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Barry Ackroyd BSC- on fair payments for DP's


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#1 Jonathan Flanagan

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 02:06 PM

Below is a very interesting comment piece for the BSC by its president Barry Ackroyd. The article itself is self-explanatory but it raises very interesting issues regarding the role of the DP (particularly in the DI stage) and proper and fair payment for the role as a whole n a business always looking to cut costs and wages for certain crew.

https://bscine.com/presidents-column
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#2 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 03:34 PM

I wonder if the film he is referring to was 'Captain Phillips'?

I think if a studio is going to ask all the below-the-line crew to cut their rates due to the high risk of investment in the project, then they should instead offer the relative value of the pay cut in gross percentage points. After all, investment and management is the studio's job; labor is our job. If they want us to invest some of our rate back into the project as well as provide labor, then we should get a cut of the profits.

If the movie is expected to do $50M in box office returns, then the point value should be based on that. Should it do less box office, then the studio ends up paying the crew less than full rate, savings to the studio are realized, investment risk is mitigated. Since the crew agreed to the deal up front, they can't really complain.

If the movie does as expected, the crew gets full rate on the back end. Fair deal.

If the movie hits beyond the expected target mark, the crew gets paid extra which is their reward for risk incurred in investing in the project. On the other hand, if the studio pays full rate up front, then as the sole investors they collect all of the gross (minus their other costs and deals).

This seems like a fair and equitable solution to me. Of course, no studio would ever agree to it. Which goes to show, the 'principle' of cutting labor wages is not about what's fair or right. It's about squeezing profit from suckers that will never get their money back.
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#3 Manu Delpech

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 04:02 PM

It totally is, checked the box office and the running time :D


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#4 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 06:15 PM

wow.. I wonder that he or any "top end" DP would agree to 6 weeks grading unpaid.. for the honour of it ..!  if its so risky a film and likely not to make any money.. I would ask for a percentage then.. by the same logic.. 


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#5 aapo lettinen

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 11:10 PM

I thought the whole idea of ripping off European films was to be sure the film would definitely be a success because it is a good script and tested beforehand with the audience. so much smaller risk than making anything original.

 

The original movie did not get theatrical distribution in Finland btw, the Tom Hanks version did...


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#6 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 11:34 PM

I wonder if the film he is referring to was 'Captain Phillips'?

I think if a studio is going to ask all the below-the-line crew to cut their rates due to the high risk of investment in the project, then they should instead offer the relative value of the pay cut in gross percentage points. After all, investment and management is the studio's job; labor is our job. If they want us to invest some of our rate back into the project as well as provide labor, then we should get a cut of the profits.

If the movie is expected to do $50M in box office returns, then the point value should be based on that. Should it do less box office, then the studio ends up paying the crew less than full rate, savings to the studio are realized, investment risk is mitigated. Since the crew agreed to the deal up front, they can't really complain.

If the movie does as expected, the crew gets full rate on the back end. Fair deal.

If the movie hits beyond the expected target mark, the crew gets paid extra which is their reward for risk incurred in investing in the project. On the other hand, if the studio pays full rate up front, then as the sole investors they collect all of the gross (minus their other costs and deals).

This seems like a fair and equitable solution to me. Of course, no studio would ever agree to it. Which goes to show, the 'principle' of cutting labor wages is not about what's fair or right. It's about squeezing profit from suckers that will never get their money back.

 

I think this is absolutely a fair approach. Indeed it's basically the approach I've taken with each of the independent films I've shot to date, and I'll continue to use it. If producers want me to literally invest my time and money in their production (and I think it's a sound investment) I'm happy to do that, but only for points on the producer's profit.

 

It's a good incentivisor at the very least. 


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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 12:00 AM

Talk about champagne problems...
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#8 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 12:22 AM

I think that is a very fair method, Satsuki. You're right though, they will never go for it. Most likely because it complicates their established system. Also though, I'd be weary of any 'profit share'... Hollywood is really good at making sure no film ever makes a profit, just ask Peter Jackson. The only share I'd take is gross receipts or an actual stock investment in the motion picture, nothing less.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 04 May 2016 - 12:22 AM.

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#9 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 12:34 AM

I thought the whole idea of ripping off European films was to be sure the film would definitely be a success because it is a good script and tested beforehand with the audience. so much smaller risk than making anything original.

 

The original movie did not get theatrical distribution in Finland btw, the Tom Hanks version did...

 

 

The original film..  I thought there was only one..the one  Tom Hanks starred in..?  Im not sure why it was deemed a risky investment by the studio,s.. big star/dir /DP.. a film showing the might of the US armed forces .. a true story.. and a big box office draw star.. wheres the risk..  maybe with an unknown star.. ?

 

Yes true enough re the studio,s actually admitting a profit.. in fact it was Tom Hanks production company that was involved with a court case about the film.. My Big Fat Greek Wedding.. for exactly that ..


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 04 May 2016 - 12:37 AM.

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#10 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 12:44 AM

Talk about champagne problems...

How exactly is working for 6 weeks without pay a 'champagne problem'. Isn't low and no pay exactly what you regularly bemoan on this forum?


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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 01:19 AM

How exactly is working for 6 weeks without pay a 'champagne problem'.


The people mentioned in the article are, I would confidently guess, paid an average of many thousands of currency units per week, for weeks on end, with the option to make even more money doing commercial jobs on the side. The overall rate of pay remains extremely generous, even taking the grading time into account.

P
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#12 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 01:27 AM

I thinks its more the principle involved than anyones annual income.. if its at that level now.. its not good for any of us in this industry..  and given the amount of money this film made..  seems the pay could be argued to be very little for the value of the  input ..


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 04 May 2016 - 01:29 AM.

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#13 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 01:37 AM

Also though, I'd be weary of any 'profit share'... Hollywood is really good at making sure no film ever makes a profit, just ask Peter Jackson. The only share I'd take is gross receipts or an actual stock investment in the motion picture, nothing less.


Yes, hence my emphasis on gross points, not net.
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#14 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 01:41 AM

The people mentioned in the article are, I would confidently guess, paid an average of many thousands of currency units per week, for weeks on end, with the option to make even more money doing commercial jobs on the side. The overall rate of pay remains extremely generous, even taking the grading time into account.

P


So you're on the side of management in this arrangement?

Damn overpaid union film workers, expecting wages for actual labor. The nerve...
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#15 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 01:43 AM

It totally is, checked the box office and the running time :D


I wonder if there were some internal emails made public on this topic in the Sony leak...
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#16 aapo lettinen

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 02:55 AM

 

 

The original film..  I thought there was only one..the one  Tom Hanks starred in..?  Im not sure why it was deemed a risky investment by the studio,s.. big star/dir /DP.. a film showing the might of the US armed forces .. a true story.. and a big box office draw star.. wheres the risk..  maybe with an unknown star.. ?

 

Yes true enough re the studio,s actually admitting a profit.. in fact it was Tom Hanks production company that was involved with a court case about the film.. My Big Fat Greek Wedding.. for exactly that ..

 

original: http://www.imdb.com/...ref_=fn_al_tt_1    

 

but it is very usual approach to do remakes with American actors, it is a bit of joke here actually  :lol:  ("if our movie is a huge success we can sell it to Yankees so they can make a remake of it"  :lol:  )  

 

look at Disney for example, most of your favourite Disney movies are adaptations or remakes of some previous work. For example the Lion King was adapted from Japanese manga/anime (Kimba---->Simba, just change the name a little and it is original enough  :P  )


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#17 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 03:17 AM

 

original: http://www.imdb.com/...ref_=fn_al_tt_1    

 

but it is very usual approach to do remakes with American actors, it is a bit of joke here actually  :lol:  ("if our movie is a huge success we can sell it to Yankees so they can make a remake of it"  :lol:  )  

 

look at Disney for example, most of your favourite Disney movies are adaptations or remakes of some previous work. For example the Lion King was adapted from Japanese manga/anime (Kimba---->Simba, just change the name a little and it is original enough  :P  )

 

But Captain Philips screen play was based on the book by guy him self ,Richard Phillips.. in 2010.. maybe the Danish film was also drawing also from this book as it was made in 2012.. rather than Captain Phillips being a remake of the Danish film ..


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 04 May 2016 - 03:20 AM.

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#18 Miguel Angel

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 06:48 AM

Wouldn't be much better to work for a flat rate for a project rather than splitting the payment into "pre" / "pro" and "post" production? 

 

Hence, you agree to get paid X amount of money for X months of your time and you have the DI secured! 

 

Have a good day. 


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#19 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 10:01 AM

The people mentioned in the article are, I would confidently guess, paid an average of many thousands of currency units per week, for weeks on end, with the option to make even more money doing commercial jobs on the side. The overall rate of pay remains extremely generous, even taking the grading time into account.

P

So, it's ok for some workers to be exploited by their employers, but not others? As long as they're making decent money, they shouldn't expect recompense? That does make your complaints about low and no pay work sound like they are more about class than economics.


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#20 Bruce Greene

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 11:39 AM

In the optical finish days of yore... The cinematographer consulted on the color timing, then waited to screen the answer print with the timer, and perhaps made a few more passes.  Not that time consuming.

 

But, now, with such powerful computer created finishes, the process takes weeks.  And yet, still requires the participation of the cinematographer. Often, full time, or nearly so.  This work should now be paid work product.

 

But, on the flip side, getting paid, or contracting to be there for the DI kind of means that the cinematographer be available for work, at a time unknown, when the DI will take place.  Does this mean the cinematographer must be available at this unknown time at the end of post production?  What if the DP is shooting a another project at the same time?  Is the cinematographer required, by contract, to be available for the DI?  A difficult question.


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