View Full Version : Unpaid Editor Position: 3-Minute Promotional Teaser/Trailer shot on RED
25-08-2008, 03:41 PM
I hope this message finds you well...
My name is Chris Hocking. I am a third year student currently studying towards a Bachelor of Film & Television at Swinburne University in Prahran. As part of my studies this year I am putting together a three minute teaser/trailer, that I plan to use as a promotional tool to try and get a feature film concept off the ground entitled, Sakooz!
This is a really exciting concept, and we have already attracted quite a deal of attention. During the audition process we received well over 600 applications, including people from all over the country, and even some people from overseas (not bad for an unpaid student film)! We have big plans for this film, and honestly believe that we can get the concept off the ground and onto screens as a full length feature film. We had an amazing cast and crew on board and already have some incredible people attached to the feature film.
You can read more about our production on our website:
Originally, we had planned to complete the editing for this trailer in-house, however we have since decided that we will probably achieve a much better result if we get someone else on board who has experience editing Hollywood-style trailers, and also someone who can look at all the material with "fresh eyes".
All the footage has been shot on RED. Ideally, it would be easier if we got an editor on board that is happy to use Final Cut Pro (due to our current work-flow), however we can easily adjust things for an Avid work-flow, or other if need be.
So... we are currently looking for an editor to jump on-board this EXCITING and CHALLENGING production! Ideally, we are after someone who has at least 3+ years of experience cutting together commercials and/or trailers. However, given this is an unpaid position, we are happen to accept students who have an AMAZING show reel.
Why would you want to take on this UNPAID position?
1. You get to play around with 4K footage shot on the RED! It looks amazing!
2. Should every thing go to plan, there is a possibility you could be attached to the full length feature film should it get picked up.
3. This is a really exciting concept with heaps of pyrotechnics, animatronics, puppets, aliens and special effects! This is not your average boring human interest student film! This is EPIC!
4. Once the trailer is complete, we will be doing an massive online marketing campaign to get the concept "out there" and onto as many screens as possible. Therefore, your edit will be seen by thousands, if not millions of people.
5. It should be a HUGE amount of fun!
If you have any questions, or require any further information, please don't hesitate to contact me at ANY time via:
If this role sounds like something you're interested in, please get in touch me with ASAP. The footage is ready to go - and we ideally want someone to start cutting things together sooner rather than later. Selection will be based on past experience and show-reels.
You can either contact me via the online form listed above, or via this forum.
Thanks so much for your time!
Best Regards, Chris Hocking.
CHECK US OUT ONLINE . . . !
Melbourne Rebels: http://rebels.latenitefilms.com
So the question is... did everyone else on this project work for free?
26-08-2008, 10:28 AM
Whilst this forum is not the appropriate place for posting classified ads for work (and Chris knows this), we would like to leave this posting here to encourage your response.
As many of you already know this Guild does not condone, promote or encourage the practice of unpaid work.
Whilst the 'opportunity' always sounds far too exciting to resist and the 'sell' in this particular case is a very good one, the fact still remains it is exploitative.
As long as you know what you are getting yourselves into (and generally speaking there will be only one or two winners in these no budget films) enjoy the experience and move on.
If on the other hand it is completely open and honest in a very co-operative arrangement and all who participate are rewarded equally for their contributions in the event that something comes of it then it can be a wonderful experience. Unfortunately it ends up in tears more often than not.
If you do take this job as a result of reading this 'ad' let us know how you went.
26-08-2008, 11:48 AM
Thanks for your replies! It's very much appreciated!
Firstly, yes Darren, everyone else worked on the production for free. None of our cast or crew have been paid for any of their work on this film. Essentially, this is a student film - most of the gear was supplied by our university, and all of the additional equipment, transportation, food, etc. has been paid for out of our own pockets.
Secondly, I'm sorry Peter! I didn't realise that posting for unpaid positions on this forums was not allowed. Actually it was Margaret Slarke who suggested I post here since the Editsearch facility is for paid jobs only. So my apologies, but I did e-mail your administration before posting.
Given that the guide does not condone unpaid work - it's probably best that if you do have any questions, you get in touch with me directly as opposed to posting on this forum. However, that said, should someone from the guild end up editing together the trailer, I will highly encourage them to post their thoughts and views on the projects here once it's completed.
Apologies for any convince caused! It's certainly not my intention to "rip off" or "exploit" anyone!
Feel free to contact me at ANY time should anything be unclear.
Thanks for your time!
Best Regards, Chris!
RED!, heaps of pyrotechnics, animatronics, puppets, aliens and special effects... all for free?
27-08-2008, 06:20 PM
Chris I appreciate you contacted Margaret who, I understand, explained that we don't as a policy allow advertising for unpaid work on our Editsearch, which is the appropriate place for classifieds.
This policy was brought about because we were inundated with requests for editors to do low- budget and/or no-budget projects and we felt that it was not in the best interests of our members to be continually offered work for free.
We are however very interested in providing any opportunities for paid employment for our members reflecting the respect of editors and their craft.
As for this public forum, well they're here for discussion and that's what we're having.
27-08-2008, 06:47 PM
I applaud the energy and very positive commitment that Chris has for his film project. How else can anything get made in this tough film financing environment. However his approach raises some serious questions.
Chris says and I quote 'Essentially, this is a student film'.... My question is this:- if this is indeed a student film why is Chris looking to engage a professional editor? Why is a student from Swinburne University not given the opportunity to edit the trailer and gain from the experience?
So that we can continue to have an industry which is sustainable in the long term and where practitioners are able to continue to practice and develop their skills, they must be rewarded for their time and commitment. The no fee approach to film making can only fragment the industry (as people drop in and out to earn a living) and hold it back in it's growth and development.
In the long term the no fee approach is destructive. It is used as an easy short term solution. As Peter so correctly points out, only one or two people will benefit in the end.
28-08-2008, 12:30 AM
I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to weigh in with Daz, Peter & Henry on this one. Although I’d go so far as to say that not only is the “no fee” approach to filmmaking destructive – it’s downright unethical; at the very least, insulting.
I went and had a peek at your “Melbourne Rebels” website http://rebels.latenitefilms.com - a site which glorifies the virtues of so-called ‘guerrilla film-making’ . What I found most disturbing about this was the section entitled CREWS - which happily espouses advice on how to gain professional expertise for the sum total of zero. Most notably amongst which, was the sad lament that…
“… although you’ll find lots of fantastic people listed on the pages, everyone listed there are professionals - and some arn’t (sic) always willing to work for nothing. Therefore, your next best bet is to advertise on the major film forums.”
Whilst I do have some sympathy for the predicament of industry newcomers struggling to get films made, what seems to get forgotten in the all the excitement is that this IS, without a doubt, the most collaborative of all the art forms. Yet while the largely absurd notion of the auteur-director continues to be perpetuated, the only people that appear to benefit from this “no fee” practice, are the director or producer. I mean, c’mon, people. Seriously – unless you’re a registered charity, this attitude seems to me to be nothing short of avaricious. Are you making this film for the greater good of the community? To benefit mankind or your fellow humans? I’m guessing NOT. It’s basically self-serving.
You seem to forget that the professionals who you expect to work gratis on your productions are exactly that – professionals who actually have to earn a living from their craft - not just weekend hobbyists. People with bills and mortgages to pay. People with hard–earned knowledge, skills and experience, who can rightly expect to be properly remunerated for the contribution that they bring to a project. (You wanna try telling the bank – “no - sorry, I can’t pay you anything, but it will be a SUPER FUN eight weeks!!!!) Again, I seriously question who exactly is to benefit from the no-budget production? The producer/director? Well, clearly. The crew? Unlikely. A broadcaster? Most certainly. The audience? Hmm. Debatable.
One of the best ads I ever saw was in the classifieds section of one of the film mags (can’t remember which one). It was for a film catering service, and it read, “If you’re not paying your crew, the very least you can do is feed them.” Sign o’ the times, indeed.
But wait – what am I thinking??? Oooh, surely I’ve overlooked the obvious enticement of…“should every thing go to plan, there is a possibility you could be attached to the full length feature film should it get picked up.” Phffft. Please. I’m yet to hear of that happening to ANYONE. If only I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase, “THIS IS NOT YOUR AVERAGE, BORING STUDENT FILM!!!” (Come to think of it, if only I had a dollar for every time someone asked me to cut their film for free…) But who am I to judge? Chris, if your talent proves as prodigious as your enthusiastic use of exclamation marks, then I may well have to eat my words. I can’t wait to find out.
I’m well aware this is a particularly snarky post, but I’m afraid I’ve just run out of patience for this type of request. In my opinion, to agree to unpaid work undermines the role of editor (or any other industry practitioner), drives down rates and devalues their skills and contribution to a project.
However, if anyone out there chooses to take Chris & his Melbourne Rebels up on their generous offer, then that is of course, your prerogative. But unless they are your best mates, my considered advice to you would be, CAVEAT EMPTOR…
Hear, hear, Philippa! In every generation of new film makers you will find enthusiastic producers, directors, etc., who feel that because they are in love with their project and will work on it for nothing, so should everyone else. Why should we?
In brief, every new filmmaker is convinced that their production is uniquely not the "average, boring student film". So that cuts no ice with me. I have worked on student films and "entry-level" films in the past, but always for a quoted fee. It may be cheaper than my usual rate, or the amount of work I put in may be more than actually paid for, but it is still paid work.
From the filmmaker's point of view it's important that it be paid work, because unpaid workers are by definition, uncontrollable workers. Secondly, if the person you're using is prepared to work for free there may be a very good reason - they may not be able to get work any other way.
So my advice? Do what it takes to raise a budget and pay your staff. You may be paying the absolute minimum, but your workers will appreciate it. More importantly, so will you.
29-08-2008, 03:32 PM
Firstly, thank you all so much for your information and advice! You've all certainly given me a huge amount to think about. There are a lot of things that simply never really crossed my mind!
Henry, in answer to one of your questions, the reason I decided to pursue a "professional trailer editor" as opposed to editing the trailer ourselves, is because we really wanted someone that had experience cutting together trailers. As I'm sure you know and appreciate, trailers are basically an art form in them self, and are very different from cutting together a documentary or traditional narrative. From our research, there are hardly any film students, or other people who desperately looking for "hands on" experience that are used to this short form medium. Also, I have become so close to the production personally, that I don't think it's a good idea to try and edit the trailer myself. So yes - I COULD edit the trailer myself, and Swinburne certainly has the resources available to support this, however I'm still uncertain whether or not this is a good idea.
Philippa, thank you very much for your detailed reply. You've obviously thought about this a lot so I appreciate you taking the time to reply so thoroughly. To be perfectly honest, you're exactly right - I've been caught up in the excitement of the film-making process, and have just wrongly assumed that others would just get "excited" as well and "jump on-board" unconditionally. In retrospect this is very naive, and what I didn't think about is that the other people the worked on this project for free (most of which are professionals) probably did it as more as a personal favour, rather than just because they really love the concept. As everything has been so fast paced and challenging over the last couple of months, I guess I just also made the bad assumption that this project was "special" - I simply forget that there are thousands of other film students out there "selling" the same kind of spiel (although, that said, I still honestly believe in everything I've said, and I actually do think Sakooz is special).
John, your right - I am convinced that my production is unique and not just another "average, boring student film". I still believe this - but I also now appreciate that every film student thinks the same thing, and going out and trying to sell the concept to people by saying "it's not boring" isn't the right way to go about things.
Also in retrospect, I would have been better off offering SOME money than just expecting industry professional (who do this for a living - to put food on the table) to take this up as a freebie. I will certainly keep this in mind for next time - although for this particular production, I simply do not have the money to put towards an editor. Yes, we have allocated funds for post production - but originally, we never considered taking an editor on board.
Now, given all your words of wisdom, and after talking to various people at University (some of whom are members of the ASE), I'm now going to seriously consider trying to find a suitable non-professional to jump on board (i.e. a student who just loves the craft, and wants to practise it) after I've personally done my own rough cut. That's the great thing about this digital age - you can do multiple edits, and it doesn't cost you the earth!
Again, thanks for all your help! As I said, I'm just a student - so I'm still learning (like everyone else). Like a lot of young film-makers I've just been caught up in the moment, and have been "bashing" my way through without thinking things through in any great detail. I really appreciate the fact that you've taken the time to write to me honestly. Philippa, I'm also going to have a good look at the content and direction of Melbourne Rebels, and re-evaluate some of the things that have been written. You brought up some good points that I simply never thought about.
Thanks also to everyone that has sent me e-mails in private. I still have MASSIVE hopes and dreams for Sakooz, and I really hope that one day in the not so distant future you'll all be able to see the result of so many people's hard work, dedication and willingness to help out "another silly film student" up there on the big screen.
Oh, and of course, despite all this fantastic discussion, if you have experience cutting together trailers, and want to help out a crazy ambitious, young and naive film student who just wants to make an amazing little trailer (keeping in mind it's unpaid, there will be no deferred payment or promises - it is what it is), then feel free to contact me at ANY time. I know it's a risk and a gamble and it's not encouraged by the ASE - but hey, "why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is?"
Have a great weekend everyone!
Best Regards, Chris!
29-08-2008, 06:04 PM
Hats off to you, Chris, for taking our/my (sometimes less-than-diplomatic) replies with such good humour and grace. I wish you all the very best with your film.
30-08-2008, 01:40 PM
Chris, thanks for your clear answers to the questions posed and your considered reflections on the wider issues at stake. All the very best with getting your film up and I look forward to seeing the results of your hard labor.
02-09-2008, 08:55 AM
I find Chris’ letter worrying and would like to put in my two grains of salt.
I have done, I must confess, unpaid work in the past. I’ve done it twice over a 25-year career and in both cases I was rewarded with a lasting loyalty and paid work. In both cases, the directors approached me personally. They had done a thorough research in whom they wanted their short movies to be edited by. They came to me with a great dose of humility and a lot of praise for my work. They knew exactly how to stroke my little ego. They made promises for the future and kept them. They made sure I was involved with the project at a very early stage and took advice on suggestions for coverage and script changes. It paid off: both directors went into becoming accomplished filmmakers and I have since edited all of their work.
What I find insulting about Chris’ letter is not the fact that he offers unpaid work; it is the manner in which it’s done. The arrogance. The fact that there is no offer to pay back. Here is clearly someone with a good education, manners, able to write properly, convincing in his arguments. He is even smart enough to have the last word in this conversation and re-insert once more the offer. Smart producer. He’ll go far, I have no doubts. You are no fool Chris. You clearly understand the need for someone with experience to sort out your mess and can see what a difference a good editor will make. Then why not go and find him, Chris? Why sit at your desk, imbued with your self-importance, waiting for the world to come to you, for free?
And while in the subject of unpaid work, please allow me to ask you a few questions: Do you eat food? Do you wear clothes? Do you live under a roof? Because all of that costs money. Who paid for your education? For the Red Camera? The Final Cut Pro? The Mac? The hard drives where you stored your movie? The hardware needed to deal with 4K files? The space where all the equipment is stored? Last time I asked, all those things cost money, I know of no manufacturer that gives goods for free. If it was University equipment, then the taxpayer paid for it. The reality is that somewhere along the line, goods are paid for.
And so my humble advice, for what it’s worth, is that, seeing that you are unable to give your work to your fellow students, the least you could do is approach the person you want to cut your trailer personally. With some decency and kindness, you might be amazed at how far those attributes could take you. Offer some reward, like “you’ll be cutting the real thing when it comes to it”. That will take you somewhere. This is a good time to start a relationship with an editor; a smart director finds his collaborators early on and keeps them for years to come.
Remember that the film industry is exactly that, an industry. You don’t ask for a free ticket when you go to the theatre or rent a DVD (unless you’re one of those that gets pirate copies). You don’t get Foxtel for free at home. Do you ask the carpenter that builds your house to do it for the love of it? Your dentist to clean up your mouth for the sake of watching you smile? Then why ask editors to work for free? Why us? Can somebody please explain?
Peter, you are right. This is not the right forum to put ads for unpaid work, no matter how cleverly disguised they are. We are fighting for our members to be treated with decency. No one should ever work for nothing.
From a concerned editor,
Alexandre de Franceschi.
What a beautifully reasoned riposte!
I can not read this any longer... Clearly a silver tongue with a Communications degree.
20-09-2008, 12:07 PM
Wow. Thanks for your two grains of salt. Like everyone else on this forum, you've given me a huge amount of think about. I will certainly take some of your advice and wisdom on board...
Just wanted to say - obviously I did try and approach editors directly before posting here. Unfortunately however, all my friends are too busy at the moment to take on another project at such late notice, and so late in the production. Posting here was a bit of a "last resort", and to be honest, I didn't expect such a heated discussion to come of it. But hey, you live and you learn!
Have a good weekend everyone!
21-09-2008, 12:46 PM
Now speaking of unpaid work. We are holding a simple survey for all Editors and Assistants working in Australia.
We have posted this in the Polls and Survey section of the forums and thought it a good opportunity to remind you all if you haven't already done so to please take a moment to fill this survey out.
It will help us understand our situation here in Australia and gather some much needed information.
Peter Whitmore ASE
09-07-2009, 10:53 AM
Apologies for digging up an old thread, but I thought some of you might be interested in having a look at the SAKOOZ Promotional Teaser/Trailer I put together last year. Let me tell you first up, putting together this thing was a roller-coaster ride and a half! The director, art director and production manager pulled out only weeks prior to shooting, we had very little money, we were shooting all over the place, and we had some major issues with the animatronic head. But hey - it's all part of the fun! In the end I took up the role of director, producer, art director, production manager AND editor. It's was a great learning experience, and also one of the hardest things (if not the hardest) I've ever had to do in my life.
Just to recap - it's a three minute trailer for a feature film concept called SAKOOZ that we are currently still in the process of developing (and by developing I mean that we don't have a finished first draft yet!). Yes, I know it's a bit strange to throw together a trailer when you don't even have a script yet. But it was a great testing group - and the concept as a whole is developing and transforming into new and exciting directions thanks to us putting so much time into the trailer. Hopefully we'll have a first draft of the feature film script sometime in the next year or so.
You can view the trailer here:
You can also read about post production workflow here:
We hired the camera from the incredible Pete & Cail at Inspiration Studios. If anyone is ever looking to hire a camera in Melbourne, Australia - these are the people to go to. They go well beyond the call of duty to ensure that your production runs smoothly and that the RED work-flow is faultless. I cannot thank them enough for all their help and support.
It was shot by the amazingly talented Benjamin Hidalgo. Not only is he a masterful cinematographer, but he's also one of the nicest and hardest working people you'll ever meet. You can view his show-reel here:
I am currently in the process of putting together a official website for the teaser/trailer which should be up within the next month or so. On the site you'll be able to edit your own version of the trailer using the original rushes - so if you hate what I did with the trailer, then you'll be able to give it a shot yourselves. I'm also considering releasing all the R3Ds out under a Creative Commons license - but that's still a while off. That said, if anyone needs an R3D file to play around with and test out work-flows, I've uploaded one here:
Although generally speaking most people really love the trailer, the general consensus is... "wow, that's so cool! I really want to see the film... but I have no idea what just happened!!!". I think the lack of any dialogue is one of it's major flaws. It also seems to be more like a video clip than a Hollywood style teaser/trailer. But as I said, if you think it's rubbish, soon you'll be able to cut together your own version and share it with the world.
If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, abuse, rants, etc. then feel free to fire away! More than happy to answer your questions!
Finally, even though at the time I posted my original message I'd never thought I'd be that into editing, funnily enough I'm currently working full time as an editing assistant/junior editor at a major edit house in Melbourne. How bizarre!
Thanks again to Alexandre, Philippa, Henry, Peter, Daz and John for your words of wisdom last year. Although some of it was really hard to read, it was all incredibly useful and it certainly helped me be more considerate as a producer. Thanks also to everyone who messaged, phoned and e-mailed me off list, as a result of my post. It's GREATLY appreciated!
I hope you enjoy the teaser/trailer!
Best Regards, Chris!
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