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#1 Dan Coplan

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Posted 28 November 2006 - 08:36 PM

We all know rates have been and are being slashed and everybody (myself included) bitches about how producers are being cheap, operators are working for low pay and driving the rates down, etc.

I've recently heard about this quite a bit from a number of veteran operators - guys who are making less today than they made 5 years ago!

It's one thing to bitch about it and another to try and do something about it.

I'm willing to organize a get-together in LA if there's enough interest out there to come together and discuss the issues and try to figure something out.

Sorry to those of you outside of LA but you all should be included as well. Perhaps we can keep minutes and distribute via the forum.

Norma Rae
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#2 Erwin Landau

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Posted 28 November 2006 - 10:19 PM

Good Luck with that...

We tried a couple of months ago... that only works if all people are on the same side and that will not happen. People will scream price fixing etc.

Know what you are worth and price your self accordingly... there will always be a cheaper, better, more hungry, etc... guy out there.

But maybe you have the right angle...


Erwin
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#3 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 28 November 2006 - 10:25 PM

Sorry to those of you outside of LA but you all should be included as well. Perhaps we can keep minutes and distribute via the forum.

Norma Rae


Notes would be nice, but why not just audio record it or video tape it and make a little Podcast? If you do it at a location with broadband you could stream it?

Tell you what... if someone will either audio or video tape it, I'll do the compression work and post it on a non-public link on our server for everyone to share; or I'll turn it into a Podcast.

If we just knew someone with a video camera and mic............
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#4 Dan Coplan

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 03:27 PM

Many of us don't have agents (myself included) and the rates seem to be all over the board. One show pays $1000/$100 whereas another show pays $600/$60.

I got hired to day play on a show and they offered me a rate that I was very happy with. When I spoke to the "regular" about it, though, he said I was getting stiffed and that producers are driving down the rates because they can.

> Just go for the most... what have you got to lose.

The job! But it's hard to know how to ride that line between taking what's being offered and refusing, knowing full well that someone else will take that rate.

> You can always negotiate. (but not to low! :angry: )

What's too low? I'm sure there are a number of different answers to this question.

> There was a meeting about rates a few years ago too. Current Rates were discussed.

And? Was it beneficial?

I think a website of rates is a great idea to at least serve as a reference for everyone to relate. In the interest of keeping rates where they should be, I have no problem sharing what I'm making with everyone, though we could keep it anonymous as well. If legal and if there's enough interest, I'll create the website.

I still think we should get together in person to discuss and like I said, I'll organize with video recording as well, but there needs to be enough interest.

Norma

PS - Totally unrelated...what's the difference between "Reply" and "Fast Reply"?
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#5 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 04:20 PM

Maybe a website should be made that has a list of what shows are paying their ops?
Of course operators would have to report what they are ACTUALLY making.
I'm not sure if it's legal to do this with the union contracts and all. Anyone know?


Actually you might want to check out the contract with your agent, They tend to frown on their clients disclosing rates
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#6 Afton Grant

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 07:41 PM

If you want to post your rates, you can already do so on the SOA website. I don't see a need for an entire site just to list our rates. I think we all know the general range of rates for the different areas, productions, and experience/equipment.

I also think we all know when an offer is just too low. Unfortunately, it's not a fixed number. For me, it's more of a gut feeling. That feeling is usually based upon a number of different factors. What kind of shoot is it? What do they need from me, what kind of shots? How many days? Where is the shoot? Who's producing, directing, DPing, acting? Following the advice of Brant Fagan, those are questions I get answered before even discussing money. A lot of times, that gut feeling is bad not because of the offer alone, but because of many of the points discussed prior to the offer.

What YOU are worth is the difficult one. It's already been said, but you have to decide for yourself. Again, the general scale has been discussed before. What your equipment is worth is a bit easier. If it ever comes into question, I just look at my bank statements and I am reminded of the amount of money spent on this equipment. There is tremendous value in that equipment and tremendous value in the skill of operating it. Let's say the worst, and I mean absolute WORST owner/operator on the planet charges $1/day for operating. He should still get a fair market price for his equipment package.

Best,
Afton
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#7 Dan Coplan

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 12:36 PM

If you want to post your rates, you can already do so on the SOA website.


I don't mean personal rates, I mean the rates that different productions are paying. For example, I got called to work on a show and they offered x rate. I happened to speak with the usual operator who said I was getting screwed because he was getting xx rate. And that's how producers drive the rates down. The next guy after me might get less and that will set an even lower precedent.

Dan
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#8 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 08:04 PM

If you want to post your rates, you can already do so on the SOA website.


I don't mean personal rates, I mean the rates that different productions are paying. For example, I got called to work on a show and they offered x rate. I happened to speak with the usual operator who said I was getting screwed because he was getting xx rate. And that's how producers drive the rates down. The next guy after me might get less and that will set an even lower precedent.

Dan




Dan, as many have said, this has been discussed many times over the years.
A bunch of us got together about 3-4 years ago and tried too.

As for your above example, it's all relative. The "regular" operator said you were getting screwed, but that may not be the case for your level of experience. You are still pretty new at Steadicam, but that "regular" operator was probably a seasoned operator with a lot more experience than yourself on that TV show or feature you were offered.
The producers probably knew that, and therefore offered you what they thought/knew you were worth.

I've said this before and will say it again. For Steadicam operators to ALL set the same rates would be like actors ALL getting the same rate too.
They get paid based on not only how GOOD they are, but often their level of experience.

A producer can hire Chris Haarhoff or Larry McConkey on a shoot and KNOW they are going to get
top level work...but they know they are going to have to pay for it....just like booking Tom Cruise or
Julia Roberts.

But bringing in a newer, less experienced guy such as yourself, is a "gamble" for them since they don't
know you, and don't know whether you are going to do the job as well as they want. Therefore, they aren't going to pay or even offer to pay the same rate, even if they CAN afford to pay more.

True there are a slew, literally now a plethora of guys in LA to choose from that all do good to very good work, and that competition DOES drive DOWN the rates. But it still comes down to experience and ability as well as reputation.
With lots of experience, great ability and great reputation comes higher pay.
Everyone, even in this job HAS to pay their dues to get to that level.
And it's survival of the fittest...especially in the overcrowded LA market.

I'm personally in favor of a Tier pay level minimum. Several levels of minimum pay based on the budget of the show as well as the experience of the operator.
This way, guys like Chris Haarhoff aren't offered insulting rates from hopeful producers and newbies or less experienced operators won't expect to get paid the same rates as guys who deserve the higher pay.

Afton is correct though, what we NEED to do is have standardized equipment RENTAL rates based on
what gear you have and how many "extras" you have.
A base "stripped" steadicam package gets so much, a full decked out package gets higher.
Each extra (superpost, gyros, vehicle mounts, etc) all cost extra...just like the camera rental houses
do it.

Ok, enough rambling here...sorry.
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#9 bobgilles

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 11:34 AM

Ops are getting $1250/10hr for shows in my neck of the woods, rates have gone down. ILM pays less.
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#10 Erik Brul

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 01:59 PM

Afton is correct though, what we NEED to do is have standardized equipment RENTAL rates based on
what gear you have and how many "extras" you have.
A base "stripped" steadicam package gets so much, a full decked out package gets higher.
Each extra (superpost, gyros, vehicle mounts, etc) all cost extra...just like the camera rental houses
do it.

Ok, enough rambling here...sorry.


I really like above idea. A standard price for your equipment and some kind of personal price on experience..

Best,

Erik
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#11 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 02:25 PM

You know, the producers all talk about rates, so we should too. I think a simple webpage would be a great idea. When someone works on a show (especially a show that has frequent day players) they could post the rate and rental they got. Of course rates will fluctuate depending on who the operator is, but at least we will all have an idea of what to expect so that we know when we are getting lowballed. For example, if I know the standard rate on a particular show is $65/hr. with $1000 for rental, if they call me offering $50/hr. and $750 rental, I'll know I'm getting lowballed. It seems easier than trying to call around and find out what other people were getting on the show.
Heck, we don't even need a whole website, we could just start a thread here on the forum that people could post on periodically. Although, it would probably be nice if it was anonymous. I wonder if Tim could make an anonymous section for us for this purpose...
Just my $.02....
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#12 Dan Coplan

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 04:52 PM

I'm happy to build the site - I just need a place to host it.

How about the following info (as a made up example):

Desperate Housewives
--------------------------
Operator X - 5 yrs. experience
$70/10 - $1000 rental, no extras

Operator Y - 10 yrs. experience
$100/10 - $1500 rental includes rickshaw


Gray's Anatomy
------------------
Operator X - 10 yrs. experience
$90/8 - $1200 rental, no extras

Operator Y - 10 yrs. experience
$110/10 - $100 rental, no extras

etc.

Makes a lot of sense for union TV. Does this make sense for non-union TV? Union features?

By the way, Michael, I agree completely that I shouldn't be making the same for labor as a veteran - it's a subjective line to walk. But what if the vet is making $120/hr. and I'm offered $60/hr. because I don't know any better? Just playing devil's advocate.

Seems like a lot of people here have given up to things simply being the way they are. We might not be able to band together and take on the 3-headed Producer monster, but at least if we keep the information flowing and available among us we can negotiate rates intelligently.

Norma
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#13 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 06:41 PM

Makes a lot of sense for union TV. Does this make sense for non-union TV? Union features?

I think it's good for TV, but I don't know about features. I think TV would be a good start at least.
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#14 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 01:34 AM

Guys,

Listing rates on a public forum (especially here) is a VERY bad idea. If you are hell bent on this, do it on a private site that is password protected. Google brings you right to this forum and I'd hate to see this blow up in your face by a producer saying "but I just saw you did 'Brand X Generic Crapo Land TV Special' for much less than we are paying you; I want you to match this."
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#15 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 01:41 AM

Guys,

Listing rates on a public forum (especially here) is a VERY bad idea. If you are hell bent on this, do it on a private site that is password protected. Google brings you right to this forum and I'd hate to see this blow up in your face by a producer saying "but I just saw you did 'Brand X Generic Crapo Land TV Special' for much less than we are paying you; I want you to match this."



I totally agree. Messy things posting rates, it's a real and I mean REAL bad idea
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