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Pay rates for Camera dept and other crew....

I keep seeing job ads with "NMW Bectu standard" and I am aghast.
Here is a link to BECTUs rate card in order for everyone to see the recommended BECTU rates:
It is NOT normal to work for NMW. Those accepting work at these rates are shooting themselves and all of us in the foot as it WILL establish as a norm.
Film crew are highly skilled workers mainly working irregular hours on a freelance basis. we won't survive if this keeps up.

  • Sounds like people don't understand the difference between NMW and union rates. They're effective polar opposites.

    Of course film crew are skilled professionals (or people working to become skilled professionals), but at the ShootingPeople level we're rarely talking about distributed features, so people are looking to get experience and build teams to take on to bigger future projects. I've been on SP for years, worked with many people from here, some of whom I've carried on working with over and over. I like to see familiar faces on set, but sometimes your crew churn and you get better people, better fits for the team, etc.

    I'm currently shooting a film that pays somewhere between NMW and BECTU - it's just impossible to pay everyone what they would like to be paid. If I paid scale to everyone, I wouldn't have a full unit and I wouldn't be advertising jobs through SP and similar sites, and wouldn't be creating employment for ~40 crew this month (and 20 cast and 300 extras!). Is it better to create semi-regular work for many people, or only infrequent work for a select few?

    5 years ago
  • Thank you for responding Paddy. You said it all in your first sentence "Sounds like people don't understand the difference between NMW and union rates. They're effective polar opposites."

    I understand the need to pay lower rates in order to get an independent film made and that lots of people use this as a way to gain experience. It is the implication that BECTU uses the NMW as a standard I have a problem with.
    Having said that now that some producers know they CAN crew up at such low rates they aren't willing to pay the standard rates so we are damaging our future ability to earn a living.

    I think 'less is more' in regards your question. The quality of the work will be better with more prep time between jobs and more skilled crews which in turn will reflect better on you.

    5 years ago
  • I couldn't agree with you more Oona. The amount of poor quality stuff that's being made in general is pretty overwhelming nowadays. But then, if only half of it were made, we'd all be scrabbling around for even the crap work in London as there's much more than enough of us already!

    But yeah, NMW and Bectu rates are poles apart, and if I saw that on a post it would immediately flag it to me as people that don't know what they're talking about.

    What irks me more is stuff like posts for a DoP "that can provide all camera and lighting equipment." The idea of that for a drama shoot is so preposterous that I often find myself writing to the 'producer' to explain - in a nice way - why that is such a ridiculous thing to want. Not only that but it's self-defeating for the production. I can't think of a single decent DoP that owns enough gear to shoot and light a decent looking drama on a good camera, and if they did they certainly wouldn't be shooting the kind of production that asks for it. I try to explain to producers that if they were to raise even a small amount of cash to pay for, say, an Alexa, or make a deal with a rental company for some decent kit, that they could attract a much high calibre of crew member to work for very little or even free if they so chose (no-one ever seems to thank me for my advice :-) ).

    That said, Shooting People has some great people on it and some good productions. I've done a couple of wonderful shorts from here in the past few years, all for very little cash. I tend to just look for the adverts that have that little spark of intelligence to them and go for those, and sometimes it works out really well.

    5 years ago
  • This is really interesting, as so often actors feel like they are the only ones being under paid or constantly encouraged to work for "The Experience" regardless of the age of the role.
    (here comes my big but) BUT.. Sometimes, people just want to make stuff and cash is tight and want to get busy and create.
    We all have the choice - do we keep excepting work that we know is under paid or do should we stick to our guns and only expect the best paid work even if it means a smaller yearly turnover? Or is there a compromise?
    For me there is. I will do under paid/ free work (shorts and indies) for artistic purposes and for the kicks if it interests/intrigues me but TV and Commercials must always always pay. I see Time and time again commercial break downs offering terrible pay and citing experience/exposure as the reward and I get the feeling ( and I am sure I am wrong) this same carrot rarely gets dangled to DOPs, and Camer peeps as regularly.. Bottom line is, commercials are there to make money and they must pay for all the people involved.

    5 years ago
  • This is the downside of a combination of the "just Do It" movement that kicked off with 'Soft Top, Hard Shoulder' and 'Leon, the Pig Farmer', and the spectacular drop in production costs (on the technical side). We're now seeing low budget 4k 3D rom-coms emerging! -

    This is how the whole economy is going, and I think we're stuck with it. In fact, it's only going to get worse... :-(

    5 years ago
  • Steel, I think Oona's point isn't really about whether we accept to do low or unpaid work, it's more that there are producers who think that NMW has something to do with BECTU rates, which it obviously hasn't, and if they're posting on here then SP moderators should be picking up on those and making them re-write their posts.

    I doubt that proper commercials are really asking people to work for free... Commercials are still where the money is.

    5 years ago
  • I've worked for low pay, and no pay. I now earn a good living from the film industry -- much of it I accrued from those poorly paid gigs. I look at each project and the people inviolved and then make a decision. It's down to choice.

    1 year ago
  • I don't think we'll ever wipe out the NMW jobs. People are so desperate to make films and work in the film industry. BECTU is at the moment, working on low-budget guide lines for productions that do not fit into any of their other agreements and guidelines (PACT/APA/Productions over 30 million).

    I've set a minimum rate for myself under which I will not work and I stick to it. I often see adverts from people asking for DOPs who can provide Camera/lighting and sometimes Grip as well and then do not have any insurance.

    Certainly, I regard jobs that say NMW as expenses only; because that is what they are. I do sometimes do expenses only jobs and have criteria that I stick to for doing them: who is it for, what is it, who else is involved, is it for a charity etc. They have to be projects that are not commercial though: Shorts, Promos for unsigned bands etc. Anything that can make money has to pay me.

    1 year ago
  • What everyone here is saying is that every project is unique. Nobody is forced to work on a project that doesn't suit their requirements. What's really being discussed is that crass ignorance can be insulting and annoying when asserted without humility, grace or mitigation. Our industry functions on every level from the sublime to the ridiculous, none of which should be taken to be a generality. If one is easily conned by either ignorant and/or exploitative producers, well at least there's educational value that was evidently needed.

    As lovely as BECTU is, and as a left leaning aspiring enlightend anarchist, I've been grateful to have been a member of BECTU and other more prosaic trade unions, they are very far from being the Messiah. The main reason that trade unions in general have lost so much of the influence and power that they once had is because they have been unable to align themselves with enough of the sociopolitical and socioeconomic realities that they are required to deal with.

    Whatever BECTU rates are, they are not law, just advisory. NMW on the other hand is law. But even NMW only relates to employees. We've discussed, with some disagreement, what constitutes an employee several times here. On that point I'd reiterate that what HMRC and some unions asserts to be their definition of employee is not law either.

    1 year ago