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Why I won't be applying for your 'expenses only' composer position...

I'm a composer. Dare I say it, a pretty good one. I've not only worked with artists who made hit records, I've made some of my own, and composed scores for features, a lot of shorts, and lots of lots of TV productions. I've been doing this for 25 years, and I've been happy to contribute my skills for free (let's face it 'expenses' usually means free, or almost free) on numerous productions. But no longer. I've had enough. Here's why...

1. Absurd expectations. Strangely enough, it isn't possible to create a Hans Zimmer/John Williams score, on 'expenses'. Unless you have about £250,000 to spend on those 'expenses'. That's how much a score from those guys will cost- yet again and again, I see filmmakers using them as a reference, then saying they'll only pay 'expenses'. Yes, modern tech can get us a bit closer to a real orchestra, a team of composers, and months of studio and writing time. But not that close. So stop asking for a Hans Zimmer score, written in two days flat, for nothing.

2. Priorities. If you're not paying a commission fee, your production will go to the back of the queue. Yet somehow all those who aren't paying assume that not only does their production take priority, but they have the right to ask for as many re-writes as they like, mostly because they've changed the 'final' cut. Again. And again. And again. If you're not paying, don't ask for endless re-writes. You're lucky to be getting anything at all.

3. Passion. Passion does not equal skill. Just because you're passionate about making your thing, that doesn't mean it's going to be any good (often the opposite, since your judgement is clouded by all that passion)- nor does your passion mean that you can produce something truly excellent on no budget at all. If I see 'passion' mentioned in a post, you can be sure I'll run for the hills. 99% of the time, the projects requiring 'passion' will be made by well meaning amateurs who don't have a clue what they're doing.

4. Time. Writing music takes time, so does producing it. Yet so many filmmakers 'forget' about the music, then go asking for a 20 minute score, to be written in 2 days flat. A good score, written to picture, usually takes about 'one minute a day' - ie, if it's a 20 minute score, allow 20 days to write it. Not a week. It can be done in less, but it's not likely to be that good.

5. Communication. No, I don't expect to get an answer to every application. But if the process does kick off, then I do expect good communication about meetings and spotting sessions, especially if I'm doing you a favour and writing your score for free. Yet those offering 'expenses only' are usually the ones who set up a meeting, then don't turn up, and just disappear. DON"T WASTE MY TIME, IT'S EXPENSIVE.

6. Promo. Believe it or not, your film isn't necessarily going to get any showings at festivals, at all. Even if it does, the promo value can often be so low as to be non-existent. I've provided scores for shorts which won 8 awards at festivals, yet failed to produce any further work whatsoever. THERE IS VERY LITTLE PROMO VALUE IN WRITING A SCORE FOR 99% OF SHORT FILMS. Don't insult my intelligence by saying that the promo value of writing your score for free justifies you not paying me for it.

In the end, if you want a good composer, go find the budget for one. Cos this one isn't going to write for you, nor will most experienced composers. The old adage of peanuts and monkeys definitely applies...

Yes, this is a bit of a rant. But a necessary one, I think. There are FAR too many filmmakers on this site who seem to have absolutely no idea at all of what the job of writing good music to picture entails. This rant is for them.

best wishes,

Tom Green

  • Tom, your post should be required reading at every film school in the world.

    As a side note, I was a bit floored that you mentioned that filmmakers don't hand you locked reels when working for free. I make sure reels are locked before I hand them over for professional sound work. Period. (And yes, I understand that this isn't standard practice in the real world, but it should be!)

    6 years ago
  • Thanks Dan, glad to hear that ;) ... yes, in the real world (especially TV) I hardly ever get a locked reel. But what with commissioning editors (and sometimes Controllers) getting their oar in, it's not necessarily the director's fault !

    6 years ago
  • I have trouble explaining the principal of "Picture Lock" to some directors as they try and come back with comments after they have heard a sound mix.
    At present on the indie feature I'm post supervising I'm putting my foot down on any changes since we created the OMFs of the reels, we are allowing some changes to the titles length though.
    Directors need to understand what picture lock really means especially if they call it out in a production schedule.
    Education is the only route to take in these instances and I hope this is something that gets taught at film school but doubt it due to the view if it's non-linear editing changes can me made any time.
    I feel your pain guys as it's like trying to pull teeth at times.

    6 years ago
    • I recently post supervised on a picture that triggered the completion bond (which is why I was called in). The director was able to keep his job, and kept wanting to make changes. The thing is, these changes wouldn't have helped the picture, which is so often the case. They get bored with the cut, and think any change makes it better. Often it makes it worse. Especially when you are up against a hard release date: the sound people just don't have time to incorporate those picture changes in a high quality manner. So the sound suffers. So the picture as a whole suffers.

      On an indie film, Kevan, I would have just told them how much those changes were going to cost! They'd have backed down really quickly. ;)

      6 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich do you think this is a digital age issue or a problem as old as time?

      6 years ago
    • @Stuart Wright it's definitely got worse with digital. The tech allows things to be changed a lot easier (and cheaper) than before, together with a certain breed of director who have never worked with anything else, and often seem to assume that 'being a director' means acting like Coppola when they don't have Coppola's budget. Or talent. Or skill. They know it's not very good, basically, but refuse to admit it, and keep assuming they can fix it in the cut. When the problem is they got in all their mates as lighting designers, actors, DPs, etc, and the thing looks like what it is. Something made by people who don't know what they're doing, and did it on no budget at all.

      Not that that approach can't sometimes result in something amazing, in the hands of someone truly gifted, having fun with today's cheap tech (which can do things older and very expensive tech couldn't) The problem is that the very existence of the tech lets people who can't actually do this, think they can. And they're the ones endlessly fooling with the cut, when really they should just trash the whole thing.

      6 years ago
    • @Stuart Wright Old as time, Stuart. But the digital world has made it worse. No question about it. It's really about youth, in the end. The endless drone of wanting to try things. I recently cut a short for a producer friend. The director was young, but not lacking talent. After my cut, we spent 3 weeks recutting every possible way, making it worse each time. I finally put my foot down. "I'm doing this for free. I'm just not going to cut another frame. Let the director do it." In the end, they went back to my first cut.

      I've done rants on "objectivity" before, and how we have none as filmmakers. But youth refuses to believe their eyes (and ears) are lying to them.

      6 years ago
  • I agree with everything that you said Tom, unfortunately the situation at hand is a result of composers' own undoing as they have allowed, decade after decade, the erosion (and ultimate demise) of their profession. This is exactly why I've been transitioning from composing to writing/directing. There is simply no value or respect given to music for film and the people who have worked so hard to master such craft.

    Simply remember this...the most powerful word in your vocabulary is "No." There is no shame in walking away from a project, and sometimes the best deal is no deal.

    6 years ago
  • Tom's reference to folks who use cliched metaphors to 'encourage' others to freely contribute to their almost always financially hopeless projects made me think about how often I've cringed when reading about their "passion", or how "exciting", "cutting edge", "groundbreaking" or otherwise wonderfully special their projects are. It seems they've all been schooled by the same cult of teachers at uni/college/school who advice youngsters how to write those appallingly generic CV's. If any budding film makers are reading this thread; if you can't create your own prose or articulate an original stream of consciousnesses, it's probably best to not bother at all!

    6 years ago
  • Hi Tom

    I completely agree with you and thank you for writing this post. I'm a bit embarrassed I didn't do it myself as yet.
    My only remark is that passion IS important. Have passion and then have the guts to throw a bad cue out the window. Then you're a mature and professional composer.

    I have to answer Kays though: I can imagine composers did subdue to this (Tom himself admits having done so).
    But I'm afraid its a more serious problem.
    Most human beings have absolutely no perception of what it takes to write and then to produce a decent score.
    In fact, apart from respecting the "big acts" (mainly celebrities with famous faces) I feel people have no regard for this profession, and this goes way beyond film scoring. I often wonder if an art director, editor or costume designer have the same thing.

    I was once requested to score a short film (for free) and was sent a list of example cues (all John Williams) and after working my ass off doing exactly what I was requested, and thus making a beautiful, elaborate score, they were too 'shocked'. Apparently not that much thought was really put into the music, whether that is what they needed. And I'm not talking about a starting film maker.

    What I keep asking myself is what can be done to gain the respect we deserve. Because this is where it comes down to.

    6 years ago
    • Lionel, I have no perception of what it takes to fix my dishwasher, replace the alternator in my car, or remove an appendix...but it's not my job to understand it. It is the job of composers to value their time and skill and stand up for what they feel are fair wages and contract terms. A skilled composer who stands up for his/her compensation rights has no leverage if another equally skilled composer is volunteering their services for free. From the client's perspective, this is a win-win situation.

      I have seen far too many composers (particularly the less experienced ones) be far too eager to "get their foot in the door" by working under substandard conditions and crazy deadlines for free, while kissing up to the director with a shit-eating grin to boot. This behavior is counter-productive and extremely short sighted.

      Having been on both sides of the issue, I can assure you that services that are immovable in their fee structure are compensated exactly what they want on even low budget productions. What do you think "hard costs" are? Those are line items where the production knows they have absolutely no leverage to budge.

      Why is music composition not considered a "hard cost" is really a result of far too many composers being willing to send out a clear message which is "We are desperate pushovers who are willing to work for copy and credit."

      The moment more composers begin to say "No" is the moment where we might see a change for the better in how original music is valued.

      6 years ago
  • Kays, I think you may have missed my point.
    I'm not saying at all its okay to work for free.
    I'm saying that we (meaning 'we musicians' and the composers in particular) are too often not taken seriously.
    You don't have to explain to people what technicians and doctors do and why their services are worthwhile.
    Haven't you ever gone through this ridiculous ritual of some relative approaching you and saying "Hey! Why don't you come and play your songs in my wedding? It'll be good for your promotion".
    This still happens to me to this day and I bet even big successful names (musicians & composers) still get this every once in a while.
    The difference between a musician and a doctor in this case would be that if somebody dares to casualy ask a doctor for help in a party, they will at least approach him with the recognition of his dignity and be more appreciative if he does help.

    I have no doubt that this problem is present regardless of how composers are presenting themselves.
    Hopefully I made myself clear this time.

    6 years ago
    • Well, then you have missed my point. The problem is that far too many musicians have responded with an emphatic "Yes" when approached to play at a friend's wedding for free. It really comes down to us, it is a problem for us to fix, not them. If you want to be respected and taken seriously by others, it has to start from you.

      Composers are asked again and again to work for free because (just like spam e-mail) it works. If we all (collectively) begin to say "no" to these offers, I assure you things will change.

      6 years ago
    • @Kays Alatrakchi

      I think your self respect is essential and its up to each one of us.
      But I doubt that the general lack of respect to this profession is the musicians' fault. I just don't buy it. Sorry to disagree on this one.

      6 years ago
  • My piece of advice to Filmmakers would be to get used to having composers start work on the score prior to filming, and to specifically have the music made independently of the footage.
    Not only does it make the editing process more streamlined, and a chance for the cast and crew on set to hear the music as we film, but it also means that when working with a composer on an 'expenses only' job there's less time pressure.
    This seems to work best, as I've worked with the same composer on two features.

    6 years ago
    • Ben, I think that is good advice in general, but not on an "expense-only" budget (or even low budget). For all intents and purposes, you are asking for a huge time commitment to a project on the part of the composer which is simply unreasonable if he/she is not getting paid.

      6 years ago
  • I have to hold my hand up here and admit I was a first time filmmaker who gave little thought to a score until the film was 'picture locked'. And only after one of the excellent actors, (who graciously agreed to work for expenses), suggested the film may benefit from a score, and recommend a composer, did I even think about music. I was one of the lucky ones; the composer, again an excellent proponent of his art, agreed to provide a score for expenses. I'd like to think his decision to do so was based on the quality of the story and he was willing to support what he saw as a promising first step. He's too professional to say why and I'm too humbled by his generous help to ask.
    My point is this- we all needed a hand up at one point or another and any decision by a person able to offer that hand will undoubtedly be made on the promise they see in the project and the filmmakers.
    I don't believe this can or should be taught in film school. It's a life lesson you only need once. There are two roles I've realised (learned) that need to be involved in a project very early on, that originally I believed came after the shoot- the editor and the composer. I didn't go to film school, I started making films late in life. The curve is steep.

    6 years ago
  • Great post, Tom. A lot of the points you raised also apply to screenwriting. Last week on his blog Stephen Follows posted an analysis of a recent survey he conducted and just under half of employers in film & television expected newcomers (in all disciplines) to work for free... I don't know about you, but I've got rent to pay and my landlady doesn't accept the "promo" value of working on somebody's passion project as legal tender.

    6 years ago
  • Thanks, KT (and everyone contributing) - I don't necessarily think it's reasonable that newcomers should be expected to work for free, but given today's intern culture I can see why employers might think that ... especially in industries where the demand for work is high but the opportunities scarce. The problem is that a lot of employers now deliberately exploit the situation and either try and get experienced professionals to work for free as well, or often hide it behind a putative 'competition opportunity' or other 'it'll be good promo !' scam.

    The only answer is to say no. For those who don't know it, I recommend you join the 10,000 or so now sounding off about this at Stop Working For Free on facebook. Not just film folk, it's journalists, photographers, web designers, graphic designers ... we all have the same problem.

    6 years ago
    • Thanks for the link, Tom. The really insidious part of our new culture, is rich corporations having a "design contest" where they ask working professionals to enter (work for free), and not a filmmaker trying to get his first short off the ground.

      6 years ago
    • Is it time for a 2 Tier SP? One for 'aspiring' and one for 'Professional'. Pro means it's paid min wage at least. Because as Tom said at the top - there's never any expenses!

      And Hear-Here Tom!

      6 years ago
  • I don't like the work for free thing either. It's fine for really "no money" projects, but proper companies and organisations should be willing to pay minimum wage at least.

    6 years ago
  • As KT Parker points out and you then Reference in your next post Tom is it’s not just composers but pretty much any job in a creative industry where this occurs.

    At least on SP it says whether it's EXPENSES or PAID in the ad headline so my advice would be just don’t bother reading the ads unless they say paid.

    The thing that bugs me when I see writing ads (not so much on here as SP vet them) is when it says PAID but when you get to the end of the ad it then says its only paid if once you’ve done all the work they manage to then raise XXXX amount of money. Translated as UNPAID

    6 years ago
  • I think everything you said applies to every job. I am a little surprised that you still worked for free even with 25 years of experience! But am glad you have stopped.

    Free work is never justified unless you really are getting something in return. A copy of the film and credits is nothing. Promising "future paid" work is bullcrap. It never happens.

    Like you said with the absurd expectations, when you do free work, the "client" has zero respect for you and hands out demands with absurd expectations. As soon as you put a price on it, you get respect and people have expectations and demands that usually reflect the price they paid.

    And don't get me started on the tricks that producers/directors use on new composers. E.g Asking for a live orchestra AFTER the full score is complete and expecting it to come out of the small budget that's been paid. Live recording costs more! But i guess composers should get that cleared out before signing a contract.

    6 years ago
    • Hey, Ned. I'll still work for free if I like the people and the project (though on a short only!). But certainly not from strangers that advertise somewhere. And as I learned from my last freebie, the director has to be experienced.

      Early in my career, I never worked for free (but digital didn't exist then, so the amount of filmmakers wanting free services was extremely low). Now that I'm older, I kind of like helping out the kids (within reason).

      6 years ago
  • It is interesting that an older post I remember from an actress who complained about the same issue was dismissed on loser-complainer grounds, and here it is the opposite.

    As others above mentioned, us composers are not alone on this boat. Blame it on free consumption and cheaper production tools.

    Those who interpret, complement and implement are often asked to work for free. Free actors, free crew, free speakers, free singers, free dancers, free authors, free writers, free models, etc.

    Those who initiate and create are generally asked to pay for all others. As a singer-songwriter, you become an employer. Everybody else than you gets paid - while you can pay.

    Wondering which position is best after all. The middle men's. The paid online promotion providers' - including Facebook's, which makes the housing of that group there interesting. The location brokers'. And the walking-away position.

    Ever thought of becoming a composer-producer, carefully selecting the projects?

    6 years ago
    • Authors and the like in the wrong paragraph there depending on the content of their material.

      6 years ago
  • Mea culpa for my early inexperienced, naive exploitation of some very talented filmmakers who helped produce my first two short films - some got paid, others didn't, but didn't seem bothered by it at the time. If any of you generous, talented folks are reading this, my sincere apologies for my stupid oversight. If it's of any consolation, you've helped me see the light to the extent that I've changed my filmmaking paradigm.

    Now, after I finish a script I feel worthy of filming, I don't go out recruiting people based on how great the script is. Instead, now I develop a budget based on what it will cost to produce said film and get my ass out there raising funds. Which is why I came up with FIFO (Fade In/Fade Out), a filmmaking consortium.

    Because, in the end, I realized it is MY responsibility to sufficiently fund my films, and not on the backs of those people upon whom I depend. So now I offer some level of compensation to everyone involved to show my appreciation and respect for their talent and efforts.

    It helps salve my conscience about my earlier exploitation and ignorance.

    6 years ago
  • I don't actually believe free work is evil. Rather, in the UK, paying minimum wage on a not untypical shoot week, plus fringes, plus payroll costs, plus feeding someone plus travel costs me around £700/week. For trainees (and people with a fresh film degree TBH), I probably get a couple of productive hours a day. In turn, they get a few contacts, a heap of experience and on the job training, a distributed feature credit and a reference.

    I don't mind feeding and covering expenses for trainees, but I can't justify £50+/productive hour cost plus all the training time and overhead. I will, however, get them into a position where their next job can be paid. And there's a queue! Universities churn out so many media degree candidates who have never been on a set with over 5 people, people are hungry for real world experience. They pay £9k a year in tuition fees, plus their own meals etc. Compared with that, free is darn good value!

    Just so the free/low pay discussion has a little context and balance!

    6 years ago
    • I would have disagreed with you Paddy until about 1989. I hired an apprentice editor at about double the minimum wage. It was a terrible experience. She just couldn't retain information, and the two professional assistant editors were spending a lot of time fixing her work, which put us behind schedule. Now I tend not to hire inexperienced people at all (or very rarely). A friend's niece asked for my advice because she agreed to be a free P.A. on a web series (with some pretty huge people, I might add). She was complaining that it was long hours with no pay. I asked how long she'd been doing the job. "3 days". And when does it finish? "In 2 days." Good lord. I told her "You start USC film school in a week. You've got zero experience, and you're making good connections.But more importantly, you agreed to do it. Wait until some asshole exploits you for 8 weeks. Then you'll have something to complain about. This is nothing."

      So I do agree about the balance of experience and pay. But what people need to understand is that if you agree to work for nothing, you have to get something out of it. Whether experience, or if you have that, the only thing left is enjoyment. Because "exposure" is a line of bullshit.

      6 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich oh yeah, 'exposure' is bollocks, and only someone without their own profile would try to spin it!

      If we only employed experienced people, how would people get experience? OK, we both know I'm posting a bit of a straw man argument, I'm not talking about asking experienced people to work for free for 'exposure' and this thread is, just wanted to offer up that not all exchanges have to be purely financial. Other industries have apprenticeships, for instance.

      6 years ago
    • @Paddy Robinson-Griffin Apprenticeships usually pay something, even if it's just travel expenses (and back in Dickensian days, accommodation and full board) The trouble these days is that the 'offer' doesn't even include travel costs. This means that usually you're going to get Miranda or Jacob, who may not actually have any talent but do have Daddy & Mummy still paying for everything, not Kevin who may have great skills but can't afford to work for free for weeks while still covering rent, travel, and food. Just a thought...

      6 years ago
    • @Tom Green Oh absolutely, just apprentices are still paid significantly below NMW by the employer and are close to 'free with training and meals (and maybe accommodation) provided'!

      6 years ago
  • You might enjoy reading this article:

    A musician commenting on the news story said that he is often asked to work for free 'for the exposure'. His response is - "Exposure" is something you die from when your boat sinks or you get lost in a snowstorm."

    Someone else on that page also made the following point: "Also, can't you get paid for an event AND get exposure? Apparently, only people who work for free get exposure."

    6 years ago
  • It's not just composers, I've sold screenplays, won awards and been hired by some pretty bit outfits. I'm no mover and shaker, but I had someone tell me that they already have the script in their head, they just need someone to finesse it and get it down on paper for them and they'll share the screenplay credit, is maddening.

    6 years ago
    • I hope you said "no" to that offer. Believe it or not...many composers continue to say "yes" even to such ridiculous proposals. That is the difference!

      6 years ago
    • WWow, Adam... That must've been epic to hear "Got the screenplay in my head"...

      6 years ago
  • Surely a composer is only going to score a film and produce music for it if they need to be able to send people a link to something that shows off what they can do. So they'll be looking for a project that suits their style and people to work with who seem to be going places.

    Couldn't you reduce your rant to:

    "I'm only going to do your project for love if I like your pitch and I've seen your film with placekeeper music. And picture lock is a deal breaker."

    6 years ago
    • Yes, maybe. Though in my case I'm rarely doing it for more reel fodder. Sometimes it's to say thanks for other more commercial work from a director who's now trying something more 'artistic' on his own budget. The diff between someone like that and the newbies is that they don't muck you about. They appreciate the favour and are happy to compromise about what they want, if necessary. So I'd add to the above

      - "... and I'll only do it if you don't act like an idiot."

      6 years ago
  • Just out of interest - how much should I expect to pay a composer to write a score for a three minute short, directly from the script - before shooting starts?

    6 years ago
    • Depends on who you are asking... and what kind of score you want, also what rights you wish to acquire. So a 'name' composer, real orchestral score will be tens of thousands, at least. A newbie with a laptop maybe a few hundred.

      6 years ago
    • ... not including any rights beyond a basic sync license. If you want 'own' the music outright (full buyout) you'll have to deal with the composer's publisher. They're usually pretty hardcore and will stiff you on buyouts.

      6 years ago
  • There's no tablet of stone sent from heaven about this.

    Ultimately it's down to market forces and basic human decency. So the answer is between tuppence and a million squids.

    No doubt some would like to see big brother impose statute legislation about this and indeed everything else. The demise of unlimited creativity would follow the creation of any forcefully imposed glass ceiling though.

    6 years ago
    • At one point BASCA did try to offer it's composer members a 'rough guide' to pricing. Big Brother in the form of some govt trading standards body then banned them from publishing it, called it price fixing !

      6 years ago
  • Got a for-expenses offer in a film apparently with a celebrity! Including naked scenes and making use of my decades of training. Perfect deal isn't it! ;)

    6 years ago
  • My dear Tom, I so completely agree with all you said. Having written for Television for 20+ years I'm now seriously considering re-training! I'm sick to death of hearing "Oh we really haven't the budget" "we're gonna be using library music" or talking to a young producer "I would hire a composer but it's just somebody else to deal with"! (You're clearly using the wrong composer if you have to 'deal' with them)
    Hope the situation changes and people start getting into the idea of having unique, bespoke music again. In the meantime I shall continue to live off of my rapidly diminishing royalties and make short films...the reason for my recent arrival here.

    6 years ago
  • I should point out that I pay my actors a living wage/Equity recommended wage for their services, after all this talk of exploitation!

    6 years ago
  • Also, people need to realize that when you ask a composer to write and produce something, it adds a whole other field on its own. If I have to write something orchestral that usually means, having to find musicians and performers, as well as mixing and sound engineers.

    I'm lucky that I share a studio space with cellist and violinist, and that I know how to fully mix and record a session, but I often still have to call friends and ask them to help record brass or more elaborate string sections.

    So to all the would be producers or directors out there, when you ask us to write you some music, its not just us you're asking to do it for free but a whole host of other people, and it only works because WE the composers have built relationships with people that allows us to get the job done for free.

    6 years ago
    • Hi Elu,
      I have a full orchestral recording service in Prague - world class quality and incredibly cheap. Including orchestration, copying, studio, recording and engineers, hotels and flights I can offer 90' recorded score by 40pc orchestra plus 20' choral all over 8 sessions of 4 hours all rights BUYOUTS - plus a day of sightseeing in the middle to get your breath back for £80k. Single UK VAT invoice/payment, everything done for you including, as I say, your flights, hotels, meals for composer and supervising engineer if required.

      Everyone top-notch, sounds amazing, and been working with them off and on for 7 years. They also record scores for video games, A-list performing singers, etc. Local and UK fixers, English spoken. 440/442 compensated (they're used to working with Westerners).

      The offer is open to anyone interested BTW - give me a PM and as I say there is a la carte pricing available to suit all needs, you can even skype in and work remotely!

      6 years ago
  • I love this post - well said Tom :)

    6 years ago
  • Rock'n Roll, Tom!

    Thanks for another voice of EXPERIENCE (you can dare to say that) in this community.
    I'm still up for 'expenses only' roles, I STILL don't mind. Though I'm being more selective than I used to be (I don't touch what I can't trust).
    Being DOP or AD or even Runner as it happens now for me only happens when I can see something ELSE on the project that grabs my attention. But I'm reaching the edge you just did. Look back no more, mate, follow the path you put yourself on and I hope to you can see big notes scoring your bank account. 25 years is a whole life dedicated to art.
    I could add to what you said about filmmakers in this site. There are "people" who like to think themselves as a filmmakers, when they're still trying to be.
    I dare and can say from my metier, anyone who mentions "it will be shot on a 5D" is already a project I'd have to know more much more about before feeling like being involved. Nothing against shooting a DSLR and obviously the film is not ONLY about how it looks, Cinematography is about creativity, etc... we all know that. But ANYONE can lend a 5D from a friend, stick any zoom lenses and say "I'm the DOP". Good for you. Wish you all the best. This is the odd side of a phenomenon in this age we live where anything can be done with everything. Yeah, literally anything.

    You are right to share your rant, Tom. You are allowed.
    I hear you because I've been dealing with lights and cameras for more than 20 years. I'm from the SILVER age. I know how to deal with lights. And very well. You can imagine what is to be in a set with a (very) young crew, working your ass to get the best out of your vision, and you go home without money. But a consolation prize. Some nice shots that will be in your showreel. That for now, it's good.

    I think it fits well a recommendation to watch PLAY, if you still haven't. A brilliant documentary that touches the subject of art being made in this digital age.

    Very soon when my new showreel is done, I'll join your kind. And maybe we could go for a pint.

    Go for it.

    6 years ago
    • Gosh, I've typed this so fast... Full of typos and misplaced words... Sorry guys. :P

      6 years ago
  • I found this and it reminded me of this old thread. Are expenses only projects affecting the mainstream film industry (and the way crew get treated)?

    2 years ago
  • What irks me more than people offering "work" for expenses (can't really blame them, they mostly just want to make a film and have no money, usually it's not cynical) are the ads for low-cost royalty-free music sites. This is symptomatic of the race-to-the-bottom which has led to everyone working for low/no wages in the first place. "Why should I pay someone to write when I can get a billion tracks for $5/month and no legal hassles?"

    Well, those low-cost, royalty-free sites, all that I have ever heard on them is terrible, worthless music, and a great way to ruin your film. Anyone that tells you otherwise is either terminally tasteless or has never worked with a proper, good composer.

    But don't worry, readers, we composers aren't actually a bunch of angry ranting militants; please don't be scared you'll be shouted at if you approach us with your project even if you're worried about money. There's always ways and means. We are really very nice people!

    2 years ago
  • Hi Tom, great post and very valid points. I have never had a top notch composer on any of my films but would love one. So what kind of costs are we talking about for a short? Pm me. I am scared of having to pay for music I don’t like and I have won a prize for my ‘ best score’ in a short film using newcomers and low pay.
    So what I would like in composers showreels is a film with no music and then add the sound so I can see the difference. I don’t want to listen to a reel of their music it’s too hard for me to imagine it’s use. This could be available per genre so I can see if I like what you do and can see(hear) the difference.

    2 years ago