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#1 Jonathan Tinsley

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 03:17 PM

So I graduated college a few months ago and have been steadily working since.  I've had an insanely busy summer which included getting on my first feature. I'm super happy to finally be out of school and pursuing my goals.

 

One major issue I've ran into though is getting paid. I've had plenty of work over the course of the past several months, some of which was work out of state, so staying busy isn't a problem. But some clients have yet to pay me 3 months after a job and it worries me I'm going to have this problem for awhile.

 

I'm losing my patience, but I am keeping it cool and am still polite with these people.  I even delivered my product to one client about 10 weeks ago and they still beating around the bush when it comes to paying me.

 

I live in a smaller market where unions aren't a thing and people expect quality work for minimum wage prices.

 

Is getting paid in a reasonable amount of time an issue most people run into?

 

Thanks,

Jon.


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#2 JD Hartman

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 03:33 PM

Had one "employer" make me wait for 30 days, because that is the delay period that his client (large law firm) imposes on his invoice.  I no longer take his calls or return his emails.


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#3 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 03:35 PM

The 3 most important things I've been told to look for on a work contract is:

-What you gotta do

-What you're getting paid

-And WHEN you're getting paid

 

Make sure that last one is extremely clear.

 

Also when hiring others, make sure there is something in there ensuring they are signing over the rights to their labor output for that specific project if they're doing recordings, drawings, writings, etc. If that isn't there, they have the ability to take you to court for using their work if they found themselves very displeased with you.

 

Now if a lot of these jobs don't have you signing on a dotted line, bring your own work contracts.


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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 05:14 AM

Unfortunately, this is normal. It's a bit more normal in actual on-set work. Away from the camera, there's a tiny amount more regard paid to normal businesslike behaviour and basic professionalism, but if you actually want to work at the sharp end of movies this is how it is.

 

I'm down $5k in the last couple of years (and yes it's in dollars because it's Americans who didn't pay me!)

 

I had one client try to get me to agree to "90 days after we use the material."

 

Aha. Ha. Ha. No.

 

P


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#5 Justin Hayward

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 01:25 PM

Back in my PA days I worked for a company that would take forever to pay, but would also try to knock my rate down for ridiculous things.  They once found out I lived right next to the location we were shooting so they asked if they could take $25 off my rate because I didn't have to travel.

 

They didn't provide lunch either which I found out the hard way when I showed up with no money.  


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#6 Miguel Angel

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 03:49 PM

Working on commercials In Spain people have to wait, usually, for 3 months to get their money. 

That's the standard timeframe (which is ridiculous)... and then, after those 3 months you have to start making phone calls. 

 

There is an "association" which is composed of a lot of commercial producers, camera crew and grip crew.. and they can't make anything to change that. 

 

Working on movies in Spain you get paid at the end of the month :)

 

That's the reason why I love working in Ireland, because you do your thing and 1 week after your job is done, you are paid! As it should be everywhere. 

 

Have a good day! 


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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 11:32 PM

It happens, but net 30 is standard. After that i would impose late fees. It shouldn't take more than 30 days, ever, really, from the date of your invoice.

Of course, some people just don't pay, and that sucks. If you're bringing out kit of your own, get a deposit (for major kit).


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#8 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 11:49 PM

Agree 30 days has always been the norm as far as I know.. in the UK anyway..   Jon I think you,ll get a "nose" for the dodgy ones.. gmail instead of a company email address.. website is crap,doesn't work or non existent .. you call always just google people or companies to see any court cases or comments these days too.. 

 

Anytime Im concerned now.. and thats really also just guess work or a feeling.. I ask,up front, for copy of the bank transfer before I send/hand over the HDD..  very least just gets you paid quickly..  if they seem really shifty but the shoot seems good.. ask for money up front.. its a perfectly valid option that we shouldn't feel bad about.. but mostly they just never follow up and you dodged the bullet anyway.. nothing lost..I think everyone will be stiffed once in their career .. 


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#9 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 26 August 2016 - 11:58 AM

I had a bi-coastal branded content agency that inexplicably lost my invoice multiple times.  It got so bad that I just gave up on the NY office and called their San Francisco people and was paid out within a week.   I had email confirmations that the work was performed well and everyone was happy so there was no leg for them to stand on for not paying.  But yeah, I had a feeling that it was just a poorly managed office.

 

You can't take this stuff too personally.  There are some byzantine accounting structures out there that make paying freelancers as difficult as possible for no logical reason.  Just the way it is in corporations and companies.   

 

With filmmakers and short-term LLC's if there's any issue or there isn't a proper EP system in place, I request a check on the wrap day.  If they want me to "wait a few weeks or a month" to cash it that's fine.  But I always leave with an actual check or cash or they swipe a Square reader.  My days of chasing down checks from non-established producers are long over.


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#10 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 27 August 2016 - 01:45 AM

In the United States, if you were 'hired' as a W2 employee (as would be the legal way to do it), then state law dictates when you get paid. Most states require your employer render payments no later than bi-weekly (every two weeks).

 

If you're working under the table on contract, then you're contract will dictate. However, if they refuse to pay you - threaten to report them to the state. Technically, it's illegal to hire employees on a contract basis. Rather or not you intend to, letting them know this and making the threat might just get the wheels moving.

 

If you're not in the US, then your local law will dictate and some or none of this advice might apply. 

 

*Not legal advice. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney. 


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#11 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 27 August 2016 - 02:32 AM

Company to individual is usually more then 30 days and most of the time around 90. Company to company is generally a lot higher, I've seen net 120 become the new standard for those kinds of transactions. 

 

From my 25 years of experience, getting paid today is harder then it's ever been. Production companies leverage money to make a better product and usually the reason you haven't been paid is because they don't have the money. They'll make excuses, but the end result is the money they owe you, they physically don't have. Legal documents don't mean squat if the person who owes you money, doesn't have the money. Plus, "smart" people build LLC's for each production and have deal memo's which don't accurately define "payment". Gullible crew sign on without really asking too much because they're scared they won't get the work if they do. There are plenty of good people who don't ask questions and just do the work.  

 

Small claims court costs YOU money and in a lot of cases, even if you sue and win (which is hard/expensive) there are no guarantee's they will pay. It could be strung out for months and years before you gain any traction as the court system is very slow. Plus, being out of state is a deal killer, there is very little you can do. I've been involved in several lawsuits friends have made to out of state companies, trying to help them build their case and every one of those cases was dropped because it would have cost them more then it was worth. Remember, time is money and every second your not working, is money you're loosing. 

 

In the end, you will grow as a cinematographer not just creatively, but also with business practices. You will learn to only accept jobs that have a known production company association not just fly by night LLC's. You'll also ask for some kind of payment up front to start the job. This will help pad issues on the back end. You've just gotta be ready to get screwed on every job and have the next one lined up ready to go, so you can cut losses. 


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#12 Richard Boddington

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Posted 27 August 2016 - 10:40 AM

I always insist on paying people super fast, as in sending a cheque the day an invoice is received.  On features, everything goes through a payroll company anyway, and people are paid weekly so they don't have an issue.

 

One thing I will say about film crew, from a producer stand point.  I am continuously dismayed by the very high number of crew that agree to one price during prep, show up on set, and then demand a whole lot more!  This happens all the time and it is very annoying.  During the shoot, some crew will also try every trick in the book to milk more money from the production. When they don't get their way, they bad mouth the producer and the UPM.  They make arguments like.....well the producer is driving a much nicer car than me so I should get more money. Pathetic.

 

R,


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#13 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 27 August 2016 - 08:03 PM

The other side of the coin.. I believe alot more times than crew suddenly asking for more money.. is the production moving the goal posts.. 10 hr days become 14.. lunch break becomes a sandwich in a van.. safety measures not in place.. etc... Im not saying you do this at all.. and obviously you are only working on your own productions.. but I can assure you that as a freelancer working on many each year..the only time I or any other crew member has asked for more money ..which is very rarely ..is when the shoot conditions are not what the production had stated.. to just suddenly demand more money out of the blue Ive never come across that ever..

 

You really seem to have alot of bad luck with your crews.. or you should turn up on set in Honda FIT and leave the Bentley at home :)


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 27 August 2016 - 08:05 PM.

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#14 Giray Izcan

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Posted 27 August 2016 - 09:09 PM

On a payroll job, you're supposed to be paid within 2 weeks and on a w9 contract job within a a month. You could file with the labor board if they were to disregard those regulations. It would end up costing the company whole a lot more than just paying you your wages in a timely manner.
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#15 Richard Boddington

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Posted 27 August 2016 - 11:02 PM

You really seem to have alot of bad luck with your crews.. or you should turn up on set in Honda FIT and leave the Bentley at home :)

 

What's a Honda FIT and where do I get one?

 

Canadian crews are notorious for their crybaby behaviour.  The South Africans on the other hand are terrific workers.  Of course there was that one guy who stole my car and cost me $12, 000.00.  But, that's another story......

 

R,


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#16 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 02:24 AM

A trick I learned from a wily old gaffer was to state on your invoice that the agreed rate for the job was heavily discounted (even if it wasn't), and that the discount would be removed if the invoice wasn't paid on time. Doesn't help with deadbeat producers, but it has made a few corporate accounts departments pay on time.


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#17 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 05:12 AM

haha classic.. is there anything other than a "Wily" old gaffer..   Butt crack.. gold Rolex, copy of the Sun in back pocket and a prawn cocktail  !


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#18 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 05:57 AM

I think the reality is that many companies are becoming aware that paying freelancers is essentially optional.

 

What are we gonna do, seriously?

 

Take 'em to small claims?

 

And when they just don't pay anyway?

 

They know most of us aren't going to spend £10k in legal fees to recover £500.

 

P


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#19 JD Hartman

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 07:15 AM

I think the reality is that many companies are becoming aware that paying freelancers is essentially optional.

 

What are we gonna do, seriously?

 

Take 'em to small claims?

 

And when they just don't pay anyway?

 

They know most of us aren't going to spend £10k in legal fees to recover £500.

 

P

 

Sell the debt to your local bookie.  Because they don't take no for an answer?


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#20 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 08:31 AM

They know most of us aren't going to spend £10k in legal fees to recover £500.
 

 

In that case, giving the £500 worth of being a pain in their lives may be worth considering.


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