Hollywood is built on favors, but some people don’t seem to realize that.
I’m making a short film. Just about the only way to make a decent short, without going broke, is to borrow equipment and get your friends to work for free. In exchange, you offer them free food, their name in the credits, a copy of the movie, and the expectation that you will return the favor some day.
In quick succession, two of my friends violated this very simple barter system, much to my chagrin.
Tuesday, we needed a camera for about six hours at the beach. A DP friend of mine owned the right kind of camera, but refused to let us borrow it; he insisted on charging us $150. For six hours.
He said it was because he was afraid we’d get sand in it (we shot at the beach). Now, first of all, I used to be an AC. I ACed for this guy. He knows I take care of cameras. Plus, paying him money upfront doesn’t protect his camera. Insurance (which our production has) does.
Worse than that, though, is the fact that I ACed for him as a favor. He simply refused to do me a favor back.
Now, here’s the nutty part. The producer found the same camera for $120. So, we went back to my friend, and he still wouldn’t bring his price down. The producer (who was also friends with this DP) called the next day, to ask if he rented is camera to anyone else. He hadn’t.
Can you imagine that I would ever work with this DP again?
Two weeks earlier, the production was shorthanded. I called around, and a buddy said he would grip for us, if I paid him a $50 kit fee.
Grips don’t have kits, by and large. They have gloves and a diddy bag, maybe. We were renting our gear from Castex. So, basically, the guy wanted to get paid when no one else on the crew was.
What he didn’t seem to realize was, once I give him money, he’s no longer a friend doing me a favor; he’s an employee doing a job. He knew we desperately needed people, and he exploited that fact.
Both of these guys used the excuse that they’re out of work, and they needed money. The thing is, everyone is out of work. Everyone needs money. But if you can’t get money, you should at least get a favor in return.
These two have totally burned bridges. They’ll need help in the future, and they won’t get it, from anyone involved in this production. How do they not know this?