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Re: [1812_ProgressiveCampaigner] Cautionary tale...

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  • 12th US Infantry
    Craig, This is a great post, something I wish reenactors from all time periods would take heed. Recently, was contacted by a video production company that
    Message 1 of 6 , Nov 11, 2010

      This is a great post, something I wish reenactors from all time periods would take heed.

      Recently, was contacted by a video production company that wanted to shoot at an event I was coordinating. Of course they did so five days before the event and when I asked what compensation they were offering, the response was "We've a VERY poor production, and have little to no money to pay to cover events. We are usually not asked to pay, because you will be getting the benefit of a national television audience (40+ million homes) treated to a feature about your reenactment event -- are you sure you want to pass that up for an honorarium?" I also said there would need to be a letter of agreement, as I have been burned twice now by production companies that promised things they did not deliver on, and the response to that was "We don't do agreements, we like to keep it simple. Either we're allowed to attend or not."

      Well, this was not my first rodeo. Not only did I already have one production company coming that *had* signed a letter of agreement and offered compensation (in kind, not money), but I knew for a fact that this second production company had paid a historic site over $50/hour per employee involved with a prior shoot. I also know that major historic sites like Colonial Williamsburg, Monticello, and the Biltmore Estates have site fees for production companies that are in the four to five figure range, so I wasn't buying it.

      My reply was "Exposure on a national television show isn't going to benefit the event as much as an honorarium that will help offset the cost of the potable water, firewood, portable restrooms, straw, etc. that we've had to purchase, marketing materials, etc. This is not an annual event, so we will not benefit from post-event publicity as we don't know if there will be another event in the future. That being the case, there is no mutual benefit to the arrangement. Finally, we already have video production companies coming to the event this weekend who have signed letters of agreement and are providing compensation, so it would be unfair to them to allow another company access without the same expectation. Thank you for the opportunity and I appreciate your interest, however if there is not an honorarium and you don't do agreements, then I must decline."

      They ended up not coming to the event, but at the same time I didn't spend my own money in terms of the cost of my "kit", travel to the event, and my time to just give it away for some one else to make money off of.

      Todd Post
      12th United States Infantry Regiment

      On Oct 31, 2010, at 10:27 PM, Craig Williams wrote:

      > ( the following information is for the benefit primarily of Canadian re-enactors but there are some guidelines that may help our US brothers. {Sorry but I'm not familiar with the SAG or AFTRA rules and rates}).
      > Fellow reenactors,
      > A few years ago, at the symposium in Hamilton, I presented a talk about reenactors and the film industry and I just wanted to take this opportunity to recap.
      > The reason for this is, with the upcoming bicentennial, there are likely to be a number of documentaries produced and the commissioning of new visitor centres with the attendant "Visitors Orientation Films". These productions are, by their very nature, low
      > budget. In the case of docs, it is the producing network that dictates that they have only $X to make a show. In the case of the visitor centres there are a lot of variables, but suffice it to say that they are more likely to be made by the lowest bidder and that very often means that they are not experienced with making this sort of production.
      > What does this mean to you the reenactor?
      > It means you are a valuable commodity and you shouldn't be eager to sell yourself short. The average reenactor brings years of experience and knowledge to the table as well as at least $1500.00 in props and uniform each. If a production company were to pay for the training and costuming and propping of even a modest union contracted production with perhaps 30 actors portraying soldiers, from scratch without the benefit of you, your experience or you stuff, they would be paying in the neighborhood
      > of $26500.00 for props and uniform rentals, 1 day of rehearsal, and 1 day of background actor/extra pay. If it is a show with an ACTRA contract they should be paying you for props, costume and Special Business Extra/actor pay, ( it costs more but, if they don't have to spend a day rehearsing/training you then it's cheaper in the long run).
      > Very few docs or orientation films have that kind of dosh but they can and do pay a set non-union fee for our services that has taken years to establish at around $200.00 to $225.00 a day. If you're not getting this, (or something close to it), then you are contributing to a radical backslide in established and hard won rates. Something else to keep in mind is, if the production uses even one ACTRA member, the whole production is considered a union show and entitles you to the pay and benefits covered by the collective agreement.
      > Doing a show for group payment is OK if that's your bent but it shouldn't be for anything less than the above daily rate.(in other words doing a four day shoot with 20 guys for $500.00 is just ,well... silly). The other attendant problems with doing it this
      > way are that when the individual is not paid then there's no guarantee that they will in fact show up and you gotta ask yourself if it's worth taking one or two days off of work to do this essentially for free? In the end the only winner is the production company and they aren't about to be making twenty more of these shows so it doesn't buy any goodwill or bargaining strength. Why would they buy the cow when they can get the milk for free.
      > Another thing to consider is that the less experienced companies will develop scripts that are... fantastic at best, but generally not great history. Be careful to vet the script before committing. You wouldn't want to be portraying soldiers (British or American) burning down churches filled with women, children, old folks and puppies. Would you?
      > Craig Williams
    • larrylozon
      A Person can die of EXPOSURE Yrs., L2 ... ... Exposure on a national television show isn t going to benefit the event ...
      Message 2 of 6 , Nov 11, 2010
        A Person can die of EXPOSURE


        --- Todd Post wrote:

        "... Exposure on a national television show isn't going to benefit the event ... "
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