August 28, 2017

What Do You Do When You Can't Pay Your Crew?

Man cannot live on free pizza alone.

In a perfect world, we would all have big enough budgets to handsomely pay our cast and crew for all of their hard work and dedication, but—it's not a perfect world and most of us are broke. No-budget filmmakers often have to get creative when it comes to compensating our faithful film teams, but if the only idea you're coming up with is to buy a ton of pizzas and call it good, then you might want to check out this video from The Film Look.

Working for free is a huge sacrifice; those of us who have done it know all too well. It means going directly to set after a long day at work. It means staying up all night to get that last shot even if you have an 8 a.m. class. It means ditching your friends, spending your own money on gas, and not eating all that well (or at all) for the sake of a project that you are dedicated to helping bring together.

So, if some beautiful souls agree to work on your film for free, make it a point to offer them something that will make it worth their while (even if they didn't ask for anything in return). Take some headshots for them. Edit their demo reel. Provide something better than cold pizza at craft services. Give them a copy of the final product.

Most importantly, offer to help them on their projects for free when/if they do a project of their own. My buddies and I did this all the time in college—you act in my short, I shoot yours, I write this, you direct that. It was like a filmmaker's version of a tanda and it worked beautifully.

What are some other ways you can compensate your cast and crew when you don't have money to pay them? Let us know in the comments below!      

Your Comment

7 Comments

I recently produced a feature film with an all volunteer cast & crew. I was truly humbled every day people showed up to donate their precious time to my project, and I thanked them profusely every chance I got.

If you are going to use a volunteer crew, make sure you feed them well, at least cover their gas/parking money, be professional, don't waste their time, make the best product you can, give them a higher credit than they usually get paid for and, above all, FINISH the movie and provide everyone with a copy, for free, as soon as you can.

For many of us, it was our first film credit or a bump in job position, and no one felt exploited even though we couldn't pay anyone (we self distributed the film and are still very much in the red, so we the producers are not profiting either).

You can check out the fruits of our labor at www.poolpartymassacre.com

August 28, 2017 at 10:45PM, Edited August 28, 10:45PM

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Brian Mills
Producer
248

I like to volunteer myself. Looking for the best chance.

August 29, 2017 at 2:36AM

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Sameir Ali
Director of Photography
670

Brian, your trailer is supposed to entice the film but you have given away key scenes. Humbly suggest you recut the trailer to include some dialogue and maybe show a weapon raised instead of all the deaths themselves.

August 29, 2017 at 2:43PM

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Saied M.
899

Normally I would agree 100%, but this isn't a Christopher Nolan film.

We have found that with the hardcore indie splatter horror audience, they want to make sure the film meets their expectations (gore and skin). In this case, the trailer has garnered great feedback, and doesn't really spoil anything because the audience expects 90% of the characters to die anyway.

And believe it or not, we actually have a ton of other kills not in the trailer - this film has a pretty high body count.

August 31, 2017 at 7:55PM

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Brian Mills
Producer
248

Dreaming film makers, without a budget... that's what we are.

August 29, 2017 at 2:35AM, Edited August 29, 2:35AM

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Sameir Ali
Director of Photography
670

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August 30, 2017 at 4:39AM, Edited August 30, 4:39AM

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Brian, based on my experiences, statistical and behaviour analysis, you website, is not help you to sell the movie or create a cult.
If you allow me, i will humbly point just some things, which is just personal opinion, based on studies and 20years experiense, but not a law written in stone:

-The color, the logo, the optical identity in general, create a "strong", (call whatever you want), that occupy the user vision instead to support the film.
-Your image/color quality its not so good, that allow you to have "Punchy" colors.
-The streaming is very slow. Increase the speed (you technician knows what i mean)

September 2, 2017 at 6:48AM, Edited September 2, 6:52AM

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Gournis
Visual Communication Design
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