Reporting Overtime

Reader Joe called my attention to this article on Deadspin, about a leaked memo to the crew of the X-Games in Brazil. In it, Severn Sandt, senior TV operations person for the X-Games Remote,1 tells the crew to dress appropriately, don’t make fun of the locals (who he all but calls “lazy”), and remember that the budget is tight. Pretty standard stuff.

What makes this memo news worthy is the following passage:

Hourly folks – don’t push the OT. If it’s 9:10, take the 9:00 out – don’t push for 9:30. Heck, maybe you’d like to actually contribute an hour or two of your OT to the cause and take a 7:00 out. Trust me – no one’s going to the bank on this one. If this idea appeals to anyone, we can start an honorary wall of contributors in the office.

Yeahhhhhh… no.

First of all, no one clocks out at 9:10. You clock out at 9:06 or 9:12. Your time card is always in six minute intervals, so it’s easier for the payroll accountant to do the math.2

Setting aside that minor quibble, I actually think the first part of this is a good policy for you, the PA, to adopt. I get out an hour, or even two hours, early, but as an office PA, I’m still paid my guaranteed twelve hours. So, if I go over twelve hours by a few minutes, I don’t begrudge the production; it all evens out in the end.

(Actually, if I go over twelve, it’s usually because I’ve been fucking around on Facebook and Twitter all day, only to realize, fifteen minutes before I’m supposed to go home, that there’s something I have to get done today or else. At that point, it’s really my fault that I’m going into overtime.)

Also keep in mind, every bit of overtime has to be approved by your supervisor (the coordinator or APOC) and the UPM. If your name keeps popping up in the weekly payroll meetings with the accountants, you’re going to look like a dick over, what, three dollars? Not worth it.

That being said, it is rather gauche of Sandt to tell his crew that they have to do this.

Now, I’ve been talking about going ten or fifteen minutes over your usual twelve hours. If you go a half hour, much less the two hours Sandt mentioned, into over time, for God’s sake, report it. As the Deadpsin columnist pointed out, ESPN is worth $40,000,000,000. They don’t need your charity.

Or maybe this is why they’re worth forty billion.

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CORRECTION: This article is not 100% correct. Please read Monday’s post for more information.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. Not a title I’ve ever heard before, but non-scripted stuff is weird.
  2. Because we use a base-10 number system. This is one of the many problems a base-12 system would solve.
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6 Responses

  1. The person who wrote that memo was fired this week. I think the ESPN legal department forced the firing in a preemptive effort to stave of NLRB investigators.

    Couldn’t agree more about being a team player. There are two types of workers in the world: those who act with confidence and do the job with the knowledge that the details can be worked out in the end, and those who must account for every turn of the screw before they make it. Do a good job and it will be recognized more often than not. When it’s not, you’ll know who you’re dealing with and know not to work for them again (or take a hard line stance in the next negotiation).

  2. This is a really great topic to address! It’s always a subject of concern on productions.

    The memo you posted is interesting because, from a legal standpoint, he cannot ask his crew to do that. I don’t know how the fact that they are shooting in Brazil plays into it, but if he sent that memo on a stateside production, he’d risk getting grieved by the union, and probably get into a lot of trouble with his higher ups who don’t want to run afoul of the law. On top of that, he’s just being a dick, really.

    Now, that said, you’re right – as an office PA, you’re always getting paid a guarantee of 12, and often not working that long. So it does even out. Sometimes on low budget things, though, the LP will want to make sure the show comes in under budget before rewarding her office with extra wrap days (/weeks) for their hard work. Personally, I’m actually a fan of this system, provided both sides hold their end of the bargain. Work hard now, pat ourselves on the back later. There’s something said for being a team player within the department – presumably, this group of people is some of your closest friends, and he more shows your department comes in under budget, the more shows you’ll work together.

    But for a show-wide plea to take off 2 whole hours of overtime? That reflects poor budgeting on the part of the LP and PM. And they should be paying the price for that.

    1. Exactly. The grey area is, I think, in the 15-25 minute range. That’s a tough call as to whether it’s worth reporting.

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