Scam Alert: Johann Martinez, Matthew Schwartz Production Jobs
Jun08

Scam Alert: Johann Martinez, Matthew Schwartz Production Jobs

There are a LOT of industry scams preying on people hoping for a career in film and television. They’ve been going around for years, but they’ve been particularly prevalent in 2017. The worst part? The scammers use the names of REAL industry professionals. Remember, the people listed here aren’t the actual scammers, they are victims, too. **Current imposter name list as of October 2017: Johann Martinez Matthew Schwartz Clement Cheung (Mei Ah Entertainment) Chris Galipo Gabriel Tyner Matthew Bates (Emblem Entertainment) Grant Bell Brandon Taylor Alan Parker Graham Rich (Rich Tint Production/Film/Director) Louis Rogers (Visuals by Clever Chim) Boris Cifuentes Brad Cruz How does the scam work? It begins with an innocuous text message, “Hi, I found your information on Mandy.com/ *Film Crew Directory Here* and think you’d be a great fit, please send me your resume”. They’ll offer you a strange rate and maybe give a few other bizarre details. You e-mail your resume, and then you get a length reply (see below). It can be for any number of positions beyond production assistant — there’s been reports of the scam offering a position as an editor, boom operator, makeup artist, screenwriter, or camera op. How the scam actually works: After applying (the application requires you submit your mailing address), you will receive a check within 2-3 business days for around $3,000. The scammer will ask that you deposit this check in your bank account and use the money to make some sort of dubious $500-$1000 purchase. What actually happens? The scammer voids the check, and you’re on the hook for the $500-$1000 purchase. How to tell it’s a scam: Grammatical and spelling errors. There’s also an over explanation of expectations and job descriptions. After personally being a freelance hire for ten years, in my past experience, all details are discussed in person or over the phone. With these scams, though, there’s a lack of any sort of personal connection that is very unusual. Any real industry professional is going to want to talk to you on the phone to ensure you’re competent. **UPDATE: As of September 2017, some particularly bold scammers will actually speak to you on the phone. If you think you’ve been the victim of a production scam, alert your bank immediately. How the scammer finds victims The scam started on Craigslist, but unfortunately, the scammers also now prowl job boards and sites where freelancers usually find work. Examples may include Mandy.com, ziprecruiter.com, film industry crew lists (including on state and local film commission websites), or productionbeast.com. Remember: Scammers will pose as a real company or production person, and will direct you to a legit website. Their e-mail address...

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What’s Going On Around Here in 2017
Jan31

What’s Going On Around Here in 2017

I must apologize for the extremely sporadic posting schedule around here. You may have noticed if I’m busy with work, I won’t post for… months. Not a great way to maintain a following, but it speaks to the demands of a job in the entertainment industry! Let’s do a hard reset. Here’s what’s up. Work 2016 was a solidly good year for work — it was the most diverse and fruitful year I’ve had. I worked in a variety of capacities: field producer, segment producer, script supervisor, truck reels producer, and even camera op! This year’s off to a sluggish start, but that isn’t unusual for the dead of winter. So far, I’ve worked on one small project from home that had a lot of prep but only two shoot days. It’s been a welcome break from 2016, which was a bit chaotic for several reasons. Coming up: There’s a few potential projects flying around. I loved the diversification of last year and would love to work on several short-term projects for multiple companies again. I’d also like to figure out more ways to diversify myself — the entertainment landscape is changing, and I’d like to earn a living that isn’t solely dependent on the survival of cable networks. Travel 2016 was the first year I made it out of the country twice in the same calendar year! I finally took a last-minute trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, something I’ve been meaning to do for years. I had zero expectations, but guys, Mexico is AMAZING. There’s so much to explore around the Yucatan — I hit up Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Chichen Itza, and Akumal — but I can’t WAIT to get back there, specifically to visit Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres. And then, in August, I got sent back to the exact same spot in Mexico for work. It was extremely convenient that I’d inadvertently pre-scouted for the shoot eight months earlier. (I would write that first trip off as a “scouting trip”, but when you only spend $200 in airfare, $15/night in hostels, and eat 5 cent tacos– all for “work”– the IRS looks at you funny.) So, of course, the first time I traveled overseas twice in the same year was to the same place, but I did knock out a huge bucket list item: Travel abroad for work. I’d love to combine both these loves (and skill sets!) more frequently… are you listening, future employers? I’ve traveled independently to fifteen countries, and I have six years of producing experience! Coming up very, very soon: CUBA! With no acceptance of American credit/debit cards, limited Wifi, and no cell phone data, it is going to...

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Guide to Production Assistant Responsibilities and Duties
Jan25

Guide to Production Assistant Responsibilities and Duties

Production assistants are the life blood of production. But what do they supposed to do all day, exactly? Are they really fetching coffee? Yes, sometimes, but there’s so much more! Production assistant responsibilities can change whether you’re working on a union or non-union set. In addition to those duties, set PAs are also assigned certain roles. I’ll dive into ALL of that. Production Assistant Responsibilities on Union Sets For union shows, the “set production assistant” falls under the department of Assistant Directors. Your main task is to assist your bosses, and yes, that is the assistant directors (there are office production assistants as well– that’s a separate post). Some PAs will be assigned different roles, which I’ll cover in a bit. There are some general duties that all PAs are responsible for. Lockups This is the main duty of all production assistants. It may be the most boring task, but it is also one of the most important. Imagine you’re watching one of the dozen reboots of Spiderman or King Kong and some lady pushing a stroller in the background stops. She stares at the lens in confusion, pulls out her iPhone, and takes a picture. It completely takes you out of the movie, right? A “lockup” keeps those curious people from wandering into the shot. If you have a camera and you’re shooting anywhere not on a sound stage, the public will want to know what’s going on. (True story: Someone asked me the name of the movie we were filming. I told him. He replied, “Oh, I haven’t seen that one yet.”) Production assistants will be posted up outside of frame, or just outside the studio door, to prevent anyone not in the scene from walking into the shot. This includes random looky-loos or even members of the crew. Lunch Duty: Fire Watch  On union shoots it’s often the production assistant’s responsibility to make sure all of the crew has departed set to head to lunch — whether via transpo van or on foot. One production assistant, usually a locations production assistant (but sometimes a regular set PA), will hang back on set to “fire watch” — make sure the gear doesn’t walk away or catch fire. Lunch Duty: Counting the Line Another production assistant will leapfrog to the catering tent for the purpose of “counting the line”, which means that PA is responsible for two tasks: 1) Counting the number of people that go through the catering line, and (2) set the parameters for the official half-hour. Counting the line ensures production has been budgeting for the right number of people per day, and also to check the caterer’s count.  The...

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Scam Alert: Work From Home Production Runner
Jan18

Scam Alert: Work From Home Production Runner

Sad to report there is ANOTHER scam going around, this time advertising a position described as a “work from home production runner” for a “short movie producer, director” who is “married with 3 kids”. Here’s the email:   Production Runners are the foot soldiers of a film or television production team, performing small but important tasks in the office, around the set and on location. Their duties may involve anything from office administration to crowd control, and from public relations to cleaning up locations. Production Runners are usually employed on a freelance basis, are not very well paid, and their hours are long and irregular. However, the work is usually extremely varied and provides a good entry level role into the film industry. I will like to thank you for your interest in the job offer.After reviewing your email, I am glad to inform you that I am impressed. As my assistant, your activities amongst other things will include: Creation and distribution of reports and schedules Booking travel arrangements for shoots Making copies of scripts and distributing them Getting approval for the utilization of any clip or music that may be copyrighted Check Processing Buying equipment that would be needed for production. good organizational skills Serious sense of humor required and mandatory to work with me Ability to handle highly sensitive and confidential information Perform duties with accuracy, quality, and integrity You can only apply for this position if you own a personal computer. Basic wage is $550 a weekly. About me: I am married and have 3 kids. I have been short movie producer, director in many places in Europe and I want to shoot a short documentary, so right now getting the actors ready and the manager as well. .I travel a lot,hence the reason why i need an assistant to handle affairs for me on the home front when i am away on business which is usually quite often. This position is home-based and flexible you can be in any location,working with me is basically about instructions and following them, because working from home now, you take care of things that need being taken care of till the venue is decided and the actors assembled and production starts.This is only an introductory e-mail, as time goes on we should be able to arrange a proper meeting to get things started officially. I do have a number of things you could help me with this week if you will be available for me. This can act as a stable foundation to our working relationship. Note:This position is home base office work you can be in any location...

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How to Not Get a Job on a Film Set
Jan06

How to Not Get a Job on a Film Set

We’ve covered how to get a job as a production assistant, whether you need a film degree to work in the film industry, how much money you’ll make as a production assistant, how to be a great runner PA, and perhaps most importantly, whether or not freelance film production is even right for you. What we haven’t covered? How to blow your opportunity, or how to not get  hired on a film set. Refuse to Work for Free Yes, if you play your cards right, you can get away with barely having to PA. But if you skip the step of being a production assistant, you’d better be offering yourself as an intern working for free for the department of your choice. (In fact, I recommend this approach if you already know you what department you want to work in.) I’m not talking about months of unpaid labor here unless it’s a school internship where you’re being compensated with school credit. Offer to work for free on 1-2 projects (2-3 days, or maybe longer if it’s an indie movie) to establish yourself and build contacts. Note: Volunteering your time has always been the fastest way to break in, but in the last five years, companies are shying away from this due to lawsuits. Technically, they’re supposed to pay you or give school credit. To get around this, it may be easier to seek out indie movies or passion projects versus production companies. Refuse to Work for Cheap (in the beginning) Similarly, don’t expect to get out of film school and make $400 per day. You need all of the experience you can get. In the beginning, you won’t get very far turning down jobs because they “don’t pay enough”. It takes time to build a reputation that’s worth $400/day. Read this post for an expectation of how much you could make your first year in the industry as a production assistant. Act Like a Groupie/Fangirl/Fanboy If you’re looking to get a job on a show because you’re in love with the actor or musician, then you’d better keep that to yourself. We’re not paid to be fans in this business, and just because you have access doesn’t mean the celebrity needs another friend. (Showing appreciation for a show your coworker/boss worked on is different.)   Talk Too Much Some people will talk too much when they’re nervous about making a good first impression. This is a HUGE no-no in film/television, where your personality is just a big a factor as competency. If you annoy someone in an interview or casual lunch meeting, there’s a very small chance they’re going to hire you to work with them for 12+ hours on...

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Alert: Fake Mario Kassar Hiring Scam
Jan02

Alert: Fake Mario Kassar Hiring Scam

There’s been a film industry hiring scam going around for about two years. Evidently, the scammers are tweaking their craft as they’re being exposed. The crux of the scam: The impersonation of a legitimate production company, but with a slightly different domain for their e-mail address. It’s important to realize Mario Kassar is not at fault here. They’re a perfectly legit production company. They, too, are a victim. Where The Mario Kassar Scam Exists A reader submitted this as a potential scam after responding to a seemingly normal job posting ad on Craigslist in the Atlanta region. About the Mario Kassar Hiring Scam Like the original film industry hiring scam, this is too good to be true: Hello, After carefully reviewing your application and resume, I am pleased to inform you, we would like to offer you the role of (Part-time or Full-time Assistant) depending on which best fits you at Mario Kassar Productions. About Me. I am David Peter the Divisional Director for Mario Kassar Productions, I am originally from Texas and i was just moved here for the new office we had set up, We are in the construction of a little office branch here in ATL where we will be needing you to work.  You will be working directly with me . About Mario Kassar Productions We are a small organization that is passionate about providing the physical basis for work in the realms of the performing arts, new media art, film, television, radio, and video. As a CSR initiative, a sub-division that provides training and equips teens with the skills that they need to excel within the media and creative arts sector has been created. About The Role The role you have been short-listed for is that of an Assistant for myself, The Divisional Director of the mentioned sub-division. Seeing as it’s presently in its incipient stages and we are short-staffed, there are several administrative and logistic related tasks that I will need you to assist with. The tasks you will be required to perform on a weekly basis are as follows, Tasks -Liaising with clients via telephone both here in ATL and other parts of the world -Managing emails -Payment of bills and mailing of parcels (Please note monetary provisions will be made in advance for the payment of all bills and sending of parcels whether through Fed Ex, UPS or any other means) -Parcel pick-up/drop-off Requirements -You will be required to work 15 hours a week -You will be required to work on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday (maximum of 5 hours or less daily) You will be paid an hourly fee of $25 and bonuses will also be provided twice...

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