Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

DP Overtime

Published : 30th August 2003


I have a strange question to pose to the list - it would be interesting to see a survey of this...

What's the consensus over DP Overtime ? And the differences in the US and abroad. Differences in TV/Features and commercials. Just wondering what standards and precedents have been set out there.

Any DP's prefer a "flat" just like some AD's do - since AD's and DP's are largely responsible for how the day goes. No "conflict of interest" a good thing, and the rate marked up a little to account for your extra time in advance ?

And then I've heard that some Unions (at least my IA local 600 here in the US it seems) may frown upon such flat deals - they prefer one to get the OT of course - and the fringes that accompany it.

What about out-times : Is it customary to have the Loader put you out at Production Wrap, or Camera Wrap, or simply when you leave - many DP's simply end up staying an hour or so after wrap dealing with many issues for the next day or week - or being asked to check something at the telecine facility or what have you.

In US TV work, is it odd for the DP to have OT after 10 hours ?

Any feedback welcome.

Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP



Mark asked :

> What's the consensus over DP Overtime ?

I only know from the US, non-union, indie, often micro-budget level – the deal I make states that the work day is to be limited to 12 hours. Anything over that is charged at "xxx" rate representing time and a half per the rate I have negotiated at the time.

I have no idea how this would really fall down in a pinch but I also have put a line in my deal memo that states "these same arrangements apply to any crew under my direct supervision".

Keep in mind that before they even get my Deal Memo, I have already had a conversation with them about my feelings on working conditions, safety, hours, turnaround, etc. These are important issues to me and I make that known ahead of time. This is great on these little productions I'm on most of the time, but I'm not sure most DP’s on bigger productions would have the same sort of success.

I generally have them call "out" when we're all but walking out the door.

Roderick
Az. D.P.
www.restevens.com
12 On / 12 Off!



I think that you have to be flexible and take into account local conditions.

My normal day is 10Hrs + OT at 1T

This is quite often altered to a "flat" 12 hours, for a consideration, I quite often win on this kind of deal.

Very occasionally I end up with a "flat" rate for 16 hours but with a clause that I go to 4T after the 16, never seems to happen.

Cheers

Geoff Boyle FBKS

Director of Photography
EU based
www.cinematography.net



Geoff said:

>My normal day is 10Hrs + OT at 1T…This is quite often altered to a "flat" >12 hours, for a consideration, I quite often win on this kind of deal.

I always forget to clarify an important point as well. 90% of the work I do is in longer form - Features and Shorts. I think this is an important variable. I'm a lot more flexible on the hours when it's a one or two day shoot such as a Commercial or Music Video.

I don't know if I "should" be, but I am. It's the longer shoots - 1 - 4 weeks and such where I feel like something more reasonable - like STICKING to 12 hours and making anything over cost prohibitive to the production - is imperative because you're at it day after day and exhaustion will set in quickly.

Roderick Stevens
Az. D.P.
12 On / 12 Off!



I always put overtime clauses into my contract. Often a low budget producer will say "We can't afford overtime," to which I respond, "Fine, then don't go over." I usually start my day as a 10-hour and quickly negotiate to a 12hr. But that's a 12hr. by the clock, meaning that it includes the time spent during lunch. That's the next item to be negotiated away. After that I charge my overtime basing my rates on a 10hr (i.e., if one were making $500/day, then the rate for overtime calculation is $50/hr.).

It's 1.5x time for the next two hours (13 & 14) and the minute you start a new hour you pay for the full 60 minutes; then 2x time for the 15th & 16th hours. I seriously frown upon going over 16 hours (remember Brent's Rule) and I'll really start charging big time after that, trying to quickly make it worth the production's while to give up and come back another day. We once hit what I referred to as "Stupid Time," which was well past Golden Time or Double Time, where I and my crew charged 5x our hourly rates.

And don't forget turnaround. It's 10 hr. minimum with 12 hr. preferred. If they go over 15 hrs. then it's a 12 hr. minimum call as everyone gets quite tired at that point. If they cut into the turnaround then everyone starts the day on 1.5x rate (a $500 day is now a $750 day), and if that day goes beyond 12 hrs. then those overtime hours charge 1.5x rate based on the 1.5x rate for the day (i.e a $750 day which is now $75/hr, charging 1.5x so it's now $102.50/hr). If you hit 2x time then the increased day rate also applies (now up to $150/hr). Quickly production realizes that they must pay a hefty price for overworking people.

The DP often straddles that line between production and crew, but I feel that this position should be fully compensated for overtime work. I make it known early on what I will bring to a production and what I expect in return. The DP should be paid overtime if required to work overtime. If the DP chooses on his/her own accord to go check out some dailies at the lab, then that's the individual's call and should not be paid for it, but if the DP presence is requested by the director & producer to go with them to check out dailies, then this is working time with the production and should be charged as such.

One last bit. When low budget productions negotiate package prices to DP’s with their own camera packages, then the gear should be charged on overtime as well. if they want a "package deal" then they pay for the "package" all the way through. If I bill a separate rate for me and my gear (often the gear goes through my corporate entity), then I'm only entitled to charge overtime on my employment time, not my gear. But that's an entirely different rate structure and tax assessment.

So yeah, the simple answer is that DP’s should charge overtime.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP



Hi,

I have no idea how you ever make these complicated rate structures stick.

Okay, different level of production, different part of the world, but I have people insisting that I won't get paid until after they've finished their edit so they can be sure they're happy. No, I'm not kidding. People in the UK on micro budget productions seem to have realised that it's not worth legally chasing anything less than about £500, which I appreciate is a day's pay to most people on this list, but to some of us it's a month's rent.

If I tried to attach that many conditions - actually, if I tried to make it in any way legally unavoidable for them to pay me - they'd just find someone else. I don't know how come people put up with it

Phil Rhodes



Phil Rhodes wrote:

>I have no idea how you ever make these complicated rate structures >stick.

How about a union? Yes, unions are terrible, but so far no one's come up with a better solution.

>If I tried to attach that many conditions - actually,

I believe this has been covered in the past. Aren't there any labor laws in GB?

>I don't know how come people put up with it.

Some people don't.

I remember a bill collecting incident from the old days. A sleazy producer was refusing to pay the crew. The gaffer and key grip went to see him in his high rise office. The secretary said he was out. He was in. They marched in and threw his IBM typewriter out the window in an alley and said you're next.

They left with the cash for the crew. They also said if he hired anyone else they'd be back. The producer underwent a remarkable change of personality..

Brian "Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains." Heller
IA 600 DP



Phil asked :


>I have no idea how you ever make these complicated rate structures >stick.

It's largely in how you present yourself, what they think you're worth and what YOU'RE willing to put up with.

Look at the deal Mitch makes compared to the deal I make. Mitch has obviously established a value for himself that's higher than where I'm at the moment. Honestly in the next two years or so, I hope to be making similar deals.

Believe me Phil, I am not one of these "always gets $500/day" DP’s - I'm still in my infancy and struggling like everyone else that's just trying to break in. But I've spent a lot of time and energy developing my Demo Reel and the people who hire me generally find me of great value and are willing to negotiate some items with me in order to have me shoot their projects. It also helps to be referring to a "safety" issue when discussing overtime and turn-around. It's less about paying me more and MUCH MORE about working reasonable hours.

Also - when you've been screwed over enough times, you find it worth it to include some of these clauses in order to try and protect yourself. What's the point of doing all the work if you're not going to get paid?

You HAVE to establish and stick to your own value! No one else will see you as valuable if YOU don't.

I am in a really tough financial bind right now, and was recently offered a little Feature Project. I've spent the last year fighting to stick to my latest "minimum rate" and was able to negotiate for that rate with this latest project. Well, after they made some other decisions that took away more of their budget they asked me to take a considerable cut in pay and I had to make a choice. Because there were some unique creative aspects to the project, I had already decided that I would compromise some, but not to the level they wanted. Someone else will be shooting that project now.

Roderick Stevens
Az. D.P.
12 On / 12 Off!



>Look at the deal Mitch makes compared to the deal I make.

Mitch's deals are better than I ever manage to get. I almost never get an overtime deal, even after 25 features...This was an issue on my first union back in June, which turned union in the second week. Crew got union minimum rates except me, because there is some clause in the low-budget I.A. agreement that producers only had to honour the DP's deal memo, which for me was a flat rate that was lower than the operator's even without overtime.

By union rules, I only get golden overtime after 14 hours but nothing kicks in earlier than that. After a week of overtime with everyone's pay check coming in larger than mine (I was making less than the operator and half what the A.D. was making), I finally got the producers to renegotiate my flat rate towards something more in line with the crews' (actually, I got them to agree my the last day of shooting and make the pay bump retroactive), but I still didn't have an overtime clause. I guess I never pushed for it because I thought "flat rate" sort of meant "no overtime" by definition.

Anyway, I plan to push for one in the future...

David Mullen
Cinematographer / L.A.



David Mullen wrote :

>Which for me was a flat rate that was lower than the operator's even >without overtime."

It will be small consolation, especially for someone with so many features behind him, that Gordon Willis, on "The End of the Road," his first feature, was earning $750/week (flat rate I believe) because he wanted to shoot the film. The teamster captain was earning considerably more on this low budget film, as was everyone else in the camera department.

Jerry Cotts
DP/LA



Roderick :

>Also - when you've been screwed over enough times, you find it worth it >to include some of these clauses in order to try and protect yourself.

There was a famous director once who waited every morning until his daily fee was delivered in his hot little hands: THEN he started the first take of the day.

Just a suggestion?

Once I went to the lab in Toronto and managed to get hold of the neg. (S16, luckily not 35), took it to a safe place. Got paid after the company sent the cops after me with a search warrant but couldn't find it.

Trouble with that is that it quickly becomes known and getting work was problematic. For a while.

Clauses don't work if they're out to screw you regardless.

Solution is: screw back.

Robert Rouveroy csc
The Hague, Holland

I plan to live forever. So far, so good.



I don't know if I'd advocate some of the illegal acts mentioned to enforce my contracts, and yes I've been royally screwed by weasel producers in the past. And though I make my big pitch for what I have as standard clauses in my contracts, it doesn't mean that I don't negotiate a lot of that away before the deal is signed. The feature I just finished and the feature I'm shooting now are both being shot on a flat rate pay scale, but they were also with the understanding that the days would be strict 12 hour ones with proper turnaround and other such considerations. We've all had the days that went long but were not particularly anyone's fault, and in the end no one charged overtime even though they went long. But if you don't start from a position of taking care of yourself then there is no way your considerations will ever come into play.

When I shoot a commercial, music video or industrial doc job, I generally get full rate with all the overtime breakdowns. When do a no budget indie feature it generally all goes out the window but I always start with pushing for proper treatment for me and my crew. In the end it's not about the money but instead about the respect and being treated like a human being.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP



>I don't know if I'd advocate some of the illegal acts mentioned to enforce >my contracts,

If you're referring to the " ransoming" of rushes then this can be perfectly legal.

I've posted before about a case where I had provided crew and stock on a job and wasn't getting paid.

I took legal advice, a QC as high as you can go here, and found that although I couldn't use the material, it was someone else's artistic copyright, I did have the right to recycle the film to reclaim any silver and use this as part payment of the debt, this was as long as a fair warning was given.

I got paid the day after the warning, and accompanying legal advice, was delivered.

Cheers

Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU based



Mitch Gross :

>In the end it's not about the money but instead about the respect and >being treated like a human being.

Here here.


Raoul Germain
DP
Los Angeles



What ever happened to those New York NABET DAYS, a union that stood by it's workers and we were paid good rates. As a Gaffer 20 years ago I was paid more than DoP's are offered these days, wish my lawyers or doctor charged less.

Owen Stephens SOC
"Only work for my rate" or I invent new toys!



Hi,

>What ever happened to those New York NABET DAYS, a union that >stood by it's workers and we were paid good rates.

Yeah, sure, you were paid good rates - but those who couldn't get into the union got screwed over just like the rest of us.

I don't think it has anything to do with unions. Mr. Boyle gets messed around less than I do because he's less replaceable than me. I have absolutely no bargaining chips in a negotiation like this because I'm simply not that good at it, and there are many others as good or better who are still not good enough to demand the favourable conditions.

Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit
London



Phil Rhodes wrote:

>Yeah, sure, you were paid good rates - but those who couldn't get into >the union got screwed over just like the rest of us

Geez I used to work with NABET crews, I wasn't in NABET I could do it because I knew the snorkel camera; I was paid well - not the benefits, I got time + 1/2 when they were getting double time. So what. If I had wanted to go that route and join NABET I was probably on the track to do so.

Sam Wells



Sure. The longest shift I ever worked was something like 42 hours straight. Maybe a bit more, I wasn't exactly counting...

But that was editing. Specifically working to meet a deadline that nobody else (including the DP) cared about, and overcoming serious deficiencies in the shot material.

Just for fun, every time someone says they'll fix it in Post, send $50 to your favourite charity. (It's much cheaper then the price WE pay).

lovingly,

John Hollands

Quickly production realizes that they must pay a hefty price for overworking people.



>Yeah, sure, you were paid good rates - but those who couldn't get into >the union got screwed over just like the rest of us.

Jeez Phil, you make it hard for anyone to provide any encouragement at all.

I cannot speak to the effect of union rates and rules on non-union work in the UK, but I must tell you that having been in a variety of unions in theatre and motion picture and having worked extensively in both of those fields in non union as well as union situations, I can tell you first hand and by my own experience that non union work situations in both of those industries in the United States have benefited greatly from the presence of the unions...

...sure, non-union technicians often (but certainly not always) get paid less than union personnel on similar jobs, but the very acknowledgement on the part of producers that workers must be fed, must have sufficient turnaround time, etc is due in no small part to the union contract stipulations regarding those sorts of issues. Even though non union jobs rarely offer all of the "perks" that union contract work does, the negotiated terms and conditions are almost always informed by what the craft unions mandate.

Working long hours for low pay sucks carrying lots of heavy equipment all over the place sucks working for people who yell and scream and don't appreciate our obvious genius sucks. Not being in the union sucks. Anteing up big piles of dosh to pay initiation and dues when you get into the union sucks. Being in the union and not getting enough union days to derive any benefit from membership even after paying dues and initiation and watching a percentage of your pay go to the union sucks

A bad day in the motion picture industry is still generally better than a good day in the roofing business.

Mark "Hot mop your carport roof, mister?" Weingartner
LA based but not there now



>A bad day in the motion picture industry is still generally better than a >good day in the roofing business.

Yeah but how many knives do you pull out of your back if you work in the roofing business?

John Babl



>Yeah but how many knives do you pull out of your back if you work in >the roofing business?

There is plenty of competition there too:-)

Mark Weingartner
(can recommend a roofer in LA)



There is a clause in the Local 600 Basic Agreement that covers this. It might be a good place to start for non-union jobs:

" PARAGRAPH 54. Over scale Employees Rates of pay of over scale employees shall not be reduced by reason of this wage agreement; however, unless otherwise agreed upon, the amount of excess shall be applicable to overtime, holiday premium pay, allowances for the seventh day in an employee's workweek and travel allowances, allowances for specialized work assignments and temperature bonus -- but not against work time on the seventh day worked in an employee's workweek, the sixth day worked in an employee's studio workweek, Golden Hours and meal delay allowances. Notwithstanding the foregoing, amounts in excess of scale may not be offset against specialized work assignment allowances paid to Camera 0perators. All computations are to be on minimum rates unless otherwise agreed."

What this means is that you can't earn less than scale, but any amount you earn IN EXCESS of scale can be applied to overtime (except golden time), and 6th day location work, etc., but not meal penalties, 7th day, etc.. You get paid overtime once the difference between your rate and scale is used up (i.e. scale = $1000 for five 13 hour days, your deal = $2000 for five 13 hour days, the first $1000 of your overtime comes out of your over scale amount, after that you get overtime (I rounded my rate up to make the math easier).

It sounds like David Mullen was getting shafted, usually the union will set the DP scale the same as the operators. I got in a bit of trouble with Local 600 before I learned about this.

Jim Denault
DP



>A bad day in the motion picture industry is still generally better than a >good day in the roofing business.

What Mark said.

Although the IA does give away some interesting stuff. In California, state labor laws say that you must have a meal break no later than five hours after starting work. The IA/Producers got a variance, and the IA contract calls for six hours. And pretty much every single non-union job I've ever worked over the last 32 years has adopted that six hour rule, despite the fact it breaks the law on non-union gigs.

Bob



>A bad day in the motion picture industry is still generally better than a >good day in the roofing business.

Yeah, but at least when roofing you know you're done when the sun's gone down. They're not going to break out an 18k and keep slapping tar!

Roderick
Az. D.P. (I've done me some roofin')