One day, I promise, one day I’ll get back to Content versus Style-ismo.
Today is not that day.
We start of with news that my business insurance premium has been raised, and it is coming due. Now this year has been okay, but I’ve had some unforeseen expenses, and one client has shut down production while they reorganize their video plan. So I’m a little bit hungry. I reply to a craigslist ad, and watch the video that the person said they wanted to emulate. I write them and explain what it looked like it took to shoot that original project. I explain that looking for a film student, is not going to serve them well. They will need three people (not including someone to actually produce and organize the shoot – but just technical crew.) If they go with a film student, it isn’t going to work out really well – it isn’t going to work out well for anyone who tries to one man band it. Their response is that they don’t have much budget, but if I could work within their budget limitations. . .
It’s a fine question – JUST WHAT THE HELL IS YOUR BUDGET HERE? You don’t mention what it is. I’ve inquired politely, I will await a reply. I’m not against doing a little educating of newer people – I mean I had to learn too, and I had lots of people assist me in learning (some used baseball bats, but most were nice.)
Then I get a text from a client – who last week canceled a job for Friday – Suddenly it is back on – but now different. Sadly the rate to begin with is really my half day rate, and here is the kicker because he just asks if I am available, if I say yes, he says booked – and then thinks he can pay me anything. I ask the rate, and the hours. So the rate is my half day rate – and he says oh the shoot is 15 hours. 15 hours – I’m pretty sure that is illegal. The insurance bill is staring me in the face, and there is the matter of my wife’s anniversary gift. BUT NO. This will not stand. I start talking with the other cameraman (actually for this job there will be three, count them, three underpaid cameramen.) In the end I agree, but I am not bringing any lights for that stupid little amount of money. I’ll lose the gig, and the client – yep I’m sure.
I care, I have bills to pay, so I care, but seriously. A half day rate for what is a double day. I’ve worked with this client before and the jobs aren’t getting better. I don’t get it. He seems to know what he is doing, he has excellent people skills. Isn’t it your responsibility as a producer to tell the client what you can and cannot do for the budget? He’s promising his client 3 cameras, and there isn’t enough budget to cover. It’s as if the client says I don’t have anymore, so the producer says okay, I’ll take it out of someone else. I remember decades ago wen I worked in animation, and a producer called me and asked what my rate was – when I told her she said – “will you take $50, less?” I didn’t want to, so I said no – she replied “Right, good for you , no reason you should, I’ll get it from somewhere else.” I got the gig, and my rate. Sometimes I forget about that day.
Well we work out a deal, the producer for this job and I, as I say, I’m flexible, I’ll work with you on things. Just lets be sane and realistic here. So The rate has been bumped up, and now I’ll bring the light kit. So the moola, and the gig persist – Now I just have to reschedule the interview that conflicts with the sudden shoot. Of course the poor other cameraman – he’s got to go find a PA, for a bad rate, why the producer isn’t hiring the PA, I don’t know. Oh right, once the cameraman is bringing the gear, and the producer doesn’t have to negotiate with the rental house or find insurance – what is it he’s doing again? Oh yeah, once the producer is relying on the crew to arrange all the gear and the equipment – well you know where I’m going with this. The cost of the medium has dropped, so the media is so cheap, there s no respect for it, or rather what it takes to create a project. What has to be done to protect the investment. The investment is the talent and time of the people working on the project, its not just the cost of the media.
Just remember -“Right, good for you, no reason you should cut your rate.”
Thanks for reading.