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Check with your ops before accepting "their" deal


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#1 Dave Chameides

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 12:37 PM

Just thought I'd throw this out there. I got a call to do B unit on a show with some folks I've worked for for a long time. The loader told me that I should check with production because the last guy made a strange deal. I talked to the UPM and she told me that the deal they had made was standard op rate and if they used the steadicam they would pay $1000 for gear and bump up the rate. I talked to her about how I had never really done anything like that and was surprised that this op (who is a name, not a newby) would make that deal, but she assured me that was the case.

I agreed to do the job on those terms because I know the main unit DP and going in there and letting him know what was happening, I was pretty sure it would be the last time it would go down that way as he is the kind of guy who doesn't like abuse of any kind and will, can, and has gone to bat for the crew time and again. So while I wasn't happy about taking this kind of deal, I saw it as a way of stemming the tide.

This isn't the case, but when i fill in on a show, I always take the deal the op is getting, assuming i can stomach it, and call it a day as it helps them out to not have any problems with taking a day off, being sick, whatever. But, as a courtesy and for my own two cents, I always check with the op to make sure I'm getting the same deal.

So I called the op who made that deal to ask him if it was the case, concerned that I might speak out of turn as I was making $110 and $1000 last year with this same group and was concerned that it had gone down this road. When I talked to him, he verified the numbers as best he could without looking at a paycheck, and when i asked him about the as used deal, he immediately said he hadn't done that and said he never would. In fact, he said he didn't even bring his gear that day and left it home in the garage.

Needless to say I was happy to hear that he hadn't done that, but dismayed at what was going on. I emailed the UPM last night and mentioned all this. Told her I was only willing to come in for the day under that dealing since the op had already put it in place, but that wasn't the case. She's calling me but first wants to check with the producer as "he made the deal".

So the bottom line is that we all need to band together. It's bad out there and everyone knows they have crews over a barrel. I know people working for half what they used to because they need insurance and times are tight. We all need to do what we need to do but for the sake of our fraternity and the future of our stake in this wacky world of moviemaking, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE communicate and check out what you are being told with other ops. I don't think people are out to screw us, but they will try and get the best deal possible. This case may have been on purpose and may have been innocent, and in reality, it doesn't make a difference which one it is.

The salad days may be gone, but that doesn't mean we can't continue to make a good living flying the beast and keeping in touch with one another is the best way to maintain that ability. I'm not talking about price fixing, just checking in to make sure everything is as the say it is.

Ok, off to shoot my neighbors kindergarten play on the red. It's not union, but they are paying overtime after 16.5 and I get all the pb&j I can eat.

Dave
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#2 Lukas Franz

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 01:03 PM

Amen!

Thank you for sharing, Dave.
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#3 Dave Chameides

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 05:50 PM

Follow up: They called back and told me steadicam had been cancelled but Im going in to conventional operate for the day anyway. They back pedaled a fair amount saying they really weren't sure what that deal was and that it may have been that they would rent his gear but only bump him if he pulled it out. I pointed out that he didn't even bring his gear so that probably wasn't it. Bottom line is they were not sure and I don't know if this was a specific ploy or not. We got to the place where I explained how unfair this was to do to an op as it puts us in a position of not knowing whether to call and cancel the night before if we got a "real" gig that wanted to hire us the way we were supposed to. I explained that it protected them as much as it did us and we left it that the idea of as used would not be part of any further equations.

So there you have it. Im stealing a case of coke while I'm there though just for the time on the phone this took. That ought to show them.
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#4 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 08:14 PM

Follow up: They called back and told me steadicam had been cancelled but Im going in to conventional operate for the day anyway. They back pedaled a fair amount saying they really weren't sure what that deal was and that it may have been that they would rent his gear but only bump him if he pulled it out. I pointed out that he didn't even bring his gear so that probably wasn't it. Bottom line is they were not sure and I don't know if this was a specific ploy or not. We got to the place where I explained how unfair this was to do to an op as it puts us in a position of not knowing whether to call and cancel the night before if we got a "real" gig that wanted to hire us the way we were supposed to. I explained that it protected them as much as it did us and we left it that the idea of as used would not be part of any further equations.

So there you have it. Im stealing a case of coke while I'm there though just for the time on the phone this took. That ought to show them.



+1 to this whole post Dave.
2009 was record box office for the studios, and record TV ratings, but yet they are pulling out all the excuses in the book (mainly the recession and all the jobs running out of LA) to sucker us LA operators down on the rate and rental.
They know there is a glutton of Steadi Ops in LA now, and jobs are 60% less than they were in 2004, so they are using the laws of supply and demand to cut down LA operators rates and rentals.
Out of town rates/rentals are still pretty good.
It's a bummer I turned down 5 shows in the past 7 months to stay in LA with my (then) pregnant wife, and (now) to be with my first born son.
But in doing so, I've had to turn down some crappy rates and rental jobs in town too (in one case, a seasoned operator (that you know) took it at $5 above the regular operator and DIT rate, and a rental rate that was 1/3 less than standard weekly rental rate.

I also call other ops to verify their rates and rentals before accepting a job. And I encourage other ops to call me if they need to know what I got on a similar studio show.
But as long as there are 10x or more the amount of Steadicam Ops in LA with 1/2 or less the amount of work here as there was 6-7 years ago, getting back to the "good ole" rates of 8-10 years ago will be nearly impossible without all these other operators accepting "low ball" rates and undercutting our future negotiating abilities.
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#5 Dave Chameides

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 09:18 PM

+1 to this whole post Dave.
2009 was record box office for the studios, and record TV ratings, but yet they are pulling out all the excuses in the book (mainly the recession and all the jobs running out of LA) to sucker us LA operators down on the rate and rental.
They know there is a glutton of Steadi Ops in LA now, and jobs are 60% less than they were in 2004, so they are using the laws of supply and demand to cut down LA operators rates and rentals.
Out of town rates/rentals are still pretty good.
It's a bummer I turned down 5 shows in the past 7 months to stay in LA with my (then) pregnant wife, and (now) to be with my first born son.
But in doing so, I've had to turn down some crappy rates and rental jobs in town too (in one case, a seasoned operator (that you know) took it at $5 above the regular operator and DIT rate, and a rental rate that was 1/3 less than standard weekly rental rate.

I also call other ops to verify their rates and rentals before accepting a job. And I encourage other ops to call me if they need to know what I got on a similar studio show.
But as long as there are 10x or more the amount of Steadicam Ops in LA with 1/2 or less the amount of work here as there was 6-7 years ago, getting back to the "good ole" rates of 8-10 years ago will be nearly impossible without all these other operators accepting "low ball" rates and undercutting our future negotiating abilities.
[/quote]


Congrats on the soon to be. Good to hear! It's a wild ride.

Don't exact rates to return to what they were, but there is no reason for them to drop off the cliff either. Thanks for the note.
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#6 Mike Germond SOC

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 06:38 PM

All of us Florida guys need to band together as well. I've been getting the "I'm calling to compare prices" phone calls from UPM's lately, which means they are taking whoever gives them the lowest rate with not much consideration for ability. I've heard mention of some rediculously unreasonable rates floating around too, things I wouldn't operate on sticks for.

That "boat school" is saturating the market around here which doesn't help either..
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#7 John atkinson

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 09:31 PM

All of us Florida guys need to band together as well. I've been getting the "I'm calling to compare prices" phone calls from UPM's lately, which means they are taking whoever gives them the lowest rate with not much consideration for ability. I've heard mention of some rediculously unreasonable rates floating around too, things I wouldn't operate on sticks for.

That "boat school" is saturating the market around here which doesn't help either..



Sound's like low budget feature, music video, stuff. If rate is number one consideration over ability it's not legitimate call.
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#8 Jack Thompson

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Posted 28 May 2010 - 11:37 PM

All of us Florida guys need to band together as well. I've been getting the "I'm calling to compare prices" phone calls from UPM's lately, which means they are taking whoever gives them the lowest rate with not much consideration for ability. I've heard mention of some rediculously unreasonable rates floating around too, things I wouldn't operate on sticks for.

That "boat school" is saturating the market around here which doesn't help either..



Wow, That's a really amazing statement coming from a newbie who took a 32,000 a year Steadicam job at the Golf Channel? What's that like $121 a day M-F? Not to mention you (from Michigan, not Florida) took the job away from an experienced local who got over $1,500 a day for one show there? So they went from paying $1500 to $121? Talk about degrading a local market? I guess what you said is true - they take the lowest rate with not much consideration for ability? Wouldn't operate sticks for that low a rate, but steadicam yes.

Edited by Fixerdworld, 28 May 2010 - 11:44 PM.

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#9 Mike Germond SOC

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Posted 28 May 2010 - 11:46 PM

Wow, That's a really amazing statement coming from a newbie who took a 32,000 a year Steadicam job at the Golf Channel. What's that like $121 a day M-F? Not to mention you (from Michigan, not Florida) took the job away from an experienced local who got over $1,500 a day for one show there. So they went from paying $1500 to $121. Talk about degrading a local market. I guess what you said is true - they take the lowest rate with not much consideration for ability. Wouldn't operate sticks for that low a rate, but steadicam yes.


Very presumptuous comments from someone who won't even show themselves and use their real name. Maybe a review of the forum's terms and conditions is in order from you.

Secondly, you better check your facts, because your numbers are VERY far off.
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#10 Jack Thompson

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 11:25 AM

Wow, That's a really amazing statement coming from a newbie who took a 32,000 a year Steadicam job at the Golf Channel. What's that like $121 a day M-F? Not to mention you (from Michigan, not Florida) took the job away from an experienced local who got over $1,500 a day for one show there. So they went from paying $1500 to $121. Talk about degrading a local market. I guess what you said is true - they take the lowest rate with not much consideration for ability. Wouldn't operate sticks for that low a rate, but steadicam yes.


Very presumptuous comments from someone who won't even show themselves and use their real name. Maybe a review of the forum's terms and conditions is in order from you.

Secondly, you better check your facts, because your numbers are VERY far off.


Name posted. Would you like to share with us your numbers please? Golf channel execs usually don't lie do they? Yes let's hear the truth. Don't sweat it though Mike - everyone knows all about you.
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#11 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 11:45 AM

Jack, Mike - take it outside please.
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#12 Mike Germond SOC

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 12:16 PM

A hipocrite is my biggest pet peeve, so I wouldn't want anyone here to think of me as one. I will speak with Jack privately to see what's bugging him.

It doesn't matter to me where you're from, I'll pull for the good of the community every time. I've been getting jobs stolen from me because someone is accepting lower rates, and that's the reason I am a part of this discussion.
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#13 Patrick Neese

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 11:28 AM

I'm not in the big leagues yet, but getting rate or near rate on some of the micro-budgets in Austin is laughable. I'm finally running a rig that can handle the red, so I'm not stealing any big shows with my lower rates. Nor, can I fly a 35mm or Equivalent on my modified EFP.

Isn't this topic though...borderline illegal? Price fixing/Anti-trust could easily be seen as operators calling each other and discussing too low of rates and deciding on acceptable rates.

A new operator can't ask for the same rate as a 20+ year operator...I know I can't, that rate is earned. Rental rate should match the markets need sure, but labor? I hope producers and production co. understand that.

I'm not having my door knocked down by studios either, so taking a few days on a low/micro budget, getting more experience and some pay is working for me without stepping on any toes(I think). When I get the equipment and experience to get on bigger shows, I'm sure I'll be upping my rate.
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#14 BJMcDonnell SOC

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 07:33 PM

I have another thing to add to all this. I've been shooting in Louisiana a ton and recently found out a fellow operator told some other operators I was low balling to get jobs. I hear this and of course I call that operator and ask what the Hell is going on? One job was mentioned in particular that I did and I did it for scale but got my full rental for Steadicam per week at full rate. Why did I do it for scale?, because it was a favor of a friend who is a producer. We all do this from time to time. I have a great agent and he negotiates my deals and gets me great deals. So with all this said, before people go to a meeting about rates and start saying so and so is taking cut rental or working for cheap maybe talk to that person before you slander his name. Sometimes there are favors to be done for friends and you don't know the situation. It just causes people to get all up in arms before they go to the source. It's a problem I see all the time with gossip about rates. Anyway that's all I got to say. Fly safe y'all.
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#15 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 11:45 PM

So what I heard about you and Ron working for free cases of lisigav and lap dances at Jumbo's isn't true?
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