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Does this sound like a low offer to be apart of a film crew?


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#1 CJ Henke III

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 12:20 AM

I production has come into my town and I am definitely looking for a job, but I don't want to run into working over 70 hours a week for only $600/ wk. Here is the job description, does this sound right to you? And what would the title for this crew position be?

(CJ is me fore short)

CJ,

we are looking for a person to coordinate all of our video playback on the film. this person would work closely with the director, producer and 1st AD to list all, wrangle, get to editor for editing, put into correct format of all playback and get to our playback person on a timely manner for each day of shooting that would require playback to be done onset.

rate; $600 wk. (not a lot of money but a good job to work closely with director and producer on the show). position would start on Monday 3/23 and go till the 3rd wk of June and maybe the end of june.

let me know if this might interest you...........thx
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#2 Will Earl

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 08:38 AM

Sounds like you'd be Video Assisting (or thereabouts) on the film. I can't quite figure out if they're after an VA operator or an assistant to the VA operator? I'm not sure if the 'playback person' refers to the Dailies Projectionist or the VA Operator.

$600 p/week is probably cutting it fairly close to minimum wage I would have thought, although I have no idea what minimum wage is in the US (I'm assuming your in the US). So I'm just going off a 10 hour day at $12 an hour and ultimately being not much help.

-W
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 09:43 AM

Sounds like a joke -- $100/day for a 9-week-ish non-union feature??? They can afford to shoot for over two months but they want to pay people near minimum wage?

I'd only consider this if you need the experience or credit, and not for the salary. And in that case, what does it matter if you work 60 hours a week if you're doing it for the experience? Because I wouldn't take the job if you are worried about how much you are getting paid.

But this sounds a bit like a warning that they know they are going to take advantage of you.
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#4 Mike Lary

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 12:36 PM

Weekly rates are a great way for disorganized productions to avoid paying the price for their mistakes. When they run behind schedule, they'll run 16, 18 hours a day, maybe longer, and the crew takes the physical punishment without getting overtime.

"not a lot of money but a good job to work closely with director and producer on the show"

That statement needs to be validated. Why is it a good opportunity? Who are these people? What is their experience? Can they provide you with paying gigs in the future? Are they local, or are they out-of-towners who only have connections in another state? There's nothing inherently beneficial about working for another person who will profit from your hard work.
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#5 CJ Henke III

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 10:12 AM

Thanks for all of the advice. It is exactly what I have been thinking. I know they are going to try to push for me to work, 12 hour days. After an initial interview I was told that I would basically be doing all that was said above. Sometimes, (if I had the DP's & editor's "trust"), that I would be shooting and editing some stuff together, and getting it to the Playback guys a day before they need it on the set. Additionally, when there are LCD monitors on set, I would be "the playback" guy for some shoot days. Then, Randomly, out of nowhere. I was said that I should also search for local sponsors / advertisers, local footage to incorporate into basically, a television network stream with news anchors, a fight or two, & commercials all to be used in the film. Then, I was told that they would make up some job title for me, but I am still confused, because after what they said to me, I would basically be doing a producers job (that gets handed off to the assistant producer, and then maybe to a PA or secretary assistant). A second unit director's job, that I would not be getting any credit for and I mentioned that I know motion graphics (which in my opinion would be necessary for such a task), but I wouldn't get any credit there. Tomorrow I have a meeting with the director, I know I will get the job, but who should I ask and discuss my pay with??? Would it be an butt move once I show the director how much I can do, to ask him for the obvious need for a pay increase?

Thanks,
CJ


Plus, they are all from L.A., it is a Lionsgate 30 million dollar film. I don't mind getting some experience in exchange for a little less pay, but I have a feeling they are really going to use all that I have to offer, thank me for it, and then take all the credit.

By the way, I do not feel like putting peoples names out there, but if decide not to take the job, or the offer is re-tracked, I will post all of the films information.

Thanks Again.

Edited by CJ Henke III, 18 March 2009 - 10:13 AM.

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#6 Mike Lary

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 11:15 AM

Plus, they are all from L.A., it is a Lionsgate 30 million dollar film. I don't mind getting some experience in exchange for a little less pay, but I have a feeling they are really going to use all that I have to offer, thank me for it, and then take all the credit.


With a budget that high, they can afford to pay industry rates. If you choose to work for this production, I would at least demand a legitimate job title with clearly defined responsibilities. That's standard business practice.
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#7 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 12:59 PM

we are looking for a person to coordinate all of our video playback on the film. this person would work closely with the director, producer and 1st AD to list all, wrangle, get to editor for editing, put into correct format of all playback and get to our playback person on a timely manner for each day of shooting that would require playback to be done onset.


This is a really confusing job-description, first it sounds like a playback-operator, then almost DIT, it refers then to another playback operator, which makes the job sound like some kind of playback-runner.

That may be the crux of the problem here, and your hesitation about it - as the job is essentially/could be an inbetween or non-standard role - with subsequently no industry guidlines to pay.

I suppose taking it really depends on your current situation - do you need the experience or the little financial renumeration it can offer you? Sometimes it better to work, some times you can afford to say no.
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#8 Michael Collier

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 01:06 PM

If they want you to do a different job than was advertised for, I would ask for more compensation than was advertised for. It almost sounds like they want you to make a TV show they can air. You probably can't air the local news there without permission. Advertisers and station managers wouldn't be too keen on them using their footage. You either would have to go with cash in hand to arrange rights to the images (producers work) or you would have to create all the elements with actors on a set (2d unit director/dp)

I could see a video assist position for so low (though I don't think its right given their budget) but I think its terrible that they try and rope you into the job, then once in they want to move the goal posts without giving you adequate pay or title. I would bring that up if your on the fence about taking the position. Lay out the deal and say, more money. At 600/week, if they ever go over 14 hours your getting paid less than minimum wage. Not good if they are having you do producing or 2d unit work.

Sounds like you have good report with producers on this show, I am sure you can word it in a fair manner so they don't see it as you demanding too much. In fact don't assume they don't know how low this offer is, they might expect a bit of negotiation. At least they couldn't hold it against you.
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#9 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 02:41 PM

I agree with everyone else's statements. Feel free to tell them your minimum salary requirements as well though. I would take it if you need the experience. Do the best possible job you can. Keep your mouth closed, and make friends. It will (should) ultimately pay off.
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#10 Ralph Keyser

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 04:58 PM

Just out of interest, CJ, where are you located?
I'm surprised that Lionsgate is shooting a non-union picture with a $30mil budget, but I'm not an expert on those topics. My guess is that they are hiring you as a Production Assistant (which is why they are vauge on the position's title), so there's really no telling what you'll be doing. PAs are not covered by any of the unions, so it is always a position that gets abused. I don't have much else to offer since all the advice here has been sound. I will tell you that working for a flat rate without any sort of hour limitations is a sure way to working hard for less than minimum wage. Oh, and whatever agreement you come to with the producers, you should at least get a signature on a short memo that identifies the agreement (aka the deal memo).
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 07:28 PM

Well, you basically have to decide if you really want to do this job. Clearly they are looking for a bargain, and probably under the noses of the union, by saying that you are a PA. Video playback is a union position, but creating graphics for material to be played back on set, that's a bit vague, often that work is contracted out, or some editorial assistant does it, or assistant to the post supervisor maybe.

You could inquire to the Local 600 business rep in your area where their jurisdiction lies, but that could lead to not getting the job.
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#12 Will Earl

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 07:45 PM

Although the rate doesn't sound great. You probably do need to consider some of the potential non-financial benefits when making your decision.

It is a 'foot-in-the-door'. Lionsgate films tend to do pretty well for themselves, even if they tend to be pretty hokey - it may not be much but having My Bloody Horror Film or Madea Makes Loads Of Money in DVDs on your CV isn't bad.

They are paying you something, which is better than working for nothing on a no-budget feature.
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#13 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 09:41 PM

The Catch-22 with a situation like this is that while you're looking for experience you can put on a resume, if you take a job for little pay that a Producer is obviously low-balling on, you'll likely never be respected by anyone on that production as a serious professional. Meaning, the next time those "filmmakers" get a movie with a bigger budget, they'll spend the money on what they see as seasoned professionals and probably not you.

The common perception in the industry is that if someone is willing to work on low flat rates for long unspecified hours (and with unspecified duties, in your case), then you must be hard up and you will be a pushover to do whatever they want, whenever they want you to do it, for not enough money and no credit.

BUT, if you refuse to cave to clearly low pay for an involved job (and less than the going industry rates/conditions), then you may lose that job, but they'll remember you as a "professional" instead of that "young kid who they can abuse."

When you're just starting out, you probably don't have the clout to demand a high rate, but that doesn't mean you should ever agree to be abused. The Producers know what all of those duties really cost so if you let them know that YOU know what it would cost them for experienced people to do all of that, then it illustrates to them that you won't be that gullible and it will likely inspire confidence in them that you're not just some fresh-off-the-boat kid who is willing to get his a&& kicked just to work in the movie biz.

Like I said, you may not be able to command "industry rates," BUT you can probably get paid more, get the credit, and get the respect that will earn you the next job. It can be a tricky political thing (this is part of the "business" that filmschools and most books don't teach kids), but if you play it right, you'll get what you want out of the situation without feeling used, they'll get the work done they need, and you'll get another job afterwards.

Good luck!
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 11:23 PM

On the other hand, if Hollywood movies don't come to town very often, this could be a chance to work on a studio movie, even in a minor capacity, and learn something -- if all you end up learning is to not work for peanuts and long hours again!

If this really is about getting some experience, then the money isn't really the reason why you're doing it.

It's really just a token payment for a lot of long hours and hard work, so you have to decide WHY you would do it.

On the other hand, the producers of a 30-mil budget movie really should pay proper wages for skilled work. If everyone they approached turned down the offer, then at least it would tell them that they can't get away with it.
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#15 Pietro Impagliazzo

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 02:30 PM

What Mr. David and Mike Lary said sounds right to me.

As a student/beginner I'd would work underpaid just for the experience... But never without a clear job position.

;)
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#16 Will Earl

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 06:54 PM

By all means, I'm not suggesting take the offer as is. Negotiate the best deal you can - getting paid by the hour, time and a half over a certain number of hours, better rate, etc.

From my own experience the first paying feature film I got, I took the job for a rate that wasn't that great - it was an hourly rate with overtime including time and a half over a certain amount which is perhaps a bit better than what is on the table here. I did manage to get that rate doubled over a couple of years so I wouldn't equate being accepting of a initial low offer as being a constant pushover.

It was still tricky to get that as the NZ film industry isn't unionised nor is the VFX industry, so being paid industry standard rates is kind of hard and in order to get pay parity with others who have the same experience and skill set I needed to come to the UK.

Although I have no idea what it's like in the US, so do take what I say with a grain of foreign salt.
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#17 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 07:28 PM

As a DP, my first feature paid me nothing, it was all on deferral that never came. My second feature paid me $200/day. My third and fourth feature paid me $1000/week. My fifth feature paid me $300/day... this was all back in 1991-1995...
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#18 A. Whitehouse

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 08:20 PM

I would try and get some indication of hours and responsibilities with a penalty involved for straying outside the agreement. Otherwise my gut instinct would be that they are likely to take advantage of you. Any experience is not necessarily useful if its been an overwhelmingly poor one (Spoken as someone whose had many of those). From the sounds of things your gut is telling you the same thing, follow that. The money is kind of besides the point because few things can compensate you for having to work 16hr days, 6 days a week for 6 weeks. They're not going to offer the job to someone else just because you have questions about your responsibilities. It sounds like it could be a very positive experience for both parties and asking questions shouldn't hurt your employability.
My two cents...
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