for work as a media freelancer. Now you have the precarity of an unstable economic
recession added to the mix. There were many freelancers in the time span of developing
this dissertation project that went back to school, secured a full-time job, developed their
own creative projects, and others that have held off retirement and continue to work at a
frenetic, exhausting pace. Bill Cavanaugh, an audio engineer at RazorMix, acknowledges
that the risk has always been there but it is increasing in media:
The fact of the matter is that there’s always been a risk and the risk is increasing in
this business. If you work for a company you don’t see the risk elements because
you have a steady paycheck. You don’t see the elephant charging until the boss
comes in and says I’m laying you off. You’re not ready for it. I have to be the guy
that chases down the money without pissing the client off and keeping it friendly. I
know what the true financials are. I did a job in December and they didn’t pay me
until May. So that becomes an issue. You have to chase the work down, do the
work, and then you have to chase the money down.
Jimi izrael, a freelance writer for nationally recognized publications including Essence
magazine, echoes the frustration of waiting for money:
I’m trying to get $750 right now (July 2010) from Essence magazine for a piece
that didn’t run last year. They put you through so much bureaucracy because they
don’t want to pay you. You run into that with big companies. They have
paperwork you have to fill out and these hoops you have to jump through
because they don’t want to pay you.
Alan McElroy, a Hollywood screenwriter, describes the limbo of living in the space where
the work is finished, you’ve been paid, and you’re not sure if and when the project you
created will come to life while still worrying about when the next job will appear:
I have nothing in production. Everything is on the five-yard line and nothing is
getting across the goal. If twenty-five years ago, I said to myself guess what in
2010 you’re going to have a project you sold in a bidding war with 20th Century Fox
with an Oscar-winning screenwriter said to direct. You’ve got a script at Screen
Gems and the president of production said it was his favorite script and he was
calling about it. You’ve got an NBC pilot. A Fox Television studio pilot. Everything
is in position and guess what? You’re not making any money. I’ve been paid to
write everything. Everything is sitting in limbo and the clock is rolling. Nothing new
is being generated. All those things are paid up. So you would automatically think
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