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A terrific Yahoo article about unpaid jobs and abuse in the biz

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David Roth Weiss
A terrific Yahoo article about unpaid jobs and abuse in the biz
on Apr 9, 2010 at 7:47:08 am

Any of you who suggest that volunteering on real productions is a good way to get experience, better think again.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100408/media_nm/us_workers

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

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™

EPK Colorist - UP IN THE AIR - nominated for six academy awards

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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walter biscardi
Re: A terrific Yahoo article about unpaid jobs and abuse in the biz
on Apr 9, 2010 at 12:43:34 pm

I still say it's a great way to get experience. you just don't want to be abused by it. That's what this article is really targeting, the Producers and Production companies who abuse these people by not paying them fairly.

Working one or two jobs for free or low pay, great way to get experience and put a few credits on your resumé. Keep doing it over and over again, you're being taken advantage of.

We have had unpaid volunteers work with us on projects in the past and I'm sure we'll have them again in the future. But if they work on a regular basis, they get paid. The great thing about volunteers is that it's a great way to weed out the people who actually want to work vs those who are just looking to say they worked on a tv show or movie.

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

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" featuring Sigourney Weaver coming soon.

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Alan Lloyd
Re: A terrific Yahoo article about unpaid jobs and abuse in the biz
on Apr 9, 2010 at 1:36:19 pm

And here is the very core of it:

Trouble is, the law governing use of unpaid interns is clear: Unpaid interns can't perform work that is of any benefit to the company, which clearly was not the case with the employer in the want ad.

Labor law also requires that unpaid interns receive school credit for their internships, and even then they can't do work that normally would be performed by a paid worker. Answering phones, making copies, running errands or any of a thousand other tasks normally performed by paid workers is not permitted.


And I love how so many of those Craigslist and Mandy postings want experience across departments, a demo reel, often ownership of the camera or edit system, and more, and still expect to offer nothing in return.

I've informally traded work on people's efforts for work on mine. I will still do that today if I like both the person and the project, and I know it's going to be a mutual thing at some point. That, I have no trouble with.

Expecting people to work for nothing, and being incredibly demanding of them in the same breath, has become a trend in this business. A sick, destructive trend.

Just once I'd love to see a concerted effort by people to accept these no-pay gigs and then not show up for the production, just to sandbag the schmucks driving it. Problem is, there's so many starry-eyed youngsters out there who will climb over each others' remains to work for nothing that it will likely never happen.


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: A terrific Yahoo article about unpaid jobs and abuse in the biz
on Apr 9, 2010 at 1:54:57 pm

[Alan Lloyd] "Expecting people to work for nothing, and being incredibly demanding of them in the same breath, has become a trend in this business. A sick, destructive trend."


In cow farming terms, it is called "culling the herd," Alan.

If there are people (shall we be nice and say) stupid enough to give their time, their equipment, their talent, and their self-respect, to someone who wants them to show up on the job site and bring their camera, lights, expertise and their time -- and do it all for nothing...well, let's say they are "up for the cull."

They will not survive.

Maybe that's a good thing because they are contributing to the factors working to drive down prices in this industry. They are helping destroy the very industry in which they work.

I must end by saying that my favorite Craig's list "job call" of this nature, even went so far as to demand that they bring lunch for the rest of the crew, in addition to their camera and lights.

Remember that one, guys and girls? (I don't think that I have ever seen this board have so much fun playing off a Craig's List post before or since. It was great.)

Ron Lindeboom

PS: I am not talking about the kind of internships that Walter mentions. I am all for mentoring programs and used successfully and ethically, an internship can be a value to both parties.


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walter biscardi
Re: A terrific Yahoo article about unpaid jobs and abuse in the biz
on Apr 9, 2010 at 1:58:40 pm

[Ron Lindeboom] "I must end by saying that my favorite Craig's list "job call" of this nature, even went so far as to demand that they bring lunch for the rest of the crew, in addition to their camera and lights.

Remember that one, guys and girls? (I don't think that I have ever seen this board have so much fun playing off a Craig's List post before or since. It was great.)"


You really should pull that job listing out of the archives. It's a classic.

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

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" featuring Sigourney Weaver coming soon.

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Ryan Mast
Re: A terrific Yahoo article about unpaid jobs and abuse in the biz
on Apr 9, 2010 at 2:40:23 pm

Walter -- how do you find volunteers or interns? What kind of arrangement do you have with them?

A college student asked me for an internship this summer. I'd like to give him a good experience while still putting him to work enough to make it worth our time for him to be here. He is getting college credit for it. Those of you who employ interns, what would you recommend?

--
Meteor Tower Films
Video creations for music, art, & theater.
http://meteortower.com/


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Todd Terry
Re: A terrific Yahoo article about unpaid jobs and abuse in the biz
on Apr 9, 2010 at 2:56:06 pm

[Ryan Mast] "Those of you who employ interns, what would you recommend?"

About this time of year, we have intern-wannabes coming out of the woodwork... and although we are probably not going to be placing any interns here this summer, if we wanted to it wouldn't be a very hard search. Finding an intern who turns out to be great and helpful though, is harder.

Last summer we had a great intern. He was actually a former actor for us, a high school kid that we had cast as a juvenile delinquent in a TV commercial for a treatment center for troubled teens.

On that shoot, I could tell he was bright, personable, and very interested in filmmaking. He also had a fair level of skill already, and a great deal of potential. When he took our intern position, he worked out really great... and was super helpful throughout the summer and I can tell he learned a lot as well. He was getting college credit, but we also paid him. Not a lot, I think it was probably minimum wage or a little more... although he was a pretty darn good self-taught AfterEffects artist and aside from the menial work he was doing (gripping, lugging things) we had him do some AE work on some real projects... and for those hours we paid him a good bit more. Something like $20/hr, if I recall. Pretty darn good money for a 19-year old (although that was a fairly small percentage of his hours).

I'm usually pretty hesitant to jump into the intern situation, because at one time a million years ago I was one myself. I was a very good (and completely unpaid) intern at a television station for three summers... but there were also plenty of other fellow interns there who fell into the "completely useless" category. I'm always afraid I'm going to waste my time by getting a bunch of them.

We get plenty of calls from kids who don't know how to do anything yet and have zero experience, but who would love the opportunity just to "hang out and watch you work." While that might be nice in a perfect world... we are not a teaching institution nor babysitters and don't have the time, energy, or setup for that. But... if there's a young person who can show enthusiasm, talent/potential and legitimately bring something to our table while learning themselves... then we will happily consider them..


T2

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






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walter biscardi
Re: A terrific Yahoo article about unpaid jobs and abuse in the biz
on Apr 9, 2010 at 3:47:08 pm

[Ryan Mast] "Walter -- how do you find volunteers or interns? What kind of arrangement do you have with them?"

I work with the local colleges and high schools. Art Institute of Atlanta has been a really good resource as has some of the technical colleges in the area. Even had a high school intern last summer and she was awesome.

Everything is arranged through the college or high school so credits are given and goals are set. We do a full report for the school at the end of the internship.

In the case of volunteers I have all sorts of friends and friend of friends who want to help out or learn about the industry so when the opportunity arises, we invite them to come out and help as a grip or an assist. One of those people is now the most incredible Production Coordinator / Associate Producer I've ever worked with. She is one of the driving forces behind our two new television series and it all started with just helping me out on a project.

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

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" featuring Sigourney Weaver coming soon.

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Alan Lloyd
Re: A terrific Yahoo article about unpaid jobs and abuse in the biz
on Apr 9, 2010 at 3:06:26 pm

[Ron Lindeboom] "In cow farming terms, it is called "culling the herd," Alan."

All I know about cows, really, is that properly prepared, they taste good.

And I'd love to see that CL post.

That said, I've had a few very nice gigs off Craigslist. Not many - some, though.

And here's one of my previously-used teaching techniques - for a sound op:

I needed someone to work booming audio for me (paying gig) and had a good friend who had done a bit of work with me in the past, could handle the days, and was quite coachable. So we went to a park, with my mixer and boom, and I gave her the directions for her practice. Put on the mixer and headphones, rig up the boom, and follow me as I walked around at random, keeping a consistent audio level.

I was not especially kind, as I changed direction repeatedly, including suddenly walking backwards, weaving through stands of trees, and the like.

She did a good job, after a few initial stumbles. It was about getting her to use her ears, eyes, hands, and feet in coordination, and forget just watching the level meters.

The client wound up quite happy with the finished product, and I do think it was a useful coaching technique. I've used it with others since, also - to good effect.

So, to also then address Ryan's comment/question, teaching is always good. Real-world teaching, not theory in a classroom. Explain the "why" and not just the "how" so it becomes not a practice, but a principle, which is then transferable to other related situations.


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Arnie Schlissel
Re: A terrific Yahoo article about unpaid jobs and abuse in the biz
on Apr 9, 2010 at 3:05:03 pm

Interesting, and for me, timely. I just laid myself off because my employer is several weeks behind in paying me. I flatly refused to work on a presentation for a feature that's in preproduction that he wants to do the post on. When he complained that I would be working on the film, too, I apologized and stood my ground. After a payment yesterday, he still owes me for 4 weeks.

Arnie

Post production is not an afterthought!
http://www.arniepix.com/


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Mark Suszko
Re: A terrific Yahoo article about unpaid jobs and abuse in the biz
on Apr 10, 2010 at 11:53:41 pm

We have had high school and grad school interns here over the years, and I much prefer the high schoolers, who tend not to act so entitled and are more willing to do grunt work as well as ask questions all the time. The programs are coordinated by our HR department, and the state and local school boards. One of the things you have to consider is insurance issues. We had one teen intern get in a wreck with our van while running tapes back to the shop, that was... unpleasant.

If you are not sure you want to commit to an internship program for your shop, consider offering a day or a week of "job shadowing". In job shadowing, the student just follows you around during some appointed times and observes and asks questions but is not expected to do any hands-on. Like auditing a college course, for example.

One time in my youth, I was between paying gigs and volunteered to work a month or two for Cox Cable in the Chicago suburbs, producing a kid's public affairs talk show. I worked for free for the experience and contacts and to keep my resume from looking like It had a gap of unemployment in it, while I looked for paying work. But that was for a known, fixed period of time.



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Ryan Mast
Re: A terrific Yahoo article about unpaid jobs and abuse in the biz
on Apr 11, 2010 at 4:17:08 pm

Thanks guys -- that helps a lot.

Walter -- how do you evaluate students at the end of the internship? Who sets the goals?

Mark -- do you have any kind of contract or agreement with the interns or the school ahead of time now?

Do any of you have any kind of agreement or guidelines for interns about what they can take for showreels, what they're allowed to photograph, etc?

--
Meteor Tower Films
Video creations for music, art, & theater.
http://meteortower.com/


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Mark Suszko
Re: A terrific Yahoo article about unpaid jobs and abuse in the biz
on Apr 11, 2010 at 6:09:34 pm

I work for state government in Illinois, and the high schoolers apply thru the IGIP, the Illinois Governmental Internship Program. They can apply thru their high school guidance counselor's office. We don't see applicants or take applications directly, not until they've first gone thru all the hoops of the State Board of Ed and our HR department. They have to already have a B average or better, they will take a semester off from school in their senior year for the program but continue to do school work while in the program and if they come down to the capitol city they will also be living with volunteer house parents, working office hours and classes Monday thru Thursday and going home on 3-day weekends. They can apply to work in ANY state agency, not just ours, so if they are on a science/medicine career track, they could go intern with EPA or Public Health, if they like engineering or aviation they can intern with IDOT, criminal justice, state police, Attorney General, or corrections, finance, treasurer, etc.

They don't get paid but they do get academic credit.

When they work for us, we encourage them to create some portfolio work so they leave with some kind of demo reel. We teach them camerawork, lighting, editing, and anything else they are interested in, but they have to take an active, participatory role; otherwise, if they sit back and never push, never take initiative, they only get grunt and office work and not much of a recommendation letter. Some of our past high school interns have gone on to become Fullbright scholars, to work at Fox TV Chicago, DC comics, and I hear one is on staff at The Daily Show now. I don't know much more: They never call or write back, (sniff).



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Bob Zelin
Re: A terrific Yahoo article about unpaid jobs and abuse in the biz
on Apr 16, 2010 at 12:58:12 am

I have not read all the replies to this post, but I will throw in my 2 cents.
When I recall all the S.O.B's that I worked for early on in my career, I often forget the
incredible opportunities that I was given (that I should not have been given) because these
guys were simply too cheap to hire someone qualified to do the job, so they let me do it.
I was the head tech for the original Panavision Panacam (for General Camera) in 1981 in New York, and I had NEVER even touched a professional camera in my life. Was I financially abused by my employers at the time - sure I was - but the opportunities and exposure I got from doing this job allowed me to start my own business by 1982.

Bob Zelin



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