How does the saying go? Screw me over once, shame on you. Screw me over twice shame on me?
This year, this tiny little calendar year of just 90 or so days has seen me screwed over twice already. On two separate occasions I’ve entered into work agreements with large brands who have agreed to a predetermined amount of money. One brand had four figures on the table, another had five. Both brands had pre-production meetings with me, both brands asked me to mark off days in my calendar, both brands had conference calls with me where they asked for input, and then both brands pulled the plug.
Neither production company had the courtesy to let me know either in writing or via telephone.
Both brands used outside agencies. Neither agency will ever get a response from me again. One agency is small, the other is not so small. In both instances the agency is the one who was the most underhanded. I will not name them, but if I win the lottery I’ll hire a skywriter.
Here’s the sequence of events; and bloggers I’m hopeful you’ll learn from me, because I really should have learned this before responding to the second request.
I get a phone call or email saying that an agency would like to pitch me as part of a package. They ask for my thoughts on it, and I gave a brief summary of ways I could be involved in the project. Both times the agencies thought I was a good match, a few emails went back and forth about the pricing, and in both instances the agencies agreed in writing on a price for the project.
Here is where I want to caution all of you.
In both instances the agencies had a series of phone calls with me. In both instances the agencies asked me to mark certain days off my calendar. In both instances the agencies understood the parameters of my work, in one case it was that I’d work for a certain number of hours, in another case it was that I’d work on a shoot and they’d hire child actors.
In both cases they used my ideas, I blocked off my time, and then when I called or emailed to reconfirm with my contact I was told that they’d pulled the plug, “Didn’t they tell you?” In both cases I’d reconfigured my schedule to make it work for them. In both cases I got paid not a penny. In once instance they wanted my kids to be part of the video in the 11th hour and in another instance they wanted to double the work time.
Apparently they think I’m either broke or stupid.
Bloggers. I caution you, this is a predatory world full of second third rate TV producers who are out to screw anyone they can in order to get their creative work done free. I will never take a phone call that lasts more than seven minutes without a contract in place, and I’ve actually taken the extreme move of hiring a talent manager. I’m done with it, because agencies give me a headache and steal my ideas.
What I offer to you is this advice. Do nothing without a contract and get half the money up front. If they can’t offer you a deposit, don’t give them ideas.
And I realize that y’all probably won’t listen to this because even I am bad at taking my own advice, but I’m cautioning you, everyone is jumping on the social media bandwagon, and they’re snakes.