Jump to content



Photo

working for little or no money


  • Please log in to reply
13 replies to this topic

#1 David Baldwin

David Baldwin

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 149 posts
  • Los Angeles

Posted 11 May 2006 - 06:40 PM

Hey folks,
I've been asked to do a S16 (a-minima) 1-day shoot with my flyer using a focus system for the first time. The extra equipment is being provided and I'm pretty excited about it. Thing is, chica who's producing is giving me the "no money" routine. I've read comments by professionals in this forum that discourage or straight up condemn working for free. I understand the reasons behind this. I understand that it does everybody a disservice. I just want to get competent and take advantage of the learning opportunity. Should I do it? Should I flat out demand a minimum at least? I normally charge $400 with gear for a day with my bare-bones 12V Flyer. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks for the forum.
David
Los Angeles
  • 0

#2 Afton Grant

Afton Grant

    Advanced Member

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPip
  • 908 posts
  • New York, Boston

Posted 11 May 2006 - 07:22 PM

Hi David,

The recommendations you've already read about not working for free are extremely valid. Listening to them would probably be your best decision.

I do understand the desire to gain experience. However, there are other ways to do it, without selling yourself short. Practicing at home, meeting with other ops, visiting a local rental house, to name a few.

For the sake of argument, regarding "no" budget productions--they come in all types. I'm sure there are a few here and there with a truly nice and professional crew. Often, however, the quality of the production goes down along with the budget. It may not necessarily be bad, but the experience you gain on such a shoot might not be the kind of experience you are looking for.

You really have to gauge for yourself on a case by case basis. If any producer calls you and gives you ANY sort of "routine", I would beware. Even low budget productions need to rent some equipment. I'm sure they don't call up rental houses and ask for it for free. Why should they be able to call you up and ask for yours for free? At the very least, you should get a rental fee. Not to mention your day rate, which seems quite low, even for a Flyer.

On top of the harm to the rest of the industry, IMO our equipment is so expensive, and we all work very hard to support it, it seems so wrong to just give it away. When you shoot, you're putting wear on your gear. Why let that happen for free? Why put yourself and equipment at risk of injury or damage? We provide a service - a service in exchange for money. You can bet your bank will never give you a free pass on your loan just because you can offer it some experience.

Best,
Afton
  • 0

#3 David Baldwin

David Baldwin

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 149 posts
  • Los Angeles

Posted 11 May 2006 - 07:41 PM

Afton,
With less than a year of operating under my belt, I forgot to mention that I work exclusively with non-thesis level student films. I would never go around charging cut-rate prices for jobs that the real pros should be doing. Seriously!
Dave "Digging the way Erwin gives himself cool nicknames all the time" Baldwin
  • 0

#4 Erwin Landau

Erwin Landau

    Advanced Member

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPip
  • 1699 posts
  • TBD

Posted 11 May 2006 - 08:11 PM

David,


I know the pain of trying to gather experience and reel material (After 56 features, I still don't have enough to make a reel).


But I'm a firm believer that you should get compensated for your work. Somehow... In some way.

(Low Budget Production looking for experienced Steadicam operator with gear, energetic production team with name Actors, great network possibilities, will provide meal and footage for your reel.) Sounds familiar? That's not enough. That should be mandatory!

If you have no experience you will have to make some sacrifices. Of course you will not be able to charge a good day rate, But...

Why should you come and work without any compensation? (And teach the Producer that steadicam is not a cheap replacement for a Dolly or to be had for cheap or free.)

You bring equipment to the set that is not cheap to own or to rent. You bring experience with the instrument with you, maybe not much, but more then they have with it.

- Make a deal with the Producer. He could buy you a piece of equipment. Call it rental and work for free.
- He will compensate you with all the cable you will need to make the day work.
- They are asking for a car mount shot, you don't own one. Let Production buy it instead of renting it and you keep it at the end of the show.
- Gas for car/van for a week. Or something like that. (be creative, every show is different).

Low and Micro Budget will go quicker for equipment then for cash. They can hide that in the budget.

But when ever possible ask for monetary compensation. Take cash if it's only a couple of hundred bucks.

Don't (I will not say never here) work for the same Producer for the same amount of money. Next time he calls, ask for more, if he really liked you, he will. If he want pay more, he is just calling you because you are cheap... and he will call you years from now with the same amount.

Sometimes you will work for just meeting people, but that should be some serious contacts. You will network no matter if they pay you or not. So get paid! (One of the 3 times I worked for free in my Steadicam carrier was to work for Michael Ballhaus).

Set a limit of how long you will be available. For that amount of money I can only stay that long... etc.

Be in charge, don't let the Producer dictate your faith. And always be willing to walk away, your negotiation will go smoother when they think that you are not desperate (don't be like you couldn't give a sh**, but let him know that he is not your first call in 3 months, even if he is). Yes there are many guys available, but not that many... Trust me they will call back. Sooner or Later... (If you are good enough.)


Just my pearls of wisdom...


Fly safe,


Erwin"I should have charged Al Pacino full rate"Landau
  • 0

#5 Lars Erik

Lars Erik

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 543 posts
  • Norway

Posted 12 May 2006 - 01:08 AM

Hey David, I'm quite new to this also. I own a Archer and have been operating since December.

That said, I'm really surprised of the amount of gigs I've been getting. It's surreal in some ways.

I've been working on some projects for less than the usual rate. The most experience op here charge about $1200-1400 a day. I charge a few hundred dollars less. Because if I charge the same amount as a guy who's been working for 20 years, why should they pick me? I need experience and people need to see that I also can do Steadicam. And do it well.

But I've never worked for free. People have called me and said the usual things Erwin stated, it always ends up with my saying that I just can't work for free. It's bad business. And it's important to let the producers know that they can't expect us to show up for nothing. Imagine your rig was a grocery store, man you'd be out of business within a few months if you gave people free stuff!

That said I must admit I have worked for almost nothing once! It was a 4-hour shoot on a music video for a producer friend of mine, and the DP was a pretty big one. In Norway there's no such thing as a budget in music video, everybody's working on discount. Even the rental companies. In a country with 4.5 million people, there's just not a lot of money everywhere in the business. But that doesn't justify my choice. But I made a deal with the company, that they'd promise to use just me for the next year (on paid projects that is :) But something good did come out of it though. A producer had seen the video and talked to the DP, and he called me, and wanted me to do a feature on Steadicam this weekend. Paid job. But that's the weekend of the Masters Re-union in Gothenburg with Jerry and Garret. So I turned it down. I guess there'll be enough features in the coming years, but not that many Steadicam Re-unions. But I promised myself that I'll never work for almost nothing again.

I'd probably listen to Erwin and Afton. These boys are very smart and experienced. We need to listen to these people, specially in our community. Say you need something out of it. Rental fee, equipment, stuff like that.

Good luck


LE
  • 0

#6 David Baldwin

David Baldwin

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 149 posts
  • Los Angeles

Posted 12 May 2006 - 01:23 AM

I'm with you, Lars. I will definitely listen to what Erwin and Afton have to say on this matter. I needn't whore myself just for the chance to work with equipment I have yet to work with. That's really not doing anybody any good. If they've got money for FF, they've got money for the operator, right?! I'm eager to acquire the skillset necessary for this profession, but I'll be patient and do what's right by everybody in the end. Thanks for weighing in guys, and I appreciate the prompt and professional advice.
Dave
  • 0

#7 John Steele

John Steele

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 43 posts

Posted 12 May 2006 - 04:20 AM

I'm with you, Lars. I will definitely listen to what Erwin and Afton have to say on this matter. I needn't whore myself just for the chance to work with equipment I have yet to work with. That's really not doing anybody any good. If they've got money for FF, they've got money for the operator, right?! I'm eager to acquire the skillset necessary for this profession, but I'll be patient and do what's right by everybody in the end. Thanks for weighing in guys, and I appreciate the prompt and professional advice.
Dave


David, what S16 camera will you be using? Only reason I ask is that I was flying an Arri SR2 this past weekend on the V25 and with camera, focus receiver, focus motor I'm pretty sure it was over 15lb. Just concerned it might end up over the weight limit of the flyer. Just something to be aware of.

Sent you a PM by the way :D

John.
  • 0

#8 David Baldwin

David Baldwin

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 149 posts
  • Los Angeles

Posted 12 May 2006 - 05:16 AM

Hey John,
Aaton a-minima. Replete with genio, rods, mattebox and some weird canadian channel 59 UHF transmitter. Well under the 15 Lbs. limit. I messed around with an SR2 once, and the flyer arm held up. We had some short ends in the mag and a smallish prime and it was just for a minute or so.
Dave"I think it can hold more" Baldwin
Los Feliz
  • 0

#9 John Steele

John Steele

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 43 posts

Posted 12 May 2006 - 07:36 AM

Hey John,
Aaton a-minima. Replete with genio, rods, mattebox and some weird canadian channel 59 UHF transmitter. Well under the 15 Lbs. limit. I messed around with an SR2 once, and the flyer arm held up. We had some short ends in the mag and a smallish prime and it was just for a minute or so.
Dave"I think it can hold more" Baldwin
Los Feliz


lol, I need to pay more attention, I read your first post as "a minimum 1 day shoot" need to stop skimming over posts, DOH!

John.
  • 0

#10 thomas-english

thomas-english

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 1165 posts
  • UK

Posted 15 May 2006 - 03:06 PM

I have done many student gigs for free and gotten an awful lot out of them, I have done more which were a solid solid waste of time!

The big issue that I found for me was not the money itself (although clearly that helps) but if you are not charging them an amount that hurts a little your cheap enough so your time is not important to production. Many times it was insisted on that I turn up at 7am and I did not do anything till 5pm..... solid solid solid waste of time.

The best idea I heard was in an earlier post where I think Erwin mentioned charging by the hour... maybe $40/hour or so. This way you get your shots for your reel and go home early.

I used to and still occasionally do charge students 200 pounds a day, but they only get a second pencil. They also have to be at a recognised film school. I stopped doing it because I started to keep cancelling them due to real work and it hurt my heart hurting the students and not being able to find anyone to cover me. But it is important not to turn down real work.......
  • 0

#11 Jason Torbitt

Jason Torbitt

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 401 posts
  • Manchester, London UK

Posted 16 May 2006 - 01:40 AM

With you all the way, Thomas - I find £200 per day student jobs can be useful for the reel and some quick cash - that arts Uni in Surrey is a good University to get plenty of that sort of work from. I've made plenty of trips down there...Normally on S16 too which makes things more interesting.

Most are organised, some are utterly useless. I recall being up on set at 5am once and not working until 1pm. Another time I was booked for a weekend, but I didn't do a single shot until the Saturday night. Sometimes they sound so organised on the phone too...its when you turn up and you get 'that feeling'...you know how it goes. Carnage all around while you enjoy the obligatory polystyrene cup of tea in the makeup department.

Still, good learning experiences on a personal level and sometimes a technical level. And not forgetting the pay, always useful.
  • 0

#12 Matt Burton

Matt Burton

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 484 posts
  • UK

Posted 17 May 2006 - 07:17 PM

- Make a deal with the Producer. He could buy you a piece of equipment. Call it rental and work for free.


The last job I did that exact thing happened !
I know the producer quite well and we were discusing the budget.
I mentioned I had seen a really good deal on a RX/TX unit and it would almost be cheaper to buy it than rent for 4 days.
He liked the idea and we went ahead and bought it for me. The bonus for him is that he knows next time he uses me i'll have my own TX/RX and my rate won't be much higher.

Also I might mention that i've done pass me down jobs for quite a few of you guys and if i'm not busy their always a blast. I find that if the production isn't well organised it can give me more chance offer up shots and ideas. Experimenting on big budget productions just isn't an option but the little student films are made for it.

Matt 'workin for the buzz' Burton .... :lol:
  • 0

#13 Stephen Press

Stephen Press

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 151 posts
  • Wellington New Zealand

Posted 18 May 2006 - 10:19 PM

My do it for ?free? rate is now $200 to cover insurance, petrol and the endless mobile phone calls that seem to come with low budget shoots. If they can?t get $200 then they are not that serious and the job is not worth doing.
  • 0

#14 Matt Petrosky

Matt Petrosky

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 190 posts
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 19 May 2006 - 07:20 AM

My do it for ?free? rate is now $200 to cover insurance, petrol and the endless mobile phone calls that seem to come with low budget shoots. If they can?t get $200 then they are not that serious and the job is not worth doing.


I couldn't agree more, and a friend that you are helping out / anyone who appreciates the time and money invested, should understand this.

-Matt
  • 0




Varizoom Follow Focus

Betz Tools for Stabilizers

Engineered Cinema Solutions

Teradek

rebotnix Technologies

PLC Electronics Solutions

Boland Communications

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

PLC - Bartech

IDX

BOXX

Wireless Video Systems

GPI Pro Systems

Omnishot Systems

Paralinx LLC

SkyDreams

Ritter Battery