How Seeking A Free Hire May Look Like From The Other Side

Doing a late jump on the should-I-work-for-free-question wagon, I was this insteresting post over at Reddit, which shows what seeking fro free work may seem from the other side. I hope this can spark an interesting debate. 

It shows a somewhat cynical ad posted (just look at the email) over at the craigslist San Francisco Creative Services section. The crew posting the ad are super talented and seeking a job offer. Specifically a non paying one (click image for bigger view):

work for free

Professional film crew with pro gear looking to work for free (Bay rea) We are a pro team of l0. We all have masters degrees and many have Emmy and academy nominations. We have a sound stage, arri Alexa, over 100 zeis lenses, and over $250,000 work of production gear.

Among the reasons they count for motivations are:

  • To add to and diversify our reels
  • free pizza
  • to build relationships
  • the possibility of growing a relationship

The tongue in cheek ad says that:

… [they] believe these reasons are far more important than paying our bills or feeding our children. Frankly, we think its more important to help you with your zero budget project than it is to have a value put on our work. We love seeing ” N 0 pay” jobs here because really it’s about art, not money right? If our award winning team can help you with your zero budget masterpiece, please let us know

While it is not rare for creatives to work for free (I have both worked and hired for no payment on interesting projects), sometimes there is a mismatch between the level of work anticipated and the zero payment offered.

For me it works if everybody gets real value for the day. I’ll usually ask for folks less experienced people from me when seeking cheap help and assist where I can learn. What works for you?

[via Nickyjtjr]

  • Rick

    Sure, nobody wants to work for free but are these people really any different than the millions of others in thousands of fields across this country whose work and talents are undervalued and under appreciated. No, they’re not.

    And am I suggesting they work for free, no. It is truly up to them to pick and choose which opportunities they take on. But don’t cop a bad attitude just because someone offers something you don’t want to do. Pass on it and move on. If you can’t find sufficient paying opportunities to pay the bills, sling hash if you have to in order to survive until the next one comes along. Those who succeed do so by doing what it takes to get there, ignoring the setbacks along the way.

    I do understand that part of their attitude may come from the frustration of the wasted time caused by not finding out the job only paid in pizza until well into the interview process but similar situations happen in every field. That’s life, get over it, move on. Don’t post hostile listings on Craigslist. That just makes you look like a prima donna and nobody will have anything to do with you.

  • Jenn

    If you look at their email address, I think it is pretty clear that they are not actually looking for unpaid work but posting a very sarcastic protest against companies who want free work.

  • wesley speaks

    As was just said by Jenn – this is a kick in the pants to those who do not pay for quality work…. i.e. the email addresses. How did you not at least mention the email addresses (not by name) in your post?

    • udi tirosh

      Wesley, Jen – yup, you are right about the email. added a note on that in the post.

  • Greg

    These guys sound like big-time players, why the hell are they on craigslist? I’m sure there are a lot of people out there on craigslist who are looking for a handout, and I’m sure it’s annoying, but it’s friggin’ craigslist, what did you expect? That place is a smorgasbord of terrible offers.

    I’ll admit, I don’t shoot videos to make a living and I’ve yet to have to deal with someone trying to convince me to do a big project for free, but I do know a thing or two about professionalism, and making a smartass post with crude language is not professional. I’m sure it wouldn’t take much effort to glean the information in that post to figure out who they are (unless they are BS-ing the whole thing, which would make all of this a moot point), and I know if I was someone looking for a legit production company I would want nothing to do with them after seeing that.

  • Sandeep Bansal

    I recently turned down an assignment because they weren’t even offering fuel cost to travel the 300 miles it needed to cover the event. This was a sporting event, and they wanted to keep 50% of all sales while charging a huge fee for participation in the event from the players…

    I understand the value of building relationships and pursuing art by offering to do free shoots. In this case, however, I realized that they’re taking me for a ride, when they mentioned that they would be willing to foot the fuel bill for a videographer, but photographers – they’ve got to be voluntary contributors –

    I realized there’s too many DSLRs sold for people to keep offering their services for free and recover their costs.

  • Robert Eley

    Of course struggling companies look to free talent to help. Free talent looks to struggling company to gain cred and experience. This happens in all businesses.
    To put up a sarcastic ad will not help or change this.
    Yes you should be paid for your work and efforts, but ragging on those who won’t or can’t pay is not going to solve anything.
    In fact it would put you on the “do not use” list even for those who will pay.
    Nobody likes a whiner and hiring one is always a bad idea.
    Clever as the ad is, it shows that they are self pitying whiners and not worthy of any note.
    Curiously, did they get any replies?

  • IlyaTheGreat

    You choose to be an artist, but in out supply and demand society you can only charge what demand allows. If you want demand for your services – become a plumber. I never seen a plumber offering his/her services for free. Not even discount because they are in demand.
    Let me suggest something: become a plumber to make money and make art because you have to.

    • ext237

      You have to have a license and be bonded to be a plumber. Anyone with an SLR that shoots video can look like and market themselves as a professional — irrespective of their skills, tallent or experience. With people not understanding the difference between “quality work” and “hackery”, the supply is high, demand is low, and quality is fleeting.

      So in your example, the difference is that customers know a leaky, incorrectly installed sink when they see one.

  • Lauren Smith

    I am always confused by the attitudes concerning “undervalued” labor. In the free market your labor is worth exactly what you are getting paid (by definition), even if that means you are paid nothing. I don’t understand why people get so bent out of shape about these type of things. If you are providing enough value, you will get paid. If there is an excess of equipment or talent, then your relative value will decrease (perhaps to nothing, in terms of dollars). Why not invest your energy into something that is more likely to make money if that is your goal, rather than assume the world owes you a paycheck for following your dreams?