I hear what you’re saying, but see it from the inside.
I work in the industry, as an editor & DIT/camera tech, I have done my fair share of “free”, and I have given my expensive gear out for “free”. Next week some students are using my gear for a project, I believe in helping and asking for help. I have made my fair share of short films, and they are all funded out of my day job as well as my mates from school. I asked for help and never expected it. I did not force anyone to work. I have worked overtime on a 12 hour day and waivered extra pay just to get the project done.
I have supported many films on Kickstarter and seen nothing in return. Does it bother me? Eh. Will I give other artists some of my hard earned money? Yes. You bet your ass! We are in this together until someone solicits work and provides a budget.
In fact, the camera was supplied to us for “free”, but I had to work off the monetary value off after the fact. I went out as the DIT on many shoots with the camera paying back that rental value. I agreed to the deal. We are not out to screw anyone, the “exec producers” you see, I went to high school & film school with them. Most do not even work in the industry. I begged for money to make this. We shot 16 pages in a 48 hour period, I covered crew and cast expenses and paid for everything that could not be offered for “free” Full rates? No. Nobody was forced to work on this. I cannot emphasize how small in scope this project was at the time of making it. The end product does not represent that because I agonised over it for five years.
This is a fan film. I have seen wedding videos with more production value and probably more money on the screen.
This cost me five years of my time. Five years. I was willing to wait on people who would help out a little after hours for a few hours a month to get this complete. Just because it cost $1500 does not mean it is worth that amount - I know that difference.