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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.
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!
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.
Big red flags are waving over adverts which have started appearing on various job sites over the past few weeks, all posted by an organisation called “Mamma Marketing“.
This company appears to be basing its business model on hiring “interns” to work for them to edit videos for their clients. Adverts for writers have also been appearing, based at a variety of different locations, the common theme being that those who are lucky enough to be selected will have the opportunity to receive feedback on the work they do for Mamma’s clients.
There is no mention of pay on any of these adverts (despite asking for a year’s experience) and the company isn’t answering the question either, the postings simply suggesting that paid work might be possible after 3-6 months. Coincidentally the company is also offering new business clients the opportunities of testing their services for a six month trial priced “at only a fraction of what the vast majority of digital agencies ask for“. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to join the dots here on how the company may be able to offer such a cheap service for new business…
So a warning then: if you are thinking of applying for an internship at Mamma Marketing, you may wish to check whether you will be paid for your work on their client business (and you should expect a reasonable rate for skilled work). And if you are a potential client you may wish to ask how this very cheap introductory offer is being funded.
Mamma Marketing – beware!
A warning to anyone considering working for this company or these individuals in the future.
Sweet Mate Productions has recently recruited a number of freelancers to work on one of its productions (“Death Do Us Apart”) and then failed to pay them. They have also used facilities and not settled the bills for the hire of them.
As such due caution should be exercised before embarking on any kind of financial relationship with this company or these three individuals in the future as they are clearly untrustworthy in their business dealings.
If anyone else has been left unpaid by this company please contact Mark Watson, email@example.com.
SWEET MATE PRODUCTIONS LTD
34 Babington Court, Orde Hall Street, London, United Kingdom, WC1N 3JT
And another one – another of those sleazy sites which seeks to milk cash out of hard working freelancers.
The company trying to make a fast buck in this case is called “One Crew” (onecrew.co) and this one really does take the biscuit when it comes to cheek as its business proposition consists of charging you to make contact with employers who post jobs on Facebook!
Needless to say, no-one needs to hand over cash to any of these kinds of set ups in order to secure work in the industry – and (again needless to say I’m sure) it won’t cost you a single penny to log in and see all the jobs that are always advertised on Facebook groups anyway.
I’ve asked this company how their operation is legal given that companies are not permitted to charge for work finding services, however they didn’t have an answer to that question. Funny that.
It all comes to a firm recommendation then. Avoid this set-up, save your money and apply for jobs in the way that everyone does – by seeing adverts and sending in applications. You are wasting your money if you hand over cash to set ups like this lot!
Yes, another one – another of those scummy sites which pop up every now and then created by people trying to make a fast buck out of hardworking freelancers.
This one is called TVCrewFinder (https://www.tvcrewfinder.com) and it’s pretty much like all the other set ups out there that think it is somehow acceptable to charge freelancers for the right to apply for jobs.
We’ve asked the company how this fits in with the regulations that forbid any company from charging job seekers for work finding services but they didn’t have any answer to that question. Maybe the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate might like to take a look then.
Meanwhile however, freelancers beware! Paying money to these kinds of businesses is not recommended for three good reasons:
1) You should never have to pay to apply for a job.
2) Pretty much every job in the industry can be found on all the free-to-use sites anyway, including the numerous industry Facebook pages and all the sites here.
3) Paying money to these people keeps them in business and no-one (apart from the owners in question) wants that. Remember, when the sites disappear, the jobs still exist!
TVCrewFinder: AVOID! Do feel free to spread the word.
This is a great thing – an online community built for freelancers in the Television industry who are hoping to find more flexible working contracts. It’s called “Share my Telly Job” and it seeks to enable people to be put together with like minded folk who want to – well – share their telly job.
There’s an event coming up on April 28th, where Share My Telly Job & Telly Mums Network are joining forces with ITV Loves Talent to offer a night of ‘speed dating’ for like-minded fellow freelancers who are looking to job-share.
So if you’re looking for a better work-life balance, pop along and see if you can match up with someone of the same mind because, as they say on the site, “we truly believe that the more broad and diverse the people involved in making TV are, the more enriched the stories we tell on screen will be”.
Current Job Share Friendly Jobs
Production Base is one of those sites which charges people to see industry jobs. It is also a site which has come under a fair amount of online criticism of late for their sneaky practice of requiring its members to sign up to a continuing authority to take sums of money out of their bank accounts when their membership elapses.
The reason this has caused some irritation is that many people who have forgotten that they have signed this authority and want to cancel have discovered that if they don’t do so in time they find they have had a large sum of money withdrawn from their account and Production Base then refuse to reimburse any of it even if it is a day after the renewal date and was clearly unwanted.
The company is of course within its legal rights to refer to its small print in this way but, as can be imagined, this has not engendered many warm feelings in the hearts of freelancers within the industry.
A warning then: if you have signed up to this lot, do very carefully check when the renewal date is and cancel well in time. You won’t be seeing any of that cash again if you get it wrong, even by one day!
Or better still, use this tip from an online commentator:
“If you’re concerned a new contract with a company might auto renew, send them an email immediately after committing to the initial contract period informing them you do not want to auto renew the contract, do this through a 3rd party email (Hotmail etc) to avoid claims of email manipulation”.
But also ask yourself this: do you really need to pay out any money at all for the privilege of being able to apply for jobs? Apart from the morality of any company charging people to do that, the vast majority (if not all) jobs are available on the abundance of free to use sites online, including numerous Facebook pages (just a few listed below), the Unit List., the free part of Talent Manager and all the companies that have their own Talent databases.
Meanwhile here are a few comments from some those who have posted online:
“What a waste of time and money”
“It must be the only way they stay in business because it certainly isn’t because of any of the services they provide”.
“Awfully outdated site no customer experience and not even a great wealth of work being posted on there especially if you’re freelance. All of which can be found for free”
“With anything like this, if the option is there to pay by card, do it. Then just change credit card company every year so old payments bounce and they have to contact you to ask for money”.
“I had the same shit. They auto-renewed without any form of notification to me and refused to refund me, despite the fact I’d not used their shitty website for 10 months. #C***s”
“All of these companies make money from people desperate enough to pay to apply for low-paid jobs. I wouldn’t expect scruples”.
“I cancelled years ago as it started advertising way low paid jobs and didn’t look into rates”.
“I too have been a victim of PB auto billing. I can’t be specific to other peoples claims but after some fairly flippant replies from them and a refusal to supply supporting documentation, I contacted my payment provider and said I’d been the victim of an unauthorized payment. They gave PB 30 days to prove I’d authorized payment, which they couldn’t and I got a full refund”.
“I’m stunned PB are still trading. With the number of quality, FREE, Facebook groups who don’t spam your inbox with unsuitable positions, and whose members will immediately jump on advertisers for ridiculously low pay rates, means I simply don’t see why anyone would pay for PB.
I know some people like it as an online CV location but you can get that for free on Linkedin”.
Here you go then: some lovely free-to-use pages on Facebook where you can fill your boots with job opportunities galore:
Runners and new starters in the industry.
Experienced TV professionals.
More experienced TV professionals.
Yet more experienced TV professionals.
Even more experienced TV professionals (and some good chat).