Pro Bono or Bust

A while back, Danny Stack posted about working pro bono. It was, of course, an excellent piece – a case for being careful, weighing up the risk, and going in with your eyes open.

I’m with the New Zealand Writers Guild – “no writer should work for nothing”, particularly if you’re already a professional writer.

The following came to mind when I read Mr Stack’s post: casting director Di Rowan – who introduced the world to Anna Paquin and Keisha Castle-Hughes – said in an interview with Onfilm:

“[People] say to me, “Could you just cast this one part? And you’re not going to charge me, are you?” That puts me in a terrible position. I feel like saying, “Hang on a minute, I’ve got a builder here at the moment, I’ll just ask him if he’ll do this day for free and if he says yes, I’ll do your day for free as well.”

Hell, yeah.

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2 Replies to “Pro Bono or Bust”

  1. Hi, I’ve been enjoying your blog for a month or so now. Very interesting reading. This particular post, “Pro Bono or Bust”, is relevant to me. As a “new” writer, there is no way I would hsve been able to be paid from the get-go. I have used the last year to pound the keyboard in as many forms as possible and have managed to secure an unpaid column in my local paper (which now has a sponsor and I get a paid a few dollars!), and am now onboard with an online business publication – and being paid.

    I realise that you are referring to professional writers, and I am a professional marketing consultant by trade, but sometimes you do need to do something for nothing, if only to get your name known!

    Looking forward to continued reading of your blog.

    Helen Leggatt
    A Brit in the Boonies

  2. thanks for your kind words, Helen.

    i agree that sometimes unpaid writing must be done in order to get some work down the track. i’ve done my share – or, as Mr Friedman nicely put it, less than many but more than some – but what galls me is the expectation that i will just do the writing and trust that ‘we’ll sort out some payment later’. (thus i have a manager who gets to say, “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”)

    that’s not to say i won’t open up the laptop without the sniff of a contract – i’ve worked on projects gratis because they’ve turned me on, and been glad to.

    oh, and the blog where i get to ‘witter’.

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