Students - what are they on?

  • User Deleted

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    A friend of mine went up for a student film. She was sent a copy of the script for a 7min film.

    During the casting she was given a page of dialougue written especially for the casting concerning her part and a new charater - ie. a new scene all unseen.

    She perfomed it and was then asked what she thought the relationship was to the newcharacter - the new character wasnt in the script she had been sent and this was a sight reading of 1 page only! She said he'd need to see more of the script to understand their relationship.

    She was also asked what her views of the films central theme were - terrorism. Given she wasnt being paid, her approach to this project was to turn up, do a bit of work and go home. She wasnt going to spend weeks mulling over the broader meanings and doing insightful character study. It was an unpaid 7 min film.

    Needless to say she was taken aback and left thinking "do I really need to jump though all these hoops for some students who arent paying me?"

    She asked them how much experience they had - they said "loads" - turns out they were second year students. She'd been in the business (trained) for 25 years.

    What do you think about it? My friend was taken aback by how intense they were.

    Why do students assume its something bigger than a simple unpaid gig - you aint gonna get much preparation or dedication from your actor when thats all you're offering.

    • 15th Mar 2007
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  • User Deleted

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    Hi to everyone involved in this interesting debate. Just thought I'd pitch in my 2 cents. For the benefit of Irfuller2, I'm the director of the piece "number" is producing. (My name's Alex by the way)

    Firstly inregards to paying expenses it's your choice if you want to do it. If you dont like a script, character or any other aspect of a production you dont do it. It's that simple.

    In regards to mentioning this outright, the initial advert is to find people initially interested. After which if they dont like any aspect of the production they can either opt out or discuss revising the terms.

    Again in reagrds to not paying expense's I do realise that you do this to make a living. However student projects like this are ideal for actors starting out in the industry. I imagine most of you have paid money for stills, so that you can circulate a good quality image of yourself through the industry. What is so bad about asking people to pay expenses so that they can have a good quality piece on their show reel. If someone asked you to pay £40 (for travel), and in return they would spend £1000 on locations, props etc to make YOU look good, would you be so offended?

    My final comment, and to be honest the only reason I bothered to contribute to this debate is as follows.

    "A few less snakebites of an evening and they would have at least the travel budget!!"

    I would love to be able to jet actors (and myself for that matter) off to Prague for a shoot. Unfortunately that is not possible. The impression I get from this forum is that all the students you have worked with come from landed families. Someone even mentioned getting businesses to sponsor their production. I may be wrong in this but it sounds more like they asked daddys friends for some money.

    Despite the reversal of the poor student image, some of us are still poor. Our student loans only cover our accomodation. The tuition fee's etc are paid for by part time work. The budget we have managed is through begging, borrowing and doing any part time job we can get our hands on. We would love to be able to pay expenses without even considering it but in our particular situation it's not realistic.

    And before someone drops in the "its only a fiver comment," it's not only a fiver. If you dont want to pay your expenses that's fine but please could you just say no. It's hard enough for people to break into this industry without connections.

    Actors that are kind enough to donate their time and pay for their own expenses do get something back in return, and if they're doing it with a good production team the results can be very rewarding. What it also means is that production teams that dont have the same financial resources as others have an equal chance of succeeding in university and in the industry.

    • 9th Mar 2007
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  • User Deleted

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    see I'll accept that. goodluck with everything.

    L

    • 10th Mar 2007
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  • User Deleted

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    Dear 951 etc.

    "but the fact remains that it is near impossible to get a good degree if all our money is going on actors...."

    I dont think any actors on this forum are advocating that the student pay out of their own pocket for the actors. However if you believe that professionals should be paid for their time/effort and skills - like your tutors and college cleaners - then there is of course nothing to stop you approaching you College Director and putting this case to him/her. You could of course also mention the fact that they are engaging someone at below the National Minimum wage - again another ethical argument - thats if you believe in ethics and principles.

    You could also raise external funding such as others have done. If you have managed to raise £1000 (a tidy sum) why stop there? Or is it that the course provided £1000 and it wasnt deemed necessary to seek any extra by the producers?

    The abrogation of responsibility isnt a sustainable argument.

    • 12th Mar 2007
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  • User Deleted

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    1. Actors dont believe that the students should pay for them out of their own pocket.

    2. Oh, how I wish students would develope some ethics and principles and approach their learning institutions to say "We dont believe that actors should work for below the mimimum wage - please provide funds to pay for this service in the same way that this institution pays for tutors, cleaners etc."

    • 12th Mar 2007
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  • Forbes KB

    Actor

    quote

    I imagine most of you have paid money for stills, so that you can circulate a good quality image of yourself through the industry. What is so bad about asking people to pay expenses so that they can have a good quality piece on their show reel.

    unquote

    The reason being that as students you are amateurs and I would dream of investing my cash unless I was guaranteed to get a professional quality product in return.

    Yep, we've all invested some serious money on headshot's, voicereels and the like and this money was invested with professional photograpers, voicereel producers, etc. and the decision to use these professionals was only made after a strong recommendation from a colleague and after viewing examples of their work.

    Once you come out of college or uni or whatever educational institute you are currently attending you will very quickly realise that no one will give you any work unless you have something very impressive to show them. BS and arrogance won't cut it on the outside world.

    Just because you are classed on this site as an "employer" does not mean you will give anyone any (paid)work or, indeed, produce anything that anyone will be proud enough to put on the showreel.

    This is not a gamble I, and many others I presume, am willing to take...even in horseracing only a fool would place a bet without first studying the form.

    ForbesKB

    • 12th Mar 2007
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  • Tony Symonds

    Actor

    Ironically Aaron the budget for my FYP turned out at £1000 as well. £900 of that went on actors expenses. You pick your battles, and those battles should never be at the expense of your actors.

    • 12th Mar 2007
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  • Tony Symonds

    Actor

    Also numbers guy a few points.

    1. Forbes may not be an A-list actor, but I think you'll find everyone on this site is a working actor, and by golly Forbes seems to be working, and when you've got V For Vendetta, a Stephen Poliakoff production, a Phillip Pulman adaptation, a David Schwimmer, a Paul Greengrass, a bond film and two of this years Oscar winning/nominated films, then you've got yourself a career.

    I think your arrogance is misplaced, and thats being polite.

    Some points you have is right. Kudos for accomodation and meals. But then again thats to be expected, but you're right it's a student film, actors should be expected to give a little, not because you're a student, but because its a project that doesn't have the five star means. However they shouldn't lose out because that turns them from working people to mugs.

    The way I said was that I wouldn't pay for the auditions for my film, but every other expense would be paid, as long as they ask for it. Some of my actors didn't cash the cheques I gave them because they loved the experience so much, but other did, and I'm fine with that.

    Point is, if you're not willing to pay people with the experience of Forbes, then dont, they're plenty of actors on here looking for a showreel or are theatre based and while not mugs, will give you a bit more, because they need a bit more.

    Oh and I have a friend in Lincoln, well Bishop Grosseteste; try Lynsey Moule and her degree for size, they're a stunning group of actors.

    ---

    On the locations, cars and equipment; tailor your film to what you've got access to. I wrote a twenty minute film about a conman, and used my local town, a National Park, my own house; roads, a local lake, and the Italian Gardens in Stoke. The film was written with locations in mind, and the locations were all accessible. The film is great by the way.

    You can't possible budget a high speed motorway chase with council buildings, explosions and what have you and then expect actors to work for free, that's insulting and beyond your means.

    If you can't meet the fundamentals, you're missing the point of making a movie. Yeah it's art, but you gotta plan the art.

    ---

    To the director, Alex, here is a snippet. When you create an unprofessional atmosphere with unprofessional ideas, and unprofessional ethics, you don't give the impression that the piece of work an actor is paying to be a part of is going to be worthy of their professional showreel.

    Look and act like one; and everyone is fooled.

    I also don't have a student loan; I live off money I have earned, as my parents give me nothing. How do I do this? I don't drink, I do drugs, I spent minimal money on crap, and have a job which finances what I need.

    My actors slept on the couch and I cooked quite dire meals for them. Then I gave them their train fare and they went home; happy; because they knew I'd done right by them.

    ---

    • 12th Mar 2007
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  • User Deleted

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    All that said. Is doing drugs something to be broadcasting on a message board of your peers?

    You have some very valid points, but everyone if under differend circumstances.

    We have had actors who have read our script and said 'i dont care about expenses, i just want to be a part of your vision' and we are looking forward to working with them.

    Just a snippet, drugs are bad, i have some friends who have got into that scene, try and stop now and dont let it ruin your life.

    • 12th Mar 2007
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  • Tony Symonds

    Actor

    That was meant to be don't do drugs. I dont know where the dont went.

    • 12th Mar 2007
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  • Sally Beaumont

    Actor

    If I can answer Claude's initial question (which I don't think I did before- sorry!)

    It does sound a trifle intense- however I've noticed first time filmmakers often do this. I'm sure for my first roles I busted a gut to get the characterisation right (not to imply I'm slipshod now!), so I guess if it's their first opportunity to make a film they will be giving it their all.

    Also, very few of them do or have done acting so possibly don't understand how demanding it is to do all that for an unpaid audition.

    I've filled this forum with millions of demanding audition stories!

    I'd say- an audition is an opportunity to consider whether you'd each like to work together (particularly when there's no money changing hands). If you didn't like the working methods in that audition, chances are you won't like the shoot.

    I don't think it's a question of right or wrong (although it'd be nice for those experiences to be a touch shorter) ways to audition, just matching approaches. If your gut feels that they're too demanding/unreasonable, I think you can rely on that to predict the shoot you'll have.

    That said- some of the best directors are horrifically demanding- and produce breathtaking work!

    • 12th Mar 2007
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  • User Deleted

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    Maybe too many drugs?

    • 12th Mar 2007
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  • Mark Joseph

    Actor

    Showreel material.

    This seems to be the golden phrase when casting for student films. "It'll be brilliant showreel material". That, and it'll "go to festivals" and "any profit will be shared out".

    Points to consider:

    1. Agents or casting directors who cast current professional work are fairly hard to impress. In terms of presentation, they want to see as high a production value as possible, this would usually mean either HD or 35mm. Hardly any schools teach (or have the money to supply ) 35mm or HD-Pro. Even if they did it takes years to become adept, even with a team you trust. So we're left with HD-V or DV. Using either of these, the editor BETTER be a whizzkid, and grade this up to look great. Remember, for a showreel, the story means nothing, it's the acting and presentation. I've seen (and acted in) a lot of student films, with varying degree of presentational success. If the acting is amazing, you can get away with less, but a CD will pay much attention if what they are watching looks good, especially as they almost never watch past the first minute.

    2. It's ok, actors know there isn't going to be any profit. But that's cool, as it's not why we agree to do it.

    3. I have yet to do a student film that has been in a festival. I'm sure they exist, but not in my personal experience.

    4. Make your vision simple. I know that sounds a bit cynical, and I wouldn't want to stifle creativity, but I'm sick off getting incredible scripts that I know will look dire because they're being made with DV and no budget for post.

    I suppose it's all personal opinion.

    M.

    • 12th Mar 2007
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  • Nathan Head

    Actor

    yeh LOL i noticed that when scouring ads. they all say its to be submitted to festivals. lol as if

    ____________

    REMEMBER_________

    ive been reading over my old posts and it gives off an impression that i do not enjoy making student films. its quite the oposite. i love them for every reason. im just moaning about all teh bad points here. basically cos there is nowhere else to discuss them!

    • 12th Mar 2007
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  • User Deleted

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    Given that one of the conditions for joining this site is you are a member of a trade union - Equity.

    Why it so many choose to work for nothing? Or let me put it another way, why choose to undermine your union. Presumably one believes in workers rights, pay and conditions - thats why unions exist. Why then work for nothing? Furthermore why actively support those who perpetuate underpaid work?

    Please help me to understand this conundrum.

    • 12th Mar 2007
    • 73
  • Nathan Head

    Actor

    well for me personally. (you dont need to be a union member to join this site by the way) its not that i apply for student work to support nonpaying employers. its just that there is no-other work on at the time and its something i can do, and i woudl enjoy it . and its another film to watch myself in. LOL.

    • 13th Mar 2007
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  • Mark Joseph

    Actor

    As long as you're having your expenses paid, it can be a nice way to build screen credits on your CV when you're starting out.

    M.

    • 13th Mar 2007
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    Fascinating debate guys, despite the heated bits !!! I applied for my son to do student films and he loved doing them (ok he doesn't NEED to work for money at 16) ... the first one was a lovely script, high production values and a fabulous crew ... mistakes were made but the finished film was great. Whilst he is living at home I am happy for him to work "for free" ... however when he has a flat to pay for, bills, food, his own Spotlight entry etc I would actively discourage him from doing lo budget or student films, working for money (from acting or otherwise) would have to be the priority ...

    Harry's Mum

    • 14th Mar 2007
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  • User Deleted

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    I think that someone has already made the point but here goes. If you can't afford to do a student film for reasons of distance or time away from what ever payed job you have then just say no. I, at the moment, don't live to far away from one university that has a film and media course, and on occasions they have asked me if I would be interested in doing a film. If I find I have the time and can cope with the time off what ever work I'm doing then I'll read the script sent then give them an answer. I was recently approach by a student from surrey who asked if I could spare ten days on what I thought sounded like a good production. but I just didn't have the time and money to spare. So I replied and politely and wished them well. That at times is the most you can do.

    If this discussion has been brought about to ring some changes from the way that Either governing boards or councils fund such courses so the outside help (us) can get payed I think you may have a long wait.

    • 14th Mar 2007
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  • User Deleted

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    >>>>If this discussion has been brought about to ring some changes from the way that Either governing boards or councils fund such courses so the outside help (us) can get payed I think you may have a long wait.>>>>

    All it will take is some test cases in the courts. Already moves are afoot.

    • 15th Mar 2007
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  • User Deleted

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    It always make me laugh when they ask you to " do a prepared monologue" They really are 'aving a larf aint they!! To expect an experienced actor to do that shows they really have not got a clue.Avoid them all I say!!!

    • 15th Mar 2007
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