Some time ago, I wrote an article about why I am reluctant to work on Film for free (or any other medium or art form for that matter).
Recently I have been going through DVDs of film work I have done over the past several years. It took so long to get a copy of the finished product, that when I did eventually get copies, I just put them in a box folder and forgot about them. Until recently.
Technology in editing and getting scenes from the DVD format, has enable me to digitise and edit film footage from DVDs that I finally (on discovering these DVDs,) decided to put what little film library I have online. While doing this I was reminded of the bad old days of my early career.
I would like to think things have moved on (which I doubt,) but back in the day, working for free was not seen by many budding film makers, as fellow budding professional, giving up their time, experience, skills and expertise for free. Rather, it was a case of one being grateful to be even considered being in their film. And so all of the above came back to me while digitising and uploading a short film called ‘Ganglands’ aka ‘Ganglands: A Clear Conscience’.
It all came back at how I paid my own train fare to Ipswich to be in a Film because I really wanted to act on Film (as if I haven’t before,) but liked the idea, the script and wanted to be in it so badly I was prepared to go that far. And I did. I look back now and think ‘What a wasted effort’. Of my time totally! It took me two years of badgering before I eventually got a DVD copy of the film. And if that wasn’t bad enough, while editing and uploading the film, I discovered something, or rather, was reminded of something else. Hardly anyone had received any credit for the time they had put it.
To my knowledge, the only person that actually got paid on this production was the Director of Photography – That was bad enough but what was worse was no one else received any more credit for their time and work. Yes, there is a list of credits at the end of the Film but if one was to look on the Internet Movie Database ( IMDb,) Listing of ‘Ganglands’, there are only a handful of people credited for their part in the Film. For myself, I had to enter my own details myself. How very different was my experience four years later on The Human Centipede2, when the Director Tom Six, told the cast and crew that all our details would be entered onto IMDb by his organisation. How strange that sounds now as I had to spend more than an hour entering the entire cast and crew list of ‘Ganglands’ onto a film maker’s website as I listed the film’s credits prior to uploading the film.
In a long-winded way, I guess what I am trying to say is, if a person isn’t prepared to pay you for the work you do as a film actor, you really can’t expect them to do anything else for you. In the end, the director didn’t enter the film in any festivals – In fact he didn’t do anything with the film once it was completed apart from editing it and putting it onto DVDs. Pity really because it was a good solid idea but if the will wasn’t there to take it further that is really on him.
For myself, six years later, I am finally putting the film where it belongs. Out there for an audience to see, even if it is on the Shooting People Website.