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Old September 19th, 2011, 08:47 AM   #1
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Working for free? On a project out of my comfort zone?

How do I say, "NO!"

A couple of years ago, my boss asked me and another employee, (a good friend of mine who is also into video as a hobby), to video a surprise birthday party for the owner of our company. He knew we fooled around with this stuff. We did it with our own equipment, software and on our personal time, as a favor to my boss. It came out pretty good, for a four camera shoot, done by couple of amateurs...and it was well received.

Fast forward to now. We have been approached by a committee that is tasked with putting together a celebration for our company's anniversary. Based on the previous birthday video, they want us to video this event. This is an hour-long event, outdoors, with speeches by the owner, the mayor, etc., etc. and less than four weeks away.

They want us to video the event, edit it into something nice for them to put on the company web site and show it at our company dinner, (big projection stuff).

OK...we have decent decent HD cameras, an HMC-150 and a prosumer Sony SD camera, plus a couple of SD consumer cams...a couple of decent mics, but nothing wireless...I've got the editing covered, Vegas Pro, Cineform, Sonic Fire Pro, etc., on a decent machine. But….

The thing is we are dealing with people who do not understand what kind of time this sort of thing takes...the amount of time to edit and color correct for 3 or 4 different cameras. Sound, titles, well you guys all know. They actually thought I would be excited about doing this.

Video is a hobby for me, not a career and I don't want it to be a career...I am not looking to build a portfolio. I like nature work and video involving my other hobby, motorcycling...
I have no interest in wedding or event stuff like this, even though I have done some for friends and family.
But, this is way outside my comfort zone and there is no upside I can see…I don't want my hobby to become work.

Frankly, I think they need to hire pros. It should be HD, wireless mics or a separate sound recording setup would also be nice. I suggested it once or twice, but they don't want to do that. And it's not money…this is a $60 million a year company…business is good, we are spending like crazy.

So…any thoughts on how to say, "No thank you," gracefully?

Sorry for the long post, but this has been bothering me all weekend.

Thanks,
Bob
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Last edited by Bob Thieda; September 20th, 2011 at 06:09 AM.
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Old September 19th, 2011, 08:54 AM   #2
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Re: Working for free? On a project out of my comfort zone?

"Video is a hobby for me, not a career and I don't want it to be a career...I am not looking to build a portfolio. I like nature work and video involving my other hobby, motorcycling...
I have no interest in wedding or event stuff like this, even though I have done some for friends and family.
But, this is way outside my comfort zone and there is no upside I can see…I don't want my hobby to become work."

Tell them that.
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Old September 19th, 2011, 09:13 AM   #3
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Re: Working for free? On a project out of my comfort zone?

Pretty much what you just said. "I'm honored you asked me to do this, but a project of this scale and importance really needs to be done by professionals...so that our company looks professional at our company meeting. Do you want me to help you locate some folks who can do this properly?"
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Old September 19th, 2011, 06:59 PM   #4
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Re: Working for free? On a project out of my comfort zone?

Ask them if they want to come over to your house for a painting party.

You'll supply the paint, some food, drinks, etc. And they can enjoy themselves by scraping off flaking paint, masking off trim, priming and painting eaves, chatting and just enjoying a day of fellowship.
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Old September 19th, 2011, 09:27 PM   #5
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Re: Working for free? On a project out of my comfort zone?

Tell them if they want you to do it you'll need paid time off to work on it because it's a very heavy workload for an event of this size and you can't give up all your free time to dedicate to it.
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Old September 20th, 2011, 01:09 AM   #6
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Re: Working for free? On a project out of my comfort zone?

If they really want you to make a video for them it should be done in company time and not your own free time.
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Old September 20th, 2011, 01:12 AM   #7
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Re: Working for free? On a project out of my comfort zone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Sensui View Post
Ask them if they want to come over to your house for a painting party.

You'll supply the paint, some food, drinks, etc. And they can enjoy themselves by scraping off flaking paint, masking off trim, priming and painting eaves, chatting and just enjoying a day of fellowship.
Ha hah, I agree but the more Bob dwells on this the more it blows up .. I've seen this before and it wasn't the money.
I did a job for sale on DVD. There were credits which were approved for inclusion and soon as one of the senior committee saw his name in lights, he just went ballistic with control juice. I was there, I saw his eyes bug out while gasping for breath etc.

So you have to be careful, first off is there a control freak at managemant level who'll likely take over the editing? Think carefully, because that adds up to hours and even days with no returns which everway you go, fully invoiced, a freebie or paid costs.

A pro outfit usually has this covered in their contract and can work around it.

Yes I'd pass this off to a pro outfit any way you can, even down to a sick parent. If you do it and a wheel somehow comes off along the way, they won't say, hey! there goes Bob the video guy, they'll say there's Bob the #$&* *&)%$ ^*&(@!!.

Cheers.
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Old September 20th, 2011, 05:57 AM   #8
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Re: Working for free? On a project out of my comfort zone?

Thanks everyone...yes, I am over thinking this...looking for a way to convince them I am not the correct choice, and that won't work since they really have no understanding of the process. Instead I just need to tell them.
I've worked with this company for almost 30 years, have a good position and enjoy my job. So to me, they are almost like family and I don't want to create any bad feelings.

@Michael Johnston and Brian Drysdale...I am sure they would let me take a couple of paid days off to do this, but I still have my job to do...I am in management, so whenever I take time off, my work is still there waiting for me.

@Allan Black...Thank you! I think you hit the nail on the head. If we do this and it works out good...We get a pat on the back...
If it works you badly, it will never be forgotten...
Very little upside...large downside...

I am suppose to get back to them this week. I'll post up what happens.

Thanks again everyone,
Bob
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Old September 20th, 2011, 01:16 PM   #9
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Re: Working for free? On a project out of my comfort zone?

Well they took it very well and are going to look for a professional company.
Turns out they got the same answer from the guy who takes a lot of our internal company photos...that's why they hired a pro photographer...

I am much relieved...and I think it was the correct decision.

Thanks again for the helpful replies,
Bob
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Old September 20th, 2011, 03:34 PM   #10
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Re: Working for free? On a project out of my comfort zone?

Fast forward... The pro company flakes out and doesn't show. The phone rings. "Bob, can you grab your camcorder?" ;)
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Old September 21st, 2011, 06:05 AM   #11
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Re: Working for free? On a project out of my comfort zone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
Fast forward... The pro company flakes out and doesn't show. The phone rings. "Bob, can you grab your camcorder?" ;)
LOL...don't think I haven't thought about this...
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Old September 22nd, 2011, 10:03 AM   #12
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Re: Working for free? On a project out of my comfort zone?

I don't like the pressure. I once got asked to do a close friend's wedding. I was unemployed and had no kit and felt uncomfortable as hell. I was given a low-end consumer model Samsung and no tripod. They loved the end result but honestly I think it looks like crap. It was home-video quality nothing more. The point I'm trying to get to is that sometimes even if someone loves the end result it can still haunt you and worse you can become that camera guy to everyone who saw it. If I was in your shoes I'd tell them to get a pro.

Edit: Bit late, oh well.
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