Does the National Minimum Wage (NMW) mean the end of micro budget film making the UK?

NMW Let me start by saying, I don’t like polarised positions and I don’t like being drawn into debate where parties end up demonising each other. I seek to unite and not to divide. In that spirit, I have been asked to get involved in a very important debate on the National Minimum Wage in the UK.

Last year BECTU (the film and TV technicians union) won a ‘landmark’ case which seemed to imply that Indie film makers may be exposed to prosecution IF they do not pay the National Minimum Wage (NMW). Even if the crew members who got involved know and agree that there would be low or no pay, the producers could still be prosecuted under this law.

It’s a great headline grabber.

But the law itself is a minefield. Everyone interprets it in a different way, based on their own preconception and of course, their own beliefs and working practices. The whole area is a mess of contradiction, misinformation and woolly legal interpretations (and implied threats from some quarters) of a law that was never created for, or indeed suited to, the creative businesses (never mind low budget film making, what about fringe theatre or a local band playing down the pub, both in clear breach of the national minimum wage).

Next week, I am taking part in a formal parliamentary style debate between two BECTU members, one of whom is Martin Spence (who will be arguing for the national minimum wage to be applied to low budget film making) and with co-founder of Shooting People Jess Search and myself (opposing the national minimum wage being applied to low budget film making).

This is all couched under the less in your face motion of… ‘Working for free is the only way for new entrants to get a foot in the door of the film and television industry but are you shooting yourself in the foot?’

So are you for it or against it? (why do you have to be one of the other? So just to be clear, I am both for it and against it, just a little more for it, based on my own life experiences).

BECTU have organised the event in an attempt to better understand the problems and differences we all face in regard to this idea. Their aim is to draw up a code of conduct for indie film makers to follow so they can get behind it. And like most indie film makers who have looked into this problem, I do find myself agreeing with BECTU on many points. No-one wants to see people being genuinely and knowingly exploited by unscrupulous producers.

But… Will this actually help? Do we actually need more rules and regulations to ‘protect’ vulnerable film makers? I also find myself at logger heads with some of BECTU’s more aggressive assertions. And some I find downright offensive. More importantly, they are simply unsustainable and unworkable.

Frankly, this whole debate makes me quite sad.

In many ways, it’s very regressive thinking, harking back to an industry of yesteryear. In days gone by, there really were clear paths for film and TV professionals to follow, from assistants and runners, all the way up the ladder to the top of their chosen game. Back then, there was a viable and stable market for films, and a good producer could make a business of it, based on proven working practices and budgets.

I guess in those days, this kind of thinking and legislation made sense.

But in 2010, most film makers I know are producers, directors, self shooting, self editing, helping and collaborating on each others films, sharing knowledge and information generously… (I might add, back in the ‘good old days’, no-one shared any information, they kept it all to themselves, hence our Guerilla Film Makers Handbook). Today, the notion of a single career path seems a little absurd to myself and many other indie film makers I can call my friends. And the concept of a national minimum wage? Honestly? When we have spoken about it, we kind of giggle at it as a concept. It’s just kind of ridiculous out in the real world that I know and struggle through every day. I can only assume that the people who proposed this law have never been involved in a massive ‘against all odds’ creative endeavour such as a low budget film.

For me, there was no way into the film business unless I kind of smashed my way in (or you have personal wealth and connections). And no-one actually knows what the film industry will look like tomorrow (and I mean literally tomorrow, not one day some day…) Everything is sooooo unstable and in evolutionary flux.
I believe we are in a revolution as big as the industrial revolution. It’s MASSIVE! The industry is changing on a daily basis and I genuinely don’t know where a union such as BECTU belongs in this brave new world, let alone one who appears to take a stance where they may aggressively pursue film makers for alleged breaches of a law that is as open for interpretation as the NMW law appears to be. Maybe not open for interpretation legally, but certainly practically.

Of course in times like this there will be casualties – we are inside a brave new evolution of the film business. But there will also be extraordinary successes too. Inhibiting these breakthroughs by enforcing draconian and outdated thinking will only curb creativity, for both artists and entrepreneurs. And that is good for no-one.

And so I hope that BECTU really strive to find a middle ground. Lighten up a little. Go with the flow.

My final thoughts? If you have been to my blog before you will know I often film events to share knowledge with other film makers. And so I am going to ask BECTU if a couple of my friends can come and shoot the event so it can be edited, uploaded and shared with everyone who cannot make it (I am happy to organise the filming, get an editor in and to upload the event to the web all for FREE!).


I will need to ask a few of my friends to do this for no-pay as there is no budget to do it. Sadly, I guess that to avoid breaching the NMW at a union organised event, I can only conclude that I had better not do it, just in case, you know, I get prosecuted. So if you can’t attend because you live too far away, for now, tough luck. You just experienced the effect of the National Minimum Wage on film making in 2010. It’s there to protect you and me. 😉

I am of course being deliberately sabre rattling antagonistic. I only mean to illustrate the minefield ahead of us all in the UK.

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

97 Responses to Does the National Minimum Wage (NMW) mean the end of micro budget film making the UK?

  1. Alex March 7, 2010 at 7:57 pm #

    It would make me very happy if I were able to pay the minimum wage or more to anyone I have as crew! That’s what we’re all aiming for, making a living out of what we love to do. Equity don’t seem to have a problem with actors acting for the love of it so why should BECTU have a problem with crew? If they do then I guess we’ll have to look at using the phrase ‘interns’ instead of ‘crew’.

  2. Mark March 7, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    For film makers the likely outcome is you will probably never make money I’ve never understood why a film maker is expected to pay for the privelage of directing or producing and pay everyones wages out of their own pocket and everyone else can learn their craft at his hers expense.

    Most film makers are broke and we are all in the same boat We want to be succesful in our chosen fields and have to learn to a high standard

    Its a collaberation benefitting those involved. In this way we all LEARN on a meagre amount of money If not how is anyone going to learn the film business which will be more closed off than it is.

    Maybe thse acting in amatuer theatre and come to think of it those at school college or university should get paid.

    With many film makers its quite scary seeing the sacrifice and often the result of that Often struggling to pay bills and yet still giving up what little money they have for the production. Even if you managed to get worldwide distribution they’d be lucky to claw back the budget Its expected if you should break out the first film wont make much its the world that opens after that may offer a professional career where pay is the norm.

    Maybe some would say if you want to make a film then you have to pay all the costs I’d say in that case making a film on a low budget would be the domain of the wealthy and fools wishing to make themselves homeless and possibly in prison.

    Is this just another way the social elite can stop the working class from ever breaking in Are we now a threat that needs to be stopped? Many times I’ve been denied opportunites becasue of my social status and its only this country thats ike that Thats why many leave whether in education or any other area of work or play there is a social glass ceiling and in truth Im sick of it. To me this is just another one of those games under the pretext of do gooding.

  3. Rob March 7, 2010 at 9:08 pm #

    I believe that this debate works in a couple of ways. As a young filmmaker/ Runner, I can really appreciate how important voluntary work is to get your foot in the door. Without this option, productions would use the same runners for reliability and ease, and there would be no way of entry for the thousands of other budding filmmakers to use.

    The NMW was put in place to stop exploitation, and I believe this is totally necessary in most jobs, shop work for example. However, when working on productions, many filmmakers, independent or otherwise, do have a set of rules that they abide to, and I know that I have always been taken care of on set.

    This, of course, might not be similar with every production, but I think rather than bringing in the NMW, which could be very destructive to many indie producers, a better solution may be to make sure that every production has a very specific contract to abide by. This would detail exactly which each crew member can expect, with all the usuals such as being fed, and that way, the independent section of the industry can continue to run freely….

  4. Christopher Hughes March 8, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    Nobody puts a gun to your head to work or want to work in the film and television industry. But with a government that wants fairness and equality and industry, i.e tax receipts to get us out of this financial toilet we are in as a country, may be we should be questioning why they want NMW for every one. Well one possible reason is the tax and national insurance they will collect, not saying it would be much but every little hurts. I am a firm believer that people shouldn’t take advantage of others but going to University to study film for argument sake will these days cost you anything up to £20K and you’ll not be qualified to make tea on a film set. You will still have to start off at the bottom and learn the business. I learned more working on my first movie for a £100 a week than I learned in three years of university, which cost me £10K, who’s taking advantage of who?

    And lets face it we do unpaid jobs we are looking to get something out of it, contacts, training, or even just get out of the house, between paid jobs. It should be remembered without the paid job we couldn’t do the free one as we got to it you know. If you don’t like it don’t do it, the industry is not for everyone, nor is it big enough.

  5. ADP March 8, 2010 at 11:23 am #

    Hmm I see both sides of this argument.

    When I started in this game the non paid work was essential for me making contacts and gaining experience and I feel taking away this opportunity would be crushing to the industry as a whole.

    However when 90% of job roles are advertised like ‘crew member wanted with own equipment expenses only’ it screams exploitation and I feel this is equally damaging.

    I believe that entry roles shouldn’t be monitored (as they in essence are work experience) but to ask for department heads to work for free is kinda taking the mick.

    HOWEVER I do see an alternative to all this trouble!

    If, before the project started, the producers of micro budget productions would have to officially define their efforts as either ‘amateur’ or ‘professional’ I think this could be a way of making it fair for everyone involved.

    This way if the project was created to make money then of course the crew should be paid correctly… however if made as a hobby or student production then the NMW could be wavered.

    My two pence worth anyway 🙂

  6. Pete March 8, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

    You would of course have to get the speakers and the audience to sign waivers for you to distribute the footage on YouTube.

    Something tells me you don’t want any regulation, which in turn means no protection for anyone who is in any way involved in your films.

    Its still work even if you call yourself an artist.

  7. Mark Morris March 8, 2010 at 6:37 pm #

    Every film msker wants his film to be succesful and thinks there idea will be the one that breaks through but thats very rare. So how would you define professional? ITV Channel four the BBC all have a guaranteed income what income does an independent film maker with no backing have? because all of them or should I say 99% are going to lose money. They will overspend on credit cards work hard cleaning beg borrow and steal in the production process Oh wouldnt it be nice to be a learning actor or crew member given an opportunity all they have to do is learn the part and turn up to practice their craft and spend no money. Maybe a fairer deal is all the crew and cast PAY the film maker who then gives everyone a percentage of the profits.. Heh heh. Thats A GREAT IDEA.

  8. Guy Rowland March 8, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

    ADP makes some good points. This is an industry that lumps everything together below a few million as “low budget”. There needs to be a clear distinction for genuinely microbudget features – everyone knows is the best way to start, and for everyone to learn their trade.

    But, as ADP says, I see the microbudget ethos creeping into the mainstream, and I DON’T think that’s a good thing. Proper production companies with real budgets are increasingly relying on ultra-cheap or free labour, while keeping their profit margins.

    Your job, Chris Jones, is to steer a way through this! Film and TV is (still) a genuine career, and employees get old, have families with mouths to feed etc. But entrepreneurial spirit should be encouraged. I think BECTU should be looking at defining what microbudget is and isn’t, and waiving NMW requirements for true microbudget filmmakers.. surely this can’t be beyond the wit of supposedly intelligent people, can it?!

  9. Dominic Took March 8, 2010 at 7:28 pm #

    Films, especially features can be so huge in size that you need a lot of people. I like other people would happily pay people fully for their time if I had the money, but generally this isn’t feasible.

    All I can really think of is, god forbid I came into the indsutry in a few years (IF) we go this way and films get harder to make. It will probably cause the industry to shrink before it adapts and then blossoms again (as is the way). But the real question here is, who will it cut off? It may just cut off the next Spielberg or Mike Leigh. We can’t know what their early backgrounds were all like and where they came from. It could even have stopped you Chris and you’ve done a lot for indie filmakers.

    It’s never as bad as it looks, fact of life, but who will it ostracize? That’s my question.

  10. Amir March 8, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    I honestly cannot see how this won’t seriously damage indie filmmaking, especially as there is so little money going around as it is. It will mean less opportunities for emerging talent, less opportunities for people wanting to gain valuable experience and less of the budget being on screen.

    Yes it is still work, but the realm of low to no budget is a different beast entirely from fully financed pictures and should not be thought of or treated in the same way. This issue is most definitely anti-guerilla filmmaking…

    Perhaps some kind of ‘volunteer’ contract will need to be put in place in the future- if the worker is willing, then why should there be an issue- it’s their choice after all- plus, its not as if they get nothing in return- you can’t buy the kind of experience you get on a film set- they may not get paid in pound sterling, but they are rewarded with experience- its an investment of their time and effort that is rewarded down the line.

  11. Richard Purves March 9, 2010 at 12:13 am #

    We’re now living in a time where there has never been less cash available for the struggling filmmaker, and as a result the rug has quite literally been pulled from under our feet.

    I’ll give a real world example. The short film I directed back in 2007 had a total budget of £3500. We shot over four days, 12 hours a day and there was a minimum of six members of crew on set at all times.

    So assuming minimum wage at £5.80 per hour, that’s £278.40 per person or £1670.40 extra i’d have to have found just to pay the crew! That’s a lot of money considering I financed the entire film from my own pocket. (I’ve deliberately left out cast in order to keep the maths simple, since they won’t always needed every day.)

    A fellow filmmaking friend of mine made the point of “can people not volunteer and work for free that way?”. The link Chris posts has an interesting guideline .pdf for download. To summarise, if what people are doing on set cannot be classed as a “Volunteer Learning Activity”, then they’re considered an employee and you have to pay them. This pretty much exempts most film projects.

    This sudden change in regulations has completely scuppered my low budget film plans for next year. It will make the various short film schemes run by the regional funding bodies virtually impossible to be workable unless their budgets are dramatically increased.

    But back to my original point. There’s a distinct lack of private investment cash available, and the new rules only serve to make that scarcer still as everyone’s budgets suddenly jump through the roof.

    The no to low budget film in the UK is now dead thanks to these rules and guidelines. I now see a lot of filmmakers who are simply going to leave the country as a result because it’s now impossible to generate a track record of feature films without breaking the law! (Who’s going to give anyone £250k or more now with only short films behind them?)

  12. Benetta Adamson March 9, 2010 at 10:54 am #

    “I also find myself at logger heads with some of BECTU’s more aggressive assertions. And some I find downright offensive. More importantly, they are simply unsustainable and unworkable.”

    Which assertions are those, Chris?

    As the lone voice here of the “opposition” (of which concept, more later) let’s backtrack over this ground for a moment.

    BECTU supported a worker who had been enticed by ads in and Shooting People (among others) into an unpaid placement on a feature film. She was one of many on that project who was misled and abused; I understand many people were left considerably out of pocket when hire charges were not reimbursed, for instance. Nicola was the only person who felt able to put her head above the parapet and protest.

    The producers boasted of a self-funded budget of several million pounds. These weren’t struggling independent filmmakers, they were rich playboys making a vanity project. They simply decided not to pay their junior crew: why on earth should they, if they’re queuing up to work for nothing?

    There is no new legislation. The National Minimum Wage has been on the statutes for well over ten years. What is new is that finally someone was willing to cry foul, and I haven’t heard anyone from the independent filmmaking community who wants to defend “London Dreams Motion Pictures Inc”.

    I don’t think the real collaborators Chris describes want anything to do with operations like this one. But how on earth is anyone meant to tell the difference between them?

    BECTU is not and has never been against genuine collaborations, but BECTU is very definitely against the cynical exploitation of keen new entrants to the industry. So let’s get together and come up with a code of practice that everyone’s comfortable with to act as a sort of kite mark and exclude the parasites. That’s what this debate is about. Join us at ULU on 18th March to get the conversation underway.

    PS: “Opposition”. Unfortunately the nature of these kinds of debates (whether the forthcoming live debate or indeed some of the discussion on the internet) is that people tend to take sides. I don’t believe that’s very helpful, not least because in the end we all believe in much the same thing, as Chris acknowledges. There is a middle ground which will allow low budget movie making to flourish, but without that enthusiasm and goodwill being turned to pure and simple exploitation for the profit of others – as exemplified by London Dreams.

  13. Mark Morris March 9, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    All to often those in the lower ranks are just forgotten about or dismissed to fight maybe a single example or even a few examples that exploit loopholes.

    Lets hope the laws reflect common sense and accomadate collaberation projects for films maybe below a certain budget for example Because if they dont then they ruin the possible futures of film makers and the promotion of new talent for the future. Unless of course your wealthy which would be a sad indictment of Bectu who shut off all opportunity save for the rich with an explanation we did it for your own good.

    Funny how the rich get richer and the poor poorer aided by laws made allegedly for the poors benefit.

    Already this country is stifled by glass ceilings everywhere Look at the film industry and who gets on these days.

  14. Pete March 9, 2010 at 2:46 pm #

    If its a student film then the resources are funded by the educational establishment.

    Its incorrect to assume its the student’s responsibility – its the film school/uni’s responsibility. Some of them are charging their students £18,000+ per annum.

    Get the film schools paying everyone and we might have started an educative process for the long term sustainability of our industry.

  15. Mark Watson March 9, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    Chris, your posting does suggest someone who is deliberately agitating the pond to cloud over the real issues. The point of the debate is to see if it is possible to create a way of working where no-one is exploited and everyone benefits from the work they are doing, without falling foul of the (very old) regulations.

    It’s very obvious, very “old thinking” and very inaccurate to suggest that BECTU is trying to drag everybody backwards and into the courts. And these gren happy fields where filmmakers play together happily in perfect harmony and collaborative joy is not a description of the real world at all – not the one where most young people have to work unpaid for months on end on other people’s ill conceived, uninsured pet projects or free videos for commercial bands in oirder to make a start in the industry…

  16. Mark Morris March 9, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

    And these gren happy fields where filmmakers play together happily in perfect harmony and collaborative joy is not a description of the real world at all

    It’s closer though than your one.

    not the one where most young people have to work unpaid for months on end on other people’s ill conceived, uninsured pet projects or free videos for commercial bands in oirder to make a start in the industry…

    Film makers romping in green fields Other peoples ill concieved pet projects? Thats pretty insulting? AND worse they’re not even insured slave driving poor innocent cast and crew. WOW Nice put down labelling for those at the bottom.

    My goodness it sounds like film making except for those who have money really is going to be over for those without BIG wallets.

    Why dont you concentrate in areas that count like how the BFC spend all the money on plush offices and red tape and help out friends like tessa jowells husband.

  17. Mark Watson March 9, 2010 at 7:00 pm #

    I can’t distill much meaning from what you have typed, however the fact that other people and organisations are behaving badly is hardly a justification for others to do so.

  18. Mark Morris March 9, 2010 at 7:04 pm #

    I’d like to make it clear to all film makers out there that I would be very interested to here of any acting roles you might have for me to audition for or any crewing posts and if I like the project and can work around my jobs etc maybe I may need to take time off whatever then I’ll work for free even for a big production company. I recognise the hard work you put in and the likliehood you may never make any money only lose and I appreciate your giving me an opportunity to promote myself and to learn and to showcase to potentially the world what I can do. If I give a performance that make you loads of money then good luck to you I want none of it only the great opportunity that will afford me in the future. I am of sound mind although that might be argued by some new rule makers I will never allow myself to be exploited and I do appreciate any opportunity that can be given to me.

    I guess that makes me a victim who needs to be protected from himself so thank goodness Bectu can come along and tell me what to do and correct my mind…

  19. Richard Purves March 9, 2010 at 8:40 pm #

    Pete: I don’t know what educational establishments you’ve been to, but I not only paid for my tuition fees … I also had to pay for any expenses incurred in making my student films excluding equipment hire.

    So I paid over the odds for various tutorials and equipment hire. Yeah they’re really going to take on that extra expense, especially when educational funding is being slashed across the board in this country.

  20. Christopher Hughes March 9, 2010 at 11:12 pm #

    As a member of BECTU I have seen this discussion going on for some time and unfortunately the union movement has become marginalised in recent years especially in the film industry. They have little or no influence in independent film production other that though the PACT agreements which need the producers to be signed up to for it to mean anything. Studio movies yes BECTU has influence, low budget not really. For me safety is the most is the most important aspect of working on anything, paid or not, that and insurance. Cover this and every one is happy. The NMW is important for those who work in full time employment, and I am talking long term employment but film production unless you are the producer or director is not going to go on for more than a couple of months in the low budget world. I’m not saying this is an excuse but it becomes a choice because there is no expectation of long term employment of career development and both sides are aware of this and so the employer is ‘not taking’ advantage because everyone is aware of what they are getting into. I would love BECTU to be more supportive of the British Film Industry but it would seem they are more concerned with being a union and not really the industry their members represent. Everyone wants to be paid and it is an industry after all and an industry where everyone should have an equal chance of working in but adding restrictions will mean the industry will become less inclusive (old boys network) and far smaller. Positive? I’m not sure.

  21. Mark Watson March 10, 2010 at 7:11 am #

    It’s great to hear you are very happy to work unpaid Mark Morris, I’m sure it’s something that will work well for you for many years to come. Many young people don’t share that sanguinity about paying their bills however, and it’s good to know that BECTU can protect them against employers who seek to deprive them of what they are legally due.

  22. Pete March 10, 2010 at 8:28 am #


    “So I paid over the odds for various tutorials and equipment hire.”

    Hmm prepared to pay for paid professionals to tutor you but not for others.

    What kind of a future do you want. One where no one pays but some people can make a fast buck off the back of others – so something better and altogether more sustainable not aimed at supporting those with the most money who can afford to work for nothing.

  23. Mark Morris March 10, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    It’s great to hear you are very happy to work unpaid Mark Morris,

    No when I work as a cleaner I get paid I dont consider film making at my level as work I consider it to be an opportunity and a dream of breaking into a future better life. My work as a cleaner pays my bills AND I WORK DAMN HARD for a pittance..

    Do you think its right I should work harder than many and get the minimum wage? Why should those born to wealth get opportunities and those with the right backgrounds get on and do well? Do you think those in government should have gold plated pensions yet steal. Your thinking is all the wrong way round BECAUSE you only care about members of your union often times those in our British film industry get there through friends of friends or relatives working there or money and that all involved in the film industry should be under its protection and that makes you a liability to those at the lower end who want to break in whose chances you would remove by making those with no money pay everyone Am I being hard on you? Your here trying your best to take away my dreams and the dreams of all those on the outside with little hope. I could make a film that might be good enough to bypass all the old establishment and turn it on its head maybe you need to protect your members from those in the lower ranks or maybe its insurance that you need to squash everything I and others are working for. Your posts have turned to sarcasm and putdowns which basically means you lost the argument and now have to resort to underming me as a person.

    I’m sure it’s something that will work well for you for many years to come. Many young people don’t share that sanguinity about paying their bills however,


    and it’s good to know that BECTU can protect them against employers who seek to deprive them of what they are legally due

    I THINK THAT statement sums you up your agenda is your union AND is seemingly more important than those in it.

    now Im going to take a guess here and say that possibly Bectu members are mostly working in the industry and its convenient to close down opportunities for anyone else breaking in especially working class.

    jobs are hard to find and your organisation can help cut out any future competition. making it more attractive to those working and divi it all out between your members isnt that the REAL strategy?

  24. Pete March 10, 2010 at 12:05 pm #


    I think you need to consider what a union is there for. It exists to protect and improve workers pay and conditions – its not a society of artists or technicians or a glee club.
    Don’t knock it for doing exactly what it says its supposed to do on the tin.

  25. Daniel Cormack March 10, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    You are right to put ‘landmark’ in inverted commas. BECTU’s press
    release said “Expenses-only engagements are illegal”. No caveats. No
    qualifications. It was patently absurd.

    I make no apologies for London Dreams who by all accounts were utter
    rogues in many ways other than asking people to work for free.
    However, to tar every low budget filmmaker with the same brush and to
    exaggerate the implications of the tribunal decision was always going
    to be tactical blunder.

    If the London Dreams tribunal set such an all-encompassing precedent,
    why did BECTU feel compelled to use union members’ subs to pursue a
    second case which had an obvious legal impediment and was thrown out
    by the judge before it even came to be heard? It smacks of

    I am totally unconvinced by this eleventh hour attempt to win hearts
    and minds. It was obvious from the BECTU press release and the
    increasing belligerence of the closely allied attack forum that their
    initial reaction was to go on the war path. The clunking fist

    It was only once the internet forum was closed down (not once but
    TWICE!) for numerous abuses and the Shooting People survey showed a
    resounding majority of its membership supported an individual’s
    freedom to choose that we suddenly saw this charm offensive.

    I believe it is only a matter of time before this small “group of
    undemocratic anonymous agit-proppers” (in their own words) revert to
    type and start the abuse again.

    Furthermore, past experience has shown that any written documents made
    with the union – especially those masquerading under the title of a
    “quality mark” or a “charter” or “guidelines” – will be treated as de
    facto binding agreements on ALL filmmakers which can be progressively
    advanced and “improved”. Indeed, I remember one BECTU meeting I
    attended where the supervisory official had just returned very
    excitedly from some jolly involving international entertainment
    industry unions. The Americans had told him that the best tactic was
    to get any kind of agreement as a “foot in the door” which could then
    be used as a wedge to extract further concessions. As an example of
    how “guidelines” are used (or rather misused), I give you the
    PLACEMENTS TO INDIVIDUALS created in 2006/7. Not only were these
    “guidelines” treated as if they had some sort of status in law, but
    they were also applied extensively to filmmakers who were not making
    “Television”, were not “Employers” and were not offering “work
    experience” nor who were even a member of any of the organisations
    which were consulted during the creation of the “guidelines”, eg.

    Shooting People – and indeed any similar organisation approached by
    BECTU – should take independent advice and offer GUIDES to its members
    rather than having GUIDELINES handed down to them by BECTU. If
    nothing else, Shooting People is not constituted to collectively
    bargain on behalf of employers with trade unions.

    Chris, I wish you the best of luck in the debate and I hope you do get
    to record the event and put it up on your website. One of the most
    striking things about the way BECTU has handled this issue is their
    desire to regulate what information comes into the public domain.
    It’s the old-fashioned “command and control” school of PR, which has
    become virtually obsolete with the rise of the internet. The London
    Dreams tribunal was kept hush-hush so that BECTU could get its
    triumphant (but demonstrably false) headline before anyone in the
    press or the industry could subject their puffed up claims to any
    proper scrutiny. Similarly, the failure of the second tribunal was
    kept extremely quiet and when news leaked out that it had been thrown
    out there was some considerable consternation on their newly restored

    In spite of transparent attempts to rig the event in BECTU’s favour, I
    believe you will make a good argument. A positive and moderate
    approach will always win over a negative and extremist one.

    Actaeon Films Ltd, 50 Gracefield Gardens, London, SW16 2ST, UNITED KINGDOM
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  26. Mark Watson March 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    I am baffled by your suggestion that I am supporting those born to wealth or government crooks by endorsing the actions of a union who is seeking to defend those who are not being paid their legal entitlemment by a crooked employer. How does that follow exactly?!

    In fact the actions of BECTU in this case do quite the reverse of what you are suggesting – by defending the rights of those who cannot afford to work unpaid it seeks to protect those who do not have the benefit of privilege on their side.

    Oh and one other salient point – it is not “my union” as I am not actually a member of it.

  27. Mark Morris March 10, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    Don’t knock it for doing exactly what it says its supposed to do on the tin.

    Fear not Pete I do understand what a union is suppossed to do and it isn’t to ride roughshod over everyone else and stop them from entering the film business. I had never even heard of Bectu before this debate but could clearly see something isnt right and is a threat to all those with little money and Daniel now just clarified the entire situation.

    Lets just hope they dont get any support without properly adressing issues other than their own agenda.

    Must say though they have me very worried about any possible future for me and others.

  28. Mark Watson March 10, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    Daniel’s posting displays its usual stamp of the BECTU hating bitterness that seems to drive every thought he has on this matter. Wiser heads will look at this more dispassionately and realise that the union’s victory in this case has been a good thing for all as it has meant that people are now coming round a table to discuss what is a genuinely important issue for the industry – how young people are used and treated within it. BECTU does not, of course, “tar every low budget filmmaker with the same brush”, quite the reverse in that it is now, with Shooting People and others, trying to find a good way forward in terms of working practices that will protect the industry as well as those who work in it.

    And in terms of the closure of internet forums who campaign on this issue (one that Dabiel himself was an enthusiastic participant in until he found that not everyone agreed with his point of view!) – there are many obstacles laid out in a battle for the hearts and minds on this subject but fortunately we rise again, undeterred and unbowed, happy to be at the forefront of the campaign for a fair deal for all…Cue the Choir Invisible, sound the trumpets, “Laaaand of Hooope and Gloooory” etc etc…

    The debate should be an interesting one, it is good that you are participating Chris, hopefully it will be productive and useful for all “sides”.

  29. Pete March 10, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    “it isn’t to ride roughshod over everyone else and stop them from entering the film business.”

    Read the rules of any trade union. They exist to support workers. They don’t exist to pander to dreams.
    Unions work with trade bodies – or don’t you think you should have one of those either? What do you want? – a world without protection?

    Your dream is others livelihoods.

  30. Mark Morris March 10, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    I am baffled by your suggestion that I am supporting those born to wealth or government crooks

    WOW how low does it go? I never said you did I simply asked for your opinion to try to ascertain your take on this.

    by endorsing the actions of a union who is seeking to defend those who are not being paid their legal entitlemment by a crooked employer. How does that follow exactly?!

    previous posts you said

    And these gren happy fields where filmmakers play together happily in perfect harmony and collaborative joy is not a description of the real world at all – not the one where most young people have to work unpaid for months on end on other people’s ill conceived, uninsured pet projects or free videos for commercial bands in oirder to make a start in the industry…

    So taking you at your word I have to assume you mean by ill concieved uninsured pet projects or free videos for commercial bands takes in the width and breadth of all those not paying people to work Please feel free to correct me? Maybe you didnt mean to say this? Maybe what your really trying to say is that those with no money should be able to work collaberatively HOWEVER that goes against all your previous statements and against what BECTU is planning to do I can only assume you despise those in the lower ranks who make PET projects or pay no wages BECAUSE they dont have the money and not likely to make any but want to learn and to break in even offering commercial bands FREE videos to get their work in the door and showcased. Is this not what you said?

    In fact the actions of BECTU in this case do quite the reverse of what you are suggesting –

    by defending the rights of those who cannot afford to work unpaid it seeks to protect those who do not have the benefit of privilege on their side.

    BUT THAT DISCLUDES all those who cant afford to make films if they have to pay cast and crew wages. How is that the reverse of what I have said? How does a director learn? How do those who want to learn the craft learn? By getting paid by films that will almost certainly make money? THEN THAT WIPES US ALL OFF THE PLAYING FIELD doesnt it and just what your argument is for

    Oh and one other salient point – it is not “my union” as I am not actually a member of it.

    You do like playing with words put downs and putting words into peoples mouths dont you.

    Is this an example of BECTU maybe you could explain more fully your interest in this union?

  31. Mark Morris March 10, 2010 at 1:52 pm #


    Read the rules of any trade union. They exist to support workers. They don’t exist to pander to dreams.

    Did I say they did?

    Unions work with trade bodies – or don’t you think you should have one of those either? What do you want? – a world without protection?

    Did I say this?

    Your dream is others livelihoods.

    What are yout trying to say I am not allowed to collaberate any more? Whose liveliehoods are you talking about

  32. Mark Morris March 10, 2010 at 2:25 pm #

    Okay to sum up the argument then.

    Want no more collaberation projects and anyone who does is breaking the law which will effectively make it illegal to make a film without paying wages and all that entails.

    This will stop those wishing to learn and to improve dead in the water.

    This will allow established production companies to only choose from a small group of those who will already be in the business or those they personally take on as trainees. Cutting out all those independents who want to make film but cant break in.

    I want to make no budget films to improve my skills TO LEARN and maybe to one day break in either through making films either crewing acting etc and oppose the above agenda because it stops me from making films or being in them unless I can make a lot of money or unless I can get involved in someone else who makes a lot of money. The final alternative is for me to choose a career IE GO to drama school for 3 years Pay out thousnads I dont have and then get rejected in favour of an established actors daughter or son blah blah.

  33. Pete March 10, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

    Collaberation (sic) is not a livelihood. How does it pay rent/bills/mortgages?

    How long can you live on thin air? Stop being a victim and take some responsibility for the effect you are having on others.

  34. Mark Morris March 10, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    Collaberation (sic) is not a livelihood. How does it pay rent/bills/mortgages?

    Collaberation is not meant to Low budget film making is often made on weekends by students those who want to showcase what they can do or learn Some may take holidays from work to collaberate etc.

    How long can you live on thin air?

    Actually I live on a low income as a cleaner. If thats any of your business.

    Stop being a victim and take some responsibility for the effect you are having on others.

    By your blinkered defination only. I can assure you I am not a victim and most certainly not hurting others The only ones making potential victims around here are Bectus ambition to stop collaberation .

    Great post Pete about sums up the skewed mentality of the whole agenda. Love your summing up of me as Victim and perpertrator. NICE.

  35. Pete March 10, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    Perhaps you need to come up with some solutions instead of constantly harping on ‘why me’. This would benefit others so that they don’t have to endure the hardship that your life is rife with.

  36. Mark Watson March 10, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    If you would like my opinion on those issues – I am against people getting opportunities simply bbeing born to wealth and against people who steal getting gold plated pensions though how eliciting that opinion from me might move the debate on in any way, I have absolutely no idea.

    And no, I have not said that ill conceived uninsured pet projects and videos for commercial bands “take in the width and breadth of all those not paying people to work” (I can’t make head nor tail out of your discluding point), I am baffled how you are coming to these conclusions and I haven’t remotely put words in your mouth but if you would like to cast an eye over what you have written you have done precisely that with me!

    And finally in terms of the BECTU question, my interest is in the issue, not as part of the union but I share their point of view on many things.

  37. paul March 10, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    Its too absurd to even debate about. To the level that, could you get through to a 4 year old why its not wise to cross a moterway. Why? Because they will die!

    We know there is crooks in the biz, but most budding and professional filmakers make no or little money. Small films are all about calling cards to bigger things

    If people can only work in paid work, and cant work for showreels in no budget productions, the indie, new talent industry will be in a worse mess that ANYBODY can imagine.

    And if it does happen, all those people that are fighting for it to happen, better be damm hot at what they do, and driven, because if its only paid work you can go for, then the ques will be around the country with students and professionals.

    As filmmakers, we will all be extremely choosey. So a lot of actors, crews, better be prepared for a lot of telly watching. As a filmmaker, do I care? Not really!

    Why? It will create a cull in every sector that is probably needed anyway. If you REALLY want to be a filmmaker, you can with a little money.

    How do you solve the problem. Simple. Do a paranormal activity like story. Two characters in a room, road trip, shoot in a week, pay them for a week, bang, you have a calling card film. Everybody is happy and can shut up!

    I still thinking its appauling that its even debated. The fact that if people want to create work together to get noticed, they might not be able to do this.

    Madness! Bye bye uk talent!

  38. Mark Watson March 10, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    And in terms of your second posting, you are entirely misrepresenting the intentions of BECTU – it is simply not the case that they “Want no more collaberation projects and anyone who does is breaking the law”, the absolute opposite is the case – they are seeking to provide a model of collaborative working that will allow film production to take place with no Minimum Wage issues at all.

  39. Pete March 10, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

    I can’t earn a living because you wont pay.

    You think that’s ok because you haven’t bothered to ask me an others like me.

    You focus on what you want without looking beyond that.

    Self interest or genuine collaboration?

  40. Mark Morris March 10, 2010 at 4:04 pm #

    it is simply not the case that they “Want no more collaberation projects and anyone who does is breaking the law”, the absolute opposite is the case – they are seeking to provide a model of collaborative working that will allow film production to take place with no Minimum Wage issues at all.

    Could you clarify that? Do you mean by no issues at all that all collaberation will mean the minimum wage applied. Forgive me for doubting what might be obstructive writing.

  41. Mark Watson March 10, 2010 at 4:49 pm #

    “the unions are only there to cause trouble” Chris?! Are you sure you’re going to this debate with an open enough mind?!

  42. Nemesis March 10, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

    Daniel, having read your comments on this blog, I am amazed at the ‘spin’ you have chosen to impose on many facts and particularly disappointed with your distorted view of the WC forum.

    Some form of guidance or guidelines are necessary, not to persecute the genuine no-budget film-makers, but to prosecute the rogues that take advantage of willing volunteers.

    I support micro-budget film-making and accept that it is an established part of the British film industry, most are vanity projects – more hobby than for-profit and if people wish to volunteer, great. But as with almost every aspect of modern life, there are those who see an opportunity for exploitation and grasp it. They are the people to blame for the need for legislation / guidance or whatever you wish to call it. Innocent ‘volunteers’ have a right to be protected from exploitation on commercial / for-profit projects and as the volunteers often do not know what to expect, do you not think it is our duty, as experienced film-makers to help to develop clear guidelines?

  43. Daniel Cormack March 10, 2010 at 6:59 pm #

    It’s very interesting that both ‘Mark Watson’ and ‘Nemesis’ do not address my points.

    Instead they try to imply there is a personal grudge (where there is none and where no evidence or motivation is provided) and that I have ‘spun’ the results of the tribunal, without explaining why what I have said is incorrect or not factual.

    I post under my own name and I am perfectly happy to have my arguments and interests subject to scrutiny.

    I don’t think the same can be applied to my critics.

  44. Mark Morris March 10, 2010 at 7:02 pm #

    Well after listening to those who appear to speak for Bectu I am very concerned about their tactics. I have absolutley ZERO confidence in Bectu after listening to their arguments.

    I’ve been smeared derided and insulted I dont want any part of an organisation who do this.

  45. Mark Watson March 10, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

    No “obstructive writing”, whatever that means, and I can clarify that yes. BECTU is seeking to create a form of working, possibly a model contract, that will enable filmmakers of all grades to work together in a truly collaborative way and in such a way that would mean that there are no minimum wage issues. This would probably involve everyone joining together in some way and sharing any profits that their film making venture might generate (if any, and there may well be none) and could be adopted by any filmmaker in the safe knowledge that they would be doing things properly.

    As such BECTU is not some kind of dragon seeking to prosecute filmmakers and stop people entering the industry, or embarking any other hiddden agenda, and neither are Shooting People. Both come from different sides of the argument (if there is one) as does the author of this blog. the point is that all thses parties are likely to find a huge amount of common ground and, one would hope, something good can come out of this whole process.

  46. Michael Booth March 10, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    To add to my previous message.

    You probably will do this anyway, but you may want to point out that Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, Quentin Tarantino, Roger Corman and Kevin Smith could all be classed as felons under this law – to name but a few.

  47. Benetta Adamson March 10, 2010 at 9:57 pm #

    Thank you Nemesis, whoever you are, for that crisp summary of why this debate matters. Clear guidelines will help everyone to set up genuine collaborations while excluding the rogues – and there are many. I will go on repeating the fact that BECTU does not oppose collaborative projects set up safely and ethically in spite of the fact that many seem to be incapable actually of taking in that fact.

    This isn’t a new stance, either for the denizens of or for the union. The TV-WRAP campaigners, who founded the original Watercooler, were responsible for exposing the scandal of unpaid workers in the TV industry and then getting the PACT/Skillset/BECTU guidelines universally accepted. Our Proboards site was indeed closed down, but it was because of malicious complaints to the commercial hosts, not because of any question of legal probity. Where we are now is privately owned and hosted, so that’s not going to work any more.

    Guidelines or a filmmaker’s charter: it doesn’t matter what it’s called, it’s what it delivers that counts. And I believe that a document/checklist which sets out what constitutes a collaboration, asks questions about insurance and health and safety provision and which provides for the fair division of any profits resulting from a project will BENEFIT the independent filmmaker by DISTINGUISHING them from the rogues like London Dreams. To me it’s like motherhood and apple pie: what on earth is the problem?

  48. Mark Morris March 10, 2010 at 10:16 pm #

    Okay then in order to be constuctive here is a suggestion all films with a budget less than £50,000 which is far more than I could ever afford but I think a reasonable amount to classify those within a low budget should be allowed to freely collaberate.

  49. Mark Morris March 10, 2010 at 10:19 pm #

    I’d also like to add that budgets over £50,000 could be reviewed and concessions possibly made in the right circumstances.

  50. Mark Watson March 10, 2010 at 10:31 pm #

    Mark Watson, that’s my name Daniel, don’t wear it out. I see you have pasted this page with all your personal details in some vainglorious way though I see nothing to applaud about that. And I note that you also continue in the same blustering, bitter vein as before without actually seeking to address any of the issues.

    Fortunately there are more positive, constructive souls about who are keen and willing to move forward in addressing the issue. I’m sure your sense of bitterness and bile will die in time, but almost certainly too late to be of much use in this debate which is moving forward in your absence. Ah well!

  51. Mark Watson March 10, 2010 at 10:34 pm #

    I’m not sure if you have actually read what I have posted above Mark Morris, but there is nothing there about “tactics” or “argument”, but simply outlines how BECTU is seeking to reach some kind of solution to the issue at hand. No idea where you see the derision and insults from any BECTU point of view.

  52. Mark Watson March 10, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

    Those Directors you mention Michael, the Ameericans and a New Zealander – how exactly would they be classed as “felons” under the UK Minimum Wage regulations?

  53. Mark Watson March 11, 2010 at 6:41 am #

    My posting appears to have put up after yours Mark Morris, these delays making a discussion somewhat difficult (good reason for everyone to go to the debate!),
    however in terms of your £50,000 budget suggestion, there can be no workable agreement that could be set up outside the law and this would not fit in with the requirements of the Minimum Wage regulations. It is not the level of funding that is the issue in terms of whether someone should legally be paid or not, it is whether people are being treated like workers or not. That is what needs to be addressed.

  54. Benetta Adamson March 11, 2010 at 8:02 am #

    I would like to clarify a couple of points here, before I (reluctantly) address Daniel Cormack’s earlier statement.

    It seems to be assumed by many that anyone posting with an even vaguely supportive tone must be speaking “for BECTU”. No-one here is speaking “for BECTU”. As a member of the branch organising this event and indeed one of the named speakers, I don’t even claim to speak “for BECTU”. Some – several even – are putting forward views which accord very closely with what I understand to be the BECTU stance on things, but please don’t assume that just because someone appears to be sympathetic to BECTU’s POV that makes it somehow official. I know that at least one person posting here in support of the union is not a member of any union.

    Right, on to Daniel Cormack’s earlier statement. I’m generally reticent about replying to Daniel because, whatever he may say, there most certainly is some kind of bad feeling going on and I don’t really think that attempting to put “my side” of the story helps much. However, there is so much misrepresentation in his post that I really don’t feel I have much choice.

    He mentions a second tribunal case: This is an employer who has been using naive young women to work for him unpaid for at least five years. They are sexually harassed, bullied and intimidated and far too frightened to report him. Finally one young woman plucked up the courage to take him to a tribunal. On the day of the hearing the tribunal chair, quite unexpectedly, ruled that the claim was out of time due to a technicality – something no-one had predicted. Not desperation then, but simply the union doing what it’s supposed to do. I can’t think what you think that proves, beyond supporting my assertion that the London Dreams case is very definitely not an isolated one. Unless, that is, you’re happy for young women to be bullied and sexually harassed as well as unpaid.

    The meeting is an eleventh hour attempt to win hearts and minds? No, quite untrue and demonstrably so. Our branch decided to use the London Dreams verdict as the inspiration for the spring event in early December, shortly after the tribunal hearing. That it has matured into something which many of us – from both “sides” of the debate – believe has the potential to make a real difference is testament to goodwill from many quarters. People of ostensibly opposing views have listened and argued and compromised and agreed to have a go at doing something creative. It’s simply a pity that you seem unable to accept that. There’s no wicked Stalinist agenda here.

    Speaking of Stalinism, I’m not even going to try to debunk your utter nonsense about what we’re trying to achieve. I have absolutely no idea what point you’re trying to make when you discuss the Guidelines agreed by PACT, Skillset and BECTU. They were a response to the TV-WRAP campaign exposing widespread and cynical abuse of new entrants to television, much of it completely illegal. I’m very proud of my role in that. And it was in that context that I described myself as part of a small “group of undemocratic anonymous agit-proppers” – not BECTU, but the TV-WRAP campaign. Please be careful when you quote me out of context, particularly when it arose in a private meeting.

    Daniel, please explain to me how you would do things differently. If what we are proposing is so absurd and extremist, what would you do instead? Or are you happy for keen and enthusiastic young people to be sucked into the likes of the London Dreams project and be left disillusioned and broke? You certainly cannot imagine that there aren’t a lot more exactly like them – how is a keen young runner supposed to tell the difference?

    (Oh, and when are you going to update your website and remove the claim that you’re a BECTU committee member? That’s very out of date now, isn’t it?)

  55. Mark Morris March 11, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    I’d like you to tell me which British films recently have made a profit? Or recovred their budget? I dont think in the indie world of low budget NOT A SINGLE ONE.

    I bet even companies like London dreams make nothing and wont do. So if someone wants to stump up a million pounds for example of their own cash they would be either rich enough to lose it or stupid enough to need a straight jacket. Either way its a brilliant opportunity for someone to practice gain experience create a showreel and take the gamble the film suceeds and opens doors for them.

    THATS THE TRUTH isnt it?

    British film indusrty?

    Hello what British film industry?

    This country is pathetic only here does everyone try to pigeon hole catalogue and tie you till you cant move.

    This is what I demand from BECTU

    ALL FILMS with a budget under £50,000 EXEMPT.

    ALL FILMS with a budget over £50,000 can under certain circumstances be EXEMPT.

    AFTER all we want mugs I mean people to risk all and likely lose it for our benefit dont we? Just who is taking advantage of who here?

    BECTU sort yourselves out and leave those at the lower end alone or try to make common sense rules that encompasses everyone OE there will be NO film industry NO hope and you will have sown everything up for your own greedy little purposes for a limited time.

  56. Mark Morris March 11, 2010 at 8:22 am #

    Benneta I think it is admirable if BECTU steps in and helps Women being harrassed etc. But thats not the issue here. ThE ISSUE IS ABOUT not allowing collaberation anymore and if you do allow collaberation to apply rules to how people can collaberate and that is obviously the fear everyone in the lower end of film making will have that you will stop people from progressing. You say Daniel is not being straight but then neither are you if your seeking to stop collaberation projects.

  57. Mark Morris March 11, 2010 at 8:44 am #

    I’d like to add that bectu you should roll out the red carpet to those who want to make a film especially those new to it Help them all you can as the likliehood is they are about to lose their money. You should issue guidelines to all members to get paid expenses on the day and to not put any of their own money in. If hiring equipment etc get the money first.

    If you use this type of approach to encourage and nurture film making then I would be inclined to join as I like the idea of unions that are honest and fair with a good moral code.

  58. Jim Page March 11, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    As someone who continues to work for free out of choice, and asks others to do the same, what is the alternative?

    It’s fine for BECTU and it’s supporters to attempt to outlaw free filmmaking, but without providing a demonstrable alternative path, how is someone like me meant to break in?

  59. Benetta Adamson March 11, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    Mark, for the last time: the whole point of this initiative is to define a framework where collaboration is fair, ethical and legal. BECTU is not trying to stop collaborations: quite the reverse, in fact.

    There is quite obviously a need to set out clearly what is and isn’t a genuine collaboration because the field is crowded with a lot of people exploiting the good will and enthusiasm of others. That’s why my example is relevant: the employer in that case is a good example of someone who is profiting from illegal workers and who will continue to do so until he’s stopped. There is a ready supply of free labour because there’s absolutely no way to distinguish between his grubby little operation and a group of people getting together to make a film.

    Come along and join in next Thursday, and be a part of changing things!

  60. Daniel Cormack March 11, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    @Benetta Adamson:

    I’ve already said what I would do instead:

    “Shooting People – and indeed any similar organisation approached by BECTU – should take independent advice and offer GUIDES to its members rather than having GUIDELINES handed down to them by BECTU.”

    It may even be that an organisation would wish to consult BECTU in drawing up guides for their members – I would not object to this.

    You may disagree with my opinions, but to say it is “misinformation” is quite simply untrue. If that is the case, please point to one factual inaccuracy. The event may have been long-planned, but this new touchy-feely consensual approach from BECTU is a relatively recent development, just as pointed out in my original post. If BECTU were not in an historically weak position, there would not be talk there would be demands.

  61. Mark Morris March 11, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    Okay Benneta give examples where someone has profited IE Made enough money to cover there expenses and more.

    What is very antogonistic is this nanny approach that you imply we need to have our interests looked after so you need to make rules for us.

    I think most people who go into this business are not going to let themselves be used and only choose projects that are beneficial to them either educationally or a showreel experience etc. Anyone with an ounce of sense would walk out from something they werent comfortable with. THATS A FACT. How can you have an entire cast and crew allowing themselves to be used without at least one of them being smart enough to lead a walkout. NO your wrong.

    The case with London dreams was more about not being paid expenses and thats being used as a wedge to lay down laws that help yourself to make yourself more popular amongst the paid element of film making IE Those in the industry but at the expense of those on the outside.

    NOW I’ve made it clear what you need to do in a common sense fashion The problem is are you going to use common sense? Or are you going to seek to close down all areas and make yourselfs more elitist and popular to those already in the industry and paid.

  62. Benetta Adamson March 11, 2010 at 11:55 am #

    Ah. Yes, well the premise is faulty, isn’t it? The whole point of this initiative is to gather “opposing” voices together to arrive at a consensus. No-one’s proposing handing anything down; who’s going to respond to that???

    Daniel, your post is full of misrepresentations and yes, misinformation. No-one covered up the tribunal hearing: the trade press is simply uninterested in such things. I’m sure BECTU would love such things to receive coverage. I have explained what happened on the second tribunal case: your interpretation is simply wrong (and clearly biased). You conflate all kinds of events and discussions and spin them to suit your point of view.

    The old Watercooler didn’t get shut down because of “numerous abuses”, it got shut down because of a few people who made sure that the commercial hosts decided we were more trouble than we were worth. Neither is BECTU trying to rig the debate; please give people like Chris credit enough to judge that for themselves.

    I shan’t bore everyone by picking through your post and pointing out each nakedly biased statement, not least because I’m quite sure it’s clear enough. I also shan’t be responding to you again unless you actually have something sensible to say.

  63. Ryan March 11, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    I’m a passionate supporter of the minimum wage but it’s totally untenable as an independent to filmmaker to make a short film whilst paying the minimum wage, unless you are in receipt of some Gvt funding or have rich friends/family. I recently made a short film where I only had £200, which went on insurance and some food. If i had paid everyone MW it would have cost over a grand, which I definitely don’t have. In order to have a vibrant industry you need to allow people to practice the craft.

    That being said, I do think it’s unacceptable to make a feature without paying people. You’re probably asking people to give up at least a month of their life, to work for you on your dream. If only for purely practical reasons, you should pay people, because as soon as things start to get difficult, which they invariably will if you have such a small budget, that will be the first thing they start getting irritated about. I have worked on features where the pay is almost non-existent, and in order to pull that off you need to make it a really fun experience, which is tough if you’re worrying about budgets.

  64. Mark Morris March 11, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    I think it works itself out.

    Someone making a film will need the best crew and actors. If they cant afford to pay for the best they have to settle for those working there way up or to make a name. This gives those who need it the opportunity to try to become good enough to be paid in the professional world.

    This evolution of film makers actors and crew is what has kept the door open a little for those on the outside.

  65. Mark Morris March 11, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    Ah. Yes, well the premise is faulty, isn’t it?

    As those wishing to impose change you have to show why that change is neccesary Your statement that London films proves your point I think is faulty because that case was about hire charges not being repaid. I would like to know have London films profited from this film? Are they ever likely to? If not then surely as an educational opportunity based on the fact the company is funded by wealthy individuals who dont mind losing the money they are just what we need? Now I’m sure they used people and could have paid they had enough money to lose but I guess from their point of view probably thought they had given out enough in allowing the project in the first place.

    I think you should give some thought to this and although in the future wealthy individuals who dont mind losing money will now pay for there fun and loss making venture you have to think very carefully whether this will remove opportunities from film makers and not get it wrong by making daft laws.

    I think it is right your proposals are put under scrutiny and when they are they seem largely wrong.

    You say that you wish to protect film makers while seeking to impose laws that stop collaberation.

    You wish to listen to everyones views and work out something that suits everyone and yet I cant help thinking that yes the premise is faulty.

    I think you should exempt budgets under £50,000 and make exceptions for those over £50,000 if the opportunites and if the project can show itself to be deserving.

  66. Benetta Adamson March 11, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    Mark Morris, I’m finding it hard to respond to you because you keep asking me to defend a position I have not assumed.

    I am NOT proposing “to make rules for you”, and neither for that matter is BECTU.

    Neither am I “going to seek to close down all areas and make (my)self more elitist and popular to those already in the industry and paid.”, and neither is BECTU. I have explained what the hoped for result of this initiative is several times.

    I can’t name a production which has made a profit, not because there are none but because it’s frankly irrelevant. However I understand that some do make a modest profit selling DVDs online etc, which are then used to fund new productions. All the co-operative model asks is that any profits which do result are shared fairly between the members of the co-op.

    London Dreams was emphatically not “about not being paid expenses”, it was about a large crew, many of whom were working unpaid and one person who was so disillusioned by her treatment that she sought her legal rights. The tribunal ruling does indeed show that where the NMW is legally due the worker cannot waive that right.

    I’m glad that you have never felt used or abused. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of people who are, regularly and comprehensively. Something like 12,000 people graduate with a media related degree every year, and they’re all desperately looking for a way in and they’ve all been told they must work for nothing to do it. Please don’t shout at me about FACTS. “Anyone with an ounce of sense will walk out”: they don’t, you know. They think this is what they have to do, and they do it. They just don’t tell you about it: they don’t tell anyone, very often.

    Fundamentally, what I hope we’ll end up with is something which collaborative groups can sign up to as a declaration that they have given due consideration to their responsibilities under the law – not just the minimum wage, but insurance and health and safety provision. (How many “runner/driver with own car to ferry artistes” ads have you seen? Who is checking that that runner/driver is actually insured to do that? No-one, at the moment. And they won’t be insured, almost certainly) It’s a simple question of assuming proper responsibility if you’re going to organise a big project.

    Then Shooting People/Talent Circle/ will be able to tell at a glance whether they have an ad from filmmakers who share your spirit or from London Dreams type rogues. That’s all I’m suggesting. Then your first time wannabe runner will know that you’re on the side of the angels. Simple really.

  67. Alex March 11, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    If the UK requires minimum wages for indie films, then it will only further deteriorate the ability of UK film makers to compete against their international competitors.

    Look at it this way. Making films isn’t a proper job, and nor is acting. It’s not like you’re being a teacher or a doctor, or something important like that. The entertainment industry is a vanity job, or an artistic job, or a fun job, or whatever you want to call it. There is no slavery or sweatshops involved and no 9 yearolds in dark dungeons being made to deliver lines to the camera.
    As such, millions of people all want to do it. They choose to do it. They all want to work on world class projects, having fun, or showing their art, or voicing their opinion. Nothing wrong with that, who doesn’t? I certainly do.

    Unfortunately, we didn’t all go to drama school as kids, we didn’t all go to film school, we don’t all have parents who are ‘in the biz’, and we don’t all inherit loads of money.
    So we need to find other ways to break in, and get noticed, and live our dreams.
    We need to turn from amateurs into professionals (in all senses of the word)…
    How on earth do I get a nice tasty CV filled with top credits, when I have to compete with all these drama graduates and film school alumni and celebrities? Well,… I work for free. Just until my CV is full up, and then I can start charging, because then I will have a track record.

    It’s the same game, whether youre an actor or a film maker or a camera man or a runner. You work for free to get noticed or get contacts. You see, you’re not actually working for *free*, you’re working for CV entries, or for contacts, or for experience, or showreel material, or for any number of things that may be extremely valuable, but can’t be expressed in monetary units!

    This process of changing from an amateur into a professional, often by working for £0, is an important part of this industry.
    Aswell as stopping the entertainment industry from being completely filled with dynastic families and old boys networks, it keeps it creative and innovative. As someone pointed out, people like Peter Jackson worked for free and paid people nothing, and so have many talented and creative others.

    By putting in additional red tape to young film makers, it will ultimately drive all their creative projects abroad, decrease the diversity and quantity of british film output, and ultimately detriment the young actors and actresses and runners and cameramen it is trying to protect.

    It’s the entertainment industry. It is not slavery, it is a choice. We don’t need over-the-top red tape to protect the imaginary slave worker actors.
    If we can’t hack our way through a competitive capitalistic market, then we probably haven’t got anything of interest to show or tell anyway.

  68. Mark Morris March 11, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    Benetta I’m not shouting at you I’m asking questions and I’m concerned that BECTU doesnt throw the baby out with the bath water.

    You have chosen to defend BECTU’s point of view.

    I am concerned that BECTU wants to stop collaberation that is the reason for this debate as long as what you are saying is correct and Bectu will not seek to stop collaberation between those working for a career then there is no problem.

  69. Richard Purves March 11, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    Pete: You are splitting hairs. It has always been traditionally accepted that people in certain industries work for free for a while … not forever. I’ve done my fair share of working for free because my entire film career has been unpaid, excepting the film I directed where it cost me my own money.

    Oh and from what i’ve been finding out (and even seeing on the shoot for “Gone Fishing” which I was proud to be a small part of), my tutors were not “professionals”. (When you find out the guest external tutor was replaced on the show he created because of rampant and unchecked cocaine problems on set … you do wonder as to competency and sound judgement.)

    You also make the point of sustainability. I’ve yet to see that in the so called UK film industry at all since all efforts are directed at “community” film projects and away from commercial documentary or narrative ones. In short, there isn’t any sustainability since I guarantee non of these projects will make any cash on top of their investment.

    I want to pay people (and myself) as much as the next decent filmmaker. What i’m saying is, you can’t always do that or even at all. That’s less projects to go round and yet another death spiral on the so called british film industry.

  70. Rod Duncan March 11, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

    I do wish I could see or hear this debate podcast. I would very much like to hear both sides state their cases. Surely none of those speaking in the debate would mind. The cameras/microphones do not need to face the audience.

    The digital age has had a hugely democratising effect, rolling back censorship and providing the means for ordinary people to do what only the extremely rich could once do – publish, film, broadcast, access once hidden information etc.

    It would be sad indeed if any of that new potenital were to be rolled back.

    So I would like to know who is stopping the podcasting going ahead? It is a move that seems anti-democratic. If the BECTU representatives really feel it should not be broadcast I would like to know.

    So many words have flown about in this debate. But actions speak louder.

  71. qwerty March 11, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

    QUOTE – Mark Watson
    BECTU is seeking to create a form of working, possibly a model contract, that will enable filmmakers of all grades to work together in a truly collaborative way and in such a way that would mean that there are no minimum wage issues. This would probably involve everyone joining together in some way and sharing any profits that their film making venture might generate.

    Hello Mark. I am an independent film maker. I have spent four years of my life, and made a large number of sacrifices to get one project made. I wrote it, and am directing it, producing it, etc, and funding it myself.
    I can’t afford to pay all of the people on each of the days. A lot of them are friends, and help out to help me. Others help out so they can put something on their resumé. Some are paid, some are not.

    There is no possibility of me giving a percentage of any earnings – and I intend it to make a profit. The amount of time/life/stress/money I have sacrificed for this project is thousands of times more than anybody else has sacrificed for it. I could give a percentage share, sure, but if I was being fair, most people would be getting zero.

    If BECTU produce a contract that reflects this sort of division, then I am all for it.
    But it is unlikely that any sort of generic contract will cater to all types of production. I think the system as it is works very well.
    People are allowed to work for free, and people can be helped for free.

    If an actor like Pete is tired of working for free, then he has every right to put his own production together with his friends helping him, and try to make some money.

  72. Juliet Lefevre March 11, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    I mind if you broadcast my words or image without my permission. In this game you pay for professionals contributing their time knowledge and skills – especially if you are a documentary maker intent on broadcasting it an any medium.

    PS> You are a professional aren’t you – only I somehow get the impression that you entierely missed the point that this was about paying professionals for their skills, knowledge and time in broadcasting activities. This aint some new mejia love in.

  73. Mark Watson March 11, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    Hi qwerty, no, I can’t imagine for one moment that BECTU will be putting together a way of working that would mean that some people who are contributing to your project would get a return of zero. And I couldn’t see how anyone would consider that fair.

    Yes, unequal shares would be entirely possible but using someone unpaid simply on the basis that they have no muscle to claim their entitlement does not seem right in any way.

  74. Mark Watson March 12, 2010 at 8:41 am #

    @Daniel Cormack:

    Utter nonsense. BECTU is addressing this issue because there is clearly some need for it to be addressed, a subject now of much active interest in the industry (cf the activity on this blog for instance) precisely because of BECTU’s court victory and the campaign carried out by freelancers.

    You say that BECTU is handing down “guidelines” not “guides”. No idea where that comes from because BECTU hasn’t said or done anything of the sort. If Producers do not wish to adopt BECTU’s model, they don’t have to, however that doesn’t mean they can continue to break the minimum wage regulations.

    I for one thoroughly applaud the proactive approach to addressing this taken up by BECTU and Shooting People – always better to look for solutions than sit on the sidelines sulking like a schoolboy left out of the team…

  75. Gemma D March 12, 2010 at 11:09 am #

    Something that was briefly touched on is that actor and crew at a certain stage in their career should work for free to get experience. I dont deny that on set work beats training hands down in terms of how things work in the real world but (and I’m not speaking for crew here but I assume when you’re starting out its the same for both actors and crew) 2 things haven’t been mentioned.
    1. Actors used to be able to make a living wage by juggling corporate and commercial jobs with low budget indie films but that is not the case for most of us anymore – we are now being asked to waive residuals and accept much lower wages for things like commercials – even for major brands – THAT’S who BECTU need to speak to. This means we cannot generate any kind of on-gowing cash flow to give ourselves the time off to make something for low/no/deferred pay. Indie filmmakers who moan about paying for actors should really kick off at these huge companies who DO NOT PAY INDUSTRY RATES anymore. If they did I dont’ think this would be such a big deal.
    2. Actors need training. end of. we are in most cases much better performers because of it. Is it not exploitation to use the craft someone else has put all their time, energy and money into whilst you as a filmmaker are learning without offering a living wage? Filmmakers need to learn,? Then go to college like the rest of us have to!! I’ve done my training, I dont see why I should live off ‘expenses only’ for however many years while you learn your craft. And there is no guarentee you will use the same actors again and again even if you do owe them that much. We’ve all been burnt. Hence we I feel I simply cannot offord to persue acting alone.

    my solution? We all need to gain experience and we all work for free sometimes whether that be for passion or for showreel material SO…. actors looking for experience should work with filmmakers who are studying on an official course. The course leader should be checking to ensure the student always gives the performer a copy of their performance for their reel and in some cases film schools now give students budgets so they can hire actors for NMW. sorted. Clear guidelines, everyone knows where they stand and so can relax and get on with the job in hand. This also means that low budget films can hire official runners etc for nothing but expenses if they go through the proper channels of using students who can get credit on their course by doing relevant work experience.
    No more con artists. People no longer exploiting each other (deliberately or not) and if you can’t afford to go or fail to get a scolarship on an official course then maybe you can’t do it and thats just tough. If you’re not on a course and want to make a film anyway no-one can stop you but they should be able to sue you if you make money from it and you haven’t given your actors and crew a fair chunk of the pie. And I know people who line their own pockets this way which I find disgusting.

  76. Mark Morris March 12, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

    I think in all walks of life the working classes are being ripped off by employers seeking to make even more off workers backs and the unions are not doing enough to help.

    We are though talking here about people who wish to collaberate on almost certainly loss making projects and made really for the experience and to showcase what you can do.

    Lets say you want to show the film world festivals etc HOW well you can act direct DP etc but have no success at interviews because those with better CV’s always are ahead. So you decide to make your own film but there is no one to do the lighting or to act etc So you and others in the same boat decide to COLLABERATE and make something beneficial you can all to add to your CV and to gain experience and practice so that maybe you will have more luck when you try for paid work. Getting work that pays when the standard is set so high for professionals is going to be almost impossible unless you have the experience knowledge and evidence that you can do it. How you gonna get that? Go to university? Get a degree? NO WAY when you make a film only then will you begin to learn what you need to properly learn.

    Look at writers. There are thousands out there all writing screenplays and yet hollywood employs its own and everywhere you look there are workshops books competitions with high promises all take your money and virtually a cat in hells chance of ever getting anywhere and yet many still try Many still spend HOURS writing for NO chance of a future and yet you cant take that from them You cant tell them there is no chance they know it but carry on regardless. I know because Im one of them. We all live in hope that one day we may make a better life and isnt that what lifes all about? Its not the winning its the trying the battle Win lose or draw at least you tried. To try and make it law that collaberators must all be paid is a joke and a mockery already in this country for the working class there is little to no chance of getting on, even education is denied to working class by an education system that always favours money or those whose faces fit. So if those who had the benefit of a better life then seek to remove all dreams and hopes from those at the bottom by stopping them from even collaberating then I think thats pathetic.

  77. Mark Watson March 12, 2010 at 1:11 pm #

    Mark, for the last time (possibly);

    No-one is requiring, demanding, asking, wishing hoping or legislating that people who want to collaborate on a film project, be made to pay other people who wish to collaborate on a film project.

    Collaboration is the answer to the problem; it’s the definition of that that might work that is under discussion.

    Does that make sense to you?

  78. 45t4t March 12, 2010 at 1:13 pm #


    ‘Fair’ is a very very subjective term.

    Yes, it’s a shame that the acting market is so over-saturated that many graduates won’t be able to live off commercial royalty cheques or get paid to go to auditions any more. But the world is changing, and you have to look at many different sides to a story.

    In the modern competitive world of Google Youtube and user-generated free content, it is more expensive than ever to run a commercial campaign that makes any sort of visible impact.

    The world doesn’t owe anyone a living – actors, or film makers, or commercial producers, or soda drink companies.

  79. Benetta Adamson March 12, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    @Mark Morris:

    Who is trying “to remove all dreams and hopes from those at the bottom by stopping them from even collaberating then I think thats pathetic.”

    This is your constant refrain but it is not what is proposed, by BECTU or anyone else, and it is not what the debate next week is discussing.

  80. ADP March 12, 2010 at 9:33 pm #

    Wow some really passionate (and at times blindly so) comments here.

    However it’s great to see that no matter their politics on this matter people have so much love for their crafts. For those that read back to the first page you’ll see I don’t quite have the black and white view that some of the later posters do regarding whether I believe this is a crusade for justice or the devil himself.

    However I still find it difficult to understand why this has so many so angry at a union whose role is to do precisely that. It certainly won’t affect student productions or work experience so the step into the industry will still be there and, hopefully, will mean that once you have that experience and are trying to make a living out of it you can do so.

    I also hope that the need to make money from short films to pay crews will mean the foresight of producers to establish distribution for their projects (instead of the age old ‘send it to a festival and hope someone notices me’ attitude).

    I understand how Chris, with all due respect, would find this a bad thing as he clearly makes his living from the books and other Guerilla Handbook enterprises. However for those, like myself, whose sole living often comprises of a fifty pound note per ten hour day wage, I can’t help but see this rather differently.

    I guess the majority view will triumph but am very interested to see how it goes.

    {Also thanks to Benetta for taking the time to answer in such a calm and intelligent manner.)

  81. Alex May March 13, 2010 at 7:40 am #

    This website was on BBC News 24 as an example of interns paying over £4000 for ONE month of work experience. How’s that for abuse?
    And it comes from this report:
    That’s one way to finance my film…

  82. Mark Morris March 13, 2010 at 9:17 am #

    The idea of people collaberating WAS an issue for some here. The idea that some work for free on a collaberative film almost certainly going to lose money is good. But there may be instances of abuse IE not paying expenses or promises made etc but overall the way things are, works greatly in favour of those wanting to enter into film making more now than at any time in history. Unions like Bectu should concentrate on using laws on those who take advantage and I accept thats what they are trying to do.

  83. Felix March 16, 2010 at 10:47 am #

    As a actor/producer I’d be definitely up for the minimum wage – as long as I could back claim from BECTU for the last 8 years I’ve worked for free. That would pay for a good few future productions..

  84. Ivan Clements March 16, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    Yes, all very interesting. I do have a two word response for NMW, but I’ll try and be a bit more articulate, intelligent and less knee jerk about the issue.

    Having been brought up in a working class family, my early years truly backed a NMW. And I still think it’s important for most sectors. The trouble is, in this industry, enforcing NMW takes away choice. As a Producer of lo-no budget films so far, there is no way that my two features and Chris and I’s short could have been made. At least not without a lot more difficulty.

    I understand that there are producers out there that will be unscrupulous, but for those who are not and genuinely trying to launch a career, and that of many others who participate in their projects, I think the NMW would be a disaster. The way I look at it is this, if we all embark on a project and it sells and makes money, everybody should be paid their dues. But if it fails, at least we’ve all been on an amazing journey together and learnt vastly more than we would have done than had we read a few books.

    There is a good argument for saying, ‘you wouldn’t get builders or plumbers agreeing to expenses only or deferrals’. And you’d be right. But there is a reason that people are prepared to work under these conditions, and generally I have had no trouble finding them. As long as you are prepared to accept the same terms they are. i.e. that you are not accepting any different terms.

    Frankly, I’m not going to commence another project where people don’t get paid, but that’s my choice. But had I not had the chance and the freedom to be creative financially, I would no doubt be doing some 9-5 job I loathed….on NMW

    My feeling is that if NMW is imposed, it will stifle much creativity and it’s the wrong way to go.

  85. Andy Gradwell March 16, 2010 at 8:47 pm #

    Ive worked many times for free but the properly unionised departments do not. Gaffers, sparks and grips do not work for free and the fact of unpaid film work is simple – the Director, Producer, DOP and cast get more out of the production than anyone else.

    I’ve been offered several films which have appeared on the cinema and advertised on TV etc., for less than my daily rate per week. Someone here is making a lot of money off the generostity of freelancers.

    Another thing that is really unjust is that cast get paid first and foremost – regularly quite a lot, whilst crew work for free. I recently worked on a short project where it turned out that the lead cast members were getting thousands for a days work whilst everyone else was working for free. This is not right no matter which way you look at it and BECTU do need to be addressing these situations.

    Any legal approach to this should enforce productions to give the crew percentages of productions if not paying them properly and this would guarrantee that certain people aren’t exploiting crew to work for free whilst making a major profit. This would have to be regulated by BECTU or a subsiduary to make sure certain people don’t just lie about the profits of a production. Such an organisation would allow the use of expenses only labour, allow people to make their films cheaply and ensure people aren’t exploited – it would also avoid the situation that arose with London Dreams.

    Looking accross the pond at the DGA all directors and ADs are entitled percentage kickbacks from dvd sales etc. – on top of this their rates are something like 5 times greater for paid TV and film work. If these kickbacks were in place in the UK then self-employed freelancers could build their carreers, create some stability in their incomes and be free to take risks working on lo-no budget features. It would also help good scripts get made as crews would be eager to get involved in projects they really believed in because when they subsequently did well they would profit from it.

    Unpaid internships from certain big production companies I’ve worked for are disgraceful and must be stopped and on the whole this has greatly improved during my time in the industry.

    Another idea would be to get production companies to ‘sponsor’ shorts and lo-no budget films by giving scholarship-style rewards to runners and assistants who prove themselves through expenses only work.

    I think the industry would really profit from such collaborations and it could help people to plan their careers whilst nurturing young talent and probably greatly improving the low budget film industry in this country which I think is very valuable.

  86. Mark March 18, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

    Can film production really be a career choice for ordinary people?

    How can a profit making organisation make money by using free labour? What an amazingly stupid thing to do. Anyone who is good at what they do will find paid work Some will question that and say but I’m good but the reality is most people think they are better than they are and its a market out there. If you were going to make the next James bond film you’d go and get a DP Gaffer Sound recordist who would work for free? Course not Your going to employ someone who will make your film as good as what it can be. But if you have limited means and want to learn, you collaberate. If you can’t collaberate what money paying production company is ever going to give you a chance without a track record. NO ONE. Do you hear that?

    So if BECTU Do outlaw collaberation projects or lobby for this Then its clear to me there are some within BECTU who have a very dubious agenda.

    IF you believe FORCING the minimum wage onto collaberation projects will make sure everyone gets paid it will. BUT Only those already in the fold. They will GAIN life long employment in a closed shop industry for them and their nearest and dearest. Because they removed all the new up and coming talent. No one else will be able to make films Not even those about to break in because they cant afford it.

    BECTU by enforcing the minimum wage, help there members to a closed shop justifying those unfortunates they outlawed as pet projects by narcistic no hopers who force people to work for free Sometimes while sexually harrassing them.

    The truth is more simple.

    Those higher up crap on those below to feather their nests

    An old story especially in this country.

  87. Mark Watson March 19, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    “Those higher up crap on those below to feather their nests”

    And that is precisely why the Minimum Wage regulations should be enforced on those who use unpaid Runners.

  88. Mark Morris March 19, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    Collaberation means those who wish to learn. I visited Chris Jones set while he made gone fishing and learned more about film making in 4 hours than I had done in a year. You know little things like HOW a film gets made on demo for me to see understand take notes and work out. Of course once I know what I need to know then its time to move on and someone else to learn. It beggars belief that people go and work for free with nothing in it for themselves at all? Why do it why go to a film set and actually work for free if your learning nothing? How can you work your way up when clearly the production will end and you will never get a chance to move up.

    The opportunity for someone to work on a feature film as a runner even unpaid for someone who knows nothing about film making is a great opportunity to learn more than you ever could elsewhere. NOW if you keep repeating that your taking the chance of learning from someone else and yourself from progressing how daft is that?

    Is being a runner a career choice? Or is it a start to an ambition?

    I’m starting to realise there are a lot of funny people in film making.

  89. Mark Watson March 19, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    No-one is saying that you do not learn while you are working unpaid. You can also learn while you are being paid. Being paid or not does not affect whether or what you learn while you are working.

    That is not the issue, the issue is whether people should be paid when they are workers on film productions just as people are paid when they work on building houses or cleaning hospital floors.

  90. Mark Morris March 19, 2010 at 5:56 pm #

    But were talking here about films that will make no money in fact the director or producer have bankrolled it and you get an opprotuinity to learn for free while they lose money..

    If I had the chance to direct a feature film and not get paid I’D GRAB IT WITH both hands and do my best for the film to go on and earn money tHE REASON I would do this is to promote myself and fulfill an ambition. You might say I should get paid but then if the person financing it is risking his own money on something likely to lose it all then I would be HAPPY to work for free and I would thank him and try to get his money back and help him become a millionaire however unlikely that is.

    You just dont get it do you Reality and film making eh? Its one of the worst moves you can make if your in it for money ONLY if your top of your profession will silver cross your palm.

    Seriously I advise people NOT to enter this business if making money or a career is the goal. You get a shot like you do on X Factor you can train and finance your education you can improve and learn and one day you may make a career and be employable if you get the right breaks. Thats the only hope for someone on the outside now. It used to b e years ago you could walk into the BBC and get work but so many want to be in the industry competition is very high. Thats why so many independendents risk there own money Because its the only way in. You would take that opportunity away from those obsessed with making it.

  91. Mark Watson March 19, 2010 at 6:39 pm #

    He/she is risking their money so that they can build a business, or make a profit. That’s what businesses do – they speculate to accumulate. That doesn’t make them into charities or somehow worthy of exemption of the regulations that cover other businesses!

    It may be a good way to lose money but if people want to take that financial risk then sobeit – people breaking into the industry are precisely the people who need to be protected, paid the legal minimum so they can afford to pursue their career dream. It is you who would take away that opportunity by allowing the system to become/continue to be an unpaid free for all where only those with independent means can survive.

  92. Mark Morris March 19, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

    He/she is risking their money so that they can build a business, or make a profit.

    No He/she is trying to make a film

    That’s what businesses do – they speculate to accumulate.

    No for most film makers ita about expression and an art form. Making money is not an option

    That doesn’t make them into charities

    No one said it did


    or somehow worthy of exemption of the regulations that cover other businesses!

    Film making at indie level or trying to break in is an art form that wants to make GREAT films and one day make a profit even.

    It may be a good way to lose money but if people want to take that financial risk then sobeit

    People want to practise their skills

    people breaking into the industry are precisely the people who need to be protected,

    From film makers? Who want to break into? Who are prepared to lose money to further their goals? Which are to become better film makers? One day they might make great films and then they might make money you mean they need you to protect poor people entering?

    paid the legal minimum so they can afford to pursue their career dream.

    So collaberation of like minded people to further their goals with one of them investing their money should be STOPPED and if you want to make a film you PAY wages even though the film will go nowhere and lose money and is mainly about experience and educational so if I want to make a film and my friends are willing to help THEY are now workers who I must pay because you and some of your friends will make me?

    It is you who would take away that opportunity by allowing the system to become/continue to be an unpaid free for all where only those with independent means can survive.

    Right so now that is your agenda to remove independants and only allow professionals to work

    Yes clear as day thank you.

  93. Mark Watson March 19, 2010 at 8:57 pm #

    Mark, the discussion we are having is specifically about films that are being made for a profit, NOT hobby filmmaking and NOT true collaboration. Is there any chance that you might work out a way of understanding this?

  94. Mark Morris March 19, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

    Mark, the discussion we are having is specifically about films that are being made for a profit,

    Films being made for a profit? I thought you meant films that dont pay wages?

    Which is it?

    NOT hobby filmmaking and NOT true collaboration. Is there any chance that you might work out a way of understanding this?

    So you are okay with film makers not getting paid in collaberations? as long as they are True?

  95. Mark Watson March 19, 2010 at 10:11 pm #

    Films that are being made for a profit that do not pay wages to those who are legally entitled to them.

    Can I make that any clearer to you?

    If people are truly collaborating on a not for profit film then neither I, nor anyone else, would be remotely interested in anyone getting paid a bean.

  96. Mark Morris March 20, 2010 at 8:15 am #

    So the law BECTU wants to bring in WONT stop collaberation projects.

    So just how you gonna distinguish between collaberation and profit making films?

    Are you prepared to adapt the law to allow collaberations?

  97. Mark Watson March 20, 2010 at 10:27 am #

    BECTU isn’t bringing in a law. Or trying to.

    There isn’t a difference between “collaboration” and “profit making” when it comes to films (or anything else).

    The issue is not the money a film makes or seeks to make, it is how the people work together when they make the film and who gets the benefit of any money that a film might make.

    BECTU is not in a position to, nor prepared to nor wants to “adapt the law”.

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