For The Image Conscious

September 2, 2009 at 11:30 pm 6 comments

Understand that by “Image Conscious”, I meant that this blog today is dedicated to those who love the idea of the visual “image”, be it on video or film, to the extent that their lives are now focused on working behind or in front of the lens in one way or another on movies, films, videos, cartoons, cgi crap, anime, whatever.

Here are some guidelines, warnings, and other relevant things.

Don't be that guy (or girl)

1. Understand that deferred pay means you’ll actually never see a penny of payment for your time spent or (if you provided it) equipment you’ve brought to the set. In over 25 years of working on films, videos, t.v. shows I’ve never even met anyone that ever actually got paid a deferment, which doesn’t mean that it’s never happened, it’s just never happened with the few thousand people I’ve worked with.

Defer? No, honest, I'll pay you later.

2. Understand that a payment in the form of “copy, credit, and meals” is most likely illegal, as it almost always violates minimum wage laws, as well as promising things that may or may not ever get delivered. i.e.

a. Credits on IMDB, which are never really guaranteed, and could even be deleted after the fact. By the way, ever since the day that imdb was bought by Amazon and turned into a marketing tool to sell DVD’s and VOD, it’s become a self referential joke.

b. Domino’s pizza or MickieD’s crap are not really meals.

c. The chances of you getting a copy of the floater project closely approaches “never going to happen”.

3. Understand well the “carrot and stick” concept as it often shows up, i.e. “work with me on this one, I’ve got a big show coming up in the near future and I will make up for your dedication to us”. Well, be assured that if that producer / company somehow does ever make a big project with a real budget at some later date, they will then hire big people and pay them really big salaries. Adding insult to injury, if it’s a really, really much bigger budget project, you will never even be allowed to get close to their set, because you knew them when they were mere piss-ant weasels.

3a. Understand also that the very mention of there being important contacts (who they never actually name so you can vet them) for your future if you’ll work free/cheap is bullshit in its purest form, since the chance that any important person would be involved in such a turd is about the same as Sarah Palin speaking in complete sentences. Yes, it could happen, but find yourself a comfortable place to sit as it may be a while.

4. Understand that “An Intern Position” legally means a specific legally defined agreement between an employer and your school, wherein you will receive credit. Be aware that the term “intern” is thrown around a lot by people that see it as a chance to get people to do work and then not have to pay them.

a. You may receive that school credit, but you will never get to work with this company again (see “3” above).

5. Understand that “It’s not who you know, it’s who you blow” always will take precedence over a film school diploma or the recommendation of your friends or family when it comes to a production position being filled.

6. Understand that no matter how rosy a picture the producer has described the upcoming project to be, you’re actually not curing cancer or solving world hunger, and you’re mostly likely just making a piece of crap that no one outside the director’s immediate family or other investors will ever see.

unemployed actor7. Understand that the term “Producer” is meaningless, as it’s very often given to people that couldn’t produce a shadow on a sunny day if their lives depended on it. When these producers say that there’s no money in the budget, ask them what kind of moron could have made up and approved and then given a green light to a budget like this floater.  If you’ll ask them why they couldn’t produce the money to do their show correctly, the chance to see the look on their faces is priceless.

Dewey, Cheetem, and Howe Productions welcomes you to Hollywood

Dewey, Cheetem, and Howe Productions welcomes you to Hollywood

8. Understand that when you feel like you’re getting screwed (see “5” above), you’re probably correct. If you want to go ahead and do the project anyway, you could ask them to at least kiss you first, or buy you flowers when it’s done.

9. Understand that any project touted as having an “award winning”, “very well connected”, or “up and coming ********”  (writer, director, producer, star, craft service person, key grip…. whatever) really means they have on their staff “a semi-nobody” who perhaps used #5 above, or is at best a burnout from some local tv show.

10. Understand that when a producer says they want someone “bright, hard working, creative, blah blah blah, and who owns their own equipment”, everything that preceded “who owns…..” is meaningless. They only want someone with their own equipment so they don’t have to pay the rental, delivery charges, or insurance for it.

11. Understand that, especially when it’s a posting looking for a sound mixer, their request to “see” a demo reel is a demonstration that that person has no idea what they’re doing. There’s no way they could know who did the work that they’re listening to, much less which show it’s from, if it was true location sound, or it’s the product of massive post production ADR or sweetening.

12. Note their grammar! A posting that’s (other than a typo or two) full of errors in spelling, punctuation, context, etc… should be a warning that you’re going to be  dealing with people that don’t know about due diligence in preparation. For a laugh, ask them what their original language was and compliment them on their progress in learning English.

13.  Also note that  any mention that their project will be submitted to film festivals is not really a bragging point, as tons of them do this each week and seldom receive at best any more than a nice note thanking them for their submission, but no thanks. And those that do get admitted to the “Greater Ypsilanti Film Festival” will find that they are in the running against works of art such as “Elevator Girls In Bondage” or “Is It My Breath?”, and will usually end up losing to one of those two.

They exist! Relating to  Items 2, 3, 3a, 9, 10, and 11 above,  here are several actual quotes related to the above from postings on craigslist, mandy and others. All of the statements below were found with less than a 3 minute search, and all of them help to demonstrate the principles of those warning signs mentioned above. See if you can name the warning……..

“Join our fun and enjoyable crew while we shoot a 6 minute scene in one location.”

“No experience necessary, but desired.”

“Feature shot on Red needs to hire an editor on a deffered payment basis.”

“Editor will recieve compensation when film recieves compensation.”  (Hint: i before e except after c, and we’re never going to pay u)

“We recently completed another short film that is being submitted to festivals, we plan to do the same with this one.”

“We are trying to build a strong and reliable crew to work with us on future projects.”

“No pay, meals and copy of series provided.” (Hint #12 might help in trying to parse that self canceling sentence)

“Learn techniques and gain knowledge from our long working Director of Photographer with industry credits.” (By “long working”, are you talking about a jerk who takes endless hours to light a set?)

“Meet and network with industry professionals and TV writers, ALL while helping us making this script come alive.” O.K., that may be easier than CPR but it’s not as effective.

“The rate is low, only $100 per day as most of our budget is going to film, processing and telecine.” (N.B. #7)

Little experience or a strong passion to learn would be great!

Students welcome!! Working with highly experienced DP and Production team.

“I am very confident with my script but I need a strong, ambitious, hard working, awesome team of aspiring professional filmmakers with positive attitudes to help me bring the script to life” (Hmmm, I guess CPR is still off the table?)

“…… but this has huge potential to turn much more work down the road.”

“The film is being shot on the RED one in LA over 6 days, all crew positions are unpaid, however agreed expenses will be covered, you will be fed properly and part of an extremely experienced team with extensive international work and track records, the film is also notably being supported by Mainframe (VFX) in the UK and Echolab (sound Design) in Ireland.”   (Wow! They’re shooting on the RED? Well, BFD, who isn’t!)

This weeks best pics (from Mandy.com and Craigslist.org)!!!

“No pay but can put project on CV and possible pay for next project once this is completed.”

and

“Despite the low budget, applicants must have a minimum of 5 years experience and 20 features under their belts”. ( all applicants should have their names imprinted on the back of their belts so we’ll know who we’re fucking).

Saving the best, which hits almost every note,  for last (10-5-09):

“We have a very limited budget for this video so we’re looking for a small, intimate crew, that are young, enthusiastic and don’t mind working long hours for two days for limited pay! It will be a great shoot, a lot of fun with hugely creative people and a good way to continue making contacts.”

O.K., all of the above are actual quotes, and there’s really a lot more where these ones came from. Feel free to send in a comment and mention your own, and I’ll add them during the next few weeks, with or without giving you credits, copies, or a meal.

blogInsert

N.B., The ownership of any and all photos, opinions, and/ or quotes above (including those of mine) belong to the material’s creator(s). Credit is given when it’s known, but as everyone knows, success usually has a million parents and failure is an orphan.

Feel free to ignore any ads that are shown below, I don’t get to choose them and (sadly) I don’t make a penny off any of them, so in the holy name of capitalism I rebuke and don’t endorse or support any of them, unless of course they’re made of funny stuff…..  

P.S., check back for occasional updates and rewrites….

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Locusts, You Say? Well, Bring ‘Em On… When You Change The Name, You Change The Game

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Richard Ragon  |  September 3, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Awesome Post!! But, people working in our biz, won’t get it, until they’ve been screwed.

    1. On the deferred pay. I Did it a couple of times early in my career, never saw a dime because seriously, paying the sound guy is at the very bottom of that list, especially all those ‘above the line’ people at the top. Nothing more than a pyramid scheme. If you do this, at least get the kit rental.

    2c. Worked over 40-50 films now, and I have about 6 DVDs to show for it. Many projects never see the light of day even, it just happens.

    3. This one really bothers me. Most people start out in this biz with the idea that they can work for free on the first one, and NEXT TIME they work for more cash.. Well the truth is, there is usually NEVER a NEXT TIME, because that producer or director are now in Real Estate, or something else. People come into Hollywood, they try their hand at making a film, most fail.. that’s just how it goes.. And do you really think that if they did it once, the next time they are going to pay everyone 5x the salary NEXT TIME? No way, you’re expected to do it cheaper NEXT TIME. And if the show gets picked up, guess what, NEXT TIME someone else it paying the bills, and they have their own people on the new crew anyway.

    4. I can’t believe the nerve of some people.. the word ‘intern’ is nothing more than a free slave to most people. I even saw a job posting on Craig’s List for a ‘work at home intern’ once..

    6a. This is why I love interviews.. It gives me a lot of pleasure to berate someone who thinks they can ‘bullshit’ people from the safety behind their computer screen, but it becomes very painful for them once they have to meet face to face. The best one is the “it’s just not in the budget” line, where they try to proclaim that some magical third party person is setting this budget up. I usually start saying things like, “you need to fire this budget guy, because he sure as heck doesn’t know what he is doing..”

    8. Wow.. I have the pleasure of working with some pre-madonna DP douchbag, that has no problem trying to tell me how to do my job or that has convinced the producer that all you need is just a few wireless mics to solve everything. Sound department is an island of it’s own. We don’t need to work with, or should we care to work with anyone else. Most of the time you’ll get on set and realize that YOU’RE the most experienced person there.

    Don’t forget to ad in the DEMO REEL factor. A lot of producers seem to think that everyone on a set benefits from a DEMO REEL. In the sound biz, we are below the line technicians only. We either record good audio, or we don’t. Our battle is doing it correctly under the circumstance we’re given. Our biggest creative decision will be where to put the boom mic once were rolling. So, if we make zero creative decisions on a film, what the heck is a DEMO REEL going to do for us. It’s like asking the Janitor what he thinks about the design of the office.

    Remember people.. don’t get screwed.

    -Richard Ragon

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