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THIS SUCKS BIG TIME.


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#1 peter orland

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 05:23 PM

My first feature as a cinematographer that I have been spending min 30 hrs a week since January storyboarding, equipment testing, location scouting, meetings upon meetings upon meetings etc...etc... (on top of working 40 hrs), has fallen over and won't be getting made.

We were supposed to start shooting next week and I have organized to take my holidays from work to allow myself the time to be involved completely. It was only a no-budget feature shot on digital and no one was being paid, but still...

The producer/writer has apparently been offered an option on the script by a production company that he says has guaranteed him that they will raise the money needed to "do it properly". He says that when the money comes through he would still like to use all the people that have been involved up to now - yeah right, I bet you will.

Spending all this time and energy for nothing is bad enough but more than that is all the professional people that I have had meetings with in regard to the movie: camera hire, lighting hire, post production facilities etc...will now probably think that I am nothing but a time waster and a wanker as I will have to call them all and tell them that it's not going ahead.

Anyway, sorry about the rant but I'm pissed off. Thanks for listening.
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#2 Jon-Hebert Barto

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 08:34 PM

Sorry about that. Sad to hear, try to keep your chin up.
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#3 N DeWood

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 09:02 PM

Actually, there is a real valuable lesson for you here! You've done an amazing job putting a production together, that shows true dedication, that will pay off in the future.


BUT, you've made a huge mistake by not putting in writing what kind of an arrangement you all had together. In this business, NEVER work with anyone without putting in writing exactly what each one's expectation is. It is something you must do on each and every production, no matter the size. No exception. Since it looks like you've put everything together, you should've had him sign an agreement giving the rights to the script to you in exchange for deferred compensation and/or credit rights.

Believe it or not, depending on what oral representations were made, and if you have any witnesses, you may have legal rights that you are not aware of. Remember, a partnership can arise from a simple oral agreement followed by conduct of the parties. So check into that if you feel your rights and hardwork were trampled on!

Nick,

My first feature as a cinematographer that I have been spending min 30 hrs a week since January storyboarding, equipment testing, location scouting, meetings upon meetings upon meetings etc...etc... (on top of working 40 hrs), has fallen over and won't be getting made.

We were supposed to start shooting next week and I have organized to take my holidays from work to allow myself the time to be involved completely. It was only a no-budget feature shot on digital and no one was being paid, but still...

The producer/writer has apparently been offered an option on the script by a production company that he says has guaranteed him that they will raise the money needed to "do it properly". He says that when the money comes through he would still like to use all the people that have been involved up to now - yeah right, I bet you will.

Spending all this time and energy for nothing is bad enough but more than that is all the professional people that I have had meetings with in regard to the movie: camera hire, lighting hire, post production facilities etc...will now probably think that I am nothing but a time waster and a wanker as I will have to call them all and tell them that it's not going ahead.

Anyway, sorry about the rant but I'm pissed off. Thanks for listening.


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#4 Alex Ellerman

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 09:29 PM

ask him how much the option was for... because if it was $1, that's not a good sign from the new prodco and their ability to raise money...
best,
ae
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#5 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 10:39 PM

Look it happens more often than you think.

Happened to me on a film I was to shoot in Costa Rica...3 mil budget, stars, 7 week shoot, 2 month prep...great script.

Half the finiancing fell through when my deal was literally being given a final read to be signed...after two months of having already met with the director hours and hours a week.

I was pretty pissed too.

BUT

I got offered an other feature soon after, which I wouldn't have shot if I had done the cancelled one, and the it just won the two biggest awards at Sundance. So it all works itself out. Something else will come up.
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#6 Sidney King

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Posted 17 March 2006 - 12:19 AM

That certainly sounds like a frustrating experience.

I would point out (as others have done) that when it comes to no/low-budget projects run by novice producers, the DP often has much more hands-on experience and knowledge as to the logistics and mechanics of what it takes to actually shoot a film. Sometimes the DP ends up doing a whole host of things that is really outside the job description.

So, I think DPs should be careful they're not taken advantage of and essentially end up serving as a co-producer in addition to DP. That being said, remember that often times the producer(s) in those situations aren't being paid (or being paid next-to-nothing) for their work.

It can be a fine line between being a labor of love for all involved and being taken advantage of in terms of duties. Setting clear expectations at the beginning (preferrably in writing) is a good place to start.
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#7 Mark Williams

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Posted 17 March 2006 - 12:35 AM

Shame really that another script / film couldnt be organised in place after getting this all put together..
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#8 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 17 March 2006 - 02:55 AM

It?s always tough when stuff like this happens. It?s happened to me several times over the years, in various stages of prep. I think it happens to the best of us.
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#9 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 17 March 2006 - 09:16 AM

This has happened to me enough times that I no longer make myself available for any preproduction, contact crew members or rental houses without a signed contract which states that I have right of first refusal to provide DP services on the script, and a 10 percent deposit upfront which is non refundable if the shoot is cancelled within two weeks of the start date. I also put in a clause to be granted access to a digital copy of all of the material for the purposes of a reel within one month of the wrap date and other protective clauses which keep people from screwing me over. Interest bearing late charges if theres a delay in paying me, etc. I have no agent and I'm non union so I have to watch my own back with this stuff. Just remember if you don't know, Deferred pay means free.
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#10 Daniel Madsen

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Posted 17 March 2006 - 04:50 PM

Could you post a copy of that contract. You don't really learn the business end of Dping in film school. Thanks.
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 March 2006 - 07:31 PM

It is common to get into a contract a work guarantee clause, i.e. no matter what, you'll get "x" number of weeks of pay even if the shoot gets cancelled.

Trouble is getting the money owed you once the production closes...

Since most work for a DP is done with time cards and payroll companies, working as an employee, not an independent contractor, it's hard to get a salary "advance" or a down-payment on services.
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#12 N DeWood

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Posted 17 March 2006 - 09:22 PM

Hello madsen,

There are many contracts that I can post. Which one do you want? A DP for hire or producer contract? They're both different. I believe the original post described a DP who became a producer of a production without knowing it. Tell me what kind of work you anticipate doing, and then I can post a sample contract.

Nick,

[quote name='madsen' date='Mar 17 2006, 04:50 PM' post='96299']
Could you post a copy of that contract. You don't really learn the business end of Dping in film school. Thanks.
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#13 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 17 March 2006 - 11:44 PM

Madsen,

David is of course correct. Studios and branches have payroll companies and it's unlikely they will issue you a 1099 as an independent contractor for your work as a D.P. For now though, while you're shooting for students and pretty much anyone who can afford a camera, you have the freedom to ensure that you are not screwed over. I can't post my own contract but you don't need it. Make a list of what you want to see happen and have a lawyer look it over.

Edited by Michael LaVoie, 17 March 2006 - 11:52 PM.

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#14 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 02:05 AM

I also put in a clause to be granted access to a digital copy of all of the material for the purposes of a reel within one month of the wrap date and other protective clauses which keep people from screwing me over.

Have you ever actually gotten this? Copies of all of the footage for the whole film is quite a lot, and I've never heard of anyone getting this. Everyone would love to have this clause in their contract, but actually collecting on it seems like it would be next to impossible, and I can't see a producer ever agreeing to it. Just getting a cut of the film is hard enough, much less hours and hours of footage. If this is something that you routinely get, please let everyone know how you pull it off.
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#15 Daniel Madsen

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 05:30 PM

Nick,

How about a DP for hire contract.

It would be interesting to see the contracts professional DPs use to insure they don't over extend themselves in pre-production.

Not that I'll need one anytime soon...
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#16 peter orland

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 08:53 PM

Thanks for the comments.

Not that it's good to here that it happens to others but it helps me to feel less like a fool knowing that it does happen.

Thanks again.
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Paralinx LLC

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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Technodolly

Wooden Camera

Metropolis Post

Glidecam

Opal

Tai Audio

The Slider

rebotnix Technologies