The Born Freelancer on Producing Your Radio Drama Script

This series of posts by the Born Freelancer shares personal experiences and thoughts on issues relevant to freelancers. Have something to add to the conversation? Your input is welcome in the comments.

 

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Some time ago I wrote about the challenges and benefits of writing a radio drama script, especially for those who had never previously considered it. My posts dealt with researching the genre and writing the script.

Ideally, you will have submitted your script to any number of independent production companies or international public broadcasters for possible purchase. Sadly, our own CBC Radio has abandoned its historic role as Canada’s first national theatre by eliminating drama from its schedule as a result of draconian budget cuts.

But what if your script has not sold? Why not bring it to life yourself for the world to hear?

Aside from the satisfaction of hearing your words properly enacted, such a process will give you additional skills and experience, exposure and promotion of your brand and an exciting example of your creativity which you can use to help find future work.

Today I propose to outline the process of producing your own script on a “one-off” basis at little or no cost (assuming you have little or no money to do so).

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Posted on February 27, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , , ,

Peter Smoczynski on independent filmmaking, risk, and the value of a freelancers’ union

DSC01400by Rachel Sanders

 

Peter Smoczynski says that joining the Canadian Media Guild’s freelance branch was a turning point in the production of his latest film.

“I didn’t feel I was alone anymore,” he says.

Although the Ottawa-based filmmaker has spent the majority of his 40-year career working independently, it was a relief to have the union behind him this time around. When you’re taking on the government, after all, it’s good to have some support.

His new film “Election Day in Canada: When Voter Suppression Comes Calling” explores the 2011 election Robocalls scandal. Smoczynski is pushing to get it finished in time for the 2015 federal election.

“It’s a really tough way to make a living,” Smoczynski says of independent filmmaking. He cites an article that ran in the Globe and Mail last spring that outlines many of the challenges.

Except at CBC, he says, rates for documentary filmmaking haven’t gone up in 25 years. Competition is fierce and independent studios have to squeeze every dollar they can out of their budgets. But although it’s a tough go for all independent filmmakers, a project like Smoczynski’s has an even harder time.

“The deck, financially, is stacked against somebody like me who is making a film like this. Who is outside the box,” he told Story Board during a recent phone interview.
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Posted on February 24, 2015 at 10:38 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer Feb 18-23

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, publishing, and freelancing—with a Canadian focus—and share them in Off the Wire. Who needs a water cooler?

 

From Canada:

 

From The U.S. and beyond:

 

Last week on Story Board:

 

Spot a story you think we should include in next week’s Off the Wire? Email the link to editor@thestoryboard.ca or tweet us at @storyboard_ca.      

Posted on February 23, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Why does a freelancer’s copyright matter?

by Rachel Sanders

In the wake of our recent post about a contract dispute between a group of freelancers and the non-profit broadcaster Accessible Media Inc., it seems like a good time for a refresher on the topic of copyright and moral rights.

As a freelancer, why should you protect your copyright? What are moral rights, anyway? How might these issues affect you? We turned to some of the Canadian Media Guild’s resident experts to explain.

 

WHY PROTECT YOUR COPYRIGHT?

CMG Freelance branch president Don Genova urges freelancers to try and preserve their copyright whenever possible. Your ideas, after all, are your bread and butter.

“Ownership of our work is money in our pockets,” says Genova.

“All the hard work we do in creating a product should not be simply ‘given away’ to a publisher or commissioner because they insist on it.”

At the same time, he says, remember that if you sell a story and the publisher demands copyright, the copyright exists “only on that particular set of words that gets published.”
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Posted on February 20, 2015 at 10:41 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

President of NPAC decries Black Press newspaper’s call for volunteer photographers

by Rachel Sanders

Stories about the devaluing of photojournalism are all too common these days, but it’s still shocking when things hit a new low. When John Lehmann, president of the News Photographers Association of Canada, heard that a newspaper in Victoria was advertising for volunteer photographers to cover weekend events, he found the news jaw-dropping. Even more so, he says, when he learned that the Black Press-owned Victoria News had recently laid off its staff photographer.

The Black Press-owned publication posted their advertisement on February 3rd and it soon attracted the attention of other media outlets. Vancouver CBC Radio host Stephen Quinn tweeted about it and CKNW reported on it the next day. The Victoria News took the ad down soon after CKNW contacted them for comment (here’s a cached version).

Lehmann says that using unpaid photographers has serious implications for media outlets. First of all, he says, there are ethical considerations. Trained photojournalists learn about journalistic ethics both in school and during job training.

“You have to be honest in your storytelling, that’s really one of the basic foundations of journalism. So if we’re going out into the workforce to look for volunteers, we don’t know: what is their credibility? Where have they come from? What’s their instructional background? Who are they working for?”

Quality, says Lehmann, is another reason media outlets should be hiring professionals for their photography. The NPPA recently did a study that demonstrated that photographs taken by professionals are more likely to be appreciated and shared by readers. But it’s not just readers who are affected by a publication’s quality.
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Posted on February 18, 2015 at 11:49 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer Feb 10-17

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, publishing, and freelancing—with a Canadian focus—and share them in Off the Wire. Who needs a water cooler?

 

From Canada:

 

From The U.S. and beyond:

 

Last week on Story Board:

  • Toronto freelancer goes the distance to pursue non-paying client: Most freelancers have had to deal with it at some point in their careers – a client who is slow to process invoices, or, worse, one that’s deliberately avoiding paying their contractors. Chasing down a paycheque can be frustrating, humiliating and damaging to your productivity…

 

Spot a story you think we should include in next week’s Off the Wire? Email the link to editor@thestoryboard.ca or tweet us at @storyboard_ca.      

Posted on February 17, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Toronto freelancer goes the distance to pursue non-paying client

Most freelancers have had to deal with it at some point in their careers – a client who is slow to process invoices, or, worse, one that’s deliberately avoiding paying their contractors. Chasing down a paycheque can be frustrating, humiliating and damaging to your productivity.

Sometimes it seems easier to just give up on that long-unpaid invoice and chalk the lost income up to experience. Is it really worth all the time and energy necessary to track down late payment?

Toronto corporate communications writer and marketing consultant Flavian DeLima thinks it is. Over the past three years he has spent considerable time and energy pursuing payment for work he did in 2011. The chase took him to court in Ontario to litigate against a European company in Oslo, Norway that refused to pay what they owed him.

DeLima understands why many writers decide not to pursue delinquent clients, but he wants to share the story of his legal victory for the benefit of freelancers who are considering taking legal action themselves.

 
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Posted on February 11, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · One Comment · Tagged with: , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer Feb 3-9

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, publishing, and freelancing—with a Canadian focus—and share them in Off the Wire. Who needs a water cooler?

 

From Canada:

From The U.S. and beyond:

 

Last week on Story Board:

 

Spot a story you think we should include in next week’s Off the Wire? Email the link to editor@thestoryboard.ca or tweet us at @storyboard_ca.      

Posted on February 9, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

The Born Freelancer on Striving For Perfection

This series of posts by the Born Freelancer shares personal experiences and thoughts on issues relevant to freelancers. Have something to add to the conversation? Your input is welcome in the comments. bornfreel2

 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the relationship between those ideas which inspire me most and the monumental task of transforming them into reality. Try as I might, my ideas are almost always better than the projects they engender. Therein lies the dilemma of most creative activity.

Every original undertaking I have ever worked on, or ever hope to work on, begins with an outline in my mind of its idealized qualities. It may suddenly pop into blurry focus (if inspiration hits) or may evolve and slowly start to make sense, like tuning in an old shortwave radio station amidst distracting static and background noise.

When it enters my mind I can almost immediately tell if it is something I actually want to work on. I always feel the excitement of a new worthwhile concept running through my veins like an addictive drug.

In this embryonic state my idea (if it seems any good) exists as The Ideal. It’s perfect! So much so that it is impossible to stop myself from compulsively writing down random notes to eventually help me bring it to life as accurately as possible. It could be an idea for print, or broadcast, or yes, even a blog!

But if I am to actively pursue it – and not just nurse it along as a pleasant daydream – there comes a moment of truth when I realize I must turn The Ideal into something readily attainable.

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Posted on February 6, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

Radio freelancers battle for copyright

by Rachel Sanders

In the two and a half years since I’ve been the editor of Story Board, I’ve posted all kinds of news and opinion pieces about negotiations and disputes over freelance contracts.

The contracts in question have come from a wide variety of media outlets — ranging from Canada Wide Media, to the Toronto Star, to TC Media. But none of them ever directly affected me.

With the way freelance contracts have been changing, though, it was bound to happen sometime.

This fall, Accessible Media Inc., a non-profit broadcaster that I’d been freelancing for, came to me with a new contract. Suddenly I was involved with a group of other radio freelancers in a negotiation over copyright and intellectual property.

You can read details about our contract stand-off in this post on Rabble.

Posted on February 4, 2015 at 2:46 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,