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Over-booking DPs?


Daniel Voshart
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Has this happened to anyone else? How can I avoid it?

 

My story:

 

I was asked to shoot a simple interview with the date, time and studio in the very first e-mail. The client, a corporate director, was straightforward and asked for my rates. I replied with a standard rate and the response was: "Great. Please confirm." I replied "confirmed".

 

Sounds pretty confirmed right? Wrong.

 

Morning of the shoot (call time was around noon) I phone for the contact information of the Director and I get a call back half-hour later saying that there was a miscommunication and another DP was hired. I bit my tongue and said "no hard feelings".

 

I would like to chalk this all up as a miscommunication but I don't really think I got a straight answer.

 

I don't think this happens very often because the last time I was jerked around in an over-booking was over a year ago. Maybe I just need to learn how to talk the production into firing the other guy :lol:

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Sounds familiar.

 

I was recently booked as the Gaffer for a film. The producer informed me at the interview that they'd already hired a DP which was too bad, but would I come on as the Gaffer. I said sure and made it clear that the two roles are not always that interchangeable but we should be ok. So pre-pro goes on, I fill out the paperwork and wait for the start day which is today. As of 10pm last night I hadn't gotten a call sheet, info on where the location actually was (i asked if I could get a scout day with the DP but was denied). So I send an email to the producer, just a friendly reminder. About 1am I get a reply saying that they have too many Gaffers on today and that they would need to figure out which days in the 10 day schedule that they could bring me out. ?

 

So this is the 1st time this type of thing has happened to me but I guess its not so rare.

 

By the way I replied that I needed to know ASAP if they needed me so I dont pass on other shoots if I don't have to. No reply yet.

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As a feature and TV series DP, it would be rare for me to be booked and then show up on the day and find that another DP has been hired, that would have been obvious in pre-production... ;) Plus there is the whole deal memo thing.

 

But I have no idea how it is in the commercial world, but to some extent, that's what agents are for.

 

The worst thing for me is just that I get asked to read a script and prepare for an interview, only to be told that the director suddenly found someone he liked and hired that person, so the interview is cancelled. Not the worst thing in the world since I hate job interviews. But it is a bit of a time-waster and not particularly respectful.

 

I'd say that the only mild protection is to be more proactive before the shooting day, visit the producer & director in prep, look at some locations, etc.

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It's possible they booked you as a backup. I think that might have been the case for me recently as well. Just had a similar situation with a network. Was firmbooked with equipment for a 2 week pilot and then had production replace me at the last minute with a "videographer" who would do it all a lot cheaper. But it was my mistake not to insist on a ROFR. A mistake I won't make again even if I know one of the producers. Money is the bottom line for reality tv, Everything else takes a backseat. Quality, aesthetics, everything. One of the reasons I've avoided it for so long and will now continue to avoid it in the future.

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  • 7 months later...

I have been freelancing now for over 15 years and never have had a problem with losing work or a company double booking...I guess I have been lucky....The true name of the game is not to lose work...I have received last minute call sheets the night before on many productions but it's important for your client to know that your time is important and that this is a business , this is how you pay your bills and take care of your family....here is a system that maybe a lot of you use or maybe your not familiar with...it's called the HOLD and BOOK...

 

I use the HOLD and BOOK system...most freelancers I know and production companies use this system. Just in case your not familiar with the system:

 

very simple HOLD means right of first refusal BOOK mean the client will pay no matter what even if it's cancelled...Yes, I have had clients BOOK then they cancel and they have paid...now, if I did not lose work sometimes I will be nice and let it sly but if someone else called and you gave them a chance to release you and they cancel they need to pay...I also tell the client that they have a 24 hour cancellation on HOLDS not BOOK if you BOOK you pay... The name of the game is for us not to lose work because production companies playing games or they really don't know because of the client...in case you do not know the system here is an example:

 

Say it's Saturday morning and Client #1 calls and says they have a two day job on Friday ..you tell them if they want to HOLD or BOOK, explain the difference to them. If they BOOK you you know it's solid, I would still call them if I get another job just to make sure but it means they will pay no matter what. Say now on Tuesday you get a call from Client #2 and they ask for you to shoot on Friday... you call client #1 and tell them that you have another job and they have you on Hold do they want to Book you or if they want to release you from Hold so you can take another job. This system work pretty well for everyone I have known...hope this helps..

 

William Garcia

www.williamgarcia.com

Edited by dpgarcia
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The worst thing for me is just that I get asked to read a script and prepare for an interview, only to be told that the director suddenly found someone he liked and hired that person, so the interview is cancelled.

 

For me, it's when you read a script, do your prep, have the interview, and then you hear nothing. Even though you have given up your time for them, the producers can't even be bothered to let you know that you didn't get the job.

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Even though you have given up your time for them, the producers can't even be bothered to let you know that you didn't get the job

Surely that just comes down to "don't call us, we'll call you".

The situation you describe is normal in London, at least at the level I work.

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Surely that just comes down to "don't call us, we'll call you".

The situation you describe is normal in London, at least at the level I work.

 

I don't doubt it. I'm not expecting a detailed explanation of why I didn't get the job, just a simple email saying "Thanks, but no thanks.". I was raised to believe in both common and professional courtesy.

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I find the double booking is getting more common. But I would have to argue against what David said as it isn't so much a commercial thing as its a low budget thing. I've had it happen a few times to me over the last few years and every time it came down to the producer not really caring who the DP really was just trying to get the best rate. I know this because two of the times they ended up hiring people I knew and they had no problem talking to me about it. One time I even had a producer call an apologize since they didn't feel what the other producers did was right. I basically get around it this way...If its a soft hold I still continue looking for other work. If its hard hold hold I'll take offers but won't seek anything, and if its confirmed and they cancel within 48 hours they pay me for a half day rate, 24 hours they pay me a full date rate, on the day or when I get there they pay full day rate plus costs. I also won't do hard holds for everyone. Some jobs if the rate is low I even go so far as to tell them that if I get an offer at my full rate (or union hours) then I'll replace myself. Most producers when I'm working lower budgeted jobs understand. When your newer and starting out though insisting on things like this is hard. Especially the last few years I've found that producers (and I've known a few experienced ones who agree with me) have changed. It used to be they cared about the crew and paying them well. They would trying and get cheaper gear, reduce locations, etc but still pay the crew decent rates. Now it seems that the first place the new breed of producers try and cut money from budgets is with crew.

 

~Marque

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It's easy to get lazy and assume that an email or two is enough to secure a booking. But unless I've actually spoken with a human being over the phone, I don't consider it a done deal. So I make sure to get everything in writing, AND to speak with someone in production, keeps me fresh in their minds concerning who's on the job.

 

That being said...

 

I was booked on a job this past December. Preprod seemed very chaotic, but I had both email and phone contact with production, so I thought I had nothing to worry about. Two days away from the shoot, no updates about a prep or anything. I call the Producer to see if anything's going on...he'd totally forgot he booked me, didn't write it down anywhere, blah blah blah. I also replied to his EMAIL booking me, as proof. But whoever got the job was coming in from out of town and they couldn't cancel on him (out of town, that's supposed to make the situation better?).

 

Best I could do at this point was try and negotiate a kill fee...but no replies obviously. Speaking with the 1st AC afterwards, it looked like I dodge a bullet. Shoot was insanely disorganized. Still, just one of a handful of Producers that go on my blacklist (I don't have many).

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