You should probably just pay them.
It’s a simple concept. People work for you, you pay them.
Freebies I’ve done, and what it’s gained me:
- My first job, I got hired as an intern but they paid me because they had a ton of money or something (duno, it was in Philly) (they’re actually nice down there)
- My first music video, I got some free pizza. The job was stupid and run by guys who barely knew how to organize a shoot. Lasting memory was the Executive Producer traveling between units on his bicycle.
- My first feature, by the guy who later went on to make Precious. I almost lost my mind several times. It totally turned me off from the idea of working on features. I also started drinking coffee on that job.
- My first independent feature (okay, second because the other feature had a 2nd tier budget). It was basically a bunch of New York production assistants getting together to shoot a film, two weeks of which they shot in Philadelphia where I met them. They invited me to New York to help them finish and then helped me get paying work afterwards.
- The job I worked at Rikers Island last Monday and Tuesday. I just wanted to see what was inside the prison. I’m still trying to figure out what the fuck I experienced. Certain highlights included joking around with the corrections officers, having a panic attack because of the close quarters encountered within, and driving a suspicious looking truck through an extremely secured location.
I’d make jokes about all the time I got stiffed overtime but that would severely depress me at this point.
I think if they are doing all the proper internship paperwork for credit hours, then an unpaid internship is fine… but only when the supervisor works with the college or university to provide a truly educational experience in exchange for credit hours. That’s how college works.
Grunt work for free? No. Never acceptable.