It’s not ideal, but it’s one of the few times where that trade-off is worth it. Like my experience with Ghosts Don’t Exist, it’s worth no-pay to get the invaluable experience of being on a film set and working with a professional crew.
Just don’t be surprised if you never end up with a copy of the film.
A Lost Cause (And a Lost DVD)
Of all the movies I’ve worked on for free, I’ve only ever received a copy of one of them on DVD.
If you count all the projects I’ve worked on ever, I still only own three of them (and one of those is because I had the editor send me the file.)
It’s confusing to me no matter the budget of the film:
- Low budget films can easily burn DVDs at a minimal cost — even just a disc with the file.
- Films with a modest budget lucky enough to get DVD distribution should expect to pay for the cost of a certain quantity of DVDs as they promised (and this should be itemized in the budget before production)
The only exceptions are commercials and industrial videos where you have no interest in obtaining a DVD (unless it’s for a demo reel; which is a whole separate issue). And, of course, when you aren’t promised a copy of the movie.
I guess the whole no-DVD situation irks me because of the incredible inbalance in the equation that exists. The production gets your time, your life, your skills, your tools, and your efforts for 12-hours a day over X amount of days. In exchange, they feed you, they vouch for your experience, and they supposedly give you a copy of the movie.
While that relationship — when its at its best — is beneficial to both parties, it certainly benefits a production much, much more than a crew member. Free work, no matter how few strings are attached, has a cost.
And part of the expected payment is a copy of the film.
So if you’re still waiting for a copy like me, it’s appropriate for us all to ask “where’s my DVD?”
And if you’re on the hook for giving your crew DVD’s, the answer better be “in the mail by next week.”