- June 12, 2018 at 11:39 pm
hey – wait – it’s about OUR industry !
from the mainstream press – Martina McBride and her husband are being sued by an unpaid intern for 1 Million dollars, for having to do “menial labor” –
“According to TMZ, which obtained the lawsuit, “the McBrides hired unpaid interns and assigned them menial tasks like cleaning bathrooms, setting up and tearing down equipment and delivering food.”
WAIT – isn’t this what EVERY PERSON on this forum had to do when they got started (well, not clean bathrooms) but setting up and tearing down equipment, and delivering food (or at least get coffee) – wait – does this mean 40 years later, I can sue for a million dollars ? And does this mean that EVERY COMPANY on Creative Cow is about to get sued for 1 million dollars, because you all had interns, and all had them “setup and tear town equipment” as their internship. Well – ok – maybe if I had to clean a bathroom, I would sue for a million dollars (my wife wants to sue me for making her do it).
Rescue 1, Inc.
- June 13, 2018 at 5:26 pm
The McBride’s aren’t being sued by former interns. They are being sued by a former employee that claims his termination was retaliatory because he reported the McBride’s illegally run internship program to the Department of Labor.
Anyway, don’t we have endless threads complaining that people working for low ball offers are doing themselves a grave disservice, while also poisoning the well for the rest of us, yet here you are *defending* low-ball, grinder employers that are violating labor law? Just because you got screwed at one point you think everyone should get screwed as a matter of course? The Stockholm Syndrome is strong in this one…
- June 13, 2018 at 5:54 pm
It’s probably different because we’re very small shop, but we’ve always taken a slightly different view of interns…
Firstly, we rarely place interns, unless we have something that needs doing and can find someone with legitimate talent and value to come in. Otherwise interns are just too much of a monkey wrench thrown into things.
I would love to be more helpful to up-and-comers, but we just can’t accommodate everyone who calls and wants to “just hang out and watch you guys work.” I have to take the somewhat cold attitude of “We’re not a school, sorry. ”
So, we always only place fairly talented young people as interns. And more importantly, I think, we have always paid them. We’ve never allowed anyone to work for free, ever.
A zillion years ago when the dinosaurs roamed, I started my own career as a free intern…and I remember what that’s like, and how even just a few bucks to say “Thank you for your hard work” would have made such a huge impact to me, and would have been a pittance for my employer.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
- June 14, 2018 at 2:40 pm
I think there’s more people that are in sympathy with Bob than not, it’s just a matter of degree. I think we basically all would agree that production interns do a lot of work for little recognition, with the implied social contract that they will get *something* back out of the transaction. How much they get back out of it depends somewhat on their negotiation skills but also on the attitudes and morals of the employers. A great employer will think of interns the same way the trades masters of old had apprentices – people you bring up in the trade in exchange for their commitment of time and effort. Bad employers think of internships as just a way to scam free labor.
There’s scutwork… and then there’s abuse.
Legit drudgery/ menial tasks like organizing a tape library, making dubs, data entry supporting an edit, cleaning and putting away gear after a production, picking up props and supplies from suppliers, parking the vehicles, …and maybe picking up coffees and lunches for the crew… these are low-status, untrained, yet necessary tasks that contribute to overall project success and that a production intern could expect to be part of their day. But low as they are, the work should offer *some* kind of compensation, be it money, academic credits, access to the gear and some training… something. I think bathroom cleaning and carpet cleaning or floor waxing is a step too far removed for a production intern. Particularly unpaid bathroom maintenance. That’s just abuse, and it’s robbing a legit maintenance worker of their living.
It has been a long time since I had the pleasure of working with and mentoring interns. But we always took them seriously, and for every hour of menial tasks they did, we spent at least as much time teaching them lighting, camera, sound, and editing techniques, coaching them, helping them prepare their own productions and demo reels. When they left us, be they high school seniors or college postgrads, they had a a demo reel and a year’s worth of production skill on industry-standard cameras, lighting, sound and editing systems, and experience working as production crew, gained over just a handful of months. Plus an academic credit, and for the postgrads, a small stipend. They could walk onto a set anywhere and be productive immediately. They could be handed a script and execute it. And if they were very good, they had us as a respected reference.
I don’t know enough about the McBride situation to make a definitive judgement, but it sounds from my initial surface impressions like a personal services assistant position and not a production internship. Personal assistants get all manner of ridiculous demands made of them and that’s understood. And they should expect to be paid for the work. I would think toilet cleaning would be a step too far, particularly if uncompensated.
- June 14, 2018 at 3:22 pm
[Mark Suszko] “I think there’s more people that are in sympathy with Bob than not, it’s just a matter of degree. I think we basically all would agree that production interns do a lot of work for little recognition, with the implied social contract that they will get *something* back out of the transaction. “
I agree that that’s the typical industry POV on interns, and I think it’s part of the problem. There is no implied social contract as unpaid internships are a matter of law. It’s like saying there’s an implied social contract that when I go shopping that the store will get *something* back in exchange for all of the products I loaded into my shopping cart. ????
Below is the federal legal test of what constitutes an unpaid internship:
1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
The term “internship” got hijacked because saying “Hey, I need you to work for me 40hrs a week for no pay” doesn’t sound appealing where as “internship” has an air of legitimacy to it. If someone needs grunt work done then just put out an ad that says “need grunt work done, pay is minimum wage’.
But there is good news to everyone that wants people to work for them but doesn’t want to pay them any money, in 2018 the Dept. of Labor issued new guidelines about internships that are much more relaxed and flexible than the previous rules which I listed above.
- June 14, 2018 at 4:41 pm
well, as I read more about this –
these “interns” were working at this place –
so it’s a nice recording studio in Nashville. When I got into working, and I wanted to be in this business (entertainment – audio, video, it didn’t make a difference) – I was willing to do anything, just to get in. When you have an entry level employee, or an intern – do they actually expect that they are going to be mixing an album, because they are willing to work for free ? Exactly why would anyone want an intern in their facility – to “give back to the younger generation” ? As an intern, you take this free work, to get experience, to learn whatever you can while you are there (in between getting coffee). I was recently reading a bio on guitarist Slash, who got a job at a recording studio in Los Angles. The first thing they did was to hand him some money, and told him to get lunch for everyone. He did not like that, and took the money, and never went back. That was his decision. If I wanted to learn recording techniques, and this was my opportunity to get in, I would do whatever it would take. This is EXCACTLY what Jon Bon Jovi did for Power Station studios in NY City (when he worked for his uncle Tony Bonjiovi) – he cleaned toilets, and got a chance to record at night when the studio was not being used. Was he paid some measly sum – I have no idea – perhaps. If he made minimum wage cleaning those toilets, was that degrading for him ? Should he have missed this opportunity. As you may know, he “made it” soon after that opportunity.
Those of you, who have been doing this for a while – you see the “kids” that come in – some are aggressive, and ambitious and “make it” (as editors, colorists, mixers, DP’s, etc.) and some NEVER make it. So is this “unfair” to the weaker kids, that are not as ambitious, and aggressive ? Should everything be fair, with a level playing field ?
Are we talking about real life here ?
and from this article (on Billy Joel) –
A: Oh, yeah, I sneaked in places without a ticket. I went to see Jimi Hendrix back in the late 1960s. He was playing at what is now Flushing Meadows Tennis Stadium, where they have the U.S. Open. I went with a friend and made believe I was one of Hendrix’s roadies. I had on a baseball cap and wrapped some (electrical) cable around my shoulder. I started to try to talk with an English accent: ‘Jimi’s got these cables I need to take to him.’ I made my way closer and closer inside the venue, and I finally got close to backstage.
Then. Jimi’s famous roadie, Keith Robertson, motioned to me, and said: ‘You, come over here! You’re pretty good. Now, I’m going to put you to work.’ He had me lug Hendrix’s huge Marshall (speaker cabinets) onstage. … I spent the entire concert on the edge of the rotating stage, watching Hendrix perform — and watching my friends in the audience. I couldn’t believe it, and neither could they! I did that (phony roadie) thing a number of times.
So Billy Joel “lugged and setup equipment for free” for Jimi Hendrix. With all the retroactive lawsuits these days, perhaps Billy Joel can successfully sue the estate of Jimi Hendrix.
Rescue 1, Inc.
- June 14, 2018 at 5:33 pm
Bob, your viewpoint is toxic and damaging to the future of the entertainment industry. The idea that “I suffered, so everyone else should after me” is selfish and absolutely silly. Thankfully this way of thinking is slowly disappearing.
Exactly why would anyone want an intern in their facility – to “give back to the younger generation” ?
Yes, if they’re unpaid. An unpaid internship is an educational experience and a chance for an employer to get to know the next generation and find new talent while teaching good habits from the beginning.
So is this “unfair” to the weaker kids, that are not as ambitious, and aggressive ? Should everything be fair, with a level playing field ?
It’s not about weak vs. aggressive. It’s about being able to take part in an unpaid internship to begin with. One of the biggest reasons our industry lacks critical diversity and inclusion is because underrepresented people are less likely to be able to sacrifice their earning potential and work for free in these internships.
Here is a quote from a paper I co-wrote that describes this issue:
“A 2016 survey by the Blue Collar Post Collective showed that the majority of post production professionals took on three internships before finding employment, and most of them were unpaid. But when we fail to consider the full measure of a person’s life – one that would grant them the ability to work for free for a number of weeks or even years – we’re almost certainly removing important context from that person’s career. The truth is that only privileged individuals can work for free – so get rid of that privilege by paying everyone.
For example, on average, women are paid less than men within the same industry while also taking on more household work regardless of their breadwinner status. Because of their economic and societal disadvantages combined with the gender-related expectations thrust upon them, it becomes infinitely more difficult for a woman to take an unpaid opportunity. A woman is less likely to have savings or a support system willing to send her off to work for free for weeks on end.
A Blue Collar Post Collective survey of US-based post production professionals who studied an industry-based program at college shows that 40% of lower-income people of color worked in jobs outside of the industry to support themselves during their studies. This is the same number of white, middle-class film school students who did unpaid internships during their college years, and did not work to support themselves during this time.“
This paper was authored for the SMPTE Annual Technical Conference last year. I presented it there with one of my co-authors because this is an important topic and SMPTE knows it’s important.
I also wrote an article a while back on the three internships I did. Two of them were illegal by today’s standards. I got something out of all of them, but only because I had the ability to work for free.
You can find the article in the COW library because it’s an important topic and the COW knows it’s important.
For what it’s worth, I’m not here to change Bob’s mind. That ship has sailed. I’m replying here for all the younger people who lurk the forums and think that certain aspects of this industry are impossible and unchanging. Not true — lots of us are out here making things better than we experienced them.
- June 14, 2018 at 6:28 pm
Once again for people not paying attention:
1. The McBride’s interns are NOT the ones suing. A former employ is suing because he thinks he was fired in retaliation for reporting the McBride’s alleged unlawful business practices to the Dept. of Labor.
2. Unpaid internships are a very specific thing codified in Federal and/or State law. Just because someone calls their opening an “internship” doesn’t mean what they are doing is actually legal. It’s no different than full time employees being illegally classified as contractors so the employer can save money on overhead.
3. People shouldn’t be against the idea that employees should be properly compensated for their work.
[Kylee Peña] “I’m replying here for all the younger people who lurk the forums and think that certain aspects of this industry are impossible and unchanging. Not true — lots of us are out here making things better than we experienced them.”
- June 14, 2018 at 7:43 pm
your perception of everything is “interesting” and “innocent”. I know this will not be a nice reply, but it’s an accurate one, in my opinion. It’s the way I view the world. It’s the way I believe that many people who are successful in business view the world.
This has nothing to do with race (black/white/Hispanic/indian/Asian) or gender (male/female/LBGQT). It has to do with competition.
As you know, I am currently involved in the shared storage industry, and have been involved with video engineering and installation for a long time. I usually compete with other white men, that happen to be very nice people. While I may view them as “nice people” – they are basically my enemies. It is MY JOB to make sure that people hire ME, and to make sure that they do not hire THEM. That means that I get as much of the piece of pie as possible, leaving their families and themselves starving. I don’t care if they go out of business – I hope they go out of business. It is the job of Apple to make sure that people use FCP X and not Resolve, and not AVID, and not Adobe. And it’s Adobe’s job to make sure that people use Adobe and not FCP X, etc. And if those other companies collapse, and go out of business, well that’s GREAT – they can get another job in another industry. It’s dog eat dog, and I don’t care what the business is – if you make movies, you want people to see your movie – screw the other movie. If you have a post production company, you want all the agencies to use your post house – screw the other post production houses. You do everything you can to make sure that YOU win. Well – what about all the nice people that are in these other companies. Who cares – all that matters is that YOU get all or most of the business, and you learn what you have to learn, and invest in what you have to invest in, so that YOU get hired for the next production, and the other guy never gets hired again.
This mindset (which I have developed myself after doing this for a long time) is how business works. And in real life, with all the “crying babies” out there, I observe what is really happening in the world in the big picture. You look at life in the Foxxconn factory where Apple products are made. Are these people’s lives better or worse than the poor interns that had to clean the bathrooms in the nice recording studio in Nashville ? They are worse – are we all going to stop buying Apple products because of this ?
So it relates to me, because as you may know, I am heavily involved now with Chinese manufacturers who are “kicking the butt’s” of the American companies that I have dealt with for years. And I am friendly with all the American companies, and their owners, and engineers – and they are all nice guys. But they will ultimately be pushed out of business because of these Chinese companies, and their low prices. The American companies can’t complete with these prices. After all, they and their employees need to pay for medical insurance, etc. And how do the Chinese companies have such low prices ? I am sure that their employees are suffering – much worse than the intern who had to clean the bathroom. But do I really care ? Do any of my customers (yes, all you people on Cow) – really care about these American employees ? NO – you just want your LOW prices, so you can make as much money as you can, so you can get your medical insurance, send your kids to college, and have a nice vacation.
This is all a miserable example, but it’s the way the world works. Life is unfair. You have to fight, and some people will suffer. The playing field is not level. People who don’t deserve opportunities, get the opportunities, and perhaps you, who is dramatically more qualified should have those opportunities. And when you lose out on those opportunities, it’s your JOB to go after that person (not physically, but in business) and STOP THEM FROM WORKING – to discredit them, to show how much better that you are, and that (once you get in) that THEY will NEVER work again with your clients, and that YOU are the only one that your client will ever want to work with.
I mean after all – isn’t that what Creative Cow did almost single handedly to the print business in the video industry. Do you think that Ron Lindeboom and Tim Wilson feel bad for killing off Videography, Post (still barely in business), Broadcast Engineering, and SO MANY OTHER publications ? Creative Cow was a nuclear bomb to these publications, and only a small handful (like ProVideo Coalition and FCP.CO) could continue to compete. The other companies DIED. Their employees are now unemployed and had to find other things to do for work. Does Ron and Tim feel bad about this every evening ? I don’t think so.
The minute you are “fair”, someone else (perhaps in another country) will not be fair – and they will take your job. You have to do whatever it takes – especially in a competitive industry like we are in.
Rescue 1, Inc.
- June 14, 2018 at 7:53 pm
It does have to do with gender and race. Your continued lack of acceptance of scientific facts and peer-reviewed research is not a good look. We must provide equal access TO compete. That isn’t what is happening now by putting superficial barriers at the start.
Since your response was mostly incomprehensible and irrelevant to this conversation, I’ll leave it at that except to remind you that I’m successful in this industry too.
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