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How to fix the bottom feeding frenzy?


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I don't claim to have the solution. Just an idea. I think more of you should pitch some of these. It's depressing searching through threads and getting halfway through before the subject is turned to the lack of work and stories of producers asking mixers to take such low rates.

So how can this be fixed! Convincing the producers to properly budget for the sound department has been tried countless times. That won't stop the mixers who are doing the undercutting either.

You could find out who all of these mixers are and kidnap them. This would leave more demand and work for everyone on the JW group. But where would you store all of these mixers? You'd have to pay for their dungeon expenses, food, expendables (no reimbursement). It'll cost too much out of pocket.

Well I just thought of this 5 minutes ago, so poke holes all you like. If you could get many of those mixers to join the union as a utility or boom operator, they'd be making those lower rates that they're offered for mixing. I'm under the impression that to get into 695, one needs 100 non-union days with call sheets, pay stubs, and sometimes letters from producers or sound mixers. And I know if a show flips that's a way as well, or 30 union days. (I'm not knowledgeable on this so if someone could point out where I've missed things I'd appreciate it)

The reason that the market is so flooded with mixers could be because there are rarely ever any sound utilities, so the people aiming to get their days are the ones mixing projects. If the union were somehow behind the idea of changing the way a utility or boom op enters the union perhaps many of the more novice mixers would change the way...I have to go get food. I'll be back in an hour. Apologies!

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I for one am in the camp of joining together to form a guild of our own. We make this guild Free (to cheap) to join so there's no excuse, and all members agree to NOT charge less than 10/hr for labor, and 300/day minimal for a basic sound package. Then proceed to educate the crap out of every new producer in school, everyone in low budget production, and on every job posting site everywhere.. that the words, "must own your own equipment" should NOT be synonymous with "Give all the equipment you have to the production for FREE". I think one of the problems is that these producers, simply just don't know any better. They see other producers posting 100/day gigs, and they begin to think this is the norm.

Education, and solidarity are our best tools.

-Richard

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"...not charge less than 10/hr for labor..." = I'd sure as f##k hope not. I don't think you need to form a "guild" to prevent common sense professionals from taking rates like this. But then again, a wise man once said "when reaching for the stars, always reach for the lowest one". (sarcasm)

Regarding having folks join the union: being union doesn't guarantee jobs. On top of that, there aren't enough jobs union or non, that exist to employ all of the "mixers" that are flooding the market right now. On top of THAT, there are plenty of union folks who take relatively low paying non-union jobs on the side.

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I for one am in the camp of joining together to form a guild of our own. We make this guild Free (to cheap) to join so there's no excuse, and all members agree to NOT charge less than 10/hr for labor, and 300/day minimal for a basic sound package. Then proceed to educate the crap out of every new producer in school, everyone in low budget production, and on every job posting site everywhere.. that the words, "must own your own equipment" should NOT be synonymous with "Give all the equipment you have to the production for FREE". I think one of the problems is that these producers, simply just don't know any better. They see other producers posting 100/day gigs, and they begin to think this is the norm.

Education, and solidarity are our best tools.

-Richard

Richard,

If I read that correct....Not less than $10 an hour and $300 dy for BASIC gear package ? Really... $10 an hour you can make at IN and OUT BURGER... with some benefits... Those rates ARE giving you and your gear away for free...

That IS the problem not the solution...

How about $50 an hour and $500 a day for a BASIC Sound package... as the MINIMUM...

I have said it a thousand times... If Plumbers never charge below $60 an hour, why the F%^K do some of you...? Good question hunh.... NOT so much that exact amount, only an example, but the fact that nationwide, they are pretty even on their rate... LA, SF, Dallas etc.... always close to the same rate... Mom and pop Plumbers as well as Union.... WHY them and not us....

The only way to live at the minimums you suggested Richard, is to still live with mom and dad and have them buy your asswipe as well as be on their insurance (car and medical) and drive their stationwagon with your gear to work.... Other than those meager benefits.... I don't see these rates as any proper solution...

The idea of a pledge is a start, and a mini unofficial union of sorts, a club, a brother and sisterhood... I think is a good idea... It would have nothing to do with employment, only the pledge to act as a member of this trade with all respect to the craft and it's members... and to do so in a positive way.

Sorry, I could not resist the thread... I tried.... Please don't wind me up on this subject... it's touchy with me... ::)

I anticipate a hot thread here...

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I for one am in the camp of joining together to form a guild of our own. We make this guild Free (to cheap) to join so there's no excuse, and all members agree to NOT charge less than 10/hr for labor, and 300/day minimal for a basic sound package.

Richard, the only problems with that are:

1) there will always be people who don't agree

2) there are all kinds of federal regulations that limit what a union can do (particularly in terms of price fixing and so on).

I was part of two separate 695 organizing efforts at two different video post houses in LA, and both went down in flames. We tried very hard to convince people to vote for the union and see the advantages of union membership -- strength in unity, and all that -- but fear killed the deal. In the first (1980), the NLRB opened up the election to secretaries, drivers, and vault people, so the editors, colorists, and tape ops who wanted the union were pushed aside. In another deal 20 years later, I tried to get IA in another company, and everyone was concerned that their existing pay would cut down to union minimum if we signed on. I assured them that we could specify in the contract, "everybody's pay stays the same," and that this was about seniority and benefits, not wages, but no one would go for it.

And then there are producers who simply say, "this is a non-union show -- I don't give a damn what the union rates are." I've worked tons of SAG low-budget shoots where everybody else is non-union, or it's a combination of union & non-union, everybody just grabbing the best deal they can under the circumstances.

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There will always be bottom feeders no matter what we do to educate or form a guild. Just like there will always be people buying lottery tickets no matter what the laws of probability say. Because every one of those bottom feeding soundies, and gaffers, and work-for-free DPs, and wannabe directors knows that with only a few lucky breaks, they'll be the next Scorsese.

It's an old joke, but bears repeating:

... man who goes to be treated for a rash on his arm.

"What do you do for a living?" the doctor asks him.

"I work at the circus, giving enemas to the elephants," the guy says, adding disgusting details about how he administers the enemas.

"Quit your job and the rash will clear up," the doctor says.

The guy replies, "What? And leave show business?"

--- Roger Ebert (among many others); this citation from http://rogerebert.su...ERMAN/508070304

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I'm with Drunk Nun. I think the solution is to educate the producers.

I've started reaching out to film schools through my studio, which provides sound design and ADR, in order to inform and form connections with students, who will eventually become producers and directors: we're putting together a four- to six-hour workshop that covers all aspects of postproduction as it relates to filmmaking.

We could do a similar one for production, which would cover the sound dept. personnel, procedures and rates. Maybe that's something we can get together and create at JWsoundgroup, and then host every couple of months, for fledgling producers.

My two cents...

BK

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I'm with Drunk Nun. I think the solution is to educate the producers.

I've started reaching out to film schools through my studio, which provides sound design and ADR, in order to inform and form connections with students, who will eventually become producers and directors: we're putting together a four- to six-hour workshop that covers all aspects of postproduction as it relates to filmmaking.

We could do a similar one for production, which would cover the sound dept. personnel, procedures and rates. Maybe that's something we can get together and create at JWsoundgroup, and then host every couple of months, for fledgling producers.

My two cents...

BK

The trouble is BK, I REALLY do not think they WANT to be educated.... They want to manage expense while maximizing profit and completing their projects in a way which benefits only a few.... Sound people are among the many who are NOT in any way in their plans for financial advancement... to them we are mearly tools by which they ply their craft. And, could care less about us, or others in our position.

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Regarding having folks join the union: being union doesn't guarantee jobs. On top of that, there aren't enough jobs union or non, that exist to employ all of the "mixers" that are flooding the market right now. On top of THAT, there are plenty of union folks who take relatively low paying non-union jobs on the side.

What if the union added an additional way of getting in? Following a mentorship program for a certain number of days under a working union mixer. Sort of like a trainee, I know these exist but don't think it's taken advantage of often. Maybe those that are trying to get in would need to take a course BEFORE attempting to get their days? That way the new blood can be taught the business side, which is what Cujo has thought of doing. Educating the producers is important but if I was sat down and taught how to do business properly, and earlier, I'd be better off in negotiations as a mixer.

Sorry, I could not resist the thread... I tried.... Please don't wind me up on this subject... it's touchy with me... ::)

I think it's touchy with a lot of people. Hopefully there is a solution!

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I don't understand why it isn't enough to have a pledge among production soundies that cuts lowballing producers out of accessing the truly talented sound mixers.

A few productions where the sound is awful, and they have to spend umpteen thousands on looping dialogue or "fix it in post" miracles will make it plain to the smart ones that it saves them money to pay a good rate for sound talent and equipment. The dumb ones will never manage to get their work shown or respected because people will say the sound sucks.

Or is that just too idealistic?

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I don't understand why it isn't enough to have a pledge among production soundies that cuts lowballing producers out of accessing the truly talented sound mixers.

A few productions where the sound is awful, and they have to spend umpteen thousands on looping dialogue or "fix it in post" miracles will make it plain to the smart ones that it saves them money to pay a good rate for sound talent and equipment. The dumb ones will never manage to get their work shown or respected because people will say the sound sucks.

Or is that just too idealistic?

It may not sound awful at all. That might be the problem.

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there are plenty of people at athe bottom that do decent to good work. That is the problem.

If that is truly the case, then any effort to organize will fail. We need a real differentiation with those people at the bottom who do good work if you want to stave off the inevitable.

Unfortunately most people just don't give a hoot about sound. We are just a PIA on shoots and nerds to the rest of the world..

Doesn't stop me trying my best thou.

And (little, if hopefully) none of that work is going to make it to television, or VOD, or theatrical release, or direct-to-DVD, or whatever other distribution that might actually make producers money. Yes, it might go on YouTube and get millions of views, but that is a "winning the lottery" scenario.

At least, that's what I want to believe... :P

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RH

I'd love to agree with you but Unfortunately most people just don't give a hoot about sound. We are just a PIA on shoots and nerds to the rest of the world..

Doesn't stop me trying my best thou.

Grant

(null)

Well said sir, my experience too, except I might not resort to archaic second person singular pronouns :) ......

So the inhabitants of the top advocate country of free market capitalism try to find ways of escaping the ruthlessness of the free market.

We've all escaped the ruthlessness of evolutionary selection to some degree as a result of human ingenuity but we don't seem to like to apply that in our economic relations too much.

The market pays what the market can get away with......... downward pressure, can we organize to push back, it seems to be difficult?

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Richard,

If I read that correct....Not less than $10 an hour and $300 dy for BASIC gear package ? Really... $10 an hour you can make at IN and OUT BURGER... with some benefits... Those rates ARE giving you and your gear away for free...

Did everyone forget what the word MINIMUM means? It does NOT mean that this is what YOU ALL charge. It only means that if you are NEW to this biz (and join this fictious guild), that this is what you agree to start your rates at. It means this is a starting position for which producers can expect to pay. If you want expierence (or much more gear), you go UP from there.

-Richard

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Did everyone forget what the word MINIMUM means? It does NOT mean that this is what YOU ALL charge. It only means that if you are NEW to this biz (and join this fictious guild), that this is what you agree to start your rates at. It means this is a starting position for which producers can expect to pay. If you want expierence (or much more gear), you go UP from there.

-Richard

I understand Richard, I get your meaning, but I believe there should be a starting price above that price point, that's all.. $ something above IN and OUT Burger.... LOL...

I love the fictious guild idea.... by the way... will it help, who knows, but it's a start.... Now everyone, hand over their heart and pledge....

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Richard, the only problems with that are:

1) there will always be people who don't agree

Yes, your right Marc.. But it will be a whole lot harder for producers to find those people working for that cheap. Then, shortly after that.. when those 'cheap' mixers, soon figure out that all those other mixers are making 3-10x more money, it will accelerate their enlightenment. :)

-Richard

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The trouble is BK, I REALLY do not think they WANT to be educated.... They want to manage expense while maximizing profit and completing their projects in a way which benefits only a few.... Sound people are among the many who are NOT in any way in their plans for financial advancement... to them we are mearly tools by which they ply their craft. And, could care less about us, or others in our position.

The word 'Education' is subjective.. For example.. I've been running my car without oil for months now.. Suddenly, I'm driving on the freeway, and I hear a noise, then a BANG!! the mechanic says that’s going to cost me, 3K for a new motor. I learned from many people that you have to put oil in my car.. but, I'm a cheap basterd, and I didn't do it.. Well.. I just got educated, when I was FORCED to now go by the rules, or it's going to cost me.

See how that education thing works? :)

-Richard

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there are plenty of people at athe bottom that do decent to good work. That is the problem.

Agreed.. Currently, there's no deterrent for this, and they believe that the only people they are hurting is themselves.. a group of their respected peers telling them NOT to do this, is a great deterrent, as well as an example to rise up in this biz.

-Richard

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The word 'Education' is subjective.. For example.. I've been running my car without oil for months now.. Suddenly, I'm driving on the freeway, and I hear a noise, then a BANG!! the mechanic says that’s going to cost me, 3K for a new motor. I learned from many people that you have to put oil in my car.. but, I'm a cheap basterd, and I didn't do it.. Well.. I just got educated, when I was FORCED to now go by the rules, or it's going to cost me.

See how that education thing works? :)

-Richard

If that was correct, everyone would of been burned by now and "learning"... but that does not seem to be happening... They still think it's a better idea to simply take the chance on having it NOT done right the first time, and fixing it however they might after the fact... I personally see and hear about that all the time, put a butt in the seat that fits THEIR idea of a qualified person, at their unreasonable price point, and let the games begin...

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If that was correct, everyone would of been burned by now and "learning"... but that does not seem to be happening...

+1

I've worked post sessions where the dialog was unusable because of cheap thin-sounding radios and had to be looped. When I pointed out to the producer that looping shouldn't have been necessary ... in fact, while the shot was too wide for a boom, it could have used a wired lav with no trouble ... he bragged about how little he had paid for that second-unit soundie with kit!

They don't learn. For many producers, the reward is being cheap. If the film suffers, well, everybody knows that sound is a crap shoot.

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Could part of the problem be that we give away our sound secrets on this site? Anyone can buy the equipment that we use and push the record button, but what sets apart the newbies from the pros is the problem solving that takes years to learn. Yet we give that away to anyone that asks.

A UPM told me a story that relates to what is happening here. An exec. producer from another show came to him and asked him if he knew of a place that fulfilled a laundry list of requirements and also how do you get around the other problems associated with that. The UPM said "I know all that stuff you want but you will have to hire me if you want what's in my brain. I am good at what I do because of what's in my head and I don't give that away for free."

Is that not what we are doing here? Can't any newbie join this group and find the answer to his problems for free? We spent years of trial and error solving those problems and we give it away to a newbie so he can undercut us all on rates and jobs. He should just crash and burn thus causing the producer to question his choice of picking the cheapest sound guy he could find.

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