Wednesday, 3 February 2010

More on the Shooting People Debate

Hi all,

I'd like to share this fantastic response that has come from Andrew Ward who has kindly let me reproduce his letter here:

"Firstly it must be made very clear by Shooting People that results from this survey are not representative of the industry (pastime or hobby if we go down the no-pay route) because shooting people was initially set up to assist the exchange of services and talent within the lo-no budget sphere so unsurprisingly those responding are mostly people who sympathise with free work. This survey would have very different results if carried out by Equity, BAFTA etc whose members are professionals deriving a living from various areas of the media industries.

Secondly there are circumstances where free work is acceptable however there must be very strict guidelines around projects that may allow free work and those that can't. This way a grass roots learning sector in film can exist alongside an industry where paid professionals turn out world class films and creative work.

Thirdly many people say it is there individual right to decide to work for free. A person’s decision to work for free has a massive effect on other people’s ability to make a living from their skills or talent. In other sectors of the economy those who decide to break a picket line and work for worse conditions, lower pay or even for free are called "scabs” a highly derogatory term... These workers actions effect other workers in that sectors ability to make a living. It should NOT be an individuals right to work for free as there actions effect everybody else's ability to make a living in the industry in a negative way.

Without overstating things it is like drugs in sport, if some athletes decide to use drugs it effects all other athletes because you may not want to use drugs but you are forced to use them in order to have any chance of winning, this is one reason amongst many why athletes are NOT given the individual choice to use drugs or not. Your free choice to work for free compromises my free choice to ask for proper remuneration for my skills, talent time etc.

Fourthly and this is from personal experience when I have decided to work for free I have often but not always been treated with minimal respect. when I have been paid my time experience and work are treated with some respect, when I have been paid generously I have been treated with the most respect....something to think about for all those that always give away their talent and skills for free or without any meaningful exchange taking place....

Lastly what are you working towards if nobody in the industry is paid?

You have nothing but a hobby most likely producing lower grade work which is not world class because most of your day is spent working at Tescos stacking shelves not perfecting and refining your skills knowledge and talent in a rewarding career in a world class British Film Industry.

Thank you for giving my points your careful consideration, if your a person with influence I hope you keep them in mind when setting out future policy. Don't hesitate in writing to me directly to discuss this and related issues further."

Couldn't have put it better myself.