Film Forums. Richard Williams.

At a time when work is hard to come by for many people in the industry, it is probably not the wisest thing in the world to wander onto a professional workers’ Facebook page to scout around for unpaid workers to help you build your business.

Wisdom however was not a quality in heavy supply at the weekend, when this appeared on the Film & TV Production Crew UK group page:

Only three slots – don’t miss out! Well an “internship opportunity” this clearly is not, not if an internship is meant to involve some form of useful training. In fact the words of the advert strongly suggest that a more accurate way of describing this position is that of “unpaid worker” or “labourer for free”. 

Unsurprisingly the arrival of the advert prompted a strong reaction from the assembled professionals on that page, with many wondering why it was not paid, given what was being asked. The poster of the advert did not have much of an answer to that and neither did Richard Williams, the owner of the site. When asked whether, if he wanted people to do this work for free, he might consider allowing those who did it to have a stake in his new venture there was a somewaht hollow drafty noise in response.

Everyone is of course very excited at the prospect of his site “snowball(ing) into a fairly big platform, quickly”. Snow however does not put food on the table, much as it might make Mr Williams feel good, or potentially enrich him in the future.  

As a wise person once said, you have to “speculate to accumulate”. Not something that he seems to have taken on board.

No wonder he got such short shrift.

Valentines Day : Modern Romance. Poseidon Agency. Matthew Critchfield. Nathan Neuman

This production is now raising serious concerns amongst many people who have been contacted by the Poseidon Agency, related to the way freelancers are being contracted, the tax arrangements that are being put in place and the delayed payment schedule.

Contracting freelancers on the basis of being paid 12 months later raises the strong possibility that, in the event that funding does not come through, the company will simply be wound up without the promised payments being made. The company has been contacted aand asked questions about how this is being set up, but it has been unable to provide any reassurance about the concerns raised.

Anyone who has been contacted by this company should exercise due caution before signing up for this production.

Call out for information – and a warning.

Has anyone been contacted by an individual called Matthew Critchfield or Nathan Neuman about a feature film called Valentines Day : Modern Romance?

This is a feature film which is about to start shooting and there are currently massive red flags waving over the way people are being employed, notably runners who are being treated as self employed – contrary to HMRC’s rules – and also payment which is being deferred to December 2021 (yes, you read that right, people won’t be paid for over a year).

If you have been contacted by anyone on this production and/or offered work on it, please could you email Thanks.

But I have no experience!

I know.

You want to break into the sparkly world of TV but you feel like you have nothing of value to put on your Runner CV. No relevant production experience and nothing to show off except your 25 yard swimming certificate and the Cycling Proficiency badge you got in Year 8.

Worry not though – you are not alone! It’s something that many would-be runners worry about, judging by the many times this pops up on the Facebook page.

And actually, you may be in for a bit of a surprise, as chances are that you do actually have something of real value to put down (and by the way, well done on the cycling thing).

Because here’s what an employer in the industry has to say about what she looks for in a CV when she is hiring runners…

As an employer, I don’t always look for runner experience, especially if it’s just a couple of days here and there. Instead I look for experience that means you could be a good runner; that you’re reliable, trustworthy, and essentially, employable.

So, whether I’m looking for an office or location runner, I look for valuable transferable skills. Here are some examples:

1) Bar work
Transferable skills: antisocial hours, dealing with difficult people, managing a busy/messy environment, cash handling

2) Security work
Transferable skills: comfortable outside, good with difficult people, calm in the face of conflict, anti-social hours

3) Admin/office work
Transferable skills: good administration skills, well organised, used to demonstrating a professional workplace manner.

4) Reception work
Transferable skills: good telephone manner, professional conduct, presentable, welcoming, good at making tea (a runner essential!).

5) Retail work
Transferable skills: long hours, used to standing on your feet, cash handling, dealing with the public, working in a team.

6) Cleaning work
Transferable skills: willing to get your hands dirty, able to manage a messy environment, detail orientated, can-do attitude to less glamorous tasks.

7) Driving work
Transferable skills: driving licence (vital!), responsible, good time management, good navigational skills, reliable.

8) Warehouse work
Transferable skills: good at working in a team, used to less comfortable environments, health and safety conscious, trained in heavy lifting (eg useful for dealing with kit!)

So there you go – you don’t have to have done 6 months on Bake Off to have something enticing to put on your CV. All experience is good experience, especially proper get-stuck-in-and-get-your-hands-dirty-stuff.

So have a rewrite and make the most of what you do have – it may have more value than you think. And if you did work on Bake Off…that Paul Hollywood, what’s he really like?

Adi Chugh and Infinitrim Films – Avoid.

Anyone who has spent any time on a production knows who the hardest working person is.

Yep, usually the Runner. That poor benighted individual scurrying around supplying teas and coffees for cast and crew, slaving over hot buttered toast and laughing a little too enthusiastically at the Director’s weedy jokes.

It’s a tough life, relieved only by the thought of a career in progress and a small but welcome wage at the end of the day.

But not always it seems. Because there are, lurking in the darker parts of the world of production, some employers and individuals who like to take all that toast and tea and joke laughing, but don’t actually like to pay for it. 

Employers like Infinitrim Films and Adi Chugh:

Yes, you read it right. Everyone paid except the two Runners. It seems that Adi and Infinitrim don’t really feel the need to reward the little people. Why bother indeed? There are plenty of them around and let’s face it, they can always stack shelves after the shoot if they need money to – you know – put food on the table. 

I asked Adi and Infinitrim why they didn’t value the runners on their production sufficiently to feel they might want to actually pay them for their work, but they were strangely silent on the subject. Worth bearing in mind if you are currently a runner and Adi turns up at your door at some point in the future, bearing a script he fancies you might like to pay for.

You know what they say about being nice to people on the way up…

Adi Chugh and Infinitrim Films – Avoid!

Concord Rangers FC – want a worker, don’t want to pay.

Work for recent graduates is thin on the ground at the moment, for obvious reasons. A whole cohort of journalism and media graduates have just staggered out of their academic institutions, some £50,000 lighter in the pocket but at least secure in the knowledge that they now have some real, practical skills which will be of good value to employers, to deploy as soon as they are back in the recruitment game.

Much joy then when a cracking job turns up on social media. For a “Head of Media” (a title too!) no less, for a club called Concord Rangers FC. The position calls for someone to write articles for the matchday programme, conduct interviews, run the social media and generally busy themselves in the service the club.

A perfect opportunity then for someone who has just spent three years training for such an opportunity. Except for the not-so-small print on the advert:

Pay: a ticket to each home and away game.

Now most people, even those who like to watch a bit of football in their spare time, know that tickets to a Concord Rangers game aren’t likely to be accepted by the butcher, baker and candlestick maker when you go to buy your etc etc etc. Nor are they usually accepted as a payment in lieu of rent, or heating, or even beer. So how does this organisation expect this busy Head of Media to pay all his/her bills?

Well frankly, they don’t really seem too bothered by the details of all that. I asked Andy Smith of the club why this was not a paid job, given all the demands being made of this person and given the “pay” that they were offering. He however rather took umbrage at that question, saying he did not “wish to waste time responding to unproductive enquiries”.

“Unproductive” a rather fitting word to describe the job, given the circumstances. It seems that this is a football club which doesn’t much value the work they will be receiving or the workers doing it, given the lack of remuneration. I recommend whoever does take this job to raid the fridge while the team are on the pitch and run off with the half time lemons. That’ll leave a bitter taste in the mouth…

Red Alert – The Events Industry Hold A Day Of Action

Our colleagues in the Events Industry are holding a day of action NEXT TUESDAY 11th August. The idea is the raise awareness of an industry that remains totally closed down and with no end in sight. Find out more and support them if you can.

Register here to attend

Post expires at 6:31am on Wednesday August 12th, 2020

The National Youth Film Academy and the curious case of the Trustpilot reviews…

Ever wondered how the NYFA manages to secure so many glowing reviews on Trustpilot when its courses have come in for such negative opinion elsewhere?

Then wonder no longer. The answer lies in an email from NYFA founder Rob Earnshaw to former course members, offering to cross their palms with silver if they convey lots of warm words about their experience:

I am writing to ask if you would be able to leave a review of the National Youth Film Academy on Trust Pilot?” he says.

“The reason we have created a Trust Pilot account is so that we can share with future employers and members success stories from our company. We are writing to past Members, Tutors, Parents, assistants and Mentors. The more positive reviews we have, the easier it is for us to engage with employers so as to build the reputation of the NYFA and the Members we represent”.

In case it isn’t clear what he wants, he goes on to say:

If you could leave a positive review about your experience it would be greatly appreciated

And in case you were wondering why you should bother to do that, the answer lies in nice big bold letters at the end:

We would like to offer you £25.00 for your time. Once you have created your review, please can you email me back a link to your review along with your bank details and I shall ensure that monies are paid within 2 working

So those Trustpilot reviews aren’t exactly impartial evidence of the quality of its courses then. Worth remembering if they should tempt you into forking over large sums of money for their (much lambasted) offering in the future.