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Taking Care of Business
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Old April 15th, 2006, 12:36 AM   #1
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job offer too good to be true?

I'm a high school student and I've been shooting video for a few years now and I'm beginning to consider it as a career. So the other day my friend and I were making a movie for a film festival when a man approached us.

He said that he had a rap album recording company and that they wanted to try out making music videos but that the artists couldn't pay the costs of a pro yet and so he was looking for high school/college students that could do something good enough for less money.

So my friend and I listened to his proposal, and basically he said that if we sent him some of our work and he liked it he would offer us a job in which:

- we made music videos for his rappers
- we would get about 80% of the profit of each video, which would be about 800 dollars per video
- his company would provide some equipment (camera, editing computer)

Now maybe all that is possible, but I'm not sure if to believe this or not. I'm thinking of sending him some of our work but my friend and I don't really want to get scammed.

Any advice?
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Old April 15th, 2006, 01:18 AM   #2
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I'd say maybe watermark the footage you send him. Did he say that you'll get the profit of the video, as in not get paid until weeks if not months after your done with the video? If so then I'd assume it could be a scam, or at least there might be some hassle in getting paid.

But hey, one way to look at it is that you might be working with some pro equipment and get your experience up...

I'd ask for at least half the money... Or if he insists on not paying you until after, watermark the footage you give him. He'll see your talent, and have the option to pay for the unmarked video. By then he would have spent enough money on the shoot that he would dish out a few extra bucks your way. Make sure you get your paper work squared away.

Also, why would he jump from one extreme to the other (Pro-High school)? Sounds fishy to me...
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Old April 15th, 2006, 05:58 AM   #3
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Where would the budget for the shoot come from- expenses, locations, tape stock etc? It sounds like he wants you to pay for everything up front, on the promise of some profit share further down the line. And where is the profit coming from? Most music videos make no profit, as they are just adverts for the bands, the tv stations do not pay to air them.
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Old April 15th, 2006, 06:22 AM   #4
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That is relatively cheap (which is part of why he needs new guys - the other is you will be "fresh" and possibly enjoy the music). You might want to go scan the long thread in Taking Care of Business on Ridiculous Job Offers. The Rap music industry is one of the prime abusers of the video end.

BUT, he did say he would pay you, but get it in writing. And it is more legit that some of the stuff you will see poo-pooed in the Job Offers thread because he is going to provide equipment and knew where to look for videographers.

Get it in writing, make sure that you can get access to footage for use later to sell yourselves, and have fun with the experience. Just be careful.
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Old April 15th, 2006, 07:23 AM   #5
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I agree. The pay is not high at all

But more important make sure you will get paid

Best would be to get 50% up front and 50% on completion that way you are only out 50% in case you dont get it

Make sure to put in writing what you get and what you deliver. Also add something to the effect that you can use the material for self promotion
Michael Salzlechner
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Old April 15th, 2006, 09:15 AM   #6
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I'd ask him about how he's estimating $800 profit on each video.

I never think of music videos as "profitable" at all. There done to promote the "talent." People don't actually buy them unless he thinks there's money in music video downloads.

If he's confident in $800 profit and he's running the business he should take on the risk and pay you IN FULL.

Of course you might find the whole thing a good learning experience but he's got less ability to be your "boss" if you understand that you can/will walk when real income is offered.

I think many folks who shoot/direct/edit music videos use it as a stepping stone to learn techniques to use in advertising where they get real paying clients.
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Old April 16th, 2006, 10:56 PM   #7
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I totally agree that you should always watermark ANY footage, raw or finished, until you get paid the ENTIRE amount agreed on and nothing less. After payment in full, then give him the clean version. As far as the rate, you can't be commanding high rates unless you have a really great reel. So doing this for experience or little pay may not be a bad idea to help get that. We've all done this one time or another. I don't really think that music videos are the greatest example to use as your talent and they are notorious money eating machines. I don't think we have to worry about you making a habit of this because you'll get sick of making little or no money real quick. Make sure to make the watermark toward the center of the picture so it cant be cropped out. Even by watermarking the content, a person can still use your work without paying but everyone who sees it will know who made it. You may even want to put unauthorized demo as the watermark so there will be some explaining to do if it is viewed illegally. Good luck and be careful.
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Old April 17th, 2006, 08:52 AM   #8
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James, the problem is the "deal" seems to be getting paid out of "profits." There is no agreed upon "entire" amount, just an estimate of $800 "profit."

I honestly have NO IDEA how music videos themselves make a profit. They're usually done to promote the band. The profit comes from increase sales of the music.

I'd recommend that Ernesto ask for his profit share based on the estimate upfront. He'd have to either accept the estimate and justify a different estimate. In any case, if the estimate seems reasonable, getting 80% of $800 is still a pittance. That's the least he can expect and should get that upfront. Ernesto will likely have an impossible time "proving" how much profit the video makes if ever.

Seems far more likely the guy will eventually tell him it made no profit and therefore Ernesto will never get paid.
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Old April 17th, 2006, 02:07 PM   #9
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I totally agree. There's no way to ever verify if any money was made. I wouldn't work on this project under those terms. But I did work on projects for little or no pay when I first started but ONLY for ones that actually showed my abilities.
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Old April 17th, 2006, 10:16 PM   #10
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Based on what you said about the initial approach and setup, I wouldn't touch this with a 10 foot pole. James has done a great job updating a thread with ridiculous job offers as found on Craigslist, and according to many of the posts, rap video production is an open field for abuses of business practices.

Although I no longer work in the music industry....if my memory serves, alot of trying to 'sell' the talent generally does not involve a 'spec' video piece. The videos that really impress usually involve alot of production value, paid for by investors who really believe that they'll take a decent profit on the back end. Cut rate video production is VERY RARELY a lead-in to a profit generating venture. As such, the talent (or their management) does the sensible thing and instead puts the capital into polished audio production, with hopes of selling the 'sound' to underwriters, producers, or a label. Scouts who are looking for fresh talent have little or no time to bother with videos, and instead listen quickly to the best of the best of the audio the talent has to offer. Basically, if the sound has no potential, a video won't really help.

Once the the talent finds an interested underwriter or a label, it is the label who usually fronts the capital for professional video production, ultimately as a means to sell the music.

It just doesn't often work any other way. This scenario sounds to me like the guy who proposed the project to you really doesn't know much about the business...

On the other hand, it is also fair to say that producing a music video can really be a great deal of fun.....often it is not as servicing the egos is hard to justify the effort.

Some of the posts in other threads have also noted that the setup ended up serving as a scam to swipe expensive gear from audio and video 'newbies' with costly gear. One camera operator noted that the rap video set experienced a drive by shooting while they were filming.

Go for it if you can accept the risks involved ,and at least would be interested in working the project to gain the experience, with the understanding that you will not likely be paid for it.

As a last note: Don't get me wrong...I am not trying to paint a negative portrait against the rap music industry. I have detailed stories of associates getting equally screwed in Christian, Country, R&B, Metal, Rock, Easy Listening, and even Muzak......The only difference is that as far as I now, none of these others tend to involve drive by shootings.

Have fun and good luck.
"Are we to go on record, sir, with our assertion that the 'pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers' are, in point of fact', magically delicious?"
- Walter Hollarhan before the House Subcommittee on Integrity in Advertising - May, 1974
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