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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old November 29th, 2009, 01:36 PM   #1
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When things go wrong working for somebody else...

Hello All,

There are 3 main event companies in my town, one is an amazing photography service who also offers video, there is a video production company, there then there is me.

Last week somebody from the professional video production company contacted me asking me if I would shoot a Bat Mitzvah for them on Saturday night (last night) and I've done this from time to time on weekends when I haven't been busy ( I try to only do weddings, and here in the north east there are not to many weddings during the year) A few days later I was just confirming my rate and sent the person a message : Hey, just confirming this Saturday night from 7-10 will be my usual $300. I got a message back saying that he should have made it more clear that I wasn't going to be shooting more than a few minutes at a time while he was taking breaks if something needed to be covered and that I would only get what he pays assistants at $100 for the night.

I said, fine if I'm only going to be an assistant and I wasn't going to do anything that night any way $100 can allow me to add to my girlfriends birthday present. Saturday night comes and I get to the party and he hands me the camera and asks me to go around and get a few interviews, and I said sure why not. I didn't put the camera down for the remaining 2 hours and 45 minutes that I was there, so I essentially shot the entire party while he was a guest and not shooting like he told me he was going to.

I brought it up with him that he told me I wouldn't be shooting and that is why I wasn't getting my shooting rate and but I shot so I thought he owed me the additional $200, and he refused stating that at the time when the battery died on the dance floor he went and got one for me (his camera doesn't have a battery meter that works and 10 minutes after he gave me the camera to shoot with it the battery died), and that I had got to leave 15 minutes early and therefore I only deserved the $100.

I am really angry. I want to know what you guys would do, but my prices generally start after his highest price ends, and I am so mad I want to cut my prices to be below his and advertise it like no other. I don't need the money I do it for fun.

What would you guys do. Its not about the money, its about the respect of a fellow videographer. Trying to pay you less than you deserve because they are trying to save a buck, and think they can trick you into working at an assistant rate but shoot the whole thing yourself.
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Old November 29th, 2009, 02:07 PM   #2
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You've got the e-mail - that's "evidence" - send that and the tally list of what you actually shot, along with an invoice for balance owed to the owner of the company (I'm presuming the guy involved isnt' the top dog?).

Not to put to ugly a spin on it, but the way it's described sounds like fraud to me... no wonder you're peeved - you got "bait and switched". You were the primary shooter, NOT an assistant... but got paid at an assistant rate after covering the shoot while the guy partied.

If this guy was the owner/decision maker, he needs his cage rattled a bit, especially if he's expecting you to be available for "backup" in the future. Would you work for/with him ever again...?
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Old November 29th, 2009, 04:09 PM   #3
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If this guy was the owner/decision maker, he needs his cage rattled a bit, especially if he's expecting you to be available for "backup" in the future. Would you work for/with him ever again...?
No I won't work for him again and I told him that. :)
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Old November 29th, 2009, 05:00 PM   #4
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If you're never going to work for him again anyway... just bill him the $100 and walk away. Sometimes it's best to just walk away - even when you're right - than it is to get into a battle you can't really win anyway. Life's too short to live it being angry.
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Old November 29th, 2009, 07:22 PM   #5
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Sounds like a small town... If you plan on sticking around for awhile, you might want to consider doing your level-headed best to pursue payment of the remaining balance. Send him his original email with a note that calmly explains why you believe he owes you the balance of your typical fee. BCC yourself on the email, and maintain that copy on record - you might even want to print out a copy WITH FULL HEADERS to keep on record.

If he pays you, great.

But, when he doesn't pay, you have that little gem tucked away for that rainy day that's sure to come when you learn he has made some kind of disparaging remark about you to a prospective client he's trying to outmaneuver you for business. You can take it to a lawyer and build your case for owning his business outright.

Or, you can walk away and shun his business and just tell the story to everyone who is willing to listen for the next decade. That will be sure to cost him at least $200 in the long run, eh?
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Old November 29th, 2009, 07:59 PM   #6
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I'm with Edward. You got screwed, and that's the hardest thing to let go. But still, just walk away.

And to be honest, you're not entirely without fault here. It would have been logical to approach the geek at some point in the evening and say "what the heck, you're making me shoot everything. Either pick up your camera, or pay my shooting rate."

I suppose if you're angry enough and you kept your emails, you could take him to small claims court, but it's probably more trouble than it's worth.
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Old November 29th, 2009, 08:01 PM   #7
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you might want to consider doing your level-headed best to pursue payment of the remaining balance. Send him his original email with a note that calmly explains why you believe he owes you the balance of your typical fee. BCC yourself on the email, and maintain that copy on record - you might even want to print out a copy WITH FULL HEADERS to keep on record.
I should add that if you have any intention of trying small claims, this isn't a bad idea. Perhaps he would stupidly give you more ammo.

I don't like the idea of bad mouthing him around town, though. That kind of thing only turns around to bite you in the butt at some point.
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Old November 29th, 2009, 08:27 PM   #8
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I don't like the idea of bad mouthing him around town, though. That kind of thing only turns around to bite you in the butt at some point.
Yeah, I guess what I meant by suggesting that was for quiet and classy retaliation - not for offensive purposes of defaming his character to a wider audience.
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Old November 29th, 2009, 09:23 PM   #9
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This whole thing sounded shady from the start. I agree that you should have spoken to the person who hired you right there at the event as soon as your job requirements changed. In fact, it seems like most of the problems people pose on this forum stem from this very situation...(1) the videographer is asked to do something other than what was agreed to, (2) the videographer does it without discussing payment for the additional work, and (3) the other party is surprised when the videographer hands them a charge for an additional amount.

It sounds like you already handed over the footage as well. I think any chance of getting paid your shooting rate went out the window with that. With no written contract and no footage in your possession, I think all you can do is stay away from these arrangements in the future. In my book, an assistant does anything except operate a camera.

It may sound harsh, but you let him do this to you. That doesn't make it right and I'm sorry it happened, but I vote for moving on with your own business and parting ways with this man for good. If however, you change your mind and decide to shoot for him again in the future, raise your rate...but not unfairly. Just make the shoot worth your while by charging a regular hourly rate, regardless of whether you're sitting around or operating five cameras. If he truly values what you have to offer and decides to hire you of his own free will, then your rate is justified.

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Old November 30th, 2009, 06:12 AM   #10
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I have a big Itialion friend that is 6'4 and 400 lbs and a shaved head. He looks like a roman gladiator. He's also a former linebacker. I just send him to their door and he politely asks for my money. That's it. Nothing else said

Only tried that once though. And it did work. :)
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Old November 30th, 2009, 10:19 AM   #11
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He sounds like a guy to avoid.

But...

You agreed to be at the event for 3 hours, shoot a few minutes of video for $100.

What does it matter whether the guy shot or not?

You were working unsupervised, and you decided that rather than hang out for 3 hours and get $100, you would shoot more and get $300. You should have cleared that decision with the check book first.

If I agree to shoot a wedding ceremony for $x I can't ask for $3x because I did more than I was asked to do. Even if everyone saw me do it.

- "You only paid for a 2 camera shoot, but you didn't complain when I showed up with six assistants and 8 cameras. You owe me"

??
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Old November 30th, 2009, 02:57 PM   #12
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But...

You agreed to be at the event for 3 hours, shoot a few minutes of video for $100.

What does it matter whether the guy shot or not?

You were working unsupervised, and you decided that rather than hang out for 3 hours and get $100, you would shoot more and get $300. You should have cleared that decision with the check book first.
I actually didn't decide on my own, he would point to me and say can you shoot this, while he sat at his table with is girlfriend and other guests.

It seams more to me like he had planned on me shooting the whole thing from the start and didn't want to inform me of this.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 03:50 PM   #13
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Sounds like a job for Judge Judy!
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Old November 30th, 2009, 05:27 PM   #14
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Makes me mad just reading. I agree best thing to do is in writing for ppl you've never done business with, paid up front in cash is best too. Like someone said move on live and learn. I've had similar situations basically ppl like this size you up or do this to everyone they meet. So if a person doesn't stand up for themselves or are too polite to confront them then they see how much they can get you to do before you call them on their crap.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 05:43 PM   #15
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Okay, your case doesn't make much sense. You should be charging for your time, not how many minutes of tape you shoot. Your time is what is worth something. So if you agreed to show up for three hours at a $ 100.00 rate, what difference does it make if you were just standing around, or were actually shooting something ?

Next time don't agree to show up for three hours for $ 100.00. Tell him you come at $300 whether you sit, or you shoot.
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