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reps and agents


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#1 Shaw H. Burrows

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 12:42 PM

It seems harder and harder to get jobs that pay what they did in the 80s & 90s. With advancements in digital media exploding and more and more graduates working for less
than what it cost to rent the gear they bought with their student loans, some of us are now having to reduce our rates to where we cant afford to feed our families. Please don't get me wrong on this . After I finished school I too was very eager to work, but I started right away with IA 873 in Toronto as a grip and worked my way up to DP. I guess what I'm trying to say here is I , like many of my peers, have had to take on a 2'nd job outside of our profession to make ends meet. This takes a great toll on our psyche, in some, great depression. Trying to avoid this situation I ask this. Where can a DP find representation?

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#2 David Rakoczy

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 03:55 PM

Getting a Rep/ Agent is easy.. getting a Rep who gets you 'work' is another story. Reps love to sign Dps.. as they get 10% of what ever you shoot.. even if they had nothing to do with your getting the gig. I know several Dps who have been with a Rep for years, faithfully paying the 10% and the Rep has never gotten them a gig... not one. The truth is, when the industry sees you as a desired commodity, Reps will come out of the woodwork to represent you... other than that, you pay the 10%... but on the bright side you get to say "Hey, I have an Agent"! :blink:

btw.. I empathize with you with regard to the underselling of our Craft.. I have even seen Shows where the DP or DP's parents contributed to the Budget so they (or their child) could shoot the Film. Not just underselling but outright 'buying' the Gig...

You would be amazed at what a hundred.. or a couple hundred grand will buy...

Edited by David Rakoczy, 27 October 2008 - 03:58 PM.

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#3 Richard Boddington

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 04:09 PM

I have even seen Shows where the DP or DP's parents contributed to the Budget so they (or their child) could shoot the Film. Not just underselling but outright 'buying' the Gig...

You would be amazed at what a hundred.. or a couple hundred grand will buy...


Really? Where can I find one of these DOPs with rich parents? Heck, I'll hire him :lol:

To Shawn....do not feel bad at all over taking a second job. I know of dozens of film people in all departments who are either not working at all, doing a second part time job, or working full time at some thing else until they can get back into the game.

You're in good company, lot's of film people are doing it.

It's a word to the wise for those just starting out, gives them an idea of what they will almost certainly face at some point.

R,
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 03:00 PM

I graduated from film school in 1991 at the age of 29, and it wasn't until 1999 that I got an agent, after my fifteenth feature, and it wasn't until 2003, when I was 41, that I made more than $20,000 a year as a DP, after having shot 23 features by that point.

My wife mainly supported my DP "lifestyle" and even after 23 features, it seemed more like a hobby than a real career.

All this to say that it can take a long time to get the ball rolling and to be able to build on a decade of contacts and credits.

I tried to get an agent off and on over the early years, but the truth is that it wasn't until I went to Sundance with "Twin Falls Idaho" in 1999 that agents were interested in me. The lesson learned is that when the time is right, agents start calling you, not the other way around. Nowadays, I get calls all the time from agents -- I don't think they've necessarily heard about me directly, but they keep hearing about me from others indirectly.

My salary jumped dramatically when I started shooting union features - from an average of $6000 per feature (hence why shooting three features a year barely earned me $20,000) before 2003 to an average of $25,000 per feature in 2004. That was a big help, financially.

On the other hand, rates are rather flat these days and most studios don't want to pay much more than union minimum rates unless you are a star DP. Once I made the jump to union films and rates, climbing above the guild minimum has been slow.

I have benefitted from having a supportive wife and a lower-cost lifestyle with few debts, giving me the ability to not sweat so much over my rates. Over the years, this has helped in the long-term since I am not driven so much by the need to earn "x" amount of money -- and being cheaper to hire than some other midrange DP's has probably helped me get some jobs.

In other words, not being in this for the money in some ways has helped me keep progressing forward, and thus earning more money, which seems a contradiction.
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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 03:17 PM

Well David, I certainly don't feel nearly as bad about only turning a few thousand here and there DPing anymore! And Of course, as with most other professions, once you get an agent/manager you really in a lot of ways may no longer need them....
You are your own best and cheapest salesperson!
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