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Taking Care of Business
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Old June 30th, 2009, 03:54 PM   #1
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Charging my friends

I'm trying to figure out if I'm a douchebag for doing this.

I'm involved pretty deeply in the Improv community here in Austin, and from time to time, I get asked to record shows for them. Other times I ask if I can record shows for myself.

But last weekend, I just recorded 36 continuous hours of Improv of a 40 hour marathon. I was getting up and driving in to change the SD card every 6 hours, so sleep was not great. I also had to get my bed and furniture moved that weekend.

In order to get enough free tape for recording everything, I had to pick up $100 worth of memory cards.

This isn't even including the time I spend editing it.

So, here's what it comes down to: I don't have time or money to continue doing it for free. I just don't.

Now, on the other hand, I often get to sit into shows for free as an audience member, even when I'm not recording. I never do this when there's a paying customer in the seat, and a packed house always has more fun than a sparse house, so I'm also helping them out just by showing up, but I don't want to tell them I'm stopping recording for free and them getting mad at me, yada yada... I just don't think that an hour recording plus 2 hours editing, plus 4 hours of rendering time equals a $7 ticket, you know?

Plus, I'm pretty sure they'd say no if I charged them. And I do like doing it - it's just that it takes away from other, potentially paying projects.

So, instead of charging them, I was thinking about telling them that I'd be willing to record the videos, but that instead of putting them on YouTube or Vimeo, I'd put them on Amazon CreateSpace as a VOD download. Any money the VOD download makes, I get half, and the troupe gets half.

That, to me, seems pretty fair, but I'm wondering if people would see this as a money-grubbing dick-move.
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Old June 30th, 2009, 04:14 PM   #2
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sounds like you already know the answer. your time is money. if you're not completely satisfied with the process then something needs to change. how much time can you truly donate in this economy anyways? you got to look out for numero uno. to be honest is there a market for these videos on Amazon or any other site? if not, then you might want to present a better deal/offer to the club or maybe the individual talent themselves. maybe offer a performer footage for x amount of money or put a reel of their performances together for an agreed/set amount. the category of this thread is in "Taking care of Business". you gotta find a profitable and enjoyable way to tape these shows. otherwise i'd consider it a waste of my time. needing money to pay your bills isn't a "douchebag" act. money is a basic necessity, like air and water unless you want to live on the streets.
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Old June 30th, 2009, 04:15 PM   #3
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Brian, I would just say I don't have the time to continue doing this and they should find someone else to do it for them. That way you don't come out as a money grubber. They'll soon find out how much it would cost for a Pro to shoot the show for them, maybe they'll offer you money to shoot the show again for an agreed amount.

My 2 cents
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Old June 30th, 2009, 04:18 PM   #4
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"but I'm wondering if people would see this as a money-grubbing dick-move"

Present it as a: "You get to have me shoot/edit video, market it for you and share some monetary benefits with you at the same time", kind of move.

However, I'm in sort of the same position with my church right now... Breaking the cycle of not charging for something you enjoy doing is a tough one... I'm slowly learning to go from "Yeah, I'd love to!", to "What's your budget for this project?". Then, at least they realize that I'm moving out of "hobby-mode" and expecting some coverage of time and expenses.
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Old June 30th, 2009, 06:46 PM   #5
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I've always charged, if nothing else than for cost of materials - and that's at a church.
It eliminates those who want it only if it is free.
The ones who want it free, more often than not, just toss it in the garbage.
Having paid absolutely nothing for it, it is worth nothing to them.

In your case I would say when your "clients" start turning it into a full time gig, and a forty hour marathon more than qualifies, your "clients" should start thinking in terms of full time pay.

Nobody else is working there full time for free, are they?
Of course they aren't - because they can't afford to either.
So why are you?

As to their saying no to your charging them, is that a bad thing? They would in effect be telling you they don't value your time and effort recording and editing their shows. Let another sucker do it. You have already stated it is sucking time away from paying projects.
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Old June 30th, 2009, 07:16 PM   #6
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Brian, it sounds to me like you enjoy it, but sure wish you could get paid to do it because it's sucking up your time.

But it's a bit of wanting to have your cake and eat it too. If you really can't do it for free anymore because you don't have the time, then stop. Just tell them, sorry, I can't continue to refuse paying work for this.

If this makes you feel bad about getting free seats here and there, then buy the $7 ticket and be guilt free.

Who knows, maybe they'll approach you later with a proposal and you'll be able to eat cake again.
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Old July 5th, 2009, 07:11 PM   #7
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I work with an improv group up here in Minnesota, Plan B MN.

I have been just about the only video guy for the group since we started, and while yes it is fun to do, you do have to look at it as a.. Is it worth me doing if for free? If I had to go change a card every 6 hours, I would want pay. especially if I have to leave my camera there...

In the end, you have to think if it is "Fun Enough" and if you just want them to assume you will always be free. If I had to buy $100 in cards and not get a full night sleep. I would want pay.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 02:38 PM   #8
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I charge my friends when I do something that primarily benefits them. So, people that want scenes for acting reels, or want me to film/edit their own shorts.

If I get more of a producer role, and I like the script, it's something I'd be proud of and get creative input then I do stuff for free.

I usually charge around 1/4 what I would normally, but I make sure they're happy with the results and they can refer me to people that give me work at full pay as well.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 02:35 PM   #9
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Proper friends wouldn't let you get in this position. When friends work for me I pay them - in fact, I pay them straight away, before I have my money. If they need a freebie, they always explain there's no money/expenses and don't take offence if I have to say no. The people who don't even think to offer are people who are not proper friends, just aquaintances who are using you.

If they won't even cover out of pocket expenses, then I'd pretend a paying job has just come in, explain how the mortgage needs seeing to and clear off!
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Old July 28th, 2009, 05:25 AM   #10
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If you work for free that's what your work is worth - nothing.

They're charging admission to the club aren't they? The club owner and staff gets paid don't they? Does the distributor that delivers beer to the club get paid? Do you see a pattern here?
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