Secret Craigslist Decoder, No Ring Required
★ So, you want to get into show business? ★
Here’s a simple terminology decoder page that I’ve made up for those of you who have decided that you
want to have to were born to work in the entertainment industry, and now that you’ve graduated from a film school somewhere you have run away to Los Angeles, New York, Toronto or Chicago and are full speed ahead going to join the circus.
First off, you’ve already made a huge mistake as you’ll soon find that most film work is now being done in Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico or elsewhere because those states have massive tax rebates to the producers that have lured film productions to go there. To work on those films, you’ll first need to obtain local I.D. to prove you’re actually a resident of that state so the production companies can receive those tax breaks, but sadly some states will require some sort of proof that you’ve actually lived there long term, a flashy newly issued drivers license won’t do.
If you’re one of those bright eyed types who can’t wait for your turn to do the Quentin Tarantino strut down these streets of gold so you can assume your place on the red carpet, reading this may help you understand the listings that you will find as you cruise around on Craigslist, a place you’ll find to be rife with double meanings and the people who often excel at using that ability as a tool.
If a Craigslist posting states that your payment for your work and or equipment rental will be “differed”, “deffered”, or any other misspelled variation on deferred, it basically means that in addition to never getting the copy of the video you were promised you’ll never receive an imdb credit listing* either, and you can forget about being served with an actual edible meal that’s more than a slice of cold pizza within 6 hours of having arrived on set, as the California Labor Law requires, you will never be paid. Ever. You’re likely to run into people who will loudly deny these things will happen, but you might as well just call them liars, because they are.
If a Craigslist posting asks you to work without pay for them on this job and in return they’ll pay you handsomely on their next job, it’s only fair for you to ask them to pay you for this job and in exchange you’ll work on their next job for free. After all, if they want you to “Trust Them” on this one (by the way, “trust me” is producer speak for “Go fuck yourself”) and work for free, why can‘t they trust you to show up on their next award winning and fun (see below) filled project that they have. Never.
Should you be lucky enough to have a meeting (“Take a meeting” in producer speak, i.e. similar to “take a crap”) with them in person about this subject, watch their facial expressions as they hem and haw but never answer you. Ever. But you can be sure that they will tell you “Thank you for meeting with us, we’ll call you” at the end of your meeting, but, eh, “trust me” that you will never get that call. Ever.
If a Craigslist posting says that the director, screenwriter, and or the DP are “Award winners”, ask them what sort of award it was that they’ve received, and where it came from. Chances are good that it will be something like a 3rd place award for originality from the Southwest Peoria Junior College© film festival**. Did they come close to getting a 1st place award? Never, ever. I’ve found that many of the directors I’ve worked with on poorly planned productions wouldn’t be qualified to direct traffic at the Hollywood Bowl, but I digress. Again.
Always remember that as a crew person on an independent film project you’re never actually going to be curing cancer or solving world hunger, so If any posting uses the words “Exciting, Challenging, or Fun”, you actually should interpret this as “Run Away”. You can also be sure that when those words show up in a posting it means you should expect to find really long hours working in terrible (and often unsafe, r.i.p. Sarah Jones) conditions planned by incompetent people on a piece of crap that no one other than the parents of the director will see. Never. Ever.
If the producer says that the reason that they can’t afford to pay you for your services or pay you for bringing your camera, your make up kit, your props, your sound gear (the sound budget on most cheap productions may cover 2 dixie cups and a piece of string), or whatever you should be paid for is because it’s an independent film and there’s no money in the budget, that’s a lie. At this point, inform them that they aren’t ready for a crew because they’l first need to find a producer that can actually produce. I’ve found that most “producers” in the Craigslist world would be hard pressed to produce a shadow on a sunny day. Also beware of any film or video project that has more producers than it does crew people, their self aggrandizing interests will trump your basic survival needs every time.
There’s an ancient entertainment industry basic guideline says that If you don’t have the equipment or experience you shouldn’t take the job, and if the producers don’t have the money they shouldn’t try to make any film, not back then, not now, not ever.
* imdb listings became completely worthless on the day that Amazon bought the original i.m.d.b. site and changed it into a place to market the videos which they sell and (Video On Demand) rent, and movie memorabilia. At this point anyone can easily create an imdb page, even for a nonexistent film. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and make one up using this to list yourself as the star, producer, director, writer, editor, fluffer, whatever. That was easy, huh?
**No offense meant to those fine people in Peoria, Illinois.
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 because success usually has a million parents and failure is an orphan, subsequent blame will not so easily be attributed.
Feel free to ignore any ads that are shown below, I don’t choose them and (sadly) I don’t make a penny off any of them.
P.S., check back for occasional updates and rewrites….
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