Ugly side of S’pore showbiz (Part 2)

An actor friend of mine just complained to me about getting screwed over by a production house.

He was offered $500 to act in a live event for a well-known MNC. The event is handled by a quite prominent production house run by a quite prominent individual. My friend accepted the offer and blocked the date for the job.

Three days later, the producer called to say that the fee has become $200.

Of course, my friend protested. How can $500 become $200??

The producer said he had thought he would be able to get that amount, but it turned out that he wasn’t able to.

A pretty lame excuse, if you ask me. My friend tried to negotiate. The producer said $250 tops, no higher.

Since my friend had already blocked the date and turned down other jobs for this job, he decided to take what he can get. He said he’d accept $250 on the condition that he’s paid on the day of the event.

The producer agreed.

Later, another phone call. The producer told my friend that he was going to hire someone else and that my friend wasn’t needed anymore, thank you.


I ask you. What are the little people to do?

29 thoughts on “Ugly side of S’pore showbiz (Part 2)

  1. Avatar

    My advice: Sign contracts with no get-out clause. You book me, you pay me. End of story. One person doesn’t do it then sue them through small claims court and make them an example.

    It worked for me… One magazine didn’t want to pay so I faxed them a copy of the documents for submission to the Small Claims court. They sent a cheque over to me that day.

  2. Avatar

    Throwing tantrums unexpectedly works wonder man. Pouting and sucking the thumbs are extra points :)

    By the way your blog is such a good read that you leave me no choice but to link you up :P

    Once I figured out the HTML thingy first that is haha :D! All the best!

  3. Avatar


    Some people are just pure evil! These people just make me mad. But what goes around, comes around! Evil will bite them back soon…..

  4. Avatar

    1 comment: If you are a nobody, people can treat you like dirt. May not happen in showbiz. Can happen in anything else!

    Who doesn’t want the cheapest just to get a job done? If I can find someone to do a job as good as you can for less than what I originally offered, why not?

    Survival of the fittest….

  5. Avatar

    one thing i’ve learned and heard repeatedly over and over is to get everything down in black and white. Everything comes down to paper…
    i guess there are dark sides to practically everything in the world.

  6. Avatar

    this is ridiculous. spread his name through the blogosphere. make his name “smelly”. How can people don’t honor their words in the first place. This really sucks

  7. Avatar

    I agree with Jesta. Get everything in writing and GET AN AGENT. Those are the most important things you can do right out of the gate. With the way the world economy is right now, producers are going to find the best actor for the lowest fee. That’s a sad fact, but no one is funding entertainment right now.
    It’s all about the money and these production houses are going to push it as far as they can.

  8. Avatar

    Coolanta: I would agree with you except that the cheapest is usually the worst, and if they make and agreement then they should stick with it. If their case is: I want you to bid for my project and I’ll choose the cheapest quote” then it’s fine. But if their case is: “I’ll book you for $500 and then see how low you will go when you are desperate” then they are bottom-feeding scum.

    The bottom line is that, in the artistic world of Singapore, quality is not appreciated – only cost.

    And THAT leads to the old saying: You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

    And THAT leads us to the current state of our newspapers, magazines and TV…

  9. Avatar

    Metal Chains – $15
    Heavy duty padlocks – $12
    1 can of Kerosene – $10

    Watching the production house and the producer goes up in flames – Priceless….

    Lifetime jail – Consequence.

  10. Avatar

    Hmmm. I remember a line from the Animaniacs opening song

    “we’re Ani-ma-niaaacs, we’ve got Pay or Play contracts!”

    Sounds like you and your brethren need to carry these around whenever you deal with these production houses…

    And make sure EVERYONE carries them so they can’t say they won’t hire you if you one. That won’t work if EVERYONE has them!

  11. Avatar

    how come got this kind of people wan. Don’t keep their words. only thing you can do is remember his name and refuse to work with him in future and put his name everywhere you can find in the forum or stomp

  12. Avatar

    Jesta: Most deals are done over the phone, sometimes by email, so how can a contract be signed on the spot? It would also look badly on one if one were to rush down to a production house bearing a contract the moment a job has promised over the phone. Right? One would also incur a mountain of taxi debts.

    Mince Pye: Yeah.

    modchip: Sadly, life isn’t that simple.

    Miss Loi: lol. It’s a tempting thought, but no thanks.


    A Suspicious Man: Eh… throwing tantrums and pouting and sucking thumbs only work for 3-year-olds. I’m flattered that you think I’m not young… but… no. Hehe.

    Thanks for the compliments and the link, though!

    Ashtar83: Haha. Yeah. I wonder, were people really more honourable in the past?

    Monster: We can only hope.

    Coolanta: You are very right. Not only in showbiz. Everywhere. Nobodies get nowhere.

    tstar: Yeah, contracts are important, but in some cases like this, it’s not possible to execute. Who signs contracts on the spot one? Even in regular job interviews, you might go through a few rounds, then they finally call you to tell you that you’re in. And then they take a few days or a week to prepare the contract, THEN they ask you go down to sign, right? Within that few days or a week, it’s still possible for them to go back on their words.

    suzie: I can’t, because I still want to work in the industry.

    Kenny: Yup.

    Tianhong: I can’t. Refer two lines above. :P

    Mike M: Please read my response to Jesta and tstar with regards to contracts. As for agents, I WANT to have an agent, but no agent would have me. I’m talking about proactive representation. Not just being in a talent agency. You might as well ask me to star in a blockbuster and be a movie star. I want to, but I can’t because no one’s giving me the chance.

    In fact, I AM in a prominent company which does productions as well as artiste management. They were supposed to help me get jobs and negotiate pay for me. But they sent me to a few castings (which were also publicly advertised so I didn’t need them for that even), and then nothing. Have not heard from them for yonks. That’s agents in Singapore for you. :P

    Jason Ho: If I ever quit showbiz, then maybe I will name names. :P

    The Goonfather: Talk – redundant.

    abraxis: What the heck is Animaniacs? lol. Hey, you know, if I had the power to make sure EVERYONE carries an Animaniac, whatever that is, I would rather use that power to make sure EVERYONE starts being professional and stops undercharging and spoiling the market. :P

    JokeDiary: Actually, there are tons more of chao kuan production houses and producers in Singapore. Many of them are well-known leaders in the field. I have no choice but to work with them, or it will be as good as quitting because I won’t get work otherwise. :P

  13. Avatar

    I mentioned to our mutual friend when he was talking to me about it that the first amount was actually quite good cos he wasnt represented by an agent.

    Ironically, it came back to bite him in the ass.

    This is one of the times when a union can help. Having agents can help to a certain degree, but one can always go to another agency. Problem is our industry here still isnt matured enough to support a union. When you are short of cash and work, someone offers you a job at below union rates, are you gonna take it or starve?

    Thats reality. Notice QY has given up b**tching about being short changed already. =P

  14. Avatar

    I meant to say that everyone in your field of work should carry around Pay or Play Contracts when agreeing to a gig. Assuming they’re legal under Singapore law, of cors.

    The Animaniacs reference was made because in their opening song, there’s that line that specifically refers to Pay or Play contracts. And there’s only three of them so if they were to go with all your actor frens, they’d be pretty busy.

    Here’s a YouTube of some of their better bits. They’re very script intensive and very fast.

  15. Avatar

    While most deals are done on the phone, I’d say that a fax (or scanned PDF) would work pretty well to get things signed.
    You agree, I send my contract you sign, scan and email back to me.
    That would work…

  16. Avatar

    chong: *clap clap clap* You should comment in my blog more often. Don’t be a miser! :P

    abraxis: Haha, ok. But like I said, most agreements are made over the phone, so it won’t help, either. :P

    Jesta: I suppose that works.

    modchip: Well, of course one has to try. But I believe now that trying does diddly squat. Ok, maybe it does 5%. The rest is all just random.

  17. Avatar

    ask the ppl who book u to email the details agreed upon if the contract cant be signed. once there’s communication btw parties of the conditions set for the agreement and acceptance of the conditions set upon it, it’s a valid contract, verbal or written.

    but of coz verbal harder to prove la. but email shld be fine for the time in between agreement and (non)execution of the agreed terms.

  18. Avatar

    I totally agree with you. As a foreign actor I experienced the same abuse, still run for about 3K outstanding money.
    I’m totally shocked about such disrespect.
    The last cheque was paid after 4 month and several emails and calls where I even got screwed, from an among actors well known production house.
    Yep, low or no pay causes low or no quality, that’s markets law.
    2 things will happen if this continues (and it will get worse as long there is no actors protection): Foreign actors will come to Singapore and take over the cepter or nobody will come (more certain) and Singaporeans will have to accept The Noose and 80’s Rewind as their highlights in local productions.
    (The so successful movie 811 does not even appear on the first pages of Google Singapore)
    Besides of that, local director talents will go overseas or skip their dreams in the name of staying with the family.
    Solution for yourself? Don’t relay on an income only from your show biz.
    Harrison Ford has worked as a carpenter not to be forced to take any role just to survive.

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