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Guys! Enough with saying yes to the low rates


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#1 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 01:37 AM

Just heard that one of our fellow operators just said yes to do a Union TV series for a STUPID low rate.


This guy is making LESS than the DIT. Think about that for a second...


We hump 70+ lbs of gear that we have $100K+ invested in and you're giving it away. The DIT who is sitting in his tent surfing the net is making more than the steadicam operator, Seriously don't be "that guy" that drags the rates down. Don't think that your doing anyone a favor by saying yes. You will NEVER get production to give you more money in the future when you take low rates. $2000/week is NOT a good weekly rate


Come on folks we need to keep the rates up, not let the producers erode them.
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#2 Lars Erik

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 02:10 AM

Holy crap! $2000 a week!

Just out of curiousity, if it's a UNION show, doesn't the producer have to pay a MINIMUM wage, and not pay that kind of shocking, idiotic and provocative salary?

Oh I get it. Is it a one day work every week? That must be it right? :blink:


LE
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#3 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 02:11 AM

Holy crap! $2000 a week!

Just out of curiousity, if it's a UNION show, doesn't the producer have to pay a MINIMUM wage, and not pay that kind of shocking, idiotic and provocative salary?

Oh I get it. Is it a one day work every week? That must be it right? :blink:


LE



That's his equipment rental. his hourly is less than what the DIT is making
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#4 thomas-english

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 05:48 AM

I have had a stream of phone calls recently with producers doing proper budget stuff.

The producer has offered me half my rate and just gone "thats all I have in my budget". And treating me like a greedy bastard for asking more.

I know they are finding people to do it.

Whats happening? Are we basically competing in their minds now with operators on flyers and Canon 5D's
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#5 Iain Baird

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 09:10 AM

It's very disturbing to deal with these low ball offers but they seem to be coming in more and more, and from bigger and bigger shows.
Part of the problem with equipment rentals is that the rental houses are renting their gear for far less than they used to. A One Day Weekly rental is not unheard of and it seems the production managers would like the same from us.
The package deals the rental houses give are also making it very hard to rent our personal gear to productions as it offers production no benefit to take items off their rental deal like it used to.
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#6 Brian Freesh

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 12:14 PM

Whats happening? Are we basically competing in their minds now with operators on flyers and Canon 5D's


I hope not for your sake! The market I'm in seems to think I'm competing with PAs. If I'm lucky those are commercial PAs. They usually offers less than my Flyer's Rental ($250/day) for rate and rental combined. To be fair, those "productions" seem to be surprised they need to rent anything from me to begin with. I've offered more than once for them to rent the rig from somewhere else and I will operate it, they haven't taken me up on it yet.

At times I have been able to make compromises that work for everyone, but more often than not my rates are headlights to their deer and I never hear from them again.

As to the topic of this post. I'm not a union operator, and only know so much about that world, but even I know this is ridiculous! I hope things like this do not continue to increase in frequency...
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#7 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 12:02 AM

This is the free enterprise system of economics (and stupidity) that will eventually cull the herd. Simply put; supply versus demand. There are currently more operators than there are jobs, thus Steadicam has become commoditized like anything else. Producers will shop it until they get the price they want regardless of whether that matches the results they want.

You can't operate a Steadicam business (or any other business) on a continuing / long-term basis without a certain level of income and profit that supports the gear investment, repairs, equipment insurance, upgrades, your current lifestyle, savings, financial investments, emergency funds, health care and planning for retirement.

There's not enough quantity of work to support low-balling for the long-term; as painful and distasteful as it may be to those of us who fight for proper rates and reasonable rentals, the cycle has to run it's course like a natural wildfire clearing out the deadwood and underbrush. However, the stronger trees with healthy roots and foundations will survive.

Any deal you're not willing to walk away from is most assuredly a deal you won't get a fair shake on.

New media has created a vacuum for DITs to manage the cameras and media. Like Steadicam in the early days it was "magic" and no one understood it. The DITs will have their day for now, but once manufacturer(s) starts cranking out two day and week-long DIT workshops for everybody and their brother they'll be a dime a dozen and commoditized too, except they don't have the equipment investment we have.

Robert "Prepped for the long-haul" Starling

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#8 chris fawcett

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 01:49 AM

Wise words, Robert.

Anyway, money? Are you guys in it for the money? Isn't that just stuff you swap for cables? ;)
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#9 Charles Papert

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 02:46 AM

Curious about the operator making less than the DIT--aren't they at the same scale? Did the operator take the job at scale and the DIT is getting overscale...?
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#10 Juan M.Ramos SOC

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 04:13 AM

Only for ask.....Is it not posible to create a steadicam op/owner union or a new scale into the union for our work???????Primtime show+steady system+opertor= X salary as minimum.......???
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#11 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 02:02 PM

Yes, I agree.
I think quite a few people got the call for this show Eric is referring too.
I turned it down a couple weeks ago and they kept calling back.
They raised the hourly rate up a bit after having a dozen or more experienced operators turn them down, but that was still at an hourly rate of what was acceptable 5 years ago.
$2,000 a week for the rental is terrible especially for a show that said they use and rely on steadicam everyday. They would not budge on that. So I repeatedly passed, much to the understanding of the DP and producer who'se hands were tied by the production companies refusal.

And yes, one of their other shows has the DIT making $6 an hour higher than the Steadicam Operator.
That is nothing short of insulting and a slap in the face to Steadicam operators and the work we do.
It's a pity these "operators" (who will surely come to light) had to kick all of us operators in the nuts who work so hard to do great work and keep our rates (and the respect of our difficult and strenuous profession) to a respectful and proper level for the work we do on a production.
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#12 Alfeo Dixon SOC

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 03:02 PM

Curious about the operator making less than the DIT--aren't they at the same scale? Did the operator take the job at scale and the DIT is getting overscale...?

speaking of which, did you guys know that DIT's can also operator under the contracts? <_<
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#13 Alfeo Dixon SOC

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 03:05 PM

Only for ask.....Is it not posible to create a steadicam op/owner union or a new scale into the union for our work???????Primtime show+steady system+opertor= X salary as minimum.......???

Not without a top brass lawyer to negotiate with the producers guild on a contract... we really don't want to open that can of worms
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#14 MarkKaravite

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 10:57 PM

I've discussed the idea of a Steadicam Scale Rate with our regional IA600 BA. In his opinion, he didn't see that ever happening in a negotiation with producers. For Pete's sake, the Operator position isn't even required!

It's up to us to maintain a fair rate for our strenuous work and large investments in equipment. I certainly hope Robert's economics lesson reins true. Let's see that guy who works for 60% of normal rates try to buy the latest gear next time around. It will take time, but in 5 years when his gear is falling apart and he can't afford to fix or upgrade it, he'll get what he deserves.

There aren't too many operators in my part of the country. When I have to turn down a job because I'm not available, you better bet I NEVER recommend the local low ball operators. It's one small way to penalize low ballers, by being black listed from the referral list.

Years ago I DP'd a job that was too involved for me to operate as well. The producers had budgeted for my normal Steadicam rate. They ended up hiring a local operator who has a low rate (I couldn't travel in someone). He quoted his normal low ball rate. At the end of 2 weeks of studio work, I took him aside, thanked him for his efforts and mentioned that he had passed on nearly $13,000 worth of income, and all he had to do was ask for it.

Don't you know it, he still low balls jobs. Some will never learn.
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#15 Brian Freesh

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 03:11 AM

Ugh, it was hard, but I did it...

Most of the shoots I've done since I bought my rig have been student shoots (at a specific student discount with an exchange-for-footage clause) or favors for friends (mostly cause I had a full time job up until a few months ago), so it's all been very low pay. But I'm starting to hit a real market these days: I recently did a shoot for a DP acquaintance at reduced rate because I wanted to work with her and show her what I could do, etc... Point being that was a very specific purpose (and wasn't so absurdly low) and I think it worked... we'll see if she calls me again, she seemed impressed at the time.

But a couple days ago I was recommended by an AC acquaintance I've never worked with in the field, but very much like as person. She spoke highly of the DP and he seemed to like me and my reel. Come around to discuss it with production, they talk up the shoot like it's something awesome: Two cameras, steadi is A camera, name dancers, B-cam lives on Dolly, two day shoot, blah blah blah I don't care. All I hear is that they have two cameras and A is living on steadicam for two days in a row. At this point I expect a good rate, much less an adequate one. Apparently, those were actually reasons I shouldn't care about the rate! Silly me!

When I sent my rate they immediately put a CL ad up spouting the awesomeness and listing their rate: $400/day (rate and rental included). Hours later I got an email that said they had only budgeted $400/day for steadi (your fault guys, not mine!) and basically said it was up to me if I wanted the job or not. As I did want the job I came back with a deep discount on the grounds that I was excited to work with the DP and 1st AC but wanted the footage turned around for me for my reel as part of the arrangement. I was still not down to their $400, cause I was hoping they'd see the value in me and that the DP and 1st would fight for me vs. some random person from CL. But I wasn't about to bend to their $400 so they think in the future I'll take it in the backside, but I really thought I had a fighting chance here.

The producer emailed me this morning with a mixed up sense of what I had said, thinking I didn't have a rig that could handle the weight of the camera, which only showed he didn't read my email (in which I clearly stated I had a rig that could handle the weight of the camera). I corrected him with a response 10 minutes later and haven't heard from him since. The DP emailed me a couple hours ago thoroughly apologizing for all the confusion and that he hoped to work with me in the future. I inferred from that they had told him I wasn't hired, but obviously not me!

So, bummed that I got no gig, but not bummed that it's because of a BS rate. And I hope for the 1st AC and DP that the shoot goes well, but honestly, I hope that whomever took that rate isn't prepared for the shoot and shows production what that rate is really worth! I kinda hope it's a disaster, is that bad? |-)~

I told them the rate was a one-time new-client offer. Just dessert would be if the DP tells them next time he wants me and oh darn, my offer doesn't still stand, what a shame. Not holding my breath for that though!

Brian |-)~
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