Anything Goes : My little rant for this one time by Amanda Nevarez

Amanda Nevarez

My little rant for this one time

So, my business partner asks me to come on to this "Feature" she's producing as the Line Producer and 1st AD. As you know, that's a lot of work. So, she gives me the impression that since I'm doing the budget, to just make sure I budget myself into the payment of this whole thing. After receiving the script, I have to reformat it into the correct formatting, character introductions are missing, there are shots and transitions written into every scene, there are 2 scenes listed back to back for a scene that doesn't change & has the same characters in, there's an overabundance of descriptions written into the action sequences and it's just a hot mess. I get the script, and start condensing it down so that I can do a breakdown on it, both the producer and screenwriter/producer/director/actor know this. So, yesterday, I have a meeting with him and he is not able to fully wrap his head around the edits I've suggested. For instance, "Bob is walking by. He is mad and scowls" vs "Bob angrily walks by". Not major, in my opinion, but I try to explain to him that action just really doesn't have to be wordy and some of what he has is repetitive. So, we go over all the edits I suggest, I emphasize that he needs to introduce each character, which kinda baffles him. He literally asks, "So, I choose introduce them before they speak?". Yes. He then proceeds to tell me that I won't be getting paid and that while he is in front of the camera, one of his friends will be there to take over as the director. (Pause) Am I offended? No. Am I stupid? No. I turn to him and say, well, just have him do it, it would take a load off of me. If he can be there, there's no point in having me do both jobs. Later, I speak to the producer, who again, is my business partner and politely inform her that everyone is trippin' if they all think I'm going to do 2 jobs, for free, and someone else is going to be there to do part of my job instead of just doing the whole job myself. So, in essence, they were under the believe that I would just be doing all the work while this other person comes in and does creative stuff while I sit my butt in a corner quietly? I don't think so. As a Line Producer, I'll breakdown the script, I'll get him on point and I'll help in any capacity, but for free, don't expect me to devote all my time as 2 positions and then talk about how someone else gets to do the easier of the parts. Crazy. So, I've declined to be the 1st AD, since he already has someone to do it. I'm just ranting because I cannot believe that this is happening and he expects for me to be treated like a slave. Who shoots a 105 page feature for free? Am I wrong here? I'll take your opinions into consideration.

Todd Folts

I don't think you are wrong at all. I would have said "I would be more than happy to breakdown the script, once its ready to breakdown" It really looks like these folks aren't close to being ready. It really sounds like they have no respect for you, and combine that with no pay... Sounds like a really bad situation brewing... good luck

Amanda Nevarez

Thank you. I don't want to sound ungrateful for the opportunity but I explicitly told my business partner, I don't work for free. However, I have offered my assistance, for free, to a handful of people on Stage 32 due to the concept of what they are filming. I do feel as though the respect is low. Even in the meeting yesterday, for him to question ever edit I proposed was a little beyond me. I explained to him, this is not my first film and you are wasting space with stating the obvious or extra descriptions that are unneeded. I appreciate your comment Todd.

Kev Minton

From what you're saying the script needs work before it even gets to you. You're right about over writing actions and mixing in scenes incorrectly. There is a problem with the script and then to misuse crew by splitting the AD job between you and someone else. I'm sure with a small crew he could use the other person somewhere else. He should be more adepth with the way he speaks to people he expects to work for little to no money. If the money was already agreed upon then he has a real problem. Good luck with this situation.

Amanda Nevarez

Thanks Kev! I really appreciate the feedback. At this point, I think I'll suggest to the Producer to have the script looked over by an actual script writer before it comes back to me.

Daniel L. Noe

Time to introduce a deal memo, and not an iota of work should be done until one is signed asap.

Amanda Nevarez

Indeed. The more I talk it over with people, the more likely it is that I'm going to just bail out. I don't have time for this guy and he obviously didn't care enough to take a script writing course of any sort yet.

Cory Wess

Ha, this is great. Seriously, working for free is great, but only when there are ancillary benefits. If these guys are jerkoffs that don't realize how helpful the awesomeness that is you could be to them, then they aren't the right guys to work for free for. However there are others who appreciate it more, and will demonstrate it by working you into deferred pay and profit sharing even if there is no budget. If you don't know what you are doing, then working for experience and credit is a great start. If you do, you shouldn't work for free unless you get a piece of the action, and the team you are working with is as awesome as you.

Tabitha Baumander

sounds like your friend needs to learn the difference between writing a novel and writing a script.

Amanda Nevarez

Tabitha - I love that you say that! As I was reading a book this morning, it occurred to me, this guy writes likes a novel writer and probably doesn't understand that it's a different writing style in scriptwriting. So yeah, I agree. Maybe that's where I should start, right? :)

Tabitha Baumander

I write novels books and plays. It takes diciplin to jump from venue to venue. Not easy at all.

Kev Minton

I have two novels published and several screenplays, I went to school for both diciplines. Totally different formatting and style. It takes different creative muscles to drive either one.

Julian Nabunya

@ Amanda if they don't want you to edit their work , then let it go or bear with them , if i were you , i could have named my price shut my month and do as they want or else i work away .

Amanda Nevarez

Thanks Julian. However, if I'm brought onto a project to help, than that would be what I do. I wouldn't sacrifice my standards for any project or to spare anyone's feelings, especially not a free one. I could blindly do whatever this person wants me to do but then I'm shooting my own work ethic in the foot. Rather than work on a project that would not be the best that I would want to represent me, I would rather just not work it. This a business and my name is my biggest part of the business. If my name appears on works that do not hold up to a standard that I approve of, I have no one to blame but myself and then would understand it if others would see my work and not want to hire me. I'm not in this to make people happy by just doing what they want. I have 3 other projects that I'm working on that are all paid and on all 3, my feedback on the script have been not only welcomed but considered and in some instanced implemented. I want the most out of the script so that we get the most out of the budget and the best product we can get. I'm sorry, but my work ethic doesn't allow me to settle for less.

Amanda Nevarez

@Richard - I agree and appreciate your response. However, not much I could have done in this case as the Producer and the writer/director/actor do not seem to be on the same page. I do tend to ask a lot of questions and ask for a lot of things to be done and sent to me prior to a budget being made. Again, I take each project I'm involved to heart, because if my name is on it, I think I need to help make sure it's the best it can be.

Richard Trombly

why are you doing a production for free? ESPECIALLY if not being valued and respected since that is all you are getting out oft this. If it has no budget to shoot, do not be fooled that it will be a valuable credit in your resume since it will not win sundance .

Amanda Nevarez

See, that's the thing. When I spoke to the Producer, I specifically asked if there was pay. She said yes and said that since I was doing the budget, I would make sure I was getting paid. I've been told this previously and it worked splendidly. However, in this case, you are absolutely right! The respect and value for my time is greatly missing. At this point, unless they get a real scriptwriter to look over the script and help it out, I can't imagine it would be of any benefit for me to waste days on end trying to get it together for them. We are already starting off with miscommunication, besides the script and now there is this theory of work for free for as much as you can do, yeah, no, pass. I appreciate your feedback! At the time, I posted this, I did feel a little bad but the more you guys give me feedback, the better I feel about my decisions.

Amanda Nevarez

Same here. I am not saying that she tried to trick me, although she may be fine working deferred, that's fine for her. I'm sorry you had a bad experience with a friend, that sucks. But I am gaining much comfort from all the answers, suggestions and any similar stories told here. I'm happy you were able to find comfort in my story.

Richard Trombly

If the script has problems and the production has not enough funds, there will be no later income from which the "deferred " payment can come .... almost 100%

Lucifer Divinitas

Shit I wish you where working for me. Sounds like you know what you're doing and they don't. I hope you're at least getting a percentage of the film.

Richard Trombly

If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage.... what good is a percentage of 0? or deferred 0. If you want folk to work for you for nothing . make sure the script is perfected. sad to see people duped into working free on an unworthy project.

Cory Wess

I agree with Richard. There are projects where it is worthwhile to work for free. I've invested years into such projects. However the ancillary benefits were worth it. Regarding contracts, they should always define compensation. That is what gives it legal validity. It's called consideration. You should know at the time of the contract signing what the payment will be and when, whether it is up front, during, deferred, stock, profit share, none, etc. It should specify the obligations of both parties (producer and contributor), such as role (grip) and payment schedule. If it's not clear to you, then it won't be clear to anyone else including a court of law. If it's not clearly spelled out in the contract, it's not in the deal. What they say is meaningless and unprovable. ALWAYS have clear contracts with your friends or you're likely to lose them when misunderstandings arise.

Cory Wess

No, it is a business! but it is also a creative field. Not being clear with this is why creative types allow themselves to be taken advantage of by business types. The fantasy is that hollywood is art. Filmmaking can be art, but hollywood is all business. To be successful requires business skills, not art skills. I'm honored that you would consider printing my words Gigi.

Paul Sumares

BTW, you must have done a great job on "Foreclosed". I thought it came out really well, and Michael was thrilled with everybody's attitudes and contributions during the shoot. I hope you like the result (I scored the music). Just stick with people who act professionally on every level. ;-)

Matt Milne

oh if i had a buck every time somebody else on a production belittled my work, because they wanted their friend to do it, but the director had chosen me.....office politics, kinda goes with the job. Paul's right, if something doesn't feel professional and decent, turn it down and walk away. It's a tough thing to do, especially if you like the production/exec and want to help, but it's almost always for the best.

Amanda Nevarez

@Paul - the cast/ crew were great to work with on foreclosed. Darren will be greatly missed by all and the score was on point, thank you for your services. I met Michael through Stage32, fortunately, and it was part of my "branching out" phase. Previously I was committed to 1 director until he screwed me and the crew over for money. So, I do try to place myself among people who have my work ethic or better. I'd say I did Foreclosed for free but truth be told, I took the simple payment of a working computer which is in daily use now. Short films, unless there's a budget, sometimes I'll do for free, as was the initial case for foreclosed. Not features though. That's just a lot of work to try to get done for free. I've already wasted a day on it and do not plan on wasting more. As far as I can see, yes, contracts are being placed right away and agreements will be made. Friend or not, I'm buckling down! ;)

Alexander D Carney

I would seriously reconsider this peson as a business partner.

Georgia Hilton

1 - deal memo, 2 STOP PRODUCTION... this projet sounds no where near being ready to shoot. You sound like the only sane one in the bunch. Do you REALLY want to be AD on this project.... it sounds like it's already in trouble... Are they paying you that well, that you are going to deal with these issues and all the others ones yet uncovered? I'd just thank them nicely for the opportunity and walk away.

E.C. McMullen Jr.

Run. I'm not being glib. Get away from your biz partner and fast. Drop this production now.

Justin Berger

this project is doomed. Do not be a part of it.

Sean Martin

run

Daniel L. Noe

As I stated previously, a deal memo should have been the first order of business, since this is about business. However full responsibility for green lighting a script before it is even remotely ready falls on the producers, who sound as if they themselves are not prepared to produce anything at all. Now, where do YOU fit in here? IF this situation is not making you happy then it is not good for you, organically. IF what you are doing is frustrating you, regardless of the situation then you need to adjust, even if that means leaving the project alone altogether. You are doing a task that you enjoy doing, but are now doing it under duress, in a counter productive environment, and it is now affecting your mindset. Change it, period. It's okay, and the producers need not take it personally. It's about you being happy. You are responsible for your own happiness and contentment. It's all about the Woosah.

Luis Bell

When you said "screenwriter/producer/director/actor" I knew you had a problem. This is all about him and his buddy, so they see everybody else as just "the help". I can't tell you how many times I've dealt with people like this. My advice is, if you don't believe in the project, go with Sean Martin's advice and run. Run fast, and tell your Producer friend to take off with you. They'll probably strip you of most of your actual credits anyway. It's just not worth it to help an ego driven project like this.

Craig Richards

Aside from whatever self-serving adventure the director is on, it always baffles me how a team of dedicated professionals seem to be surrounding those types. Anyway, you seem like a well-disciplined, professional and creative problem-solver, Amanda, and you're exactly the kind of line producer/production manager I look for on my projects. Please stay encouraged and know that, with your positive attitude and professionalism, demand for you on projects will only increase.

Thaddeus Jones

No you are right. I am a professional, and so are you it seems. We don't work for free.

Tobias Dawson

Working for free sucks, and asking people to work for free sucks as well. Avoid either one. If the project is capable of making money in the real market, then you should be able to find investors who will put money into it. Then everyone gets paid. Not paying people is like waving a flag that says "this movie will never see light of day".

Rachael Saltzman

I'm confused. Since when is AD a creative position? That's scheduling, call sheets, and keeping time.

Richard Trombly

True about the value of an AD, Craig , but AD is not "creative" as in an above-the-line book keeping sense.

Rachael Saltzman

Don't assume. And yeah, that's not much of a business there if they're not paying you. People often get confused by the name of the position, Craig - AD is a producer track role, not an above the line creative track role.

Amanda Nevarez

So, I sent the producer and director an email letting them know that I would not be working on this film and good luck to them. With your opinions, I think it made I t easier. Thanks again!

Richard Trombly

Thanks for your post. it resonated with many and informed more than a few .. and seems like you got some community support , so thanks to the members

Kerry Brent Hower

NO! Your not wrong! There's a FOOL here in San Diego trying to shoot a 180pg Vampire flick (of all genre's to pick) for free. He's always posting BS on facebook looking for free cast and crew. Can't wait to see the production value. No one want's to see a Vampire movie after what's been done recently. If things are weird from the beginning you can expect it to get worse long before it gets better...if at all. It's funny how people want to pretend that they're professionals and yet they don't even know the basics of film making. Do all the hard work and then when it gets to production when it gets exciting, they replace you? F-THAT! My opinion is if someone is that stupid... QUIT! I give writers a break though. I myself write in a fashion that is "Actor" friendly. I do give descriptions that allow the talent to get a grip on the character. But I also direct what I write for the most part. It's all about a good story and great characters that the audience can relate too and care about or hate. If you don't have that... RUN!

Amanda Nevarez

@Kerry, I get that. I really do. It was just overly verbose and repetitive. I've given my regards to the Director and Producer and I really hope that they can get it together and knock it out. I just don't see myself in it or wasting my time to do so many functions when there are others that can do the part and are willing to do it for free.

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