Yesterday, someone on facebook (whom I will not name, in spite of the fact that I’m annoyed as hell) posted a graphic about the minimum wage and film rates. (that’s something else that pisses me off… quite typeing words in photoshop… Having a block of text on a colored background is really just a waste of time and makes you look like an ass…) I commented and went to bed. This morning, when I got up, the image isn’t on my timeline, the comment is also not on my timeline, and the person is no longer on my facebook friends list.
Good job. Real mature. That will get you a long way in this biz.
It’s that time of year again… everyone is stating that you should know how much you are required to be paid due to Louisiana’s minimum wage laws… It happens every spring and every spring, there is a lot of misinformation that gets spread around about the minimum rates in the “Industry.”
Let’s start with the big myth. All of these posts will start out talking about minimum wage. They will say something like, “Louisiana minimum wage law is $7.25.” This is not accurate.
I got news for you. There is no such thing. The state of Louisiana doe not have a minimum wage law. This means that the federal minimum wage is used instead. But this doesn’t mean that the rates they cite have any basis in reality.
|Your reality check is in the mail.
I dropped it in the box this morning
These posts and images will go on to talk about overtime. This last one was really asinine and said that after 8 hours of work, Louisiana law states that overtime starts. This is not true. Some states do have a per diem maxima… this means that after a certain number of hours of work in a day, overtime is required. The lowest per diem maxima I have found, however, is 15 hours. BUT, according to Louisiana law, overtime starts (FOR HOURLY EMPLOYEES ONLY) at 40 hours in a work week.
Got that? Any time over 40 hours in a 7 day period, for hourly employees, gets 1.5 times the pay rate for anything over 40 hours.
What most people forget about is that working in the film industry is not an hourly thing.
I will say it again because it bears repeating: If you are working on a film production in Louisiana, YOU ARE NOT AN HOURLY EMPLOYEE.
Everyone that works on a production is considered a subcontractor. That’s why, on many shoots, taxes are not with held.
That is why you are offered your pay in this format $80/10, $101.50/12 and the like. You are being offered a specific amount of money for a specific amount of hours. If you sign on as a contractor, you are agreeing to a rate which supersedes that of minimum wage.
That being said… let’s look at the standard background rates in this state…
Oh, wait… I already did. $80 for ten hours of work is… $8 per hour… That’s more than minimum wage. $101.50 for 12 hours work… $8.45… More than minimum wage. See? They are covering their asses on that front.
And if you go over your hours, you’ll get paid for them. Just make sure you hold on to your vouchers. You see… when accounting doesn’t pay you the OT bump… it’s not because they are trying to cheat you… it’s not because the production is shady… it’s not because they are trying to treat background performers like crap…
|DO WHAT THE ROCK SAYS!|
It’s because they are human. Think about the conditions on set… think about how badly treated your own vouchers have been in the past… now think about trying to organize hundreds of pieces of paper from hundreds of background all coming and going at different times…
PEOPLE MAKE MISTAKES… get over it… call them, fax them your voucher and it will get straightened out.
That brings me to another thing… same topic, different annoyance…
You are working in the film industry. You are living the dream. You are doing something that most people would kill to do… What most people don’t realize is that you also have one of the EASIEST JOBS ON THE PLANET!!!
What’s that? I’m a producer and director, so how can I possibly have any idea what you are going through?
Well, I got news for ya buttercup. I paid my dues – that’s how. I have worked background. I’ve been an actor. And I have done stand-in gigs. As a matter of fact, I still do background jobs for the extra cash flow. I’ll be on set on the 9th and the 10th doing background work because the extra money means I can eat macaroni and cheese by choice, not necessity.
EVERY background gig I have ever been on has been a LOT of waiting around. You get to sit around, talk with your friends, meet new people, and get paid to do it. Then, for maybe 20 minutes out of every hour, you have to work… which is normally… walking or sitting down or talking…
Yes. I know… there are some exceptions. There are some films that are nightmares… But have you ever noticed that on those nightmare films, the production KNOWS it’s going to be bad and will either a) TELL YOU BEFORE YOU SIGN ON… or b) will be cutting checks for scrapes and bruises RIGHT THERE ON SET? I know… there are some that don’t, but those are the exception rather than the rule.
|I could not have said it any better.|
Take a look at what you do being background in the course of a year. Now compare it to the poor schmuck that just gave you coffee at Starbucks… or that poor girl at the Taco Bell counter…
So… stop complaining. Either that, or go flip burgers…
Just don’t tell me how rough it is to be background… I might be forced to tell you how hard it is to listen to a self indulgent twit with a sense of entitlement.
Images in this issue SHAMELESSLY stolen from the following sources: