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Video usage when hiring talent

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Sean WinnVideo usage when hiring talent
by on Aug 7, 2014 at 12:54:09 am

Hi, I could use some input from experienced producers.
I've been hired to produce a 30 second commercial for a local company in a small market. We want to hire two actresses to play the main roles in the spot. A local talent agency (in a medium market city) has quoted prices based on a 13 week media buy and also a 2 - 3 year usage.

My client wants to be able to use the video we produce indefinitely. After the commercial would air, he wants to be able to use it on the company's site, youtube, etc for as long as they want. Without divulging the Agency's info, here is the response I received:

We typically don’t offer full buyouts for videos. Permanent use would run around $1,000+20% to $3,000+20% per talent plus the shoot rate:
$400+20% half day shoot
$800+20% full day shoot
Would your client consider 5 year run? If not let me know if his budget allows for the rates above.


I have no experience in this area. I'm looking for council as to whether the above reply is an industry norm (or not) and thus whether we should continue looking, or figure out a way to do it without hiring talent.
Thanks for any info,
Sean


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Todd TerryRe: Video usage when hiring talent
by on Aug 7, 2014 at 2:01:37 am

I hire talent with these parameters all the time.

The bottom line is, these days actors are hungry. So are their agencies. Chances are, if you say "Well I have to go with buyout talent, and we only have XXXX to spend. But thanks for your time anyway"... you'll find them changing their tune pretty fast.

I never ever even ask a dayrate anymore. I already have a budget, and I'll call an agency (or talent directly) and tell them who I want and what our dayrate will be. I've never (at least not yet) had an actor or their rep turn down a gig based on the pay we offer. Occasionally I've had one give me "Hmmm, could you possibly do...." and offer a higher rate. I've always simply told them I'm sorry, the budgets are what they are, we'd love to use your talent but I understand. They've never not taken the role anyway.

Talent/agents want to lock you into 13 week cycles, residuals, travel, per diem.... but 9 times out of 10 they will simply take what you offer (as long as it is reasonable).

As an example, when we put out casting calls, we always specify that while we accept submissions from anywhere we hire "as local"... i.e., our dayrate is our dayrate and there is no additional payment for travel, accommodations, or a per diem. And our deals are always buyout. That has never seemed to cut down on the number or quality of submissions I get. We are in Huntsville Alabama but I regularly get submissions from reasonably far away from actors willing to work under those parameters. I have two actors coming in next week from North Carolina under that deal.

But to be fair... I do pay pretty darn well. Most of them are very glad to get it.

Sounds like you might be working with a smaller agency, or one that is not too familiar with film work (maybe they deal mostly with models, not actors), and definitely not for the commercial world. Unlike production companies (and models), actors typically do not offer "half day" rates... for an actor, a day's a day, and an hour's a day. Their suggestion of a 5-year run is also a clue. These days it's unusual to get a five-week run for a commercial production. A spot with a five-year life would be unheard of.

We also, unless we absolutely have to (and sometimes we do), do not hire union talent. Well, actually often we do, but we don't hire them as union talent. And it's not at all a money thing, because we almost always pay substantially more than scale, anyway. The situation is, while we are a creative agency and often do a lot more than the production nuts and bolts of a campaign... we are not an advertising agency. The important distinction is that we do not place advertising. Therefore, when it leaves our shop where it runs or how long a client chooses to use it is out of our control. We don't want to be chasing union paperwork (and climbing the red tape nightmare) for a product that we don't even "own" anymore (nor are getting paid for). I'll only hire union talent when I know a commercial only has a short life, 13 weeks or less.

Make a fair offer, stick to your guns for what you need (the buyout, etc.), and I'm willing to bet your offer will be accepted. If they don't, there's plenty of talent out there who will.

T2

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



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Ned MillerRe: Video usage when hiring talent
by on Aug 7, 2014 at 4:15:50 am

+1 what Todd said but need to add:

I send them my release form a few days ahead of time, whether they are on their own or with an agency, to make sure everything is clear. I have had several occasions when on location the talent said, "My agent said not to sign anything until they see it." and problems of miscomm inevitably occurred. So nowadays I want them to see my wording, which I have cut and pasted from more legally astute prod cos than myself, that we mean a Total Royalty Free Buy Out.

I get them to sign the release when they arrive, not at the end of the day. I also, always, have a Plan B, meaning knowing the runner up is available. Lastly, when an agent asks how the video will be used it's best to say you don't know for certain but assume the client will use it "everywhere". The only savings is if you have an industrial client that never does broadcast, then I would tell them non-broadcast for a cheaper rate. I did bid on a giant project lately where they will sell DVDs and that is in it's own category which is rare. Sometimes the client will have a pro still shooter who will work alongside me for brochures/print ads and that can also bump up the rates.

But basically do what Todd says and get them to agree to your release form wording a couple of days before the gig to thwart any Murphy's Law.

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com
www,bizvideo.com


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Sean WinnRe: Video usage when hiring talent
by on Aug 7, 2014 at 2:03:03 pm

Gentlemen,
Can't thank you enough for your input. Felt like going to class, but in a good way ;).
Is there any chance either of you would be willing to share your release form for adaptation? I don't know where to start with that, so a primer would be very helpful.
Thanks for considering,
Sean


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Sean WinnRe: Video usage when hiring talent
by on Aug 7, 2014 at 2:28:28 pm

Also, in reviewing your info, and understanding you 'pay pretty well', can you suggest what we should be offering for 'our' day rate, based on the info I've provided and also what the agency replied with?

I'm just looking for some sort of ballpark that will be doable for us and not insulting to the agency/talent.

Lastly, if I wanted to do a 'casting call', how would I go about that?
Thanks again for any info,
Sean


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Todd TerryRe: Video usage when hiring talent
by on Aug 7, 2014 at 2:58:37 pm

As for the day rates I offer, it all depends on the budget of the project, the requirements needed of the actor, what I need them to do and how long I need them to do it, and frankly how good I need them to be.

If I'm shooting a low-budget spot for a mom-n-pop client and I need an extra or background player and I know the shoot will be short and the talent will actually only be working a couple of hours... then we usually pay, oh, maybe $150 or so. I do take into account the length of time we need them, even though I consider that a rate for a full day. Often times these are not full-time professional actors but people who have other jobs, school, or other obligations, and knowing that I don't need them to clear their schedules for a full day weighs in to that.

Farther up the spectrum, if I have, say, a medium-budget spot that we are producing through an ad agency, and if I need talent that has to carry a spot with a lot of voice-on-camera, and I'm looking for really good national-quality acting ability, then we pay a fair bit more. Those can go up to, oh, in the $1000-$1500 range per day. And while I hire "as local" as I said, sometimes we will pay more if we know talent has to travel a fair distance or stay overnight... but I include that in the day rate rather than breaking it out as separate.

If I hire union talent, I pay AFTRA/SAG scale, which is dependent on exactly what the job and usage is.... and is usually less than I would have paid otherwise.

One thing to look out for with agents... agents are notorious for giving you a rate (or agreeing to yours), and then tacking their percentage on top of that. They're not supposed to do that (their fee should already be included in the rate and subtracted from what the talent gets), but most of them will try to stick it on as an extra. When we deal with agents, I'll always quote them the day rate that is available and make sure they know that is INCLUSIVE of agency fees.

We do casting calls a number of ways. We will post casting calls on our website. We will also utilize the web, I don't know where you are but there is an online service called the Southern Casting Call which covers all the southeastern states where I am, we post calls there. Also sometimes we use the services of a casting agency... they take care of sending out breakdowns, contacting agencies, etc., and corral talent for us to choose from.

The biggest problem with casting calls is wading through people. Actors are hungry, and you'll get lots of submissions that are inappropriate. If we put out a call specifying we need, say, an elderly Asian man, I'm still going to get the headshot in from the 20-year old African-American woman saying "I know I'm not right for this part, but in the future....." And that's not going to happen once, but 50 times a call.

And stay organized. Many actors don't seem to be too bright. I don't mind saying that because I was a wannabe actor myself before I was a wannabe movie director. Even though I tell people to NAME their submissions with their name (JohnDoe.jpg), if I put out a call today for headshots and resumes at least half of the submissions I get will be named headshot.jpg and resume.doc. It's easy to lose track of people. I have a special email address just for casting (casting@fantasticplastic.com) so that all talent funnels there, and keeps my main email from getting clogged or unorganized.

I don't mind sending you our release... contact me off-forum (hit our website via the link in my sig just above the logo below and find me on the "Contact Us" page).

T2

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



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Ned MillerRe: Video usage when hiring talent
by on Aug 7, 2014 at 3:10:13 pm

In the Chicago area, which is all I know, the agents tack on their comish after stating the talent's rate, as in +20%, never inclusive.

I have used Craigslist to cast the last few years although 70% of responses are inappropriate. It seems obvious that most Chicago talent peruses CL every day, not sitting by the phone waiting for their agent to call. Many union actors use what's called Financial Core, I believe it's a legal shelter that allows them to work as an independent contractor and avoid all the union issues. I refuse to hire union for a number of reasons.

Also, never rely on a headshot, ask them to send you a current photo, as in today.

And if you ever need VO try Voices123.com

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com
www,bizvideo.com


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Todd TerryRe: Video usage when hiring talent
by on Aug 7, 2014 at 3:18:07 pm

[Ned Miller] " if you ever need VO try Voices123.com"

V123 is the greatest thing since sliced cheese. I've probably hired 200+ voice actors through them.

If I need someone specific (Peter Thomas, Beau Weaver, etc.), then I'll hire them... but if I know the general sound I'm looking for but don't have a specific talent in mind, I never hit the voice agents anymore... I always go to Voice123.com... in fact I have two auditions up there right now that are ending today. It was a short call because I had something I needed to cast quickly so It was only a 24-hour casting call (I usually try to give it a few days), but I already have 84 auditions in for one of the jobs and more than half that in for the other one.

Can't recommend highly enough.'

T2

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



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Rich RubaschRe: Video usage when hiring talent
by on Aug 7, 2014 at 7:31:59 pm

Hmmmm...I've been using voices.com for a while and love them as well. Any experience with both you can share?

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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Todd TerryRe: Video usage when hiring talent
by on Aug 7, 2014 at 8:09:33 pm
Last Edited By Todd Terry on Aug 7, 2014 at 8:14:04 pm

Rich I haven't used voices.com, but from what I've heard (and people who use both) is that they are very similar.

I THINK though with voices.com they work as a payment/clearing/escrow house as well... you pay them when you book a job, they release payment to the talent when you are happy with it. I BELIEVE that's right, although someone PLEASE feel free to correct me.

Voice123.com though doesn't do that, has absolutely nothing to do with the money side of things at all. They merely put producers and talent together (they make their money solely off of the talent who pay for subscriptions to be included in their casting calls). After the auditions, it's entirely up to the producer to hook up with the talent, get the session done, and pay them directly in whatever timeframe and manner both agree on. I very much prefer it that way, although I'm sure both ways work fine.

I did work once with one other voice rep that had a model similar to the voices.com one, where you basically have to pay before delivery. That was not a good experience... even after multiple re-takes the talent just couldn't deliver what we were wanting. We basically had to tell them that actor just wasn't working out and ask for our money back from the service. They obliged, but I still prefer not having to pay until I have something I'm happy with.

I also believe (is this right, Rich?) that with voices.com you get auditions and rates from talent... right? With voice123.com, the producer sets the rate going in, and talent interested in that job at that rate will respond and audition. I think I'm paying less doing it this way, although we always offer a more-than fair rate, at market average or slightly above.

I know there are tons of voice actors who use both voices.com and voice123.com, so it's not like you are getting an exclusive stable of talent with either one of them, so don't let "who's working with whom" affect that decision, I think everyone is working with everybody.

T2

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



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Rich RubaschRe: Video usage when hiring talent
by on Aug 13, 2014 at 12:13:12 am

With voices.com I describe the project, number of words etc and even set the range of what we can afford. This obviously will attract a different set of talent. Put a larger number and the talent level goes up. Works great.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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Sean WinnRe: Video usage when hiring talent
by on Aug 7, 2014 at 3:18:18 pm

Todd and Ned, you've both been so helpful and I recognize your time...thank you for taking it.
I'm keeping this thread in print form for future reference. Kind of you to help.

Todd, I'll contact you offline.
Sean


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