by Josh Kasselman
Hope everyone is having a rad 2016! I’ve been seeing a bunch of conversation on social media about the importance of paying cast and crew for personal projects and wanted to float another opinion out there. I don’t claim to be an expert, but the commodification of art is a topic I’ve wrestled with over the years and it sure doesn’t seem like there’s a one-size-fits-all approach in this or any discipline. While I do pay cast and crew for most everything when I’m self-producing and only take paying work myself (with rare exceptions), that wasn’t always the case. And the tradeoff is that I can’t make every film I want to.
But consider this: There’s a bunch of necessary experimentation and finding our voices that simply doesn’t happen if the hurdle of fundraising must be cleared for every single project. If you’re crowdfunding, what are the ramifications of working for months to solicit donations from family and friends on a first feature or experimental short? What if you end up with a flawed film? Will your supporters be as willing to support a second film? And how many successful crowdfunding campaigns can you pull off even if you are at the top of your craft? Should we always be creating from a place of needing to please donors? Are there not situations in which we’re better teaming up with like-minded brethren and banging something out sans the PR campaign?
Lots of questions, but my point is this: Assuming sets are safe and food/credit/copy are provided, there’s nothing wrong with asking *willing participants* to donate their time, putting together a garage band, learning, experimenting, having a little fun, shocking the world. Not every film is a professional project, nor should it be – this is not the same as the commercial realm, where everyone must be compensated because there’s a clear intent to profit. Many of us prefer to pay and be paid, others are in different situations and shouldn’t be shamed for it. Sure, I suppose there are some jerks out there looking to take advantage, but many unpaid situations stem from people learning the ropes or making art for art’s sake. There’s a long, proud history of that. The choice to collaborate or not on such projects is yours. That’s my take, anyway. See you at the next Monthly Movie Meeting!
Josh Kasselman is a director and producer at Limitrophe Films and the host of IFP Phoenix’s Monthly Movie Meeting. Along with his creative partner Stephanie Lucas, Josh was named 2014 Arizona Filmmaker of the Year at the Phoenix Film Festival. In addition to its multiple award-winning documentary and narrative shorts, Limitrophe creates commercial content for companies and non-profit organizations across Arizona.