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Professional v Amateur

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Steve Kownacki
Professional v Amateur
on Jul 1, 2009 at 12:22:03 pm

I'm certainly not whining here, just want to share business wisdom. A great prior thread about client-vendor relationships can be read here. . Here's another take on being a professional taken from Dreams with Sharp Teeth. Warning on some rough language.


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grinner hester
Re: Professional v Amateur
on Jul 1, 2009 at 2:48:23 pm

I think I know whay he wants/needs a check so bad. He's kind of douchy.

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Todd Terry
Re: Professional v Amateur
on Jul 1, 2009 at 2:55:13 pm

Harlan is absolutely right in all the points he makes.

So is Grinner... kind of douchy.

I think Harlan needs to seriously consider breaking the pills in half. Or doubling up on them. One or the other.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Arnie Schlissel
Re: Professional v Amateur
on Jul 1, 2009 at 2:54:54 pm

Wow!! Have to say, I respect his position.


Post production is not an afterthought!

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Mark Suszko
Re: Professional v Amateur
on Jul 1, 2009 at 3:20:46 pm

Harlan has always been both brilliant and... difficult. But he's not wrong. He's also a very vociferous advocate for the professional writer. He hates working in TV and film becasue he's been burned so many times.

Now, for a hoot, got to Amazon and get a used paperback of "The Starcrossed", which is about a future LA writer working on one of the first 3-d episodic TV series, a science-fiction retelling of "Romeo and Juliet".

It is in reality a thinly-veiled tell-all behind-the-scenes description of the horrendous process Harlan went thru as a writer for a Canadian Sci-Fi TV series called "The Starlost". In the book he sends up LA in general and the TV production community in particular, and the reason it is so GD funny is all the incidents in the fake sci-fi book are based on things that really happend on the actual show.

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grinner hester
Re: Professional v Amateur
on Jul 1, 2009 at 8:43:46 pm

He's not incorrect but giving a gal a hard time on the phone is wrong. It's as easy as passing. We all take and pass on gigs all the time. Nobody has to be an angry asshat about it.
Poor old guy needs a beer, a bowl or a blow job. Dadgum, I can't imagine being on a set or in a suite with a tool that fussy.
I was cracking up when he busted out with "I gave an interview... a very interesting interview..." lol
While he may have given an interview, I imagine how interesting it was revolved around who was watching. I didn't make it though this entire rant, let along a babblefest about Babalon.

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David Roth Weiss
Re: Professional v Amateur
on Jul 1, 2009 at 3:22:09 pm

He certainly doesn't mince words.

If I ever work with him I'm not sure I'd want him to sit in and supervise the edit session... He can probably make grown men cry.

David Roth Weiss
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Professional v Amateur
on Jul 1, 2009 at 4:17:36 pm

He is uncompromising. People can look at that in different ways as a good or bad thing. You can tell I'm a fan of his, but I'm not sure myself that we would get along if we met socially or on business. Two egos that large cannot both occupy the same space and time; he'd probably smash my jar:-)

BTW, read his unproduced script for the movie of "I, Robot". (published in illustrated book form) It is awesome, and a crime it hasn't been made.

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Mike Cohen
Re: Professional v Amateur
on Jul 1, 2009 at 6:33:52 pm

Actual synopsis of a phone conversation I had a couple of years ago:

Me: Hello, this is Mike.

Caller: Hi, this is Jane Smith. I'm a producer for "major science and health cable channel". We are working on a show about colon cancer. I was wondering if you have any stock footage of colonoscopy.

Me: Hmm, maybe. Where are you located?

Caller: We're in LA.

Me: Don't you work with any of the hospitals out there?

Caller: No, not really. We weren't allowed to film any actual colonoscopy procedures. Do you have any?

Me: Maybe. We really don't make a habit of selling our footage. Most of it isn't licensed for that.

Caller: Oh. Well I wasn't thinking of buying footage. I was hoping you might be able to give me something to use. We'll give you credit of course.

Me: Really, you don't have a budget for this? Don't you work for "major science and health cable channel?"

Caller: Well yes, but they don't really give us any money.

Me: I see. Well I can't just give you footage. And as I said, most of our stuff is not for sale anyway. Sorry I can't be of more help.

Caller: Oh gee whiz. Well can you suggest anyone I could call.

Me: You're the producer honey. Produce.

Ok, I didn't really say that, but I was thinking it!

Me: Why not call one of the biggest most well known hospital in Los Angeles. I'm sure they could lead you in the right direction. Or call Katie Couric. Her colon is all over the internet.

Caller: Blank stare coming through phone.

Me: Well, good luck to you.



Yep, people everywhere are looking for a free lunch. The problem with free lunch is it often consists of undercooked hot dogs and weak iced tea. It may satisfy your hunger for a little while, but you'll have an upset stomach later.


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Zane Barker
Re: Professional v Amateur
on Jul 2, 2009 at 12:36:25 am

The best part if this video is that somebody took his interview and put it in the web for everyone to see for free so there is little chance he made any money for this interview.

There are no "technical solutions" to your "artistic problems".
Don't let technology get in the way of your creativity!

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Brad Grossman
Re: Professional v Amateur
on Jul 2, 2009 at 3:43:10 am

I say this as a huge fan of his writing, I actually think he is kind of wrong on this. He wasn't being asked to work as a writer for free. The dvd producers wanted to use an interview that he had already sat down for. If he was concerned about being paid, before giving the interview would have been the time to ask.

If was being asked to work as a writer for free, that's worthy of this eloquently obscene rant.

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Mark Raudonis
Re: Professional v Amateur
on Jul 2, 2009 at 3:50:58 pm


No difference between writing and a personal appearance on camera for an interview. It's still his
intellectual property to do with as he sees fit. (Unless he signed a release waiving those rights... which I doubt).

I agree with Harlan here. Pay to play. I've received some of those calls begging/pleading to use footage we've created. I don't know if it's stupidity or audacity that compels people to act this way, but it sucks.

Harlan's point here is the hypocrisy of the people asking for a freebie. They're getting a check, so why shouldn't he?


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Timothy J. Allen
Re: Professional v Amateur
on Jul 2, 2009 at 5:14:39 pm

As a producer, I've asked people for "free" footage plenty of times; part of my job is to keep things within budget and saving in one area helps other areas.

I certainly am not looking to rip people off, but there are two sides of the coin. The key is to offer something *of equal value* in return. That could be credit, or it could be sharing my raw footage in turn when someone needs it. Or it could be paying for footage, or music or actors. It just depends on the value and what each party considers to be fair.

Since I work on behalf of a government agency, my situation may be considered to be a little different. I feel an obligation not to spend (tax-payers) money on things I don't have to, and everything I produce is then offered up for free (or the price of materials) to any U.S. citizen who wants it. There are still usage restrictions on some things, since I don't have the right to reassign licenses for images of specific people, or reassign rights to footage we get from other sources, but I try to make things fair for all involved.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind paying for things when it's reasonable, but I'll usually ask for things free first, especially if I'm asking an organization that is also paid for with tax dollars, like the military or certain health organizations.

All that said, I think it's ironic that we have a thread like this, when just a few topics down, there's a thread asking where to find free music.

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Roy Schneider
Re: Professional v Amateur
on Jul 2, 2009 at 11:49:16 pm

How many ads do you see asking for editor interns, edit for no pay, edit for credit. It is all part of this new
media world that has been created. They ask for it for free, because someone gives it to them for free. Now they are industry professionals. Sadly, now the industry professional has trouble explaining why he charges so much. The industry changes, but the real question is how do we respond?

Roy Schneider
Long Live Da Cow!

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Doug Collins
Re: Professional v Amateur
on Jul 6, 2009 at 3:04:10 pm

Something that just struck me as funny. This discussion is taking place on a website where we can post most any question (and have).

Free of charge.

And for that I for one am extremely grateful.


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