Top Shelf…yeah right

Yesterday I received an email from Top Shelf Productions:

From: Mitch Nicholson
To: Whaleoil

Hi Cameron,

I am from a television programme called Starting Over which is being made by Top Shelf Productions. The show is about 8 woman who are wanting a new start in their careers and we help them to get it! They receive a whole lot of help from a life coach and careers coach as well as other people along the way and we were hoping you may be able to help us with one of the ladies journey.

Alex [redacted] is currently a tax advisor who loves languages and gardening. However she is a keen writer and we are hoping to get her writing her own blog about her journey on the show as well as all her hobbies and passions, a little like your own.

If you are interested we are wondering if you would be interested in Alex coming to learn a few things from you like what goes into writing a blog, research, setting up a blog account and any knowledge you have about the process. We would love to come and film some of this and would show how you have helped her to get a start on her own blog.

We are more than happy to put a link to your blog on our Starting Over website as well as the exposure your blog would get from the on screen time.

Please let me know if you are interested in helping us out,

Thanks so much,

Mitch Nicholson

Starting Over

Sounds interesting doesn’t it…however a few specifics were left out…like remuneration, recompense and time commitment…so I made enquiries about some sort of advertising/fee arrangement for utilising my time and consulting…it seemed only fair.

Unfortunately Top Shelf cried poor…despite making hundreds of programmes it seems that their budgets are so tight that they can’t actually pay consultants or talent. Apparently we are all supposed to do this for the “exposure” and “publicity” or perhaps just for shits and giggles.

I didn’t think much more about this until i was copied in on an email from another blogger who also turned them down….but suggested that they talk to me. The email was similar but they had refined their offer somewhat after my contact with them.

We would love to come to a contra arrangement with you where in exchange for filming with Alex, giving tips and guidance on setting up a blog etc, we could provide you with exposure on the show. We could also offer a credit at the end of the episode and in addition we can include written information and pictures on your blog [to be agreed by Producers] on the Starting Over website, as well as a link to your website from there. For your information, during each episode of the show there will be an on-air directive pushing viewers to go to our website.

Some more information that you may be interested in.. Womens Day is our print partner. We will have articles on the series within the Womens Day Magazine which will attract more people to the Starting Over website and therefore to you. The Skywatch Magazine will advertise the series and have features. There will be stories in TV Guide also.

The episode will play on-air a total of 9 times on Vibe including 3 primetime transmissions and 6 off peak transmissions. Prime TV also have the option to rerun the series.

Air NZ are running the series inflight and we are hoping to sell the series overseas too.

The sponsors we have on board are Careers NZ, Caci Clinic, Contours Gym, Special K, Smashbox Cosmetics, Toni & Guy, Murad, the Newmarket Business Association and Progressive Enterprises.

So it seems these guys are trying to get a blogger to work for free for them, all the while presumably they are paid. The flip side is the blogger gets “exposure”….in Woman’s Day…oh please. You would think a major print sponsor would have at least had their details publicised properly.

I also love the Newmarket Business Association sponsorship…that will be a hoot….especially as they are focussing the show on “Starting Over”. They may want to background check in case there are blackmailing/stalker types still there.

I’ll bet you dollars to a knob of goat poo that the cameramen, sound people, make up producer and other staff aren’t doing it for free…so why should we?

I’d love to know if all the others that are “helping” like the life coaches and careers coaches are likewise doing it all for free…while Top Shelf makes a programme and sells it for a big fat profit to Sky TV….and others.

I sent Top Shelf a response to which I am yet to get a reply:

From: Whaleoil
To: Mitch Nicholson


Well this is awkward.

You emailed Danyl the exact same email you emailed me the day before…after I asked to be paid for the time I spent doing this, or at the least explored sponsorship/advertising options.

You claimed poverty and no budget….one wonders how your company manages to produce these hundreds of shows if you can’t pay “talent” a fair rate for time on air.

A link to my blog from you will hardly generate a blip…you should be begging for a link FROM my site.

I wonder now though just how many other bloggers you have shopped this too…won’t take me long to find out. You are aware that there is a Blogger’s Union?

Us bloggers are really rather tired of other people in the media/advertising taking us for a free ride, all the while being paid handsomely to do what they do.

The first lesson in being a blogger…don’t do something for free for someone who is getting paid. Radio stations and other media outlets including television and print media happily pay for mine and other bloggers contributions. For some reason you think you are exempt from this.

It pisses off media and people who rely on appearances to eat and it pisses off other bloggers.

I hardly think a production company, like Top Shelf, is making all these documentaries and shows from the goodness of your clearly troughing hearts. There has to be good coin in this otherwise why would you do it?

The fact you cry poverty for a fair hourly rate to interrupt my busy schedule for your show indicated that perhaps all is not well in Top Shelf despite the likely millions in NZ of Air funding that you are undoubtedly creaming.

Pissing off NZ’s top blogger wasn’t wise now was it?

Trust me on this….the allure of appearing on television for me is distinctly yawn inducing…I don’t need publicity, I am publicity, and you are about to get plenty.

Perhaps Helen Kelly, the CTU and the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance should look into your business practices to establish just how many of your talent work for “free”.

Mitch, Top Shelf really needs to treat bloggers with respect, and by respect I mean the only sort of respect anyone understands in the talent industry and that is sharing the coin. Hundreds are fine.

This response and your email will shortly be posted on my blog, all the other bloggers that matter have been bcc, even shameless whores like Matthew Hooton. NFWAB (Google it)

Maybe I could consider this opportunity to enhance your show. Perhaps if you would pop round and mow my lawns for three months for nothing…this would be of use to me as I would be of use to you….I can’t think of anything else that you would be of use for.

Kind regards

Cam Slater

I don’t think it is unreasonable to charge for my consulting time and coaching and the actual time spent involved with the show…having done plenty of stand ups and camera work for shows about me I understand just how much time it all takes and to add in a person new to blogging and a camera crew, the inevitable cuts and re-takes…well it takes up time and time is money as we all know.

Sure I may have been a bit rude in my response but I think it is much ruder to expect people to things for nothing when they aren’t doing it for nothing themselves.

If the “actors” want to do this for free they can go right ahead, but I fail to see why consultants and advisors should do so also. Top Shelf will be making a nice tidy profit…is it really that tight that we shouldn’t be paid?

I think I will OIA NZ on Air next for how much in funding they have received for all their shows for the past 3 years. That should be interesting. I’ll keep you posted.

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