Thursday, August 18, 2011

Oh Woe!

Rarely do I post entires here in my blog on rants or a bad eperience. I really try to keep a positive aura in my blog site and veer away from things unpretty. After all, this is a blog about beauty, love, and passion so negativity should be kept far away as possible. But from how things have turned out, I have decided (and much encouragement from those who care) to write about it because I felt like I needed to be heard and after my experience, I knew I had to step up.

I’ve been doing makeup for a living since 2007. In my four years as makeup artist, I’ve been through it all – I’ve started out doing pro-bono and x-deal work just to get my portfolio started and practice, later on taking paying gigs, that including work for weddings, print, TV, and theater. I’ve had my fair share of both good and bad experiences but none ever tops this experience I’ll be telling you, which has earned me a valuable lesson in the end.

December of last year, I got a call to do a cover shoot featuring a famous athlete/politician for an up-and-coming magazine to be launched at that month. I got the gig via a model I worked with before and the photographer would be one of my good friends. Of course I said yes because it was a chance of a lifetime (who wouldn’t?). I was told of the talent fee that I’ll be getting for the shoot (Php3,000) but I’ll be getting the payment after the magazine’s launch. Magazines usually have a waiting period before releasing paychecks here in the Philippines, so I thought, okay, normal. Magazines usually pay late here in Manila, and I already told myself to be super patient when billing comes. But at least they gave time frames.

Anyway, the shoot did commence and so did the event yet I wasn’t called to get my payment. Magazines are usually like this, delaying payments, so I just let the whole thing pass knowing that hopefully these aren’t like the horror stories I hear and maybe, just maybe they will call me and say “Hey, your check’s ready.” And usually things like these take 3 months to be released (quite true, horrific, but true).

Anyway, a month after, I did a shoot for a designer’s lookbook, which is supposed to be done under the editor-in-chief of the magazine’s rebranding and catalogue business. My contact for this again was my friend and I was assured I’ll be paid after. Fee for the shoot was Php 3,000 per day. We did that shoot for a total of 3 days, so all in all, that’s Php 9,000 for that project. By this point, the magazine owes me now Php 12,000 including the cover photoshoot. After this, getting the payment became a pain. We were given a specific time when the payment’s going to be released only to be delayed with another excuse, either “next Friday, next week, two weeks,”. At one instance, I was told to go to the magazine’s office at 11 am the following day. I did get there by 11 am only to find out no one was answering the door and I waited 30 minutes at the corridor knocking occasionally and texting the editor-in-chief that I was there already. I was told that no one’s at the office and the editor-in-chief is at lunch. She told me to come back at 3 pm (here we go again!). By this time, I was getting impatient, but I still had high hopes of being paid. I went to lunch and met my photographer friend (the same one I worked with with the cover shoot) and we both went back to the office since she was going to collect her payment too, We waited until 3 and even 4 pm. The editor-in-chief didn’t show up and our payments weren’t endorsed to anyone in the office. It clearly was a disappointing day and so were the following days, since it was a vicious cycle of following up and then another delay or alibi. The one last moment was when editor-in-chief met us, and apologized for the delay, sweet-talked us and all, saying they’ve tried all that they can (waiting for sponsors to pay, etc) and gave me and the photographer Php 1,000 each, as partial payment and at least cover the gas/transportation expenses we had for the shoots.

I was mad already this time but I didn’t lose my temper. I tried to lay low for a bit, and I took on new projects and just let the good vibe come in. I didn’t get to hear from the magazine and just gave them the benefit of the doubt that probably they’re having problems and they would’ve needed the money more than I did. A few weeks after that, I got a Facebook message from one of the makeup artists who contributed to that magazine asking if I (along with other contributors that we both know) if we’ve all been paid yet. Well guess what? None of us have been paid yet. I also got in touch with other contributors and they shared me their own woes of not being able to get their payment. Editor-in-chief does the same old drill… gives a day, when that day comes, she apologizes for yet another delay with an alibi, and charms you with promises and stories and all.

I also got an SMS message from the designer (the one we did a lookbook on). Turns out that she has already paid editor-in-chief in full for the rebranding service and lookbook she’s supposed to do and Miss Editor-In-Chief has not given her the lookbook she promised. So we have contributors who haven’t been paid and unsatisfied clients demanding a refund. A contributor has already given a demand letter from her lawyer yet this in fact didn’t seem to work. My photographer friend has followed up recently and didn’t have any luck.

Two weeks ago, I told her that I still have not forgotten about the payments due to me and I think seven months (from January) is more than enough time to gather sufficient funds for the magazine. Her reply was that she’ll be in touch with me in two weeks. I kept the two weeks in mind. After two weeks, I didn’t get any reply from her so I sent another message that two weeks have passed and what are the updates. She told me that she would contact me within the week. That was the last straw. I gave her two weeks, and enough is enough. This issue has long been delayed. I asked her if it could be any sooner. She told me that they don’t have any money right now with them. My reply was this:

“I think we've all given already so much extension and consideration already and our patience is already wearing thin. We've been promised payment by certain time frames (two weeks, one week, Thursday, Friday), only to be disappointed by not getting our payment and another extended time frame. If we don't get our payment in full and in cash sooner, we're all ready to go public to warn future suppliers about situations like this so their time and talents do not go to waste.”

That my friends, is the reason why I’m writing this, composing and recomposing this blog post every night. Not to get back but to warn others, especially new artists about things like these. It wasn’t me who was conned. There were other photographers, makeup artists, stylists, and even their own clients who have been in the business longer than I have. It was sad that our time and efforts have been wasted with the promise to be compensated unfulfilled. I wished to think the magazine had no money, as she told me, yet the magazine still continues putting out issues and moving forward, with status messages in Facebook on how great it is and all. It’s inconsistent. My patience has been worn thin. Enough is enough.

I do have my share of x-deals and pro-bono gigs, which I still do up to now, to beef up my portfolio, but from the start, it was crystal clear that it’s going to be pro bono or a fun shoot. But for Ms. Editor‑in‑Chief, it was from the start a paid gig, and a deal is a deal. As we have rendered our services, it’s all fair that she pay up, on the time she really said that she will. It’s simple really. When you go out and buy a cup of coffee or magazine, you pay right after, not a month after. It’s services rendered after all.

It was indeed a painful experience for me. I do know that there are better gigs out there, with better clients, and I have experienced better client pool after that. I’m still going to try to get my payment after this, since that’s still hard-earned money, although we all know what to expect/

In the future, I’d like to warn fellow artists and contributors on shady characters like this. Have a written contract ready, or a written agreement (like a reservation form or client profile) at least. If it’s a big project, ask for a nonrefundable downpayment. Keep all documents – bank statements, ATM receipts, bank deposit slips, photocopy checks, and all. Be clear in terms of when to get the payment, how much, and the deal.

Also, it pays to do a bit of background research on the client or whoever you’re dealing with. Ask people who know them, but do so objectively. Companies do research on applicants beyond their resumes so why not we do the same thing as well.

With that, I hope that this can serve as a lesson to all of us so as not to avoid disheartening situations like these.


Crystal said...

naku bambi, katakot naman yan. baka makabiktima pa sila ng iba :(

Bambi said...

true crystal, kaya i wrote about it na rin, para wala na sila mabiktima. imagine, may iba na mas veteran pa sa atin nabiktima, ano pa kaya yung mga baguhan right?

Bambi said...

true crystal, kaya i wrote about it na rin, para wala na sila mabiktima. imagine, may iba na mas veteran pa sa atin nabiktima, ano pa kaya yung mga baguhan right?