Wanda Morganstern | Crain's Atlanta

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Wanda Morganstern

Background:  

Wanda Morganstern founded Film Friendly GA in 2013 to represent property owners as an agent to the film industry. When a movie, TV show or commercial needs a location in Georgia with specific features, such as a mansion, the production company goes to Film Friendly GA. Morganstern maintains a catalog of film locations and connects those with production companies. Film Friendly GA has worked with productions such as "The Walking Dead," "Survivor’s Remorse" on Starz and "Tales" on BET.

The Mistake:

A location manager for a feature film called me, asking for help to find some locations that he was searching for. For two weeks, I scouted for him and gave him my location suggestions.

Typically, I’m either paid as a scout or as a representative of the property owner. But instead of working with me, the location manager went directly to the property owners, cutting me out of the deal.

The movie ended up using two of my locations, but I didn’t get paid for my time. The location manager denied that I had done the work. Essentially, I worked for two weeks without pay.

Everyone knew that this location manager wasn’t trustworthy.

The Lesson:

A few months after not paying me, the same location manager asked me if I could help him get funding for a film. I told him, “Absolutely not. Don’t call me again.”

Besides learning never to work with this particular person, I also learned the power of a professional network. I have a strong and deep contact list because I’ve been in Atlanta a long time, and everyone knew that this location manager wasn’t trustworthy. I could have checked what my network had to say before doing work for him.

I also don’t jump all in now. It’s kind of a crazy business, and it’s crazy that people expect you to work for free. The other day, I received an email asking me to suggest locations for an ad campaign – basically, asking for free information. I told the person my rate and that I don’t work for free.

Follow Film Friendly GA on Twitter at @FilmFriendlyGA.

Photo courtesy of Wanda Morganstern.

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