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Employee vs. Sub-Contractor vs. Volunteer


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#1 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 12:15 AM

Hey guys, hows it going? Quick question for you here (well, maybe it's not so quick...). How does one "hire" people to work on a film set without any upfront or wage payments... The only monies they would be paid are a percentage of our profits.

At first I thought going to the sub-contractor route would be best, since I don't have to provide Insurance, or pay wages to employee's... But upon further investigation, the IRS definition for an Sub-contractor would not really apply to a person I would hire to help make a film (Cameraman, Production Assistant) because any time you direct a contractor how to do there job, they are considered Employee's.

Then I thought about going the volunteer route... But then from what I understand, I won't be able to make monetary promises to them or pay them any money for there service at any time.

This pretty much leaves me with just one route... hiring them as an employee. However, the reason I want to avoid this route is that I don't want to have to pay weekly wages, provide workers comp, withhold taxes, etc...

How does most other Indie films get by with have people work on there films only for a "Profit percentage"? Other than the illegal ways?

any help is appreciated!
Thanks,
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#2 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 02:09 AM

Back again huh? You asked this question before and I believe you got answers then.
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#3 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 04:27 AM

I've always been here... Just not participating.

Sorry, I didn't realize I already asked the question... :unsure:
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#4 Mark Williams

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 04:57 AM

Landon Its best to say you wont get paid. I thought about this too. deferring payment means Zero money. I never looked at it this way because like everyone else I thought my film must make money because Its me. Dangerous thinking. Even top Hollywood films that are succesful dont always make money. An indie film is lucky to get watched. Whos going to pay? Do you believe it might be aired on national networks? And they would pay you enough to cover costs? If so then you have to consider doing it properly and pay wages. You will no doubt be auditioning good actors who have learnt their craft and looking for work. Something else to learn? Or employ someone to do it.

As an amatuer Try to learn by getting as much experience as you can before risking yours or someone elses money into a venture that you can't make reasonable predictions about. What you might consider good could be way off target. Its so easy to fall in love with or become oblivious to footage and ideas that get imprinted over and over in your subconscious. Whatever you do before investing hard cash make sure you have a target audience and everything is pre-planned. But learn learn learn everything.
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#5 robert duke

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Posted 22 July 2007 - 01:30 AM

why would we work on your film for free with the promise on deferred payment. how would we pay our rent, car payment, school loans? Remember you dream of making your film is your dream. not ours. there is no promise that will pay rent. respect the people who craft films and act in film who have trained for years to learn their crafts, yes your script could be the next big hit, it could also never make it out of the editing bay. there have been great scripts that became bad films, and bad scripts that became great films. case is point "american grafetti" bad script great film. dont sell me your film, pay me with respect.
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#6 Mark Bonnington

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 05:18 PM

At first I thought going to the sub-contractor route would be best, since I don't have to provide Insurance, or pay wages to employee's... But upon further investigation, the IRS definition for an Sub-contractor would not really apply to a person I would hire to help make a film (Cameraman, Production Assistant) because any time you direct a contractor how to do there job, they are considered Employee's.

Who says that you'd be directing them on how to do their jobs? What you're doing is telling them specifically what you want from them in order to get the project finished in a way that satisfies you. The crew on a movie are no different than a contracted computer programmer - they follow the specifications in a document, but then make changes according to requests from the hiring company. The mere fact that the production is a short-lived project, using short-term workers, is justification enough for giving them the classification of being contract employees. Perhaps if you had the employees permanently working on every production, then you could justify them as employees instead of contracted help.

Don't over-think the process, and don't let the vaguities of the IRS definitions scare you.
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Metropolis Post

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Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Ritter Battery

Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

Abel Cine

Opal