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Taking Care of Business
The pen and paper aspects of DV -- put it in writing!


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Old November 5th, 2008, 03:42 PM   #16
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Ian, I like the way you work! And you're in the next county to me!! If your regular soundman is unavailable you know that I'm only an email away.
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Old November 5th, 2008, 05:11 PM   #17
 
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Jay, it's nice for you that you are able to do this. But in the labour market over here it just wouldn't do. From time immemorial it's been: you get the phone call, you do the work, you submit your invoice and you wait. Start to haggle about money up front and you're listening to dial tone.
I think that your work is in bigger chunks than mine...I can be working for five different clients in one week.
Nick, I work with clients whose budgets range from $500 to... whatever it takes. Certainly there are those who baulk, but that tells me they probably had no intention to pay in the first place.

Let me ask you, how many goods and/or services do you buy there and pay only after they've sent you an invoice?
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Old November 6th, 2008, 01:11 AM   #18
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Well, all I can say is that I know of no other freelance sound recordist or cameraman who charges for daily work up front. If a big chunk of work comes along lasting over a week, then naturally an invoice would go in at the end of each week but the vast majority of work that I do is for a single day or perhaps two or three. If I were to ask for a proportion of money in advance the work would go elsewhere, because that is the way that the business works in the wonderful world of casual labour in this corner of the market. Now, if every technician banded together and decided to change the way things happen that would be different...ah yes: remember the unions? But in the present climate that is unlikely to happen, as we have been divided and conquered and anyone who sticks his head over the parapet is likely to suffer.
Perhaps I am in a situation similar to that of the plumber who recently did some work at my house. He came, worked and sent an invoice - which I paid straight away.

Last edited by Nick Flowers; November 6th, 2008 at 01:38 AM. Reason: Dithering
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Old November 6th, 2008, 04:44 AM   #19
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Let me ask you, how many goods and/or services do you buy there and pay only after they've sent you an invoice?
Most housebuilders get paid in arrears. If you have dealt with UK builders you would understand why!
This is a question of scale isn't it?
If I do a day shooting followed by a day or so of editing I expect to get paid after the job and I don't have a contract.
If it's a higher value production over a longer period I expect to have a contract and a cashflow ie staged payments with something upfront.
It sounds like Nick is working a day or so at a time. A bit here and a bit there. Often at short notice. It wouldn't be efficient to exchange contracts and make upfront payments. By the same token his exposure to risk shouldn't be too high ie maybe 2 or 3 days revenue.
I hope I'm not speaking out of turn Nick. I just seems like people are talking about different scenarios.
(BTW I should have read your last post properly before posting this :-)
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Last edited by Richard Gooderick; November 6th, 2008 at 04:46 AM. Reason: update
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Old November 6th, 2008, 05:07 AM   #20
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Most housebuilders get paid in arrears. If you have dealt with UK builders you would understand why!
This is a question of scale isn't it?
If I do a day shooting followed by a day or so of editing I expect to get paid after the job and I don't have a contract.
If it's a higher value production over a longer period I expect to have a contract and a cashflow ie staged payments with something upfront.
It sounds like Nick is working a day or so at a time. A bit here and a bit there. Often at short notice. It wouldn't be efficient to exchange contracts and make upfront payments. By the same token his exposure to risk shouldn't be too high ie maybe 2 or 3 days revenue.
I hope I'm not speaking out of turn Nick. I just seems like people are talking about different scenarios.
(BTW I should have read your last post properly before posting this :-)
It doesn't take a lot of time, advance notice, or meetings with an attorney to have a binding contract. It can be as simple as a one or two paragraph 'deal memo' in letter form and signed by both parties, outlining what is to be done when, how much it will cost, and when it is to be paid. It would be wise to get at least that much in writing even for your 1 day shoot, 1 day edit scenario.
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Old November 6th, 2008, 05:51 AM   #21
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Richard, you are in the right of it when you say that my situation is very often answering the phone to be asked if I am available the next day - that's how my sort of work goes. And you are equally right in observing that this obviously puts negotiating contracts out of play. The company that is defaulting in its payments to me had been using me for over five years and owes me for five days scattered over a month. I suppose that I am partially at fault because rumours had begun to circulate about the company and I ignored them - you never think that it will happen to yourself!
The point that you have picked up on, Richard, is that the area in which I and others work just doesn't and never has negotiated contracts for the odd day here and there - even being booked for a solid week wouldn't trigger a request from a technician for any formal sort of agreement: it would be haggled out over the phone with the production manager. Yes - a verbal agreement is worth only the paper it is printed on! And I guess that in the present climate we all might have to mend our ways and be a damned sight more cautious. I've learned a lesson, certainly.
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Old November 6th, 2008, 10:45 AM   #22
 
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Well, all I can say is that I know of no other freelance sound recordist or cameraman who charges for daily work up front. If a big chunk of work comes along lasting over a week, then naturally an invoice would go in at the end of each week but the vast majority of work that I do is for a single day or perhaps two or three. If I were to ask for a proportion of money in advance the work would go elsewhere, because that is the way that the business works in the wonderful world of casual labour in this corner of the market. Now, if every technician banded together and decided to change the way things happen that would be different...ah yes: remember the unions? But in the present climate that is unlikely to happen, as we have been divided and conquered and anyone who sticks his head over the parapet is likely to suffer.
Perhaps I am in a situation similar to that of the plumber who recently did some work at my house. He came, worked and sent an invoice - which I paid straight away.
Nick, my apologies. For whatever reason, I misunderstood your situation. I did not realize you were a crew member. I thought you were the production company.

I give my crew members an advance to get them scheduled for the specific shoot day. Then I pay them at the end of the shooting day. It's neat and clean and everyone parts company in a good mood, insofar as payment is concerned.

Like Steve said, from now on, get it in writing.
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Old November 6th, 2008, 10:54 AM   #23
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Nick,

Obviously the global economic crisis is contagious. Really sucks.

Can they make any kind of good "good faith" payments (partial payments)? I don't know what they owe you, but if they can even pay $100.00 every few weeks or so, at least they are trying, you'll get SOME of your money. Sometimes people look at the total amount and just put it aside.

I'd contact the account dept. and see what you could set up. I think you'd be happy to get something, and they more inclined to get you money every now and then. Who knows. Maybe they'll resurrect or morph into another company and still use your services when the time comes. (Of coarse you'll get a contract and advance).

Best wishes.

Jonathan
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Old November 6th, 2008, 11:00 AM   #24
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Jonathan, thanks for your kind comments. I've tried to contact the accounts department and got the run around. From what little understanding I have of the law, this company having declared themselves in administration their affairs are taken over by a government official who freezes the accounts, works out who is owed what, and then in the pecking order outlined by Steve a few posts back (Tax man first, employees, secured creditors....then me), pays out what is in those accounts. So I'm no longer dealing with the Evil Ones, but a faceless bureaucrat. The brake fluid option gets more and more attractive!

Jay, your approach to crews is an example which I wish would catch on over here. More power to your elbow!
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Old November 6th, 2008, 12:05 PM   #25
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I give my crew members an advance to get them scheduled for the specific shoot day. Then I pay them at the end of the shooting day.
Wow, can I freelance for you?

In my neck of the woods, freelancers invoice after the job is done and typically wait 15 to 45 days to get paid. When I freelance as a shooter or editor, that's what I expect, whether I like it or not.

On the other hand, if my production company is producing the piece, I require a deposit and installments. The difference here is that a budget for producing is in the thousands of dollars and requires SIGNIFICANT cash outlay on my part whereas as a freelancer, I'm only "out" my labour and hard costs like tape.

Asking for a deposit here for "day labour" (as freelancers are often seen when hired only for one or two "shooting days") would result in the "offending" party not getting the gig. Not saying it's right, just saying we are slitting each others throats to get the job. Say what you will about the unions but at least they get paid, and scale at that.
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Old November 6th, 2008, 01:29 PM   #26
 
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Shaun, it may sound corny, but if I've learned one thing in life, it's the Golden Rule. I treat folks I want to be treated. It works!

When I give respect, I get it. When I treat people as equals, they work hard and are more likely to cut me some slack when I need it, or go the extra mile when it's required. I rather pay a little more and get a quality worker. It pays in the long run.

Filmmakers are only as good as the people they surround themselves with. I think that holds true in any job.
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Old November 6th, 2008, 05:14 PM   #27
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I agree wholeheartedly and I'd like to believe I treat my crews the way they would like to be treated (somedays they actually make more than I do, given the amount of work I do lining up the work in the first place...) and the majority of my clients treat me well and pay on time. Unfortunately, "on time" is 15 - 30 days.

Again, to those that treat theirs well, THANK YOU. To those that don't...
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Old November 6th, 2008, 06:14 PM   #28
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Would it had made any difference if Nick had a contract? I don't think so.
As for being paid after the event, that's the industry norm.
I can think of recent transactions that work on the same principle. In the last month or so - sailmaker, garage, crane hire, boatyard fees, club fees, film equipment purchase, microphone hire.
Many of these are big-ticket items too. So it's not just the norm in this industry.
It works on trust and reputation. There are many other industries that work on the same basis eg shipping, because it is an efficient way to do business.
It takes something dramatic like a bankruptcy to break the machine but normally it works well.
If you don't do a good job in this business you don't get hired again and the same goes if you are doing the producing.
Having said that for any kind of long term project or where I am spending money upfront I will insist on a contract and expect advance payments.
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Old November 7th, 2008, 06:05 AM   #29
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"on time" is 15 - 30 days.
I wish!

Sadly about a third of my clients pay me within that timeframe. They are the smaller businesses - and they are the ones who are tightening their belts and aren't looking for videos at the moment. The big guys (who make up the other 2/3) take waaaay longer. 60 days is common but I have had to accept 92 days from a large UK retailer (their attitude was "we'll just use someone else" and, of course, I don't want that!).

This week I had an email from a purchasing guy at a large US company (clue: Mo*o*o**) who have asked me to quote for producing a video for them here in the UK. I was told that if I want to do business with them their terms are 75 days. THEIR terms. Not interested in MY terms. They also require me to complete a detailed Statement of Work in a proscribed format and jump through various other approval hoops before I can give them the quality service at a sensible price that they require. But I can't afford NOT to take these jobs at the moment, just on the basis that i don't like the t's & c's.

I must say that they aren't all like that. I have some big name clients who are actually very understanding and respect my terms. But they are rare beasts.
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Old November 7th, 2008, 08:20 AM   #30
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Astonishingly, the BBC is an extremely swift payer, once you have been initiated into their Byzantine accounting system. The record from my invoice being emailed to them to their money appearing in my account is 6 working days. Never more than 10, though.
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