"I get a call yesterday form a little film company down here in the valley and they’re doing the packaging for Warner Brothers on Babylon 5, which I worked on and I did a very long, very interesting on-camera interview about the making of Babylon 5 early on when Joe Strazinski hired me; and they want to use it. A young woman calls me and she says “We’d like to use it on the DVD, can that be arranged?” and I said, “Absolutely, all you gotta do is pay me,” and she said, “What?”
“I said you gotta to pay me,” and she said “Well, everybody else is just, you know, doing it for nothing.”
I said, “Everybody else may be an asshole, but I’m not.” I said, “By what right would you call me and ask me to work for nothing? Do you get a paycheck?”
“Does your boss get a paycheck? Do you pay the telecity guy? Do you pay the cameramen? Do you pay the cutters? Do you pay the teamsters when they schlep the stuff on the trucks? Would you go to a gas station and ask them to give you free gas? Would you go to the doctor and have him take out your spleen for nothing? How dare you call me and want me to work for nothing.”
“Well, it would be good publicity.”
I said, “Lady, tell that to someone a little older than you who has just fallen off the turnip truck. There is no publicity value in my essay, my interview, being on your DVD. If you sell 2,000 of them that would be great. And what are people going to say? ‘Ooh, I really like the way that guy gave that interview. I wonder if he’s ever written a book.’ There’s no publicity value. The only value for me is if you put money in my hand. Cross my palm with silver, you can use my interview.”
And she says, “Well alright, thank you,” and she hangs up.
I’ll never hear from them. They want everything for nothing, They wouldn’t go for five seconds without being paid and they’ll bitch about how much they’re paid and want more. I should do a freebie for Warner Brothers? What is Warner Brothers, out with an eye patch and a tin cup on the street? Fuck no! They always want the writer to work for nothing and the problem is that there are so goddamn many writers who have no idea that they’re supposed to be paid every time they do something, they do it for nothing!”
— Harlan Ellison in an interview for the movie Dreams with Sharp Teeth (2008). Harlan Ellison, an Americanwriter. His principal genre is speculative fiction. His published works include over 1,000 short stories, novellas, screenplays, teleplays, essays, a wide range of criticism covering literature, film, television, and print media. He was editor and anthologist for two ground-breaking science fiction anthologies, Dangerous Visions and Again, Dangerous Visions. Ellison has won numerous awards - more awards for imaginative literature than any other living author - including multiple Hugos, Nebulas and Edgars.
See a video of the interview here.