A junior photographer named Eskay Seah took to her Facebook on 19 June (Wednesday) to disclose the horrible experience that she went through with a producer called Sha Ali from Ignasia Incorporated Pte Ltd who failed to pay her for a freelance gig despite her constant chasing for over four months.
It all started in February this year when Ms Seah was recruited by a Production Manager named Noel (not the real name) to be a Production Assistant (PA) for a pilot TV episode for about two weeks.
Although she was hired for one role, but she ended up taking three roles with a lowered rate (S$120/day instead of S$150/day) as she needs the money. She also attributed it to goodwill as she thought Mr Ali “would better invest the money to create a good enough episode to pitch to a local broadcasting channel to expand into a series”.
During the shoot, she was asked to assist the art department and cast for extras. These were the two additional roles that she took on as she noticed the lack of manpower and expertise in the team. If that was not all, she was also asked to take BTS (behind the scenes) footage, cancel extras at the last minute, cast additional talents on-the-go, while still help out with production.
She also stated that she was managing 16+ extras on her own, and Mr Ali was not encouraging at all as he once “jokingly” said that he would not pay her if she does not gather all the extras at the holding area when he calls for them.
With all the mistreatments that she received, she noted that she decided that she finally had it when Mr Ali said that he only needs to pay an extra, who was upgraded to a supporting actress, S$30 for three hours of shoot, which is a rate that is way below average.
“We only need her for 3 hours tomorrow, just pay her $30 can already’ and that we should give her full payment the next day so she wouldn’t MIA. Ooh…did my blood boil,” explained Ms Seah.
She added, “I also talked to Noel about raising my pay back up to $150/day, to which she assured me will be taken care of. I emailed my invoice to her as requested and thought all of this bullshit would end on my last day, 15 February 2019.”
As expected, Ms Seah’s ordeal didn’t end there and she listed down the daily events that she went through chasing Mr Ali for her payment of S$922.
In her post, Ms Seah also noted that the main reason why she shared her experience to all as she believed that it was about time that people in the local film industry voice out the unethical practices that exist in the industry.
“You SHOULD BE paying your cast and crew the amount they deserve, not any lower than a student job.“But not everyone gets paid fairly.” Yeah, but does that make things right? Poverty, starvation, violence and political corruption are common too, shall we just leave them as they are? Hell no. If I can be the voice for the voiceless, I will,” she wrote.
Although individuals who are new in the creative industry will take tasks that do not fall under their role solely out of courtesy or fear of developing a bad reputation in the industry, but Ms Seah said that it took her “a few productions over the span of 2 years to realise that she can’t afford to be stupid” anymore.
As such, she warned other to make sure they “request for a contract”, “discuss your pay upfront”, “be bold” and “say no to picking up extra roles unless you are compensated for it”.
She also highlighted that she still loves filmmaking, but hates how most of the industry work and it being “toxically competitive”.
Three days after her first post was published, on 22 June (Saturday), Ms Seah updated in another Facebook post that Mr Ali finally paid her the remaining S$322 after four months since the TV shoot ended.
“Thank you Ali for finally following through with your promise, and for not MIA. Our chase ends here,” she expressed.