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Lowballing currently going on...

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#1 Charles Papert

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 02:52 PM

There appears to be an epidemic of rate-slashing going on at the moment. It would seem likely that producers are taking advantage of the slowdown thanks to the SAG negotiations and betting that there are hungry operators out there willing to work for whatever (i.e. scale), because I'm starting to hear more and more about major, not incremental, rate slashing going on.

I myself was offered an episodic job that was pay-as-used for the rig, with no guarantee. Steadicam doesn't work for a week, no rental for that week. I turned that one down, thank you.

I have been hearing about dayplaying second or double-up units for episodic that are offering scale for Steadicam, and also reasonable size features trying to do the same.

Obviously times are tough, a lot of jobs are on hold and it costs a lot to fill up the tank. But it doesn't do any of us any good to accept Steadicam jobs at scale, not now and not in the future.

Probably this will fall on deaf ears as those who are inclined to take these jobs will do so no matter what. But let's just keep our ears out for this, and when producers try to play us against each other ("I've got plenty of guys who would be happy to take this rate"), don't automatically believe what they are telling you.

Communication is key...
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#2 Aaron Medick SOC

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 03:20 PM

This has been happening in NY since before the WGA and SAG slowdowns. I've been turning down such offers for close to 2 years. They tell us in NY that they can get a guy to come in from LA for scale. So I let them. I don't believe that anyone has been flown in from LA. I have heard of a few guys from the midwest and local guy's taking the rates. I'm a little fish, so we can all let those rates go. It hurts my resume every time I turn them down, but so be it. I can make more $$ operating with out my steadicam. ridiculous...
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#3 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 07:18 PM

Agree...... I'll occasionally cheap out on a music video if there is nothing else going on but their budget is (perticularly latley) pretty low so my rate is perportional. Perticularly if it's a cash job. I usually justify it with what stupid fun thing I can blow the cash on. "A crappy rate but a new gfx card for my computer" or something like that...........

I still maintain that a good agent is the solution to most of these problems. The protect the operator as an individiual and all operators as a whole. Everybody should use an agent.
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#4 Louis Puli SOC

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 07:25 PM

Hi everyone
The same thing is happening over here as well (Australia).You have guys how don't own rigs with little or NO experience(no workshop Nothing ) what so ever being hired on drama shoots as B camera/ Steadicam ops ?? figure that out ???
As fare as producers go here If the price is right nothing else matters .May I also say when you see the show the operating makes me very seasick.
Louis on dry land Puli .
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#5 geoff shotz

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 07:56 PM

i don't necessarily agree with mike's assessment of needing an agent or them always helping, but i do think we all absolutely need to hold our ground on both rates and rentals. learning to negotiate has become almost as big a skill as flying the rig. the only way to learn that is to do it! don't be afraid to call a producers bluff once in a while. i remember how hard it was to turn anything down when i was starting out! it hurt both the pocketbook and the ego, but it has really paid off in the long run. once i personally set my value and stuck to those numbers, my career actually got better. it's hard to believe in the beginning, but producers and upm's actually respect you for holding your ground if you are cool and personable about doing it. also, stay in touch with one another and keep a mental note of the rates your friends are getting on which show and, particularly, which networks! that is always the ace in the sleeve- knowing what other guys and gals are getting on shows for the same network! the producers will say, "this is what --- pays!" now, if you know so and so is doing another show for that network, don't be afraid to mention that you think the going rate is higher and to be sure, you'll check with the operator on that show. if precedent has been set, they'll at least equal that. i actually used that tactic just yesterday and it ended the negotiation instantly. they just agreed because they knew i knew what precedent was. i still get burned here and there, mostly by things i neglect to work out in advance, but i am managing to keep the tv rates and rentals on the high side. this is accomplished not only with a resume and a reel they like, but with negotiating that they respect and answer too. i was once the new guy and i understand the desire to be working, but i never lowballed or undercut anyone (knowingly!) because i understood how quickly that was gonna come around and burn me. lastly, i will offer this to anyone in need, please don't hesitate to call me for advice. i'll gladly try to help you see all the points that may or may not be obvious to you. hell, maybe you can point out a few to me too! good luck to all of us!

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#6 David Allen Grove

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 09:50 PM

I worked on a promo a few weeks ago and my agent told me, before negotiations were over, that the producer slipped up and admitted they had more money that they could pay me but they were trying to "cut here" and "add there."

My agent stood firm and I got my rate.

So if a producer tells you it's not in the budget, it most likely is, they just have to shift the funds toward you.
This is probably the case more times than not.
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#7 MarkKaravite


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Posted 28 August 2008 - 11:46 PM

I couldn't agree with Charles more. I have had a couple scale offers (for Steadicam) in the past year. One was from a $10 million feature with an ASC DP I had done another movie with. Now $10 million isn't big, but it certainly can pay a decent combo rate or bump plus $2500 - $3000 a week for gear. I hated turning down the DP, but held firm and lost the job. Interestingly, the DP told production that he would not use any Steadicam on the job if they didn't have enough $$ for a reliable operator. Why try & fail on Steadicam & end up on a dolly? Let's just start out on a dolly.

Those who may be hungry for work should consider how tough it will be to get a proper paying gig from a producer who knows you will operate Steadicam for scale, or no rental guaranties. Repeat business is how one grows a career, so why set such a bad precedence with a potential client? We put our pocketbooks and our bodies on the line, & should get compensated properly.

My $.02

Mark Karavite
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#8 Niall Chadwick

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 04:25 AM

As someone who is just starting out, this whole thread makes for alarming reading :(
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#9 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 09:44 AM

i don't necessarily agree with mike's assessment of needing an agent or them always helping, but i do think we all absolutely need to hold our ground on both rates and rentals. learning to negotiate has become almost as big a skill as flying the rig. the only way to learn that is to do it! don't be afraid to call a producers bluff once in a while.

I guess for me at least, that's the problem. I like my job, I like to work and I'd (don't tell any one) generally prefer to work at almost any rate than to sit at home. I also feel guilty saying 'no', particularly to producers I've worked with before. Basically, I'm a big pussy. Fortunately, I have Russ who basically tells me, "were not doing this job for less than $xxxx.xx".

In terms of practicing the art of negoation, that man does it all day every day.

For me at least, I'd be far less successful without Russ.
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#10 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 12:13 PM

I got a sadly comedic call a while back for a steadicam gig on a no budget feature. The director and DP were friends of mine and I knew that they essentially had no real budget, no one was being paid, that they were shooting on the HVX, all the locations were free and every expense was out of their own pocket. If the DP or Director had called me and asked me to do it for some small symbolic amount I would have had no problem doing it, but instead their negotiationally challenged producer calls me up and tries to get me to undercut another guy who has offered to do it for free but needs them to rent a rig.

Once I figured out what was going on I couldn't help but laugh. He started off trying to get me to give him a number I would do it for, then when I did he proceeded to "threaten" me with things like "well if thats the case we will just have Patrick do it." He didn't seem to believe me when I told him that was fine by me. I finally got him to tell me that the rig they were going to rent was $150/day and since it was for friends who had no money I agreed to do it for that because I wanted to help them out. He was not at all happy with me not undercutting the other guy and proceeded to tell me that they thought they could get the rig for half price and proceeded to try to get me to say I would do it for less than $75/day. It obviously wasn't about the money and I had no problems doing a favor for the DP or the Director, but there was no way I was going to undercut a guy wanting to do it for free, especially for this producer. Needless to say I wasn't too sad when he didn't call me back like he had promised he would.

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