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Never again (nightmares in production)


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 01:27 PM

Share your production nightmare. Here's mine.

My mom asked me to spend a few hours filming a health fair at her church, where people can get low cost or free eye checks, hearing, bloodwork, etc. The idea was to get some raw footage to entice local broadcast news to do a story...they say, "We've got footage already," etc. I say okay, even though I have my reservations since I typically rent gear, and since the job is a freebie, I'd have to use my XL2, which might not meet the standards of the broadcaster, depending on whom it is.

And the slide down the slope begins!

First, the pastor helping to run the thing says it might be good to get some on-camera interviews. I said I'm not an audio man, and don't have the gear for it. She still thinks it would be good to do. I concede, but say they'll need better audio gear than what I have. Since this is a church, and it's a charitable thing, I go out of my way to rent a lav mic from a colleague. I get it for 20 bucks, so it's not bad.

First, it turns out the turnout at the healthfair the first day is weak. So they ask me to come back ANOTHER day. I comply. Because it's a church, and it's a good cause. Come back the next day, there are a few more people, and I film the goings on. The interviews never happen, because the pastor suddenly balks about appearing on camera. She suggest we do the interviews another day. Oh god.

Ultimately, the interviews never happen, so my 20 bucks was wasted. In the meantime, I'm asked to EDIT the footage into a film for them, because they want to take the film around to show and drum up support. And I say yes because it's a church and it's for a good cause. And instead of interviews, the pastor writes a script, which is too long, and asks me to record the voiceover narration! Again, I'm asked to do audio work, when I don't have the gear for it, and can't rent any. This time, I more vocally express my opinion that i shouldn't be doing voiceover. They insist, saying my voice is fine...they think I'm being self conscious, when really I mean, "It's not my DAMN job to do your VO" but ultimately I say yes because they're in this far already, and it's a church and it's for a good cause...

Now at the moment I'm editing this piece. What was once a single day, grab a little video type thing for a good cause has turned into a multi day full blown shoot and edit. And in the last email, containing the overlong script, the pastor says how blessed they are to have someone like me with my skills.

Blessed nothing, you just took advantage of my charity, and asked a little more, and a little more. When this is all done, I intend to give them an invoice showing them what all the work I did for free was worth. They got in excess of $1000.00 for nothing!

And next time, I'm gonna be more firm. I won't say I'll never do charitable work again, but in the future, I'm gonna draw the line. I'm going to do what is asked of me, and nothing more, at least, not without some compensation for the added work.

Whewwww, that feels nice to vent this stuff. Now back to editing.

Now let's hear from you all. Ever gotten into something, and found you can't get out?

BR
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 02:01 PM

Honestly, I think it's even worse when you're getting paid for "part," of it... and then expected to do the rest for free or else not getting the rest of your check... I could go into a loooonnnnggg story about all of those timeS.... plural, but why bother. It's a big ______ sandwich and we all get to take a bite!
Still, on the bright side, if you're a religious person you scored some extra points with the big cheese up there, and at least you know you're a better person for not wanting to do the same to others. Pain I know; but hey, could be worse ;)
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#3 Oliver Christoph Kochs

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 03:07 PM

Guess it is mostly favoring your mom why you didn't quit the job. From my experience you should ask yourself when doing such projects (for free):
A. Is it gonna be fun? - mostly not when you're alone surrounded by people you don't know. Get a crew. They will take you more serious and you can convince the people easier to make interviews as several people just seem to be more professional.
B. Can you limit time and effort? - Yes, set a time limit. If you want to earn money say that editing and everything else costs you money, and by all kindness you are not going to pay for it. Show them a brief good segment of what you filmed and hand over the tape. If they want more, somebody else can do it for free or they pay you to do it at a later time.
C. Or: Do the full monty. Write a script. Hand it out. Ask them to join the idea and make a short film you can show to other people and be proud of it yourself. If nobody of the "clients" is with this then you are wasting your time for no money.

In your case i would go the B route if your footage is so and so. Kindly hand out the footage and say that you have a low paid job you HAVE to take and that, unfortunately, makes it impossible to invest another 2 days for editing etc.
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#4 Brian Rose

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 03:15 PM

Well at this point I'm pretty much stuck with getting them something finished, as much as I hate to say.

But since they're not paying me, I'm not taking too much time on it, and I'm gonna trim their overlong script. For what they want to do, the resulting video would be too long. Gonna give them a nice 90 second piece, and if they have a problem, I'll say, "Well, here's the raw footage if you want to go elsewhere, but I guarantee you they'll charge more than me. If you want me to do it, these are my rates, on top of the $X,XXX.XX I've already donated, so those are your options."

If they ask me to do another video, my answer will be: "Great, here's my rates." I hate doing stuff for churches as is, so it sucks worse they're too cheap to even pay me :(

I know, I know, I' going to hell. But if all that I've read is true, heaven must be pretty boring anyways, what with all the interesting people in hell! ;)

Back to editing.
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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 03:20 PM

Ahh Brian ;) It's s'ok I'll join you in the H E double Hockey Sticks.
I would also make sure you keep the invoice, as you may be able to write it off as a charitable donation in your taxes...
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#6 Brian Rose

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 03:31 PM

Ahh Brian ;) It's s'ok I'll join you in the H E double Hockey Sticks.
I would also make sure you keep the invoice, as you may be able to write it off as a charitable donation in your taxes...


Way ahead of you ma man. Just finished going through my books, and made sure to add all this to my taxes. I sure hope I'll get SOMETHING for the work. It may sink our country further into debt, but as long as I get my refund check, to the Bush tax cuts I say, "Flame on!"
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#7 Chris Millar

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 04:30 PM

edit:

ha ha,

excuse me deleting what I just wrote but I've chickened out of dumping on a shoot I was on !!

Edited by Chris Millar, 17 January 2011 - 04:31 PM.

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#8 Mathew Rudenberg

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 05:40 PM

This has been making the internet rounds - it seems relevant to your interest.

http://shouldiworkforfree.com/
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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 05:46 PM

This is the most toxic line of bullshit anyone will ever feed you.




Duly noted.
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#10 Matt Pacini

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 05:36 PM

Sorry Brian, but I've been in these situations, and I'm gonna say it - IT'S YOUR FAULT.

You readily acknowledge, that these people have no idea what this work is worth (that's your motivation for sending them an invoice).
They are NOT experienced in any way with any of this, and they probably actually believe 100% the opinions they expressed to you, and frankly, you confirmed their opinions by continuing to say "yes" to everything they asked you.
They most likely genuinely think this was all just a 'little bit more work' on your part.
I hear this kind of thing all the time - people have no idea of the expense, expertise, etc., - they think 'it's no big deal', because they've never done it, and they think it's all magic and the computers are doing all this stuff for us automatically anyway.

Next time - JUST SAY NO.

You are going to come off as a total ingrate douchebag if you go through with what you're saying & sending them an invoice & whining about it.
If you don't know how to say no, then that's something you have to work at.

Matt Pacini
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#11 Ricky Cook

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 07:27 PM

This sounds like a nightmare...

I’m still a student, doing odd jobs in the industry (whatever pays or is relevant to my interests). I feel as though I’ve already had so many experiences just like this. It is starting to scare me.
Just last week I had an experience where I felt like I was being taken advantage of. I received a call from a “producer” who was looking to rent a studio I do work for. He had heard that I may be great to have on hand to answer questions or solve any problems they may have with the studios equipment. I was told that the shoot would take no longer than two hours, and he could pay me $100 for my time. I was reluctant to do this, but it was my day off and figured the money could be cash to go towards my upcoming 21st. I told him I would be happy to do this, and agreed to meet him at noon. It turned out that this man was not a producer but a retired Theater actor, and had little clue what he was doing. I was asked to set up lights for him (he had told me lighting was under control, turns out he meant it was something I could handle). He didn’t know how to operate his Gl1 (yes, its 2011 and he was excited for his new gl1) and he had duct taped a tiny mic to a pvc pole as a boom. He couldn’t monitor the audio because the headphone jack was broken on the camera, but he insisted it would be fine if the levels were okay. It was a nightmare, and I ended up shooting because he wanted to be more involved with the actors. It ended up taking almost 8 hours because he wasn’t happy with the talent, and kept saying “lets take a 20 minute break to calm us down”. Anyway a few hours after the shoot, he called to tell me the audio had a Hum, and we needed to reshot it the next day. I told him I wasn’t interested…
As I approach the end of my final year at school, I find that most of the calls I receive for work are like this. I’m starting to feel like the only good connections I get, are the ones I seek out.
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