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Old May 19th, 2011, 11:12 PM   #1
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My Documentary Contract: What does "Rough Cut" refer to exactly?

Hello all,

I'm about to undertake an edit of a documentary - my first. It is my understanding that I will be onboard the project until its completion, however the contract I've been sent stipulates that what I'll be contracted to provide is a "Rough Cut".

Does this sound right to others? Doesn't this mean that once I've completed the rough assembly they can turn around and say "thanks - we'll find someone else now"?? Or even worse, if I finish the rough cut and continue to work for two weeks, they would not be obliged to pay me for any further edits done would they?"

I know they don't have an obligation to hire me exclusively, nor to hire me to complete the entire edit if they don't want me to, but I'm concerned about that terminology because:
1. I'm flying overseas to do this job
2. A rough cut could be completed from home without travelling
3. I'm under the impression, following many conversations, that I would be onboard until the picture is locked.

Do I have a right to question this? And if so, should I?

Thanks as always for the help,

-- John
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Old May 20th, 2011, 12:28 AM   #2
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Re: My Documentary Contract: What does "Rough Cut" refer to exactly?

Terms like "Rough Cut" should be defined in the contract.
It could be a first cut. It cut be the completed documentary preceding color grading, fx work, audio sweetening. It may be picture lock because, ideally, the above additional work shouldn't happen until picture lock but that isn't always how it works.
Since they only mention rough cut, they may want the option to hire someone else to do a final cut.
You should have the above clearly stated in the contract though. You certainly have the right and even the responsibility to ask questions and, depending on the answers, you have the right to have such answers spelled out clearly in the contract.
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Old May 20th, 2011, 12:37 AM   #3
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Re: My Documentary Contract: What does "Rough Cut" refer to exactly?

Thanks craig! That's exactly what I wanted to hear!

-- John.
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Old May 20th, 2011, 03:37 AM   #4
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Re: My Documentary Contract: What does "Rough Cut" refer to exactly?

I wouldn't regard the rough cut as the picture lock, more a starting point on the editing process. A first cut could be a long way from and quite different to the picture locked version.

It really needs to be defined what they mean by a "rough cut".
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Old May 21st, 2011, 12:02 AM   #5
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Re: My Documentary Contract: What does "Rough Cut" refer to exactly?

Don't ever feel 'bad' about bringing up something that concerns you, your time or your money. I would approach and notify them directly on what changes I want in the contract, and point out the 'conversations' I've had with them.

If they have issues with your first approach, then you need to decide whether to take on the project or not, because their hesitation means they want to keep their options open.
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