What are we gonna do about No Pay?

  • Alan Brent


    With over 2000 readers on the No pay discussion we now need to work out how to approach this subject and get some response from film makers.

    Let's start to work out a plan of action/ personal statements or suggestions.

    What do you think?

    • 25th Sep 2006
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  • Jeni Hatton


    I've been watching this thread with interest, and I feel that we need to move forward cos we're clearly all generally in agreement that something needs to be done.

    1. Good idea to have a symposium - maybe minutes circulated to those who express support but can't attend (work, travel etc)

    2. Start to compile a database of production companies who regulary offer nopay jobs. I'll happily compile it if people send me their hits. I'm starting my own anyway.

    3. E-mail every company you see on shootingpeople, castnet and CCP who are doing this, simply stating that actors have bills to pay, too and they wouldn't ask the plumber to work for expenses only or for free.

    That's just for starters. legislation and Equity policy already frown on anything below minimum wage. We need to give that legislation and policy some teeth. While we're working for satisfaction alone there may as well be no protective legislation. I've he;ped out mates for free, but that's not them exploiting me whereas, with production companies who pay other team members but not actors, I can't think of any other word for it.

    • 25th Sep 2006
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  • Timo Gilbert


    I'll do the same thing I always do... I just won't take a job that doesn't pay.

    However, sometimes I can be sympathetic to low budget constraints and will at times do a job for a lot less than usual if I like the people and the project for whatever reasons and I know they simply can't afford to pay that much, but for me it's more a respect thing. Offer me SOMETHING and we'll go from there. Either I'll take it or I won't and we can argue the toss. But don't offer me NOTHING or I'll just flat refuse on principle.

    • 25th Sep 2006
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  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Well guys, can I have some of your opinions on this idea..

    I want to make a short film, no more than 7 mins, called The Killer Myth ( working title) to enter a film comp.

    I have no budget so will not be paying anybody at all.

    All equipment will be borrowed and the editing will be done on my home PC.

    Heres the pitch, I would want actors and everybody else to work for nothing, BUT……

    This 7min film, although it will be a self contained movie on its own, it is also intended to be the first 7 mins of a Feature entitled Diary of an Unsound Mind.

    My intention is that IF the short does well in the comp and generates interest, I should be able to promote the feature and get funding for it from somewhere like Screen Yorkshire and the Film Council.

    So what I would like is… Cast and crew to agree to work for nothing, on the condition that WHEN (not If) the feature is made, they will reprise their roles and (fingers crossed) get paid for doing so.

    I know some people will turn round and say that this is a bad idea, and if you think so say so, BUT, give me a reason, don't just say it's bad, say why you think it's bad, but if you think it is good, please say so.

    This will not be a deferred payment, I don't know what to call it.

    Obviously, if the short itself makes any money what so ever, re: prize money or if I manage to sell it in some way, all monies will be split between the cast and crew.

    What do you think???


    • 25th Sep 2006
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  • Jeni Hatton


    Drew I think it does come under the heading of 'deferred payment' i.e if you get any money you'll pay people.

    I also think it's a great idea, something worth getting behind. Clearly there may be a difficulty in getting all the original cast if it goes 'feature' but, hey, that didn't stop Stargate going from film to TV, nor did it stop Harry Potter when we lost Richard Harris. Yep, if you need a 50-60 female, I'd be happy to sign up to the conditions you outlined. It's not exploitative, it's investment.

    This isn't the sort of deal that racks me off, cos you genuinely intend to share any profits in the long run.


    • 25th Sep 2006
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  • Kenny Richards-Preston


    Hi Again. Although there are some valid points raised here I'd like to point out one or two more, lesser known ones.

    Sue, yes it is possible to apply for a deferment to your class 2 Nic. However upon trying myself I was informed it is deferred only if your annual gross taxable income is below that of government requirements. I played the motion that I thought that that only applied to the stamp duty we paid as a self employed entity and was told in no lengthy terms, "NO!" I suppose the hiring of an accountant would be a better way forward as they are more savvy in these matters than the rest of us, but then you're only paying money from one hand into another. It would of course, not be a problem, if we were on the wages earnings list of soap, Musical and film stars.

    Regarding salaries.

    Minimum wages? Although I have pointed out that, tours, seasons and runs of more than a week, and that pay on a weekly basis (this also includes tv series where a weekly payment plan occurs for it's cast and crew), both the company and each of it's members (cast and crew) must pay class2 NI contributions. However, when talking about a film, whether a blockbuster or no/lo budget is in place, it carries a lump sum policy where you only pay your regular NIC's on the sum earned. This is the misconception where there are no infringements on the minimum wage rights. It's like quoting for a conservatory or window, the builders or glaziers involved will give you a price, it's up to you which company you pick to do the job.

    £5.50 an hour, most extras work in Kay Mellor dramas for £60 for 12hours, when the rate you mentioned would mean they should be paid at least £67, shame on the ITV for not realising their mistake here.

    It's like this in every industry, the musicians union tried the keep music live approach after the influx of solo cabaret performers who used tracks, being undercut by almost a 3rd, then karaoke came in and undercut the solo performers who until that point were earning between £150 to £200 (incidentally the same base rate as a local covers band), offering their services for only £45 plus beer, as to them it was basically a night out for free! The only difference here however is it's actors undercutting other actors to get the role, the dog eat dog society of how low will you go. But this really started out when acting was a closed shop, the only place an actor could work back then was with independent film-makers, they were required to advertise in the proper way, but they held no ties with equity and could basically hire whoever they wanted.

    This was the only way an actor, not from the traditional acting background, was able to gain an equity card.

    While there are still people willing to work for little or no pay, there'll always be companies willing to exploit them. There's also the fact that it's terrifically hard to attain finance to budget a film, and some film-makers that want to make an impact, will invite generous artists to participate in their film project, though with these you will get expenses and a deferment offer of payment. To staunch these completely will be to cripple the new blood of film-makers who have the potential to carry us forward as an industry. The leaches who suck us dry however should be the ones we attack, those that abuse our generosity our talent and our trust. I may just apply for equity election if this is their idea of a way forward. It's minimalistic in it's aim and will surely damage the future of film in this country if there is no experienced training ground to support the imagery and artistry of a new breed of director/producer/film-maker that the British Film Industry is crying out for.

    I hold fast on a database and film registry proposal, making it accessible to all cast and crew so they can make their own minds up whether they'll be exploited or creative in this field.



    • 25th Sep 2006
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  • Kenny Richards-Preston


    Thanks Richard,

    Can you tell I used spell check? I generally look at the keys when I type, Just got microsoft office so my novellas on here are at least spelt correctly!!!

    • 25th Sep 2006
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  • Kenny Richards-Preston



    Yeah, that's deferred payment mate!

    My camera is ready for you,



    • 25th Sep 2006
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  • Toni Brooks


    Well Drew, if you need a 40-50 year old woman, I'd love to help out. This is the difference between exploitation and helping fellow artistes etc :-))


    • 25th Sep 2006
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  • Morna Young


    Hi all,

    I thought I'd throw my pennys worth in. I've read all of the posts so far with interest and I am in complete agreements that something should be done - so count me in for any support.

    I think that, like anybody else, student film makers have to start out somewhere. And if that means no budget, so be it. When I was a student, I was more than happy to help out with student projects - they needed actors, I needed experience.

    Now, however, I think that too many "employers" are jumping on this bandwagon. The attitude very much seems to be, "why pay the actors? If one demands a fee then theres plenty more fish in the sea." But I think that will always be a problem. For the handfull of people who will say no, that we deserve to be paid, there will ALWAYS be somebody else willing to do it. And I think thats where the problem lies.

    But how can this change? I honestly don't have an answer. I'm willing to help out in whatever way I can but I think its a really tough issue (as we've already discovered through this huge thread!).

    I hope we can sort something out.

    All the best, Morna xx

    P.S I recently shot a project that was paid, but paid very badly. Funny that the director had a jag, a designer suit and a massive house that we shot in. Hmm..

    • 25th Sep 2006
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