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How Long to Wait before Taking A New Job


Erob
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As a youngish mixer who is still comping at the bit to get as much work as I can I was curious what some of you all do in regards to double booking yourself? 

 

I had someone reach out to me in January to do some work in March, after I confirmed my availability and asked for the sides for the day (which he offered originally if I wanted them) I haven't heard from him. I emailed him back recently to try and confirm the dates since its coming up in a few weeks but still haven't heard anything. Now I have the opportunity for something else the same weekend (thats actually more work at a higher rate). Just trying to figure out how to best negotiate these waters without bailing on the original job but also making sure I have some work that weekend. 

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You're not booked for the original job, in fact it sounds like you didn't even reach any kind of hold stage. He inquired, you responded, you followed up. That's that; there's nothing to bail on. You're available to take the newer offer, it looks like. You could:

 

1) Tell the first person that you have another offer and want to know for sure if the first person still wants to book you. And you need to know within a day so you don't leave the other people hanging and possibly miss out on the work. Though you know, that lack of responsiveness on his part isn't a good sign. It's not a TERRIBLE sign, but how solid is that job anyway? Might he say, "yes, I want to hire you" and then cancel? 

 

2) Tell the first person you that took the other job and just wanted to be sure he knew that you are no longer available. "Hope we can work together in the future."

 

3) Take the other job and if the first person calls/emails/etc about their earlier inquiry (and again, it sounds like it was nothing more than that), tell them that you're already booked. You'll have to read the person to decide if you want to say, "Since I didn't hear back from you..." or if you think that might just upset the guy.

 

As someone who gets hired as crew and hires crew, I'm cool with tentative inquiries, pencil holds... but those aren't promises on either side. Once we get to booking, then both sides need to follow through (show up, and pay). And it's cool if people I've booked call and ask, "Are we still on? I have this other offer..." Sometimes they'll say it's at a higher rate, too. Then I'll decide if I can easily/comfortably replace that person, or if I really need that particular person. I'm OK, in my producer pants, telling someone I've booked that we're still on...even if it means they miss out on the higher-paying gig (note that I pay decently; the differences come from extra rentals and stuff they're missing out on, and some jobs do pay more than I do). I'm also OK with people telling me they aren't available. And if a job isn't happening on the dates I asked people to hold, I let them know ASAP. (And if I need to cancel, I do). Nothing magic or special about all that, but in my little world, that stuff in increasingly uncommon.

 

Finally, is the person who inquired an established big deal in your region? Or someone like you who's just getting established? Perhaps they're still trying to get things together on their end, and are even perhaps a little overwhelmed. That happens... But don't let that make you miss out on work.

 

I'm probably not stating all this stuff perfectly, but that's the general take. 

 

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+1 to everything Jim said.

 

Also, if you have a trusted colleague, ask if they are available for those dates. Tell them that you may potentially get double booked. Then in case both jobs end up being confirmed, you could refer your buddy to one of the jobs. 

Note that this doesn't always work out, since some clients prefer pick from their own list of people (for various reasons), but I think most appreciate that you try to help them out rather than just "bail" on them last minute.

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6 hours ago, Jim Feeley said:

You're not booked for the original job, in fact it sounds like you didn't even reach any kind of hold stage. He inquired, you responded, you followed up. That's that; there's nothing to bail on. You're available to take the newer offer, it looks like.

 

Totally agree.

A wise (not so old) sound mixer mentor once told me:

 "Always take the first job that's confirmed" 

.. a piece of advice that hasn't let me down yet.

By the sounds of it you are well within your rights to politely let the original client know you are now unavailable to work on those dates.

W

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18 hours ago, Johnny Karlsson said:

+1 to everything Jim said.

 

Also, if you have a trusted colleague, ask if they are available for those dates. Tell them that you may potentially get double booked. Then in case both jobs end up being confirmed, you could refer your buddy to one of the jobs. 

Note that this doesn't always work out, since some clients prefer pick from their own list of people (for various reasons), but I think most appreciate that you try to help them out rather than just "bail" on them last minute.


I’d be careful with this. I know some mixers do this and I know it pisses some producers off occasionally. It can work but I’d say you need to really trust your colleague and also really know the producer and if they’re ok with this kind of arrangement. 
 

For me, the operative words are “booked” or “hold” and by the end of the conversation I try to get them to clarify which of these we’re talking about. If it’s booked I don’t question it again it’s just on the calendar. If it’s a hold and another firm offer comes up I’ll book the firm offer right then and there and then call the other producer and tell them I booked something else.  I used to wait and call the first producer and give them a last chance to book me but I’ve lost too much work that way. It also gives shitty producers an opportunity to pressure you to keep holding by saying they think it’s confirmed and asking you to hang on when really they’re not sure.
 

So like mentioned above I’d say go with the sure thing right away if you want to but just keep everyone in the loop. 

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In my world a "hold" means they've asked for the right of first refusal. If I get another offer for that date, I contact the producer who put me on hold and they can either book me or release me.

 

If you were neither put on a hold nor booked, you don't owe them any allegiance. The exception being if it's a known client with whom an availability request means they're likely to need me on that date, I'll normally consider it a hold and proceed accordingly.

 

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I communicate with producers on this subject to the point of annoyance--even if they've firm booked me I call or write to make sure we are still good for those days every time someone else asks about any of the days in question.  A surprising number of times over the years this communication has revealed a push, a reduction in the # of days they actually want me or an outright cancellation that I had not heard about.  It may be annoying to some producers to do this but it also can head off the hassles and bad feelings of cancellation fees etc.  In other words, I take the term "firm booked" as only relative--since many many times the "firmness" of a booking has "softened" with time.  If I get an enquiry way ahead of time I do check-ins about the date.  No or very slow or vague communication is a bad sign.  Ultimately I award my time to the producer who firm books first, but, as I said, take the "firmness" with a grain of salt.

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2 hours ago, John Blankenship said:

In my world a "hold" means they've asked for the right of first refusal. If I get another offer for that date, I contact the producer who put me on hold and they can either book me or release me.

 

If you were neither put on a hold nor booked, you don't owe them any allegiance. The exception being if it's a known client with whom an availability request means they're likely to need me on that date, I'll normally consider it a hold and proceed accordingly.

 


John, this was my method as well for a long time but I found that often I would lose the offer since if I told a producer that I needed to check a hold they would have already booked someone else by the time I circled back. 
 

I let the producer know up front that that’s how I handle holds now and so far it has been received well. I would hope it encourages them to figure it out and remember to confirm me as soon as they can. 

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I actually tried having someone lined up I could pass the gig off too if they both panned out. Heard back from the original producer yesterday, their shoot has been canceled.

 

Definitely going to be more diligent about following up with people and making sure I get the words “booked” or something along the lines in writing to confirm the shoot. I’m glad the consensus is to take whatever’s firm though, will alleviate some stress on my end the rest of my life, also helps me get away from flaky producers who constantly are playing around with the whole “well we should be shooting that day, but we just need to confirm on thing” or what have you. 

 

Now im just hoping the second job actually pans out and I have some work that weekend. 

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16 hours ago, Derek H said:


John, this was my method as well for a long time but I found that often I would lose the offer since if I told a producer that I needed to check a hold they would have already booked someone else by the time I circled back. 
 

I let the producer know up front that that’s how I handle holds now and so far it has been received well. I would hope it encourages them to figure it out and remember to confirm me as soon as they can. 

 

It's understandable if that's been your experience. What I hear you saying is, you simply don't do holds as most of us know them in the industry. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Erob said:

flaky producers

 

There are definitely flaky producers. But there are also diligent and organized producers who work for flaky clients. Or who are having a tough time wrangling talent. Really becomes an issue when dealing with (1) flaky people, (2) powerful people, (3) big egos, and (4) people who combine two of three of those (e.g., politicians). Right now I'm trying to organize 10 interviews into three days over the next 10; the big struggle is making sure those being interviewed can and do show up on time. Once everyone's in the same room, it'll be non-dairy-good-for-the-environment-and-not-fattening butter. 

 

Therefore it's on me (producer pants again) to be really clear with the people I hire and work with about where things stand...especially if there's been a change. And it's OK for crew to contact me to find out what's up. And if I'm not sure what's up with my project, it's OK if they take something else; I might get grumpy but that's all part of job. Luckily, there are lots of skilled people in my area. So I can be flexible(ish). And I know what a complete and total drag it is to have a paid day or week vaporize for no good reason (or just because of poor planning).

 

I guess I'm saying, have a little love for hardworking producers. But not too much. You need to make a living.

 

Also, about referring someone else: I've received, given, and accepted referrals. It's really helpful. If I'm not right for a job (I have my limits as a mixer, I'm not a camop, etc.), I'll recommend someone I know will do a good job. I only recommend people I'd hire myself because that recommendation affects my reputation. And I appreciate getting good reccos. Here's a typical (and actual) recco chain from a little while ago: I hire a DP I've worked with several times (both as a mixer on the same job and as a producer), he recommends a gaffer that I'd never worked with but who's work I knew, Gaffer & DP settle on a grip/ac swing who they both like but I don't know at all, I can't find an available mixer anywhere near the location, the grip/ac recommends a mixer he knows but I don't at all. The mixer lives near the location, seems to check out via a little backgrounding. I trust the chain so I go with that mixer. And he's great; I'll probably hire him again. If it hadn't worked out, I'd be pretty grumpy with the grip/ac and be less likely to want to hire him again (he was great too; I hope we'll work together on something).

 

I'm avoiding my work. So in summary from my perspective:

 

(1) Cut producers a little bit of slack.

(2) Don't feel bad about asking them what's up and for confirmation of a job. Even multiple times. "We still on?" is a Top 10 text.

(3) If you make a referral, make sure the referral will make you look good.

(4) If you accept a referral, make sure you make both yourself and the referrer look good.

(5) No recommendation is better than a bad recommendation.

(6) It's a business.

 

This is probably all obvious. And maybe some of it is wrong. But that's what comes to mind this morning.

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