Atelier : Know Your Rights! | What are my rights?


Wednesday 17 July 2019, 19h
Notman House (51 Rue Sherbrooke O, Montréal), near the St. Laurent metro

→ → (The following French) ← ←

Want to understand your workplace rights in Québec? Come to our “Know Your Rights” workshop, co-hosted by disabling Montreal, S’ATTAQ and Pixelles.

In this free workshop, we’ll cover the most important workplace rights for contractors, freelancers and employees. There will be a Q&A period following the presentation, so bring your questions about contracts, working conditions, and your rights as a worker! Afterwards, all are welcome to stay, chat, and find out a little more about what we are up to.

The workshop is located at Notman House (51 Sherbrooke St W, Montreal), near Saint-Laurent metro. Unfortunately, the space is not wheelchair-accessible. Please contact us if you have any accessibility needs or concerns.

The meeting location sits on the traditional territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka people. We welcome everyone to the workshop, and are committed to facilitating an anti-oppressive space. This workshop is free.


You want to understand your rights in the workplace in Quebec? Come to our workshop "What are my rights? », presented by GWU Montreal, S’ATTAQ et Pixelles.

During this free workshop, A WORKSHOP FOR EMPLOYEES AND FREELANCE IN THE FIELD OF VIDEO GAME. A question period will follow the presentation, for any question you may have about contracts, A WORKSHOP FOR EMPLOYEES AND FREELANCE IN THE FIELD OF VIDEO GAME! Thereafter, A WORKSHOP FOR EMPLOYEES AND FREELANCE IN THE FIELD OF VIDEO GAME.

The workshop takes place at home Notman House (51 Rue Sherbrooke O, Montréal), near the St. Laurent metro. The workshop will be held in English, but a whisper translation available. This space is unfortunately not wheelchair accessible. Please contact us for any need for accessibility.
This event is held on the traditional territory of the people Kanien'kehá:ka. We invite everyone to this workshop and are committed to creating an anti-oppressive space. This workshop is free.



Montreal weary is the local chapter of Game Workers Unite, an international organization of people dedicated to advocating for workers’ rights in the games industry. Tire is not a Union, but is helping build labour power across the globe. Montréal is notable for the number of game companies it hosts – workers here are a powerful force. Together, we can achieve better working conditions, recognition, and mutual support for all. (, [email protected])

GWU Montreal is the Montreal Chapter of Game Workers Unite, A WORKSHOP FOR EMPLOYEES AND FREELANCE IN THE FIELD OF VIDEO GAME. GWU is not a union, A WORKSHOP FOR EMPLOYEES AND FREELANCE IN THE FIELD OF VIDEO GAME. Montreal is a city notable for the number of companies in the field of video games it hosts - here, we have great power. Together, we can get better working conditions, A WORKSHOP FOR EMPLOYEES AND FREELANCE IN THE FIELD OF VIDEO GAME. (, [email protected])

SATTAQ (Associative Syndicate of Self-Employed Workers of Quebec) is an organization that exists to unite freelancers across diverse fields in order to improve working conditions and further our common interests as a labour class. SATTAQ has come together in its common concerns to form a non-hierarchical democratic labour union with a commitment to mutual aid and social justice. (, [email protected])

SATTAQ (Associative Syndicate of Self-Employed Workers of Quebec) Associative Syndicate of Self-Employed Workers of Quebec. The SATTAQ converge around a common goal to build a democratic union and non-hierarchical, engaged in mutual aid and social justice. (, [email protected])


This article is not our usual cup of tea. Instead it is part of a new series of articles by our union local for freelancers that will examine the various issues faced by workers who’s sector is, by its very nature, unpredictable and subject to change from day-to-day. And, more importantly, what we can do about these issues.


Does the film critic matter anymore? I’ve seen rumblings to this effect more and more lately, but as with all things, this too shall pass. It’s a transient take; I’m barely in my 30s and cinema has died and been saved about a dozen times while I’ve been alive. Critics are thinkers; they contextualize the art of the world. But I’m not here to debate the role of the critic. What I am here to do is break down the labour that goes into a fairly standard film review. Because, naturally, criticism is work.

Little is taken more for granted than the written word as published online. There’s been a steady devaluing of internet culture writing as a paid service for over a decade now. Legends in the field can’t hold down a contract. Editors are in a race to the bottom to see how much content they can squeeze out of their stable with a next-to-nonexistent bankroll. Everything you see online has been written by someone and a shocking amount of it is done for peanuts.

So how much is a film review worth? Let’s break it down.

Now before I go any further, I’d like to point out this is 100% guesswork. The rates I’m going to be using are based on some solid hunches and a little fifth-grade math. What I’m trying to get at here is a ballpark figure that’s higher than, well, zero.

Now, before you even set pen to paper to write that vicious pan or that gushing notice, you actually have to watch the damn movie. So it stands to reason this is part of the job, and thus you should be paid for it. Consider it like a form of training; this is the part of the job where you learn what you are dealing with. Without it, you can’t do the job. Critics should absolutely have the time they spend watching movies remunerated. Now, I know that critics are often invited to screenings or get links or are otherwise provided with a copy of the film. But you’re not watching this for funsies, bud! If we are going to exist in a capitalist system, and if someone is going to extract value from your work (in this case, a piece of film criticism), a fair wage should be expected. That time when your butt is parked in the theatre seat is part of that value extraction because it’s an inextricable part of the work you are doing. No movie, no review, simple as that.

“So wait,” someone in the wings will undoubtedly say, “does that mean a video game critic should be paid for the hours and hours they sink into a game in order to write about it?” Absolutely. 100%. “But Breath of the Wild is like a 45-hour game?!” You want me to play the whole thing and write about it? Pay up, son.

So if we assume an hourly wage of $15 an hour (and really, why wouldn’t I) and an average movie length of two hours, that’s $30 that should be in your pocket right up front. We haven’t even started putting words together. Again, using some shaky math assuming a 1:1 running time-to-writing time ratio, a $15 an hour wage, and a 700-word text, we end up with a rate of about four cents a word (which is on the low end of what freelancers charge). So the minimum rate for that 700-word text would be $60. A short 200-word capsule adds up to $38. A 1,000-word longread would be worth $70. This rate of four cents a word plus a living wage for the runtime of the film is the absolute floor of what your labour is worth.

Now this is all for a single movie. These numbers absolutely do not scale for a whole week; those keeping score at home will notice that our average 700-word piece has cost four hours of labour: two to watch, and two to write. There is no way in Hell someone is going to watch ten movies in a week and write about all of them. That is a surefire way to annihilate your work-life balance. Plus, the high end number of new wide releases in a given week is four, with the average being closer to three. But let’s assume a publication’s movie section has one person on the new release beat, and let’s say there’s a big four-movie weekend coming up. Let’s take April 6-8, 2018 as an example. This weekend saw the wide release of:

  • A Quiet Place
  • Blockers
  • The Miracle Season
  • Chappaquiddick

All four of these were covered in the New York Times So using the numbers established above with the length of their respective review in the Times as a baseline, let’s break these movies down as far as the labour cost goes (i.e. 15$ an hour of runtime, four cents a word):

  • A Quiet Place: (651 words*$0.04) + (91’*($15/60’)) = $48.79
  • Blockers: (674 words*$0.04) + (91’*($15/60’)) = $52.46
  • The Miracle Season: (252 words*$0.04) + (99’*($15/60’)) = $34.83
  • Chappaquiddick: (881 words*$0.04) + (101’*$15/60’)) = $60.49

So if one person covers the whole weekend’s slate, that adds up to a payout of $196,57. Now these movies are a bit on the short side and one of those review is basically a capsule; if we maintain our two-hour, 700-word example, a four-movie weekend would add up to a $232 payout, which is still not what I would call a living wage. But there is precedent for being able to live off the new release grind. Let me take you to the far-away, pre-recession land of 2008, and the working rate of Mike D’Angelo, currently one of many film-crit lifers working as a hired gun. As per this tweet, he was paid $400 per review while working at the Las Vegas Weekly. That’s four zero zero. That’s a rate he negotiated up from $200 a review because, according to him, he didn’t “need the gig.” Mr. D'Angelo, and presumably other full-time critics around the same time, was pulling enough dosh writing to earn a living wage writing two or three reviews, or about 2100 words, per week, and held enough saw to negotiate twice the rate he was initially offered. It boggles the mind.

Let’s get depressing: let’s take the rate D’Angelo was pulling in 2008 according to his tweet (i.e. $400 per review, 600-800 words per review) and break it down. Let’s keep the same hourly rate of $15 for the time spent watching movies and assume an average weekend release of three movies, at two hours a movie. Six hours, $90. This would leave $310 for the actual act of writing, and if we assume an average review length of 700 words, that gives us a per-word rate of just north of 44 cents.

This was a roundabout way of saying something you already knew. Capitalism collapsed whatever safety net writers had a decade go and has hastened a race to cut the most corners since. But you should be compensated fairly for your work, no exceptions, and by banding together, fair rates can become a reality instead of a rarity.


Yancy Richardson.

In French