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Get Paid for What You Do/ Don't undercut for credit


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#1 Steve Douglas

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 04:01 PM

Just got back from two days of meetings to be a part of the film crew for some new reality series. Of course, everyone wants to put their best foot forward, and I understand that. But then some kid who has had a cam for 4 months says "I'll work for free, just let me on". There was another guy there who was extremely experienced as a Fox news cameraman and he and I just fell out of our seats. Here was a supposedly legit company, Bridgegate Films, and they're jerking people around. I was sent this film on Youtube which, if you change the topic from Writers to shooters, he is saying what has frequently come up here at Wetpixel
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Edited by steve, 08 February 2009 - 04:02 PM.

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#2 jonny shaw

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 04:34 PM

Just got back from two days of meetings to be a part of the film crew for some new reality series. Of course, everyone wants to put their best foot forward, and I understand that. But then some kid who has had a cam for 4 months says "I'll work for free, just let me on". There was another guy there who was extremely experienced as a Fox news cameraman and he and I just fell out of our seats. Here was a supposedly legit company, Bridgegate Films, and they're jerking people around. I was sent this film on Youtube which, if you change the topic from Writers to shooters, he is saying what has frequently come up here at Wetpixel
Steve


So true....did the kid get the job or should I say work experience???

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#3 DeanB

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 04:37 PM

Steve that was fantastic ... :deadhorse:

Dive safe

Dean(i'll do it for peanuts)B

P.s...Happy Birthday Jonny Shaw... :huh:

Edited by DeanB, 08 February 2009 - 04:38 PM.

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#4 wagsy

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 05:47 PM

Excellent :huh:

Like those emails we get from people asking for your footage for free.
I just don't reply anymore.

My next gig on the west coast here is guna cost them $2000 for a couple days work.....stuffed if I will work for $150 per day.
They start off saying the usual .....O our budget is so small.... that's $$$..... I say.... so go get someone else....

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#5 ronscuba

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 07:06 PM

A woman making a film for the indie circuit contacted me to do a quick shoot in a pool. Very simple. I'm underwater, her son jumps into the pool, I shoot it from underwater in the shallow 4 foot deep section. 5-6 takes, 15 minutes in the pool. I arrived 15 minutes earlier to setup. She arranged the pool access. I used my Sony FX7 HDV camera and Gates housing.

In New York City by the way, if that makes a difference. All together about 45 minutes from the time I arrived at the pool to when I left. I charged her $200/hr. with a 1 hr. minimum. Gave her the tape. Is this the appropriate rate ?

Edited by ronscuba, 08 February 2009 - 07:10 PM.


#6 Nick Hope

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 10:57 PM

Ron, how long did it really take you? Preparing at home, packing up, getting down there, washing your gear etc.. I bet all in it took you a half day. $200/hr is low. About double that would be more like it.

Awesome link by the way Steve. I'll watch that video again to get myself fired up the next time someone asks me to work for peanuts.

#7 echeng

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 11:32 PM

Only established people have the luxury of thinking that way. You had better be that much better than the kid who offers to do it for free, and that much better than the guy who has another job and does this stuff for fun and wants to participate. Maybe you are that much better, and you're worth it... in which case, you have nothing to worry about. It's often those who aren't who bitch the loudest.

WPQ uses a lot of images without paying for them. I get requests for free images all the time; sometimes, I give them up for "exposure" or to a cause I want to support. Sometimes, I don't, but I'm always polite about it.

If you don't want to participate, it's easy to say no...
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#8 DeanB

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 12:38 AM

Only established people have the luxury of thinking that way. You had better be that much better than the kid who offers to do it for free, and that much better than the guy who has another job and does this stuff for fun and wants to participate. Maybe you are that much better, and you're worth it... in which case, you have nothing to worry about. It's often those who aren't who bitch the loudest.

WPQ uses a lot of images without paying for them. I get requests for free images all the time; sometimes, I give them up for "exposure" or to a cause I want to support. Sometimes, I don't, but I'm always polite about it.

If you don't want to participate, it's easy to say no...



First of all giving them up for "exposure" nice one Eric :deadhorse:

A few years ago i was asked for a certain amount of footage (up to 8 secs) to be used in a programme on mainstream UK TV. When i suggested a fee i got the same old "this is a small production / company and we have a very tight budget but we can pay you by having you name in the credits !?.. Well i was laughing and a little annoyed at the cheek after listening to my peers saying about the stand together routine and charge the set rates. But i was very new to this industry and my instincts were to say 'Sod it' its a one off and i get a credit on a production with 3+million viewers so all good on the CV... So i rang two friends who will 'remain nameless' who are 'established' camera people... They both said the same thing... Do it once for the kudo's and dont worry about it, your new and these things don't come up often when you start out, But please don't make a habit of it... So i did... I sent in a mins worth of footage with what they wanted and some alot better stuff associated with that... I got a "can we use the other stuff, maybe about 10 secs worth" and i said of course for X amount per sec... Which wasn't a huge amount for the secs to be used.. They replied "sorry we can't afford that" so i refused... Since then i've supplied a few small items to them for 's and alls happy...

Once in a while i do think you have to whore yourself for your own career jumps but once maybe twice is okay keep doing it then your thats a different subject.

Also can we please hold back on revealing 'boasting' about what we charge / receive for 'once in a while' jobs... It honestly can give false perceptions to some people thinking it they buy a video camera they can start earning $ 1000's per min... If it was that easy i wouldn't be working two jobs... I've had emails off of people before who want to put themselves in debt because they think tape and solid state is pathed in gold... :huh:

Dive safe

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#9 ronscuba

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 05:31 AM

Ron, how long did it really take you? Preparing at home, packing up, getting down there, washing your gear etc.. I bet all in it took you a half day. $200/hr is low. About double that would be more like it.

Awesome link by the way Steve. I'll watch that video again to get myself fired up the next time someone asks me to work for peanuts.


Nick, you are right. All together, took me about 3 hours.

I think it's a good idea for standard rates to be published. How else are people to know what to charge ? If we charge too little then we are accused of undercutting. I think a range depending on gear/format makes sense. HD, HDV, SD, lights, wide angle, etc.. Duration factors too ? Perhaps more for the 1st hour (cover setup and travel) and less for every hour after ? Minimum daily rates, etc. ?

#10 Nick Hope

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 09:01 AM

Nick, you are right. All together, took me about 3 hours.

I think it's a good idea for standard rates to be published. How else are people to know what to charge ? If we charge too little then we are accused of undercutting. I think a range depending on gear/format makes sense. HD, HDV, SD, lights, wide angle, etc.. Duration factors too ? Perhaps more for the 1st hour (cover setup and travel) and less for every hour after ? Minimum daily rates, etc. ?


I think I'm almost unique in this community for publishing my shooting rates online. The rest of you seem well secretive about it! I guess different people have different ways of pricing, and maybe I'm naive to do it, but I like to have my rates out there so that customers don't think I'm plucking an inflated figure out of the air.

So come on folks, put your money where your mouths are! Am I too low or too high or spot on?

To be fair, shooting jobs haven't exactly been tumbling in for me recently, but that's OK, because I'm busy with my own projects anyway which, with luck, will earn me more money (or at least more satisfaction) in the longterm.

#11 DeanB

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 10:04 AM

But then its all based on skill level and potential clients can check your website/ showreel or if you have recommendations from previous clients etc, etc...

If people want to know your fees PM or email and ask... Then if you dont mind you can say...

I've spoke to a few people, some stills shooters, who have seen the large fee's spoke about on here and they think we are all rolling in it and are seriously thinking about investing in a lot of kit and joining us in the life of luxury :huh: ... I know for a fact that 'pro' stills shooters spend most of their time travelling, dating stunners and driving fast cars... :deadhorse: thats where the money is...

Dive safe

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#12 Steve Douglas

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 10:14 AM

So true....did the kid get the job or should I say work experience???


Yep, he sure did. I'm shocked.
Steve

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I have worked as an unpaid reviewer for the editing websites since 2002. Most all hardware and software is sent to me free of charge, however, in no way am I obligated to provide either positive or negative evaluations. Any suggestions I make regarding products are a result of my own, completely, personal opinions and experiences with said products.


#13 Steve Douglas

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 10:19 AM

A woman making a film for the indie circuit contacted me to do a quick shoot in a pool. Very simple. I'm underwater, her son jumps into the pool, I shoot it from underwater in the shallow 4 foot deep section. 5-6 takes, 15 minutes in the pool. I arrived 15 minutes earlier to setup. She arranged the pool access. I used my Sony FX7 HDV camera and Gates housing.

In New York City by the way, if that makes a difference. All together about 45 minutes from the time I arrived at the pool to when I left. I charged her $200/hr. with a 1 hr. minimum. Gave her the tape. Is this the appropriate rate ?



It really depends upon the situation, however, for 45 min in the pool, I see nothing wrong with what you charged her. I recently received an email from someone asking me to take 2 DV tapes and put them on a DVD, no real editing. That would mean, at least 2 hours of ingestion, 20 minutes to export and another couple of hours to compress and create a dvd. I thought I was giving him a cheap rate, hoping that it might be a good contact for later on. Never heard from him again. Go figure

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#14 Steve Douglas

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 10:26 AM

I think I'm almost unique in this community for publishing my shooting rates online. The rest of you seem well secretive about it! I guess different people have different ways of pricing, and maybe I'm naive to do it, but I like to have my rates out there so that customers don't think I'm plucking an inflated figure out of the air.

So come on folks, put your money where your mouths are! Am I too low or too high or spot on?

To be fair, shooting jobs haven't exactly been tumbling in for me recently, but that's OK, because I'm busy with my own projects anyway which, with luck, will earn me more money (or at least more satisfaction) in the longterm.




Hey Nick,
Not many people know that 30,000 Thai Baht is over $1000.00 a day. Heck,I can't even figure out what English lbs. comes to in US dollars. ;-)
Steve

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#15 brycegroark

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 11:29 AM

Hey Nick - I used to publish my rates - but stopped having them on the internet for fear that I wasn't getting calls for smaller projects who truly don't have the budget. Not sure if it's working or not though? I prefer to be asked my rates - as I will charge differently for different purposes. I always stick to my normal rates of $150/hr (3 hr minimum) for networks/documentary projects - but cave in for certain causes as well. Stock footage falls into the same troubled category. I'm not sure I've ever charged the same rate for my stock that goes out - as I quote differently for virtually every project. Last week I charged a large video game company $500 for 6 seconds of HDV - while the next day charged a high school film class (making a project for their local aquarium) $200 for 4 minutes of footage.

No question this is a massive battle each time we get a request for cameraman/footage. I would like to have my standard rates that I never fudged from, but it simply is never so black and white. In January I was contacted by a Producer doing a show for Discovery Health. After buttering me up on how much he liked out work, he offered me a Director of Photography credit for Discovery and felt like he was St Nick handing out a present for a small firm like ours. I declined and stuck to my full rate only to loose the job to someone who did it for free (I know b/c I know the boat owner who took them out). This was tough for me as I really wanted the job - but I figure that's how it goes. When I first started out, I did plenty of jobs for "DP Credit" and it really hasn't gotten me anywhere - so the exposure deal is out for me. How many times I've seen our name fly by in the credits faster than the currents in Tiputa Pass. And never have I received a call from someone saying, "I saw your work on a PBS documentary...."

I'm with Eric on Ron's situation - I think that is a fair cost if you don't do it all the time. You have to learn on your own - now, next time someone asks you for a similar job, you will know to charge a bit more for the front and back end work. There has to be a cost for experience.
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#16 wolfeeldiver

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 11:50 AM

It cracks me up, when these people ask for something for free.. something that there is no way they could do themselves.

Heck, we all know that decent underwater video or stills is much more than just having a camera and a housing. Not only are you charging for your time and equipment, but for years of diving experience, watermanship skills, underwater camera handling experience, all which likely took some investment to obtain.

Think about it. All of the "great" underwater fimmakers (ie. people like Giddings, McKinney, Hall, Nicklin, and Cousteau to name a few) were solid experienced divers way before becoming storytellers. Its easier to take a really good experienced diver and turn them into a decent photographer or videographer, than it is to take the land lubber cameraman and put them in the water.

#17 echeng

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 01:47 PM

This is a great thread, guys! I've wanted to talk about this for some time.

Aside from the issue of charging standard rates (which always is followed by the question, "What are standard rates?"), there is another element that sets apart shooters: courtesy. At the last couple of DEMAs, Eli (co-editor at Wetpixel Quarterly), Matt and I were accosted rudely by two well-known individuals in the industry who had nothing good to say about what we were doing. After taking (free) copies of Wetpixel Quarterly, they proceeded to pry into financials and fee standards, which are none of their business anyway. In particular, they talked about the OWU/DEEP contest issues, and said that we were taking advantage of photographers by publishing their images (didn't matter that the images end up in more than 50 publications worldwide, all tied to the contest announcement). But everyone who was published as a winner of those contests won prizes with values far exceeding what a low-circulation magazine would pay. Compensation isn't the issue, though. The issue is that we state up front that we can publish winners to announce, celebrate or promote the magazine (and we certainly don't have rights to use them in any other way). But it's right there in the rules, and it's easy to just not participate if you disagree.

In any case, the negative people are few (and you can believe that I won't ever have anything to do with them in the future). I'm sure there are many others who disagree with us about our policies, but at least they are polite about it (e.g. they just don't participate). The fact is that we are a struggling magazine in a field where no other magazine like this has ever survived more than a few years. I am unashamed about asking friends for favors to make this work, as we are all making tremendous sacrifices for the product.

So having been on the publishing side, I am suddenly much more understanding. I still get requests every day for free imagery, but the tone of my responses has changed a lot. And during the rare instances that I give something away, I sometimes even get something for it. The last time I gave out images for free, the company was so impressed with the images that they took me on as a photographer for stock. Now, I get checks from them every quarter.

Aside from creating a union, there isn't much you can do about an eager, young photographer or videographer wanting to get published to get experience or to create a portfolio. All you can do is to outshoot them and be more consistent as a resource. Those organizations that rely on free work get all the baggage that comes along with it -- they are more likely to get shoddy, inconsistent work. If their products aren't designed to take advantage of that, they will suffer over time, along with the success of their business. It's capitalism at work!

I realize that this is a discussion about video, but all of this applies to commercial media in general. Just exchange "image" for "second of footage." :huh:
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#18 DeanB

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 02:23 PM

Well the costs of the UK 'HSE commercial media' cert and medicals puts alot of people off... But thats only valid in this country if you want to 'work' in the media industry shooting U/W ... Although i've heard the BBC insist their shooters have it worldwide...

Does any other country have an equiv or can you just pick up a camera and get on with it ???

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#19 craig

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 03:12 PM

Aside from creating a union, there isn't much you can do about an eager, young photographer or videographer wanting to get published to get experience or to create a portfolio. All you can do is to outshoot them and be more consistent as a resource. Those organizations that rely on free work get all the baggage that comes along with it -- they are more likely to get shoddy, inconsistent work. If their products aren't designed to take advantage of that, they will suffer over time, along with the success of their business. It's capitalism at work!

Not only is this true, I'd also point out that MANY professional fields have these issues. People starting out often give away their services for exposure. Not only can you do little about it, it's not even a bad thing. As a pro, you have to understand competition. If amateurs are destroying your market, then either your work isn't good enough or the skill required isn't justifying the pay grade. Capitalism at work.

I know a lot of good points were made in the video, but blaming the guy that gives something away just makes him sound like a douche.
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#20 jonny shaw

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 04:44 PM

Well the costs of the UK 'HSE commercial media' cert and medicals puts alot of people off... But thats only valid in this country if you want to 'work' in the media industry shooting U/W ... Although i've heard the BBC insist their shooters have it worldwide...

Does any other country have an equiv or can you just pick up a camera and get on with it ???

Dive safe

DeanB


Thanks for the birthday wishes Dean,

I have my HSE Part IV or equiv, but I don't think that you need it for work in Australia. I've done some work for the Australian networks and was never asked that question.
I too vary rates depending on the job, the client, how much work I have on etc. I initially gave footage away for credit however quickly realised that it never really generated any leads and also de-valued what I was doing. As Eric said, you just have to provide a professional service, build strong client relation and offer a great product.

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