Jim, One good thing about

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Jim,

One good thing about my experiences with churches and others trying to get stuff for free (including parents!) has taught me the code words for ‘I want you to work but I’m not going to pay you’.

‘This is a great project and you’ll really be able to put your passion into it.’

‘We’re really looking for a recent college graduate or student filmmaker’

‘I really can’t afford your rates, but I love your work.’

‘This is a team project and we’d really like to have you onboard.’

‘This would be a great project to add to your portfolio/demo reel.’

‘We’re all doing this as a hobby because we all love film so much.’

‘Hey, with you working on the project it will really take off….’

‘We don’t have the budget to hire you, but we’ll give you credit….’

And on and on.

Now to be fair, my company has done a few (and only a few) low budget projects. In those situations, it is clearly stated in all paperwork that nobody’s getting paid (including me) unless the rights are sold and then an equitable amount will be paid out to all parties based on an equitable rate according to the hours worked and so on after the initial funds output for the production are recovered. Until that time, unofficially all participants get full credits, copies of the final product and samples of items to be merchandised for the film (posters, hats, t-shirts, etc.) Of course, I try to throw as many paying gigs as possible to my ‘regulars’ so that when I ask for a ‘freebie’ everyone’s usually excited to do it. If you want a pro to work for free, there’d better be some ‘bennies’ in the package and don’t ask too often.

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