Punching the clock and not getting paid

Almost a year ago, I posted “Job Loss and its Ramifications” as my inaugural rant, expiation for my trust in mankind, discourse on the impact that cavalier actions have on people’s lives, real people, who live and breathe, who do a good job for other people, who then turn around and betray the very people who made them look good, thus revealing their intention all along, which was to string you along for as long as possible and then drop you like a hot potato.

So I thought I’d learned my lesson, so to speak, by creating my own way, coming up with projects that I could shepherd along with the help of my colleague who just started a boutique post-production house to produce short-form content on a fast turnaround at very reasonable rates, offering affordable costs  for those who are on a tight budget– and with two very experienced professionals thrown in at a cut rate, just because we want to do good work and build a client base. Here we are paying our dues, yet again, because we believe we can fulfill a niche market because we have invested in our craft so we can do the highest quality work.
In charge of your own destiny. Creating content. Offering low but workable budgets (if you factor in the hours, I may be compensated $ 8 an hour by the end of this) and fast turnaround. Well, so far, I was paid a month ago, about a 1/3 of ‘my rate’ for a week; so that means, in one month I have made what I might make on 2-3 days on a real job. And the best part? So far, I have been told the check would be here for sure last Friday, then, ‘at the latest’ Tuesday. Then, Wednesday for sure. Now it’s Thursday and we just found out the head accountant has been out of the office, and apparently she is the only one who knows how to write and mail a check for services rendered.

In fact, we’ve put in more hours than we will ever be compensated for just for the honor of working with people who live in a mansion, ‘have it all…and more’ (in the star’s words) and a personal chef on staff. All this while we eat out of the studio vending machine (they have a decent banana bread for a buck) and 89 cent taco bell burritos on a pre-paid gift card. The closet they have for the wife’s purses is larger than my studio apartment. And, yet, they can’t send out paychecks when they say they are going to.

Which means, in the purgatory that is a freelance contractor’s lot, we accrue late payments every day, phones get shut off, insurance gets cancelled, rent gets paid by borrowing from family with landlord’s issuing their lovely Happy New Year three-day-or-quit notices right on schedule, and sometimes, we only eat 2 89 cent burritos for the day. How is this at all professional, acceptable or in any way ethical? Especially from a company that has billions of dollars in holdings.

I am sick of being hungry. I am sick of being stressed about the bills I can’t pay, when they’re going to put a lien on my storage, or shut off my phone. I am sick of going to work each day, in good faith, and working 10-12 hours on a project that the clients don’t even care enough about to pay for, for a man who says “If you treat people well, they treat you well,” to devalue everyone else’s talent and skill so much that we become minions doing work for free for about a month now, and their self-proclaimed shepherd of the creative end of things has the gall give snide notes on a cut we were rushed into doing before we had even prepped the project.

It’s ironic that a project about a musician reveals how little respect they have for fellow creative folk. Our work is highly technical and creative and our job is to make them all look better than they really are. And what do we get? We get to go hungry, we get services we need cancelled, our credit gets dinged, we can’t uphold our financial agreements yet we are expected to do this project (which was discounted in the first place) for free?

Abominable. Just like the only company in town that pays every two weeks, while the owner does all the VO to make that additional money for himself, charges 25 cents for a cup of coffee at work, then, without telling us officially (we heard from other co-workers) lays us off for 3 weeks, then another two weeks — to save on the budget.

This is why I wanted to start this company or at least bring work to my friend’s company so I could control my own destiny, and look what’s happening. I am worse off now than I have been since last year at this time. I have been paid $ 1000 in one month and anyone who lives in Los Angeles knows you can’t live on that.

This is why I contemplate leaving the ‘entertainment’ industry, the thing I spent all my savings on to pursue, the dream I chased and almost achieved, the work I love and am good at — all that, I may have to abandon because if it continues much longer, it may just kill me.

Published by katherinewalker

Director, Writer, Producer Nominated for two primetime Emmy's for the Apprentice Emmy award winning episode The Amazing Race Columnist, Editor, Grantwriter UVa-B.A. English/History VFS-Certificate Film Conflict Resolution Mediator Facilitator, State of Hawaii, DOJ Published poet, filmmaker, photographer, music aficionado. Canoe paddler, horse wrangler, gem dealer, fixer, The Wolf. https://about.me/katherine.walker Katherine Walker EP-Show Runner, Director www.imuafilm.wordpress.com katherineelizabethwalker LinkedIn Los Angeles, CA Schedule a time

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  1. Hey!! Listen up, K… This makes me CRY. I hate that you’re suffering at the hands of jackoffs who treat you like a minion and string you along. It’s unacceptable. I want you to think about something, and I mean this. Truly, I want you to come visit me and stay for awhile. You’d love Oregon. I have a room for you. I miss you. There’s work here…In fact, they’re opening a Trader Joe’s in about a month.
    I work where “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was filmed in Salem, and maybe you could look into a film project about it?? apply for something short-term (there are contract workers and float pools to cover a 24-7 instituion like a state hospital)… Other nice aspects to Oregon: there’s no sales tax….people are progressive…they are planeteers, they recycle, they VOTE. I live in a university town. AT THE VERY LEAST, you could take a load off and relax for awhile. I don’t want this stress affecting your health. Will you think about it? Please??
    Also, would you mind emailing me your address (again)?!…sorry, my adress book is in complete disarray.
    Just remember, this shitstorm does NOT define you in any way. It exposes the absolutely sickening underbelly of expoitative industries like the one you’re in. Also, know that I love you and believe in you. Always have. xoxo


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