Pay Rates

1 May 2015

Pay rates continue to be a hot topic here at DEGNZ.

It’s understandable as the impact of digital technology continues to drive down pricing in many instances.

Just this week I was speaking with a voiceover agency owner who is seeking to maintain the rates she charges for her artists in the face of low-cost competition online.

It doesn’t change the fact, however, that even in the digital world quality remains the key differentiator. There’s no better example of this than TV drama like House of Cards, Game of Thrones, Viking, True Detectives, and potentially Cleverman, tossed into the mix in a co-pro by our very own Pukeko Pictures and Aussie neighbour Goalpost Pictures. The businesses behind these shows understand the cost of quality.

So what to do when a producer asks you to work on their next project for little or no money?

We all know there will be people who will say yes and will continue to do so for a variety of reasons. Amongst them:

  • Downtime between high-paying gigs
  • A credit
  • Help out a mate
  • The experience
  • Networking
  • They desperately need some work

The next time you are asked—and you will be—it may well be worth considering who is really going to benefit from your sacrifice: you, the producer, the production company, the broadcaster, the funder?

Here are eight good reasons why you might want to say no:

  1. You will be paid below current industry standard for your work.
  2. It undervalues your creative endeavour.
  3. The expectations for you to create quality programming will not lower to match the budget level—audiences don’t care how much a programme or film costs to make.
  4. The only way for you to deliver a quality outcome from your work will be at your own self-sacrifice.
  5. Low-cost technology does not deliver quality, high value human resource does.
  6. Agreeing to work for low rates will mean an expectation that future similar projects can be done for the same, without taking into account the sacrifices made to achieve it.
  7. The proposition that you will be paid more on the next one will likely be hollow.
  8. You will contribute to undermining fair and equitable pay rates.

For most of you, your work is your business because you depend on it to survive. If you must work at cut prices, make sure your sacrifice includes benefit for your business and not just someone else’s unless that’s what you want.


Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Last updated on 12 March 2018