Have you ever come across this type of job ad online?
SEEKING CREW FOR INDEPENDENT FILM
Looking for crew with own equipment for Independent Feature film. Filming will take place in New York.
Any film students who are looking to work on his/her reel are encouraged to apply ASAP.
Looking to shoot in early December and end early January. This is a non-paying job but all participants will receive credit on film and copy of finished film on DVD. Meals also provided. This film will be entered in film festivals upon completion. There will also be a red carpet premiere event in June.
During my job hunt I cannot tell you how many of these types of ads I have come across, and let me tell you it can be extremely frustrating.
I have debated with numerous PA’s on the pros and cons on working for free and I have to say that I am still on the fence about it depending on what type of project it is.¬† Here are a few scenarios:
If you are asked by a good friend to work on a short film of theirs for free over the weekend then I would say yes work on the short film.¬†As long as they offer to feed you for the day be a good friend and help your buddy out.¬† You never know when you will be working on your own short and realize you have no money and need to call in favors.
When they offer you a position you are trying to break into
Here is where it starts to get tricky.¬† Say you get asked to be a coordinator or a scripty on a short film for free.¬† The producers of said short decided to bring you on because you have tons of PA experience and you know how to be in this position even though you do not have any credits for it.¬† In this situation I would say to take the gig to get this credit on your resume.¬† That being said I would be super careful about how long the gig is and that you don’t spend any of your own money for it.
Indie Feature for free
Here is where I will draw the line.¬† Yes it takes money to make a feature film, however, you are now asking people to work for long periods of time for no money.¬† Shoot days are not easy days, they are usually 10+ hours and when you are working for free, those 10+ hours can start to become miserable for your crew.¬† A unhappy crew means an unhappy set which really means stress and bickering making it a very unpleasant filming experience.
These days because of things like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, it has gotten easier to begin to raise money for your film.¬† With all the resources available to producers today I think it is an insult to ask your crew to work for free for long periods of time.
What are your thoughts on working for free?