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View Full Version : Offered TV Work (Read for a laugh)



analog_addict
08-04-2015, 10:49 AM
My last thread in this section was about people not paying enough or thinking I'm too expensive and I'm back for another rant.

I recently shot for a local TV station for free as a working job interview. Basically I went along with my C100 and shot b-roll for a few hours, then if my footage was good they would hire me in for future jobs. I was fine with this as I wanted to put my camera through it's paces and get a foot in the door so to speak.

A few days later they said they liked my footage and offered me a job shooting a section of their TV show. It would be 6 hours filming plus travel and I guess a little bit of time to set-up and breakdown the kit. My day rate with my C100 would be 300 but I offered 200 since they film nearly everyday (very close to where I live) and it could be a nice steady earner for myself.

After speaking to the station manager they said they could only offer 70 but I could use their kit (an ageing broadcast cam). I couldn't believe it. A broadcaster offering 70 for a camera operator. Even though I knew it was the wrong thing to do I offered to come along with my C100 (I'd rather have better quality footage for my reel) for 100 with the idea I would do it once for the credit to stick on my CV.

They said 70 was the maximum and at that point I just said no. They were offering 70 to shoot an entire 11min segment of a broadcast TV show. Let that sink in.

The broadcaster is a tiny local operation so I can fully understand working on a small budget but this was completely unbelievable.

IronFilm
08-06-2015, 01:05 AM
Good grief.

DPStewart
08-06-2015, 01:16 AM
Everybody wants everything for nothin'.

steve phillipps
08-06-2015, 07:31 AM
Shocking yes. But.....Legally it's minimum wage isn't it so there's no law being broken, it then just comes down to supply and demand and how much the employer values the quality of service of the person they're hiring. As a camera operator we don't have any right to be paid 400 a day any more than an equally hard-working waitress or bus driver or anyone else. It's a free market - as long as an employer offers minimum wage or above and you're not being forced into taking the job then you either take it or leave it. That employer must feel that either there are enough people out there that will do the job for that money or they'll be happy with the job done by a less-skilled and experienced worker doing it.
Steve

markmwilliams
08-06-2015, 08:54 AM
You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

steve phillipps
08-06-2015, 09:34 AM
You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Yeah, usually anyway. But that's the industry these days. Started with not hiring assistants (and thereby training the next generation) then getting camera ops to do their own sound (putting soundies out of business) and then 1 man ops with the presenter setting camera on tripod and filming themselves....everything's squeezed.
Steve

markmwilliams
08-06-2015, 10:17 AM
I pretty much agree Steve.

However, I am now seeing a slight reversal of trend in TV and I think technology is largely behind it. Any production company worth their salt is realising that you really can't get away with putting a junior member of the team with two days training behind a C300 and expect to get anything like acceptable results for broadcast. This alongside many TV dramas now being filmed on Arri and R3D means that the audience is getting a visual expectation and blown out hosepiped footage from a Z1 (about the only camera you can give someone with 2 days training) is standing out like a sore thumb.

Don't get me wrong, the industry still has a long long way to go to get back to the good old craft camera and sound days (and those days will probably never return) but from first hand experience it is, by and large, better than it was about 5 years ago.

scorsesefan
08-07-2015, 09:06 AM
Wow, 70 pounds is like $100 American -- that's terrible! I'm glad you turned it down. I think it's a little shady that they asked you to do the initial shooting for free... As a camera operator we don't have any right to be paid 400 a day any more than an equally hard-working waitress or bus driver or anyone else. It's a free market - as long as an employer offers minimum wage or above and you're not being forced into taking the job then you either take it or leave it I respectfully disagree, Steve. Comparing waitresses and bus drivers to skilled technicians/artists is like comparing apples to oranges. Many of us have spent tens of thousands of dollars on film school, equipment, etc. (not to mention our time investment) and we should be fairly compensated. Would you ask a doctor or lawyer to be compensated $50 or a $100 a day?... Now, I have made many labor films (and even one about striking bus drivers) and waitresses and bus drivers should be compensated fairly. AND they should have full benefits. One profession being compensated fairly doesn't exclude the other from being compensated fairly as well. Just my two c's

markmwilliams
08-07-2015, 09:21 AM
Wow, 70 pounds is like $100 American -- that's terrible! I'm glad you turned it down. I think it's a little shady that they asked you to do the initial shooting for free... As a camera operator we don't have any right to be paid 400 a day any more than an equally hard-working waitress or bus driver or anyone else. It's a free market - as long as an employer offers minimum wage or above and you're not being forced into taking the job then you either take it or leave it I respectfully disagree, Steve. Comparing waitresses and bus drivers to skilled technicians/artists is like comparing apples to oranges. Many of us have spent tens of thousands of dollars on film school, equipment, etc. (not to mention our time investment) and we should be fairly compensated. Would you ask a doctor or lawyer to be compensated $50 or a $100 a day?... Now, I have made many labor films (and even one about striking bus drivers) and waitresses and bus drivers should be compensated fairly. AND they should have full benefits. One profession being compensated fairly doesn't exclude the other from being compensated fairly as well. Just my two c's

Amen to that.

bscenefilms
08-07-2015, 10:20 AM
It reminds me of this:

A guy calls the musicians guild to get a quote on a 6 piece wedding band. The rep says, "Off the top of my head, about $2000."

The guy says, "WHAT? FOR MUSIC?"

The rep responds, "I'll tell you what. Call the plumbers union and ask for six plumbers to work from 6 'til midnight on a Saturday night. Whatever they charge, we'll work for half."

analog_addict
08-11-2015, 12:05 PM
Shocking yes. But.....Legally it's minimum wage isn't it so there's no law being broken, it then just comes down to supply and demand and how much the employer values the quality of service of the person they're hiring. As a camera operator we don't have any right to be paid 400 a day any more than an equally hard-working waitress or bus driver or anyone else. It's a free market - as long as an employer offers minimum wage or above and you're not being forced into taking the job then you either take it or leave it. That employer must feel that either there are enough people out there that will do the job for that money or they'll be happy with the job done by a less-skilled and experienced worker doing it.
Steve

I'm guessing that you do not shoot for a living. Being a waitress isn't a skilled job, being a camera operator is. Not to mentioned I'm bringing 4000+ worth of equipment with me which I have had to pay for.

Seriously think about what you posted, you appear to have no respect for the craft.

I live in the UK and the BECTU rate for a TV news camera operator is 305 per day without gear. I'm offering this station half that rate with gear.

keithlango
08-11-2015, 03:01 PM
It's all about scarcity.

Respect for the craft is irrelevant, really. I mean, I get it- it's nice to be appreciated just because, but unconditional love is for Moms, not economics. I saw it when I worked in the newspaper business 20+ years ago with the typesetters. Then after that with illustrators and after that with 2d animators and now with CG handkey animators. There's always either a new technology that makes you obsolete (except for the rarest of instances where someone still insists on doing things the old way and is willing to be luxurious about it), or an inflooding of new talent that throws the supply & demand economics out of whack. This forum is Exhibit A in the case of throwing the supply & demand ratios out of whack. We're here because a company in Australia made a camera that regular blokes could afford and get quality imagery with. Before cheap high quality digital cameras the only choices for clients were cheap & poor workmanship, or pricey competence. But now you have folks like us flooding the supply side of the market. There are exponentially more shooters now who can do the job reasonably well than there was 7 years ago. Clients can find competence much easier than before. As a result prices for competent shooters have dropped. Simple supply & demand. There's no way around it. The only pro-active thing any of us could do to rectify this turn of events is to quit the biz and thus balance out the supply side, but nobody thinks *they're* the one who needs to leave. And I get it. But getting upset about it is like being mad at the rain and refusing to carry an umbrella out of protest. You may have your righteous indignation intact, but you're still gonna get wet 'cuz rain don't care. If the client doesn't value your skill set to a level that you feel shows proper respect then wish them well and move along to those that will. It's about value, not respect. Business is a bitch.

steve phillipps
08-12-2015, 10:24 AM
I'm guessing that you do not shoot for a living. Being a waitress isn't a skilled job, being a camera operator is. Not to mentioned I'm bringing 4000+ worth of equipment with me which I have had to pay for.

Seriously think about what you posted, you appear to have no respect for the craft.

I live in the UK and the BECTU rate for a TV news camera operator is 305 per day without gear. I'm offering this station half that rate with gear.

I have been a professional cameraman for over 15 years, also in the UK. You can find me on IMDB.
Steve

steve phillipps
08-12-2015, 10:27 AM
It's all about scarcity.

Respect for the craft is irrelevant, really. I mean, I get it- it's nice to be appreciated just because, but unconditional love is for Moms, not economics. I saw it when I worked in the newspaper business 20+ years ago with the typesetters. Then after that with illustrators and after that with 2d animators and now with CG handkey animators. There's always either a new technology that makes you obsolete (except for the rarest of instances where someone still insists on doing things the old way and is willing to be luxurious about it), or an inflooding of new talent that throws the supply & demand economics out of whack. This forum is Exhibit A in the case of throwing the supply & demand ratios out of whack. We're here because a company in Australia made a camera that regular blokes could afford and get quality imagery with. Before cheap high quality digital cameras the only choices for clients were cheap & poor workmanship, or pricey competence. But now you have folks like us flooding the supply side of the market. There are exponentially more shooters now who can do the job reasonably well than there was 7 years ago. Clients can find competence much easier than before. As a result prices for competent shooters have dropped. Simple supply & demand. There's no way around it. The only pro-active thing any of us could do to rectify this turn of events is to quit the biz and thus balance out the supply side, but nobody thinks *they're* the one who needs to leave. And I get it. But getting upset about it is like being mad at the rain and refusing to carry an umbrella out of protest. You may have your righteous indignation intact, but you're still gonna get wet 'cuz rain don't care. If the client doesn't value your skill set to a level that you feel shows proper respect then wish them well and move along to those that will. It's about value, not respect. Business is a bitch.

Yeah, pretty much that. When I started it was Super 16 film - and it took skill. Also right up til about 5 years ago all my camera kits were in the 50,000-100,000 range - right from Arri SRs through to Varicams - as you say, you needed the skill and the investment to get top-quality results. Definitely not so much the case any more.
Steve

markmwilliams
08-12-2015, 10:44 AM
Yeah, pretty much that. When I started it was Super 16 film - and it took skill. Also right up til about 5 years ago all my camera kits were in the 50,000-100,000 range - right from Arri SRs through to Varicams - as you say, you needed the skill and the investment to get top-quality results. Definitely not so much the case any more.
Steve

Yes and No.

I've been in many edits having to sift through some truly cackhanded camera work from people who can supposedly 'shoot' - and this is in a professional broadcast environment.

Just because the tools are cheaper doesn't mean that the craft cameraman is dead and you're not going to see some young gun who's owned a BMCC for 12 months lensing the next big hollywood feature.

As I said before, you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. And for some clients that's the way they'll go and either be satisfied with the substandard material offered or next time they'll know budget more. Occasionally they'll get lucky and get someone super talented who's going cheap because they're just starting out, but it's a law of diminishing returns and most of the time they'll get exactly what they're paying for.

On the supply and demand side, yes there's going to be more competition and rates may fall. But there will always be demand at the top end and the vast majority of those who are good will still earn a decent living. I don't think competition is a bad thing.

Simply put, years of experience developing your craft, a modicum of talent and pushing yourself to constantly be better than those around you will yield success, keep you in work and pay you a decent living. I think this is true of most professions in the world.

steve phillipps
08-12-2015, 10:45 AM
the BECTU rate for a TV news camera operator is 305 per day without gear. I'm offering this station half that rate with gear.

...exactly, you've just reinforced the point, it's about supply and demand. If there was demand for skilled operators and little supply you'd be able to stick to 305 and another 300 for your kit, but that's obviously not happening.
Steve

scorsesefan
08-12-2015, 10:46 AM
Yes and No.

I've been in many edits having to sift through some truly cackhanded camera work from people who can supposedly 'shoot' - and this is in a professional broadcast environment.

Just because the tools are cheaper doesn't mean that the craft cameraman is dead and you're not going to see some young gun who's owned a BMCC for 12 months lensing the next big hollywood feature.

As I said before, you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. And for some clients that's the way they'll go and either be satisfied with the substandard material offered or next time they'll know budget more. Occasionally they'll get lucky and get someone super talented who's going cheap because they're just starting out, but it's a law of diminishing returns and most of the time they'll get exactly what they're paying for.

On the supply and demand side, yes there's going to be more competition and rates may fall. But there will always be demand at the top end and the vast majority of those who are good will still earn a decent living. I don't think competition is a bad thing.

Simply put, years of experience developing your craft, a modicum of talent and pushing yourself to constantly be better than those around you will yield success, keep you in work and pay you a decent living. I think this is true of most professions in the world.
+1

steve phillipps
08-13-2015, 02:42 AM
Just because the tools are cheaper doesn't mean that the craft cameraman is dead and you're not going to see some young gun who's owned a BMCC for 12 months lensing the next big hollywood feature.



You did only tak onboard part of what I said - yes there is less investment, but also the kit is much easier to use and get good results. And in film days with a 10 minute roll costing 250 and not being able to see the results for a couple of days you really had to know that the operator knew what they were doing!
Steve

AraM182
02-05-2016, 01:51 AM
Lol recently somebody was doing show for kpbs and asked me to do color grading 6-50minutes eipodes for only $400 hahaha Money is for nothing and chicks for free lol

CB_Video
02-06-2016, 12:47 AM
Lol recently somebody was doing show for kpbs and asked me to do color grading 6-50minutes eipodes for only $400 hahaha Money is for nothing and chicks for free lol

Say yes, throw a LUT on it and bake them out!

Same story for Colorists, no one wants to take the time or spend the money, except at the higher end. Competition is fierce, as post houses don't need as many dailies film transfers to tape now, you just grade the final cut...less people needed for that.

So my solution is to buy a cheap BM camera and go to TV stations and undercut the regular DP's rates a bunch ;>)

I just remind myself that most people on this website are doing a whole lot better than a lot of people in the world right now, including me!
If you want to make loads of dollars and have a hot career - I think VR will be the next big thing.