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NBC- Las Vegas - NO Insurance Policy


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#1 Bill Brummond

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 01:00 AM

As many of you know, I had returned to NBC's show Las Vegas after almost 2 years of being injured in a crane accident. Well tonight I had to leave the show because they refused to provide a certificate of insurance to cover my equipment without me signing an agreement stating that I was responsible of the equipment and that the equipment was under my control and direction. Furthermore, that if the equipment was stolen, I would have to prove that it was stolen, and I would be responsible for and breakage to the gear.

After the Production Manager telling me yesterday that she had cleared it with NBC, and that I would not have to sign that agreement and that she had the certificate in her possession but could not give it to me. She told me during the last shot tonight that NBC would not agree to give me the certificate.

This is the same certificate that every other show (including this show before the accident) has given me in the almost 20 years I have been doing steadicam. Every show from student films to $100M features have provided the certificate immediately upon booking me, and without question.

We as steadicam owner/operators must demand a certificate before showing up on set. It is my fault that I let them lead me on for 5 weeks without getting the cert.

I have helped out many guys by teaching them how to do steadicam. Many of my lunch hours have been spent letting assistants use my rig and giving them instruction. It has always been my pleasure. We have always been a tight community that looks after each other.

I am asking that any of you that get the call to do steadicam from LAS VEGAS, consider very strongly what this show has put me through. I ask that you stand with me and refuse to bring in any steadicam if they ask you to sign any deal that says you could be/might be, responsible for your own gear while on the show.

For those of you that don't know what happened to me, I was injured on Las Vegas 2 years ago when the crane I was on hit something and threw me off, crushing a disk in my back. Their workers comp insurance DENIED nearly all the treatment and therapy that my Kerlan-Jobe doctor prescribed. I paid for it all out of my own pocket. And they stopped paying my workers comp payments last September for NO REASON.

NBC/Universal/GE does not care about us. So it is our responsibility to stick together to protect our interests. I am not asking for anything the camera rental houses don't ask for and get. NBC/Universal/GE is creating an unfair business practice by not providing the same agreement that they give other vendors.

WE MUST STICK TOGETHER ON THIS.

Thanks for your help.

Bill Brummond
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#2 Matt Petrosky

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 01:37 AM

NBC/Universal/GE does not care about us. So it is our responsibility to stick together to protect our interests. I am not asking for anything the camera rental houses don't ask for and get. NBC/Universal/GE is creating an unfair business practice by not providing the same agreement that they give other vendors.

WE MUST STICK TOGETHER ON THIS.


THIS IS SO TRUE. It's ridiculous that a massive corporation like NBC/Universal can't cover our equipment. From a favor-for-a-friend to a full-rate union gig, having an insurance cert. is the one absolute must for me. This is something, that for many reasons, I feel really strong about... I will certainly help spread the word. Paramount tried to pull this on me last year, thankfully it ended up getting resolved. http://www.steadicam...?showtopic=3271

It's also disheartening to hear that they are treating you this way, especially considering all the legal/insurance rigamarole you have been though with them.

Best,
Matt
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#3 Lawrence Karman

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 02:03 AM

That is outrageous! I support you 100% in your decision to leave and I hope they call me so I can tell them off.
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#4 RonBaldwin

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 04:39 AM

Bill,
I'm so glad you are back in the saddle and doing well...but sorry for the "f**k you very much" from your show/Universal. It let's us all know where we stand. We are nothing to them.

I was told once by a upm (on a Universal show....hmmm) that if I was to fall with the rig (while running for instance) I'd most likely be responsible for equipment damage. He said the studio assumes that I should know better than to put the equipment and/or me into a dangerous situation. He said this with a straight face.

Ron B
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#5 kip ross

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 07:22 AM

I can only assume that the show Mr. Brummond was hosed by is a union shoot. If this is true, where is the union in all its power and glory with regard to negotiating insurance related issues and eliminating the nebulous gray areas that are creating such an outcome.

Big biz and the insurance companies make their own rules; just ask, for instance, the millions of homeowners that got the middle finger from the insurance companies after Katrina.

We pay dearly for worker's comp. The trump is, once you use it, your screwed. Outrageous!

And, don't get me going on illegal Martians, let alone sandals on men!!!
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#6 Bill Brummond

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 12:15 PM

Also, I thought you all should know that NBC/Las Vegas, still has not paid me for my equipment rental for the 5 1/2 weeks that I was on the show. Is this the kind of company you want to work for? Can you imagine if they didn't pay Clairmont Camera for the camera rental.

Another steadicam operator has taken the job. Hopefully this person will reconsider what he has done to me and the rest of us and will excuse himself from this show.

I am only asking that NBC provide the same equipment rental agreement that they have with the camera rental houses and an insurance certificate. Just as they did before my accident.

Again thanks to all that have emailed their support. We are all in this together.

Bill Brummond
rigflyer@hotmail.com
310-780-7911
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#7 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 04:13 PM

Bill,

First off I'd like to commend you for your integrity and not allowing them to bully you into something that is clearly wrong.

Folks this is happening more and more. I did a show for TVM/Turner and they initially refused to provide a insurance cert. I suggested to them that they go take a long walk off a short pier and that they shouldn't expect to see me on monday at call. I called and thanked the DP for the call and told him I was sorry but I wouldn't be doing the show. Within 2 hours I had a cert in my hands.

Fast forward to 4 weeks ago doing the deal for "Dexter" and I was told that Showtime would not allow for a insurance cert. again I said thank you very much but I'll pass. They came up with a cert and an interesting tidbit. Producers are refusing to insure personal gear UNLESS you are a department head. Guess what, we are it's called "The Steadicam Department"

One other thing to consider. You know those safety passport classes we had to do? They are for this exact reason. By us taking those classes Production is no longer responsible for our safety on set. It's our responsibility. That way if you fall it's your fault and they don't have to cover it thanks to those classes.
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#8 Alfeo Dixon SOC

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 10:40 PM

They came up with a cert and an interesting tidbit. Producers are refusing to insure personal gear UNLESS you are a department head. Guess what, we are it's called "The Steadicam Department"

One other thing to consider. You know those safety passport classes we had to do? They are for this exact reason. By us taking those classes Production is no longer responsible for our safety on set. It's our responsibility. That way if you fall it's your fault and they don't have to cover it thanks to those classes.


This is a good point Eric about the safety classes. That move was purely to save millions in workers comp cases for the producers.

It seems to me that SOA needs to somehow get our jobs reclassified into a category such as stunt camera work. I can understand in my prior category of stills... if I drop my own camera, it was under my care and so on. Sure. But when we are directed by not us, but 3 department heads (all above the line) to do a shot. This really needs to be brought in front of Poster and presented to the International. I was not privy to the operators talks with Steven... was this issue brought up? Is it being looked into? If not, then lets work together and get it changed. Steven is (was just before elections...) being very aggressive on alot of issues.

What say ye all?

Edited by Alfeo Dixon, 07 June 2007 - 10:41 PM.

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#9 WillArnot

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 10:48 PM

Hi Bill,

I completely support you and salute your actions. You are doing the absolute right thing. I ditto what mr. Karmen wrote, and the other fellas. Following is an excerpt of an email I just wrote to someone after reading this thread.

Yah - this is it guys. This is those goddamn safety classes coming home to roost. Eric struck on a unique point here and one we should all remember. That we are our own "department". In the immortal words of Ted Churchill, no one really knows our job and the thought and preparation that goes into achieving hi-caliber results. Our job involves physical ability and creative, on-the-move instinct that no other person on set can touch really. Sometimes chasing that 110% to just get the right moment, in our often Un-rehearsed shots (ie. a lot left to chance) can really put us on the razor's edge of safety. We need to remind producers, DP's, Directors, that our job is unique, and can sometimes be dangerous due to the inertial forces at work on our bodies. Anyone who has gone down knows that there is no recovery whatsoever with the rig on, where without it on one could easily right oneself.

Here is the excerpt:

There really should be a clause in our subsequent deal memos that hold production accountable for dangerous situations pertaining to the Steadicam. ie. Steadicam around water, fire, snow, ice, etc. Possible? Basically, some way to separate us out from the mass "disclaimer" that those safety classes were.

We as a Steadicam op are put in the thick of it, no-one else who took those safety classes has to be that close to the action, (ie run through fire, next to water etc) with a 65lb lead weight attached. Not even regular camera ops who are handheld for instance - and this is where we should make a distinction to production. If someone is handheld it is really easy and quick to just toss the camera away and be able to leap to safety. But we are really encumbered and in a potentially perilous situation that no-one and no amount of safety classes can save us from, being that it is hard to get out from under the rig in a hurry.

The point to make w/ a UPM is that if there are any stunts or ANY kind of out of the ordinary shots... RUNNING w/ the rig on should be included in the description.... We want to have the specific backing of production. No weasling out of liability - they want us to do the shot but they don't want to pay for any damages incurred to body or gear. It's sickening, and by the sounds of some peoples' experience it is something we should be visiting up front w/ UPMs.

This general attitude is fukd. Basically we always want to do what is asked of us, all we ask for is some back up in return. If someone is behind me I'll go to the absolute limit of my abilities. If it is a bunch of low ballers giving up all kinds of excuses about liability and "our legal dept." bullshit - then I'd rather just sit on the dolly.
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#10 Ramon Engle

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 10:48 PM

Bill, do you know the other operator? Is he aware of your situation? Did the other operator receive a ins. cert.? My reason for asking is: Do you think production wanted you off the set in an attempt to quiet you since they've already treated you with such disregard?
Or am I just a conspiracy freak?
It would be just like a giant corporation to pull such a stunt.
Thanks for making the sacrifice and standing up for what is simply proper treatment.

Ramon Engle
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#11 WillArnot

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 10:56 PM

Yes exactly Ramon. I don't want to flame and blame, but in establishing that "The Steadicam Department" is wise and comprised of stand up individuals who command top dollar for doing a top job, I think this 'replacement' if not be made known to his brothers, then at least brought up to speed on the situation.

To me this affair is no different than low balling on rate. Things like insurance are even more important than a daily or weekly rate. Insurance is kind of like a "life" rate or a "mortgage". Either yourself or your gear.
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#12 Bill Brummond

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 02:21 AM

I am not asking for anything different than what all camera rental houses ask for in their rental agreement. Also note that NBC/Las Vegas had no problem giving me the cert before the accident. As well as every other production I have ever worked on, including other NBC shows. You want to rent the gear?. . .Then you have to insure it!

Again thanks for the support.

Bill
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#13 Bill Brummond

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 01:10 PM

Very disappointed that someone would take this job. Maybe the pain in my back is from the knife.

I may have had a back injury and been out of work (no paycheck) for 21 months but I still have a backbone.

With respect

Bill
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#14 Victor M Macias

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 12:35 AM

Very disappointed that someone would take this job. Maybe the pain in my back is from the knife.

I may have had a back injury and been out of work (no paycheck) for 21 months but I still have a backbone.

With respect

Bill


The thing that is getting me more frustrated is the fact that this operator has been doing it for a while and I would think he would know better. Not to mention that it's not like he really needed this show anyway it's my understanding that this operator had another show that was starting in a couple of weeks. What does this show us new guys?

Victor M. Macias
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#15 Dan Coplan

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 01:15 AM

Just received an email through the Steadicam Guild via Randy Nolen regarding an insurance cert that held a $25,000 deductible responsibility of the operator.

Can anyone out there educate on the proper way to interpret a cert so we don't get screwed.

Perhaps we should develop a manual of Steadicam by-laws or code of conduct...you know what I mean.

Dan
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