Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

The check is in the mail

Ten days ago, I worked a micro budget favor job for a friend of mine who is trying to move up the food chain (which, of course, necessitates moving down the food chain first) and shoot.

I don’t have a problem with favor jobs. I don’t mind helping out friends or people who need it, but since my landlord won’t accept good intentions, I usually expect to be paid the amount I was promised.

The amount I was promised for this particular job was relatively small, but every little bit helps, and I factored that pay into the monthly budget. Job was on Friday, we were told checks would be mailed Monday.

No check.

Then we were told checks would be mailed Thursday.

Mailed on Thursday means it should show up in my mailbox on Saturday, or Monday at the latest.

Monday: No check.

Today, I worked a day on a commercial (and thankfully I know they’ll pay), and figured I’d look again when I got home.

No check, although I did get a dividend for some worthless stock – it’ll buy a shitty bottle of wine. But at least they paid, goddammit.

This is even more annoying because this was supposed to be a cash job.

Some time ago, crews got wise to the ‘promise and then skip out’ tactic, and began to demand cash. Usually at the end of the night, but some production companies had to pay upfront, and then pay again if they wanted more work.

I know, that statement makes us seem like greedy assholes, but you can only get burned so many times before you stop trying to make people like you.

So at the end of the day, we walked up to the money man, expecting to be handed envelopes.

He looked shocked.

“I never promised anyone cash. I never pay cash! Who told you I’d give you cash?”

I think that’s when we all knew.

Knew we were going to have to fight.

I haven’t had to do this in a long time – hopefully I won’t have to go to the office and make a scene, but I won’t hesitate if that’s what I have to do.

Remind me to tell the baseball bat story. It involves a shady production company, a bounced check, and a baseball bat.

Or someone who is currently working micro-budget can tell it, since I’m sure it’s the same story.

We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

Filed under: cranky, life in LA, mishaps, movies, rants, Work, , , , , ,

4 Responses

  1. chucksnuc says:

    Wasn’t there some gear to steal at wrap time? Come on, Peggy!
    Especially when the scumbag (‘producer’ for you film students in Omaha) played dumb about the payment.
    Every time I hang my laundry I get a warm feeling; the stolen SpeedRail fittings for my clothesline are from such a situation. Plus, I think I even got paid eventually!
    Gee, I guess I ended up being an exploiter of that poor producer. Now I feel bad.

  2. esteban says:

    I worked a music video for an “up and coming” RAP star. The producer was also his “manager”. They stiffed me at the end of the day, never sent the promised check for a whopping $250.00 the following week… After three weeks, I went to his office on Sunset and made a scene, got escorted out (luckily not w/ a beat down) and decided music videos were for suckers. Never got paid but sure got under that prick’s skin! I guess it was worth something!

  3. Deal memos are your first and best line of defense against this shit, but assuming the job was in L.A., visit the L.A. city district attorneys office and ask to file a “Theft Of Services” complaint and see if they can give you any info on also getting a “Mechanic’s Lien” filed, those two things are very good motivators to the scum that want to string you along. The best of all possible world would be if they gave you a check that bounced, as in the same building you could get a judgement against them and potentially collect triple damages. People tend to pay up quicker after a visit from a guy or gal with a badge.
    Just a sound guy that has needed to do the above

  4. lighttech says:

    learned that lesson early

    as the day ends that last 18 k gets walked out to the car park in a cart and waits till cash is paid!

    then the ‘hostage’ is released!

    or we divy it up –cable to one guy–ballast to another and so on and walk then!

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