Date: February 6, 2000
To: Location Service Representatives
From: Bob Berkus
Re: Guidelines For Conducting Business Between
Location Services and Location Professionals
I would like to express my thanks to everyone that responded back to me regarding the Guidelines. I especially would like to thank those of you that took time to write detailed comments, all of which are listed below.
Some people elected to respond without submitting comments in writing. A combination of 194 emails and faxes went out to both Location Professionals (170) and Location Services (24). A total of 49 responses (34%) were received, 44 (approx. 25%) by Location Professionals, and 5 (approx. 20%) by Services. Nearly 98% of the respondents in some way expressed support for the Guidelines.
The names of people, companies, or organizations that choose to endorse the Guidelines will be available on an on-going basis after they have been formally released. However, in order to ensure anonymity, fairness, and to allow for a continued dialogue between all parties, direct references to the names of all persons and companies have been omitted. Otherwise, they are presented here completely unedited, exactly as they were received.
Responses to some comments are presented in Italics. The purpose of any response is to answer specific questions and/or to provide clarity to issues raised in the body of the comment(s) itself. Please note that they are presented here in no particular order, but rather in the order in which they were received.
Further questions or comments may be directed to me at Rberkus@aol.com or by telephone, 310/477-2987.
1) Excellent job! My thanks and congratulations to you Bob and to all others involved. Location Managers can be quite proud of all that we have accomplished this past year.
2)First of all, great work. We've needed something like this for a long time and I applaud your efforts.
I was wondering if there should be some wording about services respecting each other's territory. I'll use and example: I was negotiating with the ****** Residence through ********locations. Things were going well, and I felt the deal was a mutually beneficial one. At the last minute, the homeowner tried to up the money. Appears he called *******, who also reps the house, for advice. Of course, she told him she would have gotten him more money, and he should ask for more. I held fast, and he came around again, but it has always left a bad taste in my mouth. I think there should be some wording to the effect that agencies should respect deals being made with other agencies, and resolve to remain out of any negotiations not directly effecting their company. I mean completely out -- no advice, no comment, period! Too many houses are repped by the multiple companies, and they are all trying to be the agent of choice by getting higher and higher fees. This additional wording could help other Managers in the future.
While the Guidelines are designed in part to discourage Location Services or Location Professionals from engaging in unfair or unethical business practices, they cannot specifically address every idea as to what constitutes those actions. However, because this issue directly affects the broader, long-term issue of maintaining reasonable prices for filming locations in general, consideration will be given to your request.
3)Great job and follow through- It's a good start for all of us. I offer my help for phone calls, etc if needed keeping in mind my geographical handicap!
4) OH MY GOSH BOB! What an excellent job! How much better our "day to day" will be if this is adopted. There are so many positive things we can consentrate on to keep developing this field if we can agree to this! The ONLY two that I found a little "iffy" were E (because of Owner privacy..may not want a list of whose been at their house available..lets talk about it) and G: About the HAZMAT. Maybe we can develop a form that we give to the OWNER that says "Are you aware of any HAZMAT or any other environmental danger to a production company if they choose to use your property?" AND we can have that affidavit as an adden. to the contract? Or a clause in the contract? Then what if someone dumps something the day before the shoot and no one knows about it...(the property owner)...I'd just like to hear a little more discussion on this. This is something that Location Managers and Producers are faced with I'm sure..Workman's Comp claims etc. I do agree that it must be addressed, I guess I'm feeling I would like something that says I, ****, will exert my best effort to uncover or discover any HAZMAT problems and will disclose UP FRONT. BUT BOB, What a job you did. I for one am very very grateful. Thanks
With regards to (E), it is understood that the property owner is under no obligation to divulge certain types of information they consider confidential. It is, however, in the best interest of the property owner, Service, and Location Professional to have access to such information. Location Professionals cannot make effective management decisions at the represented site unless they can fully determine the current receptivity to filming by the surrounding neighbors, merchants, or business owners.
With regards to (G), the wording ""known to exist" implies that no one is expected to know definitively if any hazardous condition exists at the represented filming site. This issue is sometimes addressed directly by production companies in their contractual agreements with the property owner and/or Service, or by taking the additional step of arranging for an inspection of the property by an accredited inspector. The Service may (as you suggest) elect to deal directly with this issue in it's contract as well. --- The point is that reasonable effort should be made to provide the Location Professional the necessary information about hazardous conditions, if any, so that they may convey them to the production company. The wording of this section should remain as is to ensure that this is accomplished.
5) I read your guidlines posted and really think most all the bases have been covered. Getting the services to follow thru, well I am ever the optimist.
Thanks for your hard work, without which we would not be making headway.
6)If we are stating that the Location Service(s) be a licensed Real Estate Professional then who will they represent the Buyer or the Seller?. It varies amongst the different entities. In this agreement, they either represent both or neither. Being a liscensed Real estate agent in 2 different states, I feel it is important for the agent or agency to disclose who they represent. How can this issue be addressed or regulated? I am being short on what I want to say but would like feedback from someone on their thoughts.
A memo dated 3/15/91 by the California Department of Real Estate states the following:
"To the extent that that media location services (services) solicit listings from and negotiate with real property owners and with media production companies to allow the production companies to enter onto and use those properties as sets for film, video or advertisement production, such services do require a real estate license."
The Location Service, having satisfied the requirement of obtaining a real estate license as per the California Business and Professions Code, represents the property owners
7) Thanks for the organizational efforts. Good thing to unify guidelines.
8)I agree with the common sense of this agreement, but would rather not get caught up with what a Production Co. may inadvertently do to a surrounding neighborhood and have a binding contract compelling me or other location professionals to deal with any further litigation after the fact.
The Guidelines are suggestions for conducting business. It is not a contract, nor is anyone bound by law to follow them.
9) You'll probably get resistance regarding the CDRE license pertaining to all sales agents. Many services have a token realtor on paper, but the contracts and deals are done by non-license holders.
The same memo by the CDRE referenced in number 6 (above) states the following:
"EMPLOYEES: Not all employees need be licensed. Those employees who solicit or negotiate with the property owners, the production companies and those who sign checks on the trust account must be licensed as brokers or salespeople. Brokers must be designated officers of the corporation, be general partners of partnerships and bear the "dab" of the partnership on their license. Salespeople must be licensed to the broker and the broker must retain possession of their licenses. Receptionists, switchboard and clerical personnel need not be licensed."
Section #2 of the Guidelines will be rewritten to reflect the language sited above.
10) Great guidelines! Can't wait until they are implemented. Thanks to all that worked on them!!!
11) Hi, I disapprove with #4. A filming day should be 14 hours, prep & wrap should be 12 hours, half days should be 6 hours & hold days @ $500. to $1500. per day; (no matter how many production staff are or are not on the property)! I am NOT on call, that is NOT part of MY service; nor a service that any real estate company I know of provides! This dose not mean I will not help-out after hours, but a good location manager should not be counting on it!
12)I hope you got my earlier e-mail. I feel these are fine. I just would like to see some wording about agents respecting other companies deals on properties they represent in common. I have had problems with agents trying to gain favor with homeowners by getting into negotiations between myself and other agencies. I prevailed, but I'd like to see it codified into a code of ethics or guidelines.
Please see the response in #2 above.
13) I don't think a real estate license is essential and I'll bet the services who wanted it already had a license. It's a bullshit thing that they can easily get around; they hire a person with the license and it's just business as usual. However, there are some good services that don't possess a real estate license. Personally, I don't think they deserve to be penalized for this.
Also, #4. "customary ? day rate" was this typo or am i unusually dense this morning? Thanks for all your efforts.
Although there is no typo in this section, it will be rewritten to clarify that 1/2day rates (or less) should be offered for prep and strike days.
14) Thank you for dealing with this. I am in agreement with all of the requirements and these are all among my original and normal practices. Tho only issue I have is that I don't remember any kind of vote on a 15 hour day. I will do my best to acquire 15 hour days on shoots however it seems out of line with the 12 hour film requirement that are the hours prescribed by the union on personnel. Please let me know your thoughts on this ASAP as I am leaving town tonite for the holiday weekend.
The requested 15-hour day requirement stems from the understanding that most permitting authorities issue filming permits based on the same time-frame, normally from 7AM -10PM.
15) thank you. looks good.
16) Comments on the guidelines are as follows:
Its great! However, my concern is in part 1 paragraph three, I think you should take the parenthesis out (part about informing willingly regarding other known aspects of a neighborhood) you should state emphatically that the services "will not knowingly withhold information concerning...." make it sound more proactive that they are responsible to provide such information. Other than that the guidelines are terrific!
The parenthesis you refer to will be removed.
17) I endorse these guidelines and hope they will come into wide use by all. Is there a copy of the "Post-filming checklist" available for review?
The Post-Filming Checklist is currently under development. It will be a one-page sheet designed to provide information which the Service, property owner, and future Location Professionals will find useful; suggestions for parking of cast, crew, and production vehicles; receptivity to filming by surrounding neighbors and/or businesses (including experiences with obtaining signatures); level of cooperation by HOA or merchant district groups, and the like.
18) I really wish there were some way that we (prod. co.) cld prevent the gouging from homeowners during strike. Granted, there are some ok homeowners but some shld be shot-twice. We seem to have no recourse and I wish Loc Services wld do more.
19) This sounds great. I hope all the services will sign up, and that we can make an effort to boycott those that do not.Location Services item #2 What "other lincenses" does this refer to?
The wording you refer to will be deleted. Please see the responses to comments #6 and #9 above.
20) The guidelines look great. I hope to see implementation of the guidelines especially that of "Services".
21) I think this is great. Good Luck!
22) You've done us all a good service in compiling these guidelines. They seem fine to me.
23) It looks like darn good starting point to me. Hopefully, this can be implemented soon and we can begin to make improvements...It would be nice to address a governing board for these guidelines once they settle in a bit. I am interested in knowing which services agree to these once you hear back. I expect you will notify us of the results. Thanks for all your work in completing this.
The effort for Services to create an association (with a self-governing board including Location Professionals), while temporarily shelved, it is not dead. More support for the formulation of such a board needs to be expressed by both parties if this is to happen.A strategy for developing a system which will reveal the support of the Guidelines on an on-going basis is currently being considered.
24)I like the above guidelines. I also liked the Teamsters Local 399 "Suggested" new rates for "KEY" assistants. My point however, when the above guidelines are not met, what then?
Guideline # 5 is an excellent example of how MOST Production companies get overcharged. I would need to see an actual previous paycheck from the building engineer, to know what his real pay rate is. Should a Production Company pay this employee, while he is on payroll, or if he is on extended hours, due to filming? Should he be on double time, or time and a half, as he starts his day? My thoughts are, this person is either currently on payroll, from his employer, or the production company is responsible to hire an additional person, at his regular rate.
I would add the following to the guidelines: "If any building employee is on the buildings timecard while a production company is using the building for prep, shoot, or strike, the production company shall not be charged. The production company will be charged for the buildings employee when his or her regular working hours are completed, and the production company is responsible for regular overtime hours. The producton company can request, for example, to pay for a building enginer, to remain with the production company at the production's expense." I would at times rather pay the full rate, and have a building enginer with the production at all times, rather than have the site rep tell me, "He had to run to one of his other buildings" when we need him most.
Most of the time, you can give a radio to the enginer, and he will be available. Sorry for the long post:
If an employee is getting paid, the production company should not have to also pay him. If we are paying him, the Location Service must have a copy of his current pay rate, with a copy of his paycheck, to verify, ONLY if asked.
Company can ask to hire exclusive building enginer, at his regular rate, if possible.
The wording used in part 1, #5 was crafted to address the issues you raise without getting too specific about how Services should structure and charge for their services. While debate on the issues you raise will always be provocative, the Guidelines are meant to be suggestive only. Ultimately, it is up to the Services/property owner to determine their fees. And in turn, it will be left to the Location Professional/production company's discretion as to whether they are willing to frequent those Services based on those fees.
The Guidelines are best understood when considered in its totality, and not necessarily section by section. Many of the important issues you raise, for example, are addressed only by considering collectively parts 1, sections 3b, 4-6, and part 2, section 6. I realize that this may seem convoluted, but I know of no other way short of completely restructuring the Guidelines. Any volunteers?
25) ******Locations is in complete support of all the Guideines herein listed,
especially because we already follow all of these guidelines & always have. It
does seem a shame, though, that a document must be drawn up just to have
people follow basic rules of ethics & business. I do have 2 questions: 1. What is the responsibility of the Loc. Professional when photo files are lost or returned to the wrong service? 2. What purpose does it serve that the Loc. Professional must reveal the source of their location? The source of a location should not affect the decision whether a location is used or not, unless there is something illegal invol
I only request that a reasonable fee be charged if a location file is lost or the company has the right to re-shoot the location for the service, if no negatives can be found and duplicated and pasted up by person or company losing the file.
Policies regarding the responsibility of the Location Professional for lost or damaged photo files are dictated by each individual Service. The issue is normally handled in the fashion you suggested above.
Regarding the second issue you raise, that section will be deleted from the Guidelines.
26) I think these are terrific. Perhaps my comment is not appropos for the purposes of these guidelines, but I've run into difficulties with location service contracts - not difficulties really, but the fact that they are inflexible about signing studio contracts unless they are made "subordinate" to their own. ***********'s contract is quite good, and so is ****'s, but the process of getting them "vetted" by legal departments in time to have a stress-free signing has given me hiccups now and then. Appreciate your effort, and am always looking for referrals to those in need of quality location management!
27) The guidelines look great to me. I couldn't vote online as I had a computer problem, but chalk one more vote up in favor of proceeding full speed ahead.
28) Bob, sorry the files we pulled didn't fill the bill for the series, maybe next time. Still haven't been able to get to the LP Guidelines all I get is Marino's web site? Am I doing something wrong? Please advise.
29) Well done! Id sign my name to it as it is!
30) Excellent work Bob, you've done a truly amazing job detailing and solving every potential problem I've encountered. The only reason that I've chosen to delay this submission is that I don't actively manage anymore (hence I would have had to abstain). I'm concerned that some smaller services may not be able to meet such labor intensive guidelines. I wholeheartedly support idealistic spirit of this effort, but question the practical implementation of such rules. Who would oversee and enforce the measures once they were in place? What body would govern disputes over a breach in the guidelines?
Please see response to #23.
Except for the provisions required under the California Business and Professions Code governing actions of real estate brokers and agents, there is no one or body authorized to enforce the provisions nor govern disputes with regards to any section of the Guidelines. The Guidelines are meant to be suggestive only. Violations of real estate law can be reported to the CDRE. Additionally, internal disputes between Services themselves, or unethical business practices of Services, can be addressed through a local real estate Board to which most brokers belong.
It is ultimately up to each individual Location Professional and Location Service to determine if violations/disputes warrant the ultimate penalty aside from legal action; the refusal to conduct business again with that person or company. In the small world our segment of the industry lives, this alone can have significant long-term implications.
31) Hi Bob, #4. A filming day should be (14) hours.
Prep. & Wrap, (12) hours. "1/2 days" (6) hours : property owners & location services alwase get burned on "1/2 days", many property owners & services will nolonger offer "1/2 days" because they ALWAYS get abused! HOLD days need to be spelled out in the terms of the contract in advance aswell. If a production takes time off during a project they MUST still pay rent: if I go on vacation I can't call the bank and ask them to discount my payment because I will not be there!?
#10. Location service people do not have time off between projects, there service is running everyday, year after year. NO-ONE,(friends or family) will ever be able to contact me or my service "at all times"; I / WE, HAVE A LIFE! Also keep in mind that the fact of the matter is that only about 30% of ALL Location Managers have a professional level of competency, ( 30% is a very generous number )!!!
Thank You & Good Luck
32) In paragraph #8, if I understand it properly, there is a demand that services not solicite locations while there is either filming or negotiating going on. It may be difficult for services to do that in situations where filming occurs frequently. I understand that this may have come from a location manager having a location tell a property owner that they could get a better deal for them in the middle of negotiations, ruining the deal for the Location Manager. I believe there needs to be something said to stop this but the wording of this paragraph will make it difficult for the services to accept
This section (#8) will be rewritten, applying a somewhat more reasonable approach to this issue.
33) Bob: Great idea, but how do you enforce it? It's up to the Manager, in my view, to get a timely follow-up, and to run a tight location (at least, that's how I do it). The Services that want to help out do, but mostly they see/talk to a location when the photos are pulled, and that's it. They don't know about the neighbors. Can you MAKE them find out? OK. I'm all for it. But I'm not holding my breath. ***************does a pretty good job (they're mostly businesses, so they have guidelines). But the "home" services? They don't know doodly. One of them showed me a house, we sold the director, and THEN found out the neighbor was again filming and almost dinged the deal (on ******, in ********). They just don't know, or don't care to know about the problems. And the homeowners are such pigs, they don't tell you either. So that's my take. Good work. Hope it can be made to work.
Please see response to comment #30 above.
34) I really like what I see. It might burden some to become real estate agents, as I think that requires school and degree. I realy appreciate seeing the rules for production co.s as well. The services are not just what needs controling here. I just hope the services agree to to this. It's pretty strict, and they will fuss and sream over thier bread and butter...OVER TIME. But- in retrospect, it will be nice to see some of these jerks put in thier place! my 2cents worth!
35) too wordy too officious.
need to be much more succint less like legal jargon,.
Because all we are discussing here is good business sense and professionalism.
Currently i think a waste of paper.
36) A lot of work went into this - good for you. I've been in San Diego for a while now, but started at ***********many years ago. Wasn't the EIDC going to get involved in this or was it 399? Anyway, congratulations. I think this site is terrific
37) First of all thank you for sending us your proposed guidelines. I've written to this matter in the past, however, as some of your guidelines have changed there impact, so must our comments.
1. This is a request we would hope you would expect from a "service" company. I think our reputation and reference list speaks for itself in this regard as our compliance and agreement is 100% on this point.
2. This is a tricky point to inact. Should we flip the coin and say every location manager that should come into our office be in good standing as a teamster? In reality a real estate license is and can be a definite plus to run this type of real estate oriented company. However, a mandate is not appropriate. You as the location manager, are the customer. Our success or failure is based on your support and patronage. I fail to see how this type of regulation assists you in pricing and obtaining the appropriate knowledge you need to consistently do your job. Bottom line, if you don't think the service is going to do the job, just don't do business with them.
The requirement for Location Services to be licensed by the CDRE is California law (see response to #6 above). It is, as you say, left to the Location Professional's discretion as to whether or not a Service's compliance with this law makes a difference one way or another. However, everyone endorsing the provisions of the Guidelines need to know the requirement exists before they can make that determination, hence the reference in part I, section #2.
3. We do everything in our power to know everything possible about a potential filming location.
4. We as a service can negotiate on your behalf only with the information you provide us with. Each location deal is a negotiation, as is everything when it comes to money between two people. Stills, Film, TV, from big budgets to small. Bottom line it's different for a homeowner when they have 75 people in there home that aren't paying attention or 25 people who are. We try to keep consistency with homeowners, even with competing agencies raising prices on locations. This is our largest obstacle in blanketing a rate or hours on a filming location...it just depends.
5. Our agency charges based on what is agreed to by Production and the
homeowner. It's that simple.
6. This is standard part of our service. Fairness being the magic word.
7. ***************works for each and every production that solicits our
help for free. We commission from the gross billing of the location rental each and every time. I can't count the number of jobs we've spent days of hard work and large amounts of our working capital on, only to never see a dime from the effort. You seem to forget this. The location manager is paid no matter what happens. We roll the dice on being paid every time you call.
No one having any knowledge of how businesses work in general could argue with the opinions you expressed here. However, this section is not meant to address the issues you mention, but rather to make sure that Services understand that production, being a business as well, is obligated to pay a Service only after it has offered those services which lead to the procurement of the represented property for filming.
8. In reality this is completely unenforceable. Whether it's good business or not, practiced or not. I fail to see how valid consideration can be defined. As a location manager, every location I've ever seen could be construed as a "considered" location.
This words "including under valid consideration" in this section will be deleted.
9. The only service we will point any location professional towards is **********. This is the only service that has exhibited any integrity whatsoever in our experience. But to each his own. Some people would swear by a service that I find despicable.
10. This is of course a necessary part of our industry. Especially while in negotiations for a rental.
You have our support on what you are trying to accomplish. You also have our
support on many of the guidelines that you have outlined for both ******Locations as well as the other services in town. We wish you the best in your efforts to make filming in Los Angeles more expedient for all of us.
38)Looks Great,hope we can get some of the services to follow. Could make things a lot more pleasant.