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Old May 13th, 2013, 06:20 PM   #16
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Re: Advice on Shooting Pro Bono

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Originally Posted by Sareesh Sudhakaran View Post
Any advice on how to handle 'creative differences'?
Same as always. The guy who signs the checks makes the final decision. On pro-bono work, that's me.

The problem comes - and I don't do this anymore - when you have a 90%/10% arrangement, where you are donating 90%, and the .org is paying you some small fee. They get that "BUT I'M PAYING YOU!!" entitlement, and you get a couple hundred bucks to put up with their crap.

I have shot two weddings in my life. The first one, after a three camera setup and dozens of hours of work - the happy couple, for whom I had agreed to do their wedding video for free, sent me a check for $100. I've never been so insulted. I'm happy to do it as my gift to you, but please don't pay me $100 for $5000 worth of work.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 07:52 PM   #17
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Re: Advice on Shooting Pro Bono

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Originally Posted by Sareesh Sudhakaran View Post
About the charity who couldn't sell DVDs online, did you try to go out of your way to advise them? In India, people aren't very savvy when it comes to the internet and video. I am tinkering with the idea of helping them set up their website as well - do you think it's too much? Don't want to get sucked in to a never-ending loop of misery.
The problem with an on line shoppe selling product is threefold.

First setting it up, the web design, product listing with a code number, basket, checkout, payment links etc. is fairly easy if a pro outfit is employed to do it.

The second problem is running it, collecting and processing on line orders, banking payments and sending out the orders properly packed for freight.
A constant supply of the right packaging is needed.

The third problem is trusting part time charity workers to do it on a day to day basis .. forever!
It might start off alright, but unless you plan to regularly drop in and check it, I'd stay out of it.
Sorry to be negative, but money is involved and maybe a lot of it.

Cheers.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 08:38 PM   #18
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Re: Advice on Shooting Pro Bono

Very good advice here. Its surprising to me since I have worked so many years in the construction business where there to me there is very little of the silliness there is with the video/media business. You drive up with $6,000 in tools and few folk are going to try to tell you how to use them (as if you don't know) instead of just watching you do your job and seeing the results. Sure a few may try to tell you how, but they can't really expect you to listen to them. Yes of course there is the collaboration, but that's not what I see sometimes. Seemed like the craftsmen, trades, superintendent were respected and their input was valuable.

One of the problems I see with a small amount of folk I have worked with in the media business is the is a loss of the respect. I have run into more off the wall (guess it should have been expected) in a short time as a Videographer, than in many years in construction.

People will give themselves titles "Director, DP, or Camera Operator" without any off the real experience they need to be given the title. I have seen a camera operator who did not want any help (basically refused) to shoot anything but in automatic. Director's who want you to use an interview microphone as a shotgun (no I can't have the microphone in the shot). I've heard so many other stories it some times makes me wonder why I am in the business, but I still love it.

I did have to very reluctantly quit a work for free gig because basically the person in control was so hard to work with doing my job as the camera operator/dp was impossible. I don't mean very hard, I mean truly impossible (at least with any degree of professionalism). Just did not really have a clue about much of anything, but felt they did and they were going to tell me how to do it. It was going to be impossible because what they had to shoot and the way they were going about the shoot, it would have taken 3 to 4x the time available. There were several real world limitations on the shooting schedule but they lived in a fantasy world where a detailed shot list was not as important as going out that day and just shooting. For instance we had very specialized (working for free) talent on the shoot who were from the opposite part of the US and they had a very limited amount of time to volunteer. The worst part is when I would go into lengthy detail about why I need to do this or that, they would listen and it appeared they understood, but then would ignore what I said and continue on like I had never said anything at all. I am not talking I did this just once, but a least 20 times on differing issues. I finally just had to give up and quit. I really can't adequately explain it all either, but I just could not do the work and have it look like it was shot by 5 year olds. Mind you this was someone who had been enrolled in a film school (got kicked out) and worked on sets in Hollywood. Craziness.
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Old May 14th, 2013, 06:02 AM   #19
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Re: Advice on Shooting Pro Bono

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Originally Posted by Mike Watson View Post
Same as always. The guy who signs the checks makes the final decision. On pro-bono work, that's me.

The problem comes - and I don't do this anymore - when you have a 90%/10% arrangement, where you are donating 90%, and the .org is paying you some small fee. They get that "BUT I'M PAYING YOU!!" entitlement, and you get a couple hundred bucks to put up with their crap.

I have shot two weddings in my life. The first one, after a three camera setup and dozens of hours of work - the happy couple, for whom I had agreed to do their wedding video for free, sent me a check for $100. I've never been so insulted. I'm happy to do it as my gift to you, but please don't pay me $100 for $5000 worth of work.
LOL...sorry couldn't resist, but did you return the check?

I agree with you about creative control. I intend to fight for that...otherwise what am I doing there?
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Old May 14th, 2013, 06:06 AM   #20
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Re: Advice on Shooting Pro Bono

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Originally Posted by Don Bloom View Post
My point is EVERYTHING needs t be spelled out in writing regardless of whether they are a paying client or not. Like my lawyers over the years have always said, "if it's not in writing, it doesn't exist!"
Absolutely. I also feel if someone is turned off after seeing the contract it is an indirect admission of trouble down the line.
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Old May 14th, 2013, 06:10 AM   #21
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Re: Advice on Shooting Pro Bono

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Originally Posted by Allan Black View Post
The third problem is trusting part time charity workers to do it on a day to day basis .. forever!
It might start off alright, but unless you plan to regularly drop in and check it, I'd stay out of it.
Sorry to be negative, but money is involved and maybe a lot of it.

Cheers.
Not negative at all. I have experienced the same thing earlier this year with one of the charities. Strangely, if there isn't money or authority involved, people tend to take things for granted. That last time I backed out a bit, and things are still the way they were.

I think I'll stick to just the video bit for now.
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Last edited by Sareesh Sudhakaran; May 14th, 2013 at 06:18 AM. Reason: typo
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Old May 14th, 2013, 12:17 PM   #22
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Re: Advice on Shooting Pro Bono

I absolutely agree with Don's post. And Mike as well.

To me, if I were to take on any "pro bono" work, I would have it in a written contract that I am the one in complete control of the project, and I can take or leave anyone else's opinion or suggestion.

Why? Because I want this to be something that I'd be proud to show as a demo piece to non-pro bono clients. Show off what I can come up with on my own without having to rely on other's input.

You have to be confident and very creative because this is going to be YOUR show. Obviously you want to achieve something that will work for that client, but just on your own terms.

Some of that creativity may come as a question as to how to do something really neat for no or low amount of money. Just to throw out, shooting on an IPhone, making use of still photography for the video, or ONLY using pick-up imagery, Ken Burns-ee stuff. Or things that you've wanted to try but didn't or couldn't on a paying gig.

Opportunity knocks, only if you are in charge. If they don't agree to these terms and everything is written out like the ten commandments, then I would have to reconsider, or even pass on the job since it is of little benefit to me.

Always think of pro bono as something that you will end up with something that you would be proud to show off, and not "I'll never do this bul****t again".

As far as rental and overhead costs, that has to go into the "is it worth it to me" category.

Good luck.

Jonathan Levin
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Old May 15th, 2013, 01:19 AM   #23
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Re: Advice on Shooting Pro Bono

Just do the video bit and leave the website thing. The website can be a never ending madness as anybody and everybody will have an opinion about it.

Since it is a pro-bono work, put your foot down and stick to your cuts. However, doing it tactfully helps. First hear them out as to what they want and then decide the stuff and execute.

I have an experience where people thought anything that is free/cheap or discounted means bad quality. And I had one experience where the client was literally crying infront of me that they don't have budgets but want high production value etc etc. Later I found that they just wanted to get it free. I flatly refused.

From my past experience of being in a senior position in the corporate world, I can tell you that more than 99% of NGOs in India are fraud. So be careful. If you are really committed to their cause, want to volunteer for them then do it. However, always be careful.
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Old May 15th, 2013, 06:59 AM   #24
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Re: Advice on Shooting Pro Bono

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Originally Posted by Sabyasachi Patra View Post
Just do the video bit and leave the website thing. The website can be a never ending madness as anybody and everybody will have an opinion about it.
This is my experience as well! Definitely not going to give away my creative freedom.

Quote:
From my past experience of being in a senior position in the corporate world, I can tell you that more than 99% of NGOs in India are fraud. So be careful. If you are really committed to their cause, want to volunteer for them then do it. However, always be careful.
Can you give me the numbers of the other 1%? :)

On a serious note, I agree with you that there are many fraudulent NGOs. I'm only working with those who come with some references. Let's see how it goes. Thanks!
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Old May 15th, 2013, 07:02 AM   #25
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Re: Advice on Shooting Pro Bono

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Originally Posted by Jonathan Levin View Post
I absolutely agree with Don's post. And Mike as well.

To me, if I were to take on any "pro bono" work, I would have it in a written contract that I am the one in complete control of the project, and I can take or leave anyone else's opinion or suggestion.

Why? Because I want this to be something that I'd be proud to show as a demo piece to non-pro bono clients. Show off what I can come up with on my own without having to rely on other's input.

You have to be confident and very creative because this is going to be YOUR show. Obviously you want to achieve something that will work for that client, but just on your own terms.

Some of that creativity may come as a question as to how to do something really neat for no or low amount of money. Just to throw out, shooting on an IPhone, making use of still photography for the video, or ONLY using pick-up imagery, Ken Burns-ee stuff. Or things that you've wanted to try but didn't or couldn't on a paying gig.

Opportunity knocks, only if you are in charge. If they don't agree to these terms and everything is written out like the ten commandments, then I would have to reconsider, or even pass on the job since it is of little benefit to me.

Always think of pro bono as something that you will end up with something that you would be proud to show off, and not "I'll never do this bul****t again".

As far as rental and overhead costs, that has to go into the "is it worth it to me" category.

Good luck.

Jonathan Levin
I agree with you 100%. I don't intend to just swing by with a handycam!

There's nothing better than doing something that is both creatively and spiritually satisfying (except creatively, spiritually and financially satisfying!).
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