It’s New Year’s morning in Dubai, so let us begin with a Resolution for All Producers.
As Producers, let’s resolve to always pay our people on time.
So often, I see the effects of sluggish or sloppy payment processes on the life of the freelancer – tech, production, artist or other.
Terms such as “net 30,” “net 60,” statements like “…we pay all our invoices quarterly…” are virtually incomprehensible, generally irrelevant and always frustrating to the average (and above average) talent one hires.
Further, these people work for you; not your client. It is irrelevant to them and to your relationship to and with them whether or not you have been paid for the work or show. YOU owe the money to the team, not your client.
So many people are uncomfortable around money and their own financial situations. Asking for money can feel deeply demeaning to most people. Be sensitive to this and find ways to avoid that doubt and discomfort that are far too often concomitant with working as a freelance artist or consultant.
It’s not that difficult.
When a production is mine; one of my favorite moments is when I am able to circulate through the team during warm up or pre-rehearsal, quietly handing out checks face-to-face and hand-to-hand with thanks for all the hard work that’s been put in. Paying in this manner shows tangible respect and helps cement the bond of trust between you and your talent and tech.
They enter the stage happier, upbeat, energetic and are able to leave the production – physically and mentally – confident and complete, with no doubts as to where and when they’ll be paid.
This is Big Stuff.
As the name of EMILY, the political group, says, “Early Money Is Like Yeast.” It will grow your reputation among your peers and performers, it will grow your caché with your resources. You’ll achieve greater results with these stronger relationships.
I have worked with a company in the UAE unlike any other in this respect. On the first or second day of my first collaboration with them, in 2011, the Accountants called me in and handed me the contract-specified per diem for the entire contract in cash, up front. No receipts necessary, no waiting, no outlay of my own funds – and I could buy groceries or restaurant meals, pay for gasoline or taxis with no “approval” process.
This made it so easy, and showed me and the other consultants that we were supported by that department and company in getting done what we were brought over to get done.
Great system, imho.
On the last day of the contract, once again; we were called into the accounting office, handed a check, sent to the bank on the first floor to cash it before leaving for the airport. Clean and neat; respectful and easy.
I’ve seen this company send a driver two hours to another city to offer performers their pay in cash as they are working during banking hours, away from their home cities and banks. This is a great policy, and makes people feel appreciated in a fundamental and security-encouraging way.
It does take the producer (you…us) planning; advance conversations and familiarization with the process and logistics of the Financial People, probably some invoice-gathering at a busy time; but it will yield a cornucopia of great results.
WAIT: according to Yoda, “…there is no ‘try’!” Just do it.
Now, on to…
It is critical to be sensitive to the natures and processes of your Creatives. Frankly, it can be darn expensive to dismiss or eschew this sensitivity.
Not so long ago, I had the enlightening misfortune to have participated in a creative overview & notes meeting on a production of great magnitude … an experience that epitomizes how not to treat one’s Creatives.
The purpose of the meeting was to give meticulous direction to the development of the visual creative to a team of consultants, four time zones away, via Skype. To participate in this meeting, the Creatives had to be up, awake and alert quite early in their morning.
Anyone who knows and has worked with Brilliance knows that many such artists tend to be late risers. Ironically, the Creative Director in charge of this very meeting is rarely in his own office before 10:00am; yet had called this meeting for 9:00am in the time zone of these Creatives.
We were gathered in the conference room for a meeting scheduled to abut this Creative briefing…and this previous meeting began to run overtime. Several reminders that we had these men waiting in their studio for us to connect with them went unacknowledged by the Creative Director for a full 40 minutes; at which time he announced that he needed a cigarette, and left the room with a few other members of the Executive Team to have a smoke.
Twenty minutes later, one hour past the scheduled time, the meeting finally commenced. One could see, on the faces of the remote Artists, their ire at being treated so dismissively. This early interaction, unfortunately though not surprisingly, colored every future interaction between this company and the Artists, both electronically and in face-to-face meetings…and definitely in the quality of the finished product.
This was an exceptionally expensive hour. Not only in the context of the practical costs of paying for an hour of creative consulting time that was completely unused, but the negative effects of this dismissive and thoughtless act were felt through the rest of the production. Treatment such as this can (and in this instance, most certainly did) color the tone of an entire production, and have far-reaching costs well beyond the immediate and tangible.
Again: such disrespectful disregard for the time and process, the work, of one’s team members affects not only the working relationship but also the actual product.
Irrespective of one’s commitment to professionalism; when one is treated poorly, it will ultimately affect the nuance of the work and the relationships among the collaborators, especially when it comes to “crunch” time. Ultimately, it affects resilience, responsiveness and – most critically – Creativity.
It is a wise discipline to develop and hone; to remember one is dealing with people who have lives and schedules of their own. You do know own them, they are not your property to pull off a virtual shelf and use at will.
Respect your Team. Show it.
Be it Resolved…
Happy New Year!