They ruined my career. Sort of.

Okay so the title is a bit over dramatic but its called click bait and I know you all understand that I have to reel you in to read these blog posts.

I recently walked into my work only discover a film crew, two white people holding a glass of wine each, smiling as bright LED lights which hit their faces as they smiled and the director said ‘CUT’. A chef turned to me and told me to be quiet (like the Italian dude never listened to me once when I ramble about what I do outside of hospitality). All 4 of the chefs were all standing around. Unable to do work because of that ole nugget of being quiet on set. The restaurant was being used as a set for a commercial that was going to air in China. The showstopper of this little number was New Zealand beef. Cooked, steaming on a white plate being served by one of the staff members from the restaurant. You need to remember that this company has money, they are not cheap.

I walked back outside on the hunt for a coffee because you can’t steam milk with a film crew in your way. FFS. Latte in hand I was wondering back to the restaurant when I saw Thomas, the ‘server’ from the film shoot outside having a cigarette, a great french guy who actually works with me. I sat myself down next to him and asked if he was being paid for this work. He said no. Just being paid by the company we work for (I can’t name where I work on here because thats asking for trouble, but if you are smart you can just go look at my Facebook. #LoopHoles). I asked him if he had been asked to sign a media realise form? No. If he had seen a contract? No.

And thats when I started to get a bit shitty. Not at him, but at the industry.

Then the head chef walks outside. He had also been featured in the commercial. I asked him the same questions. He gave the same answers. And then I began to get really shitty.

You may be asking yourself why Seren are you getting cranky?

Are you jealous? No.

So what is it then?

You know of that thing called the butterfly effect? Ripple effect? One thing leads to another? That chain reaction?

Let us start at the beginning of an imaginary (or not) situation.

  1. You get asked to be on commercial/video/film/show and your role isn’t integral to the ‘thing’. Your there just to fill in the gap or your face is never shown.
  2. Your asked to turn up at the location or maybe you are even there.
  3. You walk in and are quite intimidated because of the people, the crew and everything that is going on around you.
  4. Someone asks you to get changed or to wait or to listen to instructions as to what you are expected to do.
  5. You listen and are asked to jump onto the set.
  6. The director lets you know what is going to happen.
  7. You listen and follow instructions. (p.s you are doing great)
  8. Time just slips by and the director calls cut and you are allowed to go.
  9. You ask if your needed at all. And its a no so you go home.
  10. You tell your friends of what you did.
  11. Then you tell me. (I am assuming we are friends here guys)
  12. And then I ask you if you were paid.
  13. You say no.
  14. I ask you if you signed a media realise form.
  15. You say no.
  16. Then I curse and walk away.
  17. You are now confused as what just happened and why I am now angry at you.

Well my lovely you just ruined my sustainable career because you took an unpaid job. How you might ask. Seems like a huge jump? Not really because you were just scammed.

What you need to realise is that at step 1 you should of had step 1.a, 1.b, 1.c all asking questions. Those questions help me and all others in the creative industry have a sustainable career. I am sure you would be shocked to think that some artists work for over 20 hours a week for free. With the expectation to keep working for free with no pay.

Remember I did not rack up a student loan to work for free for the rest of my life. As I am sure you can agree.

Questions like:

  • is this job paid?
  • if so how much? hourly, contract, casual?
  • where and when do you need me?
  • do i have a confidentially agreement?
  • do i have to have my hair and make up done? will I be paid for that time?
  • is travel included in my contract rate?
  • what are your expectations of me?
  • will i need to sign a media form?

What you need to realise is that this should all be transparent.  Because if this was your normal job (because this is my normal job) that you would ask all these questions, but sometimes due to the excitement and advantage taking of the fact that you might not know to ask these questions you end up doing it for free. Which means I might have to do it for free.

NOW HERE COMES THE RANT SO IF YOU WANT TO SKIP THIS THEN PLEASE HEAD TOWARDS THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST.

What you need to know is we can’t strike. We don’t have a union to turn to. We do not have the law always on our side. We deal in mess, all day. We work outside of the law, all the time. We do not take breaks, we do not stop and look at the time for a break when everything is finally ready. In reality that does not happen. And I know you are not dumb. You know this but time and time again I get told we bring all these challenges on ourselves. When in reality you taking that free gig meant when I asked if I would be getting paid for this I seemed greedy.

When its not. I am not greedy. I do work for free and I when I do it is because I WANT TO. Not because I have to. I turn down jobs not because I don’t want them. But because my time costs. My house costs. My food costs. But this ideology of working for experience is utter bull shit. Yes for some time as an artist you might have to do the odd job for free however artist are expected to work for free after they have qualifications, awards, reputations.

END OF RANT: THIS IS WHERE IT IS OVER. 

My favourite part of this whole story is when I was on my way out of the restaurant in search of coffee and the director asked me if I knew how to turn the light on. I said “yes” and then he asked me if I would like to turn it on. I said “no sorry, I don’t work for you”.

I walked out and didn’t give a flying fuck.

 

 

Published by

serenpowelljones

A pretty sassy 23-year-old​ living in Auckland.

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