Working for free

  • User Deleted

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    I feel I must comment on the front of people asking for crew and kit for free

    especially soliciting over the phone to complete strangers.

    If you want to make a film

    save up, borrow, rob a drug store,get a grant till you can afford it.

    Dont devalue peoples skills

    I also have a bone with people who work for at least less than at least NMW

    I realise people need experience however trainees are paid in this industry by reputable filmakers and HOD's

    How can you value yourself if you dont get at least basically compensated for

    your hard won skills and craft

    Both the filmmakers and crew who participate in this are undermining the industry

    • 13th Apr 2015
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  • User Deleted

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    I agree with you Ray. The thing that really grates is the statement: 'Well the actors did it for free'.

    Hmmm, lets way up the actors overheads as far as specialist equipment goes ...

    Now lets way up the specialist equipment required to actually produce a cohesive film ... lots, lots and lots of expensive equipment.

    Film making IS an expensive business if you are not spending money on making your film then your probably not really making a film anyone wants to watch.

    And expecting professionals with expensive equipment to let you have it for free is insane and insulting to boot.

    Another thing that grates while I'm on the subject is the 'no money upfront but a percentage of backend sales' spin. How many times I have heard this one! Lets face it if you can't get it together to pay people to make your film how on earth are you going to pay for marketing said film?

    And if your business skills are so limited that you can't market the film how on earth will you ever be able to give us a percentage of the 'backend sales' you promised in the first place?

    Another creeping malaise is directors lying to professional technicians by claiming to have (as happened to me recently) a $5,000,000 budget.

    Ha ha yeah this would definately impress me if it was true! And if it is true how come you are balking at paying my fee? Which by the way is a percentage of your budget ... So the more you lie about the budget the more my fee goes up!

    And maybe, just maybe the reason I'm the guy with the expensive equipment is because I figured out how to do 'business' with other people. And they paid me for it.

    • 14th Apr 2012
    • 1
  • Nico Metten

    Sound Editor

    I largely disagree with you. There is definitely a place for free work in this industry. Short films essentially do not have a market. People are making these films to learn how to make films and develop a reputation. It is essentially education. And I have never seen anyone being paid for being educated. I mean people often spend a lot of money on university degrees. And these degrees very often provide you with a far worst education than if you just work on a short film.

    After all, when you are freelancing you are essentially a business man. And as every business man you will first need to invest something before you can make a profit in the future.

    From my experience, as soon as people have a budget and really aiming for selling the film, they will pay you. Because at that stage they are looking for experienced people that won't ruin their film. But of course to get these job you need to be exactly that, experienced.

    That is why I do agree with you when it comes to feature films. There is a market for these films and they should aim to sell. So do not work for free on films that are actually aiming to make a profit.

    Don't approach this industry with an employee mentality. You are not an employee, you are running a business.

    • 15th Apr 2012
    • 2
  • User Deleted

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    Good points you make.

    I wonder if the people consistently asking for free services deep down don't believe themselves in the 'film' they're trying to produce? If they do, why not save or get proper investment and do a professional job? Not saying that everyone who needs services for free is unprofessional but some people seem too keen to skip the hard, boring part of the project which is getting the resources together and planning.

    • 16th Apr 2012
    • 3
  • User Deleted

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    HI Folks glad to see the responses its good to spark a lively debate.

    This is in response to reply#2



    Having not just arrived in the turnip truck I would like to point out I dont

    need to be told about running a business (This is the point I am making)

    Just tell me why as a business I should

    bankroll with my time and or kit some one elses creative aspirations.

    It doesnt matter if the project is to make money, help the producer get a girl/boy friend or to impress at a dinner party. The bottom line is it

    COSTS money to buy hire store insure kit

    pay the phone , electric ,broadband etc.

    I do my share of probono work so I will not be guilted .

    Please join the real world

    • 16th Apr 2012
    • 4
  • Nico Metten

    Sound Editor

    It costs money to enrol in a university course. Not only do you need to pay the fee, but you also have to pay for your living. Why should you do it? Well very often you should not! But sometimes it can be an investment in the future.

    Compared to a uni course, taking part in a short film project can be excellent value for money. I at least have learnt a lot by doing this and do not regret the investment. It has let me to get paid work.

    But maybe I am wrong. If the 'I never work for free' approach works great for you, then stick to it. But then I don't see your problem, since no one forces you to work for free.

    • 17th Apr 2012
    • 5
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived


    I have a problem with strangers asking for free and people doing that and undermining the whole industry.

    I dont get your university analogy.

    I have been there and got the t-shirt

    I had to work my way through

    I didnt go to strangers and ask for their help to get me through the course or pay for the tuition.

    Its the same as me coming to you on the street and asking for grocery money.

    If you choose to do this kind of work

    for free thats your choice I am expressing an opinion held by many

    check the other posts.

    Lets put this to the test,

    If I were to call you up and ask you to do a sound design for free and as you

    dont know me from Adam what would be your response???

    whatever your position have value on our industry and your craft. A lot of people have worked hard and spent their

    money to get to where they are . Dont

    devalue them

    • 17th Apr 2012
    • 6
  • Jim McLean

    Focus Puller

    I think Ray's point is there's a difference between 'free' & 'pro bono' work. You can usually tell if this is a legitimate production company who can, in the future, lead you to fully paid work. I've done my fair share of free projects in the past and I don't regret it due to the contacts I've gained. It's one of those things where there is both positive's and negative's to each side.

    On some freebies it's lead me to a couple of months of really well paid work and from others you might here nothing at all.

    I generally avoid freebies now unless it's with a person I've worked with before and they've got me paid work.

    I do tend to agree with Ray that if you want to make a film save up and pay your crew. We're in an incredibly skilled profession and I can't help but feel the skills are becoming less and less valuable as time goes on. Nothing makes me more annoyed than turning up to a set where no one's being paid, and seeing the production company has got all it's gear from the most expensive hire house with all the bells and whistles they don't need.

    • 17th Apr 2012
    • 7
  • User Deleted

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    Jim Thats it you got it as well as most of the responses

    • 17th Apr 2012
    • 8
  • Nico Metten

    Sound Editor

    Oh, I didn't mean to devalue anyone's work. Sorry if that came across like that. I am simply saying my opinion that I disagree with your statement that no one should work for free. My point with the university analogy is that short films have a lot from a university degree. There is no real market for these films. Everyone involved in these films is essentially in it for the experience, to improve their skills and make contacts. That is the exact same reason why you are going to sign up for a uni course. So why not work for free. The alternative is mostly not, that the film will be made with a budget, but that the film will not be made at all.

    So if you asked me for free work on your project, I would ask you what kind of project we are talking about and where you are going with this. And of course I would consider whether I have the time to work on a free or very low paid project. But if I came to the conclusion that this is a non commercially projects with talented people involved I would do it.

    I see it a bit differently than you. It takes a lot of guts calling up a stranger to ask them to work for free. It is probably the right attitude to make it in this industry.

    • 18th Apr 2012
    • 9
  • User Deleted

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    Laura Vincent

    I just read the post you made about working for free.. I completely agree with everything you said. I am currently a uni grad working in a cinema, who wishes to get work experience within the media, mostly so that I can decide which is the best path for me to take as there are so many, and my experience is very weak yet my enthusiasm is so strong. Sadly it seems that to even get work experience and doing so for completely free is just as difficult as getting someone to pay you for the work. It is very degrading and often quite disheartening trying and failing to find someone to give me the chance to prove myself and learn what's the best direction for me to take. Everybody must start somewhere, and I endeavour to keep trying to better my experience, whether it does sadly mean by devaluing my effort and work to get it so that in the long-run I can confidently know what I want to do and how to do it.

    Kind regards,


    • 18th Apr 2012
    • 10
  • Andrew Roughan


    Hi all,

    It's an interesting debate to cover. It's still a highly controversial issue in the industry. I view it as a bit of a mixed bag.

    For short films and passion projects I can understand why people work for free, these projects will rarely see funding. They're a great chance for people to network and showcase their talents. Not to mention they can be a fantastic tool to use to get noticed. It never hurts to hone your skills either. I'd say the best point is the chance to work with new equipment too. You see a shoot with a camera, mixer, etc you haven't used before it can be a good chance to get some hands on experience.

    I worked on a music video just over a week ago which was no pay (always get expenses though, it is the bare minimum required) but it was fun and its an excellent addition to my showreel.

    If I had turned it down on the basis of no money, someone else would have stepped in and done it for nothing. The guys couldn't afford to hire a team in but put the call out asking for help. It had no budget therefore I was happy to do what I could.

    Another big selling point is creative control, it's always a bonus. There is no finer way to showcase your skills.

    I however do not agree with budgeted productions using free help. I know this is happening on some shoots out there. If you have a budget to pay the director, producers, etc you can pay the guys at the bottom too. The only exception should be if they volunteer as an extra hand. This can sound kind of ropey, but I find some people can really benefit from just being on set and experience the project (in a shadow sense).

    hiring kit is a separate matter, I am constantly amazed at people expecting to get an Alexa or Red with some amazing lenses for no price. It's one of my pet hates. I have seen smaller businesses with no budget attempt to get somebody with a 5D Mark II for no money, realistically they should aim for 550/60D. But I digress...

    To sum up, passion projects - expect little to no money.

    budgeted projects - expect payment for your services.

    interesting stuff though!

    • 18th Apr 2012
    • 11
  • User Deleted

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    Very good post. I agree with your comments Ray.

    It is very annoying to receive calls or emails from people I dont know asking to work for free all the time. For some reason people underestimate the importance of having a good make up artist on set and more importantly budgeting for it. Most production companies are looking for make up artists with full set, hd trained etc. etc. Good kit costs money so is our skill. Working for free totally devalues our talents. If you want to create something great then get the budget and hire the best crew you can afford.

    • 20th Apr 2012
    • 12
  • User Deleted

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    Yes , you got it in one!!!!!!


    • 20th Apr 2012
    • 13
  • User Deleted

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    Yes. Working for free is evil and we think that filmcrewpro should halve its firepower by eliminating its "unpaid" section. Well, for the price it charges, at least...

    • 21st Apr 2012
    • 14
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    I started up working for free, filming things here and there just to get a feel for it. Me and my mates had been doing it a while when we discovered people were asking us how much we charged - fast forward to today and those same mates are with me running a full media company.

    I got a facebook message recently from someone I know asking me to film their event. They're now very successful and are asking for £200 per table at their event - selling out too! But suddenly when I mention a price, despite it being mates rates I get a message back going 'Ah we can't pay for it - we wanted you to do it for free. Sorry!' I find that insulting to be honest with you! I don't mind if it's a fun "let's make a film" or 'I'm singing in a pub do you mind filming it?' type thing but when they're profiting from it like that I'd expect to have my time paid for!

    • 21st Apr 2012
    • 15
  • User Deleted

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    Sadly there are a lot of people out their that think people should be working for free.

    Well that is not the way it works, I have invested a lot of money to provide the best equipment the industry can provide, I do not take on free jobs as more often than not the producers are armatures and the world scheduling does not exist with them

    • 21st Apr 2012
    • 16
  • Alex Gunn

    Special Effects Supervisor

    Can you argue the concept at Tesco's when you fill your trolley up? "I worked on this movie, right, got some good names in it and all yeah, but I did it for free 'cos I want to get a leg up in the business. So I can walk out of here without paying?"

    • 3rd May 2012
    • 17
  • User Deleted

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    Thanks Alex

    My sentiments exactly

    You are on the money ! It hacks me off

    If I want to buy something , sure I may want to negotiate a discount but if I dont have the money I have to do without

    I dont mind a colleague whom I know asking a favour. I have a huge problem with a stranger calling me asking for free

    As I said before its a cheeky front ( nice Phraseology) There are other ways of expressing

    • 3rd May 2012
    • 18
  • User Deleted

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    I think a certain amount of blame can be put on people who take long scheduled free jobs as well, they are not helping the industry

    • 4th May 2012
    • 19