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#1 Ari Robbins

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 01:40 PM

So I was reading over some of the recent posts, and it seem to me there is a lot of confusion on many aspects of legal, business, rates, and contracts.
I was wondering if perhaps it would help if we set in stone an exact answer to these questions that a lot of younger ops, as well as older ops are having.
Things are changing in the industry and with all the outstretching it sounds like different deals are coming up left and right, and the majority of these things have a huge potential to destroy things a lot of people put hard work into.
So perhaps maybe I"ll start, and people can fill in till we have something that is generally known and accepted by all???
Some points:

Insurance cert. is a must. How can we get it if the studio doesn't say they will....?
Union rates: Bumps for steadicam days, prorating the rental, what is the amount one should rent out for, what shouldn't they. Guarentee days of use per week. What is standard.
nonunion: rates, agreements and such.
Pushing: what needs to be in the contract before to protect this, what is the standard of operation during an event like that.
Pay or Play
Rentals on accessories
A or B camera deals
Rates if company provides rig.
LLCs, setting up businesses
etc,etc, etc

Obviously not all things will always be so black and white, but perhaps at least a basic guide for all to have would help so Producers don't prey on those that don't know, in turn screwing it for all.
I know this is a concern for me, as I worry about my choices and how that weighs to both the industry and our community. I feel like mistakes I made I;m accountable for not finding out the answers before the question came up, but maybe we can help so others don't???
One thing that concerned me, is that being on mostly non-union shows, it feels like the guidelines are all over the place, but to hear that on union shows guys are giving out some deals that they are, concerns me greatly. Its things like that that really destroy so much, now with IA adding the low budget tier, its only going to get weirder.
I know it seems a bit redundant to put these things in writing on the forum, but if it wasn't so necessary then there wouldn't be as much confusion I think. I know that $2000 for a weekly rental on a union show 5 out of 5 days is bullshit, but that doesn't mean Joe Schmo does, if we assume he does or don't provide the education, then we really aren't being accountable for the results he creates too. Also, its easy to get mad at people who do things another/group of us don't like, but lets face it, there is always somebody for something. If there was a guideline, at least there is something we could have that stands for all, that we can argue to those who do break the standard. Its more convincing to not low-ball when you clearly can see the line in the sand, and know your crossing it, and know what that does to each individual of this group.

Maybe a quick one page thing with some bullits, maybe we post that in a thread when we can agree, maybe this is a guild thing, I don't know. I guess with trying very hard to get further into the future of this biz its concerning. So where do we start....
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#2 Nicholas Davidoff

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 11:10 PM

So I was reading over some of the recent posts, and it seem to me there is a lot of confusion on many aspects of legal, business, rates, and contracts.
I was wondering if perhaps it would help if we set in stone an exact answer to these questions that a lot of younger ops, as well as older ops are having.
Things are changing in the industry and with all the outstretching it sounds like different deals are coming up left and right, and the majority of these things have a huge potential to destroy things a lot of people put hard work into.
So perhaps maybe I"ll start, and people can fill in till we have something that is generally known and accepted by all???
Some points:

Insurance cert. is a must. How can we get it if the studio doesn't say they will....?
Union rates: Bumps for steadicam days, prorating the rental, what is the amount one should rent out for, what shouldn't they. Guarentee days of use per week. What is standard.
nonunion: rates, agreements and such.
Pushing: what needs to be in the contract before to protect this, what is the standard of operation during an event like that.
Pay or Play
Rentals on accessories
A or B camera deals
Rates if company provides rig.
LLCs, setting up businesses
etc,etc, etc

Obviously not all things will always be so black and white, but perhaps at least a basic guide for all to have would help so Producers don't prey on those that don't know, in turn screwing it for all.
I know this is a concern for me, as I worry about my choices and how that weighs to both the industry and our community. I feel like mistakes I made I;m accountable for not finding out the answers before the question came up, but maybe we can help so others don't???
One thing that concerned me, is that being on mostly non-union shows, it feels like the guidelines are all over the place, but to hear that on union shows guys are giving out some deals that they are, concerns me greatly. Its things like that that really destroy so much, now with IA adding the low budget tier, its only going to get weirder.
I know it seems a bit redundant to put these things in writing on the forum, but if it wasn't so necessary then there wouldn't be as much confusion I think. I know that $2000 for a weekly rental on a union show 5 out of 5 days is bullshit, but that doesn't mean Joe Schmo does, if we assume he does or don't provide the education, then we really aren't being accountable for the results he creates too. Also, its easy to get mad at people who do things another/group of us don't like, but lets face it, there is always somebody for something. If there was a guideline, at least there is something we could have that stands for all, that we can argue to those who do break the standard. Its more convincing to not low-ball when you clearly can see the line in the sand, and know your crossing it, and know what that does to each individual of this group.

Maybe a quick one page thing with some bullits, maybe we post that in a thread when we can agree, maybe this is a guild thing, I don't know. I guess with trying very hard to get further into the future of this biz its concerning. So where do we start....


It amazes me Ari that in three weeks not a single member of this forum has anything to contribute to this post. It pretty much goes to show that there is nobody interested in any sort of affirmative action to protect the integrity of our craft. There are plenty of whiners here who like to kick their feet up at their computer and complain about dropping rates. Meanwhile these same people aren't willing to lift a finger to even attempt to DO something about it. Let's put together a meeting. Let's draw out some guidelines. Let's get the A list operators to network together and establish some policies that we all agree to abide by. There are solutions here folks, people just need to meet and discuss and come up with some plans. Strength through unity. At least lets try open a serious discussion. I'm in. I'll be there. I'm willing to put in work and make a commitment. I'm sure Ari is also and probably a handful of others. At least it's a start. I would be proud to turn down a crappy job offer knowing that my steadicam brothers are ALL behind me and we've all agreed on some industry standards. But this futile practice of venting on the forum about dropping rates will get all of us nowhere and it will remain an every man for himself industry. I'll admit it right here to all of you that I for one will not hesitate take a low paying job because I know that there are a hundred cheap newbie hacks waiting in line for it and I know that there are a hundred veteran operators who don't give a shit enough to try to organize some constructive solutions to any of these problems.

I predict the next reply to this discussion will be some dumb joke about getting drunk or lisigav and that will put an end to this thread.
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#3 William Demeritt

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 01:35 AM

I predict the next reply to this discussion will be some dumb joke about getting drunk or lisigav and that will put an end to this thread.


The internet is serious business.

Ironically, instead of offering positive contributions, ideas for how to resolve the issue, or offering a venue of your choice for this conference of Steadicam operators, you "kicked your feet up and complained." Make no mistake, the A-list operators have networked together, and still do. They pick up the phone, send a private email or PM.

Maybe I am one of them, but we "newbie hacks" are also organizing as we speak. The more people on the same page, the better, so if you'd like to join the discussion, drop me a PM or email.

p.s.- I happen to enjoy the good humor found in this community, if only because it gives the community the humility where I feel comfortable enough to ask anyone here a question. The veterans I know have never refused to answer an honest question. Maybe lisigav has greased the wheels?
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#4 Nicholas Davidoff

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 10:52 AM

I predict the next reply to this discussion will be some dumb joke about getting drunk or lisigav and that will put an end to this thread.


The internet is serious business.

Ironically, instead of offering positive contributions, ideas for how to resolve the issue, or offering a venue of your choice for this conference of Steadicam operators, you "kicked your feet up and complained." Make no mistake, the A-list operators have networked together, and still do. They pick up the phone, send a private email or PM.

Maybe I am one of them, but we "newbie hacks" are also organizing as we speak. The more people on the same page, the better, so if you'd like to join the discussion, drop me a PM or email.

p.s.- I happen to enjoy the good humor found in this community, if only because it gives the community the humility where I feel comfortable enough to ask anyone here a question. The veterans I know have never refused to answer an honest question. Maybe lisigav has greased the wheels?


Of course humor is a wonderful part of the forum (as is Lisigav) and I love a good laugh like anybody. It's just that I've read several important discussions come to an end when they take a humorous turn and go nowhere from there. From what I've gathered, it seems to me the only way to protect our values as operators is to create an offiicial or "unofficial" union, guild or what have you. If every member of this group agrees unanimously on certain rate minimums and other business practices, then we know that we're all backing eachother up. The guidelines and information discussed among us doesn't need to be publicly posted and should remain among us. But I certainly support the idea of establishing minimum scales for features and TV, all the way down through the various union tiers and maybe even shorts and music videos. These numbers would be geographic of course, but this whole venture would require the participation of at least 90% of working operators. This way, when a producer offers a lowball number, I could say with confidence, "I'm sorry, I can't accept that because it's below our guild minimum for your budget level". And I know with confidence that everybody else the producer calls will give the same answer. Next time a company refuses to issue an insurance cert or pay a booking fee, I know that we have standards in place. I know that these ideas have been discussed here before and perhaps there's a good reason why it hasn't gotten off the ground. Maybe this raises the idea of an unofficial steadicam union? Maybe it's a bad idea, and there's good arguments against it?

But I know that times are changing, things are different now and maybe the time has come to make something happen? I guess step #1 of this process would be a meeting of at least several operators of all different status levels.
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#5 RonBaldwin

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 11:15 AM

Isn't this kinda why the steadicam guild started in the first place (honest question)?

I just happened across this thread -- there have been countless discussions like this in the past and William is right, many of us are intouch via phone and pm and discuss what rates/deals we are getting on a regular basis.

Nick, why don't you get the ball rolling and try to do what others have failed to do and what Lisagav has foiled?

rb
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#6 Nicholas Davidoff

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 11:23 AM

The key here is to start from the top down. We'd need the high level operators to get involved. I don't see it working otherwise. A bunch of beginners in a room discussing rates, I just don't see this as making a great impact. I don't consider myself a high status operator so I don't know if I have the clout to organize something like this. But if there are any A-list operators who are interested, then PM me, or William or eachother and let's set a venue and get together and talk.
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#7 William Demeritt

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 12:57 PM

The key here is to start from the top down. We'd need the high level operators to get involved. I don't see it working otherwise. A bunch of beginners in a room discussing rates, I just don't see this as making a great impact. I don't consider myself a high status operator so I don't know if I have the clout to organize something like this. But if there are any A-list operators who are interested, then PM me, or William or eachother and let's set a venue and get together and talk.


Nick, with all due respect, you seem to have this notion that the Steadicam community includes know nothing "beginners", you, and then A-list operators. I happen to know many other operators on the tier you currently reside, and we're all eager to solve the problem of "I want the Producer to hear the same rate if they'd called anyone else."

I see the benefits of having an A-list or veteran operator in the room, just from an experience point of view. However, the operating rates of the A-list operators, or the Union operators, is not really a secret. Neither is how to calculate kit rentals. More specific things, we can all benefit from hearing a seasoned opinion, and that's why we ask them in private.

The largest value of getting everyone into the same room (even figuratively) is to give the other operators a glimpse of what we're charging. Those other operators may think we're charging too little, and offer what they charge. On the other hand, other operators may realize they're charging a pittance compared to what similarly experienced operators are charging.

Since we're informal, all we can really do is share experience and our rates, and offer our word that we'll uphold a minimum price because we know everyone else will back our rate.
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#8 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 05:07 PM

gonna be honest, I'm of the opinion that finding a common ground for everyone to agree on would be nearly impossible. There is nothing resembling an apprenticeship program for a Steadicam operator, and it's pretty unlikely anything of the sort could ever be implemented. Personally, I came to it after quite a few years operating cameras of every kind in every environment imaginable. Then there are those who show up as a PA one day, and a full Steadicam rig the next, having convinced mom & dad it's what they REALLY wanna do. Those two parties are bound to have significant differences of opinion as to training and job experience requirements... And they should.


There's the lo/no/deferred thing. Sometimes it's completely valid. I've done it myself... Only with/for people I know, and I'm positive no one's making a penny off of my work... Who an I kidding, they lose anywhere from tens to hundreds of thousands on these projects. What one person considers a great training opportunity, another may consider it somewhat of a scam. There are more obvious examples of bad hiring practices. Thanks to Mark Cuban, the NBA has a common practice of "Hiring" unpaid interns to shoot video for them. I'm of the opinion that's illegal and violates federal employment guidelines... I can even quote specific references. Thing is, there's a significant gray area in between that and legit free work... And no one's there to guide anyone through it.

Tiffen alone has got what, 15-20 different rigs? How does everyone agree on the various rental price points? I don't know about the rest of you, but I've built 5 different camera cages to accommodate different camera types. The aforementioned company has a rig to match each and every one of those cameras, cage not necessary.

These issues, not to mention the fact that only a small percentage of operators visit this forum regularly.
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#9 Nicholas Davidoff

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 05:22 PM

Nick, with all due respect, you seem to have this notion that the Steadicam community includes know nothing "beginners", you, and then A-list operators. I happen to know many other operators on the tier you currently reside, and we're all eager to solve the problem of "I want the Producer to hear the same rate if they'd called anyone else."

I see the benefits of having an A-list or veteran operator in the room, just from an experience point of view. However, the operating rates of the A-list operators, or the Union operators, is not really a secret. Neither is how to calculate kit rentals. More specific things, we can all benefit from hearing a seasoned opinion, and that's why we ask them in private.

The largest value of getting everyone into the same room (even figuratively) is to give the other operators a glimpse of what we're charging. Those other operators may think we're charging too little, and offer what they charge. On the other hand, other operators may realize they're charging a pittance compared to what similarly experienced operators are charging.

Since we're informal, all we can really do is share experience and our rates, and offer our word that we'll uphold a minimum price because we know everyone else will back our rate.


I think we're on the same page Will. And it's great that some of us PM and call each other and network about rates and such. But the only way this would really work is that EVERYBODY is on the same page. EVERYBODY. It's a massive networking venture but I'll bet it can be done.

And a meeting such as the one we're discussing should have representatives from all different tiers to discuss realistic and reasonable minimum rates for all budgets. Personally, I think we're wasting our time if we don't have at least a few major leaguers there. So let's see who (if anybody) shows interest over the next few weeks. I've also posted on a different thread that this is a private, face to face meeting and shouldn't be a series of posts on this forum. So please PM if you're interested.
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