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Etiquette on canceling on job for a better one


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#1 Albion Hockney

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Posted 20 May 2015 - 06:40 PM

Hey guys just curious what your guys individual practices are when you book a job and then get a call for a much better one the same dates. Like for example maybe you get a call for something under your rate for two days and then a couple weeks out get a all for a 1 week shoot at your rate or above. Do you cancel the first gig? When is too late?

This is specifically geared toward shooters as I find that crew does this quiet a bit and I have never minded but producers specifically requesting a given shooter is of course a bit different.
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#2 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 20 May 2015 - 08:26 PM

I really don't like to do this, even when I was working regularly as an AC. A lot of my colleagues have gotten into the habit, and the trouble they get themselves into with multiple covers and holds often boggles my mind. I've even had DPs try to poach me from other jobs the day before by offering me more money. I find this rather shameful and always politely turn them down. My general feeling is that if you commit to a job, then you should do it.

That said, there can be extenuating circumstances. If the first job is really low budget or clearly don't have their stuff together, then I'll let them know up front that if I get a full rate job I may need to bail. If they are ready to book, then I'll stay no matter what a week to 10 days out. That's burned me a few times with sometimes very lucrative jobs coming in last minute and my lowly job falling thru shortly thereafter. But I feel this is the price you have to pay if you don't want to get a reputation for being flaky. I value trust and relationships more than money, I think clients do appreciate that long term.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 May 2015 - 11:03 PM

Generally you should never drop a job for a better one, unless there is a strong personal reason, such as the director who you've worked with for the past twenty years just called you, etc.  I'm sure Sven Nykvist dropped everything when Ingmar Bergman called him up.  In other words, your reasons should be acceptable and totally understandable by the people you are leaving, otherwise you will get a bad reputation for dropping one job just because a better one comes along.

 

But I'm speaking as a cinematographer, which is a key creative crew member.  If an electrician or grip told me that he had to drop out because a commercial came along that paid more in one day than working two weeks for me does, I'd understand.

 

And there may be the situation where a cinematographer agrees to shoot a 3-day short film for someone but then gets offered a six-month TV series, for example -- most producers would understand you wanting to not lose six months of work because of three days of work.


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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 20 May 2015 - 11:17 PM

I almost never do this. In fact I struggle to think of a time I have (except when i had mistakenly double booked myself). However, when it does happen, I replace myself as a DoP with with someone whom I trust-- explicitly, and I make sure to have EVERYTHING in order for them-- as best one can. This is of course dependent upon the producer and director being ok with it and has in fact just happened recently where a shoot i had committed to shuffled dates and overlapped for 4 days on a shoot in New Zealand i'm getting ready for.

 

I think it's more important to be penny foolish and pound wise-- the fact that you stick to your word is important in this business. Your reliability is more bankable than any paycheck.

 

That said, sure, a 6 month job beats out a 3 day job-- almost always, but sometimes you gotta go with your gut and have honest and option discussions with the ability to give the production you're leaving some solid options. And never make a habit of it as a HoD.


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#5 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 08:20 AM

I think it's more important to be penny foolish and pound wise-- the fact that you stick to your word is important in this business. Your reliability is more bankable than any paycheck.

 

This applies to life...not only this business.  When people hear me say I'm going to do something, they know it's going to happen, regardless of whatever hardship I may be placing on myself.  If you have a reputation for being reliable, that's something that will pay dividends in the long-run because of the simple fact that it's so hard to come by these days.


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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 09:17 AM

One hopes so.

 

To readdress the original point, yes, this is something one should ideally not do but it will very occasionally happen to  most people. The etiquette is not to do it. The mitigation is to apologise profusely and only deliver the bad news when you have done some groundwork on finding a replacement of reasonable ability for the job. I have (on only one occasion) paid part of someone's wages to ensure their availability to cover something I had to let go.

 

Some people have the idea that it's more acceptable to do this on freebies, which it probably is, but as Bill quite rightly says, a reputation for reliability is all many of us really have, and it's perhaps even more important to establish it on the low- or un-paid jobs which are likely to be at the beginning of an acquaintance.

 

P


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#7 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 09:41 AM

I've come to expect that I can only hold onto a crew member if the rate is a certain amount.  This is something I always stress to production.  That unless the rates are a certain minimum, we can't expect anyone to actually show up.  So while I appreciate people staying on board when they get a better offer, it's never something I expect.

 

If someone leaves mid-job however, that's definitely up to them to find a replacement of equal or greater qualification and attitude.  Rarely the case.  The replacement is too often a major disappointment.  That's the only part of that whole thing that bothers me, but again, if the rates are decent, this rarely happens.


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#8 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 07:58 PM

So what about all the productions companies that regularly change dates,no cancellation fee,double book crews looking for the cheapest.. etc .. we have been conned for a long time that its all on our side to be honorable and just..   because we are all doing it for passion and love right..  its also a job.. me asking to change /cancel/ supply another DP .. must out number prod co,s mucking me about 1 million to 1.. sorry to say but this rather naive attitude just perpetuates this phony deal.. lets take down that one way street sign erected in concrete by production companies/agencies .. 


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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 08:03 PM

Trying to be a reasonable human being has been costing me money for really quite some time...


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#10 Miguel Angel

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 08:46 PM

I have cancelled just one job in my life because the production I was working on (commercial) overlapped the other production (a paid short - film) by surprise. 

We were going to shoot 2 days and at the end of the 2 days the producer told us that we were going to keep working for more days so I could not go to the short - film. 

 

I sent an email to the director / producer straight away (almost 1 week in advance) and I couldn't find a replacement until the day before the short - film started to shoot, by that time, the director had found a new cinematographer. 

 

Of course, I felt that I lost the possibility to work with that director forever, even though he knew that I was going to work on a commercial before working on his short - film. 

 

As for production companies which change dates, etc, I am usually paid for the whole job if it is cancelled. 

 

Have a good day. 


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#11 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 10:07 PM

My jobs run for months. Therefore, my personal policy is that I'm obligated to a job based on the original shooting schedule. If that job goes longer and I have a conflict, I'm free to go to the new job and honor that one based on the "white", original shooting schedule.

G
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#12 Albion Hockney

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Posted 22 May 2015 - 12:36 AM

I agree that prod companies always change dates and cancel late so i don't feel a special obligation everyone is playing a bit of a game usually

Anyone have cancelation policy?

I double hold dates all the time .... Last week I triple held a date for a couple weeks from now... Of course one job of the three actually went. That said once I'm committed I'm usually on board.

I think the line of "extenuating" circumstances is what is up for debate ... How much better does the new job have to be?
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#13 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 22 May 2015 - 07:05 AM

If its not production screwing you around but just a "better job" either for your career e.g... a first feature.. a big commercial .. what ever ..a big break type scenario .. then you have to  make your choice and live with it.. probably you will be letting someone down .. but I think they should also see your side.. I,ll bet all the big time DOP,s left someone in the poop when they got their big break.. and maybe you have to be ambitious enough to take it.. or be a "nicer "person but not be a big time DOP..   :)

 

Like wise if its a massive financial difference .. 3 day shoot to 6 month shoot.. as Mr Mullins says.. I think you have to make that choice and if you do.. production should really cut you a break .. they would do the same to you thats for sure.. 

 

But its so often not a level playing field.. this weird and very misguided moral obligation to production companies .. which we all seem to have to some extent..Ive just got to feel over the years.. is very mis guided .. what other business is like this.. 


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#14 JD Hartman

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Posted 22 May 2015 - 07:52 AM

On the flip side, would the production company feel any obligation, financial or otherwise if they had to suspend production for a while or abort production totally?  Unless you had a well written legally binding employment contract and the finances to see it was enforced, I think you'd be left out in the cold, having turned down other work for that same time period.


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#15 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 22 May 2015 - 08:18 PM

On the flip side, would the production company feel any obligation, financial or otherwise if they had to suspend production for a while or abort production totally?  Unless you had a well written legally binding employment contract and the finances to see it was enforced, I think you'd be left out in the cold, having turned down other work for that same time period.

 

Isn't that just the nature of the business?  And production companies and studios - as corporate entities - usually have less to lose, reputation-wise if they do something like that, than say the individual crew member or department head who is trying to make a name for himself.  No one should start out planning not to keep his or her word.  I agree that maybe if you have a bad experience with a production company, if they call on you again, you think twice.  But in my opinion, having the mindset to plan on jumping ship if something better comes along after you've committed to a project is highly unprofessional, unless you're getting a life-changing opportunity.


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#16 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 22 May 2015 - 08:27 PM

But its so often not a level playing field.. this weird and very misguided moral obligation to production companies .. which we all seem to have to some extent..Ive just got to feel over the years.. is very mis guided .. what other business is like this.. 

 

Every business is like this.

 

Like I said earlier in this thread, it's not just this business.  Everyone has responsibilities to his or her employer, regardless of what field you are in.  At the end of the day it's up to you to either fulfill your obligations and be a responsible individual or not.  The answer to that question has a lot to do with how you were raised and it ultimately comes down to a matter of character.


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#17 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 23 May 2015 - 08:06 AM

Bill 

 

With due respect.. you must be a bit wet behind the ears in this business.. its nothing to do with how you are raised or character .. its about running a business and a career .. if your good enough you,ll have to do this one day in the near future.. and you,ll read your post and laugh with embarrassment .. :) 


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#18 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 23 May 2015 - 08:30 AM

Robin;

 

The existence of that attitude is what makes the film industry and life in general so unpleasant.

 

I hesitate to be absolutist about anything, but I think I will about this. Behaving like a decent human being is, in all cases, much, much more important than something as comparatively trivial as success in the film industry.

 

I appreciate this attitude limits my potential for conspicuous success. So be it.

 

P


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#19 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 23 May 2015 - 09:17 AM

Robin;

 

The existence of that attitude is what makes the film industry and life in general so unpleasant.

 

I hesitate to be absolutist about anything, but I think I will about this. Behaving like a decent human being is, in all cases, much, much more important than something as comparatively trivial as success in the film industry.

 

I appreciate this attitude limits my potential for conspicuous success. So be it.

 

P

 

Phil.. sorry you totally mis understand my post.. all Im saying is Bill is being a bit on the naive side.. Im all for decent human beings.. but can they also be working both sides of the business .. crew and production companies.. you guys need to get out a bit more :) 


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#20 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 23 May 2015 - 11:19 AM

Bill 

 

With due respect.. you must be a bit wet behind the ears in this business.. its nothing to do with how you are raised or character .. its about running a business and a career .. if your good enough you,ll have to do this one day in the near future.. and you,ll read your post and laugh with embarrassment .. :)

 

Robin,

 

As I said twice before - this is behavior for life...not just this industry.  You can either be a respectable, stand-up individual or a cut-throat "I'm out for myself no matter who I have to step-on" kind of person.  Regardless of the field, others will see what you are about.  I am fully aware that people of the former nature will often have a harder time of it in this business.  And should I never achieve success in the film industry due to that, so be it.  I refuse to sacrifice my values for any type of success in this life.

 

One more thing: read the section of your post that I highlighted above.  If you are not embarrassed at having said that, then that tells me a lot about you.

 

I wish you the best.


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