I've been talking with this guy since November and now he tells me he is talking to a guy he previously worked with that may be available and wants to put me on hold.
Hey Nick! Do you have a specific question about this?
Hey Nick - yes this is, unfortunately, a somewhat common thing particularly on lower budget projects where the person hiring you most likely hasn't asked for compensation from the client if the project falls through to pay their freelancers - who missed a day of work AND likely passed up on other work that came by. When a company is legit and has a good relationship with the client, they'll almost always sign a kill fee agreement that you send over to them upon requesting to book you. If they're not in a position to do that themselves they might ask to put a hold on you, which is to ask that if the project folds through and no one gets paid, nothing was lost on either party because it wasn't an official booking, so you didn't technically need to pass up on other work if it came along. It's a bit of a shady not-so-cool thing to do, but it's important to understand the pressures on both sides. However, the best producers will never put you in that position by requiring compensation from the client in the first place. This passed in November in NYC and there are efforts to give freelancers more protection in other areas as well, you should check this out: https://www.freelanceisntfree.org/
You should always book and even double and triple book yourself on anything you can get yourself on. I had a time when all 3 jobs pushed. I double book all the time. I have a network of guys I trust that do the same quality of work I do. If both gigs happen. I take the highest paying gig or gig of choice and pass the other gig to a person in the network. My clients, always call me first even when I send replacements. They appreciate the fact I have a line up of guys that they don't need to worry about vetting themselves. I let the producers know what's happening and that they are in good hands. I don't worry about things pushing anymore. It's a better problem to find a replacement for yourself than wasting time and passing on jobs to find out they don't need you, someone will do it for cheaper, or their job fell through. You can always try to up your pay on the lower one as well. If it's a major issue ask them to match the rate of the higher gig. They will either pay it to keep you or be happy with your replacement.
When I "put a crew member on hold", it's usually because I'm over a month from principal photography and I want that person to know I intend to hire them for those dates so that way they're able to book other jobs around it. Especially on lower-budget projects that have reduced pay. Being able to work a full-rate job the next week means that crew member might be more willing to discount their rate on something small I'm producing.
Likewise, if that crew member books a full-rate job that conflicts with my project, it gives me more time to find a replacement. As challenging and frustrating as it may be, I never fault someone for taking a better paying gig. This is a very difficult industry so I get it.
When someone puts me "on hold" it's basically an agreement that if someone else challenges for those dates, I will call the "holder" first, and give them the opportunity to "book" or "release" me. Usually this happens when I'm the first choice, but also as a back up, if their preferred hire is unsure of avail. Always remember, 99% of this business is relationships. Do your best to build and maintain them, especially with good people, you enjoy working with.
I've been put on hold before and had the job fall through, which is unfortunate but happens. What I started doing is having a deal memo signed for the days I'm on hold and if I'm not notified by a certain time that the production is pushed I still get partial compensation.
This does two things. If the client isn't positive that they will be needing me those days they won't sign and I can confidently move onto booking something else. Also, if they do sign and cancel I still get my hold fee.
Here is the skinny on holds.( I use to be a below the line agent for 10 years and also worked in commercial and television production.) There are 1st holds and 2nd holds. 1st hold means that company gets 1st right of refusal. A 2nd hold is less binding. As an agent i usually only gave 2nd holds incase a better project came along. On the production side - I use to place as many as 6-8 people on hold for the same position. This was a company directive because if we could not come to terms on money we had options. If you have worked with a company before and have a good relationship, chances are you are their 1st choice and they will book you once they have the job. That said, a job is only real if they are willing to sign a deal memo and "book" or hire you. My advice - always take what is real. Rarely did I ever get a holding fee and on the production side I would never pay one because if the job fell thru the company would have to eat it.
Dude I just got cut from a gig because of budget.
Hold and Cancellation Policies.
Every freelancer or production company should establish and politely enforce their own hold policies and cancellation policies.
In your case Nick, it depends upon your relationship with this client. IS he a good client or a new client?
I don't mind playing second fiddle if my client has someone else in mind, but still appreciates my skills and is willing to have me play "pinch batter". However, I do enforce my hold policy and if another job or a better job comes my way for the specific date, I will have the option to "release" myself from this client's hold.
And new clients to our business need to fully understand the consequences for us, and them if they cancel us without enough time for us to fill that spot. Our time is our inventory and is what we sell.....
A cancellation is a serious event and policies should be established and enforced by all in our business.
I usually make sure that they are only getting "right of first refusal". If they have not changed to a solid booking and I get a call for other work ops...I call them...if they cant go to a hard booking I take the other work.