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Deferred payment


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#1 George Ebersole

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 11:16 AM

Some time back I worked a trailer to sell a feature, and signed away my life with the promise of deferred payment if the project got picked up.

 

I don't expect to be paid, but I was wondering if anybody had ever gotten a cheque out of a deferred payment gig.


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 11:20 AM

I've done it twice early in my career, and no, didn't see any money later.  Didn't expect to though. I did do two very low-budget films with very low pay though where after the directors sold the movies, they gave me a check to cover the time I spent in post doing the answer printing and home video mastering, something I didn't expect and was very nice of them.


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#3 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 11:38 AM

I did once, shooting for a documentary. When it was sold to a television channel, I received payment in the form of personal check from the producer. 


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#4 JD Hartman

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 12:34 PM

Did it once and none of the crew was never paid even though the feature did sell on the direct to DVD market. The Producer continues to operate in this same manner many years later. 


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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 01:07 PM

I'd avoid working with a producer who makes it a habit of using an unpaid crew.  If the project is clearly a labor of love by a first time director/producer, then I think it's everyone's personal calculation as to the value of doing the job without pay -- for someone who needs the credits and experience, who wants to see the project get made, if it is clearly sort of a non-commercial tiny art project, etc. then it might be worth it as long as you realize that the chances are low of getting money later.  What drives me nuts is when the filmmakers doesn't understand why they can't put together a large experienced crew with the promise of deferred payment because while there might be a good reason for a creative department head to get involved, there is less and less reason for a grip or electric or AC to work unpaid.


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#6 Nathan Walters

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 01:23 PM

I was actually paid from a "deferred payment" gig a couple months.  I had no real expectation of actually being paid, but was thrilled and honestly shocked when I was.  The project didn't make any money but they decided to pay me out of pocket later, which was greatly appreciated.  That being said, I think the safe bet is that when you see "deferred payment," to assume it means "no payment."  Though maybe I'm just cynical. 


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#7 Jay Young

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 02:56 PM

I got paid to do a short film BEFORE we actually shot.  Is that undeferred?


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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 04:30 PM

I got paid to do a short film BEFORE we actually shot.  Is that undeferred?

 

I think it is just ferred...


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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 07:09 PM

Preferred.

In more ways than one.
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#10 Richard Boddington

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 07:20 PM

Hilarious thing is....name even one other industry where people are willing to give their labour away for free in the hopes of getting paid later.

 

Good luck finding someone to mow your lawn, take out your garbage, or get that root canal done with a "deferred" payment.  In any other industry people want to get paid for their labour, period.  Only on a film job website can you post ads that say, "non-paid position," and then get 100 resumes from people who will take the job.

 

R,


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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 07:21 PM

Hilarious thing is....name even one other industry where people are willing to give their labour away for free in the hopes of getting paid later.

 

 

The music industry?


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#12 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 07:51 PM

Hilarious thing is....name even one other industry where people are willing to give their labour away for free in the hopes of getting paid later.

 

Good luck finding someone to mow your lawn, take out your garbage, or get that root canal done with a "deferred" payment.  In any other industry people want to get paid for their labour, period.  Only on a film job website can you post ads that say, "non-paid position," and then get 100 resumes from people who will take the job.

 

R,

 

Theatre. Happens all the time. And while theatre might not be as much a money-maker as film, it still requires legitimate jobs like lighting designers, set designers, stage managers, someone to hang and gel the lights, etc. In the vast majority of cases, this work is all done 100% free without any expectation of remuneration. The reason it's done for free, in a lot of cases, is so that people can gain experience and make contacts - in hopes that they can break into the big time and get paid one day.

 

We used volunteer labor at BRT all the time. Actors, crew - all were volunteers. And we had waiting lists miles long for people wanting to do nothing more than help load in sets and hang lights. Of course we were a nonprofit, but does that really make it any better? Is film really somehow THAT different from theatre that it must always be considered for-profit? Most films don't make a profit anyway, much like theatre.

 

It's basically the same exact mentality in film. In a way, the industry itself has created the problem. It done so by essentially closing out anyone with no contacts or experience from getting a foot in the door. What is someone left to do, other than to work for free so they can meet someone or gain the IMDb credits to be taken seriously.

 

As David also said, the music industry is full of this as well - though on a different note from film and theatre. Music tends to be a labor of love for the band members, and are structured more like a partnership business where they share whatever money they make. Agents, music producers, the stage tech hanging the lights, the sound board op, etc., rarely are doing it for free - usually collecting IATSE rates.


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#13 Richard Boddington

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 08:25 PM

 

 

The music industry?

 

In what capacity would you see that happening?

 

R,


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#14 Richard Boddington

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 08:28 PM

We used volunteer labor at BRT all the time. Actors, crew - all were volunteers. And we had waiting lists miles long for people wanting to do nothing more than help load in sets and hang lights. Of course we were a nonprofit, but does that really make it any better? Is film really somehow THAT different from theatre that it must always be considered for-profit? Most films don't make a profit anyway, much like theatre.

 

Well community theatre is a totally different model, of course one expects that to be un-paid and volunteer.

 

Film....so many frustrated parents who hear their son got a "degree" in film, and his first job is working for free as a set PA.  I can see their point.  And largely why my two sons have been banned from the movie industry.

 

R,


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#15 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 08:30 PM

You don't think there are unpaid interns working for record producers?
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#16 Richard Boddington

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 08:40 PM

You don't think there are unpaid interns working for record producers?

 

Ah that group, I wasn't really thinking about them.  But yes, ok.

 

R,


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#17 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 08:59 PM

 

Well community theatre is a totally different model, of course one expects that to be un-paid and volunteer.

 

True, but the real issue is it spreads far beyond community theatre. BRT was a semi-professional theatre that paid 'box office percentage' to actors and key crew, which is similar to the definition of 'deferred pay' I guess. The big difference with theatre I suppose is that you're pretty much guaranteed to make something due to the nature of the end product.

 

There was another theatre company in town rolling in a $1 million annual budget that still relied on volunteers. If it were only the 'for the fun of it' community theaters doing it, I'd agree - but it's not. 

 

Not saying I agree with the practice at all, but it sort of just 'is' in some industries. Of course getting someone to mow your lawn is not going to be free. Mowing lawns can only go so far - to mowing other laws. Though I would point out many people, when younger, will mow lawns for free or a tiny amount, to gain experience and contacts. Most people mow lawns to earn a living, not because they find it fun. Film, theatre, music, etc is full of 'creative' people, and lets face it - film, theatre, and music is fun, something that can't be said of giving a root canal or mowing a lawn.

 

So in reality, the newbie working for free is not exactly a film-industry invention. Film, theatre, music, etc. There are also the countless interns working for free at pretty much ever major corporation, with the dream of landing that great job if they prove themselves good.

 

It's sort of a new take on the old 'apprenticeship' program of the past. Work for free for a master, where you will learn a trade, and then become your own master making money.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 29 June 2016 - 09:02 PM.

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#18 Richard Boddington

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 09:24 PM

 

 Film, theatre, music, etc is full of 'creative' people, and lets face it - film, theatre, and music is fun

 

Yes, getting up at 5:30 am for my 12 hour directing shift, it's so much FUN!!! Yipeeee!

 

Of course we all do it because we love it. What's interesting in film, as David alluded to earlier, one can't expect a grip or electric to work for free, whilst a production designer might.

 

Why?  Well loading a truck is not "fun," therefore said person needs to be paid.  Being a production designer is lots of fun, therefore they can work for free. :)

 

R,


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#19 George Ebersole

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 09:45 PM

 

 

The music industry?

 

Gold mining?   :)


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#20 Bruce Greene

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 10:07 PM

I once shot a short film for free.  I insisted that I ... not get paid, I donated the camera and a few lights, but I told the producer that my focus puller and lighting helper would need to be paid.

 

I haven't worked with this director again, but the connection resulted in my daughter establishing a career at a major network.  That was worth way more than any pay I might have received for a week's work :)

 

Recently, I helped out a friend on a personal project.  I assumed I was working for free.  I was quite surprised when a check came in the mail!  It was not much, but felt good to be appreciated.


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