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Editing Kingpin Asiong Salonga 2011_Payment Through Progress Billing_A Joke or What?

August 6, 2011

Editing Tikoy Aguiluz’s Asiong Salonga 2011 is NOT my first film editing assignment. In fact, I have edited all his feature films produced by Viva Films, Neo Films and other production companies. But this is the first time ever that I heard of getting paid as film editor following the progress billing policy. To quote the line producer: ” I have to assess the percentage of accomplishment wid the viewing.” OMG!!! If that is so, then percentage wise, I should get paid for 75% of the work already done by now because I have finished editing all the sequences that are in the studio except what I call the appendix scenes or sequences that are not in the final script. And they were already previewed by Gov. Jeorge and Tikoy. Surely, it is most favorable because I am going to finish with the editing in a couple of weeks— if things run smoothly. They were still shooting yesterday I heard, and the footage from the remaining three-day shoot including the remnant shots will account for the rest of the film materials to be edited.

PROGRESS BILLING—that was my first time to hear it being applied by a film production company!!! What was my reaction? The same as when I was asked to sign an attendance sheet when I went to Pagsanjan to work with Tikoy and the writer on the script timeline. He!he! I did not report for an office work, right? So, what was that for? Besides, I did not go there to work as film editor. I worked on the timeline, helped put structure to the story, and worked on storyboards. Did I get paid for that extra work? No!!!

How can producers ever quantify the amount of overtime efforts being exerted by film industry workers? Most of them do not see that…Only the actors and actresses are the apples of their eyes! They do not realize that the littlest jobs on the set and in all phases of production should all be given weight. All should be treated equally except of course those who are not performing their duty properly. Because a film cannot be what it should be without all those people behind the camera.

Weekly payment is the standard operating procedure by established production companies that I know of and familiar with, so I was expecting the same SOP. But no! I have to make a request to be paid for what I am doing. Isn’t that the duty and responsibility of any producer to pay when they should be? Is it because the contract has not yet been given to me? Or, is it the very reason why that contract is being held anyway?

Contract or no contract, I am doing my work professionally, so I demand no less than what I should be compensated for. I am not a simple cutter. I am a film editor who uses my brain creatively to juggle shots so as to put order and sense to thousands of unedited clips, doing ‘surgical works’ at times because of continuity problems, trying to save even sequences to avoid reshoot [the original OBB is an example], and really making the best out of the footage handed to us. Tikoy need not sit with me in the editing room because he knows that I will do the best for the film. His film is also my film, and our film belongs to all the people involved in its making and the audience the film is intended for. It doesn’t belong to the producers alone. Their proprietary and economic rights are there but intellectually they cannot own ever the creative artist’s contributions—whether in front or behind the camera.

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