" I still have no budget for this show, everyone is volunteer and I am paying out of pocket for studio time and food...I just need someone to even everything out and make it sound good."

"We are just doing it for the love of film, nobody is getting paid."

"It will be a great piece for your reel."

Is there anything else that producers/production manager/director's say to cheapskate sound people especially into a free lunch?

What if there really is no budget for this show? Just kidding!

  • Should you say no can't do it and wait for them to come back? Or should you ask for some money?
    – ChrisSound
    Oct 22, 2011 at 23:06
  • You have an amazing Surname...Mr.Smart. Oct 27, 2011 at 18:18

11 Answers 11


"labour of love"

  • 2
    Unfortunately love isn't a recognized currency for paying the electrical bill Oct 23, 2011 at 22:22
  • nothing else cracks me up like that phrase does tho. i know love has to be there for it to be meaningful, but man, the abuse that gets.
    – georgi
    Oct 25, 2011 at 9:27

"When we get distribution, we'll ALL be rich". Usually said by producer/directors who've never had a movie actually SOLD to distributor - and who's movies are usually pretty bad.

I have a basic policy - I don't work for NOTHING. Sometimes the something is not money (although it is my favourite). It might be emotional -seeing a REALLY good film get a decent sound job, or donating my time for a charity I believe in or good karma (helping out a director who gave me my first gig). Sometimes it's barter - gear rentals, tickets, etc. But I always ensure I am compensated in some way.

Oh and my favourite of the above "It'll be great for your reel!".

Buddy, I have a "reel" the length of my arm from my actual PAYING clients - I really don't need your crappy film on it!

  • whole-heartedly agree. i always get something out of projects that i do for "free." even if it's simply a chance to try out something unique or new. Oct 23, 2011 at 23:36

"I'll be sure to courier that to you by close of business Friday so you can have the weekend to get ahead."

Followed by the call on Monday.

"Hey, sorry I didn't get that off to you on Friday. I'm sending it right over. This shouldn't affect our deadline, right?"

  • That litteraly just happened to me! Oct 29, 2011 at 8:21

"you'll be given credit"

"we're going to submit it to [insert festival here]."

i'm not opposed to doing work for free if i find a short, interesting and worthwhile project (I do on rare occasions), but there's always one thing they will have to agree to: i dictate the audio schedule and final delivery date. ;)

if it's something i'm willing to work on, they need to understand that i'll be fitting it in around other...paying...work.

  • nice answer ... :) In a sense, building a resume for myself with a diversity of projects may be a good idea and working/mixing for free once or twice probably hurts my ego (wince). Is it like poker? I read that you can often turn them down and they'll come back to you because they saw you stood your ground and/or the "found some money," this must happen every time...
    – ChrisSound
    Oct 23, 2011 at 3:47
  • @Shaun, I second that! :-) Oct 23, 2011 at 7:51
  • 1
    sometimes it works out in another way. i've been working with a director since 2 years (and we are a great team). first thing i did with him was his second short film and i didn't get paid, he didn't have the money. i agreed to do it once and if he would make money on it that he would try to pay me a percentage of the actual cost. which i did calculate for him. he agreed but made any money with it. however lately, we've been working on new shorts and all of those are very well paid gigs. so i'm very happy to have taken the bet on his short-film. Oct 23, 2011 at 13:57

I've been offered shares in feature films (with low pay), which would be cool if the film made money. Sometimes they do and it's a descent bonus, but that's waaay later. The main question is whether the time commitment is really worth the risk...


This, my friends, tells the whole sorry truth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c38CekaAtfI

  • That was so entertaining, I just watch like 15 of these text to movie stories their so good, get me?. Oct 27, 2011 at 19:19

"Just make it work."

"The audio personnel volunteering for this job is required to provide their own professional equipment for the shoot. We can accommodate a 16 channel Mackie mixboard, but the rest is up to the audio personnel to bring with them."

"The picture is locked. There will be no more edit changes."

"Can't you guys say the line in German? What's so hard about translating these 40 lines into German? This is what you guys do for a living, right? Just give me a German translation of it real-time - that's all I ask."

  • 1
    What's wrong with responding, "I can give you a translation into German. It'll be wrong. So incredibly wrong that it may in fact insult millions of people, your project could be globally panned & you'll look like a fool. But I can give you a German translation." ;) Oct 28, 2011 at 15:15
  • @Steve Yeah! Hah. That was a true comment from a producer on a WW2 film released in 2008. The walla group was being asked to translate things on the spot - which is ridiculous to ask people to on-the-spot translate things and into the German tongue used back then nonetheless.
    – Utopia
    Oct 29, 2011 at 5:24

Literally just happened:

Them: "Can I borrow a bag please?"

Knowing that the only bag in the building is my Tesco bag from earlier, I took it to them:

Me: "Here, you can have this one if you like?"

Them: "Seriously? Would you be seen walking around town with that? Oh, maybe you would!"



"Audio engineers in this city are expected to shut up and do their job." --actual quote from two days ago.

  • yikes...........what city and why?
    – ChrisSound
    Oct 29, 2011 at 3:01
  • 1
    um…please remind me to never look for work in that city! Oct 29, 2011 at 5:10
  • 1
    sounds like London Nov 1, 2011 at 13:01

"We don't have any money left on the budget for sound. This is only because it's a one day and the shooting location is going to cost us a lot of money."

I didn't know locations where worth more than sound crew.

"If you decide to get onboard with these projects and help us and if we see that we have good chemistry on set - then there's a music video I am going to produce for a renowned music label company for one of their artist and I will give you the first opportunity to get onboard. That's going to be a paid gig."

All from a student producer... when will they learn...


Recently saw a post on shootingpeople for a "professional" sound recordist with own equipment... travel only.. thought that was quite funny.

There are times where working for free or cheap is worth it though. Ask for the script, ask for showreels or credits of other crew, if the film is already cut, ask to see it. If it's all shit (pardon my french) then say no. Make sure you have a big say in the sound design as well.

I rarely do anything free now unless I know the quality will be extremely high quality.

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