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So, is this rude??


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#1 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 06:32 PM

So, last Wednesday, I get a call from a company (For the moment, I don't think I should reveal the name) who wants me to do a steadicam shoot today, Sunday. They want me to work for a lesser amount, we agree on $500 for the shoot. We email back and forth, discuss some things, I recommend various equipment and who/what/how they should hire. On Thursday, we agree to do a prep day on Friday at the rental house with the camera, a Viper. But by Friday, the prep day, they suddenly are not answering calls. I wait all day, because I had set the day aside for this... I had all my gear packed in the trunk. Finally, on Saturday, I leave messages telling them that I won't show up for the shoot on Sunday unless someone gives me a call back. Of course, I don't hear anything. I assume they had found someone else to do the shoot or it was cancelled, but isn't it pretty goddamn rude not to tell the camera guy? Or am I wrong with that? Does that happen very much?
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#2 Sean Jensen

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 07:28 PM

Sydney,

This is how it is done in Toronto all the time on commercials. The production company calls five or six Steadicam ops and "pencils them in"... all of them. Then, the day before the shoot, they only call the one guy they want, leaving the other four or five guys wondering what is going on. I finally told one of the big commercial production companies they either book me or they don't. Cancellation fees apply. Otherwise STOP CALLING ME! I've never heard from them since. That was eight years ago. Needless to say, I don't do commercials anymore, and that's just fine with me.

I would advise coming up with a cancellation policy. Tell them up front if they cancel your booking, it will cost them, so they better be sure.

Maybe this won't work in your market, or if you're new and need all the work you can get. All I can say is that I got boned big time. I agreed to do a job and was later offered a longer gig but had to turn it down because of my other commitment, only to have the first job never call me back. This was several thousand dollars of lost work due to my good ethics and the bad business ethics of the commercial production company.

So, yes, it was rude of them not to call you back.

Cheers!

Sean
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#3 Ramon Engle

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 07:50 PM

So, last Wednesday, I get a call from a company (For the moment, I don't think I should reveal the name) who wants me to do a steadicam shoot today, Sunday. They want me to work for a lesser amount, we agree on $500 for the shoot. We email back and forth, discuss some things, I recommend various equipment and who/what/how they should hire. On Thursday, we agree to do a prep day on Friday at the rental house with the camera, a Viper. But by Friday, the prep day, they suddenly are not answering calls. I wait all day, because I had set the day aside for this... I had all my gear packed in the trunk. Finally, on Saturday, I leave messages telling them that I won't show up for the shoot on Sunday unless someone gives me a call back. Of course, I don't hear anything. I assume they had found someone else to do the shoot or it was cancelled, but isn't it pretty goddamn rude not to tell the camera guy? Or am I wrong with that? Does that happen very much?


Sydney, Welcome to the world of freelancing. It's an unprofessional practice: not to release operators but that's the way it happens. When an unknown company inquires about my availability I now ask them to contact me as soon as they make a decision whether it's me or another operator. This helps but occasionally I don't hear from production. What can you do?

Ramon Engle
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#4 geoff shotz

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 08:59 PM

sydney- just this week i had a big l.a. company screw me. the d.p. told me i'd be on the commercial. big d.p., big commercial, so i think no problem. we are shooting wednesday through friday. come monday afternoon no call yet from production. all my a.c.'s and grips and electrics have been called, but not me. so my a.c.'s call production and leave them a message to call and settle my deal or i won't be available. first rule of negotiation, never make the first call. i miss the call when production finally calls in the late evening on monday. their message is asking wether i want to travel on tuesday night or wednesday morning and regarding hotels. i think great, i have a job. i call them back and say i'm not sure about travel because the upm hasn't booked me or cut a deal with me yet. he immediately gets on the phone and asks my rate and tells me that the russian arm has a tech/operator with it and they don't know wether they will be able to afford both he and i, yadda, yadda, yadda. i remind him that they are going to have 6, yes 6 cameras, a helicopter, a russian arm, and stunts and only the d.p. to operate and then i reiterate my rate and tell him to let me know. i think, bye-bye job and resign myself to a little much needed rest. no return call either way, pretty typical, no problem or suprise. then, thursday afternoon at 4:45p.m. i get a call from the upm telling me that they are removing me from 'hold' for friday. i am a little off guard and stunned and thank him for the courtesy of calling. a beat later i regain my senses and tell him he never put me on hold or made a deal with me, so taking me off hold is sort of silly. anyways, hold isn't really valid until 5pm the day before an out of town job. then i thank him again for calling and hang up on him. even my wife, who isn't in the business, was laughing at the ridiculousness of these people. once again, it's pretty typical. good luck.

geoff
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#5 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 02:25 AM

So Sean, you're saying they're pitting operators against one another, possibly to get them to lowball rates or something? That's pretty f^cked up...
What I gather from all three of you is that this is pretty typical? Man, that freakin' blows... I'm not new at all to camera operating, I've shot on every type of camera I think I've ever heard of and have freelanced with brief stints as a salaried employee camera/editor dude, but in the ENG/EFP world, I've never had that happen. Of course, I am usually dealing with some salaried guy/girl at NBC, Discovery, what have you, and they would have less of a chance to get away with it, as those environments are much more rigid and structured... People stay at the same place for 30 years. It may also be that within the steadicam world, I'm much further down the totem pole, so I get a lot of calls from people I've never heard of... I don't really need the steadicam work, I'm working my way toward doing it full time, but I do a lot of fashion still photography and video off of a tripod that keeps the rent paid. So in the meantime, I'll try next time and do as you suggest Ramon, and ask them to contact me as soon as they make a decision whether it's me or another operator.

Thanks for the responses...
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#6 Lars Erik

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 04:47 AM

gents,

have had the same thing happen to me in u.k., here in norway and denmark. So this is a worldwide problem I'm afraid.

Best thing to do is what Sean mentions. I usually have a 48 hour cancellation time-limit. If you cancel 2 days prior to shooting there's a 50% fee. 24 hours or less is 75%.

LE
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#7 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 12:18 AM

I usually have a 48 hour cancellation time-limit. If you cancel 2 days prior to shooting there's a 50% fee. 24 hours or less is 75%.

LE

That sounds great, but I would guess you've never gotten anyone to pay it. Or have you?
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#8 Lars Erik

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 01:52 AM

I usually have a 48 hour cancellation time-limit. If you cancel 2 days prior to shooting there's a 50% fee. 24 hours or less is 75%.

LE

That sounds great, but I would guess you've never gotten anyone to pay it. Or have you?



Hey Brad,

no, but at least it scares the unserious "customers" away. So I don't have to deal with them. :D

LE
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