Jump to content


Photo

The unfortunate experience of a Director of Photography


  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#1 Xavier Plaza

Xavier Plaza
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 288 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Guayaquil - Ecuador

Posted 23 May 2007 - 09:27 AM

I found this article in IMAGO (European Federation of Cinematographers), i supposed at this time that things didn't happen...



http://www.imago.org...ws/2007/n35.htm
  • 0

#2 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5482 posts
  • Director

Posted 23 May 2007 - 08:55 PM

Wow, very interesting, obviously there are some lessons to be learned in that.

Hindsight being 20/20 I'm sure he'd do things differently.

R,
  • 0

#3 Patrick Cooper

Patrick Cooper
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 868 posts
  • Other

Posted 24 May 2007 - 03:43 AM

Oh my gosh! Never in a million years would I have suspected that such dodgy things took place while watching this film.

Incidentally, there's a documentary in the Special Features of the DVD called 'Of Penguin and Men' which shows what the film makers had to endure during the shooting. Not only a great documentary, just as good (if not better) than the main film itself, but I would think that this would be evidence of what this guy went through in that harsh environment.
  • 0

#4 Alexandre Lucena

Alexandre Lucena
  • Guests

Posted 24 May 2007 - 07:43 AM

Pehaps that is the reason why the entire film crew entered the stage to receive the Oscar all carrying penguin desguises. :P


Alexandre
  • 0

#5 Nate Downes

Nate Downes
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1638 posts
  • Florida, USA

Posted 24 May 2007 - 08:56 AM

disgusting how people are all too often treated in this industry.
  • 0

#6 Xavier Plaza

Xavier Plaza
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 288 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Guayaquil - Ecuador

Posted 24 May 2007 - 09:03 AM

Anybody knows what happen in this case, suppose the cinematographer win the lawsuit, what do you think it would be the academy position??? , they recognize like co-director, or that's just a in lawsuit...??? There are other case in academy history ???
  • 0

#7 Jason Maeda

Jason Maeda
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 361 posts

Posted 24 May 2007 - 04:18 PM

David, what do you think? Does this sound like something that could really be happening?

jk :ph34r:
  • 0

#8 Nick Mulder

Nick Mulder
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1023 posts
  • Other
  • Auckland, New Zealand

Posted 24 May 2007 - 04:26 PM

Well, if this is the case then the guy deserves so much more.

But as always there are two sides to every argument and one or both parties are either being dishonest, disingenuous or at least there is a misunderstanding of sorts ...

Would like to hear from the other 'side' - often never do, its usually in whomevers best interests to keep such things as silent as possible.
  • 0

#9 Xavier Plaza

Xavier Plaza
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 288 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Guayaquil - Ecuador

Posted 24 May 2007 - 07:22 PM

David, what do you think? Does this sound like something that could really be happening?

jk :ph34r:




hi Jason, when i found this article i don't believed what I'm read... but then i think that have been publish by IMAGO, i assume this article and lawsuit have something true, we have to wait the jury results and like Nick says : "Would like to hear from the other 'side'....
  • 0

#10 Xavier Plaza

Xavier Plaza
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 288 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Guayaquil - Ecuador

Posted 24 May 2007 - 07:40 PM

Another article

http://www.variety.c...8...yid=13&cs=1

I don't get it ...really...

"As director of photography, Laurent Chalet did a very good job in difficult conditions, but that doesn't qualify him for a director's credit," Darondeau said Monday. "The director has the idea, the point of view, tells a story and has the final cut. It is a very different job."....

Doesn't qualify ????, imagine someone give you the "instructions " to shoot a lot of footage that's the original idea... alone 13 moths by your own in the atlantic... wow i believe somewhere in this process you have to put your ideas, visions, point of you...etc, do you???
  • 0

#11 Brad Grimmett

Brad Grimmett
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2660 posts
  • Steadicam Operator
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 May 2007 - 05:21 AM

This is a very common story. Producers abuse below the line crew quite often. They will take as much from you as they can while giving you the least possible. Everyone who works on a day to day basis in this business knows this. I feel bad for the guy, and I hope he wins his lawsuit, but I don't think his situation is very uncommon. Sometimes it's best to just move on and write things like this off as a life lesson. I've had my share of life lessons, and I'm better off because of it.
  • 0

#12 Robert Hughes

Robert Hughes
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 873 posts
  • Sound Department
  • Minneapolis

Posted 25 May 2007 - 07:57 AM

This is a very common story. Producers abuse below the line crew quite often. They will take as much from you as they can while giving you the least possible. Everyone who works on a day to day basis in this business knows this....


I would further generalize to say that "everybody who works ... in business knows this. It's the nature of industrial enterprise that owners and top level executives are rewarded at a scale completely out of proportion to that of the guy standing at the drill press or the lady selling the parts, although they all do their day's work. "You don't like it? Start yer own bizness, or move to Communist China, where everybody's a slave." Such is the end result of any discussion about wages & fairness.

Edited by Robert Hughes, 25 May 2007 - 08:01 AM.

  • 0

#13 Brad Grimmett

Brad Grimmett
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2660 posts
  • Steadicam Operator
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 May 2007 - 01:28 PM

Very good point Robert. I guess you don't have to look much further than the CEO's that get huge salary increases at the same time they are laying off thousands of employees.
  • 0

#14 Alexander Joyce

Alexander Joyce
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 117 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Oslo, Norway

Posted 25 May 2007 - 02:42 PM

I would further generalize to say that "everybody who works ... in business knows this. It's the nature of industrial enterprise that owners and top level executives are rewarded at a scale completely out of proportion to that of the guy standing at the drill press or the lady selling the parts, although they all do their day's work. "You don't like it? Start yer own bizness, or move to Communist China, where everybody's a slave." Such is the end result of any discussion about wages & fairness.


We're in an industry that is particularly bad though. There is not much seperating some shoots from sweatshops in Burma.
Young people who are desperate to get a foot in the door are used to such a degree it's sickening. No one want to speak up, afraid that they'll never be putting their foot on that or any other set ever again.
Even senior crew have to put up with this crap and risk being undercut by younger crew who might be willing to put up with a producers demands.

Then again it can be the greatest industry there is. Guess we're so privileged we get to have both the best and worst.
  • 0

#15 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5482 posts
  • Director

Posted 25 May 2007 - 02:54 PM

"You don't like it? Start yer own bizness"

Well.......business owners who say this do have a point, they don't force any one to work for them. There are thousands of employees turned employers in this world.

R,
  • 0

#16 Evan Winter

Evan Winter
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 202 posts
  • Director
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 May 2007 - 05:34 PM

IMHO (America-centric) -

1. Employers by the very nature of being employers take a greater risk financially (no one pays them bi-weekly) and so their pay-off should be greater.

2. It is a free country and no one is forced to work for anyone else. When a job is taken on (as long as the terms of the employment are disclosed up front) then the employee has clearly deemed the terms acceptable. If, while working, they change their minds they are always free to leave the job.

3. If there is a concern about undercutting, availability of free labor, etc., then this arises because others have deemed the terms of employment acceptable and in the case of free labor desirable (to the extent that by providing this free labor they have reasoned that they will later be rewarded - finally being hired, networking, etc).

4. If an employee is truly unhappy with the employment but wishes to remain within the industry they can always start up their own business and become 'the employer'. There a few places on this entire planet where starting up your own business is easier than in America.

I say this as an individual who began his career in film by interning for free for 4 months (and taken myself well into debt to do so) and then P.Aing and then 2nd ACing and then 1st'ing and AD'ing and finally directing/dp'ing. Then, after becoming fed up with the old school prod. co. director rep system I started up my own production company and work with a manager who reps me.

I am entirely my own boss. I control all the production funds that run through my company and I shoot more than I ever was when I relied solely on the director's reps at my old prod. co to get me jobs. I can put more money in front of the camera with my system than the old fashioned production companies can (they take 10% margin, plus other skims here and there) and I'm happier.

Long story short, in a place like America, where the citizens have a relatively high degree of freedom there are options.

End note: Given his side of the story I think that in all fairness the DP from March of the Penguins should have been better compensated or rewarded by a co-director credit. My post is more aimed at the replies from other posters about their dislike for the Capitalist structure of remuneration.

I think it's important to remember that any one of those 'drill press workers' could start up their own business too and that no one forces them to work that drill.

I will grant that the current form of Capitalism in America re-enforces class immobility and I personally find that distasteful and I will acknowledge that if you are not well off financially it is orders of magnitudes harder to do the things one needs to do to get ahead. It's true, the game is not fair but we must all still play it to the best of our ability.
  • 0

#17 Alessandro Machi

Alessandro Machi
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3318 posts
  • Other
  • California

Posted 25 May 2007 - 06:05 PM

Well, if this is the case then the guy deserves so much more.

But as always there are two sides to every argument and one or both parties are either being dishonest, disingenuous or at least there is a misunderstanding of sorts ...

Would like to hear from the other 'side' - often never do, its usually in whomevers best interests to keep such things as silent as possible.


I believe the key to the whole lawsuit is the cinematographer was forced to sign a new contract "under financial duress" that was actually caused by the production itself, the cinematographer had desperately needed the money because the production schedule itself had put him in deficit while not even paying him a realistic minimum wage.

I had a similar thing happen to me (but on a much smaller and much safer scale).

I had agreed to do a 2 camera video shoot, including lighting and audio & then editing of a live six part seminar series for 500 bucks a seminar because it was for my friends church. My friend, of all people, actually thought I had said 500 dollars total for ALL SIX seminars. I found out about the misunderstanding one night before the seminar was to start, and instead of bailing on the project, I went through with it anyways on the understanding that we would "figure something out".

The solution I came up with was to make up the missing amount of the budget on the VHS copies they would need, (100 sets of six vhs copies). Rather than being able to enjoy a bit of residual money off my own sweat equity by making the copies, I was only able to cover the deficit from the shoot from making the vhs copies. It took a couple of weeks to make the copies and the only saving grace was I could make the vhs copies while I was actually editing different projects.

When I got towards the end of making the 100 sets of six VHS copies, they offered me a final check that would free me up from having to make the final few sets of copies, however, they also had me sign a waiver that said they had honored their part of the "agreement" BEFORE I was given that final check . The combination of not having to do the final few sets of copies and also getting a check were too much of an incentive to pass, and I signed the waiver and then I was given my check. I consider that illegal, you can't bait someone with the promise of a check for money they have already earned in exchange for the payment of the already owed money.

A couple of years later I noticed they were still selling the six part series that I had shot and edited for something like 50 bucks less per set than a new seminar series that they had recently made. I had been cut out of the future will and that was why they could sell the series that I had shot for so much less, in other words they ripped me off to make the video and then ripped me off in how they renumerated me because they considered me an outsider, but the next job, presumeably done by insiders, were paid more.

And therein lies the scam. They cut me out of the future will even though they had acknowledged that someone else had tried and failed to make the exact same seminar series on video for this same speaker a couple years prior to the one that I was successful in completing.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The DP in this story is being treated the same way that I had been treated (although I will be the first to admit his situation was a zillion times more dangerous and physically more taxing than mine). These two filmmakers were incredibly underpaid to begin with, and then when it came time to reward them for completing the project, they get cut out of the future will by being waved a check they desperately needed, even though it was that very same project that actually created the financial desperation they were in. The DP should get millions for the deceit and fraud, and he should get an Oscar as well, and if the director who claims to have gone to the Arctic didn't actually go, than that director should be sued as well for theft of intellectual experience and fraud, and the credits on the movie need to be redone as well.
  • 0

#18 Alexander Joyce

Alexander Joyce
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 117 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Oslo, Norway

Posted 25 May 2007 - 06:31 PM

1. Employers by the very nature of being employers take a greater risk financially (no one pays them bi-weekly) and so their pay-off should be greater.


Still I see no need to rip people off. Yes you will probably earn more money because there would be fewer mouths to eat from the same plate, but how can one possibly defend that kind of practice. The producer wouldn't even have a film had it not been for the 1st AC, the gaffer, the grip, the PA, the set dresser, etc, etc...

2. It is a free country and no one is forced to work for anyone else. When a job is taken on (as long as the terms of the employment are disclosed up front) then the employee has clearly deemed the terms acceptable. If, while working, they change their minds they are always free to leave the job.


Well they kind of make a good point of that in Fast Food Nation where one of the characters leaves the meat packing plant to work at the hotel because of the better conditions there, but ends up back at the meat packing plant out of the necessity to earn enough money to make ends meet.

3. If there is a concernabout undercutting, availability of free labor, etc., then this arises because others have deemed the terms of employment acceptable and in the case of free labor desirable (to the extent that by providing this free labor they have reasoned that they will later be rewarded - finally being hired, networking, etc).


Yes, but that is only because people are dumb. Once they demand to be paid for their services the producers will turn around and replace them with the next person in line who will then do the job for free. They are feeding this never ending conveyor belt and some people have no problem exploiting that.
  • 0

#19 Jon Rosenbloom

Jon Rosenbloom
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 713 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 28 May 2007 - 12:24 PM

The Imago article doesn't mention what the second contract paid the DP. If it bumped his rate up from low-budget doc DP to major motion picture DP, and paid him in full then and there ... then he can kick himself for having waived the points, but that's hindsight. No one knows ahead of time that a film is going to break box-office records.

But, the producers don't always win: There was the time when a guy felt that $400 for a twelve hour day was too high a rate, so I said "Ok, make it $260 for eight ..."
  • 0

#20 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11947 posts
  • Other

Posted 28 May 2007 - 03:58 PM

Unfortunate but unfortunately not unusual. In the last year I have been treated with disregard -well - with utter contempt by a production team, some of whom I thought were, if not friends, were at least trusted and reliable acquaintances. Or even just reasonable human beings. Obviously, we all try to go into these insane film industry jobs, a bunch of random people thrown together for three months, with no illusions about the individual's tendency to look after number one.

But I've discovered that when the situation dictates it, many people in the film industry are capable of more or less anything. They will lie to you, they will lie about you, they will allow you to be seen in a bad light for little or no reason - they will certainly prevent you even from preempting problems if it costs them the slightest political capital; they will actively involve themselves in problems which they do not adequately understand in order to establish an alibi, and then abruptly distance themselves, overlooking managerial responsibilities, when their meddling backfires.

People will deny your problems point blank:

"...and it's putting me in a very difficult position."
"No, it's not."

"...and this problem will occur if we don't take these following preventative measures..."
"No, it won't."

...then run like hell when the poop hits the fan. They will take credit if it isn't broken, and blame you if it breaks. They will cheat, swindle; go behind your back and over your head; even commit theft and criminal damage to avoid damage to themselves. They will strictly enforce a chain of command if you have a problem; then, when the chain of command has a problem, they will let everyone in sight take it out on you, more or less simultaneously.

People will keep critical information from you for no reason better than that they can't be bothered to tell you, or wish to maintain a sense of superiority, or are simply incompetent to understand its relevance. People will actively work against you and compete with you for the tiniest perceived sociological or professional advantage. You can work your arse off trying to make things work for your employers, and even if you succeed, they'll dismiss you in a heartbeat if it's politically expedient; they'll do their best to completely destroy you both personally and professionally if it'll spare them the most trifling insult.

And these are people you thought you knew.

I'm not trying to imply that the film industry is a wall to wall nest of vipers, but I have been shocked in the last year as to what people are actually capable of doing to long-term acquaintances and trusted colleagues. The sort of behaviour described in this thread would once have surprised me; not any more.

Phil
  • 0


Metropolis Post

Ritter Battery

Broadcast Solutions Inc

The Slider

CineTape

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Opal

Aerial Filmworks

rebotnix Technologies

Visual Products

FJS International, LLC

Technodolly

Willys Widgets

Glidecam

Abel Cine

Wooden Camera

CineLab

Paralinx LLC

Tai Audio

Rig Wheels Passport

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

CineTape

rebotnix Technologies

Glidecam

The Slider

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Opal

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineLab

Paralinx LLC

Metropolis Post

Aerial Filmworks

Wooden Camera

Abel Cine

Tai Audio

FJS International, LLC

Technodolly

Ritter Battery

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

Visual Products

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS