I was asked to work on a “passion project” (free) fan film about a DC Comic Character. When I asked if that was legal, they assured me that it was as long as they didn’t make any money off of it. The lead actor would be one of the Professors from the local community college. Since I wasn’t working on anything at the time, I agreed.
I thought it would be fun.
We shot the entire film and had a good time. It came time for me to start on the Visual Effects. They were very cool about me working on them when I could since I was not getting paid.
I worked on them for a few days when I got a call to work on a paid film. I gladly accepted and left to work on this film for a few weeks.
I then get an email from the lead actor of the DC Passion Project.
Client: Hey, I was wondering if I could get any of those visual effects shots you’ve been working on for my acting reel.
Me: Hi there. The only shots I have done are ones that you’re not in yet. I haven’t gotten to yours yet since I am working a few weeks on a paid gig. I’ll get to them when I return, though.
Client: How could you be so unprofessional! That’s exactly the kind of excuse I would expect from a student! These are the big leagues! Get it together!
Me: I told you, I’m working on a paid gig. I’m not getting paid for your project and the director told me I could take my time on the shots. Plus, I’ve never been one of your students and never will be so don’t talk to me like I am. It’s very unprofessional for an actor to demand products from the artists. Why do you need Eefects shots for your acting reel anyways? You can’t even see your face in the shots.
Client: When you make a million dollar paycheck, THEN you can tell me what to do! You’re burning a big bridge here!
Me: If you’re making a million dollar paycheck, why are you teaching at a Community College and acting in Student films for free? I can’t just drop paid work to work on your demo reel.
I then received many emails full of cussing and swearing and threats.
I went to the director and told him about his actor’s behavior. The director said he’d talk to him. I told the director that I wouldn’t be finishing the project because of the actor.
The next day the Actor sent me more emails cussing and calling me a tattle-tale and I would never work in the industry again. He’d make sure of it. He then blocked me on Facebook. The project also received a Cease and Desist from DC Comics shortly after I quit.
To this day, I’ve worked on very high budget films and have moved on to huge companies. He’s still teaching at a community college, acting in Student Films.