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Taking Care of Business
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Old September 7th, 2007, 04:20 AM   #1
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Fed up of people asking for crews for nothing

Having just read a post elsewhere, asking for a dop for 5 music videos, i felt i had to get something off my chest..


I am the only one becoming increasingly fed up of people wanting everything for nothing? I am starting to worry about our industry, is it nothing but bedroom wanna be's now? Expecting people to always offer to do everything for nothing is a bad thing in my opion, It makes the ilgitimate dop and other crews job increasingly hard to secure 'freelance wages'

You want a dop with his own kit to help you produce 5 mini and 2 other videos for nothing? and this is for something that is already well established? In the real world this would amoun to around 5-6 days works yes? thats around £1800 mark minimum and thats before kit hire.

Good luck, you will probably find some college leaver with a pd150 to help you, in the long run you get what you pay for. Sorry for the rant.

Andy.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 05:34 AM   #2
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It´s only natural to want everythign for nothing. But as you said, usually you get what you pay for.
I think you simply need to accept that there are several price segments, one of them being "free" - just find yours and stick to it.
I occasionally do non-paid stuff but only if its noncommercial indie projects. If anyone is getting paid, so am I.
I´ve found that having your own pricing guidelines makes life a lot easier, because now if someone comes up to me and offers €600 for a 2 camera wedding shoot I can flat-out say no, we are not what you are looking for. Saves time, nerves and money in the long run.
Let others do the free work, most people are very accepting of fixed price structures, and you don´t need to get every job you bid for. Next time they´ll remember you for being the more expensive pro guy, which means that in the long run better paying pro jobs will be coming your way.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 05:53 AM   #3
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Cost v Quality

There will ALWAYS be someone who can do a shoot cheaper - or for free!

I have given up competing on price - you simply can't win.

What I say to clients is 'how much is this piece of communication/video/film worth to you' - in terms of quality, your reputation, brand etc. That way my charges seem like a bargain.

I also find anyone who wants an item by item breakdown of gear/time etc will invariably come back and say...Bill down the road can provide a light/torch/candle for less.

The answer then is get Bill to shoot the video!

What I'm trying to sell is not just my gear and edit time (just commodities) - but my 'expertise' and experience...a quality 'service'.

Yes, I'm not the cheapest - but clients get a comprehensive and high quality service. Thank goodness I occasionally find one who's willing to pay for it - but in my part of the world (Bedford UK) they are few and far between.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 09:14 AM   #4
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Maybe the people asking are college students looking to establish themselves? Nobody's paying them either...

I know I would never have got started if I had to pay someone to hold a boom. The point is that by working for free, something gets made, which benefits everybody involved.

If you are not in need of this help, then ignore those type of adverts.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 09:55 AM   #5
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I have clients sometimes thinking I work for free. :D
I offer fixed pakketprizes for 10hours coverage, everything longer then 10 hours gets charged per hour. There are always people telling me: "But in those 10hours there are at least 2 hours when nothing is happening, why do I have to pay for that?"
I then tell them that the pakketprice also includes editing, if they would hire me on hourly base for the full day would be even more expensive because then I would charge my editing hours seperate as well.
Even then they continue trying to get a lower price.

As for working for free, I personally don't have anything against it if it is not commercial, if I know that nobody is making money out of it then I consider it a learning process. But people trying to make money out of getting personal for free making them believe it is a good working experience for them, no way they will get my help. It's a question sometimes asked by companies who want to cover a big events like festivals, they promote by saying you can use your working experience if you ever want a job as cameraman, but it's just a very cheap way getting extra help.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 09:59 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Lunn View Post
I am the only one becoming increasingly fed up of people wanting everything for nothing?
Yes! Their expectations are WAY out of line. My time is far too valuable for that, which is why I demand at least $100/hr from anyone who wants to work on my productions. If they bring less than $10,000 in kit, the rate doubles. (After all, as the producer, I'm doing them a great favor just by letting them aboard.)

I do have a special offer going right now, though. Anyone who brings their own weight in Zeiss lenses can work on the project for free (up to one week).

Last edited by Daniel Browning; September 7th, 2007 at 11:38 AM. Reason: P.S. It's funny. Laugh.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 11:25 AM   #7
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My time is far too valuable for that, which is why I demand at least $100/hr from anyone who wants to work on my productions.
am i reading this right you charge people for letting them work for you, on your projects? - I hope not.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 11:37 AM   #8
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am i reading this right you charge people for letting them work for you, on your projects? - I hope not.
Your hopes are well founded. My post was an attempt at humor; probably a poor one. I'll add a post-script to make it more obvious.

My true thoughts on the matter: people do whatever they want and there's nothing productive I can do about it (except, perhaps, to make fun sometimes). I don't find it bothersome, anyway, as it only affects me in that it makes it harder for quality customers to connect with quality service providers.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 12:06 PM   #9
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What is really being lamented here is the fact that the tools to do a decent job of production have been disseminated to the masses, making content production possible through in house to those in need. So the outside production house has to, in turn, look to cheaper ways of doing it, and that includes getting free help from those who are looking for experience.

Its a nasty business, but you might as well accept it as the new business model.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 12:52 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos View Post
What is really being lamented here is the fact that the tools to do a decent job of production have been disseminated to the masses, making content production possible through in house to those in need. So the outside production house has to, in turn, look to cheaper ways of doing it, and that includes getting free help from those who are looking for experience.

Its a nasty business, but you might as well accept it as the new business model.
It has it's advantages too. Businesses that otherwise couldn't afford to have a quality video produced before now have options. I just hope the video market doesn't explode like the audio market did or I'll just assume bad luck follows me wherever I go.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 12:59 PM   #11
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it's a two way street

I think "free" can be good and bad.

For example, when I do a project that I need help on - I enlist the help of friends and friends of friends. I promise them nothing but food after the shoot. Without this free help, I'd be doing it on my own and sometimes not doing it at all. It works out well because we are all there to get a project done, I take input from them on changes, etc if it makes sense for the project. We are all learning something and I don't say "if you don't have a $1500 light kit, you can't help" -- and other such things that some 'request'

On the other hand, when I go looking for a weekend gig, I see a lot of actual production companies (medium/small in size) "requesting" that if the applicant doesn't have professional experience with a 5 year resume in "this biz", an HD cam, wireless mics, and a lighting kit - not to apply. These gigs offering "credit and copy" or "$100 for 3-4 days"...well, that is ridiculous. As a person who is trying to learn, I'm willing to take something for free/lo-pay, but of course I'm learning. I won't have all that gear. I won't have all that experience. By the time I am at the level some of those jobs want, I surely wont be searching for a gig - i'll be looking for help on my own bookings.

I hope that makes sense a little, as to what I'm trying to get across. Basically, free jobs that advertise "no exp required" "will provide gear" can be very helpful in the learning process. A win-win situation (i'd hope the employers aren't then basing the whole movie on the free help though). Those that want talent and experience, and gear...definitely should be paying for it.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 01:24 PM   #12
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Here's the "reality" of the situation - anyone remember typesetters? Those were they guys who took all the little lead letters and put them together on the printing press "back in the day", and that day was not so long ago... before the advent of "desktop publishing" and "word processing"... I think they preserved one or two for the "ancient technology" exhibit at the Smithsonian...

I'm kidding to some degree here, but new technology changes industries and economies, quickly, definitively, and permanently. One can sit there and complain while the water rises, or you can figure out how to survive the changes.

I can have a Red One and shoot garbage that no one wants, or a handycam and shoot something brilliant (or at least marketable...). Production quality considerations aside, give 1000 monkeys access to audio video gear, and you're not likely to produce "art".

Someone asking for "free" probably knows they have little or no commercial value, and maybe hopes someone will "buy in" to their dream... or maybe they're just broke <wink>. Someone offering their "services" for free may need experience, or get something else of value that to them means more than $$. As a practical matter, $$$ are important to trade for things like food shelter and transportation, but sometimes there's other things in life.

Looping back, the technology is changing - look at DVinfo, where one can learn "free" many critical aspects of the "business" and technical ends of video production at all levels... and one can buy "affordable" technology that is simply beyond comprehension just a few short years (months?) ago, allowing one to create high quality "end product" on a relative shoestring.

It's "desktop audio video", it's only getting more accessable, and it's altered the landscape, figure out how to monetize it, and you'll make good $$$ even with all the amateurs horning in... but it's going to be a different ball game, including "players" playing for the fun of it (and secretly hoping to hit it big, most likely)!
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Old September 10th, 2007, 07:41 AM   #13
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If you are asking people to work for free...

Then, they should be getting an opportunity to do something they aren't normally associated with doing.

A gaffer who wants to DOP, a lighting assist who wants to gaffer, a camera assist who wants to operate etc are all people who are in a position who might see the merit in your story, want to be on board if you are paying for the gear and not leaving them significantly out of pocket for their troubles, and you might bring them more opportunities further down the line.

I know the short film I most recently produced ended up with very few people paid - but it's done the rounds locally, has ended up on a lot of peoples reels (and they are all quite proud of it) and got some people a bit more exposure than what they would have had without it, and while I may not have been able to pay them for their time in most cases I worked out ways to pay for the gear they needed to do the best job they could, and the more people I got on board who were passionate about the project the more people who started to offer to help.

Now, due to that short film I am working in a situation where I can potentially bring in more work for them if things go well - currently still not very highly paid but it's a start, and will hopefully lead to more work in the future.

People should be able to ask for people who are willing to help for free without feeling too bad about it when starting out if it's potentially mutually beneficial, but also they should be wary of people who will work for free on job after job - if they are willing to be part of a false economy like that how will they help you build a sustainable career?
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Old September 11th, 2007, 03:49 PM   #14
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Personally I think this is all about two things.

Reputation and fairness.

Work for little makes sense only if you're building up your personal reputation. It's why folks volunteer for low/no budget projects.

Fairness comes into play when someone asks others to work for no/low pay - BUT has the reasonable expectation of making good money for themselves.

That's not fair at all and should NEVER be supported.

So the bottom line is that if nobody's making much, workers OR producers - then everything's cool. But if the producer is doing well but the people doing the actual work are getting lowballed or stiffed, that's fundamentally unfair. And the only thing that will stop that is to spread the word about that particular producer and let their reputation take the hit.

Just be careful. Until you produce stuff yourself, you'll never understand how easy it is for unforseen stuff to suck a big chunk (maybe ALL) of the profits out of an otherwise financially sensible project.

When that happens, the honest producers suck it up and make it right for the people who did the work - to the best extent they possibly can. The dishonest ones don't.

Just don't fall into the trap of thinking that just because you THINK you were screwed, you actually were. That's easy, self-satisfying, and often dead wrong.

Soon enough you'll learn which producers are stand up people - and which one's aren't.

At the base of getting properly paid for the work you is the eternal "supply and demand" reality. If you become exceptionally good at what you do, the demand for you will increase and nobody will EVER expect you to work for less than your requested rates. If you're content to be "just another" vendor or services - you'll constantly be asked to compete on price.

It's just the way business works.

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Old September 11th, 2007, 05:08 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Lisa Shofner View Post
I think "free" can be good and bad.

For example, when I do a project that I need help on - I enlist the help of friends and friends of friends. I promise them nothing but food after the shoot. Without this free help, I'd be doing it on my own and sometimes not doing it at all. It works out well because we are all there to get a project done, I take input from them on changes, etc if it makes sense for the project. We are all learning something and I don't say "if you don't have a $1500 light kit, you can't help" -- and other such things that some 'request'

...
I think that depends totally on whether you're getting paid yourself or not. If you're doing this project as a labour of love or a learning exercise for yourself, strictly for the experience, then asking your help to also work for free is fine. But if it's a paid gig or done "on spec" in hopes of getting paid, everyone involved deserves a piece of the pie and the hired help comes ahead of you in priority for getting paid. If you've made nothing from the deal, then it's fine if they don't either. But if there's ever a revenue stream coming as a result of the project it becomes another story. Once you see any revenue at all, your help needs to be paid in full at fair market wages before you have any legit claim to even one penny. As producer, your revenue comes from the profit and there's no profit until all the labour has been paid.
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