Flat Rate

Jillian writes:

I recently went on an interview for a production assistant position. I had been responding to an ad that had very little useful information on it, besides the shoot dates.

During the interview, I asked what the production was and the rate. They told me they could not reveal any information about the production, other than it is a made for T.V. feature. They then told me the rate was a flat $1000 for the entire duration of the project, which consists of nineteen 12 hour shoot days (seven days straight, one day off, six days straight, one day off, and another six straight).

Needless to say, I left the interview absolutely appalled and shocked. I have worked on many productions and never had a problem getting information about the production (what it was), and I have never been offered a flat fee (especially one that comes out to roughly $4 and some odd change per hour!!!!).

They have called to offer me the position, but I will kindly decline. I was even thinking of reporting them, as I believe this seems illegal. Do you have any insight?

You did the right thing. Taking the job only encourages the bastards.

I have been paid flat rates in the past, but it has always been sketchy. They tell you it will be 12 hours, but it won’t be, I guarantee. $52/day is not worth it. Twice that is below industry standard.

It’s obviously illegal to pay someone less than minimum wage; I’m not sure who you report them to, though. I’ve always just tried to avoid those productions. I have to admit, though, when times have been lean, I have taken such work. We probably all have, or will, at some point.

Here’s one bit of advice you won’t hear very often, from me or anyone else– don’t do your best, if you take one of these jobs. The last thing you want to do is tell them they can get a kick-ass PA for $52 a day.

I know this has nothing to do with the topic of this post, but-- man, this movie goes off the rails towards the end, doesn't it? I mean, a jetpack? Seriously?

Doing good work will only devalue your worth in the future. If they can get you for $52/day on this show, they’ll try it again on the next show, and the next.

Instead, give them what they paid for– a shitty PA.

If I left it there, I’m sure I’d get a lot of comments saying that you should always try your best, because you don’t know who’s watching, or who might give you a job in the future.

That’s a great attitude to have, and generally true. But one of the most important things I’ve learned in the Industry is this– shitty people congregate.

A few years ago, I realized I was starting to recognize the same people over and over on different crappy, low-budget productions. And it dawned on me, they were thinking the same thing about me.

So I stopped accepting those kinds of jobs. I only took work on shows I respected. Recently, I’ve started bumping into people who worked on my first big-budget shows. And that’s when I knew I was where I needed to be.

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2 Responses

  1. Hey TAPA,

    I’m currently on a show thats paying about $70/day, and I am definitely not giving 100% (more like 70%, ha). Even though your advice is solid and I feel completely justified slacking off (I’m writing this post while I’m on set), I also feel like a horrible person and am either imagining or actually seeing the look of disappointment in my boss’ eyes.

    I live in a Tier III state, so the productions that come through tend to be one-offs. So, my question is, does this advice still hold? The likelihood that this production will hire me again is fairly small, and even though I’ve had numerous promises that an AD would “take me” with them when they left, that has not yet happened.

    My reputation as one of the “good” PAs in the area is really important to me (dont have much else at this point). Am I helping or hurting myself by being a slacker?

  2. i went to a interview for a crafty gig they wanted to pay me $60 ($15 less than the person who reffered me for the gig) and to drive a cube truck. I said thanks but no thanks.

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