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Deferred Payment


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#1 David Desio

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Posted 26 August 2011 - 01:06 PM

Hey gang,

So I got asked to work a feature as a 1st AC for a DP that I met last week. Well the feature is 18 days deferred with profit points to all involved. Immediately I cringed at the mention of deferred payment but at the same time I am still trying to get established in this market and would hate to turn down an investment project that could lead to more paid work from this DP.

So have any of you ever met anyone who has actually collected on a deferred payment shoot?

Also, is it bad form to request that you be free to take a paying gig during that time of their show as long as you replace yourself?

Edited by David Desio, 26 August 2011 - 01:07 PM.

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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 26 August 2011 - 01:34 PM

I know people who only do these productions on the understanding that if a paying gig comes in they'll be taking the paid work; this makes a lot of sense for a 1st A.C.. It really depends on your relationship with this DP and if they actaully get paying work rather than mostly deferred work. If were getting a lot of work through him it would make more sense than if you've only just met them.
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#3 David Desio

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Posted 26 August 2011 - 01:41 PM

I know people who only do these productions on the understanding that if a paying gig comes in they'll be taking the paid work; this makes a lot of sense for a 1st A.C.. It really depends on your relationship with this DP and if they actaully get paying work rather than mostly deferred work. If were getting a lot of work through him it would make more sense than if you've only just met them.



Agreed,

This was a referral through another AC buddy. He turned it down for a paid gig and warned me that they got wind that he was also a steadicam operator and wanted that thrown in for free (deferred). They asked me if I could fly one and I told them that I'd be surprised if they found and operator willing to work for this deal, no matter how good it sounds on paper.

So those folks you know, did they ever get paid?
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#4 Tom Jensen

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Posted 26 August 2011 - 01:48 PM

I've only worked for deferred once and oddly enough, I got paid. One day a surprise came in the mail and I was happy. If you work for deferred, you might as well be working for free. Accept that . I have worked for free on more things you can imagine and working for free gives you a tremendous opportunity to work for free again. The flood gates open, the doors open for more free work like you would not believe. DP's bring in the less experienced AC's because their regular guys are usually won't do it. When the paying job comes along they usually go back to their regular guys. I have even asked to caller asking me if he had furniture he would give me if I work for free. The guy on the other end always sounds like he is doing you a favor. You will soon realize, they aren't your friends, they are just trying to get a film made. It will sometimes get you paying work, that is true, but don't bank on it. I notice in your profile that it say Camera Operator. If you are an operator, then operate. Especially on the freebies. If you are going to work for free, you might as well work up. Another thing to keep in mind is that movies often get sold before they are finished and the new owner is not obligated to pay for deferred crew agreements. The producer who you made the agreement with might not even make enough to pay the deferred agreements. The bottom line is this. Ask yourself, "Do I want to do this/" If the answer is yes, then do it. Experience is always good. Just make sure they feed you. I see nothing wrong with replacing yourself. Just don't do it with someone better than you in case there is future work. You want the job. Don't give it to someone else.
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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 26 August 2011 - 01:51 PM

So those folks you know, did they ever get paid?


No.

I've only really heard tales of one production were deferred fees were paid and I believe that was because they over ran the original schedule and the budget was running out, so they gave points to cover the extra days and that was "Four Weddings and a Funeral".

These deferred payments come out of the net profits and there's a lot of creative accounting along the way.
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#6 Tom Jensen

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Posted 26 August 2011 - 01:53 PM

Agreed,

This was a referral through another AC buddy. He turned it down for a paid gig and warned me that they got wind that he was also a steadicam operator and wanted that thrown in for free (deferred). They asked me if I could fly one and I told them that I'd be surprised if they found and operator willing to work for this deal, no matter how good it sounds on paper.

So those folks you know, did they ever get paid?


A new stedicam operator should jump at a chance like this because the only way to gain that kind of experience is to do it. Better yet, get a rental on the steadicam and work for free.
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#7 David Desio

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Posted 26 August 2011 - 02:22 PM

Thanks for the replies guys.

I may just go out for a day or so to feel it out. When I asked if they would offer gas/mileage, the answer was no. When I asked for a kit fee, they said no. I told the DP that I am an operator and would rather have that credit on a freebie than 1st AC and he told me that the camera owner would only donate the cam if the allowed him to operate.

I agree that more free work would come from this and when the DP told me that they had another film lined up behind this one which could pay, I told him to call me when he could afford to pay me but as you said, when they can afford it, they will hire the guys they know versus the free guys. Funny, didn't really have this problem in my old market...
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#8 Stephen Williams

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Posted 26 August 2011 - 02:25 PM

I believe the crew of 'American Graffiti' did OK, who is the director LOL!
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#9 Tom Jensen

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Posted 26 August 2011 - 04:59 PM

I believe the crew of 'American Graffiti' did OK, who is the director LOL!


Obviously, movies like this are the exception and not the rule. It was basically a studio movie and the below the line crew were offered considerable back end. The director had a bit of name and the producer added some credibility. Most of the time the movies that are offering deferred are offering deferred rates and not back end. Plus they rarely contain the artistic and creative elements that American Graffiti possessed.
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#10 David Desio

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Posted 26 August 2011 - 05:29 PM

What do you mean Tom? Every film I've ever worked on is destined to be HUGE and game changing! (Did you pick up on the sarcasm?)
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#11 Hal Smith

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 08:16 AM

I may just go out for a day or so to feel it out. When I asked if they would offer gas/mileage, the answer was no. When I asked for a kit fee, they said no. I told the DP that I am an operator and would rather have that credit on a freebie than 1st AC and he told me that the camera owner would only donate the cam if the allowed him to operate.


They expected you to cover your own expenses and equipment wear and tear? That's not working for free, that's financing their film.

I helped a small Equity theatre company here in OKC get off the ground by being their resident LD and Master Electrician for the first six years of the Company's existence. All freebie work and more than a few dollars of my own money spent.

To this day their Artistic Director buys me lunch when he's in town and I'll never have to buy a ticket to any of their shows, which included a production last year of "August, Osage County" which was every bit as good as the Broadway production.

That's what happens when your freebie work is genuinely appreciated...and not just a means for the Producer to put more money in their pocket.
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#12 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 06:05 PM

Wait...you're an operator, but you're considering working for free as an assistant? What's the point? It would be different if you were a 1st and you were considering operating for free, but taking a step backwards for no money makes absolutely no sense.

Anytime anyone works for free they're financing someone else's project, regardless of whether they're bringing equipment or not. Part of the financing includes money to pay the crew...

There are good reasons to do freebies sometimes. In this case I can't see any reason.
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#13 David Desio

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 02:05 PM

Wait...you're an operator, but you're considering working for free as an assistant? What's the point? It would be different if you were a 1st and you were considering operating for free, but taking a step backwards for no money makes absolutely no sense.

Anytime anyone works for free they're financing someone else's project, regardless of whether they're bringing equipment or not. Part of the financing includes money to pay the crew...

There are good reasons to do freebies sometimes. In this case I can't see any reason.



I agree Brad. You are in LA? message me because I have a question for ya. Anyway, yeah being a 1st is not really a career goal of mine and this is no offense to all the 1sts out there, just a very different mind is required for the job. Though I have 1sted before, not my cup o' whiskey. The only reason I see for doing it is to get in with this DP, do him the favor and feel it out for a few days. If it seems like a waste, I find a way out I guess. Here's to hoping that way out is a whole lotta paid gigs...
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