I am a Director and Editor in Ghana, West Africa and find that most clients tend to want to get their work done without a downpayment. They promise to pay in full once the job is finished and they in turn can collect the money of their clients. As you can probably guess 90% of the time they disappear into thin air after they receive their tapes from me or other guys in the business.
I am looking to design a job card which contains all the details of the job I am doing with a client and an agreement to pay a 50% downpayment before the job commences and the rest once the job has been finished.
Are there industry standard templates for stuff like that?
One thing we try to do is just write up a contract with a payment schedule, and have them sign it. If we don’t know the company, or have not worked with them before, we always ask for at least 50% up front. I want to make sure that any costs I’m incurring are covered. Then I don’t give them their final tape until payment is received. This is indicated in the contract as well. It seems to work for me. Of course, as producers sometimes our clients pay us slowly. But that’s not my crew’s problem. Perhaps your clients need to arrange the same thing, they get 50% and pay you. They (your clients) may need to pay you final payment before you release your master.
Dave, rats are rats, in Ghana or anywhere else. 😉 There are a few things you can try, like having the client put money in an escrow account, pay the job in thirds, one third up front, one third on rough cut, one third on completion…
but a wise person once told me: “with the right people, a contract is not needed, and with the wrong people, one is never enough.” You can write up a contract any way you want, but it doesn’t matter if they won’t play along. These folks want something for nothing.
If they insist that the work be done before you get paid, give the a copy of the finished work… with your logo and time code window splashed across the middle third of the picture. That’s good enough to prove the work was done, but not useable by itself, and you tell them you can hand over a clean master copy and their raw tapes when the check clears the bank. Any business that cannot deal like this is not an honest business. Plumbers, carpenters, electricians do not ask for less than that.
Raw tapes? I never give my client the raw tapes. If you were a photographer, would give them the negatives?
As for the paymet issue, an excellent idea to put your logo and time code in. I’ve been doing that from day one. If the customer asks why the time code is there, tell them it’s there to make it easier for them to document any desired changes they want made.
Perhaps you do things differently in Canada; in my experience in the USA, the client owns the raw footage.
We are not stills photographers. Their practice of licensing the images only per specific use is not the way film and video production is done in this country.
I know of one case in my market where a production company refused to deliver the camera tapes to a client. The result was ugly, not “customary and standard,” and the production company is no longer in business.
I should think that it’s imperative to completely inform the client if it’s your business practice to retain ownership of camera original and make sure you have it in writing.
Generally, we keep the camera original, which is the client’s property, in our vault for future edits or re-purpose, but when we are just directing/shooting for a project to be edited elsewhere, we deliver the footage to the client.
Thanks for the info. In Canada, the raw belongs to the video company unless the agreement specifically states that the production is a ‘work for hire’. Generally the footage isn’t used for anything other than the client’s project and they are given a copyright on the finished video.
It’s interesting to know they US law on the subject should I ever need to do work in the US.
I’m certainly no lawyer and can only offer what I’ve learned that seems to be, “customary and standard,” as they say. Glad to know how things are done in the north as well.
I did shoot in Canada once, sort of off the books. When I entered the country, the customs official, noting that we were from the southern US, asked us, “where are your guns?” He seemed totally incredulous that we were not armed and dangerous!
We did have a great time, by the way, and found the locals a really decent bunch. Our “southern hospitality” has nothing over the Canadians.