Saturday 7 November 2009

So where the fuck is my footage?

This is a sad but true fact, a lot of actors don't get their footage. This is how it goes.

Julie The Actress: "So, will I get a copy?"
Jonny The Director: "Yeah, of course. And it'll be in a lot of festivals."
Julie: "That's great!"
Jonny: "It's delayed a bit at the moment. I'm having trouble with the special effects."
Julie: "Okay, no problem."
Jonny: "........................."
Julie: "Hi Jonny, I've not heard from you in eight months, just wondering how the film is going?"
Jonny: "......................................"
Julie: "Hi Jonny. I'm moving to L.A. next month. I really liked your film, and I really need some footage for my reel. Just send me anything. I did it for free, and I just want my scenes."
Jonny: "I'm so sorry I haven't been in touch. My Grandma was ill, and then I moved house. Things got a bit crazy."
Julie: "Okay, no worries. I understand. Could I get the footage?"
Jonny: "............."
Julie: "Jonny?"

Now - I'm a Director. I'm not an actor. Luckily though, I have always been extremely good at getting actors their footage. I prefer to give them the finished film only, but in the past, if I've made a really bad short film that hasn't been completed, I make sure they get some footage. This is how it's meant to be.

But here's the strange thing, NO DIRECTOR EVER IDENTIFIES AS BEING THE ONE WHO DOESN'T GIVE OUT FOOTAGE. Yet EVERY upcoming actor I know is waiting on A LOT of footage, and most of it never comes. So, I'd really like us to find some of these Directors who never give out any footage -- and maybe we can come to a new understanding of why it happens. At the moment, Julie is left thinking "This guy is an asshole, he won't give anything." - but I want the Jonnys of this world to have a defence. If you are a Director who has ever failed to give an actor their work, or if you repeatedly do it - please let us know why. Are you ashamed of the work? Did the cat eat it? Are you waiting five years for financing to complete it? Genuinely, I think we'd all like to know what's going on.

Care to share?


  1. I am not a director, but the actress who never gets the footage, I can only confirm that this really happens all the time. Mysteriously the footage gets lost, delayed, burnt, stolen by aliens even...most of the time we work for free, and we do it for several reasons, one of them is to have material and to see the result of our work. Most of the time we are left with nothing. We could never work without you, true, but the contrary is also true. You expect professionalism from our side and we get total unprofessionalism from your side (I cannot generalize as I have worked with some great directors as well fortunately), but for all of you who use us, as a mean to an end and do not truly appreciate the hard work and the preparation that we go through in order to help you give life to your project, we would appreciate an explanation indeed.

  2. Oh footage. The elusive footage. I offer footage all the time because I have no money. I'm usually good with paying for travel and meals. What happens sometimes in my case is that I get caught up in the business end of finishing the project and simply forget about it. Usually the actor or actress reminds me and I just get them some footage. That simple.

    This issue is not with getting people footage, it's the fact that this area of the industry is littered with people who only give a crap about themselves. Everyone talks about how making a film is such a collaborative effort and it is, but I've met maybe one or two people who've acted accordingly. Typically, it's the narcissist who doesn't want to work for a living and would rather be an artist and while art is a big part of what we do, there is a level of craftsmanship and hard work that seems to elude most people.

    Sure, I've worked with many a good person who truly want to be a part of telling a story. But these are the actors and crew. People who work for it; who know what it takes to get this stuff done. The trouble is that the people in "charge" only care about making money. Don't get me wrong, I'd like to be one of those people who make money, but I'd like to think I'd be the kind of producer/director who rewards people for joining my fight to tell a story.

    How many times have I heard this: "Help me out with this and there's chance for more productions, more money, more chances."

    It's B.S. Anyway, if you're going to promise footage, then get the damn footage done. Right? Or am I rambling again?

    1. Fact is that actors lie myself quit the day job to do this for a living and when we take a job for copy/credit/meals we don't care to eat cheap pizza, 99 cent store chips nor shasta/mr.pibb.
      What we do expect is the credit aND footage since we traveled there in a car or an uber and could of actu ally took a job that day that did pay. It Is a collaborative effort. If the actors did not show than that's 1 thing, but reliable actors deserve more than chips and pizza, we rely on footage for our reel to obrain the paid gigs. Hosting/casting sites all cost $, if you have no footage you cannot get an audition for anything.Give the Actors the dangame footage, or don't post copy just post the cast notice as meals/credit. It's usu ally laziness that is the reason for not turning over footage. Without actors you would have no film!!!!!!!

  3. Well-
    It can be irritating I'm sure-But times are 'a'changing for actors and everything seems to be done more and more on line-Auditions are being based more and more from work that an actor has already done-ie: student films, etc.-
    Shoot, they even want you to slate your name and send it so they don't have to meet you in person-Anything to make the whole process less human!So...if they come back for something after a few years have could be that whatever film they shot they might've thought that their work was worth showing from the footage-Just remember that your name is on the work-so-it could be an audition for you as well-without you even knowing it-Actors aren't supposed to use these things without, at minimum, the directors name-Who knows.... someone you look up to could end up being an admirer of yours as well-

  4. Zakariya Gacal

    I'm not an actor however I'm very much feel the way Julie is feeling.Few months ago ,I worked and helped a guy who was doing a short.Fine everything was finished and i asked like julie for footage and to this day I'm still waiting.If I was a actor I would be mad,one human to another i’m angry for Julie.

    I think directors who don't really respect or appreciate the efforts put by others,maybe they are really living in a small shell.They see themselves bigger than life ,nothing is wrong with having a bit of confidence but hey......stop being an arrogant self ratted F***** and give the f******* footage to Julie.To all the directors out there,that's including me.......if an actor works for you for free.......please lets do one better and make them a Showreel and send it to them.This way,not only will they respect you.....they will love you for it.....

  5. WHY ARE WE ALL TALKING TO THE GHOST OF THE 'DIRECTOR' WHO DOESN'T GIVE OUT FOOTAGE? Where is this person? Why do they not stand up and be counted? How can we find them?

    Come on Directors - even if you need to post anonymously, stand up and show us who you are and explain why you do what you do???

  6. Yes,we have all been there,my approach from day one was to take a broad approach,yep (blush) the numbers game, had a few let downs but having had a reasonable bunch of Directors to work with , achieved my aim of a good range of material to build the site/s that are needed in this business/profession.
    As you get older it stills winds one up but "play the game" its the youngsters/newbies I empathise with the most.
    Have a super day

    Brand Smoothie

  7. Hold the phone. I agree with giving clips and such from the work to an actor or actress as part of their payment or because they worked for free. Absolutely, but did someone just suggest that I have to cut a showreel for actors now? Clips, scenes, pieces of my short film are one thing and I'm more than happy to oblige, but making a showreel is a bit too much. Are you going to pay for my meals now during the times I edit and piece your showreel together?

  8. Who implied you should edit footage for them Michael? I'm confused.

    And interestingly, I've noticed - in entering this field, we've come across the very problem here-- defensive Directors, and Grumpy actors wanting their footage -- we're still no closer to finding the root of the problem, namely, flaking Directors. How can we find those?

  9. Personally as an actor, I have a one page short Word document that I write up when I get a job in a student film or a small film. I ask for the director to sign it and I sign it, and it says I will get a copy of the footage. That way you have it on paper, and it seems to light a fire under the person's ass, since it is a contract now. Especially when you don't get paid, the footage is the only method of "payment" that you could benefit from. How come every director has a "my grandma was ill" story when you ask them for footage?

  10. The fourth comment on this story suggested the showreel.

    Am I grumpy director? You should know that I'm that way because my grandma was ill.

  11. What some actors have to understand is some directors do shoot shorts and them put them together as a feature, that is what I did with my last project and that is what Jim Jarmusch did with is movie coffee and cigarettes, I didn't see Jim, giving away content to actors in the seven years it took him to finally move it from a series of shorts into a feature.

    More experienced actors look at the bigger picture and are not concerned about footage, every project is different, and also sometimes directors hands are tied, by that I mean unless they are doing the editing, grading, sound, music and special FX, themselves on final cut pro or some other system, the director and producer have to get other people to do those jobs, and if they are indies, they are going to be looking for favours and this going to take time, and the question I ask the actors is, "Do you want a bad copy or a good copy?"

    OK,if you want a good copy and you want it now, are you prepared to pay me to get it done
    quickly for you, the answer is always no, so if you want a good copy up to the standard
    that is acceptable to the industry, then bear with me while we make the deals, also if
    you are really desperate then go online and show the casting directors the link online

    At the end of the day If I as a director can get them wider exposure than they could for
    themselves then they should be happy, isn't that the reason we make films? To get it to
    the widest audience? But in saying that, you are always going to get directors who will stiff actors.

    if the link with my name works then you can see you can see every actor in the project we will never stop pushing our project and letting our audience see it first. By the way we pay all our actors maybe that is why the don't ask for footage, or understand the process

  12. Oh and one more thing, why are actors so hooked on getting footage on DVD, get a fucking grip we live in a DIGITAL WORLD, no actors have every asked me for quick time files etc, for their websites etc, I just take it as given that all these actors will have their showreels up online, that being the case, if some asked me for a quick time file of their work, I could do that easily at no cost in the editing suite and email it to them, and they could then grade it or get someone to grade it. PLUS IT WILL GET AROUND THE WORLD QUICKER AND BE CHEAPER THAN MAILING OUT DVD'S

    So get back to all you directors and producers and ask them for QUICK TIME FILE etc, forget about DVD’s!

    What are the chances of a producer, director or casting director looking at a DVD of your work? Unless of course some one has told the casting director to look at it, namely an agent or friend..

    However a cool website with a cool showreel, that has got a lot more chance.

    I know because we push everything online, and we get sales agents, distributors, casting directors and name actors checking us out ONLINE and wanting to be a part of what we are doing.

    I think people are too hooked up on holding on to content....we are not we give it away for free! And help market our actors.

    Get your quick times from your directors now, they should have no excuse, plus online people are not looking for the best quality, at the end of the day they just want to see how you and if you can act, if they like what they see, they will get in contact for an interview/meeting/casting or ask you to send a recent head shot and CV. The key is to get yourself out there….don’t wait for DVD footage ask for media that you can post online… on my name above to see footage or copy and past link below

  13. I just got a private email where someone said Actor's like DVD's because it is something for them to hold in their hand. Well if they want something to hold in their hands then actors, should hold their D##ks or P***ise, because that is want it amounts to a wank!

    The idea is to get work, the DVD/WANK can come later, what they want is the work right away, now the actors who have worked with on my project get to see the work instantly, because I send them a link and they can start selling themselves, when I have done the deal and it is all boxed up, in year's time then they can get a DVD, my actors don't want to wait a year for exposure?

    Come on everything is about downloading, even casting directors look at reels online, I know because when I am casting they send me the links to look at actors, so these people who want to holod something in their hands to wank about are not really actors they are just vanity people, they are not in a business, they want to show their mums and dads and friends how cool they are but they are fools, they should get their own camcorders and make home movies, if they want to be professional then get a website or an agent who has got a website, even agents don't send out DVD's anymore....that is a fact! Have these guys got a clue?

  14. I think you make some important points, Q. I think that, if a Director has an overall plan, then I would support that. On my most recent short film, I told the actors quite simply - I am holding out until we've screened at a festival. For me, I felt it would cheapen what we've worked on to have it scattered online.

    And as I've done films more, I've begun to see that yes, there is definitely a bigger picture, much like you speak of. Of course, actors need showreels, they are MASSIVELY important -- but actors can become almost addicted to showreel footage, as if it is the END RESULT.. whereas the end result of premiering at a great festival, or footage being held back of a masterful marketing campaign that leads to distribution, that is FAR MORE WORTHWHILE than a 20 second clip on a showreel.

    I think though, that the key is to have more open dialogue about this between actors and the filmmakers. Because, more often than not, I feel it's just that actors want their footage, and directors get all defensive about it, whereas - a new way of dialogue, and Directors confidently explaining their vision, would certainly help.

    That said, this isn't really about Directors having different plans for the footage- but more about Directors who end up doing nothing and then not sharing footage anyway.

    But, as I say this, I realize-- as an actor, you need to use judgement; when first getting on a project, and when working with a Director.. from their past work, and their attitude, you should know whether they're going to be true or not.

  15. As an actor and a director, I'm a little disturbed by directors asking to be paid for the time it takes to send a clip to an an actor that worked for free to further the director's career. If you're not paying your actors in the first place or you're not C.B. DeMille with a cast of thousands, then it shouldn't take so much time to sort the few that make the request. To my fellow director's: Don't be a knob. Honour the agreement. To my fellow actors: Be satisfied with a raw clip and edit it yourself.

  16. In response to Q's suggestion about quick time over DVD files: most directors say: "I will send you a copy of the finished project on DVD" which is why you often hear actors talking about waiting for their DVD to arrive. Honestly, I don't care how I get the footage I just want it when I am promised! In many cases the films I have worked on have been unpaid and the promise of a copy of the end result is my reason and basically my 'payment' for doing the film. I understand that these things take time, but I am not willing to accept the lack of contact that mysteriously occurs when actors dare(!) to ask for the footage they have worked so hard to help produce. Luckily I have also worked with people who provided the footage amiably and on time without prompting.

    I am currently building a portfolio and every film I do, I do because I hope that I will be able to use it as part of my showreel/on my website. Yes, I am doing this because I love making films, which is why I will happily do unpaid work, but when I have put in my time and effort, why should I not expect the same of the post production team? I would be happy with any of the footage, be it rushes or a fully edited piece but on many occasions nothing materialises.

    The Boy in the Front Row makes a valid point about what directors ultimately feel they want to do with the films, but that should be made clear at the beginning of the shoot. I would definitely agree to postponement of getting the footage if I knew that the film was actively being screened/entered into festivals, but if the delay is due to lack of motivation on the post-productions part, then that's just unacceptable. I know that showreel clips aren't the be all and end all, but if they have been promised by the director, then the actors should receive them!

    I also know some production houses that do promise to edit their actors a showreel as a way of payment and basically as a big thank you to the actors for all their time and effort. I think this is a fantastic thing to do but would never expect it to become common practice. However, I am an actor NOT an editor so why I should be expected to edit together pieces of a film (I'm not talking about actual showreels here, just film footage) I do not know....if I could do that I could probably direct/star in/edit my own films and cut out the flaky directors completely!

  17. Sorry to the Kid In The Front Row for quoting your name wrong!

  18. Another thing about just 'sending rushes' is that this could reflect very badly on the Director. Say for example, Tom Hanks wanted to make a showreel - and he phoned up Spielberg and said 'I want all my scenes from Private Ryan' - this would be a problem for Steven. Because, work of his that is far from perfect would be in the public domain.

    That's a very over the top and unrealistic example, but the same principle applies. I hire an actor to work on my film; and I am going to use the best and most appropriate scenes in the final cut. That is why I'm making a film and that's what the actor expects. So, naturally, I'm going to be adverse to the notion that they cut up random bits of footage and put it on their reels. Because then, when the final cut of my film comes out, there might be a different version of a scene floating around on someone's CastingCallPro, and I don't find that cool.

    But again, that is probably sidetracking into another issue here - the issue is with Director's that flake.

    I guess, to summarize where we've led with this, and for me to make assumptions (as no Directors are really taking responsibility) - I think it often comes down to Directors being shameful of their films and what they've shot. Often with new and upcoming filmmakers working on low-budgets, things never quite work out as planned. This may also happen with more experienced Directors who happen to be perfectionists. Rather than have evidence of their dire work out there, they'd rather be full of guilt and let down a bunch of actors.

    This is pretty much the only thing I can figure out, I'm happy for you guys to disagree. And I am certainly not saying that it is RIGHT, I'm just guessing as to why Director's flake.

    Taloola - it's great to see you here and I hope you stick around.

  19. I am a Producer of Feature Films that I enter in Major Film Festivals worldwide including Cannes. If any part of a movie is uploaded on the internet re: youtube or anywhere else, it will be disqualified. I have no problem with giving Actors a dvd of the finished product once it has gone to the festivals and once it is sold. One of my movies had over fifty actors in it so to have several of the actors who don't get it, phone me about a demo, just slows down the editing process.

  20. Some good points from the Directors, but as an actor while Im waiting 2 years for your film to go through post and the festival circuit, the character I played in your film may not be suited to my age range anymore, my hair may be 10 inches longer,dyed black from blonde and meanwhile my manager is busting my ass for some footage to pitch me for a film starring Hugh Jackman in LA....If you are upfront in your casting call, clearly stating the footage would not be available for ie 6 months, 1 year etc then you filter the actors who need immediate footage. Problem there is most Indie Film Directors lie and promise footage long before they realistically plan to have it available to the actor-Why? Because you know the response to your casting call would be dismal to say the leas, you do it out of pure selfishness to make your film to entice to lure to deceive for your own personal gain.An actor is at your mercy during the shoot ..I for one have worked in extreme weather conditions, from the sweltering 40 plus degree (celcius) heat with prosthetic welts glued to my face and doused in a sticky fake blood concoction ...Ive had my fingers turn blue in the deathly cold forest for 10 or more hours and never once complained, Ive physically and mentally prepared my for my character as well as ingested the script in my own time all to serve the film.To the post from December 2009 making an example of Tom Hanks with asking for footage for Saving Private Ryan ..Dude ..the guy is an A List Actor who made a squillion shooting the dam thing, I hardly think he was concerned with obtaining material for a showreel to secure his next gig! Your example/argument lacks relevant substance here. The rule of thumb is simple- You advertised a role and promised footage as payment within a specific time frame , the actor turned up on time, performed for you and you have your film in the can. Giving an actor dated footage is as useless as your cast showing up when the crew, camera, sound and lights have gone home....5 years later your film is still yet to be completed.You are not the only Director the actor is chasing footage from...the actor becomes the debt collector,chasing up footage rather than focusing on landing gigs.When you are casting your next film (all smart, successful and professional Casting Directors request this, to streamline the casting process and compile a shortlist)..that's right..You'll want to see A showreel.But because of Directors just like you, the actor that you are most interested in has nothing to show you..that's Karma, biting you in the ass!

    1. This sums up the argument perfectly and highlights the hypocrisy of directors listing projects as must have show-reel to apply. Most (not all) of the arguments for the directors not giving out footage I've read here are weak as water and sound like they're coming from a place of self importance,, ie. people owe me something for nothing. A trait I've noticed in a lot of directors (not to say they're bad directors in general but still). I've known a director who made a feature with my partner in it. This feature launched a career where she's now offered projects with budgets in the millions (she's a very talented director but also had a very talented cast to showcase her work). My partner? Still waiting on the footage 6 years later. It's really an unacceptable cultural paradigm in the actor filmmaker relation ship and I think it needs changing for the benefit of both parties.

  21. I think of it like a painting; I don't like idea of rough sketches, no color correction, no reaction shots, unfinished audio, finding its way to imdb. It's like chopping off a piece work with my name on it and showing it to the world. It feels embarrassing.

    This, along with frivolous over reactions. One actor told me to think of it as if "Tom Cruise was asking." Then he threatened to take me to small claims court. This after Zi offered to let him tell me what scene he wanted, and Id skip ahead and finish that early for him. I severed that relationship, only to have his agent call with more frivolous threats of legal action due to some sub clause in New Media contracts (there's only ten or so, and none say an actor receives copy). I was mailed a Right to Cute letter (Im sorry, did I buy a car?) This was NOT a copy/credit/meals contract, by the way.

    He was the last actor to receive footage, and there are at least six people I can name who worksd on that series and have severed contact with him and his delusional micro-agency.

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