Some of the tension over working for free comes from the fact that the movie industry has always been exploitative, and often horribly so – the era of the casting couch was not so long ago, for example. It’s true that a free worker may well be taken for granted or even mistreated – I would argue this can also happen with paid workers, and in either case the defence is to get smart and choose your work, and your friends, carefully.
4. Yes! It’s unfair if some people on set are paid a lot, some are paid a little and some are unpaid. Of course it is – just as it is in other industries or walks of life too. As a free worker you do have a choice whether to take on a particular project or not, and I am suggesting you should make this decision based on what you will personally gain from doing so, not from what may or may not be happening to the rest of the crew.
8. Apply common sense - unless the director is Ed Wood, a three-week feature shoot in which actors are working thirteen hour days, giving intense character-driven performances, doing their own stunts and their own love scenes, and shooting underwater in cold weather, is probably going to be a paid job.
In summary, there are many perfectly good reasons why you may be willing to work for free – but you should never work for nothing.