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Freelance Living Wage


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#1 Maxim Ford

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 01:31 PM

There is a campaign by many for a living wage, not just a minimum wage but an amount needed for a normal but still basic existance.

 

With falling wages and conditions in the film industry many of us are thinking their should be a "Freelance Living Wage" for the film industry to cover the extra problems and costs of irregular work, messaging services, phones etc....

 

A few of us have started a Facebook page http://www.facebook....54757041400798/

 

Also in London there is a Film Union BECTU london production meeting discussing internships and low pay SUNDAY 3RD NOVEMBER, 11.00–14.00...

 IN THE IBIS HOTEL
3 Cardington Street, NW1 2LW 

 

As a newcomer to this board I hope some discussion of what could be done could happen here too.

 


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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 05:24 PM

I'm going to try and make it to that meeting as there is apparently to be some discussion of the endemic working for free stuff that's going on, about which I feel strongly. I'm not sure if I should have signed up in some sense.

 

P


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#3 Richard Boddington

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 09:49 PM

I can tell you right now this won't fly in 10, 000 years but I wish you luck. The number of problems with your proposal are certainly too numerous to list.

 

What about producers?  Will they be part of the plan as well?  Most have to go 3-4 years between pay cheques as that's how long it usually takes to get each feature project off the ground and sold.  I shut down my last feature over a year ago, and have done zero work since then.  Meanwhile, EVERY SINGLE ONE of the people on my crew have had numerous jobs in the past year.  All of them, including the cast.

 

So I could easily argue that producers need this sort of scheme more than any other member of the film industry.

 

R,


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#4 Maxim Ford

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 03:42 AM

in general producers are not workers but capitalists organising the investment of money in film for profit.

Producers as a group and as in organisations have driven down wages and made working conditions worse. "What is you rate? .....We only have this in the budget, take it or leave it "

Where films are fully funded there is no need for producers at all. They are not part of the creative process.

 

Budgets in the UK have been falling and producers have taken no action to stop this.

 

In France budgets are 6 times the size of the UK and their industry is supported be levies. That is possible here too and decent wages. People have to organise and demand the industry they want.

 

Or it will be an industry just for the rich


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#5 Mark Dunn

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 04:25 AM

in general producers are not workers but capitalists organising the investment of money in film for profit.

Producers as a group and as in organisations have driven down wages and made working conditions worse. "What is you rate? .....We only have this in the budget, take it or leave it "

Where films are fully funded there is no need for producers at all. They are not part of the creative process.

 

Budgets in the UK have been falling and producers have taken no action to stop this.

 

In France budgets are 6 times the size of the UK and their industry is supported be levies. That is possible here too and decent wages. People have to organise and demand the industry they want.

 

Or it will be an industry just for the rich

:blink: You either don't know how your own industry works or you don't want to.

Tell Richard he's not working and he'll laugh in your face.

Films need megabucks to make them and if finding £20 million from scratch isn't creative I don't know what is. Try France then. There's free movement of labour in the EU. Nothing's stopping you.

Perhaps Eastern Europe in the 1960s would suit better.

Do you have a time machine?


Edited by Mark Dunn, 23 October 2013 - 04:26 AM.

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#6 Maxim Ford

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 05:24 AM

No one is raising £20 million in the UK for films. The average is half a million down from £2 million. Wages and conditions are falling and plus students now finish their film courses tens of thousands of pounds in debt.

 

Producers work, yes but it is not work that makes the film. Its work to make a profit. Just like a ticket inspector works but he does not drive a train or do anything that is essential to transporting people. Producers and their organisations "work" has been to make working conditions worse for film workers, to restrict the type of film made and the way it is made.

 

Lessions can be learned from other countries success, France has better budgets and working conditions and is making better movies. Eastern Europe made some of the best films of the 20 C and without producers.

I did enjoy making films in Poland in the 70s.

You don't need a time machine to create a better future.

You do need to organise and take control of your industry.


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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 05:29 AM

I can tell you right now this won't fly in 10, 000 years

 

People said that about the minimum wage laws.

 

But in all seriousness, the problem is not getting it to "fly". The issue is that even if a union manages to get producers to something like this, it will only affect members who work for those producers. The producers who are likely to sign up for it, and play by the rules they've signed up to, are the big production companies, the BBC and Channel 4, who are among the most likely to be paying decent wages anyway.

 

So in the long run this sort of stuff ends up being a further perk to people who are already quite well paid. Some of the wealthiest industry people I have ever known are freelance news cameramen for the big broadcasters, often with no greater skills than you would find at a decent wedding video production company. These people are not in any danger of being paid an inadequate wage. Their children go to privately funded schools. 

 

The people who really need a "freelance minimum wage" are those starting out on ultra-low-end stuff, music videos and short films, who often end up working for free or effectively free. And they're exactly the people that the union does not have any way of helping, regardless of whether they're members or whether the union manages to get a minimum wage rule to stick to (say) the PACT agreement.

 

P


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#8 Richard Boddington

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 01:46 PM

Where films are fully funded there is no need for producers at all. They are not part of the creative process.

 

Maxim, I'm going to go with Mark on this one.....you haven't got a clue how the film industry works.

 

The producer IS the single most important person on any film project.  Films are made by producers, not directors, 1st ACs, or DOPs. Because without the producer and his skill at pulling both the money and the creative together, you have nothing.  

 

On the one hand you want film workers to have money to live on month-to-month and on the other you don't believe you need the single most important person needed to raise the money to pay these people with!  :blink:

 

Films are financed by banks and or studios, the single most important person either of these entities will deal with is the producer.

 

What on earth do you mean by, "where films are fully funded there is no need for producers at all."  I have no idea what you mean here, how did the film get funded in the first place if there was no producer?

 

I guess you're some sort of socialist pro-union anti corporation type?  I would suggest that the film industry is not for you if this is the case.  Are you telling me that neither you nor none of your friends would of worked on one of the Harry Potter films that shot in the UK?  Where in the heck do you think the money came from to make those movies?  Donations from London's homeless?  Maybe you think the unions raised the capital.  HA!

 

R,


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#9 Alain Lumina

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 11:50 PM

I'm A "producer", of the brokest, absolute most powerless sort . The idea of calling me a capitalist is unbelievably hilarious. 

 

My net worth is six figures-- in the NEGATIVE. Best of all it's student loans which are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. 

 

This might make a good movie plot, but it's my actual life-I just got out of my full-time job IN A PRISON where I work in health care. 

 

I am saving up to to buy an Arri SR3 from my PRISON JOB, then I look for actors and crew to work on my projects.

 

The idea that someone, somewhere, has money they are hiding from you while they bask in Monaco is simply not true. 

 

I have never made a dime from film, I've spent tens of thousands making microbudget stuff-- MUCH OF IT VERY LOW PAID work I've given to cast/crew. 

 

It was the best I could do. I wish I could have paid them more. They were geniuses working for $35 a day because they liked my script.

 

Come work in the maximum security prison I work in every day if you want to see the luxurious life of a "producer". They are always hiring. 

 

This is such a cartoon, but a true one. I sometimes come home from my job and my micro-budget pleas for help from others to make films are FLAGGED on Cragislist because I am an "exploiter."

 

I am a pro-union leftist, but what someone is saying when they say these aspiring cast/crew should demand $150 per day or so to work, and demand I pay it-- what you are saying is "Don't make a film, poor boy. You aren't good enough" You simply don't have that right. We have the constitutional right to free association. 

 

As I think Edgar Varese said, "The present day composer refuses to die." 


Edited by Alain Lumina, 23 October 2013 - 11:54 PM.

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#10 Maxim Ford

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 03:38 AM

I can see that people are very blinkered by the time and society within which they live and havn't the imagination to see that things could be different and have no knowledge of film production in other countries at other times.

 

But imagine that a director and script writer get a project together and have it budgeted by a production manager and then a commisioning editor at the BBC funds the project. The accounts dept of the BBC and the production manager keep the project on budget. No producer needed.

 

Where does the money come from ? From the viewers who pay by subscription.  So where is the role of your producer here? In all the nationalised industries, which produced some of the best films ever made, there is no producer in the sense now used.

 

Which is money in society? As we live in a very unequal society it is in the hands of the richest 5% or even 1%, in the institutions they control banks etc.

 

Interesting people saying that the have a right to make a film in societies where people don't have the right to a job, house or even a meal.

 

But if you wnat to make a film and have no money you of course can work with others to make the film together with very little money BUT should they all together decide which script to make and who should be the director and then all be the owner of the film when its is finished.  That cooperative model can be very successful.

 

Prisons are are growth industry, because of polical decisions, (war on drugs nonsense), polical action could make a creative well funded film industry.


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#11 Richard Boddington

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 02:00 PM

But imagine that a director and script writer get a project together and have it budgeted by a production manager and then a commisioning editor at the BBC funds the project. The accounts dept of the BBC and the production manager keep the project on budget. No producer needed.

 

Where does the money come from ? From the viewers who pay by subscription.  So where is the role of your producer here? In all the nationalised industries, which produced some of the best films ever made, there is no producer in the sense now used.

 

Ok just because I'm bored today let's take your fantastical business model above and deem it to be true.

 

So that's it then? Only movies made under this model will get made?  

 

Look buddy, every MOW commissioned by a broadcaster has a producer.  Or two or three.  Without even looking I can tell you that the BBC does not operate the way you describe above, no broadcaster does.

 

Your ideas are nonsensical, I would stick to cinematography if I were you and leave the business of film to the experts.

 

Show up on set, shoot what you are asked to shoot, then go home.  That is really the best fit for you.

 

BTW, slamming the very people you rely on to employ you is not a very smart business move.  You might want to think about that.

 

R,


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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 03:24 PM

In point of fact, the BBC doesn't really make movies of the week, which is deeply distressing because they could and should, but there you go. The people who should be doing the job you describe are far too scared of such extravagant expenditure on such a hackneyed artform as drama, when they could instead be making demographically-targeted audience engagement vehicles and pushing the envelope with blue-sky thinking on the bleeding edge of modern televisual thought. Or as we say in English, panel shows and whodunits, which is pretty much all the sort of production technique you advocate actually gets us. In all seriousness, producers can be, and often are, appalling artistic cowards, which is even stranger when you consider that the BBC is not required to make a profit.

 

But really, we've now seen you react with violent aversion to any criticism of the producer's role or even mention of the idea that there migh be alternatives. Which there are. About the most charitable assessment I can come up with is that producers are an accepted part of the business model under which most commercial cinema is made, which is true, although I can't personally come up with any reasons that the role is really absolutely necessary in any sense other than to gather money. And that's an office job, and what's more one that typically attracts people of rather dubious character.

 

In any case, the original subject of this thread is about people being paid enough to live indoors, eat food, and maybe look forward to a pension one day. Any producer who doesn't pay people enough to do those things - which almost none of them do - is not doing his job, even by your standards.

 

P


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#13 Richard Boddington

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 06:55 PM

 although I can't personally come up with any reasons that the role is really absolutely necessary in any sense other than to gather money. 

 

Even "if" that was all a producer does, then it is the most critical job in film.  Tell me what can be accomplished with a zero budget?

 

People who are dismissive of the producer's job, are people that have never gathered a penny farthing to make a movie with.  They dismiss the job because they think they can make a few phone calls and have 2 million in the bank by 3:30PM. HA!

 

I have come to realize that discussing the role of the producer is really pointless on this forum, because as far as I know, I'm the only person that actually does it here.

 

Of course this should not come as a surprise since this website is called, "cinematography.com"  :D

 

R,


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#14 Richard Boddington

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 07:00 PM

 Any producer who doesn't pay people enough to do those things - which almost none of them do - is not doing his job, even by your standards.

 

Quite right, I can only speak for myself, on my shoots everyone gets at least the union/guild minimum.  And they get that because I pulled together enough money to pay them with.  I use a payroll company, and everyone has the proper deductions taken off.  Which means they have full access to workers compensation etc.

 

Now many other indie shoots are a little more "loosey goosey" and I'm not going to fault those producers for working that way.  Sometimes you just gotta make do with what you have.

 

R,


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#15 Maxim Ford

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 03:40 AM

The BBC make film.http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfilms.

"BBC Films is committed to finding and developing new talent, collaborating with some of the foremost writers and directors in the industry"

 

So no real need for producers. Producers play the role they do because of the capitalist relations in this country at this time.

 

The real problem is bugets and wages are falling. Political action needs to be taken to create a well funded film industry. This has been done in France where they are making films for an average of £3,million as compared to £500,000 in Britain. This can be done by levies on cinema tickets, TV companies, DVD sales and Internet providers.

 

It is right that the companies that live off movies, make profits off them, support film production.

 

That film workers demand a living freelance wage and a well funded industry can help that happen.

 

If film finance continues to fall the only films being made will be American.


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#16 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 04:39 AM

I'm not normally a fan of interfering in free market economies, but where they are evidently not working, I tend to agree. The UK industry is currently so steamrollered by American imports that the chances of being able to get out of the situation by pure hard work become fleeting in the extreme. You might as well try to stop a speeding railway locomotive with a hard stare. It's still going to kill you.

 

But this is beside the point, which is that people should get paid a lot more than the UK minimum wage if they're going to be expected to live in southeast England. Right now, more or less the entire TV and film production sector is being supported by the chronic underpayment of many members of crew, to the point where they can't afford a place to live, decent food, a pension, and other things which cannot reasonably be written off as extravagant. With fuel prices as they are in the UK, even running a car, which is near essential, is becoming a lofty goal for people who work 100 days a year at minimum wage sort of rates (and another 200 finding that work).

 

This is not OK. More than the American steamroller, what this means to a great extent is that everyone who works in the industry will end up being an upper-class, parent-funded nob of limited intellect. The effect this has already had on British television is awful to behold.

 

What really winds me up is that we have the BBC, an immensely well-funded media organisation, which chooses to piss its money away on a separate penny-ante radio station for every field and ditch in the UK, feeble, awful local news stations each covering an area of approximately four square inches, and the usual inefficiencies of any big, politically correct organisation. But that's a topic for another day.

 

P


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#17 aapo lettinen

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 07:42 AM

No one is raising £20 million in the UK for films. The average is half a million down from £2 million. Wages and conditions are falling and plus students now finish their film courses tens of thousands of pounds in debt.

 

Producers work, yes but it is not work that makes the film. Its work to make a profit. Just like a ticket inspector works but he does not drive a train or do anything that is essential to transporting people. Producers and their organisations "work" has been to make working conditions worse for film workers, to restrict the type of film made and the way it is made.

 

Lessions can be learned from other countries success, France has better budgets and working conditions and is making better movies. Eastern Europe made some of the best films of the 20 C and without producers.

I did enjoy making films in Poland in the 70s.

You don't need a time machine to create a better future.

You do need to organise and take control of your industry.

Even in the socialist system you have to budget the time and resources and raise funding (at least the needed resources if not real money) 

 

fundraising is actually very hard work and also time consuming. you can try by yourself by, for example, choosing one particular project and trying to fill these forms (the standard production support form of the Finnish Film Foundation) and test how long it takes to calculate all the information needed: " http://ses.fi/filead...tit/english.xls     "


Edited by aapo lettinen, 25 October 2013 - 07:43 AM.

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#18 aapo lettinen

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 07:55 AM

btw, if you "don't have producer in your project", then you are most likely producing by yourself or someone else takes care of the essentials of the production. It is not possible to do any kind of film without producer, because there are always certain tasks to be done (scheduling, budgeting, etc.) 


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#19 Richard Boddington

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 10:26 AM

btw, if you "don't have producer in your project", then you are most likely producing by yourself or someone else takes care of the essentials of the production. It is not possible to do any kind of film without producer, because there are always certain tasks to be done (scheduling, budgeting, etc.) 

 

Thank-you Aapo.  I won't waste any more time responding to Maxim Ford's absolute silliness regarding producers. I don't think anyone else has come close to spouting as much utter rubbish on this forum as he has.  

 

R,


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#20 Richard Boddington

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 10:28 AM

But this is beside the point, which is that people should get paid a lot more than the UK minimum wage if they're going to be expected to live in southeast England. Right now, more or less the entire TV and film production sector is being supported by the chronic underpayment of many members of crew, to the point where they can't afford a place to live, decent food, a pension, and other things which cannot reasonably be written off as extravagant. With fuel prices as they are in the UK, even running a car, which is near essential, is becoming a lofty goal for people who work 100 days a year at minimum wage sort of rates (and another 200 finding that work).

 

You do realize of course that film workers in NYC, LA, and Toronto, face the exact same issues.  And before you tell me that film workers in LA all work five days a week and earn huge sums of money we both know that isn't true.  Some work on a regular basis and others don't, same as film workers in every part of the world.

 

R,


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