Liquid Paymenton March 7, 2011 at 4:01 am
In regards to today’s comic, I preface with this: this is not meant as any slight against those who have paid us with beer. Truth be told, I am quite fond of beer and welcome this gift gladly and with open arms, albeit, I perhaps accept only in moderation. However, if you wish to give in bulk, at least it will last a while. But that is a tangent, and as I am preparing for a morning flight, I have little time to digress. So let me be brief. If you’ve paid/thanked me for my work in beer, I really do appreciate it and I likely took on your project because I enjoyed it or enjoyed the challenge that it presented.
That being said, today’s comic is merely an expression of a truth when freelancing in LA (and I imagine this truth extends to people freelancing in creative endeavors everywhere). I cannot count the number of times that my wife or I have taken on the ‘free, there is no budget, but you’ll get a credit’ freelance project. In the Hollywood industry, the industry with which I am most familiar, this is a seemingly common practice. It ranges from the free interns, to unpaid crews of beyond micro-budget film projects, to favors for friends and acquaintances. And in LA so many of us flock to this city in search of a creative outlet, of a spotlight, or of a life behind the camera (and in my case, behind a keyboard and/or a sketchbook), that there is no shortage of talented, creative individuals ready to work for nothing more than the chance to be a part of a project that may or may not ever reach fruition… for that opportunity to see your name roll across the closing credits.
And for many freelance projects, a credit may not even be in the deal. Payment in beer, usually intended as more of a thank you than a payment, is quite common.
Do I lament this state? Perhaps a little. I am as willing as the next person to put in the hard work, the long hours and the dedication that this industry requires. My work ethic has always been strong. Years of college architecture and art studios trained me to put in the required hours no matter the strain. I am definitely no stranger to the all nighters and the 36-48 hour shifts that seem the everyday life of the college art or film student.
I look back on my college years and see them for the training ground that they were for the harsh, but rewarding reality of the creative world. Yet, lets be real. Once those college doors close, and you’re on your own, your ability to work for free rapidly diminishes. I love doing favors for friends, or taking on a challenging art project and my wife, Nicole, loves editing. And when we love the work, sure we may be willing to work for free, and we will happily accept beer when that is the scope of the budget; but that being said, somehow I doubt Visa, or my college loan holders, are as generous in their acceptable methods of payment.
Now I can’t say that I really know the solution here. One can limit themselves to only taking projects that pay, but with the frequency of underfunded projects in this industry, I have to admit that setting that limitation often excludes you from some amazing opportunities – opportunities that I would rather not pass up. So for those seeking creative employment, I suppose that I can only advise for you to weigh your projects carefully – don’t overlook an underfunded but great opportunity, yet remember that you can’t take on all the free projects either. Sometimes you just need to get paid.