185 posts in this topic

and this once again brings us to showing full rates, minus discounts on invoices...

Forgive me for being high, in a matter of speaking. My intention is not to vomit out comments however I felt compelled to note that it's been a while since the Senator spoke words of wisdom.

Thank you for this tip Ol' Chap. I'll be doing this from now on.

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So are we going to get back to the OPs question or is this train perminently derailed?

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JonG: " So are we going to get back to the OPs question "

yes...

your turn!

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I'm all for creating a 'standard' for low budget gigs.. The trouble is no one wants to talk about it.  This is the elephant here.

 

But you can bet that there are thousands of producers thinking about pushing rates down... and there doesn't seam to be any counter force to help push back, in order to balance the universe.

 

-Richard

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I believe the "counter force" is us. Negotiation is part of the job, both for us, and most definitely for a producer. Most of the time, I find that they understand, and are reasonable. I've turned down or "lost" a few gigs, but they were unreasonable anyway, so nothing to cry about. Funny thing is that the better paying ones are usually the better overall experience.

There was a thread on this board along the lines of "raise your rates and get more and better gigs"... Good read - I recommend looking it up.

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Got it Johnny.. unfortunately, you are a 'force' of one..  And thats great that you don't take 'unreasonable' jobs.  But how does this help the newbies in our business that don't know what to charge?  How does this protect the industry from people who don't know any better, and way under bid you because they didn't think about whats involved with the gig?  And, what if newbies keep coming and coming.. getting into the sound biz, doing sub par work for the clients, giving the clients sub par attitudes with bad results?  And what if those newbies keep taking job after job away from you?  What if you lost every gig you bid on for the next year?  Would you still be that 'counter force'??

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Richard,

 

When you were young; your payment it was the same as now? Why you judge the newcomers in the business when all of us we started from somewhere?

 

I have done projects without money or little money when I was started. It was my ticket (ticket = connections) for better jobs and rates and thanks to old colleagues who teach me about business and sound.

 

It is your responsibility to teach the newcomers about business; since in colleges there is no word about the reality.

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Got it Johnny.. unfortunately, you are a 'force' of one.. And thats great that you don't take 'unreasonable' jobs. But how does this help the newbies in our business that don't know what to charge? How does this protect the industry from people who don't know any better, and way under bid you because they didn't think about whats involved with the gig? And, what if newbies keep coming and coming.. getting into the sound biz, doing sub par work for the clients, giving the clients sub par attitudes with bad results? And what if those newbies keep taking job after job away from you? What if you lost every gig you bid on for the next year? Would you still be that 'counter force'??

I understand what you mean, but I also think that there's a significant difference between the work that a newbie can get and a more experienced mixer can get.

Like Vas said, we have certain sense of responsibility to teach the next generation, however, I will add the caveat that it is the newer generation that should be looking for the aid of the experienced. I'm still relatively new in this industry, but the only reason I am where I am today, is because I was diligent enough from the beginning to seek the tutelage from my mentors and colleagues who were more experienced than me. They were more than open to teach me. I learned quickly what a proper rate is, and gained the confidence to charge it.

So IMO it is not impossible to create such "force", even within the non-union range of work, we just have to be open about such discussions with each other.

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Vasllelos,

 

I'm not judging newbies.  I'm judging all new people in the business that think by working for free or way too low, that this will get them ahead in their endevors.  9 times out of 10, this only brings more people to your life that want more free work.

 

These producers are not your ticket for better jobs, you'll work free forever... What changes is 'YOU'.  YOU are your own ticket. Once you put your foot down, and say to yourself, "im not going to do this anymore".. Thats when the change happens.

 

YES it is our responsibity to teach the newcomers about business.. here it is..  STOP WORKING FOR CHEAP!  .. even if your new.

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I met one DoP back in my "black age" which has suggest me in one director. Now with this DoP and director we done a tv drama and we are talking for another one. In one day from low - no budgets I jumped to big budgets. I worked with experience sound mixer which teach the business and sound. Yes, it was a ticket this no pay job.

 

But you didn't answer my question. When you were young; your payment it was the same as now?

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#: 37   Posted (edited)

Borg: " way under bid you because they didn't think about whats involved with the gig?  And, what if newbies keep coming and coming.. getting into the sound biz, doing sub par work for the clients, giving the clients sub par attitudes with bad results?  And what if those newbies keep taking job after job away from you?  What if you lost every gig you bid on for the next year?  Would you still be that 'counter force'?? "

I was going to take this apart phrase by phrase,  'cause...

you are making a number of unwarranted assumptions..

that all "newbies" do a poor job (sub par work, bad results)

that newbies give the clients bad attitudes

that paying more guarantees better sound ( :blink: ) no matter how unreasonable their expectations

that they are stealing your gigs  --they are not yours until you get them!

that your work is always perfect, and your attitude is always terrific  --you have documented here cases where that was not true!

 

 

" I'm not judging newbies.  I'm judging all new people in the business "

:wacko:

actually, there are some terrific newbies, and a number of sub-par old timers (including well paid union old timers!) out there...

 

 

get over it,  this is the way business operates.  I'm sure I've said this before:  back in the 80's, I was in the IA (had been in 665, and newly in 695)  when I worked some pre-pro on a very major studio pic. they had yet to hire the DPS, so I asked the (now very well known) producer-director about doing the production sound for the movie and the answer I got was that one of the "heavy hitters" would be doing the movie, after all they would be paying the same union rate to whoever they hired*.

  moral: deal with it!

 

* also worth noting that there are some union mixers who command a premium (overscale) rate and/or terms (separate from their premium rental rates!); the top experienced boom operators frequently get overscale (typically a bump from the Y-8 rate to the Y-4 rate), usually negotiated for them by the mixer.

Edited by studiomprd

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I am over it Senator.. I sleep very well at night knowing that if I miss on jobs, it's because my rate was too high... OK WITH ME.

Also, you made a bunch of assumptions yourself.  Did you know that there are actually sound mixers out there (if you call them that), who take those crap jobs, show up on set, record bad sound, and then when it's over, actually leverage the producers for more cash by withholding the files?  I call that a bit shady, but I've heard several producers tell me this now!  Wow.. the balls?  Of course they will never get a job with that producer again, but the shear number of producers they keep fleecing, can go on forever.

Would you, I, or anyone on this board do that?  Probably not, because we're all here because we care about the biz.. But there are people who don't care out there. And they have different moviations, and what they do effects us, like it or not.

For every great sound mixer, I'll show you shitty sound mixers.. and the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

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#: 40   Posted (edited)

RR: " if I miss on jobs, it's because my rate was too high.. "

well,  sometimes...maybe!

 

" Did you know that there are actually sound mixers out there (if you call them that), who take those crap jobs, show up on set, record bad sound, and then when it's over, actually leverage the producers for more cash by withholding the files? "

yes, I know folks take those low paying gigs, (including you... and do you record bad sound on those ?)  and how do you know that the other newbies always "record bad sound", and on those gigs, the expectations are typically unreasonable to begin with for anyone, even you !  and withholding the files for terms beyond those agreed on is sleazy no matter how bad, or good the sound is...

" Of course they will never get a job with that producer again, " many of those producers never have another job to offer...and in many cases, the gig was not what I would call a job...

 

" For every great sound mixer, I'll show you shitty sound mixers.. " yeah, but you are mixing your metaphors; rates and capabilities are not, as you know, linked by cause and effect.  nor are rates and ethics... or even rates and intentions.

We have a thread displaying the terrible "opportunities" available on CL / Mandy, but you keep prospecting there and then complaining about the quality and or pay they offer....

Edited by studiomprd

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Well.

I've been searching through this forum for something completely different (quirk in 552... going to keep searching and see if anyone else has mentioned it before...) , but stumbled upon this banter that I shall chime my first post here.

 

Being a "Newbie" myself, and reaching out to Rich Ragon, I can personally vouch that what he verbally stands for is in agreement with the general consensus of this thread, though there seem to be assumptions based on implied generalizations.

He took me under his wing and I worked boom/utility under him for a "freebie" job he has been doing every year for for a few years now. It was on a lot (had never been on one before that), and I gained a lot of knowledge on set and picking his brain while waiting for cameras and actors to set up. 

After the job was over, we discussed rates and self-worth, and 'red flag' signs of people who want to hire you. I gained the confidence and words needed to talk to potential clients, and weed out the ones that were probably not worth dealing with in the first place. Sure, there may be some low/now-pay jobs that lead to further employment, but it takes a certain skill to discern those from the rest.

That said, I feel lucky to get 350-400 asking as a day rate and basic kit, being conscious of the fact that it is around 5 times minimum national hourly wage, and saving bits of overhead for better gear. I have also worked for $250 day rates, where $75 of it went towards gear that was not mine, but was happy to not be in an office or WAL MART that day. 

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This is always a tricky discussion and I'm always torn when it comes up, although for me personally I have come to a conclusion of sorts.

We could say that this job is the job it is and should pay x amount per day. Just like the baker will always sell his bread at a certain price. You don't ask him about his experience, do you? Would you pay more, when you found out the baker has done this job for the past 25 years? No. You would, perhaps, pay more if you really liked his bread, regardless of the experience.

But of course, we are not bakers. But we do have a product to sell, ourselves. And we need to be able to charge according to whatever we think makes us qualified to do this job well. The baker didn't start out selling expensive bread. He needed to establish a reputation so that eventually people wanted to buy his bread, even if it were a bit more expensive, so now the baker could up his prices. But when he started, the baker most likely would have checked out other bakeries to find out at what price others were selling their bread so he wouldn't be way off.

Newbies should charge less. But there should be a limit to how much less. In Germany we have a salary per day (well, week actually) which was set by the union and the producer's alliance. Unions here are somewhat different to the US, but they did achieve that. In my view, this should be the minimum wage for all sound mixers, including newbies. Everyone with more experience or demonstrated quality or good connections or whatever can feel free to negotiate for more. I'm not entirely sure how it works in the US, but surely the union rates could be used by non-union mixers, too? It should be considered a minimum wage for psm's. All of them.

However, it must, despite all this be possible to accept a job on a low-budget production. I for one have done a few of those and will continue to do so, but I'll choose them carefully. E.g. It will always be a full-length film (no discounts for one day jobs), everyone will be low-budget, the difference to the standard rate should be deferred, and so on.

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Once there were bread bakers, who made a bread for a certain price. Then supermarkets came, and made bread cheaper (also due to automation), and we, the people, consumers, accepted this new reality and it became the new standard. Even the artesian bread came down in price to compete with that. Quality is subjective and most people don't care about it when buying a bread.

Once there were plumbers, painters, who did something for a certain amount of money per hour. Now in Europe for example since the 90's, with open borders and rules against fixed pricing, there is a huge downfall in labour rewarding going on. People, consumers, wanted it, embraced the cheaper options, and went for it. Every household in the Netherlands for example, can afford all of the sudden a new kitchen and a guy to fix the garden every other year. Not to mention phenomenons like IKEA. Quality again subjective, people just feel the need and go for cheap.

Sound and video persons were going for a certain rate a couple of years ago. Then video audio gear became affordable, and hobbists, interested and students who are just starting in the business could offer a certain lower fee. small music recording studios became more mainstream than high end ones, every wedding had all of the sudden a higher standard video, musicians had a proper (read:good enough) recording and even a nice music video to come along with that. A documentary maker now could skip a camera operator because in the late 90's the XL-1 came out for 5000 dollars and was easier to operate and leveled quality wise with betacams. People wanted it, and maybe because it's for a huge part technology, embraced it.

There still is hand baked bread for the lovers of it, probably will never go away.

There still are high skilled plumbers and professional painters for the big high standard projects, will never go away.

There still will be a need for a proper sound or video professional, that will stay.

Though, people, and all of us as well, will go to Walmart to get this loaf of 50 cent bread, ask a brother of a neighbor to fix the boiler for a tray of beer, and find a ex-student to do sound for a a subway sandwich.

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Good points have been made here. Slightly going off topic, I would like to add that in the recent years the amount of audiovisual media produced has increased significantly. For example, every business, big or small, (except ours?) needs a more or less professionally made video for every new product or piece of news, because with the internet there are just so many possibilities place videos, while it used to be just TV, cinema and VHS or DVD. And it doesn't look like it's getting less anytime soon. So even though many productions will look to shoot with just one or even no sound person at all because they want it cheap, there should in theory still be enough work for all of us hard working production sound professionals in the future, because there will always be those productions that want to look and sound better than the average.

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#: 47   Posted (edited)

hi, and welcome mitkov: " I worked boom/utility under him (Borg) for a "freebie" job he has been doing every year for for a few years now. "

Ah...

and naturally in those years, the price has not gone up...  and how many full, proper paying gigs does the producer provide the Borg with each year.  how many does the producer provide Mitkov ??  by getting boomers to work for free on non-paying projects, does this make RR at least a bit of a hypocrite ?...  :blink:     Oh, but it was on a lot... :wacko:

 

and how about this: I tell my students that if they have a free friend, and can only pay one person for sound, they really ought to hire an experienced boomer, and have their free friend watch the winky-blinky lites...

Edited by studiomprd

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I am over it Senator.. I sleep very well at night knowing that if I miss on jobs, it's because my rate was too high... OK WITH ME.

Also, you made a bunch of assumptions yourself.  Did you know that there are actually sound mixers out there (if you call them that), who take those crap jobs, show up on set, record bad sound, and then when it's over, actually leverage the producers for more cash by withholding the files?  I call that a bit shady, but I've heard several producers tell me this now!  Wow.. the balls?  Of course they will never get a job with that producer again, but the shear number of producers they keep fleecing, can go on forever.

Would you, I, or anyone on this board do that?  Probably not, because we're all here because we care about the biz.. But there are people who don't care out there. And they have different moviations, and what they do effects us, like it or not.

For every great sound mixer, I'll show you shitty sound mixers.. and the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

 

One's business practices transcend from A to Z ( Equipment to attitude).   No way is up-charging delivery acceptable but then again thats the cycle of the business.   Low end producers hiring Low end audio guys will end up with Low end business practices done to them going in either direction.  Mistakes make everyone learn.   

 

Sound classes should teach current going UNION rates for sound and acceptable non union rates with examples of why that non union rate may be acceptable (stock gear, experience, job type) .  That way they know how serious of a job they are entering and how seriously they should be taking it and how serious they should be treated.  

 

I know my buddies from college that are working way more than me (With better equipment) are working for less and hand me off lower paying jobs that I can not take out of principle.  Thanks to you guys on here I learned thats a necessary way to go about things if I want to make my future business better. 

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still: " Sound classes should teach current going UNION rates for sound and acceptable non union rates "

good point, no... excellent point; I have been doing this, but unfortunately other classes, like production management, budgeting, etc., are passing on the lowball rates like they are the Gospel.

 

" I know my buddies from college that are working way more than me (With better equipment) are working for less and hand me off lower paying jobs that I can not take out of principle. "

yep, and unfortunately here, this is mostly preaching to the choir ...

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True, type of work definitely influences how much you should charge, such as with commercials being higher paid. But these are also dictated by the IA. I don't do commercials (they are all union, at least the good ones anyway, I'm not in the union). If you are doing non-union work, you are likely working ENG, docs, reality, etc.

In my case, rates are pretty much the same across the board because I primarily do non union work for TV networks including reality, internet content, lots of sit down interviews and b-roll, and some doc. I don't do (non-union) narratives, they just don't pay well in my experience.

The best way to gauge how much you should be charging is to look at your peers in your market, and see what everyone is charging. And we should be open about discussing these things because we should all be striving to getting paid well and fairly for our work. That can only happen if we are all in the same page.

Well said!! Sounds like you do the same type of work that I'm doing. Yes this is exactly why I wanted to talk and ask my peers so I can make sure I stay in the same page with everyone. Sorry I have been MIA on my post work picked up and had me a little sidetracked very grateful for everyone's feedback and thoughts. The more we support eachother the better of we will be. I was currently charging 500/labor and 200/gear but now since I have more I want to up that in price and better breakdown my package so thanks sound family for feedback.

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