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Being Pimped Out

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Harry Benson
Being Pimped Out
on Feb 15, 2010 at 3:43:56 pm

Greetings,

I work for a video production company. I was hired to edit. I am paid salary, and not hourly, but my salary is based on M - F, 9 - 5. Recently, my employer got a call from a client asking if they could provide a shooter for an upcoming event. Our usual freelancers were not available, so my employers asked me if I'd be willing to shoot the event. It was arranged that the client would pay me directly as a vendor, thus making this independent of my salaried position. However, my employers are still asking for a cut of what I make on the job. I don't think this is fair since our usual freelancers would not have been required to give a cut of their earnings to my employers in this case. Am I out of line in my thinking?

-Harry


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walter biscardi
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 15, 2010 at 4:13:49 pm

[Harry Benson] "I don't think this is fair since our usual freelancers would not have been required to give a cut of their earnings to my employers in this case. Am I out of line in my thinking?"

I think you're absolutely correct in your thinking. If they wanted a cut, then THEY should have hired you out as the shooter. They would have charged the client an upcharge for your services and taken the cut that way.

If they arranged for you to be paid directly, then that money is yours and they screwed up. Not sure whey they didn't just have the client pay them directly in the first place.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" now in Post.

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Nick Griffin
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 15, 2010 at 5:20:59 pm

[Harry Benson] "Am I out of line in my thinking?"

Not really, but...

As Walter points out, it's more a case of your employer mis-handling this than being in the wrong. From the perspective that this isn't how they'd handle one of the freelancers you are correct. But if they had begun by asking if you would do this for X and putting it up front that their cut would be Y, it wouldn't feel as much like a "pimped out" arrangement. Likely they just wanted to avoid the taxes and additional withholding issues.


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Mike Smith
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 15, 2010 at 5:56:47 pm

Is the shooting outside of your normal hours ...?


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Todd Terry
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 15, 2010 at 6:01:17 pm

[Mike Smith] "Is the shooting outside of your normal hours ...?"

...and are you shooting with your own gear? Or theirs?


T2

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






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Tim Wilson
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 15, 2010 at 6:16:04 pm

Regardless of the after-hours-ness or your own gear-ness, I can see the employers position. "Pimp" is one word, but so is "agent." Your agent finds you jobs, and your agent gets a slice.

It's unfortunate that they didn't establish this arrangement with you first. It would have been better for them to have done that. But here's what you need to ask yourself:

1) How much is it worth to you to piss them off? Or worse, to make them sorry that they made you the offer?

Worse still, to make them feel like you're not grateful? That you're not a team player?

You can decide for yourself whether this is fair, but they have already told you that this is the way it is.

2) Would you like them to find you more jobs?

3) Can you honestly take the money from the outside gig KNOWING that your employer wants a commission, and you stiffed them?

My guess is that it's not worth 10 or 15% of the outside gig to go through all the negative energy - for what? A couple of hundred bucks?

I'll end with a tale from my dear old grandpa. I'm not a gambler, but he was. He taught me that if somebody lends you $2 to place a bet -- ie, not a shared bet, and not "place this bet for ME, just a straight up loan -- and the horse YOU chose comes in, you owe them more than the $2. He always split it 50-50, because that's what the guys in his generation did. And they did! As far as they were concerned, it was just the right thing to do.

I assume that your employer is not asking 50%, but it kind of doesn't matter. You can tell my opinion. Suck it up. Take the money. Think of them as your agent, and give them a taste because of what they did for you. Incentivize them to do it again.

Did I mention the part about taking the money? That's the bottom line. And if you can do it without pissing off the people who found it for you, all the better.


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 15, 2010 at 10:26:14 pm

Many years ago when I was working as a commissioned salesman, I ALWAYS "spiffed" anyone that gave me a lead that turned into real money.

The more money I made from the deal, the bigger the "spiff."

By doing this, I was never without a ready pool of agents (conspirators?) who kept their eyes and ears open for anything that might be in my market.

When they started giving me the leads, every one of them would say "Oh no, you needn't give me anything," when I mentioned that I was going to give them a piece of anything I made on the deal.

But, you know what?

No one ever sent the check back and no one ever failed to cash the check.

Me, I would NEVER fail to spiff anyone who brought me a job or a client that made me money.

Your mileage may vary, guys and girls -- but I never varied on this point. ;o)

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom
CEO, CreativeCOW.net

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
- Antoine de Saint Exupéry


First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
- Gandhi


Better is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with the poor spirits who neither enjoy much, nor suffer much because they live in a gray twilight that knows no victory or defeat. - Theodore Roosevelt





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Harry Benson
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 16, 2010 at 3:51:49 am

Yes, it was outside of the normal hours, and I was using my own gear.


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 15, 2010 at 7:14:42 pm

Harry,

Been there done that... And my answer to you is based on loads of experience with exactly this type of thing where it really counts, and I'm talking big money commercials, national spots, big time responsibility, and your reputation over the short term vs. the long term.

The bottom line is, you have to weigh an enormous number of factors that no one here can do for you. Your relationship with your present employer, the quality of the job/work in question, the amount of money in question, the potential experience gained with new people, your good will, and most important of all, your reputation.

The question you must ask is, is one job worth chucking the investment in time that you've spent building your relationships and your reputation, or are you ready to roll the dice and strike out on your own right at this moment? Because, that's typically exactly what will happen if you raise this issue at a moment like this when a job is in the offing.

On the other hand, if you just bite your lip, and do this one job, you have just bought yourself the ability to raise this very issue with your employer anytime you want to bring it up in the future. And, you will have the moral high ground when you do. This is a strategy that worked for me many times throughout my career, whereas, the one time I did not use that strategy, it completely backfired, and it cost me untold jobs and untold dollars.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


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


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Mark Suszko
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 15, 2010 at 9:11:40 pm

My immediate reaction to the original question was: "well, it's a case of the boss asking for a commission for setting up the freelance gig, not a huge surprise unless you've never seen it before". I would not be surprised by this. However, I'm from Chicago, where baksheesh was maybe not invented, but certainly perfected:-).

But seriously, I don't consider it uncommon for people who locate and set up a freelance gig for you, to get some kind of consideration back for it. They are in this case acting as an agent for you, doing some sales promotion legwork for you, even if they DO get a benefit from it for themselves as well.

You see this in a lot of places in society, for example, car dealers will often give you something in gratitude for bringing in a referral that leads to a sale. No it is not a universal, and it has degrees of subtlety. Some folks do referrals for friends just because they are friends, and nothing is ever expected in the way of a thank-you except to say thank-you, and indeed adding money to the situation would only be an insult. I once sent Grinner a client referral and I never expected anything for it; just glad that I was able to help a client friend find a good editor, and an editor friend find a good client and thus raise my own reputation the tiniest bit. In other relationships, its a business relationship, and we're just talking about a commission for locating a sales prospect. Where it gets blurry is when the relationship overlaps personal and professional considerations, and for-hire and freelance, as in this case.

I don't think there is an Emily Post for this situation, it's a gray area in every unique case. The parts of the equation that I would focus on would include; is the gig mutually beneficial, or only of real benefit to the shooter that got the gig? If mutually beneficial, is the guy that set up the gig going to make a lot of money for, say, the editing of the footage you got contracted to shoot? If that's the case, and I was the company owner, I don't think I would have asked for the "commission", it would have just been factored into the billing somewhere, since the shooter is actually helping the owner out of a tight spot more than anything else. If the owner is not going to make anything off the footage later, then maybe a little thank-you gesture for the referral is in order, but it should be something the shooter voluntarily comes up with, for propriety's sake, and then the owner has the option to say: "fuggeddabouddit", and accept or decline.

FWIW, my take on this specific case is that the owner already stood to benefit and so was a little out of line to expect baksheesh for his employee bailing him out of a tight spot. Remember the Asian proverb though that it takes two hands to wash one, and the shooter might in future want to ask for some extra incentive pay as well. That kind of escalation is one good reason not to start the practice of cash for favors in the first place, and to just do it, as many COW posters and helpers do, for the pure karmic fulfillment of it. "For the lulz."




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Tim Kolb
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 16, 2010 at 2:13:25 pm

[David Roth Weiss] "On the other hand, if you just bite your lip, and do this one job, you have just bought yourself the ability to raise this very issue with your employer anytime you want to bring it up in the future. And, you will have the moral high ground when you do."

I'd have to agree here.

While it probably isn't identical treatment to how the company would handle freelancers (or is it? Do you know for a fact that your boss would simply refer work to a freelancer for no consideration at all?), it's an opportunity to make a little money, help out your employer, and thereby bring up the compensation issue next time as an ally instead of an adversary, which will also have an impact on your daily job.

Now...that being said, your employer is masking the fact that you work for them to this client, or they're playing games with employment taxes as he's (or she's) having you bill this party directly instead of billing them through the company. This is likely because it can be very difficult for tax accounting purposes to sell the idea that an employee is also a freelancer.

I'd make sure that you get all the information to issue a 1099 at the end of the year, otherwise you have to pay the income taxes on their 'cut.' You might see some thinking on their part when you very courteously and matter-of-factly approach them regarding this very standard business arrangement.



TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Richard Cooper
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 15, 2010 at 8:55:53 pm

I see that everyone has some great advice here. I would just like to ad a simple thought.... Be thankful that they are willing to pay you extra for this at all, it tells me you work for decent folks. When I worked on Salary it was just expected... nights, weekends, didn't matter, when they needed something it was just expected, no extra money. Even got invited to certain "social" mixers as a guest only to be asked "oh, while your here can you get some footage, it will be fun! I happen to have the camera right here". Don't get me wrong, these were nice people and really, didn't even think that what they were asking was going beyond the call. My point is, its all relative. Being"pimped out" can have MANY different meanings for many different people.

Any way, nice that they think of you enough to pay you on top of your salary to do this gig. And really, you have the right to say "sure"... or "No thanks"...

Richard Cooper
FrostLine Productions, LLC
Anchorage, Alaska
http://www.frostlineproductions.com


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 15, 2010 at 9:01:51 pm

[Richard Cooper] "Any way, nice that they think of you enough to pay you on top of your salary to do this gig. And really, you have the right to say "sure"... or "No thanks"... "

Yes! That's what I'm talking about...

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


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


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Harry Benson
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 18, 2010 at 5:42:10 pm

They're not paying me anything. The client is paying me directly.


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grinner hester
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 15, 2010 at 10:24:16 pm

Yes. You are not a freelancer. You are a staffer and if your employer is not making money off of you, well, he has no need for you.
You don't really think you have a 9-5er gig do ya?
You'd have to wear nice breeches and mess with paper work for that.



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Mick Haensler
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 16, 2010 at 10:36:37 am

[grinner hester] "You'd have to wear nice breeches"

Breeches??? Really?? Breeches?? I think you meant britches which is the more common spelling and usually refers to trousers or pants in casual conversation. Breeches on the other hand are no longer worn accept by some equestrians or those engaging in period acting as breeches fall just below the knee. Honestly Grinner, if he wore breeches to work, not paying his bosses a cut of some freelance work would be the least of his worries. And that's all I've got to say about that!!

and to anyone who might misconstrue this post, it was meant as nonsense only due to a very long shoot yesterday and a severe lack of sleep last night....must.....sleep.....now........


Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media


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grinner hester
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 17, 2010 at 6:31:47 pm

sleep, son.
Texas boys know how to spell breeches.
lol



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Scott Cumbo
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 17, 2010 at 10:09:05 pm

right or wrong doesn't matter, Just do the gig and give them their cut.

BUT remember these are the kind of people you work for. It's up to you if you want to work somewhere else or not.

Scott Cumbo
Editor
Broadway Video, NYC


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Bob Zelin
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 17, 2010 at 11:04:04 pm

Harry writes -
"so my employers asked me if I'd be willing to shoot the event. It was arranged that the client would pay me directly as a vendor"


REPLY -
in 1978, I worked for General Camera, the Panavision Rep in New York City. Owned by Dick Debona, and Milt Keslow -

"look this is Milt's son - http://www.keslowcamera.com/"

Anyway, I was on staff making my salary in 1978 at 24 years old, and they would book me on feature film shoots as the video tech, for specialty Panavision video equipment - and they would charge NINETY DOLLARS AN HOUR for me in 1978, while I stood there FOR FREE (no overtime, no compensation, not even for parking my car at the location) on a Friday night, while they were at home, having dinner on my labor, while all the other film crew freelancers were charging insane rates, doing their jobs as grips, gaffers, video assists, and everything else, working overtime on a Friday night, while I got NOTHING - ZERO. It's inspiration like this that made me go freelance. Be happy you get some money.

Bob Zelin





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Mick Haensler
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 18, 2010 at 12:30:05 am

[Bob Zelin] "and they would charge NINETY DOLLARS AN HOUR for me in 1978, while I stood there FOR FREE (no overtime, no compensation, not even for parking my car at the location) on a Friday night, while they were at home, having dinner on my labor, while all the other film crew freelancers were charging insane rates, doing their jobs as grips, gaffers, video assists, and everything else, working overtime on a Friday night, while I got NOTHING - ZERO."

Maybe they were just trying to piss you off so you'd quit without them having to fire you. Looks like it worked!!



Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media


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Harry Benson
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 18, 2010 at 5:46:42 pm

Like I said earlier, the client is paying me directly. If my bosses were paying me directly it would be a different story. My money is my money as far as I'm concerend. If they wanted a cut, they should have been the ones to pay me. I don't understand why my employer opted to have the client pay me directly. There is no contract in place. They can fire me over this is if they wish, but I'd be seeing them in court if that were the case.


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 18, 2010 at 5:56:59 pm

[Harry Benson] "My money is my money as far as I'm concerned."

Then why ask us for our opinions? You already knew what you were going to accept and what you weren't.


[Harry Benson] "My money is my money as far as I'm concerned."

And that is why you will always have to make your living off all your own efforts, as no one is going to refer you more than once.

In situations where a monetary commission would be tacky or inappropriate, I always send a bottle of good wine or a gift certificate to a good restaurant, etc.

Sorry to be hard, but in a service business such as we are in, losing sight of the value of your "bird dogs" is not only short-sighted, it is going to cost you far more than you will imagine.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom
CEO, CreativeCOW.net

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
- Antoine de Saint Exupéry


First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
- Gandhi


Better is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with the poor spirits who neither enjoy much, nor suffer much because they live in a gray twilight that knows no victory or defeat. - Theodore Roosevelt





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Mark Suszko
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 18, 2010 at 6:23:09 pm

Harry, you might want to look at forming your own operation, then. I think I know the perfect partner for you, his name's Aaron...


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 18, 2010 at 7:42:29 pm

[Mark Suszko] "I think I know the perfect partner for you, his name's Aaron..."

Yes, I agree Mark, Harry and Aaron would make an ideal team. In fact, maybe they are better suited as a couple.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


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


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Mark Suszko
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 18, 2010 at 9:25:42 pm

I'm sorry, Aaron; I went for the cheap laugh at your expense. I'm weak. We may poke fun, but if you learn from the old mistakes and grow from the process, there's no shame in that. So you keep at it, and things will turn around.


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 18, 2010 at 9:53:45 pm

[Mark Suszko] "I'm sorry, Aaron; I went for the cheap laugh at your expense. I'm weak."

Come on Mark, cut it out. Just keep repeating the line from the movie LOVE STORY, "Being in love means never having to say you're sorry."

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


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


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Mick Haensler
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 18, 2010 at 10:58:47 pm

[Mark Suszko] "'m sorry, Aaron; I went for the cheap laugh at your expense."

Does this mean I have to apologize to Bob??



Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 18, 2010 at 11:23:27 pm

[Mick Haensler] "Does this mean I have to apologize to Bob??"

Only if you're not in love with him Mick...

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


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


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Being Pimped Out
on Feb 19, 2010 at 12:59:35 am

[Mick Haensler] "Does this mean I have to apologize to Bob?"


No, nobody apologizes to Bob.

Well, at least nobody really means it if they do.

Bob wouldn't want it any other way.

After all, he'd have to drive to your house and slap you around or something, if you tried.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom
CEO, CreativeCOW.net

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
- Antoine de Saint Exupéry


First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
- Gandhi


Better is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with the poor spirits who neither enjoy much, nor suffer much because they live in a gray twilight that knows no victory or defeat. - Theodore Roosevelt





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