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  • Pitch or free work

  • Simon Cawthorne

    May 10, 2005 at 4:36 pm

    I’ve been involved in a pitch for some time now – the potential client and his clients want nine videos. When I embarked on the pitch, I knew he was asking for quite a bit for nothing, but then that’s pitch work – I pushed through a good opening sequence and a strong idea of what the final product could look like – and this to a high quality also. Now, he has taken an interest in the video to levels of fine detail – asking for additions and changes that quite frankly are way detailed and specific.

    It turns out he wants to show three videos (one from each company) to see which the client wants (fair enough) – but he wants to show one completed video plus the graphic intro to the second video from each of the three companies. Apparently the two other companies provided precisely this. I said that I would provide a good representative version (proceeded to put a copyright notice across it and letterbox it (its 16:9)). I had already spoken frankly with him about his expectations, but apparently the client “liked my video more than the other two, but aren’t interested until they see a completed version plus the intro to the second video”

    I’ve basically decided to decline to go any further, as I think this could be either sheer incompetence or a scam of some kind. Just wondered if anyone else has had similar – or whether anyone had opinions on this kind of process. I came to the conclusion I was working for free.



  • Leo Ticheli

    May 10, 2005 at 4:43 pm

    Smile, decline, and move on.


    Tell them you would be happy to prepare whatever materials they would like at full rate.

    Best regards,


    Southeast USA

  • David Roth Weiss

    May 10, 2005 at 11:19 pm

    I’m with you on this Leo.

    The old adage about the snake comes to mind… that is, after promising not to, a poisonous snake bites the woman it asked for help. As she’s dying, the woman asks, “why did you bite me, you promised you wouldn’t if I helped you.” And, as we all know, the snake responds, “you knew I was a snake when you picked me up.”

    Clients who don’t value your needs only get worse, they never get better…


  • Simon Cawthorne

    May 11, 2005 at 11:49 am

    Hi all

    thanks for the responses on this.

    As you can probably tell, I was halfway down the road to the same answer – however – it is very difficult to view things clearly when one has a) already put in some good work b) can see what one thinks is a good opportunity.

    your experience and good sense is appreciated.

    with thanks



  • Simon Cawthorne

    May 19, 2005 at 11:47 am


    i thought I’d add a follow-up for those of you who may find yourselves in a similar position.

    I took the approach of responding to my (potential) client an explaining that I would complete the video as requested by his client, but on a daily rate, for which i was happy to quote. He came back to me to say that could I give this quote and also for the whole project, but also said that he felt like “piggy in the middle” between me and his client, and that he thought we’d already agreed that I would do this work anyway.

    I spent some time putting an answer together. In overview, I said whilst i accepted that many pitches require a great deal of work, many times including work to a high level, and yes, at the onset, I had accepted I would be in a pitch where the much of the work he was talking about would be produced – BUT I had not accepted I would provide completed work, and that to do this for a pitch would in many circumstances be considered highly irregular.

    I suggested that his clients asking for additional work to be done after the pitch/presentation was also not acceptable (especially as they or he, had brought the pitch presentation forward by two weeks) – develpoment is project work, not pitch work.

    I wrote that although I had given him a (healthy) quote for completing the video along with a timescale, that I advise the client should actually not take this offer up, as the video they had already seen will have shown them enough – instead, I offered to provide a treatment for the whole project that could then be submitted alongside the existing video. Much more productive, and could map out the whole project for them.

    Well, this guy has been fairly efficient in maintaining contact as things have prgressed, by phone and e-mail. Indeed he’s been quite enthusiastic. However, I sent him my last e-mail a couple of days ago (the first one with a figure and a price mentioned) and guess what…

    He may be talking to his client, but somehow I think I’ve seen the last of him.

    I think I did the right thing, and the longer he goes without responding, the more sure of this I become.

    Idle/possibly paranoid thought: I don’t think I was ever going to see a job, but wonder if I was going to provide the template for someone else’s job, or at least provide a nice shiny video for him and his clients for free, that they could use to get the rest of the project going.



  • David Roth Weiss

    May 19, 2005 at 3:53 pm


    Good for you, you did the right thing. The gut reaction that caused you to seek advice seems like it was right on target. Learn to rely on it, it’ll save you lots of aggravation.


  • Simon Cawthorne

    May 24, 2005 at 8:21 am


    I just wanted to say thanks for the advice here and also on the duplicate thread I posted (sorry!)


  • Steve Roberts

    May 24, 2005 at 4:51 pm

    Well done. You probably saved yourself a lot of headaches.

    You should draft up a standard agreement that allows you to be paid your normal rate for consultations and ideas, as the first stage of a multi-stage project. If they choose to go ahead, you move on to stage 2 and actually produce the thing. If they choose to bail, you invoice them (as outlined) for the Stage 1 ideas, which, by the way, are sketchy and conceptual in execution. It’s not nitpicky, it’s professional. 🙂

    You should set the working conditions, not them. Otherwise, why are you in business for yourself?

    For more info, you can check the Graphics Artists’s Guild handbook, or the RGD Ontario website.

    Regarding the above resources, you may need to extrapolate print concepts for Broadcast Design, but the basic practices are sound.

    Hope that helps,

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