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Taking Care of Business
The pen and paper aspects of DV -- put it in writing!


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Old March 16th, 2007, 11:54 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Vaughn View Post
What should I do for the next time?
Contract, contract, contract
Make sure you and the other party have a clear understanding what the job entails, in writing.
Then both of you sign off on it.
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Old March 17th, 2007, 09:11 AM   #17
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One thing you can do in future after striking a bargain is to write a letter summarizing your understanding of the offer and terms and send it to the employer before starting work, e.g. "This letter summarizes our conversation of . . ." Provide a copy for the employer to keep and another for him to sign and return. The letter can include a summary your standard practices.

Getting the letter will force a potential employer inclined to be a jerk to think twice before committing to you and gives you a paper trail in case something goes wrong.

Last edited by Peter Wiley; March 17th, 2007 at 09:13 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old March 18th, 2007, 11:49 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Larry Vaughn View Post
Recently I was hired to provide myself and my HDV camera to do an indy shoot for 5 days. That's what the phone message and e-mail said, 5 days @ X per day.

On the penultimate day, the director pays me for the 4th day as usual and says he doesn't need 2 shooters for the last day, so thanks. I ask if he had any problem with my work and he said no. I get a total extra $80 for letting them use my pickup 4 days to move the jib around and to shoot from the back and for the cancellation. I forgot to bring up the extra $32.00 for an xlr splitter he asked me to get which I can't take back since it is custom made.

What should I do for the next time? Does 5 days mean 5 days or does it mean maybe 5 days?

Should I charge more for extras?
Should I get it in writing?

If you know how to make a person in the shot look better like not shoot her in the direct sun while wearing a hat while slouching in a chair, should you bring it up considering the below behavior, or should you just do whatever the director asks for, and nothing else, after he exhibits less than classy behavior?

On this shoot the other shooter was going to quit after the first day because the director was verbally abusive. Stop the f...ing car now! yada, yada, yada. The director claims that his behavior was ok because most movie people from xx are worse. Before deciding what to say to the other shooter, he asked me if I could come up with another camera.

The director also later admitted in an indirect way, that other people including actors have had low opinions of him, as he told a story of how some actors were complaining while not knowing they were on mic and other people could hear their comments.

What's the normal way of dealing with the above topics? I just want to know how to act for the next time and what the industry standards are.
The REALITY is the asshole quotient in this industry is no more higher or lower than any other industry, but those who are assholes think it's okay, simply because of the made for TV portrayals of this industry in general. I would venture to say that within the higher ends of industry MOST people treat each other with civility and respect, simply because it fosters better work, it's only on the lower end of the business where people aren't as aware that they're hurting their own production by being an asshole. Not to say that there isn't tension on sets, but usually that tension comes from within as opposed to from without, because at this level, no one needs, let alone will stand for, such abuse. As for the fifth day or not, that usually falls into one week rate category for me anyway, as I usually only charge four days for working five, although I do have a higher day rate than most, same with my rental charges, although those are usually three days equals a week rate. As for working with assholes in the future, you really have three choices....

a) shut your mouth and count the days till it's done
b) if you actually develop a rapor, but notice others aren't due to assholeness, try to, in the most respectful way possible, broach the subject, using something like "I don't think you're getting the results you want because you aren't letting people take ownership of their contributions. People are selfish that way. The trick is as a director MAKING them think it's THEIR idea."
c) packing up and getting the frak out of there
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Old March 18th, 2007, 10:51 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Vaughn View Post
On this shoot the other shooter was going to quit after the first day because the director was verbally abusive. Stop the f...ing car now! yada, yada, yada. The director claims that his behavior was ok because most movie people from xx are worse. Before deciding what to say to the other shooter, he asked me if I could come up with another camera.

The director also later admitted in an indirect way, that other people including actors have had low opinions of him, as he told a story of how some actors were complaining while not knowing they were on mic and other people could hear their comments.

What's the normal way of dealing with the above topics?
OK, you got into my head on a sensitive subject and now you're going to get a taste of how I think.

People can only verbally abuse you if you let them. (and if you do, shame on you.)
If he verbally abuses another person and that person rightfully gets upset and walks off the set and he calls you to replace that person, you have to take a stand. I believe that you are either part of the problem or part of the solution. If you replace that person, you're part of the problem. You have given license to this person to continue his abusiveness. If you refuse to replace that person under those circumstances then you are part of the solution. When the director finds he's short of camera people and can't meet his objectives, he'll take note. If he fires you also and has to start from scratch to get another lacky, you can go home with a clear conscience.

The bottom line is not what the person says but how the person on the receiving end perceives it. If you feel insulted stand up and don't take it.
I would go head to head, man to man, nothing less and get this matter straightened out immediately before it becomes a festering sore that will make you hate yourself for not standing up. His behavior is only ok if you let be ok.
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Old March 19th, 2007, 05:06 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Dylan Couper View Post
If the director is an a-hole, it is perfectly acceptible to let him sink himself and not provide any insight beyond that which you are paid for.

I'm changing my mind on this one. While it's still acceptible to do it, consider that you don't work for the director, you work for the production. Even though you may never work for the a-hole director again, if you put your best work forward, the producer will hopefully take note of what a good job you did and remember you in the future... with a different director.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 12:48 AM   #21
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Even though I don't think it's acceptable what that guy did and said, it really doesn't surprise me since it's an indie production. Unfortunately it happens on pro sets too. Alot of these guys want to be a big shot so bad and like someone else stated they act out that hollywood image. The industry standard while working for established and reputable production companies is if you are booked for x amount of days, you get paid either a full day rate or sometimes a half day rate in addition to your gear rentals and travel for any days that you are cancelled. This is because you could have turned down other work that can't be recovered and it's not your fault that they didn't need you for that last day or whenever. The bottom line is to only work for a person or company that is decent and honors pay for what you were booked for or get it in writing so you can have proof when they try to get out of it. On a professional project, if you show up, you get paid!

A couple of years ago, I was sub-contracted for a $22K week long 4 camera shoot with a jib. I was supposed to receive a $10K check as a deposit before anything moved. Well, I knew the person that I sub-contracted under and felt safe so I went ahead and arrived, prepped the truck, built the cameras, built the jib, pulled the cables, etc. before receiving the deposit. Then the producer/talent of the show arrives and is asked about the deposit check. This is where it gets real interesting. This guy claims there's been a big mistake. He said he must have misunderstood the amount on the phone thinking it was only $2K for the week. Now, what company provides a 4 camera truck and jib for only $2K for an entire week? It's important to know that this guy has a traveling show and has had video production done before and knows better than that. Anyway, there was tension in the air. His manager took me to the side and said there's no way they could pay that amount. I told him that once I have arrived and especially built everything, he is obligated for the amount. He then stated that there was nothing in writing but he nor the producer/talent wanted to make an issue out of it. He then proceeded to ask me what it would take for me to just walk away. Well, I assessed the situation and realized that I had nothing in writing and could possibly walk away with nothing so I decided to cut my labor and just charge that one day for the truck package. So, I ended up walking away with a $3K check in my hand to break down and leave. Now, if I had hired the crew, they would have had to have been paid too which would have been an additional $1500 or taken out of my $3k. Either way, they would have been paid because I take care of my crews! Luckily, I didn't have to take that hit because they were hired seperately. That's got to be the easiest payday I have ever had though. If it had been a larger company with a contract, those guys would have been $22K in the hole and/or in a courtroom. I definitely learned a lesson that day. Friend or not, NO gear moves without a signed contract and a certified check in my hand!

Last edited by James Emory; May 7th, 2007 at 07:23 PM.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 08:37 AM   #22
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Larry,

I swear I think I DP'd for that same guy. Is he in Florida now?
My shoot was a deferred indie, so no pay was expected but the guy was a major a-hole.
Many times I wanted to leave, and people were certain I would, but I realized I was there for me and the other crew and actors. Since that shoot everyone has either worked with me again or has asked to, and no one has since worked with the big shot director.
The lesson I learned was to do a little more research about with whom I'd be working. The guy was so slick though, it wasn't until later that I realized he was a pathological liar.

And if you are just venting, I say vent away. I was pissed for weeks after the shoot I did.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 10:59 AM   #23
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Larry,

Consider this great learning experience on how not to treat your crew. Years ago I was working on a major computer company event where the Producer/Director was drinking scotch on the rocks starting at 10:30 AM. By 4 PM, he was THE nastiest SOB I've ever worked for which taught me a lesson early on how not to treat crews and people in general. Learn from it and move on. If you work for this guy again, you know what you are getting into. Also jerk Directors in smaller markets will find it harder to book crews as time goes on. The word will get around. Next time use a contract.

As for the dropped 5th day, this sort of stuff happens a lot. I have had to drop the last day on crews and talent as a Producer/Director with less than 24 hours notice due to one reason or another. I've paid penalties on some occasions and on others the freelancer lets it side. I have also finished up early with crews on shoots and still paid them the full rate. Next time use a contract.
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