Sunday, 31 March 2013

'What's your rate'?

As a freelancer that one question that drives me a little nuts is "what is your rate?”  Now there are no rules on what to get paid but in general everyone knows the top and low ends of their pay rate, but employers generally want to know how much you know and what they can get away with.

I went for a job interview a month ago and nearly fell off my chair when I was told ‘the rate’.

The story goes like this...

I saw a job add for an AP on an historical documentary for a company commissioned by BBC2.  I always wanted a Beeb credit and love telling stories and this subject was very interesting - it was a no brainier to apply.  Despite it being for a job lower then my experience I knew that I would be great value for money as an AP and it’s for the Beeb.

The call came for an interview and like always the rate question came up, I also wanted to know what “start ASAP” really meant, as there is no point wasting anyone’s time.   I cannot have an interview Tuesday and start Wednesday as I have childcare to work out.  That takes a couple of days.

In spite of my many other questions like contract length, travel, office location etc the runner on the phone had no information. But it’s a doco for the Beeb so ‘hell yes’ I wanted it. 

The producer was nice, laid back and knew what he was talking about. We chatted and then after 15 minutes I was sold as it sound like a great little gig but then it came…
Instead of “what's your rate” he simply said “the rate is £500”.

I must have looked really shocked as he almost went to help me not fall off my chair!
Without drawing breath I said ‘NO’ maybe a little faster than what is polite.

Now I knew I applied for an AP role and rates can be as low as £750 or £950 so even if it had been the lower I would have been happy to take it.  After all it’s a Beeb credit.

With over 23 years’ experience in TV and Media production (on & off in between bringing up children), I have had many roles and rates and I have never been too fussed about money as long as the employer was not taking me for a ride and I like the subject I am happy to work.

But today I'm not in my 20's with no commitments, I have a family, mortgage and I think I'm rather normal.  So money does play a part in my job search, because after childcare costs.  I don’t want to be working for nothing.

I here story after story about rates being cut and it's no wonder Creative Skillset UK stats state around 5000 plus women left the UK TV in the last 3 years, compared to just 750 men.
If companies are trying to pay rates lower than acceptable women will leave the industry and take valuable scripting, directing and many years of experience with them that cannot be taught on a one-day course.

I'm really sad he decided the rate for that role was below the standard and could not find any room to move.  I did really want a BBC credit and I’ll watch the doco once it’s made as the subject did interest me a lot. 

So I too will now join the Creative Skillset UK stats of women leaving the UK TV industry, but this time I’m taking my experience and skills to Australia.