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No Pay Interns


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#1 Maxim Ford

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 10:51 AM

Struggle to stop exploitation in the film industry getting some attention

 

http://www.theguardi...pay-internships

 

 


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#2 Tim Tyler

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 11:09 AM

Here is the excerpt that addresses a film production intern:

 

Film production

 

In August, I worked on a feature-length film. I thought it would be valuable, my first real film-set experience, and of course would look amazing on my CV.

 

I was a runner and script supervisor for the production, a horror film. I worked unpaid for two weeks, living in a scout hut in a forest. We had a cast and crew of around 18 to look after. The work schedule was from 8.30am until 2.30am, with one short break.

 

Our first task was to drag lighting and cables through the woods. The safety measures were nonexistent – they weren't secured to the ground so there was a constant risk of tripping. That risk became a little more potent when crew members requested that runners take them hot drinks into the middle of a forest in the dead of night. During a midnight coffee run, a fellow intern tripped over a log in the pitch dark and scalded his hand. He had to be rushed to hospital.

 

I was excited to be script supervisor as I write for a film journalism site. On the first day of filming, I came across a line that wasn't punctuated, and therefore didn't make sense when read out. I asked the actor delivering it how she planned to do it. Later on, during a group meeting, the director singled me out in front of everyone saying I had "tried to take over as director". It was humiliating. I hadn't been told what to do, but assumed checking the script for errors was part of the role.

 

The worst part of the experience was that an insect bit me on my inner thigh, and running about made it swollen and infected. It grew to the size of one of my hands. I went to an emergency walk-in centre and was given a course of antibiotics. A week after the internship, while still taking antibiotics, which had horrible side-effects, I had a trial as an in-house runner for an editing company. I was unwell and exhausted, and I blew it. I had hoped by doing this internship I'd get my foot in the door of the industry. I'd say my big toe is in the door, but not my whole foot.

 


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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 01:47 PM

I shouldn't worry - even if the poor sap had got a runner at a post house, they'd have been ejected in six months anyway. Abuse of runners has been a problem for even longer than the generic intern issue, although they did used to pay runners. Not any more. It wouldn't have got anyone's foot in the door regardless.

 

On one hand, if you're working in the woods at night there should be reasonable safety precautions - work lights, etc. On the other, well, stumbling around cables in the dark is something that's occasionally going to happen, hence flashlights. No, I wouldn't make people carry coffee around the woods in the dark. Yes, many people would, because they'll probably get away with it. Was there any form of post-mortem on the coffee burn incident? Doubt it.

 

The ridiculous hours and the lack of money and the awful accommodation is not much to do with interns (it sounds like everyone was in the same boat for living space) but a symptom of the awfulness of what little industry we have here. If it really was a scout hut, I actually know which show this was...

 

P


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#4 Richard Boddington

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 02:48 PM

That's a pretty horrible story to be sure.  But think about this, what other industry has people so desperate to get into it that they are willing to work for free?  It's so easy to get free crew for a film shoot from Mandy.com, although as usual I do not advocate this approach.  Imagine posting a job on-line that read, "ditch diggers required, no pay."  How many applicants would you get?

 

I've put ads on Mandy to fill holes in my crews on my last three shoots, these were fully paid positions of course that covered accommodation, travel, & provided pier diem.  The number of applicants is through the roof!! It's not unusual to get 200-250 resumes. No UPM or producer could possibly go through them all.  In spite of each ad saying, "Ontario residents only," the resumes still flood in from all over the globe even though we could never get work permits for these people.

 

So I think we see a bigger problem here, the industry simply has way too many people for too few jobs.  The film schools are cranking out thousands of new grads a year and where on earth are they all going to go?  The film schools in Toronto that advertise on TV and target young people, are selling them a pipe dream!  Of course they don't care once the tuition money is in hand.

 

I do think that people entering this industry need to take some responsibility for the problem. When you are repeatedly told, there are no where near enough jobs to go around in a particular industry, you need to seriously consider if it's a wise career path?  Perhaps a less subscribed industry would be a better option?

 

I'm frequently asked to talk to school groups about "careers in film."  It is of course a delicate balance, no one wants to hear a career day speaker say, "none of you will ever work in the movie business so don't even try."  On the other hand I can't really say, "don't worry you'll all make it," either.

 

R,


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#5 Richard Boddington

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 02:59 PM

Struggle to stop exploitation in the film industry getting some attention

 

http://www.theguardi...pay-internships

 

 

 

Actually that article points to problems in many other fields as well, not just film.

 

R,


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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 04:14 PM

I do think that people entering this industry need to take some responsibility for the problem. When you are repeatedly told, there are no where near enough jobs to go around in a particular industry, you need to seriously consider if it's a wise career path?

 

I have been making that point on this forum for the last ten years and I have been criticised for so doing.

 

P


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#7 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 04:21 PM

I can very much understand unpaid interns on tiny low-budget film or shorts, they're often self funded or working with tiny donations... and a shivering crew do need hot drinks taken to them in the middle of the night - though it should be done safely.

 

What I can't quite get is when a profitable company, be it a film company or advertising company etc, uses unpaid staff to necessary jobs. I remember doing an unpaid internship for an international film company, dropping of packages in Soho or getting the 'talent' exclusive coffees from Carluccio's - and I didn't really learn anything from it and felt it should have been paying the minimum wage. However what it does do is get you inside, if its dropping off a tape to a post house/ production company and if you have an instantly attractive personality or physical good looks, you're likely to get a job....

 

Regarding insect bites to the legs, I don't know whats happening to UK bugs but the're nasty... I get septicemia at least once a year (ask Stephen Murphy!) - always carry deet, literally always, not just in woods but lovely beaches at sunset as well!


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#8 Freya Black

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 05:45 AM

I can very much understand unpaid interns on tiny low-budget film or shorts, they're often self funded or working with tiny donations... and a shivering crew do need hot drinks taken to them in the middle of the night - though it should be done safely.

 

Definitely!

 

The answer to this is Thermos flasks. Less pointless trips back and forth, and when the thermos needs refilling, it's a sealed container so easy to transport. Yes you do have to buy thermos flasks but unbranded vacuum flasks can be bought from Morrisons right now for about £4 each.

 

Phil is right about flashlights too. You can buy nice little ones from poundshops even. No excuse not to have something.

 

Basic stuff.

 

Alternatively you could have a rule that all hot drinks must be consumed at unit base. This is not likely to be popular given the breaks in production tho.

 

Freya


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#9 Freya Black

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 05:49 AM

However what it does do is get you inside, if its dropping off a tape to a post house/ production company and if you have an instantly attractive personality or physical good looks, you're likely to get a job....

 

 

I think you are slightly over-egging the pudding here. Certainly attractive personality or good looks help a lot but in my experience it takes a bit more than that to get any kind of work! ;)

 

You make it sound like a runner just has to wander into a post/house, wiggle their bottom a bit and it's a done deal! ;)

 

Freya


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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 08:43 AM

Perhaps it is my lack of bottom which has kept me out of post---- thank the heavens.


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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 10:27 AM

attractive personality or good looks help a lot 

 

Then what's the problem!

 

grinch-hanging.png

 

I'm gorgeous!


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#12 Richard Boddington

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 01:06 PM

There's another twist to this issue....what happens if someone volunteers themselves in a Mandy ad to work for free?  There are lot's of examples of this.  Composer's offer their services for free in order to get a film credit, people with camera gear offer themselves up to work for free as the DOP, some people offer their services for any "grunt" work they can get.

 

What do we do with these folks? Pass a law saying you cannot offer your services for free on a film set?

 

R,


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#13 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 02:02 PM

I fear you already can't, in the strictest possible sense, as it would otherwise be an inexcusable loophole. Laws like this (copyright, for instance) are generally tolerated on the basis that they can't ever be fully enforced.

 

The overarching problem is that people feel like they have to do this.

 

P


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#14 Maxim Ford

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 02:14 PM

There's another twist to this issue....what happens if someone volunteers themselves in a Mandy ad to work for free?  There are lot's of examples of this.  Composer's offer their services for free in order to get a film credit, people with camera gear offer themselves up to work for free as the DOP, some people offer their services for any "grunt" work they can get.

 

What do we do with these folks? Pass a law saying you cannot offer your services for free on a film set?

 

R,

Only a lowlife scumbag producer would take advantage of a desperate individual seeking work.

 

So there is a problem.

 

Films are made by people working together, in a comradely manner we must educate beginners in this industry that undercutting wages and conditions is not the solution to finding work or advancing their career.

 

Together, organized in Trade Unions it is possible to improve wages and conditions. This means people have to take the time and trouble to come to meeting and organize. To campaign for a better film industry.

 

Who wants to work with a person who helps the deadbeat producers in their race to the bottom?


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#15 Richard Boddington

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 02:28 PM

Only a lowlife scumbag producer would take advantage of a desperate individual seeking work.

 

Problem....I have known people that do this because they are launching a "second career" in the movie industry.  They've already made their money in one field, and now want to try their hand at working in film.  Since they don't need money to live on, they have the luxury of offering their services for free.  So the person is hardly desperate.

 

You think that's bad? There are plenty of people out there who are willing to work for free and then pay the producer for a position!  I get these requests all the time.  None have been accepted.  If I had accepted one of these offers I have visions of Phil and Maxim's heads exploding in unison.

 

There are quite a number of commercials DOPs willing to offer their services for free to a feature film production just so they can break into that world.  If they don't move forward as a features DOP they usually don't care as they are already making a lot of money shooting commercials.

 

Not sure what the solution is? I know blaming produces for all of these ills is nonsensical as producers don't force anyone to advertise their services for free.  Nor would I encourage it.

 

R,


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#16 Richard Boddington

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 02:32 PM

Well here's an example right here in fact:

 

http://mandy.com/1/j....cfm?v=57447185

 

This composer sees it as a "barter system".  He provides his work, and in exchange he gets a credit.

 

Either way....free labour on offer.

 

R,


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#17 Maxim Ford

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 02:45 PM

 

Not sure what the solution is? I know blaming produces for all of these ills is nonsensical as producers don't force anyone to advertise their services for free.  Nor would I encourage it.

 

R,

The expelling of any producer that doesn't pay film workers properly from producers' organizations, boycott of films made with no pay labour, naming and shaming of Stars who work on films with under paid workers and poor conditions.  

 

Producers organisations to agree with Trade Unions for good wages and conditions. To stop the use of "all in deals" which undercut wages and overtime.

 

Any cooperative unpaid ventures the ownership of the film to be with all the workers of the film.


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#18 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 02:52 PM

I graduated from an art school film department 20 years ago. Even back then, the school was tired of businesses (and even other artists) taking advantage of its students. All anyone wanted was free labor, and the school took a stand on that. They came up with a policy that has stuck to this day: the Career Services department will not accept any "internships" that are unpaid, and payment has to be legit - not just minimum wage.

 

I absolutely support that policy, because starting a career off (even as an intern) doing work for free usually leads to lower salaries later on. Most people assume what they do isn't worth more, and are afraid to ask for more money even when it's warranted. The culture of free labor (in any industry) makes it hard for people to ask for *any* compensation. Taking advantage of interns just devalues them and reinforces the idea that they should be afraid to ask for what they're worth.

 

If a business is required to pay a living wage, they're more likely to take the time to have that person do something meaningful, and everyone benefits from that. The point of an internship is to learn something in the real world that a school can't really teach you, but there's no reason to do it for nothing.

 

This, by the way, is worth a read. It was in the NY Times a few weeks ago: http://www.nytimes.c...rnet-unite.html


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#19 Richard Boddington

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 03:10 PM

 boycott of films made with no pay labour, naming and shaming of Stars who work on films with under paid workers and poor conditions.  

 

Not working too well thus far.  No one has boycotted any of the movies being shot in Romania that I know of.  The whole point of films being shot there is to have access to very cheap labour and be free of all trade unions.  Two very high profile producers have shot movies there.  Are you going to come up with a website that "outs" these producers Maxim?

 

Will the general public even care if you do?

 

Why stop there? Millions of North American and European manufacturing jobs have already been shipped to China, India, Mexico, etc.

 

R,


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#20 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 04:47 PM

My feeling is that you could shoot a major motion picture in the UK without involving the union, and BECTU wouldn't really be able to do much about it other than moan.

 

I seem to recall the non-union feature that Rodriguez attempted to shoot in the US faced some quite stern direct action.


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