What do you do? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Wedding / Event Videography Techniques

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


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old June 11th, 2010, 10:22 AM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Reading (England)
Posts: 43
What do you do?

Hi all,

My business partner and I set up our own video production business in the UK in January, doing corporate promos, weddings, events, etc. Business is going well so far, but I'm curious to know how everyone here approaches the issue of contracts?

So far we have (perhaps naively) operated purely on trust; not invoicing clients until they are actually holding their polished video and not getting them to sign contracts at any point. Do you get clients to sign a contract before you make their film, and do you ask for a deposit?

I'd be really interested to hear how you all approach this area!

Many thanks,

Rob
__________________
Rob
Rob Birks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 11th, 2010, 10:39 AM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Miami, FL
Posts: 2,933
Congratulations on your new business!

You definitely .. definitely need to start having your clients sign a contract the moment they want to book you for a project. A contract protects them AND you, and it will let your client know that you are a serious professional as well. Mark my words ... operating on 'trust' will get you burned, so don't do it.

Regarding deposits .. again .. definitely require a substantial deposit. If you don't, then you'll end up getting burned there as well. Again, requiring a client to put down cash to book you for a project ensures that they are serious about the project and lets them know that you are a serious professional also. Just make sure your deposit is at least 1/4 of the project cost. For weddings we require about 1/3 up front just to reserve the date. For corporate projects we require 50%. A common mistake is to charge a really low deposit to encourage clients to book, but that can hurt you later when it's too easy for the client to walk away from the deposit. That leaves you with an empty date that you are no longer getting paid for.

So yes, require contracts and deposits (we call it a retainer for legal reasons).


One last bit of advice. NEVER release the project to the client until you've received final payment. If you release the product first, and then the client fails to pay, it become very difficult to collect that money. Trust me, you will have situations come up where you feel pressured to do this, but don't do it. Get full payment before you release the product.

Congratulations again .. and good luck!
__________________
Black Label Films
www.blacklabelweddingfilms.com
Travis Cossel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 11th, 2010, 10:48 AM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Philly, PA
Posts: 789
I agree with Travis. Ask for a deposit/retainer to "reserve the date". People seem to be ok with that saying, thinking "ohhh I better lock in my date before someone else does". Operating without a contract is odd. For both you & the couple. If I were a bride & groom who met up with someone I would like to see some kind of contrat to know they are serious. I understand some people don't care, or trust you, but I would think sooner or later you'd run into one who needed it. I had a bride call me & asking if I were available et c, then asked if I have a contract, I said yes. She said good because the last videographer she called didn't, but also told her no he will not sign one?? Which perplexed me. Maybe he was afraid if it failed he could better be sued, I dunno. Just seemed odd to nearly have the gig, then lose it due to not getting a contract. I guess he thought he'd need a lawyer to draft it, etc.

Ultimately I would use one. There are some generics available on here, after a little while it may be better to seek an attorney to better draft one for you.


As for deposits, when do you request the remaining balance? Before the wedding, before beginning to edit, or before delivery?!
David Barnett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 11th, 2010, 11:44 AM   #4
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Reading (England)
Posts: 43
Thanks Travis and David, your insight has been really helpful.

When we started the business we had customer satisfaction at the forefront of our minds and it felt natural at the time to make sure the client was happy with the finished product before we asked for payment. It's been something of a learning curve these last 6 months as we started out as film makers but not businessmen! So the lack of a contract was just down to inexperience, although so far no client has asked for one (possibly because we do more corporate videos and events than weddings, I don't know) otherwise we'd have had a re-think straight away!

I completely understand where you're both coming from and can't thank you both enough for sharing your experience. Travis, your point about not asking for a small deposit is really good and would never have occurred to me. In our minds, we were being paid for services rendered, so didn't want to charge money until the service had been done. A deposit of 25-50% up front to 'reserve the date', followed by completion of payment after editing but before distribution of the film to the client seems like a fair option, to answer your question David.

David - did you say there are some generic contracts up here on dvinfo?

Thank you again!

Rob
__________________
Rob
Rob Birks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 11th, 2010, 12:03 PM   #5
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 6,609
IMHO Customer Service and Service Agreement (Contracts) go hand in hand. Everything is written into the agreement that you and your client agree to for the job both sign it and now at a later date no one can go "I thought you said..." AND you're both protected. Any client that won't sign an agreement won't get my services. PERIOD! Money up front? You bet. If you have a written agreement then you better have some money with it to seal it up. A service agreement or contract might not be any good legally, without a retainer (deposit). Different laws in diffeent countries.
Like my lawyer said about 30 years ago, "if it ain't in writing, it ain't" and oh by the way, money talks BS walks!
__________________
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
Don
Don Bloom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 11th, 2010, 12:12 PM   #6
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Miami, FL
Posts: 2,933
Rob, in most cases a client will respect your operating policies, unless they are completely unreasonable. Asking for payment before releasing the product isn't unreasonable so you shouldn't have any issues. For our wedding work we don't do a pre-screening of the project for the couple to review it. We basically just complete the project and our couples trust us to do a great job. We've always done it this way.

For corporate work things go differently. Generally we are posting drafts online for the client to review (since often there are a number of people that have to give approval at various stages of the project). So our corporate clients will see their finished project online before they've made the final payment. Generally we watermark the draft so that there is no way the client could use the material. This protects us and ensures that we receive that final payment before the client receives any working files.

By the way, I would think you're more likely to impress corporate clients by having a contract versus individuals. Obviously you should have contracts for both, but I think it's generally more expected in the corporate world. Different markets could vary on this, though.

Another tip for you with weddings. Get full payment up front before the wedding date. I know that sounds unfair, and for many years we did the opposite ourselves, but it's a good idea. After the wedding the available money dries up really quick and the priority of anything wedding-related drops off really quick as well. For 4-5 years we had no problems with our system of collecting a substantial payment 3 months after the wedding. Then the economy tanked last year and we ended up with all sorts of issues. We now require final payment within 30 days of the wedding.
__________________
Black Label Films
www.blacklabelweddingfilms.com
Travis Cossel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 11th, 2010, 12:22 PM   #7
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Reading (England)
Posts: 43
Hi Don, you are so right that customer service and customer agreement go hand in hand. Your posts are often little nuggets of gold, and I really appreciate you taking the time to give some young guns your advice. Thank you!

Travis we do a similar procedure with our corporate clients using Dropbox, which has been a life-saver! I haven't watermarked the footage before, but it was one of those little lightbulbs that went off in my head a while ago and I dismissed as over-attention to detail. Guess I should have listened to myself more!

With you all having operated your businesses for much longer than us, you've obviously had time to experience those inevitable tough situations with clients paying (or not!). Our company must have got lucky so far, but we're not going to take any chances from now on.

Thanks again!
__________________
Rob
Rob Birks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 11th, 2010, 04:28 PM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 2,965
Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
Congratulations on your new business! Get full payment before you release the product.

Congratulations again .. and good luck!
What Travis said is what we live by. In the end this is a business, granted we love what we do, but we have realize that if some client can't afford us, if my prices are reasonable, then there will be another client that can.

I come from simpler times, and if need be, I'll sell everything and fish on the weekends, but I can't give away my product for free.


And the only thing I trust is that Travis and Don will hand down their old equipment to me, but I'm still waiting. :}
__________________
What happens if I push the 'Red' button?
Steven Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 11th, 2010, 04:59 PM   #9
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 6,609
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Birks View Post
With you all having operated your businesses for much longer than us, you've obviously had time to experience those inevitable tough situations with clients paying (or not!). Our company must have got lucky so far, but we're not going to take any chances from now on.

Thanks again!
I have found that there are only 2 kinds of business owners. Those that have been burned and those that will be. Eventually it will happen to everyone, hell it can and does even happen when you have a written agreement.

Steven, Sorry I've already promised my gear to my 11 year old grandson. I think he want to play destroyer with it and see how many pieces he can break it into. Come to think of it, there have been times I wanted to do that myself.
__________________
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
Don
Don Bloom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 11th, 2010, 05:02 PM   #10
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Reading (England)
Posts: 43
I guess all you can do is cover your backs as much as possible.

Boy that sure is one lucky grandson...!
__________________
Rob
Rob Birks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 11th, 2010, 06:20 PM   #11
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Posts: 8,222
Hi Rob

Me too.. I simply ask for 1/3rd when they sign the contract, 1/3rd 2 weeks before the wedding and the final 1/3rd when I deliver the DVD's. No-one has ever queried the payment structure and they just simply accept it.

A contract is an absolute essential for both you and the client!! We had a bunch of con-men on our East Coast going around with a portfolio of work and collecting hefty deposits and then disappearing into the night!! The client will appreciate that you conduct your business professionally with adequate documentation.

The only issue I have ever had was an annulled marriage during the honeymoon so the groom didn't want the video!! I hadn't edited anything at that stage so I still had 2/3rd's of my total price as compensation. Without any pre-payments or contract I would have been badly out of pocket. Luckily it's the only issue I have had over the last 20 years!!

Chris
Chris Harding is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 11th, 2010, 06:35 PM   #12
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Apple Valley CA
Posts: 4,866
Rob -
When I read your post, the first thing I thought was: ARE YOU CRAZY?!?!

I've done business on a handshake many times, so I understand your initial "casual" approach, but as Don said, you've either been burned, or you will be.

A contract helps make things clear so everyone knows what to expect - whether you think you're operating under a contract or not, you already ARE - in many instances ORAL contracts will be held just as binding as written ones, but there's no EVIDENCE, so it's "he said, she said". From experience, if someone wants to burn you, it doesn't matter if you've got a written contract anyway, but at least having one protects YOU if it's written properly in the event things go wrong.

As far as taking a deposit/RETAINER, it locks in the date, and you can't work elsewhere, so you should be compensated. I'd expect every vendor to take a deposit, why wouldn't you?

While I personally take every client as being honest and nice, I've also watched a couple episodes of a show titled "Bridezillas" we have on cable... better safe than sorry, IMO. I would ABSOLUTELY NEVER deliver product without cash in hand (not a personal check either, been burned THAT way before). But I'll also work creatively if I like a client - it's your biusiness, you can set your terms.

FWIW.
Dave Blackhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 11th, 2010, 07:31 PM   #13
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Miami, FL
Posts: 2,933
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Davis View Post
And the only thing I trust is that Travis and Don will hand down their old equipment to me, but I'm still waiting. :}
Well now I feel horrible. I just sold all my old stuff. I guess I'm a sellout. d;-)
__________________
Black Label Films
www.blacklabelweddingfilms.com
Travis Cossel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 13th, 2010, 07:12 PM   #14
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Manchester UK
Posts: 1,212
Rob, whilst I agree with much that has been written already I think you must be guided by the market in which you work. It is rare in the UK wedding market to get 30% deposit. Great if you can but most of us settle for 100-200, non-refundable, when the contract is signed. Don't expect any serious work if you don't have a contract - after all it protects the clients as much as you.

On payments in general, most wedding video people in the UK have tried to emulate the wedding photographers who generally demand 100% payment before the wedding day.

I think that's greed, after all they've not shot a frame by that point - indeed most of them haven't even bothered to recce the venues. We operate on a variant of the standard commercial/corporate model which we used for 30 years, (50% on commission, 50% on completion) which is 150 deposit, 50% of the total fee one month before the wedding (both non-refundable) and the balance on satisfied completion.

Our competitors hate us but we share your ethics - that we build customer confidence and trust by not asking for the final payment until they're satisfied. After all if it was good enough for British Airways, Mars Corp, etc, it's good enough for Mr and Mrs Smith. There's more than enough amateurs running round dumping shoddy work on people who have no comeback - these people aren't even worth wasting a Small Claims Court judgment on. It's hardly surprising the business has a bad name in many quarters and I for one applaud your ethics and businesslike attitude. Good luck.
Philip Howells is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Wedding / Event Videography Techniques

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:28 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network