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Re: Filming at re-enactments

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  • Bateman, Andrew
    ... From: BritcomHMP@aol.com [mailto:BritcomHMP@aol.com] Sent: Wednesday, April 07, 1999 7:23 PM To: WarOf1812@onelist.com Subject: [WarOf1812] Re: Filming at
    Message 1 of 18 , Apr 8, 1999
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      -----Original Message-----
      From: BritcomHMP@... [mailto:BritcomHMP@...]
      Sent: Wednesday, April 07, 1999 7:23 PM
      To: WarOf1812@onelist.com
      Subject: [WarOf1812] Re: Filming at re-enactments

      Tim wrote:

      Excuse Me??!! No way to film that scene without re-enactors?
      Well, I suppose
      there was no way of raising cotton in the anti Bellum south
      without slaves!

      Seriously have you seen the films that have been made over
      the years? Do you
      think Dino de Laurentis got the Russian army free when he
      did Waterloo? Or
      the Chinese army free when he did Tai-Pan? Do you think the
      Irish did
      Braveheart for 'the love of history'? What about Lawrence of
      Arabia, The Wind
      and the Lion, El Cid, The Adventures of Baron Munchousen,
      Barry Lyndon No
      re-enactors working for free in those productions I can
      assure you!

      Andrew writes:

      I think when I said that the battle scenes in Gettysburg
      could not have been filmed if the reenactors were paid the going rate, I was
      thinking of an interview of Charlton Heston I saw where he was asked about
      the feasibility of making another film on the scale of The Ten Commandments.
      He replied that epic films of that type were not "do-able" under today's
      conditions because of the need to pay the thousands of extras. Some of the
      films on your list above are 20 years old and none of the more recent ones
      match the scale of the largest scenes in Gettysburg. Certainly the general
      consensus amongst the reenactors I knew at the time of the Gettysburg
      filming was that Turner could not have afforded to pay the 3000+ who
      participated in the Pickett's Charge scene. (Of course this was several
      years before he publicly pissed away $1 billion on the UN....)

      Seriously, lest you form the impression that because I was
      in Gettysburg I make a habit of following film crews around in my uniform
      hoping to see my face on screen for free, I have done a bit of paid extra
      work. The same summer ('92) I was in a couple of TV productions as a Union
      soldier. I was a hospital attendant in a flashback scene of CTV's vampire
      drama Forever Knight and a Federal sentry in occupied Charlston, SC in
      CBC/Sullivan Films' By Way of the Stars. In both I was paid scale as a
      skilled extra for having a uniform and equipment and provided with meals, in
      the latter production I paid dues to ACTRA and got paid as an actor for
      speaking a few words on screen and got hotel accommodations in downtown
      Toronto. The difference is that in these productions only a handful of
      extras were involved, and though I certainly feel that reenactors should get
      the same compensation as anyone else in the film industry whenever
      practicable, it is sometimes worth making a few sacrifices to make a scene
      such as the Pickett's Charge in Gettysburg possible.

      I hope this clears up my position and that none of this will
      be taken as demeaning the "real" participants in the film industry out
      there.

      KYPD,

      Andrew Bateman
    • BritcomHMP@xxx.xxx
      In a message dated 4/8/99 10:08:55 AM Central Daylight Time, abateman@giffels-usa.com writes:
      Message 2 of 18 , Apr 8, 1999
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        In a message dated 4/8/99 10:08:55 AM Central Daylight Time,
        abateman@... writes:

        << Certainly the general
        consensus amongst the reenactors I knew at the time of the Gettysburg
        filming was that Turner could not have afforded to pay the 3000+ who
        participated in the Pickett's Charge scene. (Of course this was several
        years before he publicly pissed away $1 billion on the UN....)
        >>

        Well Andrew there you have it! 10 times the budget of 'Titanic' given away by
        the man who could not afford to pay his extras! That is why he is a
        billionaire and we are not!
        I am not saying that we should not go the extra mile for a production we care
        about (and obviously you do) but NEVER for free. Now I understand that for
        'G'burg' there was talk of a 'donation' to the park. Most of which I
        understand went on landscaping, hiding telephone lines, etc., that might well
        have been done by the production company anyway. I myself am developing some
        projects down here and have not the budget to pay lots of people outright so
        what am I doing? I am putting aside a portion of the profits so that anyone
        who takes part will have a 10 year 'points' deal. There's always a way if you
        look for it.

        Cheers

        Tim
      • NINETY3RD@xxx.xxx
        ... Well let s just add it up using some fair and standard numbers. Let s even use 4000 reenactors for 5 days. Each reenactor gets paid $150.00 per day. 4000
        Message 3 of 18 , Apr 8, 1999
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          In a message dated 08/4/1999 10:08:31 AM, BritcomHMP@... writes:

          > Certainly the general
          > consensus amongst the reenactors I knew at the time of the Gettysburg
          > filming was that Turner could not have afforded to pay the 3000+ who
          > participated in the Pickett's Charge scene. (Of course this was several
          > years before he publicly pissed away $1 billion on the UN....)

          Well let's just add it up using some fair and standard numbers.
          Let's even use 4000 reenactors for 5 days.
          Each reenactor gets paid $150.00 per day.
          4000 times $150.00 equals $600,000.
          $600,000 times 5 days equals $3 million.
          $3 million in today's feature movie making standards, especially for an
          "epic", is nothing.
          Yes, I said "nothing". A film made for less than $15 mil these days is
          called "low budget". $3 mil does not even cover half the salaries of big
          feature stars like Bruce Willis, Jim Carrey, etc. Shoot - Tim Allen gets
          paid $2 mil an episode for the TV show "Home Improvement".
          So the unpleasant sum of the above numerology equates to 4000 reenactors on
          "Gettysburg" being simply ripped off, exploited, manipulated and the
          proverbial bent over. Sorry folks -- but that is reality.
          How many of the film crew worked during the filming of that scene for
          nothing? How many of the caterers, car drivers, and craft service "donated"
          their time and equipment? How many local gas stations gave away their gas
          for free during the shooting? How many hotels gave everyone free rooms?
          The "worth" of a scene like Pickett's Charge? Well, I know several veteran Am
          CW reenactors who groan at some of the ludicrous drill maneuvers made during
          the scene, so there's one historic fly in the ointment. The worth? The
          bottom line worth is how that scene as part of the whole helped sell the
          product. Bottom line -- the two words which fuel and drive the film industry.
          Not art, not history. Money. Sometimes art or history are used to make that
          money, just as long as there is the chance for that money to be made.
          Show BUSINESS.
          Not Show ART.
          Not Show History.
          Show BUSINESS.
        • James Burrill
          So the unpleasant sum of the above numerology equates to 4000 reenactors on Gettysburg being simply ripped off, exploited, manipulated and
          Message 4 of 18 , Apr 8, 1999
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            <Snip from Benton>

            So the unpleasant sum of the above numerology equates to 4000 reenactors on
            "Gettysburg" being simply ripped off, exploited, manipulated and the
            proverbial bent over. Sorry folks -- but that is reality.

            <Un-snip>

            The reality is that the Rebs who charged up that hill had a woody as long as
            their Enfields to get to be apart of "Pickett's Charge". Of the thousands
            who did it, how many were thinking of the paycheck as they dressed their
            lines for the charge...
          • BritcomHMP@xxx.xxx
            In a message dated 4/8/99 11:55:13 PM Central Daylight Time, jburrill@dttus.com writes:
            Message 5 of 18 , Apr 9, 1999
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              In a message dated 4/8/99 11:55:13 PM Central Daylight Time,
              jburrill@... writes:

              << The reality is that the Rebs who charged up that hill had a woody as long
              as
              their Enfields to get to be apart of "Pickett's Charge". Of the thousands
              who did it, how many were thinking of the paycheck as they dressed their
              lines for the charge...
              >>

              And that Jim is the difference between an amateur and a professional. I am
              sorry to have to repeat this, the INDUSTRY only respects professionalism.

              Cheers

              Tim
            • James Burrill
              A professional Extra? Gee, now THAT is a career to aspire to! I guess I made a grave mistake being a professional military careerists and made the same mistake
              Message 6 of 18 , Apr 9, 1999
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                A professional Extra?

                Gee, now THAT is a career to aspire to! I guess I made a grave mistake
                being a professional military careerists and made the same mistake yet
                again when I became a educator.

                Do you really want to tell the rest of this list of reenactors that
                their pursuits are not judged as good as off-the-street-corner day
                hires as "Extras"?

                There was a sying in the photography business that the only difference
                between an "Amature" and a "Professional" photography was whether one
                sold his pictures or not. Not the "Professional Ability" or artistic
                eye of the photographer.

                Let me say again: If it is a big budget production and the crowd that
                hangs out at the unemployment office (or local bar) is being payed
                scale and given a uniform, then damn right I want to be paid.

                But except for maybe 7 reenactors who called themselves "Professional
                Actors" I have met since 1980, the rest of us take time off from work,
                use up some weekends, or otherwise go out of our way to participate in
                a historic themed production BECAUSE IT IS AN EXTENSION OF OUR HOBBY
                AND HISTORIC INTERESTS!

                We don't really care about quibbling over pay with an obviously shoe
                string production. AND DOGGONE IT!!! I am NOT talking about a Bruce
                Willis starring, big-budget, Theatrical release, Speilburg directed
                production either!!!

                They might look at your unit as "a bunch of extras w/uniform" but I am
                trying to make the point that there are low budget productions that
                support our historical interests that marvel when when the reenactors
                show up, set up camp, put on their kit and form up. Instant Army!

                Rather than adopting a policy of all or nothing, I am pleading with
                the readers of the list to be adaptible to the situation! Consider the
                trade between your time and efforts to participate, against the topic
                of the production. If you can later say, "Yep! That was the best film
                about the battle of ........ that has ever been done and look at that
                column into line! That's the Umpty-third Regt. from CT ! Damn! those
                guys are good!

                Then maybe it was fair value exchanged.

                I think, Tim, that I can portray a Soldier more "professionally" than
                a day-hire Extra. Whether I choose to charge for my time or donate it
                is my choice and speaks nothing of"professional ability".

                So when you say <SNIP "And that Jim is the difference between an
                amateur and a professional. I am sorry to have to repeat this, the
                INDUSTRY only respects professionalism."UNSNIP> That the "Chronically
                un-employed" and street corner hang-abouts (like they hired to fill
                the ranks in GLORY) are "respected" more by the whole film industry
                than teachers, craftsmen, soldiers, carpenters, accountants, CEOs, or
                doctors whose hobby is living history and we are not concerned about
                an extra's pay??

                I just had a thought! Why don't we get the Screen Actors Guild to let
                all us reenactors join their union! Gee! How can I apply for a Union
                Card???
                Oh! wait! I remember now, you are either born with one, inherit one,
                be hired by the production first and sent over to get one, ( of
                course, you can't apply for any parts unless you already have a card!)
                or like I learned in film school: form a production company,then hire
                the entire company as "cast", get your cards and then fold up the
                company, And Voila! Now you are a SAG Union Professional!






                ______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
                Subject: [WarOf1812] Re: Filming at re-enactments
                Author: BritcomHMP@... at Internet-USA
                Date: 4/9/99 8:00 AM


                From: BritcomHMP@...

                In a message dated 4/8/99 11:55:13 PM Central Daylight Time,
                jburrill@... writes:

                << The reality is that the Rebs who charged up that hill had a woody as long
                as
                their Enfields to get to be apart of "Pickett's Charge". Of the thousands
                who did it, how many were thinking of the paycheck as they dressed their
                lines for the charge...
                >>

                And that Jim is the difference between an amateur and a professional. I am
                sorry to have to repeat this, the INDUSTRY only respects professionalism.

                Cheers

                Tim

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              • NINETY3RD@xxx.xxx
                ... Actually, there is (or was - I believe it has merged somewhat) an Extras Union. And there are indeed professional extras making all the amounts I
                Message 7 of 18 , Apr 9, 1999
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                  In a message dated 09/4/1999 7:27:00 AM, jburrill@... writes:

                  >A professional Extra?

                  Actually, there is (or was - I believe it has merged somewhat) an Extras
                  Union. And there are indeed "professional extras" making all the amounts I
                  previously listed, many of whom out here in LALA land work more than most
                  "real" actors.

                  >> Gee, now THAT is a career to aspire to! I guess I made a grave mistake
                  >
                  > being a professional military careerists and made the same mistake
                  >yet
                  > again when I became a educator.

                  Now we are taking it personally which there is no need to do. Let's skip that
                  part...

                  > Do you really want to tell the rest of this list of reenactors that
                  > their pursuits are not judged as good as off-the-street-corner day
                  > hires as "Extras"?

                  That is exactly what Tim is saying. And he is exactly right. We (reenactors)
                  are first judged by how much we cost, which has little to do with how much we
                  know, what e have, etc. Not a feel-good-feeling. But that is the way it is.
                  The truth hurts, and all that.

                  <snip>

                  > Let me say again: If it is a big budget production and the crowd that
                  > hangs out at the unemployment office (or local bar) is being payed
                  > scale and given a uniform, then damn right I want to be paid.

                  So what is the difference between a "pro" on a big budget and a "pro" on a
                  small budget? The minimum pay scale for each -- for whatever the job (camera,
                  actor, grip, extra, ...) is still the same.

                  > But except for maybe 7 reenactors who called themselves "Professional
                  Actors" I have met since 1980, the rest of us take time off from work,
                  > use up some weekends, or otherwise go out of our way to participate
                  >in a historic themed production BECAUSE IT IS AN EXTENSION OF OUR HOBBY
                  > AND HISTORIC INTERESTS!

                  So? ANY hobbits (stamp collector, hotrodder, golfer, photographer, hiker,
                  etc., etc.) does the same thing -- takes time off to enjoy their hobby. Again
                  -- so?
                  A film or TV show IS NOT an extension of the hobby! A TV show on stamp
                  collecting is, sure. It is speaking to stamp collectors and showing them
                  helpful things to do. Even still, all the crew on the cameras, lights,
                  editing machines and even the host are getting PAID. This is apples to
                  oranges comparison however to films which are depicting either in story form
                  or documentary form incidents from history. They are not made as "extensions"
                  to anyone's hobby. They are made for PROFIT.
                  No matter what good intentions the docu maker had when telling the unknown
                  story of "X Battalion", there is still the BOTTOM LINE. For anyone to ever
                  see the story of "X Battalion" the film has to be sold (Money). To first make
                  the film, the film material itself has to be manufactured and bought (Money).
                  The camera has to manufactured and bought or rented (Money). The film has to
                  be developed (Money). Edited on machine which was made then sold or rented
                  (Money). , Etc. (Money) , Etc. (Money) , Etc. (Money). Even should most of
                  the basic film making material be "donated" as a charity to help, say, a PBS
                  station make the product, whoever did the donating gets a nice tax deduction
                  (Money).

                  > We don't really care about quibbling over pay with an obviously shoe
                  > string production. AND DOGGONE IT!!! I am NOT talking about a Bruce
                  > Willis starring, big-budget, Theatrical release, Speilburg directed
                  > production either!!!

                  You should. I covered this above and earlier as well.
                  My use earlier in a post of "Bruce Willis" was merely as a frame of reference
                  to the amount that should/could have been paid to the Gettysburg "extras" and
                  how the amount could/should have been paid. (I knew even then it would be
                  taken out of context...)

                  > They might look at your unit as "a bunch of extras w/uniform" but
                  >I am trying to make the point that there are low budget productions that
                  support our historical interests that marvel when when the reenactors
                  > show up, set up camp, put on their kit and form up. Instant Army!
                  > Rather than adopting a policy of all or nothing, I am pleading with
                  > the readers of the list to be adaptible to the situation!

                  I stated in an earlier post that if there was a project made specifically for
                  and for the benefit of am historic site (for instance) -- to be shown only at
                  that site, or all proceeds to benefit it, then that is something else and
                  indeed does not always fall into this category.

                  >Consider
                  >the trade between your time and efforts to participate, against the topic
                  > of the production. If you can later say, "Yep! That was the best
                  >film about the battle of ........ that has ever been done and look at
                  that
                  > column into line! That's the Umpty-third Regt. from CT ! Damn! those
                  > guys are good!
                  > Then maybe it was fair value exchanged.

                  For what? I can go play golf (I don't, but this is an example) and get
                  someone to video me and later watch it and say "Wow! Look at that swing!
                  Wasn't that great!" Very nice, and I feel all good all over! The video tape
                  company made money, the camera company made money and maybe the guy I got to
                  tape me made money. Did they care about how "good" I feel? Sure -- as long as
                  I bought and buy their product!

                  > I think, Tim, that I can portray a Soldier more "professionally" than
                  > a day-hire Extra. Whether I choose to charge for my time or donate
                  >it is my choice and speaks nothing of"professional ability".
                  > So when you say <SNIP "And that Jim is the difference between an
                  > amateur and a professional. I am sorry to have to repeat this, the
                  > INDUSTRY only respects professionalism."UNSNIP> That the "Chronically
                  > un-employed" and street corner hang-abouts (like they hired to fill
                  > the ranks in GLORY) are "respected" more by the whole film industry
                  > than teachers, craftsmen, soldiers, carpenters, accountants, CEOs,or
                  > doctors whose hobby is living history and we are not concerned about
                  > an extra's pay??

                  You got it. They couldn't care less what one does in real life unless they
                  can use it somehow -- and if they don't have to pay one for that as well, so
                  much the better. The fact one can portray a soldier better than an off the
                  street extra makes *them* feel good in that they got one so cheap thus not
                  only increasing the quality of their product but at so low cost! You bet
                  they'll have big smiles and lots of "atta boys" to hand out! Smiles and attas
                  don't cost a thing.
                  You are right, its your choice. Your choice to be exploited and cheated. Your
                  choice to make it possible for more film makers to exploit your fellow
                  reenactors in later productions. Your choice to set up your fellow hobbyists
                  for the next producer who heard about all the free labor he can get. Your
                  choice to put in place the precedents which take fair pay away from your
                  living history comrades, pay which could buy a new uniform or musket. Your
                  choice to hinder and hurt than rather than protect your friends.
                  Yep, your choice.

                  > I just had a thought! Why don't we get the Screen Actors Guild to
                  >let all us reenactors join their union! Gee! How can I apply for a Union
                  Card???
                  > Oh! wait! I remember now, you are either born with one, inherit one,
                  > be hired by the production first and sent over to get one, ( of
                  > course, you can't apply for any parts unless you already have a card!)
                  > or like I learned in film school: form a production company,then hire
                  > the entire company as "cast", get your cards and then fold up the
                  > company, And Voila! Now you are a SAG Union Professional!

                  Amazing ain't it? Part of all the silly process is to try to keep down the
                  number of those with no acting talent whatsoever who think they can be
                  "moveee starrz".
                  But this is not about everyone in reenacting getting to be "pro" and union
                  actors.
                  This discussion is about reenactors getting cheated and exploited.
                  There are a couple of us who have taken the time and effort to try and help
                  our fellow "hobbyists" with information on the industry, how it works and
                  what fair pay should be.
                  Then there are a couple of folks who for some reason are all steamed about it
                  and seem more to be taking the side of those who would cheat and rip off our
                  hobbyists rather than help to protect and inform them. Or perhaps they are
                  only in denial over the fact they themselves have been exploited.
                  And while one is getting all hot and defensive and ranting on about how to
                  acquire SAG cards and the like, just remember that one might be indirectly
                  insulting someone else on this list....

                  Again -- here's **looking out for you**, kid...
                  Cheers!
                  Benton
                • Bateman, Andrew
                  Benton wrote: This discussion is about reenactors getting cheated and exploited. There are a couple of us who have taken the time and effort to try and help
                  Message 8 of 18 , Apr 9, 1999
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                    Benton wrote:

                    This discussion is about reenactors getting cheated and
                    exploited.
                    There are a couple of us who have taken the time and effort
                    to try and help
                    our fellow "hobbyists" with information on the industry, how
                    it works and
                    what fair pay should be.

                    Andrew writes:

                    I, for one, appreciate the heads up. I admit I didn't know
                    much about the movie business when "Gettysburg" was filmed but I had fun
                    making the film and could not have been paid anyway since I did not have a
                    work visa for the purpose. Your math about the $3 million for 4000 extras
                    for 5 days and how such a sum fits into the grand scheme of making a film
                    was enlightening, and perhaps if more reenactors realized this they would be
                    less inclined to show up for free. It will be interesting to see how the
                    reenacting community reacts when TNT starts filming Jeff Shaara's "Gods and
                    Generals", as I have heard they are going to do in the near future.

                    KYPD,

                    Pte. Bateman, 41st ROF
                    (also immortalized on celluloid as a member of Garnett's
                    Brigade, Pickett's Division; the 20th Maine @ Little Round Top; Buford's
                    Federal Cavalry @ the Seminary; Hancock's Corps at Cemetery Ridge; the Irish
                    Brigade; etc.)
                  • NINETY3RD@xxx.xxx
                    ... Let me just make fun of myself before anyone else does. Yes, I typed hobbits . Maybe I was thinking of the feature live action film they are planning on
                    Message 9 of 18 , Apr 9, 1999
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                      In a message dated 09/4/1999 8:48:35 AM, NINETY3RD@... writes:

                      >So? ANY hobbits (


                      Let me just make fun of myself before anyone else does.
                      Yes, I typed "hobbits".
                      Maybe I was thinking of the feature live action film they are planning on
                      "Lord Of The Rings"...
                      It should have read "hobbies" of course....

                      hee hee
                      B
                    • mmathews@xxxx.xxxxxx.xxxx.xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
                      ... Really? I LOVED that series as a kid. Must have reread it a dozen times over the years. Enduring quality fantasy. Hugggsssesss and kissssesss,
                      Message 10 of 18 , Apr 9, 1999
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                        >From: NINETY3RD@...
                        >
                        >
                        >In a message dated 09/4/1999 8:48:35 AM, NINETY3RD@... writes:
                        >
                        >>So? ANY hobbits (
                        >
                        >
                        >Let me just make fun of myself before anyone else does.
                        >Yes, I typed "hobbits".
                        >Maybe I was thinking of the feature live action film they are planning on
                        >"Lord Of The Rings"...
                        >It should have read "hobbies" of course....

                        Really? I LOVED that series as a kid. Must have reread it a dozen times
                        over the years. Enduring quality fantasy.

                        Hugggsssesss and kissssesss,
                        Bagginssssss

                        Michael Mathews -- Winona State University
                        Voice: (507) 285-7585 Fax: (507) 280-5568
                        ------------------------------
                        "Wit is educated insolence." -- Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)
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