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Has anyone had any experience with crewing agencies like 'Crew Connection' The reason I ask is that I have contacted by a potential client who wants to hire me for a corporate gig, but for reasons I'm unclear about, he says that he has to hire me and pay me through Crew Connection. At first I thought fine and so I called up crew connection, but they will only add me to their database if I set myself as company and provide my own liability and workers comp insurance, and they will also take a 15% 'finders fee' from my day rate and gear rental.  In the past all this kind of insurance has been covered by the production company that has hired me so I've never had the need to do all of this myself before. This corporate gig will only last four days and so the cost of setting all of this up doesn't seem worth it, but if Crew Connection were to put me forward for other work in the future it might be worth taking the hit on this one. The lady on the phone was very vague about how much work I could potentially get from them, saying something like we'll add you to our database.

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Sounds like bullshiznit. If things like that take hold, we will all be doomed. Sounds like some of the things (lessons to be learned) that aspiring actors and musicians have to wade through when they arrive new to L.A. I would advise to stay away. Faaaaaaaar away.

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Saying yes to this sort of thing puts more power in the hands of the client by not being liable for things like L&D, and it also puts power in the hands of middle-men, starting with finders fees, then who knows what subscriptions you'll also have to sign up for with them to "rank" or "qualify" or who knows what else they'll try charging you for. Just say no. 

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I've done work through an agency before at the request of a foreign client, mainly for payroll/insurance reasons I think.  Got paid the same and had no additional work through the agency, although they wanted me to come in to their office to get set up beforehand

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Yeah it does seem messed up that clients want to push all the additional insurance (Workers Comp, Liability and L&D), that they should be providing onto me. I spoke with the client and asked if there is any way I could deal with him directly, but he says his hands are tied as his higher ups will only allow him to hire crews from Crew Connection because they believe CC ensures that the crews are vetted for their quality and professionalism. He did let it slip to me that because CC deals with all the liability and insurance issues, they don't have to foot that bill. I don't think he realized that CC passes that requirement down the line to the crews- why would he, as it's not the client's concern as to how CC makes sure that the people they send are covered. 

The client who really wants to work with me, did suggest that I could find a company that is already signed up at Crew Connection and have them hire me, but 1) I don't know anyone that is, 2) If I did find someone then that's another cut I'd have to dish out of my day rate as no company would do this for free. 

If CC covered all the insurances then maybe it would have been worth signing up, as I could pad my rate a little to help offset the finders fee, but paying for all the additional insurance that employers should be covering doesn't seem worth it to me. 

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So take your day rate, add 25% for additional payroll taxes etc, then add another 15% to cover the finders fee, then add a little extra to cover whatever other unforseen thing comes up, or to cover some of your time going through this BS, and you have your new rate that you will work at with CC.  Or say no and spend your time fostering relationships with better clients.

I don't work through crew agencies, i've had problems in the past getting paid, but i do charge more if production wants to pay me as a contractor instead of an employee .

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You're satisfied that this client is a real person?  I've never heard of Crew Connection, and this sounds like a strong-arm marketing tactic.  I've also never heard of a client that only uses a payment portal like that.  I'm suspicious.

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Martin, be careful that this CC contract does not end up sending you to the middle of South Dakota to fend for yourself from bed bugs, gear in dust storms, and no lunches.  Approach with caution.

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I've heard of CC, and it's just another example of someone trying to game an existing system and make money by grabbing it from the weakest party, us.  Unless you are totally desperate I would decline this arrangement, while telling your client why--the bottom line is that it's a bad business decision for you (for any of us).  The person the OP is talking to is very likely to be the one who got "sold" by CC, the higher ups wouldn't care and it speaks to all of their inexperience in this business.   Since CC requires you set yourself up as a company and requires you to have your own insurance, what are they bringing to this party?  These clients will find out that only low-skills low experience people will put up with this arrangement.  I've had several of these agencies attempt to recruit me over the years with such statements as "this is the way this business will work in the future, you better get on board".  They all disappeared once the clients realized they get better people for less if they just hire an experienced producer with a solid Rolodex.

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I have a client (large Tech Company) that uses PayReel to pay all of their contractors.  It is a "sister" company to Crew Connection.  I was very skeptical at first as I think Crew Connection is bogus.  (As stated above, passing the fees onto the workers is not ok in my book.)  To my pleasant surprise PayReel has been very good.  They deduct payroll taxes from my day rate and leave my kit rental untouched.  It took 15-20 minutes to set up online initially and subsequent invoicing has been a breeze.  And they pay promptly.  Most importantly they DO NOT take any percentage of my rates as a finders fee.  It's likely they're charging my client some fee but that's as it should be.

Martin, perhaps you should see if your client would settle with this option?

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11 hours ago, boomhead said:

I have a client (large Tech Company) that uses PayReel to pay all of their contractors.  It is a "sister" company to Crew Connection.  I was very skeptical at first as I think Crew Connection is bogus.  (As stated above, passing the fees onto the workers is not ok in my book.)  To my pleasant surprise PayReel has been very good.  They deduct payroll taxes from my day rate and leave my kit rental untouched.  It took 15-20 minutes to set up online initially and subsequent invoicing has been a breeze.  And they pay promptly.  Most importantly they DO NOT take any percentage of my rates as a finders fee.  It's likely they're charging my client some fee but that's as it should be.

Martin, perhaps you should see if your client would settle with this option?

PayReel is a payroll services company, like EP or PixPay etc. so they charge the hiring company a percentage to manage all the payroll, taxes, be the employer of record, etc.  Crew Connection is a staffing agency, which is a different kind of business.

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PayReel was a hassle for me, esp in that they (at least then) were set up for "onboarding" me as a new permanent staff member of whatever company my client was working for, and I was kind of a round peg in a square hole.  It got worked out eventually but was way too much crap to go through for a 1-day job.  As was said, they are a payroll company, they don't do the vetting that CC (theoretically) does.  But good suggestion for the OP.

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On 6/1/2016 at 9:24 AM, Abe Dolinger said:

You're satisfied that this client is a real person?  I've never heard of Crew Connection, and this sounds like a strong-arm marketing tactic.  I've also never heard of a client that only uses a payment portal like that.  I'm suspicious.

yep, sounds like a marketing ploy to me. As someone else has said, I would increase your rate to offset the fees if you really wanted the gig that bad.

 

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Without getting into specifics, Crew Connection is a legit company.  I was at the kitchen table when the idea was hatched.  That said, I have never worked for them...didn't like the way it was setup, the BS of insurance, etc.  They do a helluva lot of booking around the world...

And yes the best way to deal with this is to raise your rate 25% to cover what they take and for the hassle of all of it.  

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