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Producer Offers To ‘Pay’ With Exposure, Gets Some Unwanted Exposure Himself (Interview With Expert)
It seems that even though we’ve moved beyond bartering, we’ve accelerated into the era of exposure. Yes, some people believe that promising someone attention is the same as giving them fair compensation.
Producer Offers To ‘Pay’ With Exposure, Gets Some Unwanted Exposure Himself (Interview With Expert)
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If you work, you get paid. If you work more, you get paid more. These are two very simple concepts that some people simply can’t understand. After all, you wouldn’t expect people to barter with you for your services by offering you a sack of potatoes or a new pair of sneakers (well, unless you’re a photographer or an artist, that is).

But it seems that even though we’ve (mostly) moved beyond bartering, we’ve accelerated into the era of exposure. Yes, some people believe that promising someone attention is the same as giving them fair compensation.

A text message conversation between a producer and a potential backup dancer got posted to Imgur and went viral. The producer promised exposure for work, but the person they were talking to was having none of their empty talk and began texting people, warning them about the producer’s shenanigans.

Bored Panda spoke with a representative of The Freelancer Club, based in London, about working for exposure. The Freelancer Club runs a campaign called #NoFreeWork that aims to eradicate exploitative unpaid work and late payments in the freelance sector. Scroll down for the full interview.

“We are working hard to change the culture around working for exposure, experience, prestige and the promise of paid work in the future by educating new and aspiring freelancers. We highlight the impact it has on their career, show them how valuable they are and work on their self-worth. On the company side, we show them how paying freelancers fairly is better for their bottom line as well as their long-term reputation. In addition, we are pressuring the government to change legislation that will provide more legal protection for freelancers who are clearly being exploited for their talent.”

According to The Freelancer Club rep, some people or companies offering people to work for exposure instead of payment has to do with how much they value others. “Many see freelancers, particularly in the creative sector, as hobbyists and believe they can get away with 'paying' in exposure. They leverage their audience size, their brand name or the allure of gaining recognition. This is why services in exchange for exposure is commonplace in glamourous sectors such as fashion, music, and film.”

Matt from The Freelancer Club continued: “From a freelancer point of view, they are often told that working for exposure is a rite of passage or an essential part of building a portfolio by their teachers, college professors, and peers. This has created a culture of exploitation that we must address at both ends.”

“At Freelancer Club we take a hardline and suggest freelancers say 'no.' The issue is that some 'freelancers' are individuals with a passion who will freely give their work away for exposure whilst professionals rely on payment to survive. This muddies the water.”

The Freelancer Club representative told Bored Panda that they “surveyed over 1,000 people who worked for free (52% did it for exposure) and it showed how damaging it was to their career as well as the industry as a whole.”

“In the UK, unpaid work costs every freelancer £5,394 (7,086 dollars) per year and the figure is very similar in the States. If you give up your work for exposure thinking you will get paid work from it in the future, the statistics show this is rarely the case, besides, shouldn't additional work be a consequence of a paid job anyway? If someone is willing to promote your work, they must value it so why not pay them! It's easy to get into a cycle of working for exposure and never get paid.”

Matt said is that that the main reasons as to why people choose to work for exposure is because they hope to get paid work in the future, to add to their portfolio, or to use the name of the company who promoted their work.

“In addition, knowing your creative work is being seen by lots of people feels good and strokes the ego. I believe there is a correlation between exploitative work for exposure and validation of choosing a creative career,” said Matt. “Many creative people are told to 'get a real job' when they express their desire to do something artistic. Seeing their work in print, online or gaining recognition somehow validates their decision and, in a twisted way, proves the doubters wrong. The irony is that they have given up their value to do so.”

He gave advice to those people who are stuck doing jobs for exposure. “Work out your day rate. Once you know your value, get comfortable talking about money and stick to your guns. We've proven that working for exposure rarely results in paid work, collaborate with other creatives or set a self-project to build your portfolio and keep in mind that the culture of working for exposure is very damaging to you and to your industry.”

“You are talented—value yourself and others will value you too,” Matt from The Freelancer Club added.

Dear Pandas, have you ever worked for exposure before? What do you think of people who want your services but can’t pay you in return? Do you think it was right to expose the producer who wanted others to work for exposure?

Comments (64)
Demi Zwaan
And this still works because countless people do work for free, because ‘mah exposure broh!’. Starting artists told that ‘this is how the industry works’ keep falling for it. No, this is how rich people say it works, so they can become richer and you don’t stand a chance to join them. STOP FALLING FOR IT!
John Louis
I am a professional magician and am asked to perform for free on a regular basis. Most of the time they don't even bother with the exposure argument. I politely tell them no.
Emily
This convo made my day. It's so true. I'm a concert photographer and people want to hire me for exposure. But they have no clue how much time and money I put into my work!
WilvanderHeijden
And again. If you want to expose these b*stards name and shame them. The only way to effectively fight these practices is to give them the exposure they are offering themselves. It would lead to awkward situations, though. "Hi, I'm Joe Star the producer." Artist:"Aren't you the one who wants people to work for exposure?" Now that would put a stop these practices.
The Cappy
"That's how trying to bullshit people smarter than you works." Awesome.
Seabeast
"Per say" instead of "per se", calling a female dancer "bro"... is there any limit to this guy's stupidity?
John L
I just love how they solicit the person and when they don't fall for it, act like they are the ones being stalked.... That is called having personality issues...
Id row
If he doesn't make the kind of money that he could pay others minimum wage by, why is he saying that she should could make tons of money from the exposure? He's not making sh*t, according to his own words. Is he working for the exposure?
Douglas Campbell
I wish I knew about these scams when I was in my early twenties!
Marcellus the Third
A tanning saloon would obviously be a one-stop drinks & leatherworking wild west outfit. But I'd be sorely tempted to try if it was really "for the last time" by asking again about the tanning...
cybermerlin2000
My friend owns and runs a reprographics company and has in his terms and conditions in bold red writting: Anyone who expects free work in exchange for exposure or free advertising will find the price doubled with every mention of the words Exposure and Free Advertising. One guy asked for decals for his van which would cost £500. By the time he had finished arguing with my friend the bill was £8000. He didn't get the decals.
Pseudo Puppy
I could write a thesis on this, having worked as a photographer & managed an entire department within a Photographic Agency, where I negotiated every job for the artists in my department. These offers of exposure happen at every level. They *may* work, WHEN DONE EFFECTIVELY. eg *everyone* on the job is working at their own cost, in order to create material for their folio. This, is a legitimate exchange of services for everyone involved ie everyone covers their costs, and in exchange gets images / video etc of their contribution, for their folio (mind you, people can also be paid for folio work, depending on the dynamic). The way I put it to my artists was this: in every job, you must be either 1) earning $, 2) MEETING & WORKING WITH people you want to meet / work with, 3) creating something amazing for your folio, 4) learning something new (eg doing a job that you could not normally afford to create on your own). If it does not give you at least ONE of these things - RUN!!!
LiliumVA
I TFP(time for print) from time to time(I'm a photographer). I had a really gorgeous androgynous model contact me to see if we could collab. They were very interesting and I figured they'd be a great addition for my port. Cool, we set up everything..time day etc... and then a WEEK before said date they contacted me about payment. What?!? I was flabbergasted they wanted to be paid...when they contacted me. But they decided I could get out of it by paying HALF for a hotel because they were driving two hours from home. Hah! Declined that shiz, and told em bye! Turns out they had another shoot with another photographer on the same day within 20 miles of mine and wanted me to foot the bill. Boy oh boy!
Paul Suerth
lol "smarter then you"
Scratch
Ugh. People who think "per say" is correct should be sterilised.
me
I had someone just this week want me to work for free. I replied "I don't work for free". They just said "Ok, thanks, well if you change your mind..." What? I am not going to change my mind and suddenly want to be taken advantage of.
giovanna
I stopped reading at "per say". Says enough.
Russian Otaku
I can see it now... him trying to pay a person who can make another person's life hell in exposure then getting no where and still at step -1
Linda Matheny
That was hilarious!!!!!
Angela
Yes. Yes. Yes. This.
Seabeast
How do you flag a spam post in these comments? A certain spammer has returned.
Bill
I thought the Screen Actor's Guild ruled with an iron fist in their monopoly
Cindy Snow
Stupid. I'm sick of these dumb articles. Yeah people argue. Yawn.
Stille20
Sigh, event the title of these articles are the same.
Jeff Requier
Free Internships are Worse Than Slavery.... that just tore down this whole article. I want some young WHITE unemployed people to go Find some elderly BLACK people and tell them this
Mike Crow
I have made two short films, both have been in film festivals, and I could not pay my actors but they did get film credit for it. This is a very common practice for film makers and actors starting out. One of my actors has actually been on Supergirl and a few other other large name productions.
Ellen
Well, that was a cringe worthy conversation that probably wasn't the productive use of my time
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