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Old March 15th, 2007, 07:26 AM   #1
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5 day job was 4 days; abusive Dir.

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.

Last edited by Larry Vaughn; March 16th, 2007 at 05:11 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old March 15th, 2007, 10:30 AM   #2
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I don't know about a the indy industry standard, but in any human interaction there are basically two ways to deal with jerks: take their money or leave. A contract is important if the job is important, but dropping the 5th day doesn't seem like a big deal to me (YMMV).
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Old March 15th, 2007, 10:43 AM   #3
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Larry,

Just be thankful that you got paid the the shoot is over.

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Old March 15th, 2007, 11:34 AM   #4
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Agreed; chalk it up as a learning experience and something that you'll never go through again. Life is too short for these kinds of headaches.
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Old March 15th, 2007, 11:50 AM   #5
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Cancellations happen. As a producer I try to give more than 24 hours notice of a cancelled shoot day. But man there are some shoots and productions that I never got paid for by the client. And all of them were from out of town.

It can be a tough business.
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Old March 15th, 2007, 12:18 PM   #6
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My observations, FWIW

You're venting a bit, and understandably so. From my relatively limited experience, I'd suggest you simply add it to your repertoire of experience and lessons learned. Now it s/b easier to decide if you want to work with this guy again. If you choose to, at least you know what to expect.

One indie producer I work for lives by this credo: "Things change." We have to adapt to those changes. Having worked with him for more than 2 yrs now, I agree. Often, the changes are out of his hands, e.g. people arrive late, bulbs burn out, power outages occur, etc. Also, I have yet to come upon an indie director/producer who's had training in "project planning" or as a "project manager" like you'd find in big business; definitive "project management" often involves a "plan" and restrictions/limitations (at least related to a budget, and maybe a calendar) and any "plan" seems at odds with creativity, (certainly once editing begins), and is likely to be found only in BIG BUDGET productions. ("Bean counters" develop plans and budgets and their related restrictions; directors shoot and edit but their biggest limitation is time...not necessarily their "creativity").

I think the fact that you got paid is good, even if it turned out to be less than you expected, and the dir was rude, crude, and insensitive. I suspect things could have been much worse.

As for the custom XLR connector, frankly, I'd expect if he fully reimbursed you for it, then he would be entitled to own it.

Maybe I have the wrong attitude, but if I'm hired to do a job, and I need some new piece of equipment to do that job, I fully expect to buy it and add it to my list of equipment. (The thought being that, I didn't have it up til now, and if I need it to do "this" job, I wasn't fully prepared to "do" this job, and may very well need it in the future. So I'll buy it and have it when I need it again. I would now be better prepared to take on a similar job in the future).

Lastly, does anyone here actually "get it in writing", (other than weddings/events)? I haven't come across that yet. Obviously I need even more experience in that aspect.

Is my naievete showing?
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Old March 15th, 2007, 02:09 PM   #7
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umhmm

Actually the xlr splitter was for the other guy, I just volunteered to expedite the procurement.

Sure, I'm venting a bit, it's not the first time but really I want to know how others deal with this.

I just talked to the producer, who thanked me for continuing to follow up with some details I was working on even though I'm not involved at this point. So life goes on, not a big deal anyways, just picking everyones brain...

I did get some nice reel material.

Last edited by Larry Vaughn; March 15th, 2007 at 05:32 PM. Reason: correction
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Old March 15th, 2007, 02:15 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Larry Vaughn View Post
The director claims that his behavior was ok because most movie people from LA are worse....
Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.

About dealing with jerks, for this instance, I think you should be glad it's over. When you've had time to reflect on the situation, I would disect it, and find safeguards for handling it next time. I do very few jobs without a written agreement of some sort. Maybe next time get paid upfront. Who knows, there are many ways to address what should be contractual work.

And by the way, it would be a shame to have his verbal abuse on video, that would really suck for him.
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Old March 15th, 2007, 03:12 PM   #9
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Just points out why specific, written, contracts can save so many headaches.

I agree with Chris to take it as a learning experience. In contracts like this, mistakes about what terms mean are common.

The more detailed the contract is, the less either side will have to complain about afterwards. And, in my mind, negotiating these shows people you been there before and that you know what you want.

Good luck on you nect project -
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Old March 15th, 2007, 03:44 PM   #10
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i'd get it in writing or let the producer know you are reserving the dates for him/her.
if you are told they want you for 5 days on X dates .. you then set those days aside ..if i call you and want to hire you for one of those days - you're going to tell me you're not available ... it's hard to find work (for friday) if they tell you on thursday they don't need you on friday ...
they wouldn't like it if you told them on wednesday eve that you won't be there on thursday ! ...
now sometimes producers will tell you they "may" need you for 5 days next week = that gives you BOTH a understandable out - if he doesn't need you for one of those days you don't work ... if you get offered a better paying day rate then they should understand you taking the day off for the other work ...

in general i don't see/hear much verbal abuse on sets .. i hear disagreements
and every now & then dept might talk down to one of their workers that really messed up .... perhaps it's "age" ... when i was starting off ( allot younger) i worked for some wack-o's ...but now sitting in 50's i just don't come across them anymore - so you see there is a PLUS to aging in the business ...
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Old March 15th, 2007, 05:35 PM   #11
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Kansas

Steven, I haven't been in Kansas since my KZ900 took me past there in 1978. I do know a Dorothy, however. She doesn't own any ruby slippers.

My previous job offer was to drive around and film people and places. That was a Craig's list ad and also one from the FSU film school. The person offering the job seemed a bit flighty, so I did some research and found that he was on probation for being an unlicensed securities dealer. 10 more years to go on a 30 year sentence. After I asked him about this, he claimed he has never been arrested. I'm not sure how someone gets probation without being arrested first.

Last edited by Larry Vaughn; March 16th, 2007 at 05:15 AM. Reason: add info
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Old March 15th, 2007, 05:53 PM   #12
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She doesn't own any ruby slippers.
As I recall, she stole them. ;)
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Old March 16th, 2007, 11:05 AM   #13
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A few thoughts from working in the indie world:

5 days never means 5 days. It means either 3 or 4 days because our uncle says we can't use the cabin anymore, or 5 days + 2 days of reshoots because we added two more pages of script after we realized a scene was missing, but we are out of budget, so can you work for free because we gave you five paid days?

Any indie shoot you walk away from with cash in hand (or a check that doesn't bounce) IS A GOOD ONE!!!

Get cash for what you bought for the set at the same time you brought it, otherwise it's instantly forgotten for good, and you own it.

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.
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Old March 16th, 2007, 12:58 PM   #14
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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.
And though a contract might tightly specify the money, it will never protect you from directors that you don't like. Only experience and word of mouth can help there.

And the contract doesn't guarantee that you'll get paid. It's just a tool during negotiation - and in court.
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Old March 16th, 2007, 10:48 PM   #15
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And the contract doesn't guarantee that you'll get paid. It's just a tool during negotiation - and in court.

Ain't that the truth!!!
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