 10’s of years of experience so I mean no disrespect.

$500.00 for a Steadicam and operator REALLY?

Do you know of dolly grips going out with a dolly for that low?

$500.00 or $50.00 an hour is a hand held operator rate or a gaffer/key grip rate from the 90’s.

I may need to stay off the forum for a while. It is getting depressing listing to how many people are willing to publicly “Give it away”

I think everyone should find out what minimum wage is in their state. Figure out if your skills deserve more then say a cashier at “Wal-Mart”. And don’t forget to rent that gear you bought. At least try to match what a rental car rate is.

We have labor laws in the USA make sure the employers are following them!!!!

Remember this is a business. I don't see the price of milk dropping as fast as steadicam rates.
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#14 Charles Papert

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 10:21 AM

Good point of view, but what dolly grip goes out with a dolly? Unless it's a cheapo indie one, otherwise Fisher/Chapman deliver to set. If it's the former, I'd imagine they'd be delighted to make $500 a day, considering what kind of show would be using a little indie dolly. I have one myself, never made a dime with it, just use it for short films etc...I'd be happy to do a $500/day with it, it would be sort of fun being a dolly grip for the day! Although I suck at the real thing.
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#15 Janice Arthur

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 05:28 PM

Philip;

I said the $500 as an extreme and not so extreme example.

No I have not done any $500 days.

I have done deals on my normal rate, as has everyone I know.

I have had my last three jobs be calls for Internet videos with very little budgets.

I have a few guys that are good beginning operators and I send them out with my Pilot and I get my rental rate. They get what they can, they make their deals and they have to figure out what their low-ball threshold is.

Everyone does that as they start their careers these guys just don't have to buy the gear.

I have done a one-shot friend shoot for way less than my normal rate but I spent four hours and I got a check at the end of the job. I even hesitated for a long time on deciding that one.

As Charles says you fight for as much as you can. The trouble is the threshold keeps changing and the economy is hurting us all.

(I am too cranky to go out for a few hundred, I'd just be pissed all day.)
I spend time thinking about the larger whole everytime I get a phone call so trust me I'm considering this every time because I'm not sure what my next career could be.

Don't worry we're the ones used to a good rate, we're the last ones to give it away.

JA
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