Ready… Set… Oh, wait.

I was all ready and set up to go to work this week, but that’s not happening, so far.

I’m working through a great Staffing Agency which handles a lot of temp and contract professionals. These folks are phenomenal in their client and labor interactions. Their agents have exactly the right touch, and it’s obvious that they value you and support you as an individual. I can’t say enough about how well they handle things for their clientele.

But they’ve just moved to a new Payment Agency. And it looks like I’m one of the first to be run through the new system. So many times in jobs past, I was the first to do, or try to do, something. Nowadays, we call it the ‘bleeding edge’, and looking about, I find the situation to be familiar.

And… Payment Agencies… Oh yes, this is definitely familiar ground, from my days when I was in television. I’ve seen it from the client side. We’d cast someone, make the call, shoot the video or record the audio. Then we’d agree on a set number of hours for this call, the person would submit that to their Payment Agency, and the Agency would invoice us. Accounts Payable would handle the distribution, and meanwhile we in Video Services would be post-producing the program.

At that time, the Payment Agency was to us like Alice’s rabbit-hole. Things go in, and we’d have to trust that they’d come out somewhere. In general terms, ‘the entertainment industry’ uses payment agencies to make sure a very long list of people get paid, for when Union talent is used in production. It gets even more convoluted when the talent signs a contract that includes residuals or a piece of the distribution. From talking with various talent folks, this was never pretty from their side of things, and it was seldom prompt for them, then. This was because that payment to them went through a number of ‘splits’. I’m going to list a typical set of the splits (as I recall them), in order, here:

  • The talent agency
  • The talent’s agent
  • The Union
  • The talent’s Union rep
  • And finally, the talent themselves get paid.

Each took a percentage, and each took time to process things, as that payment went from hand to hand. Often, a lot of both.

The saddest thing for us as a talent employer was that if we called Union talent for a program, it could take up to three months for that person to get paid. Meanwhile, the poor guy is starving, waiting for the check to come.

That was then, this is now. Now we have things like internet-based processing, which is of course much, much faster.

Fortunately for me, I don’t have all those splits and percentages to worry about. Just the setup time. Which has taken all of this week, so far. The analogy of Alice’s rabbit-hole is holding amazingly true. And here I was, hoping to start the new job this week.

But even after all the initial setup, there will still be paperwork. I have to have a set of documents witnessed and Notarized, then send them in. “In the tunnel there are many objects and things, and the walls are filled with books and jars…”

I pray that my work here as one of the first will make it smoother for those who follow.

So meanwhile, somebody has to go first, right? I guess God has selected me for that role. Maybe I’m helping others even before I get to go do this job.

About which I still remain energised and excited.

And can’t wait to start, so that I can again be making a positive difference.

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