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Unpaid Interns File Lawsuit Against Fox Searchlight For…Being Unpaid Interns???

| Filed under: Icky Icky PooFilm FlickersLegal Matters


What on effing Earth?

They understand that these positions are generally unpaid in Hollywood, correct?

Alex Footman and Eric Glatt, two former interns who worked on the production of Black Swan have reportedly filed a lawsuit with Fox Searchlight over what they claimed to be improper use of their position, violation of federal and state wage laws, and are seeking back pay for the work they think they should have been done by paid employees.

Apparently, they had positions as production interns, and was required to - GASP - make coffee, clean the kitchen, and take lunch orders for the cast and crew. Furthermore, Footman claims that the only thing he learned on the set was “how to be more picky in choosing employment opportunities.”

Okay, wait - seriously?

What planet did they come from to assume that jobs in this business would just be handed to them?

It may be different in other industries, but half the battle in Hollywood is working from the bottom up as an intern, and doing it with humility and a smile on your face, and therefore proving to the actual employees for which your working that you are capable, efficient, and go above and beyond what's required of you while simultaneously learning about the industry by OBSERVING what's going on around you!

You only get from your internship what you put into it, and if they wanted a paid internship, they should have sought them out! There are plenty in this town, and thousands of other students would be happy to have had the experience on the set of that movie, and GRATEFUL!

But we seriously doubt that anyone in this industry is going to hire them after this silliness.

Too bad! So sad!

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23 comments to “Unpaid Interns File Lawsuit Against Fox Searchlight For…Being Unpaid Interns???”

  1. 1

    Perez…humility doesn't exist in Hollywood. Being an unpaid intern is thankless. There are paid entry-level positions in TV and frankly these dudes (as dumb as they are for starting up shit) probably did deserve at least minimum wage pay for the likely insane hours. The entertainment industry clearly has no respect for the people on the bottom.

  2. 2

    actually, it's required that if it's an internship, the things you do must be something you learn / is educational. if not, then you should get paid. a lot of companies are abusing this system by getting free labor. interns get school credit, which means, like i said before, it must be educational. this lawsuit has a valid complaint from what i can tell so far.

    i'm a law student

  3. 3

    So what are they supposed to have gained from the internship? So their resume should say "I know how to fetch coffee, clean a bathroom, etc." They could have learned that from freaking anywhere. I don't know about you but If I go into an internship I at least hope to gain experience that no other place could have given me. if I am not gaining monetary value, then I should gain knowledge in my chosen career, therefore expanding my resume.

  4. 4

    Sorry Perez, you don't know what you're talking about. Federal wage and hour laws don't permit employers to pay employees less than minimum wage (and certainly not zero) unless the "internship" is a true training position (um, no one needs to be trained to make coffee) which fulfills specific requirements. These include that the training is similar to what would be given in an educational institution and is for the benefit of the trainee; that the trainee does not displace a regular employee; and that the employer derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainee. It's very clear that, like so many companies that hire unpaid interns, Fox Searchlight was in fact in violation of the law and owes these interns wages. The entire internship system is rotten to the core as companies continually violate the law by replacing paid employees with unpaid "interns" desperate for experience of any kind for their resumes. It's reprehensible and it's about time someone called a halt to it.

  5. 5

    Most people have no idea what they are talking about. It's solely for set experience and reputation. When movie sets hire people they do not want a bunch of idiots thats never been on a set before getting in the way, or bugging the stars, or taking pictures and leaking details to gossip sites (reputation).

  6. 6

    Re: Chinchillamagee – Here, here! I completely agree with you and have to agree that Perez, you have no clue what you're referring to. There has recently been investigation into the unlawful use of unpaid interns nationwide by the Department of Labor. The definition of an internship is like an apprenticeship or at least has to prove that there is some educational/learning function involved. The Department of Labor is very explicit is claiming that things like making and fetching coffee or stapling do not constitute a valid internship. These tasks are required by LAW to include some compensation.

    Also, please think for a moment - our economy's abuse of the internship system is probably a reason why were so in the shitter. As long as there are people desperate to work for experience unpaid, it continues the unemployment cycle.

  7. PRH says – reply to this


    Actually, you are wrong.

    TIME -

    "By law, unpaid interns are to gain insightful experience through their work, as they would through as educational course. Unpaid interns are not to be used as replacement for actual employees, yet the men say they were carrying out the same tasks that production assistants and bookkeepers would be asked to do. So the two men filed a lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday, seeking not only back pay buy also an injunction against Fox Searchlight from taking advantage of unpaid interns in the future."

  8. 8

    What little bitches… I would have killed to work on that set… even for free. They need to intern in the music industry and THEN they will realize how terrible it can really be. Although I went through hell (with a smile on my face of course), I am really grateful because this industry is tough, but if you can hack it, it is totally worth it in the end!

  9. PRH says – reply to this


    Actually, you are wrong.

    TIME -

    "By law, unpaid interns are to gain insightful experience through their work, as they would through an educational course. Unpaid interns are not to be used as replacement for actual employees, yet the men say they were carrying out the same tasks that production assistants and bookkeepers would be asked to do. So the two men filed a lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday, seeking not only back pay buy also an injunction against Fox Searchlight from taking advantage of unpaid interns in the future."

  10. 10

    I'm sorry but I think they are being bitches. I interned at a recording studio and got 2 hours of sleep every night, never went home, did the whole coffee and food run deal, barely ever got a thanks AND had to commute and hour and a half everyday… all for free. And after all that hard work while having a great attitude the whole time, they wanted to hire me full time (I said no because I really don't want to work in the music industry.. film and tv is my thing). I would've killed for the chance to work on a set like that. And Perez is right, you only get what you put into it. If you can hack it, it will be totally worth it in the end.

  11. 11

    I have mixed feelings about this…

  12. 12

    You would be singing a different tune if these interns were studying to br doctors, lawyers, or accountants… Why do people in the entertainment industry preach equality, and that other industries follow strict regulations… Then feel they are excempt to follow the same standards.

  13. 13

    Re: xxWoWxx – Good point WoW

  14. 14

    Re: LTbabynail – Then you were abused as an intern. That is not what an internship is for and if their claims are verified then fox could be paying a lot of money not only to them, but to any other intern who steps forward. If they had wanted their interns to be there to fetch coffee than they should have paid them minimum wage, otherwise it goes against what they were interning for. (Unless they were interning to be a personal assistant, which I doubt)

  15. 15

    In my experience as a producer, interns on set have become more trouble than they are an advantage. I have followed the spirit of the 'internship' learning module. What I received from interns, time and time again, was an attitude of entitlement, and, on occasion, verbal outbursts about how bored they were on set. Well, the days are long, and while rewarding, it is difficult, drawn out work and definitely not glamorous — a complaint I endured time and time again. Eventually, after a series of high maintenance posers, I closed the door to interns … and I've never looked back.

  16. 16

    It's an internship. You're there to learn, not fetch coffee. Getting coffee and worrying about lunch is what the PAs are for.

  17. 17

    Not really. This is why Unemployment is so high, because people have the wrong idea about Internships. They think they can get labor for "free". Wrong. There are two paid, unpaid for college credit. Rare now a days is paid and get credit, but when I was a Communications intern I was in that program at my University. Anyhoo, you only have an intern for a specified time. You get that Intern(s) because your University has filed for a paid internship where you receive a stipend payment (very low payment mind you) for the amount of timer you work with/on a production, etc., or non-paid where you receive college credit for your course. There is nothing to be GRATEFUL about working on a production as an Intern, except for the educational and to boost ones resume or to get college credit so you can get out of school sooner. Not everyone gets into an Internship program, it is NOT automatic because one enters a college, it does take a lot of butt kissing no matter your major. This does seem like a frivolous law suit based on the Internship program in general — but if this does go to court, these people have paved the way to CHANGE the internship program against those who have abused it these past few years, as interns do not get anywhere near paid employees - and if they are doing the work of paid employees on the set (or any internship job), maybe they should. It's an educational experience, a fraction of an apprenticeship - not a 40 hour a week workday thing.

  18. 18

    Welcome to Generation: " I'm Entitled to what I want because Mommy and Daddy told me I am awesome".

    I worked in film production for 12 years, and 3 of those years was spent unpaid. That is the agreed upon, signed upon deal and it is one of the few ways one can break into the production business.

    Milllenial generation: You will be much happier once you accept you must pay your dues, roll up your sleeves and do some unglamorous and lowly work for free for more than a few months. IT TAKES YEARS to even begin to get a clue and you fools have not even yet begun. Stop protesting on wall street and accept the fact you are no different than any generation that gets the shit end of the stick upon becoming adults. Yes, it sucks. it sucks for everyone. You are not extra special.

  19. 19

    Perez even if that's how the industry works & those interns will be blacklisted, legally, Fox is only allowed to have unpaid interns if they are providing the intern with education & training. As getting coffee is not considered educational, the interns should be paid minimum wage & they have every right to sue for payment.

  20. 20

    Having spent 9 months as an unpaid intern at 2 major record labels, I know first hand that it sucks - fetching coffee and lunches, doing expenses, screening calls, etc. Yet, the education comes not from these small tasks, but fostering relationships with those who can teach you about their experiences in the industry. Something as simple as asking "So what are you working on today? Is there anything I can do to help?" can lead to a very instructive lesson on the industry. It's about being a team player and being able to take anything off of someone's "to-do" list. People notice and appreciate those who go above and beyond. Now that I have my own interns at a major label, I'm surprised at how few of them actually do it. When they do, however, I always try to find them a paying job when they finish w/ school.

    The truth is in the industry you have to put up w/ a lot of bull***t. So if you can't deal w/ it when it's only getting coffee and lunch, what makes you think you'd be able to deal w/ the greater stress when dealing when major deals, the talent, and the power players in the industry.

  21. 21

    Re: LTbabynail

    I know what you mean. As an intern, I was once asked by the head of A&R at a major to go back to the restaurant because they forget to put A1 sauce on his burger. After that I learned to check each meal before I left the restaurant. That's what it takes though.

  22. 22

    Re: Girl22:)

    An internship in the industry is unlike any other. If they want to learn the foundation of the industry w/o lifting a finger, then take an entertainment class in school. If you want to know the stress and pressure of the real environment, then an internship is the only way. Additionally, an intern can learn a good amount by simply asking questions. I'm sorry but no one is going to tell them every single thought decision about why they do something a certain way unless they take it upon themselves to ask.

  23. 23

    I work in the film industry in another country, and I think it is pretty streamlined about interns.

    My two cents is that people should be paid no matter what. I fucking hate it when this industry is so 'competative', that it starts being exploited. Producers/HODs/Network and Studio Execs take advantage of crew members/filmmakers desparate for work that they make them work for free, with hard hours, and with a do or get fired attitude.

    its unfair.