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RISK & Copyright

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Poll: Who should assume the risk and responsibility (7 member(s) have cast votes)

Your take on the outcome?

  1. Operator should pay 100% (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  2. Operator should pay deductable (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  3. Operator should file against his own insurance (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  4. Give me all my money!!! (7 votes [100.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 100.00%

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#1 Alfeo Dixon SOC

Alfeo Dixon SOC

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 02:44 PM

It's a bit of a long read, but I just wanted to poll the rest of you guys.

This is an incident that happened about two months ago. I was working on an industrial job. Come to find out it was many tiers of clients, but I?ll get to that soon.

I?m hired by Company-A (fake names here) to shoot steadicam for two days. So I?m gonna be all alone with a sound guy hard wired to me shooting the F900 off the rig. The first thing that comes to mind is that I would get a tool that the live TV guys use to focus and zoom with.

So I set out to find one since I don?t own one... bingo, I get one from another local op at a high rate (IMHOP) based on the 100 day pay off method. Anyway, I get the unit and was going to pay out of my own pocket for the rental. I go to prep my rig at a local house (Rental House-D) even though I?m not getting paid to do so.

During prep, I had to have the remote zoom/focus units cable connector rewired, so I got the specs from the manufactures and the tech changed the ends out. We tested and everything worked except the focus part. Learned after the fact there was a huge button that was labeled ?Power? on the end of the unit that turned on the focus, but the button was missing and it just looked like some strange power connector.

Day of the shoot, first shot was up and a rush to get it... we did! Now I have time to add the focus/zoom into the configuration. As I start mounting and plugging I... what?s that... OH SHIT!!!! The F900 is smoking from the top near the tape transport...

Sooooo, now that you got the backstory. I?m gonna shorten it all up. Finish shooting with replacement camera and the Director/Producer (Company-B which hired Company-A) loved my work and he?s also a shooter, he?s the DP. End of the second day the other producer tells me this also and ?we?ll be back in about two weeks and will call you to shoot.? NICE!!!

So, I really want to find out what exactly happened to the camera as to prevent this from happening again. But without my rig, the unit and that camera... it?s all speculation. Best answer was a cross in polarity.

I talked to the house (Rental House-A) that supplied the camera which was sublet from another house (Rental House-B) that sub?d it from a third house out of town (Rental House-C). While the other intown house (Rental House-D) had two sitting on the shelf, one of which became our replacement camera.

Two weeks past and I haven?t gotten my check and just happened to be on a series with the sound guy from this story. He got his check about a day ago... hmmm. I call up Company-A producer and ask him what?s up. He tells me that he is still waiting to find out what the damages are going to be. ?So you want me to pay for it?? I asked all surprised. He responds with a ?well I don?t think I should have to.? I state that?s what you have insurance for, things happen beyond our control and it?s not that we intended for it, they just happen. He replies that he doesn?t want to do that because his premium will go up. Now in my 10 years of camera, I?ve bounced a lens once (didn?t brake nor dent...), flashed one mag as an AC, flashed another as a DP, dropped a steadicam monitor (my negligence so I paid for the repair) and now fried a F900.

I get the following email:

This has troubled me for some time Alfeo. I have consulted with many people in the business that I know and trust.
Most of them know you. They all advise me to pay the camera repairs out of what I owe you and then send you the rest.
Nothing personal, this is simply business.

The repair bill finally came in yesterday, that is why I have waited to call you. Also I have a bad cold and have felt
like crap.

The total cost is $3,400. $1,800 for the repairs. I and Rental House-A called in some favors to get that much lower rate. Savings on
labor, promises to rent from Rental House-C, etc. The Rental House-D rental is $1,600. 
If I file an insurance claim, my rates will go up. My monthly premium goes up every month. Through no fault of my
own. Yes I have insurance, but is it right and just that I pay for the repairs, the replacement camera AND higher insurance
premiums for years to come? My deductible is $1,500. I shouldn't have to withhold money from my family for this.

Also you should know that if I file an insurance claim, they tell me that they will go after you and Rental House-D to collect. I have
dealt with insurance companies before. They wont let this go. It will be an on-going headache for you and for Rental House-D, which
certainly won't help your relationship with Rental House-D.

I was hoping that you could prevail upon Rental House-D to waive the rental because it is obvious that the cable was at fault. You
trusted them to make a cable that doesn't cause problems. I'm not blaming you. But I am saddened that they won't stand 
behind they work, and their mistakes. Because of this I won't rent from them or recommend to my clients that they rent 
from them again. Over the last fifteen years, though I don't have a Rental House-D account, I have indirectly rented many tens of 
thousands of dollars of equipment from them.

So, if you could lean on them, that means you get $1,600 in your pocket more than I would be able to pay you otherwise.
I would only withhold from you the $1,800 in repairs.

Alfeo, you are a nice guy. You do good work on Steadicam. I want to use you again. But frankly, if you insist on getting
paid in full and if I do pay you in full, I won't hire you again and I won't be able to recommend you to others. I am not a vindictive person.
People who know me well know that I turn the other cheek, sometimes far too often. But that is what I will have to do. And what bothers
me most is that until today you have not apologized to me about this event. You have continued to cast blame elsewhere,
including Rental House-A, whom I trust implicitly. That is a character issue that bothers me.

I would like you to consider this ... given the same circumstances, what would you do if you were me? Be honest now
with yourself. I and others don't see how any reasonable person can expect to be paid in full with these repairs looming.

Think this through, talk to Rental House-D and then give me a call and let me know what you have decided. We can settle this and continue
working together with no regrets.

DP & Exec. Producer

I tell him and clearly state that this is no way to run a business by letting people you hire take the risk of you doing business. He tells me that he will pay me, but never use me again... ?FINE!? just give me my money.

Well, those were empty words that crap about me not showing any remorse. Not to mention I called Rental House-A as soon as I read that part about blaming them. I?ve know them for over 10 years and was only trying to figure out what the cause could have been.

Another email titled: Good News

Dear Alfeo,

I will be able to reduce your pay for the  shoot to pay for the camera repairs and
extra camera rental by only $1500 instead of the $3,400 I had talked about earlier.

I have spoken to my insurance agent today and they will file a claim. Apparently there would
be no increase in my premium, so that enables me to do this.

As soon as I get the call from the insurance company and make the formal claim, I will
be able to send you a check minus the $1,500 deductible that I must pay for this claim
pending official confirmation and acceptance of this claim.

The insurance company may or may not call you to discuss all of this. 

DP & Exec. Producer

Hell, I?m only making $3,600 on the whole thing...

So, I had to now take more of a legal approach and send out a final demand and a warning about usage. Copyrights stay with the author until the agreement is fulfilled. Company-B, C and D also got a registered mailing with a notice of copyrighted materials may be in use and they must not use in any form or manor until Company-A fulfills their agreement. :)

Guess how was calling me the very next day... with my check.

What say ye, was I wrong and should I assume the RISK of his company to do business?
  • 0

#2 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 04:55 PM

You were working as his employee therefore he is responsible for your actions. If you were working as an independent contractor and had rented the camera yourself then he might have some legal ground for pulling that shit but it still wouldn't be right. Assuming you never signed an agreement saying you were solely responsible for the camera then he has no legal right to demand the things he was demanding.

I am not a lawyer and I hope I never play one on TV. As such I probably have no clue what im talking about.

  • 0

#3 JobScholtze


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Posted 11 December 2008 - 07:03 PM

I would make sure to never work for this guy again.
Next shoot is that he aske you to make a fast move, you drop your rig, and he blames you. Nah, its not worth it, f&*^ em
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#4 Matt Petrosky

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 01:15 AM

I would make sure to never work for this guy again.
Next shoot is that he aske you to make a fast move, you drop your rig, and he blames you. Nah, its not worth it, f&*^ em

I concur. Glad you got your money.
  • 0

#5 Jerry Holway

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 11:35 AM


I think you did extremely well, step by step as you outlined.

It's always amazed me when people who call themselves producers either don't pay, pay late, pay less, or even pay themselves first, etc.

Producers take the risks, true, but that should be built into their profit structure... if the shoot goes poorly, they make less, if it goes well, they vacation on some island or buy the McMansion. Good producers assume the risks, know their business, build risk into their profit structure, pay the crew first and quickly, understand that their money for a job is what's left after expenses, including the unexpected ones, are paid.

As for the so called producer in your post, he should know you are not taking money from "his family." He was taking it from yours. Unless you had intentionally miswired the cable, or thrown the camera on the ground in a fit or the like, you aren't responsible.

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#6 Alfeo Dixon SOC

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 12:59 PM

Unless you had intentionally miswired the cable, or thrown the camera on the ground in a fit or the like, you aren't responsible.

@$#*!... You heard about that one?!?! LOL

Thanks Jerry, in all due fairness, he likes to take care of the crew first and pay within two weeks. Everyone else did get paid within those two weeks. Like you said, unless gross negligence was the caused, he should go to the line item L&D of his budget which should at least have the amount for his deductible.

What really gets me is he's also an EPK guy and is thinking of getting into the union, which he will as soon as the camera crew starts asking for cards since it's now a covered position.
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