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#1 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 09:32 AM

http://news.bbc.co.u...ss/10243481.stm
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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 10:26 AM

http://news.bbc.co.u...ss/10243481.stm


I wonder how many "interns" the BBC has put to work, er I mean, getting experience.

BTW Phil, you really should try and build a professional web-site, sheesh :D

R,
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#3 Hal Smith

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 11:35 AM

What's labor law like in the UK and Canada? Down here an intern is not permitted to replace a paid employee and the intern to employee ratio is not supposed to exceed 1:1. Obviously there's a lot of places where the employer cheats but if they get caught they owe the intern back pay and the Internal Revenue Service an assortment of various taxes and penalties for money they failed to withhold and pay to the IRS. I know of companies that were such flagrant cheaters that the IRS would have filed criminal charges against them if they had caught them.
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 02:26 PM

Unpaid work is illegal, simple as that. The relevant legislation is usually the minimum wage rule. If you aren't paying anything, you're certainly paying less than minimum wage.

In a more involved sense, the argument tends to involve definitions of "work" which I think are actually quite strict. If you're required to turn up, required to do so at a certain time, and required to accept instructions from others, as I understand it, it's work. Personally I think a quite legitimate internship could involve all of those things, but that, as I understand it, is the rule.

There is no specific ruling for things like short filmmaking, where I'm sure we all agree that there are circumstances (quite narrowly defined circumstances, but they exist) where a cooperative working together without pay is appropriate. What's actually happening is that a lot of traditionally voluntary endeavours are surviving on the basis that the rules, like those of copyright, simply aren't universally enforced. This is a piss-poor way of dealing with the situation which leaves the innocent open to censure and the guilty with excuses, and in my view the law is in dire need of clarification.

As a purely practical matter, the film and television industry is absolutely rotten with abuses of the status quo. These range from the clear excesses of people demanding highly experienced workers with specific material on their reels, and their equipment, for nothing, all the way to large and established production companies abusing people as "interns" and "runners" for whom there is absolutely no intention of providing anything approaching a career path. I find the latter particularly revolting, since the people who're being targeted probably lack the experience to realise what is and is not OK.

This happens with such monotonous consistency and is done with such brazen effrontery that I can only assume that the people responsible for enforcing the rules (presumably HMRC) are asleep at their desks. It would not be particularly difficult to enforce. All they'd have to do, to cover probably 75% of London-based infractors, would be to subscribe to the Mandy and Shooting People mailing lists and spend a few weeks sending out court summons.

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#5 Richard Boddington

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 04:31 PM

As a purely practical matter, the film and television industry is absolutely rotten with abuses of the status quo.


This issue of course Phil is not so cut and dry as evil "employers" doing bad things. Since the film and TV industry is so heavily over subscribed with people that want to get into it, people allow themselves to be taken advantage of.

Unless the employer is physically enslaving the worker, then the film labourer who gives up his labour for free voluntarily is also partly to blame for his own predicament. No one is forcing any one to work for free on a film set in Canada, the USA, or the UK.

The quickest way to end this problem is for EVERY ONE to refuse un-paid work. So long as thousands of aspiring "film directors" are willing to work for free, this problem will persist.

I can get an entire film crew for free in Toronto any day of the week. I wouldn't of course, but the fact is I could.

Try getting a crew of people for free to pick potatoes, sweep the street, clean toilets, walk dogs, or mind children. Not going to happen.

But so long as thousands of young people have dreams of Hollywood in their eyes and are willing to do any thing to fulfill this dream, free labour is always going to be around.

The so called "film schools" that advertise all over the web also share part of the blame here. They fill people's heads with visions of success in the film industry while gobbling up their money. There are so many of these film schools operating out of basements and garages now it's really quite incredible. And yet kids keep signing up and handing over their money!

Did you notice Phil that Mandy.com no longer accepts ads for un-paid jobs?

One other problem....how do you define "free labour?" If I want to make my own movie do I have to pay myself? What if my brother wants to help me and instead of getting paid he says make me a 50% partner in the project, is he now working for free and am I violating a labour law? It can get murky real quick.

R,
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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 05:46 PM

No, it isn't cut and dry, as I think I made entirely clear. It is, however, still rotten with abuses. Mandy does publish unpaid job ads. In the last few weeks there've been a couple for "experienced director of photography" with DSLRs or Red or whatever. That's not right. Yes people see it as a career path, but I have two further problems with this.

Problem one is that this really brings into question the voluntary nature of the work. If it's absolutely the one and only single way in, which it is very close to being, then it is not voluntary. Someone has to do it if we want to have film and television, regardless of anyone's ambitions. This "voluntary" idea is shady as hell.

Secondarily, and this may be an issue only outside the major production centres, for the vast, vast, hopelessly overwhelming majority it is absolutely not going to be a career path. Most of the people who hire runners on impossibly low or zero compensation have absolutely no intention whatsoever of offering anyone advancement.

I have been warning people off film school - on this very forum, often - for quite a while for all the reasons you mention, as well as those above. Going to any film school in the UK, regardless of quality or affiliation, is rather like taking surfing lessons in a land-locked country. They're all being very, very unfair to people in my view. I could wax frustrated about the likes of Chris Jones, a "filmmaker" who's made bugger all money out of filmmaking but a hell of a lot out of selling books about it. If you want a book that tells you how to be a comprehensive failure in the film industry, buy one of his, then become an author.

Again, yes, it is murky, but the status quo is that certain things that absolutely should be allowed are only allowed because the current too-strict rules are not being enforced. I would probably be shouted down by senior members of my own union for saying that, but let's be clear: the problem is not that the rules are not strict enough. They're probably too strict, and unhelpfully so. The problem is that they're not being enforced.


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#7 Richard Boddington

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 08:11 PM

The problem is that they're not being enforced.


By all means enforce the labor laws of the land.

But it's a bit of a losing battle, in the same way America's war on drugs is a losing battle. So long as people choose to use drugs, there will be drugs.

So long as "producers" can find people willing to work for free on film shoots, there will always be free labour available.

BTW, London seems to have it's fair share of fly-by-night film schools as well. And they seem to attract a lot of people from other parts of Europe who want to go to London to work in film.

Did any one else see the documentary about the Americans who try and help the Iraqi kid that wanted to go to film school? He was working on a film as a runner in the Czech Republic the film starred The Rock. Any whoo, donations where made to get the Iraqi kid to "film school" in London. What a joke, the London film school is interviewing this kid over the phone to see if he'd be acceptable film school material. They tried to make it sound like it was tough to get into this school. Apparently upon hearing that he had the outrageous fee to get it, they decided to admit him.

Of course I'm sure USC, UCLA, and NYU, have all promised Oscar glory to their well heeled student body as well.

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#8 Tom Jensen

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 10:49 PM

I have to admit, when I'd get a call from a new AC who offered to work for free, my ears would prick up. "Oh really? Well come on out. I just happen to have a job where I need a free assistant." I would give them plenty of experience. I did try to give the good ones paying jobs, though.
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#9 Freya Black

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 05:40 AM

which it is very close to being,



Now you have made me curious as hell! What other ways are there other than being born into the family of a media magnate or getting chummy with the right people at oxbridge? (both of which I would think of less as ways, than as means).

I'm curious about this close thing, or are you just saying that to cover all possibilities. ;)

After all, in an infinite universe anything is possible right?

love

Freya
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#10 Freya Black

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 06:11 AM

This issue of course Phil is not so cut and dry as evil "employers" doing bad things. Since the film and TV industry is so heavily over subscribed with people that want to get into it, people allow themselves to be taken advantage of.

Unless the employer is physically enslaving the worker, then the film labourer who gives up his labour for free voluntarily is also partly to blame for his own predicament. No one is forcing any one to work for free on a film set in Canada, the USA, or the UK.

The quickest way to end this problem is for EVERY ONE to refuse un-paid work. So long as thousands of aspiring "film directors" are willing to work for free, this problem will persist.

I can get an entire film crew for free in Toronto any day of the week. I wouldn't of course, but the fact is I could.

Try getting a crew of people for free to pick potatoes, sweep the street, clean toilets, walk dogs, or mind children. Not going to happen.

But so long as thousands of young people have dreams of Hollywood in their eyes and are willing to do any thing to fulfill this dream, free labour is always going to be around.

The so called "film schools" that advertise all over the web also share part of the blame here. They fill people's heads with visions of success in the film industry while gobbling up their money. There are so many of these film schools operating out of basements and garages now it's really quite incredible. And yet kids keep signing up and handing over their money!

Did you notice Phil that Mandy.com no longer accepts ads for un-paid jobs?

One other problem....how do you define "free labour?" If I want to make my own movie do I have to pay myself? What if my brother wants to help me and instead of getting paid he says make me a 50% partner in the project, is he now working for free and am I violating a labour law? It can get murky real quick.

R,


It's not as simple as workers being exploited or taken advantage of.

For example, lets say there is some boy who wants to work in the UK TV industry. He has finished at Eton or Oxford or Cambridge or whatever and daddy manages to line him up a great opportunity as an intern at the BBC through some of his mates. Boy jumps at the chance and moves into his parents central London flat. (Maybe going home at the weekends to see mummy and daddy and get a good dinner). He has a fantastic time, does a great job and is soon found a real job at the corporation from which he works his way up and is soon doing fantastic and having a great career.

Is he being exploited or taken advantage of? He suffers for nothing and has a great time?
Why would he want to refuse this offer?

Lets look at a different example. There is a girl who wants to work in the TV industry. She finishes studying at some former polytechnic. She could go looking for an internship of some kind but even if she found one and managed to battle it out against the other hopefuls, she has to worry about what to do for rent in London? As it happens she ends up homeless on the streets of London and struggling to afford food to eat. She never really has the chance to think about internships as she has other concerns. Mostly she is trying to make it through the recession. She takes a job in another unrelated industry instead and is proud to have made it through the economic situation alive.

Is she an honourable person for having refused this working for free lark? Unlike that other poor fellow from eton who was being horribly exploited and didn't refuse the internship? He worked for free poor victim.

hmmmm.

love

Freya
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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 06:57 AM

I did try to give the good ones paying jobs, though.


You're in LA. There are paying jobs to give. Here, it isn't really even a matter of intention; nobody's going anywhere, because there's almost nowhere to go. Americans really do fail to realise just how bad it is here. There were only just over 60 indigenous films made in the entire country in 2007 (the year for which I happen to have figures at my fingertips) and it will clearly be less now; also, that includes everything with a budget down to £500k, which means that a lot of productions which are at enormous risk of exploiting interns will be included in that total. That's how bad it is. It's utterly hopeless.


So, yeah. You did try to give the good ones paying jobs. That will not happen here because it simply cannot.


there is some boy who wants to work in the UK TV industry. He has finished at Eton or Oxford or Cambridge or whatever and daddy manages to line him up a great opportunity as an intern at the BBC through some of his mates. Boy jumps at the chance and moves into his parents central London flat. (Maybe going home at the weekends to see mummy and daddy and get a good dinner). He has a fantastic time, does a great job and is soon found a real job at the corporation from which he works his way up and is soon doing fantastic and having a great career.


Aaand that is why all UK television is just appallingly, embarrassingly awful, and that is also why all the people involved in making it appear to be c^@*s, because these braying Tristrams and Jemimas are there because they have nice shoes, and not because they can count to five without concentrating.


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#12 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 02:09 PM

This industry is all about volunteering, at first . . . That is how most of us have started out. Most producers / heads of department want to make sure that one will get the job done before they pay one the "big" bucks. Of course, most union features / projects are the exception to this type of situation, at least in the US.

And yes, there are a lot of people out there who take advantage of the fact that people want to get into the industry to crew / cast their (mostly) semi-amateur projects. There is nothing wrong with an all amateur production, of course. But when some people get paid and some don't, then things start getting complicated (and possibly illegal) fast.

Like most things in life, there are a lot of shades between black and white when it comes to volunteering, and it is up each individual's judgement to navigate the unpaid vs paid work environment to achieve what one sets out to accomplish.
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#13 Freya Black

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 03:43 PM

I would add two points to that Phil....

1) No matter how bad you think it is in the UK, it's always worse in the film and TV industry in Canada. Canada only has half the population of the UK and it's spread out over a land mass several times the size of Europe. Canadian films make up a whopping 1% of screen time in Canada, the other 99% is controlled by Hollywood.


I don't think that can be true, There are a lot of US films made in Canada and Canada seems to have quite a bit of film making infrastructure. It's nearly all gone over here. I note that when I want to buy short-ends I generally have to import them from Canada.

As for the 1% of movies thing. I imagine the number is lower in the UK, despite the small size of the island. Last year I remember there being 2 british made films with a theatrical release. One had a very limited release, I'm guessing the other might have been available in some art house cinemas at some point tho I didnt see it come up. I actually thought last year was a spectacular year for British film too!

Our wonderful funding agency, TeleFILM, gives 50% of its yearly budget to Quebec. Even though Quebec is only 23% of the population. The only Canadian films that get P&A money here from TeleFILM are useless garbage no one wants to pay to see.


Not sure about that but here it is worse as the funding agencies either give the money to Hollywood movies or just embezzelle it. It doesn't go to filmmakers and they are generally fairly explicit and upfront about not helping filmmakers. Which is good as they don't waste your time. This may change over the coming years as they desperately try to justify their existence I suspect but thats the way it is now.

2) Just because an American lives in LA does not mean the gates of Hollywood open for them. There are thousands of starving filmmakers in LA right now Phil. It's not easy for any one in this crappy business, even if they are in LA.


That's totally true, especially at the moment. I think the opportunities in the states are a lot more limited than they were even a few years ago. I personally think it's loads better in the UK as you have to be a bit out of it to think you are going to work in the film industry over here as there isn't one anymore for the most part. Makes people look at things more realistically. We have less starving filmmakers as a result I'm sure.

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#14 Keith Walters

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 10:17 PM

[Aaand that is why all UK television is just appallingly, embarrassingly awful,

And that's a strange thing, because generally I think pretty much the same thing about Australian TV and movies, yet other countries can't seem to get enough of them. The Russians in particular seem to love dubbed Australian TV programs.

and that is also why all the people involved in making it appear to be c^@*s, because these braying Tristrams and Jemimas are there because they have nice shoes, and not because they can count to five without concentrating.


We don't have so many Tristrams and Jermimas here (although it would probably be more like Trystrahm and Germymah because they all seem to be into that numerology crap :lol:) but we do have an industry infested with an inordinately large population of thirty-somethings still living rent-free with Mummy and Daddy, and complete wastes-of-space with gullible and wealthy relatives.

What I was always dumbfounded by was the number of hopefuls seeking to cadge free equipment rentals, who seemed to have absolutely bugger-all idea of how a film or even a cheap TV commecial actually gets made. I swear there are 16 and 17 year old schoolgirls I've run two-day courses for who came in knowing more than the average beret-wearing Twat trying to cadge a camera ("preferably 35mm") plus lenses, and you know, all the other er stuff...

But it was a expensive school, so I guess maybe their teachers made them do at least 30 minutes research beforehand.
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#15 Keith Walters

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 12:05 AM

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Totally off-topic:
I've just watched your presentation on shooting video on DSLRs
reel-show.tv
That was great. You didn't really tell me anything I didn't know already, but I found it quite entertaining. You don't look or sound anything like I expected you to, in fact you come across more like a more educated version of Jamie Oliver (although off-camera you probably talk more like Gordon Ramsay, at least on some subjects :lol: )

It seems to end rather abruptly though, when you're talking about how certain problems could be fixed by a software change:

"Whether they will or not ..."

Is that all there is, or did the download get cut off prematurely? I'm supposed to have 7.2Mb/sec download speed, but it was so slow I just left it until the download had finished, and then fished the .flv file out of the Temporary Internet Files folder so IE couldn't get its filthy hands on it.

I can see you over in the US doing yet another documentary on "only in America"-type bizzare behaviour (a subject the surface of which has barely lost its showroom wax, let alone been scratched), in a Jack Dee-type monotone tirade of the sort of barely contained contempt that the Yanks can't seem to get enough of :D

"Er ... Jim?"
"What?"
"There's a British documentary crew here want to do a bit on the Red!"
Jannard brightens. "Oh yeah...?"
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#16 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 04:41 AM

Jamie Oliver


That excruciating little mockney scroat?

Aaaaaaaargh



Posted Image

Go on, if you really try, I'm sure you can find a way to make me want to do this more.

I should add I do sound like I'm constantly lisping on that video, which I very certainly don't, usually, and it's really just an exposé on why Phil works better behind the camera.
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#17 Keith Walters

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 05:25 AM

That excruciating little mockney scroat?
Aaaaaaaargh

'Ass right, but yer average Septic Tank finks 'e sounds posh
Then again, they also think Russell Crowe sounds posh, so I guess I can see where you're coming from...

Posted Image

Go on, if you really try, I'm sure you can find a way to make me want to do this more.


Ye-e-e-ss, well that was more what I was expecting you to look like, actually :P

I should add I do sound like I'm constantly lisping on that video, which I very certainly don't, usually, and it's really just an exposé on why Phil works better behind the camera.

Lisp?
What do you mean by a lisp? Elmer Fudd has a lisp, you just have an accent, I would have thought.
Oh well, to each his own. It could be worse, you could be Welsh I suppose.
Actually you remind my of 17 year old niece. Lovely girl, tall, athletic and lissome as the reeds, with a lovely clear soft voice ... until you say: "Action"....
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#18 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 09:01 AM

It frightens me to think what would ever happen if either of you two ever happened across a video of my from college where I'm talking film... God I sound like a moron. P.S. Phil, love the jacket.
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#19 Chris Keth

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 06:55 PM

I have to admit, when I'd get a call from a new AC who offered to work for free, my ears would prick up. "Oh really? Well come on out. I just happen to have a job where I need a free assistant." I would give them plenty of experience. I did try to give the good ones paying jobs, though.


The occasional freebie is one thing. I still do that from time to time and I've got good paying work out of some of them later on down the line. Where I usually draw the line is in quantity and in exactly what they're asking for and what else they are paying for. Nobody gets me to pull focus on 35mm film for free, for example, because if they can afford the camera rental and the film they sure as hell can afford me, too.
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#20 Keith Walters

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 07:00 PM

It frightens me to think what would ever happen if either of you two ever happened across a video of my from college where I'm talking film... God I sound like a moron. P.S. Phil, love the jacket.

Don't worry, I have a nice little collection of DVDs and tapes of people’s first “indy” productions, given to me in gratitude for helping them out in some way or another. With one or two exceptions they’re all cringingly, eye-wateringly AWFUL! I really wonder what goes through some people's heads sometimes.
Again, I’ve had schoolkids using Mini DV cameras and Windows Movie Maker producing quite watchable results for nothing or next to nothing. The tragic thing is, they were mostly doing it because it was one of their options for Media studies. It does seems that people who don't desperately want to make films, seem to have some idea of what people might find interesting.
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