And finally, regular commenter
Oop! I hope TAPA didn’t just out themselves with
that sly Indiegogo plug.
I’ll respond to the last comment first.
Other Halves is a film that Crew Call producer Chris Henry sound designed. He asked me to plug their Indiegogo campaign, because they’re looking for finishing funds, and some of those funds are for Chris’s salary. He produced 26 episodes of Crew Call for free, so I figure I owe it to him to at least try to get him paid by someone.
And, to be honest, the trailer is pretty cool:
Chris’s experience on that movie is what inspired the previous post, in fact. The amount of money the producers are looking for struck me as laughably small, until Chris told me the total budget. It’s not quite as small as some of the budgets BK cited, but definitely less than a hundred grand.
But Chris also confirmed Steinmetz’s comment. The lack of experience in the crew caused slow downs on set more than once. Many of them were unpaid interns from Berkeley, in fact. (The movie was shot in San Francisco.)
I don’t know how well or how poorly things went on the sets of
Following, El Mariachi, or 1 Dead Hooker in a Trunk, but I can guarantee you that few, if any, people got paid on those shoots.
There is a trade off for both parties when it comes to
free crew. For the crew, hopefully it means you’re gaining experience, or that ever elusive first credit. If you keep your eyes open and mouth shut, you’ll learn a lot. 2 3
But are you learning the right things?
Every set is different, but there are still good ways and bad ways to shoot a movie. A sleazy producer looking to exploit wide-eyed, wet-behind-the-ears film students so he can make a quick buck selling a shitty movie on the VOD market is probably not somebody whose habits you should pick up.
Which brings me to the trade off on the other side. It’s very difficult to make your first movie, whether as a producer or director. Nobody believes you can do it until you’ve already
done it. It’s the worst kind of catch 22.
When you’re asking people to work for cheap or free, it should be because you believe so strongly in the project (the cast, the script, the director), you’ll do anything to make the movie. One simple measuring stick– is the producer getting paid? If so, then
everyone should get paid.
If the producer is taking home half the budget (under the guise of his “production services company”), but the grips and ACs are working for $100/day, something is really wrong.
As a PA, these things are hard to know. My best advice is, after your first day, look everyone up on IMDb. See what their experiences are. If the DP has a bunch of camera assistant credits, that probably means she’s taking a pay cut in exchange for a promotion. That’s a good sign, because she’s read the script, knows the producers, and believes this film will be good for her career.
If, on the other hand, key people have no credits, or credits in entirely different departments, you might be working on a glorified student film.