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ownership of work

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Peter Rooney
ownership of work
on Jul 6, 2008 at 11:37:10 am

Ok problem as follows. I've done few projects for a local public body, editing, filming, authoring to DVD. The final product to the company has usually been 20 DVDs. They have from time to time asked me for further copies which i supplied free of charge.
I recently got a call from a teccie in their office telling me he was 'ripping' one of those DVDs to extract the footage so they could put it on their website. No, not even the courtesy of asking me first. I stayed off my high horse and asked him what he wanted. Told me he "Can't do it, do you know how to do it ? Can you help me, how do I do it, think I need it to be FLV". Eventually conceded he was just fiddling and didn't really know what he was doing. Because I wanted to ensure that whatever he did would be of an appropriate standard I offered to do it myself free of charge and deliver an flv to his site designers. I want my work to look good on the web even if I have to do it myself.
I then emailed his boss, didn't complain, stayed off my high horse, very politely suggested that this work shouldn't be handed to someone who admitted he was incapable of doing it, volunteered to make whatever copies they wanted.
'Boss' was incensed that I had the gall to suggest how she ran her office, instructed that I wasn't to be used for any further video work!!!!
OK I have to swallow that but have now discovered that they have a UTUBE account where they advertise their service ( they offer a range of youth/community related opportunities/training etc.) They have uploaded this 'ripped' copy and removed the credits at the end which attribute the authorship to me.
I need advice lads, where do I stand with ownership of the original DVD, can these people do what they want with this work, ie make unauthorised copies, post them on their site, doctor them to remove my authorship credits?
I need to know where I stand before digging my heels in.
Hope some of you might be able to advise me or point me to a relevant body. I'm in the UK.
Peter

peterdewolf@picurpicture-multimedia.co.uk


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Bruce Bennett
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 6, 2008 at 1:18:19 pm

Hi Peter,

I don’t know how it works in Ireland, but here in the USA, if they paid you, then they own your footage and final deliverables. The subject of “copyright ownership” has been beaten to death on this forum. You’ll find all your answers and lots of opinions on copyright ownership if you do a topic search on COW. http://www.copyright.gov has lots of answers.

It sounds like this is a very low-end client and puts price near or at the forefront. They have served their purpose and it’s time to move on to better clients. Such clients are good for your initial portfolio and getting work from well-established, higher paying clients that actually want good production value. Since your client indicated that they are not going to hire you any more, I would ship everything to them and when they call for help, email them written estimates and charge them every time. Your written estimates and their verbal commissioning of work would constitute “work for hire agreements” and help ensure your payments.

Don’t take grinder, low-end, crappy seeking production clients at heart. They are nothing more than a stepping stone to your career path. Whenever you talk about them to other clients, colleagues, etc. say nothing but the good things and keep the bad things to yourself.

One last suggestion… I see you have posted many times here on the COW. You may want to take the time and fill out your profile.

Good luck,
Bruce

Bruce Bennett
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC


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Craig Seeman
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 6, 2008 at 2:17:08 pm

[Bruce Bennett] "if they paid you, then they own your footage and final deliverables."
This statement is VERY MUCH DEBATABLE but let's NOT do that now. Such debates on the COW can be searched. Basically it MAY or MAY NOT be a "Work For Hire" but I don't think anyone here can know that for you or what the practices are in Ireland.

I don't know verbatim your discussion with her but given that someone there called you and you offered to help for free, I'd say she certainly doesn't value your assistance . . . especially value added assistance offered with no additional cost.

I wouldn't fight over the footage as I suspect it's not worth it. Keep using what you have for your own demo purposes. I wouldn't hand over anything additional (they haven't asked so do NOT offer). If anyone from that place calls for assistance I'd say something like, "I have to clear it with your boss" and then contact her explaining someone contacted you from their office for a service and then explain what you'd charge. In other words, offer NOTHING for free and make it clear to her that you've been asked for help.

BTW if they're posting your stuff on YouTube without the credits you might try adding them in a comments field unless or until they block or moderate the comments.

What is clear is that she doesn't appreciate the value of your service. It's time to use the demo material to find new clients.



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Ron Lindeboom
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 6, 2008 at 3:01:33 pm

This is a no-win situation. I would, as Bruce Bennett suggested, pack up all of their stuff and deliver it to them with a positive "thank you" for their past business and wish them well. As Bruce attests, they will likely run aground somewhere in the future and if you have ended the relationship amicably, they will likely call you when the ship hits the rocks. Bill them for everything. Don't discount anything.

BTW, guys: Peter said that he is from the UK, not from Ireland. Northern Ireland may be a part of the UK but Ireland is a separate and independent republic and the laws of the UK are not the same as the laws of Ireland.

Personally, I wouldn't care what the law is, I would end this as it's clear that the person in charge places little value on your work and part of this is your own fault. You have given away your work in some areas and I will guarantee that when you bill them you do not show all charges at a full non-discounted rate and then add line items that justify a discount while still holding the client to a full value perceptually. It's one thing to discount but it's a "whole other beast" to discount without keeping a full tally of the "real" costs of what you do and keeping the client mindful that things really cost far more than you may have done the job for.

Better still: Quit discounting. Many here will tell you that they actually increased the number of contracted jobs in their business when they quit giving discounts. I know that Tim Wilson, for one, added nearly double the number of clients to his business when he raised his rates substantially.

For more on this subject, see the search engine for "rates" and "ownership" -- as well as check the library for my article entitled "Clients or Grinders."

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom

Remember: Burt Bacharach lied. What the world really needs now is an undo button.



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Peter Rooney
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 6, 2008 at 7:09:17 pm

Thank you all for the advice. And I will attend to the profile. Yes I live in Northern Ireland which to me is a geographical distinction but I'm subject to British Law. Well it didn't end amicably as she has uploaded a ripped, crudely doctored, pixellated copy squashed with the wrong AR and removed my credits at the end. To my mind a shocking demonstration of spite and bad manners and unprofessionalism.
Good pont about commenting on UTUBE, I'll look into it.
Thanks again
Peter

peterdewolf@picurpicture-multimedia.co.uk


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Mark Suszko
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 6, 2008 at 8:54:49 pm

Sounds like there's a psychological/ personality component to this story that we only partially understand. My guess from reading between the lines and sensing your indignation is, that you came on a bit strong about the proprietary nature of the work, without a strong legal grounding for the argument.

You caught her basically "cheating" on you, called her out in her own office, and no matter how nicely you may have put it, she took that badly, and lines were drawn. I think you're done there as long as she's in charge. I suppose you could try going over her head, but that's only going to make her hate for you permanent.

If you were a cruel and vindictive person, I suppose you could send a CAD request to YouTube to pull the clips for violation of copyright. The way I understand how this goes, Youtube generally pulls the clips immediately upon the first formal request, just on anyone's say-so, to be on the safe side, and then it's up to the disputing parties to prove who owns what before the clip is allowed back on. Which may take a long time.

Generally this tactic happens when someone posts a clip from a broadcast TV show, music video, or commercial and the copyright owners complain. Should this happen to that fine company, and their web visitors go to see clips that are no longer there, that might be bad for business. If you were to employ this tactic, and I'm not suggesting you should, I bet you would be getting a call back from the lady or her boss right quick. To her boss you can explain that this all got out of hand because the lady didn't understand how things are done, acted unethically, if legally, and you'd be happy to make things right again at little or no charge if the boss would let you. But it would be a Pyrrhic victory at best, I fear. Pyrrhic victories are too expensive for businessmen.

No, I think your best bet is what the guys above have already laid out for you. Consider it like a no-fault divorce, send her all the stuff they paid for, and forget about them. If they come crawling back for anything, bill them quite stiffly.

When the management reshuffles at that place, if you left everyone else there on good terms, you might get a callback.




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Peter Rooney
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 6, 2008 at 10:07:23 pm

A very incisive post. A little presumptious but very close to the truth. I never 'came on strong', that situation/conversation never happened. It's what I felt when I learned that they were ripping copies. That surprised me as I'd made whatever copies were reqiuired in the past.
'I actually spent about an hour on the phone trying to teach the teccie how to do what he thought he wanted to do, at no time complaining, at no time asserting my indignation, but to no avail, he can't do it, still cant do it, they found someone else to do it. There's always someone.
I strained to be diplomatic, professional, businesslike but exactly as you described ( you must have been down this road ) she felt 'called' on the issue, railed against being 'called' and we are where we are.The whole office knew what was happening, employees mumbled about it. I've had an excellent working relationship with staff for several years but it's finished.
Earlier posters where close to the truth, the more you try to be accomodating the more you encourage the assumption that you are a sucker. But some of the best work I have done was done because I pushed the boat out and went above my obligations. Of that I am proud. I'm not naieve, I've been involved in Art and Design,Multimedia for about 30 years and most of that experience has been positive. So it's not the end of the world, but although my default behaviour is to be polite, helpful, accomodating and positive if I am abused I will bite back with a vengeance. A learned habit from growing up in 30 years of political and civil conflict.
Just like to thank this community, the COW for such a completely positive and constructive presence on the web. I attended University but did not study digital media at all, it's all self taught and a lot of it has been learned here and at Ken Stones site. Thank you all.
Peter

peterdewolf@picurpicture-multimedia.co.uk


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Brendan Coots
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 7, 2008 at 5:14:40 am

One last comment on the issue - on what grounds were there credits at the end of a work-for-hire piece? When a client hires a video company to create a work for them, the artist generally don't get attribution unless it's specifically arranged for in the contract, or even by verbal agreement.

If you did in fact have an agreement (verbal or otherwise) with them for attribution, you have a major issue here. They can't just violate that agreement and remove the credits if it was agreed upon that they would be part of the finished piece. Sure, technically the video is their "property," but that doesn't allow them to violate the contract.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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Peter Rooney
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 7, 2008 at 9:16:16 am

'One last comment on the issue - on what grounds were there credits at the end of a work-for-hire piece? When a client hires a video company to create a work for them, the artist generally don't get attribution unless it's specifically arranged for in the contract, or even by verbal agreement.'

Brendan the credits were a list of funding bodies who funded the project, a music company who gave me personally permission to include their music on the video, and lastly my name as the editor, graphics, archive material supplied by etc.
If I do an entire shoot/storyline/edit/ dvd for anyone i absolutely reserve the right to put my name at the end of it.
Peter






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Bruce Bennett
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 7, 2008 at 5:15:07 pm

My thoughts on this…

A long time ago when I first started in this business, I decided NOT to include my name, or the company name for which I worked for, in my projects’ credits. As the years went by, I developed into a better Director/Producer (and thus my projects/deliverables got better). I shriek once in awhile when dig out some of those dusty old projects that I used think were so cool and great; only to realize that they were substandard stepping stones to the quality level that I now produce (which I’m sure I will feel the same way about years from now).

I know for a fact that some of my old grinder clients still use videos that I produced for them 12-16 years ago. I am thankful that my name is not on them in case prospective new clients see them (with my name on them). Chances are slim that it would happen (we shot S-VHS and edited on ¾-inch tape back then) but now, with this new fancy medium called the “Internet,” videos could be out there for every one on Earth to see forever!

Just my thoughts on this…

Bruce

Bruce Bennett
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC


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Mike Smith
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 8, 2008 at 7:53:55 am

Hi Peter

I agree that this is a no-win - you are unlikely to see more business from this, whatever. There's not a lot of point in making waves - you could be floating new projects.

But as background:
I am UK based. Under our current legal system (but take professional advice before taking action), unless you have a contract that specifies differently, UK law will regard the copyright holder in a production as the producer - you. More, you are likely to have "moral rights" in the work, though you may have to made a written declaration that "asserts" those rights to protect them. Moral rights include your right to object to or prevent interference with or defacement of your work.http://www.gillhams.com/articles/140.cfm

If your funder credits were a contractual requirement from the funding bodies, which they may well be, then perhaps those funders would be interested to know that the work they paid for and you produced is being distributed. When I have worked on projects with funding from public bodies, it has often been a condition of funding that their credit receive appropriately prominent crediting.

So if you wanted to spend (waste!?) the time making life difficult for this organisation, you probably could: but is it time to swallow it and look to whatever's' next?



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Peter Rooney
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 8, 2008 at 12:21:38 pm

Very good advice and I believe you have a point and I have a case. At the moment what has happened is shabby. Spend quite a bit of money paying me to produce work which has been at a whole different level in terms of creativity, research, production etc than what they had been used to before hiring me, then tell 'teccie' in the corner of the office, who does a neat little sidleine in pirate DVS ( copied in the office ) to rip my work and doctor it.
These aren't corporate promotional projects or advertising, it about documenting youth work projects.
All this before there was ANY dispute, disagreement, at all. I just don't get it, what they got was a ripped mpeg2, which he converted to AVI, which was then converted to an FLV, CRAP! Why do it when I'd always done any extra reproduction in the past for free.
The funders, including International Fund for Ireland, all had their credits intact, everyone's credits were retained but the really small, simple line of text at the end which said I did the graphics, additional archive material, photography, editing and authoring, the whole project.
Thank you for the explicit wording in your response, I'll study it before deciding what to do.
As you all said, it's certainly time to move on from this lot. But maybe I'll bite her before moving on.
Peter



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Mads Nybo Jørgensen
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 9, 2008 at 7:30:40 pm

Hey Peter, Hey Mike.

I am based in the UK too.

Firstly, I would not have given anything away for free to start with - not without attaching some kind of value to it.

Secondly, "Local Public Body" - are they NGO, government or? In any case, the boss must have a bigger boss, who again has an even bigger boss - I would send a CD-Rom with the flv to the chairman and point out that you got "fired" for offering to do a proper job for free and that if you had wanted to, you could've pushed for credits through the courts and thereby creating an embarrassment for all parties involved, including the chairman (For all we know, the person trying to rip your DVD in the first place, could be the secret lover of the boss and the new video producer of the organisation? ;-). At least you're owed an apology for being nice.

Also, supply the communication (hopefully you have an email) where the client specifies the 20 DVD's. I.e. you never had an agreement of using it on-line or for any other purpose than the 20 DVD's.

Finally - shop them to the MCPS, Directors Guild, Bectu and who-ever else might want to black-list them - maybe not, just move forward and forget about these guys.

But seriously, as Ron says with his Grinders speech, this went wrong when you pulled your trousers down at the first meeting.



All the Best
Mads
London, UK

Mac Million Ltd. - HD Production & Editing
Please watch our latest video on Data Protection at




Blog: http://blog.myspace.com/bigflopproductions


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Peter Rooney
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 9, 2008 at 10:45:14 pm

"this went wrong when you pulled your trousers down at the first meeting"
I think I'll just sue you instead:-)
Trousers is it? Who said anything about trousers?. UK based, not north of Hadrian's walll , by any chance. Faintly reminds me of a popular ditty among the ginger tribes up there, something like
'Donald where's your troosers'.
She's the Director of the organization, it's a charitable 'quango' but is answerable to a board, a 'governing body'. At the moment I did everything right and she's reacted off the charts at being caught out being cheap and unprofessional. If I react aggressively by making waves with her board the thing will undoubtedly swing 180 so I look like I'm attacking her and all of a sudden I'll be in the wrong.
That's how these things go. I wouldn't want to allow her the satisfaction of turning this around so she gets off the hook, that's the only satisfaction I'll get from this.
Peter





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Mads Nybo Jørgensen
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 10, 2008 at 1:12:22 am

Hey Peter.

Join the queue, I am already taking up one judges time full time, so why not - btw: I misquoted Ron, that won't go to court, but I won't enter dark streets either, the Cowdog might just bite me ;-D

I had a similar situation last year with an in between production company that on top of running from their bill sold me down the river to their end client for their mistakes (very BIG end-client). To make the story short, I subsequently through another third party went back and did another job for the end client, which ended very, very well and put me in the frame for their next job - so there is plenty of different ways of saying "thank you" - maybe you should contact a local competing "charitable quango", and do a job that is so memorable that the rest of the community can not avoid using you for future projects?

Don't get mad - get even!



All the Best
Mads
London, UK

Mac Million Ltd. - HD Production & Editing
Please watch our latest video on Data Protection at




Blog: http://blog.myspace.com/bigflopproductions


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Steve Wargo
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 11, 2008 at 5:58:30 am

[Mads Nybo Jørgensen] "Don't get mad - get even! "

That's my boy! Go get em Mads. I've had this same crap happen several times with agencies and I am very hesitant to work with them.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Mike Smith
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 12, 2008 at 9:27:34 am

Hi Peter and Mads

I don't think you'd need to go to the expense of suing them. If you were to shell out for a session with a lawyer and a solicitor's letter (if the lawyer advised it), wouldn't that give the director pause for thought?





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Mads Nybo Jørgensen
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 12, 2008 at 9:43:34 am

Hey Mike.

Nope, agree, it is never worth going to court.

A thought; one could risk someone asking the Director of the NGO "Who did that bad encoding job?" - is she going to say, my in-house AV person or name the production company?
Peter has every right to make sure that his productions are displayed properly, even if the client doesn't appreciate the service offered.



All the Best
Mads
London, UK

Mac Million Ltd. - HD Production & Editing
Please watch our latest video on Data Protection at




Blog: http://blog.myspace.com/bigflopproductions


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Steve Wargo
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 9, 2008 at 2:12:01 pm

[Peter Rooney] "credits were a list of funding bodies who funded the project, a music company who gave me personally permission to include their music on the video, and lastly my name as the editor, graphics, archive material supplied by etc. "

Now you're talking. If they ditched the names of the funding bodies, they may fixed themselves pretty good. The music people could also have a case about the "exchange" rule. The exchange rule is in place when someone gives you something in exchange for something else. They exchanged music for a credit.





Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Steve Wargo
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 7, 2008 at 3:22:00 am

[Peter Rooney] "crudely doctored, pixellated copy squashed with the wrong AR and removed my credits at the end"

You need to post a nice looking version on you tube with full credits and contact info.
Post a link and we'll all go take a look and bring your numbers up.

Yeah, take care of that profile if you can. You can always add to it later.






Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Bruce Bennett
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 7, 2008 at 2:23:20 am

[Craig Seeman] "If anyone from that place calls for assistance I'd say something like, "I have to clear it with your boss" and then contact her explaining someone contacted you from their office for a service and then explain what you'd charge."

Very good advice :)

Bruce

Bruce Bennett
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC


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Mike Cohen
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 7, 2008 at 3:27:34 pm

My opinion matches the other responses. When doing corporate video work, the client owns the end product and can do what they like with it.
I occasionally get an e-mail "we are having trouble copying the videos off the DVD, can you send us WMV..." etc
In most cases it is not too big a deal to make them their other formats, either at no charge or at our agreed upon hourly rate - it is an hour or so of work to convert to another format, so it is sometimes just a nice thing to do for your client - assuming it is a client who pays their bills!
If you are paid as an editor, for example, on a broadcast or direct to video for sale project, it may be ok for your name to be on the credits - that is at the discretion of those paying you. But on a corporate job, usually it should have the appearance of being totally a corporate production - your credit is your payment.

Mike


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Todd Terry
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 7, 2008 at 4:36:27 pm

I agree... unless your contract stipulates otherwise (and ours usually do), even though you may consider it your "baby" the client pretty much owns it and can do with it as he/she likes.

That's why pretty specific contracts are important... rights to specific elements (i.e., music, actors' appearances) may be cleared for one particular project but not another... and if the client takes the project and cuts on it or re-uses elements in a different project they may be infringing upon some of the individual rights holders.

As for "I absolutely reserve the right to put my name at the end of it," things may be a little different across the pond but here in the Colonies that would be a little unusual... I agree with Mike, it's not really the norm for corporate pieces to have credits. We don't ever put them on corporate pieces, and I don't think our clients would allow them. Much like we don't put credits on commercials.





T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Kevin Hanley
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 9, 2008 at 4:53:21 pm

First of all, the people who call to ask you how to do what you do so that they don't have to pay you to do it....total waste of time and energy.

You will be happier, more productive, and more successful without clients like this. I recommend dropping it an moving on, using this as a lesson on why you shouldn't do anything (dubs, etc.) for free, and more importantly, the fact that the clients who pay the least actually expect the most.



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Steve Wargo
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 10, 2008 at 6:10:31 am

Do I hear AMEN?



Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: ownership of work
on Jul 10, 2008 at 5:31:52 pm

[Kevin Hanley] "...clients who pay the least actually expect the most."

One of the fundamental truths of the article "Clients or Grinders."

It's insane that the ones that demand the most are nearly always the ones who want to pay the least -- if they want to pay at all -- and will often treat you with abhorrent contempt while doing it.

No thanks. If you need filler for a demo reel, there are far better ways to get it.

There is no real money in working with grinders. "Busy" does not make a business. "Profit" makes a business.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom

Remember: Burt Bacharach lied. What the world really needs now is an undo button.



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