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First AC shows his DP reel to client on set?? Should I be pissed?


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#1 Mike Angelo Torres

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 10:39 PM

So this is the story. I am a working DP that has busted my ass to get clients and representation that now gets me work. I own 2 very pricey camera packages and my bills are not small if I don't shoot I don't eat. I was shooting a national commercial spot and on set was the executive producer from a production company that has hired me 3 times thus far (all with the same director). We were shooting in a small house in LA and the director requested that all 9 of the clients and producers be put in a separate room so we could work. The video village was near to the camera staging area and when my AC disappeared for a bit to long to retrieve a lens I went back to the area where the lens and clients were side by side, and what I found was my first AC showing the man who hired me and is responsible for my paychecks his reel. I was shocked and I confronted him about it. His response was its not what I think and that this producer is just going to help him find a rep.
  • I feel this is extremely disrespectful and in poor taste.
  • How did this AC even know who to talk to unless he was planning. I know he had never met my client before this day.
  • What would you do?

This is my trip. This AC is not even the guy I usually use on jobs. He asked me to get on this one and I had him flown out to LA to give him a shot. The last thing I want to worry about when shooting is some punk kid trying to get in with my clients. If he would have asked me I would have sent his reel to this producer and to other reps, but he didn't, he came on to my set, on a job that I booked and got him paid for and started showing his reel. It was a reel slap in the face (pun intended)
Thoughts??
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#2 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 10:52 PM

This is my trip. This AC is not even the guy I usually use on jobs....


Asked and Answered. Not your regular guy, why would you be surprised? Years ago I did a corporate shoot in San Diego for an ongoing client of mine. It suddenly dawned on me during the prep that if I hired even one person from San Diego to be on my crew, my client would probably get raided after I left. Even if my client was loyal to me, it still would make me look bad to have someone that spineless and brainless go right around me. I brought my entire crew from LA. Still had the client several years later.

He asked me to get on this one and I had him flown out to LA to give him a shot. The last thing I want to worry about when shooting is some punk kid trying to get in with my clients. If he would have asked me I would have sent his reel to this producer and to other reps, but he didn't, he came on to my set, on a job that I booked and got him paid for and started showing his reel. It was a reel slap in the face (pun intended)
Thoughts??


You should make up a crappy demo reel, put his name on it, and then pass it around to the rest of the clients. Although I guess there is a danger they may want to like it because you are recommending it so even if it is crap they just might assume it is something new and innovative. Scrub that idea.

For this AC to continue on this job, suggest they go up to the director and ask to direct a few scenes. It would be interesting to see how your AC responds to your request as it is no different than what the AC did to you.
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 10:55 PM

This is one of your repeat clients and I'm sure there's a reason for that. While I'd say it is out of line to show one's reel on set, without knowing all of the facts of the case, hard to make a call. What if the guy had asked the kid to see his reel? Personally I'd've done it elsewhere, ya know, on set, you work!
Sadly not much one can do after the fact 'cept to say if you don't feel comfortable with the AC after this there's no reason you have to hire him again. We are often in a cut-throat business, sad as it is to say But I'd also wager that if you do good work for someone you'll continue to be asked to do good work for 'em. You're the sure thing, ya know? as opposed to new-comer. If anything the kid might get considered for some shoots which possible wouldn't've even gotten thrown your way. Of course, I know nothing of all the specifics, so I am just assuming.
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#4 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 10:59 PM

Yeah, he's not very polite nor savvy as to how this business works.

When I get hired by other Cameramen to do work with them, for them, or in place of them, I never hand over my own card or push myself for the client to call me directly for work. It is always very clear that I am working FOR someone else and that if the client wants me in the future, they'd have to go through the original source. I have heard stories of other Cameramen who do the same sort of work that I do, and they have a reputation for crossing that line. Word does get around and does affect their careers.

It can get tricky as the business is small and misunderstandings could take place as paths do cross in a variety of ways.

But even for an experienced AC (or anyone else) to "apply" for his boss's job at the job itself and/or afterwards is just very poor form. If anything, if the client/Producer has any experience, he'll recognize the inappropriateness of what your AC did and would never hire him anyway. Even if your AC was not trying for a job from your client, he still should have approached YOU first for YOUR advice and then asked for permission to approach the client. He made a very poor choice.

As for your reaction, just letting your new AC know how inappropriate it was (in a professional tone) and how it ruined his chance of ever working with you again, should be enough. Letting others know his name would also be appropriate so other DPs have ample warning. And it may be worth the time to "apologize" to your client and explain that your AC is new to you. Let him finish the job (assuming it's short) and leave it at that. The universe will sort it all out.

I really wouldn't be very worried at all about your relationship with the client. They are clearly impressed enough with you and your ability as you continue to be called. As "impressive" as the AC's reel might be, to the client, he is just the AC who is hoping to be at your level one day. Your client is more than likely uninterested in giving a working AC the chance to "move up" on his projects. Your job is probably very safe, or at least, not threatened by that AC. If necessary, ask your client about the exchange, apologize if necessary, and illustrate your own professionalism as it can be an opportunity for YOU to prove yourself even more.
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#5 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 11:10 PM

It is a dog-eat-dog world we live in. It's even unfair for me to say that, because I hate that sentiment, but it happens everywhere.

If you feel uncomfortable with anyone on your crew, you should look into replacing them asap.

It is very unprofessional for your AC to do that, but; if you are worried, that should motivate you to work harder...no?
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#6 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 12:44 AM

OK, this is business, so you need to fire this guy immediately. He has undermined your authority and that of the production because essentially what this AC is saying is he's a better DP than you are and the production company made a mistake in hiring you as the DP, whether this is true or not is irrelevant, it is a breach of trust and respect. He's poaching on YOUR turf so this is not personal, it's business. You can't have your underlings ruining your reputation or stepping on your d*ck especially in front of your producers and director. As I see it, you really have no choice here, inaction would mean a unforgivable loss of face which someone in your position can not afford. This must be dealt with quickly and decisively. If you get a reputation for being soft, your authority on set becomes compromised and that's something you simply cannot allow. You SHOULD have taken care of personally firing this guy that same day, but tomorrow will be good enough. make sure you have someone else lined up to immediately take his place, even if the guy you hire is not quite as good as this guy. It will show the rest of your crew, you are NOT someone to be trifled with. This is a matter a principle and you cannot show weakness. That's MY opinion and EXACTLY what III would do. B)
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#7 Richard Boddington

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 01:01 AM

Yes you should be royally ticked off! I know I would be.

This sort of thing has really been hitting home to me lately. I recently got a call from a gaffer I have worked with complaining to me that a different gaffer I worked with is using my work as his own and trying to get jobs with it. Telling people it was his production company that did the work, sure enough I found my spots on this guys website being passed off as his own work. He worked on them as a gaffer, but it certainly was not his company that produced them. I did that.

It's clear to me that in any situation where a crew member requests a copy of the end product that the crew members position must be burned into the video. i.e. Dave Smith 1st AC. Other wise there is a very strong likely hood that the AC will pass off the DOPs work as his own.

People are so desperate now that they will do any thing to advance themselves.

I've experienced so many situations where crew members tried to poach clients it's just insane. It doesn't stop there...watch what happens if crew members hear that a financier is on set, they'll all come running with their scripts and pitch packages. If that's not un-professional I don't know what is?

It's dog-eat-dog out there alright. I mean you might as well become a politician if you want to deal with this sort of under handed nonsense.

R,
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#8 Chris Keth

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 01:05 AM

That's in pretty poor taste. He clearly doesn't understand how small the industry is and how quiakly something like that could get around and negatively affect his future work.

That said, and only half in jest, you need a good AC? ;)
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#9 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 01:18 AM

His response was its not what I think and that this producer is just going to help him find a rep.

OK, I'll assume that this is true. But even if it is I have problems with it. First, his boss was waiting for a lens. When your boss is waiting it's not the time to be trying to drum up future work or socializing. Second, even if he wasn't busy at the moment, this is not the place to be showing someone a reel for those purposes. Arrange a meeting, send him a reel later, or give him one at the end of the job to watch on his own time. Of course, if he really was trying to poach this client, then it's even more unacceptable.
There are plenty of people who only think of the short term and think their mis-guided actions in these situations will help them. Sometimes they get a job because of it, but in the long run word spreads and there name is mud. This is a small business and most people know, or know of, almost everyone else that is in their same job category. It's important that those other people respect you and your actions. People should be more aware of that when they do these types of things.
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#10 Matt Workman

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 01:41 AM

I've had similar things happen with a gaffer I worked with <_< Key word "worked."
You should ask the client/producer his side of the story. I'd be surprised if he didn't offer it right away.

Matt
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#11 Chris Keth

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 02:03 AM

It's a shame that so many people want to work in film that, for many, all semblance of ethics go out the window. I generally believe that people are generally good, honest, etc. but there are days that make me wonder.
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#12 Warwick Hempleman

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 02:21 AM

Can the guy, can your working relationship with him, and if ever asked, give an accurate description of his behavior. If you want more info, call the rental houses where he's checked out in the past and ask what the guys on the floor think of him, then tell your story. With friends (or seconds) like that, who needs enemies?
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#13 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 03:43 AM

There's a reason why most DP's prefer AC's who are happy being AC/Camera Tech's, and don't really have high aspirations to be a DP.

Not only is what he did completely disrespectful, but it also distracted him from his duties to you as an AC. I probably would have been more angry at the delay in getting a new lens than the cause for the delay.

If he's that unprofessional, then I would seek a replacement ASAP. But hold onto him until you for sure have a replacement, and try to keep any drama to a minimum. Since you brought the guy out, you could end up looking just as bad if this ends badly.
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#14 Ira Ratner

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 09:17 AM

OK, this is business, so you need to fire this guy immediately. He has undermined your authority and that of the production because essentially what this AC is saying is he's a better DP than you are and the production company made a mistake in hiring you as the DP, whether this is true or not is irrelevant, it is a breach of trust and respect. He's poaching on YOUR turf so this is not personal, it's business. You can't have your underlings ruining your reputation or stepping on your d*ck especially in front of your producers and director. As I see it, you really have no choice here, inaction would mean a unforgivable loss of face which someone in your position can not afford. This must be dealt with quickly and decisively. If you get a reputation for being soft, your authority on set becomes compromised and that's something you simply cannot allow. You SHOULD have taken care of personally firing this guy that same day, but tomorrow will be good enough. make sure you have someone else lined up to immediately take his place, even if the guy you hire is not quite as good as this guy. It will show the rest of your crew, you are NOT someone to be trifled with. This is a matter a principle and you cannot show weakness. That's MY opinion and EXACTLY what III would do. B)


Of course.

You are not paying a guy to INTERVIEW for future work.

You can simply say, "I know you might not be aware of this, but you committed a major infraction that's not really acceptable in the industry. I'm sorry that I have to let you go, but perhaps you'll learn from this experience."

If you try and TALK to the guy about it--HE'S gonna get pissed, and YOU'RE the one who owns full rights to that emotion in this situation.
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#15 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 09:38 AM

Yeah, he's not very polite nor savvy as to how this business works.

.....When I get hired by other Cameramen to do work with them, for them, or in place of them, I never hand over my own card or push myself for the client to call me directly for work. It is always very clear that I am working FOR someone else and that if the client wants me in the future, they'd have to go through the original source.....


This is an excellent point. I have asked for business cards from the person who hired me specifically to avoid poaching a client, even by accident. Ideally, having your name on the business card of the person who hired your would result in them getting any future calls.
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#16 Alfeo Dixon

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 10:43 AM

If you really want to get back at this guy, just email the other DP's in your area with a simply explaining what he did on your set.
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#17 Serge Teulon

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 11:14 AM

What a terrible thing for that AC to have done to you. Its made me feel incensed!!
Even though we work in an environment which is highly competitive, there is no excuse that he can give that provides him with any reason for his actions. There are right ways to do things and wrong ways.
He took the low road.

The universe is a great power.
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#18 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 01:42 PM

Yeah, that is pretty shitty. As mentioned above, I would talk to the producer for his take / side of the story.

I would never hire the guy again and make sure I mention that to other DP's who may hire him as an AC.
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#19 Kieran Scannell

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 03:48 PM

You should be pissed Mike but you shouldn't be worried, any client worth his salt would not crossover to a camera assistant (hired by you!)
after seeing his reel. And if they do that's ok because there are more clients!

Did you tell this guy his conduct was unacceptable!

Kieran.
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#20 John Sprung

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 05:25 PM

If you really want to get back at this guy, just email the other DP's in your area with a simply explaining what he did on your set.

Think carefully about that. You really don't want to have to explain that e-mail in a court of law. The less you say about this guy by name, the better. If anybody asks, just say he's a nice guy, absolutely nothing more. Use the most ironic tone of voice you can muster.





-- J.S.
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