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Old December 7th, 2009, 09:18 AM   #1
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Graduation ceremony...advice needed PLEASE!

Hi all...I'm in a huge predicament here and would like some advice as to how I should proceed.

I have been asked by a few parents of local high school seniors to video this year's graduation ceremony. The final product will also consist of coverage of "Project Graduation," (an all-night party with all the grads), and a picture slideshow of all the seniors. The job isn't paid by the school, rather my income will come from sales of the DVD, which could be quite substantial.

Problem is, the SCHOOL has already asked another videographer to do the job. I know I will do a better job, since I can do a 2-camera set-up opposed to his 1, provide better audio than his on-camera shotgun mic, etc.. But just getting started in the business, I don't want to step on anyone's toes as far as getting jobs. I also know this other videographer fairly well, and will probably consider using him as a second camera operator on jobs in the future.

I have already told these parents that I will not do the job since the other guy has been asked BY THE SCHOOL to do the project. But I'm still being pressured by the PTO and parents, saying they will buy my video over his, and they say other parents will too. I know that if I were the one asked to do it by the school, I wouldn't appreciate someone else showing up with camera in hand, doing the same job...just as I would if hired to shoot a wedding or other event, so I don't feel comfortable doing the same thing to him. I also don't want to get on the school's "crap list," since they could decide to use me in the future.

Should I go ahead and do the job, chalk it up as doing business, get my foot in the door and hope the school uses me in the future....OR should I bow out gracefully, decline the job, thank the parents for the kind words and for considering using my services, and hope for the job in the future?

Thank you in advance for your feedback.

Dusty
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Old December 7th, 2009, 09:23 AM   #2
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Dusty, since the school has already hired an Official Videographer, I would respectfully decline the request of the parents. How would you feel if you were asked to be the Official Videographer and you saw someone shooting the event as well and with the intent of selling DVDs? I assume the other Videographer would have an exclusivity clause on his contract and can ask the school to muscle in on you.

My 2 cents.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 10:01 AM   #3
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Bad Idea

Attending a party with underage students is setting yourself up for a lawsuit. Say NO.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 10:18 AM   #4
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@Noel: I totally agree. That's what I was thinking, but wanted to hear this from someone else.

@Greg: It's not that kind of party. Project Graduation parties are intended to keep the grads off the streets the night of their graduation. They are themed parties, typically with games and prizes for the kids, and is heavily supervised by parents.

Thank you both! I really appreciate it...
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Old December 7th, 2009, 10:57 AM   #5
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I agree with Noel. Chances are school faculty could have you removed from the premises of the "Graduation Party" anyway. All it would take is for the official videographer to mention something to a contact of his (School Principal or head teacher who's in charge). And if you had a 2 camera shoot going on, 3 cameras there would be too many.

Also, take what they said about "saying they will buy my video over his, and they say other parents will too" with a grain of salt. Just because 5 or 6 parents are asking you to tape it, doesn't mean all 300 (or however many) parents will be buying the DVD off of you. Most probably won't buy either ones copy anyway.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 04:03 PM   #6
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Dusty -
Since you say you know the other videographer fairly well, how about approaching him with a pleasant tone and give him a business proposition - he brings you as an "assistant", you bring your extra gear, giving better coverage, he looks good, then you hook up for the DVD sales you say you've got in your corner, work out the editing chores and the split so everyone makes more $$. Seems like there's a "win-win" in there somewhere, unless the school contract has exclusions that would prevent such an "arrangement".

Just spitballin', but that's what I'd do if there was a nice potential market sitting there untapped and there might be a way to achieve ALL the goals while not ruffling feathers.

Maybe there's a glitch in there somewhere... is the school planning on selling DVD's for a profit? Even if that were the case, I should think they'd like to sell MORE, and better product, but if they are planning to take the proceeds from DVD sales, that would present a problem...
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Old December 7th, 2009, 07:40 PM   #7
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It sounds like the potential for trouble is much higher than any potential profits.
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