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How to Save the Film Industry by Flagging Job Posts on Criag’s list and Shaming Low-Pay Opportunities

July 15, 2011 | By | Add a Comment

No other industry displays their desperation the way film professionals do when they attack advertisers of low-paying opportunities.
$50 for an actor for an afternoon? Immediate pulled as “inappropriate”. Couple hundred bucks to help some sap write a screen play? Flagged. Better yet, write to them and call them a prick. Photographer for a few hours for $100? Mark as inappropriate. What’s inappropriate? Videographers SHOULD be paid more, right? I mean, they used to make a lot of money when no one could afford their camera, so if we zap the ad we protect novice videographers … NAY, scratch that… we protect the whole industry.. that’s the thinking. And then the video dude who was sitting on the couch was saved from making  $100. And spared the a chance to add a line to their resume or get a little more experience dealing with clients.

Zapping ads and harassing the posters is the most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen in my 20 years in the arts and culture industry. The tide this unempowered act is trying to reverse was stated the most effectively when a major research firm created a list of the “Top 10 Dying Industries in America” and video post production made the list.

Now let’s try an ad like this:

I will pay you $8.25/hr for the following:
Design and document database architecture and data modeling
* Write and manage scripts to collect, store and access data from a number of sources
* Manage and oversee expansion of database clusters
* Manage and oversee expansion memcached server pools

No one is going to pull this ad. No one is going to flag it. Why? Because there is so much demand for tech people, and there’s such a huge barrier to entry that they are confident, they have a skill that’s in demand, and they don’t have to play games and fool people into believing they’re relevant. They’re so well positioned that they wouldn’t blink at that ad, they know their position in a supply and demand free marketplace. And then they’d pick one of the 500 similar ads that offer $100K.

I have, no joke, met writers and creatives who are hoping the government steps in and creates legislation to help them. Someone is suing Huffington Post for not paying them, yet selling the company for a lot of money. Wow.

Look man, I know it feels like the rookies are wrecking it for the rest of us, but how about… being in a different league than the rookies? We all need good filmmakers, good directors, good editors, good cinematographers, good writers, etc. The talented among us are a special breed and we create something with organic talent that not everyone has. But the world is changing and we must adapt and find the new opportunites that ARE out there.

When amateurs make their own videos, they don’t look like professionally produced ones, it’s pretty obvious. However, the rub is that today, sometimes it’s okay that it doesn’t look professional – sometimes getting the basic idea across is “good enough” for that particular audience. But should we berate those people? What if they were willing to pay $200 for some help? It’s not like they’ll magically have a $3,000 budget, they just wouldn’t get help at all – and they’d slog it out alone.

I’m sure the Craig’s List mafia would REALLY give them hell if they knew rookies were doing it on $0 budget on iMovie, but no, they wait until someone is ready to pay someone, even if it’s just a little bit. But that’s when The Protectors of Obsolete Industries must step in. Flagging (aka protecting the innocent and berating the offernders) as they cruise Craig’s list, totally out of work themselves.

So here’s my tip: and this comes from a magazine publisher who started a media company in the height of the recession.
1. Get fucking talented, be so good and so fast at what you do that no amateur can come in and do what you do.
2. If your business model is based on a skill that can be learned in a few days, then GET A NEW BUSINESS MODEL.
3. If you’re skill set is simply having expensive gear, and even better and cheaper gear is coming up the pike, go to step 1.
4. Have more than one skill set – don’t just be a sound engineer, be someone who can also shoot video, direct and edit, and then once you get a client, you can continue to work for them and be a one-stop shop.
5. Keep moving forward and don’t hold onto the past. I didn’t make money being an arts writer, but I made money being a publisher who sold ads, nailed social media, learned WordPress CMS, and then got into branded content. I found an un-met need and un-saturated marketplace, and then the money worked out.

And I didn’t sit around zapping help wanted ads, waiting for my luck to turn around.

Kathryn Born
Chicago Art Magazine, Chicago DIY Film, and TINC Magazine


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