FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH.
Let's talk about working for free or for just a mere pittance!
Each day while reading the various postings on industry-related sites, I am
amazed at how many people expect you to work for free or just a few dollars
and am stunned by some multi-million dollar corporations trying to get you
to work for nothing or next to it! They just figure you don't know any
better. And, unfortunately for many of you, you don't!
Be very careful out there! Yes, it is great to work on a student film for
one of the local colleges or fledgling film makers, but you need to be
certain to see the entire script before accepting a role. Do your due
diligence to be sure there is nothing contained in the script to which you
object, i.e. smoking, drinking, cursing, sexual content, religious content,
political content, etc.
Performances in student films and shorts may be listed on your resume and
can indeed help build it. BUT, always ask yourself, before accepting any
job, "How is this going to advance my career?"
Working for a few hundred dollars on a commercial can be very costly to you.
As an example, let's say that you work on an IBM commercial. That will put
you in conflict with Apple, Dell, Samsung, etc. prohibiting you for working
for them. That can cost you not only a possible future SAG-AFTRA job with
its union rates, overtime, penalties, etc. it will cost you residuals as
well for as long as the first commercial is running! Always check and see
what the conflicts are before doing any commercials. Agents will most
likely not submit you on poor-paying jobs because they understand the
There are all types of conflicts: Fast Food Restaurants (McDonald's,
What-A-Burger, Jack In The Box, Wendy's, Sonic, etc.); Casual Dining
(Appleby's, Chili's, Olive Garden, Carino's, Cracker Barrel, Denny's, etc.);
Soda (Coca Cola, Pepsi, RC Cola, Dr Pepper, 7-Up, etc.); and, Automobiles
(Toyota, Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Audi, Saab, Ford, Cadillac, etc.). These
are just a few examples of hundreds of possible conflicts. As long as a
commercial is running and you are being paid, you cannot do a commercial
which conflicts with it. If in doubt, ask your agent. If you don't have an
agent, ask the Casting Director. You can be held financially responsible
for the re-shoot of a spot if you have a conflict! So you really want to be
careful here. If in doubt, don't!
The other thing you should understand is "perpetuity". When you sign a
contract for a commercial project that is going to run "in perpetuity", that
means the client has the right to use your image FOREVER. And you are
FOREVER not able to accept a job which would put you in conflict. As a
Casting Director, I refuse to work on any project that requires perpetuity
because I personally feel that it is just short of highway robbery unless
the client pays you an exorbitant amount of money. And they won't!
"Stock photography" is another area where you must be very careful. The
photographer owns your image (in perpetuity). They may pay the model $80 -
$100 for the day and sell that image over and over and over possibly making
thousands and thousands of dollars. Imagine driving down the highway 10
years later and seeing yourself on a billboard!
I understand that you just want to work, but your time, efforts and talent
are worth something! If you are just looking for some "set experience",
then fine, but be careful of what your commitment entails.
Thanks to all of you who have been kind enough to write about the monthly
column. And, as always, thanks to Dan Eggleston for his approval in doing
this and posting it to his various sites.
Let me know if you have any specific questions you'd like answered.
And remember, I am expressing my opinion only, not that of any other CD.
Also, always keep in mind, that your agent has the final word on everything
pertaining to your career, so listen to him/her!
Happy Autumn! Here's to cooler temperatures and lots of rain!
Donise L. Hardy, CSA
C October 1, 2013