I saw this very funny clip on YouTube where an obviously disgruntled sound person posted a conversation he had with a producer. Which if you have been around independent film making at all will sound very familiar.
I wanted to comment briefly and then show this video. Independent film making is by its nature a poor mans industry. If you think you’re going to make the next Clerks or Napoleon Dynamite, guess what? You’re not. So us poor film makers still want to make films. And to make films we have to have others work on them. There are people just like you who take their craft very seriously and like to be able to eat and put a roof over their heads for devoting their lives to their craft. But on the other hand you have no money and want to make the best piece of work possible.
I have been there and currently am there as I type this. The short film I am working on is going to have to be a mixer of paid and non paid people. A lot of it is going to be calling in favors from all the people I have helped in the past and raising as much money as I can to pay a decent wage for something that would cost me 100 times more in LA.
There is no easy way to figure this out. It is honestly the worst part of film making. But here are three guidelines that will help you and your crew when it comes to money.
1. Stop with deferments or % of net profit.
Everyone that has been around the indie block knows this is another excuse for not paying you and they will never see a dime. In the history of independent cinema maybe 5 films have paid off the back end or someone has received a deferred payment.
2. Be honest!
If you need free help state it up front and be clear about it. Don’t try to act like a copy of the film and feeding the person counts as payment. You can help yourself by making it as stress free for everyone as possible and if the person wants experience in a certain area, then you better damn well go out of your way to give them the experience they seek.
3. Food and a Movie.
YOU MUST UNDER PENALTY OF FILM MAKERS DEATH, FEED EVERYONE AND MAKE SURE THEY RETRIEVE THEIR COPY ON DVD. It’s actually amazing how often this happens. So even your “payment” of a DVD and food doesn’t pan through. If someone is going to give you their time and work the very very very least you owe them is to feed them and give them a copy of what they worked on.
Please watch and laugh, I’m sure we all have heard this before.