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#1 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 11:31 PM

a student crew. . .
I swear, if I hear this one more time from a producer's mouth, I'm going into accounting. I mean, seriously, where do these people get off? Not only do they want to exploit students who will work for free, but to put them into major jobs with real equipment, much of which can be quite dangerous even for the experienced, for long hours, with no compensation (copy credit). I mean the nerve. It's honestly is enough to make me want to crawl through the phone and . . .

Now I'm all for students on sets, and hell, I wish I had been on more professional sets on my life, paid or unpaid. I still do unpaid shoots when I like the person I'm working with, or the project, or have nothing else to do. I haven't a problem with that. But even suggesting to shoot a feature, of ANY budget with a student volunteer crew boils my blood. What brilliant person thinks that making a student a gaffer is a great idea? How about I get a student to be the fight choreographer? Let me allow a student to rig my camera off of a car mount. . . I mean, yes, throw them on the set for some PA work, but for the love of god, understand that you'll save yourself a lot of headaches, and possibly some lawsuits, with a nice professional crew who aren't going to blow power to a location, hang a light wrong which can fall and kill someone, or rig the camera so it kaplunks when the car stops. . .

ok, rant over.
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#2 John Hoffler

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 12:03 AM

hey! I represent that! ;)

seriously, though. i highly agree. I would probably trust maybe 6 students out of the 100 in my class to work in any capacity on a set, let alone a Key. Even as a student who would love that kind of job, that sounds ridiculous and irresponsible.
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 12:05 AM

I know. It's just a good way to get sued. I mean, I seriously am all for students on sets. I love bringing freshmen from my university onto whatever I can. I love having them just around and asking questions which I can answer, or at least try to, and I even love having them working with grips. But in a key position. . .c'mon, it's just not right.
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#4 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 01:34 AM

There are times when one knows is time to get out of the project, before it is too late. For me, one of them it is when production says "let's hire students as crew."

Here in New Mexico, with all the movies coming in, there is always that "Yesterday I was a bartender, today I am a prop person" or whatever, story. But it happens here and there and most people in the department have enough experience to cover until the new one gets trained. And usually, the keys come from LA or NY anyway, so everyone learns. Nothing wrong with that. But, to hire an entire student crew for a low budget picture ? . . Yikes.

Adrian, I will assume you know what you are doing, and of course you would want to keep working with these people if it is in your best interest, but how far can too far go ? . . Like you say, what's gonna happen when someone gets hurt and the blaming game begins, etc. If it were me, I would be gone by now. In fact I have done it many times, walking away from a stupid production.

I will never claim to be the most experienced cameraman there is, but at least I would want to work with keys at least at my own level. "OK kids, today we learn how to start the genny and fire up this 10K. It's OK, my uncle walked me through it last night over the phone" :unsure:

Who said (some) producers were sleazy?

Will work for credit only, master!

Good luck.

Edited by Saul Rodgar, 05 September 2008 - 01:37 AM.

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#5 Ram Shani

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 04:18 AM

here in Israel same thing, even on big prime time realty shows. thay take the first cameramen with experienced and then there is 7 students cameramen(not even graduates) working for like 100$ 14h day.
there is a big struggle to stop this. all the cinematographers here unite to stop this and fight back.
the good news is that change begin.
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#6 Paul Bruening

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 06:06 AM

I agree. I think this employment method should be replaced. Instead of paying students $100.00 a day to show up stoned or hung-over and botch-up everything they touch, we should charge them $100.00 a day for the resume/credit value they're getting. Plus, we should charge them for the food and drinks they consume. No freeloaders!

Do I sound facetious?









I'm, actually, giving it some legitimate thought. A crew of 100 students on a 30 day shoot could create enough money to pay for my whole production. A little profit from the food and drinks could keep me in Stoli for a while.
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#7 Ram Shani

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 07:03 AM

not only student get stoned on set!
a lot of the pros i know smoke on set:(

i think students has to work on sets but as 3/4 assistants and gain work exp. so they will learn the craft and become pros
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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 08:25 AM

I think, Hope, I was able to talk to producers out of student crew. . . but as mentioned, if they insist, I'm just going to have to walk. Last thing I'd want would be to tied to a production/producer which from day one is heading for disaster. . .
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#9 Jim Keller

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 01:53 PM

When arguing with a producer, remember it's all about money. Make sure to inform them that a student crew is not cheaper, and why. Draw the graph of time wasted and overlay the equipment rental rate card on top of that if you have to. Show them what payouts for on-set injuries really run. Compare film grosses if you have to. You need to convince them that it's cheaper to do it right... not better.

That said, there obviously are times when going with a student crew is a great idea. A student film being the obvious example. But anything that needs to be done on zero-budget with a high tolerance for quality variations is often best tasked to a pack of eager college kids (viral videos and aspiring actor demo reels spring to mind). So be sure to emphasize that there's a time and a place for student crews, but this ain't it.

And the other thing to bear in mind, at least here in L.A., the students are wise to this and don't work for free any more anyway, so the producers who try it just slow down their production by three weeks as they wait for answers and wonder why the three calls they've gotten were all from people who've never been on a set before but would love to learn. :)
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#10 K Borowski

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 02:02 PM

Unless it is an indy film where the whole crew/cast is working for free, I wouldn't work on it, even if I were getting paid out of principle.

It is one thing if no one is getting paid. It is another thing entirely if some people are getting paid but the production is trying to cut corners by having people work for them for free.

As much as some people hate the union, this is exactly the reason why it was created in the first place, to prevent worker exploitation and get people fair pay and fight unfair hiring, employment practices and maintain a qualified workpool contingent upon safe labor conditions.
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#11 JD Hartman

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 09:08 AM

Unless it is an indy film where the whole crew/cast is working for free, I wouldn't work on it, even if I were getting paid out of principle.


"Indie film", is there really such an animal anymore? Hasn't every studio, formed a indie film company with a different name so they can cry poverty in the crew adverts and say no budget, no pay (except for the above the line jobs)?
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#12 Michele Peterson

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 05:55 PM

There are a few students that call themselves professional DP's, Gaffers etc. They were such on student productions and expect to step out into the real world as such. Those are the type that scare me the most. They really don't have any experience to know how to do the job properly because they aren't willing to admit that they need to learn from those more experienced than themselves.
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#13 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 06:03 PM

For myself, not too far removed from being a student, either, and working as a DP, I'd trust a student DP, if i saw they have the type of work I'm looking for, as a producer, faster than I would a gaffer.
But, of course, you're right, students; though everyone really, to succeed, must admit first to themselves their own limitations, and then later, let anyone hiring them know what they can and can't do. Problem is, of course, that such honesty is always hard to come by, and I always feel that in this industry often those who best "sell" themselves are best rewarded. I try to sell myself, but I abhor saying I can do something which I know I can't. A fine example of this was recently when a producer I work with a good deal asked what I thought about shooting the f900. I've never used it; told him, lost the job to someone who did know how to use it, of course, but felt better 'bout myself later on.
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#14 John Sprung

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 06:21 PM

... a producer I work with a good deal asked what I thought about shooting the f900. I've never used it; told him, ....

The right answer is "Oh, that old thing....." ;-)



-- J.S.
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#15 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 06:27 PM

Lol quite true John.
Hopefully in a few more years It'll be rentable for a song! Then i won't have to pass on jobs with it/ or it's sister cameras (e.g. well I never shot with a F23, but I know it's quite similar to the F900!, or, Well I havn't really used a 535 before, but I know the BL series pretty well).
To me, and to get off topic, but hell, i started the rant in the first place, the F900 always reminded me a bit of a Betacam on Steroids.
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#16 John Sprung

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 06:30 PM

... the F900 always reminded me a bit of a Betacam on Steroids.

That's precisely what it is. ;-)




-- J.S.
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#17 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 06:35 PM

damn. I know i should've tried to parlay my betacam endeavors into that shoot!
:ph34r:
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#18 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:09 PM

I know. It's just a good way to get sued. I mean, I seriously am all for students on sets. I love bringing freshmen from my university onto whatever I can. I love having them just around and asking questions which I can answer, or at least try to, and I even love having them working with grips. But in a key position. . .c'mon, it's just not right.


I agree Adrian. My short was basically no-budget but my Key still had a film degree. To bring a freshman as key is ridiculous...especially for a film with a working budget.
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#19 Michele Peterson

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 10:54 PM

I always feel that in this industry often those who best "sell" themselves are best rewarded. I try to sell myself, but I abhor saying I can do something which I know I can't. A fine example of this was recently when a producer I work with a good deal asked what I thought about shooting the f900. I've never used it; told him, lost the job to someone who did know how to use it, of course, but felt better 'bout myself later on.



I know how that type of situation goes. I fairly recently was taking to a producer about possibly working on a low-budget project with them as a camera op. They wanted to know if I had used a Sony V1U (a tiny, pro-sumer style camera). They were dead set on having someone who had used that model camera. It meant nothing to them that I have used tons of other Sony, Panasonic, JVC MiniDV cameras & pro-sumer HD cameras, not to mention the professional BetaSp, Pro HD cameras, etc. My reel and credits weren't a concern for them either! LOL

Edited by Michele Peterson, 11 September 2008 - 10:55 PM.

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