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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old August 30th, 2010, 09:10 AM   #16
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Given how important we all think the small print is in our contracts I'm surprised at the responses so far.

John, the operative word was "expect". If your good lady chooses to serve the delicious things you describe that's her business and very generous of her, but if you think you're getting a better job because of it I'd reconsider who I employ. Since I recognise the sarcasm in the rest of your message I also know that you don't do a better job if you're fed.

Vito, I specifically said we're not camels and said nothing about working for 12-14 hours without a break - to do so would be to invite disaster. The obvious time to take a break is when the clients are eating their wedding breakfasts. Non-one eats nicely so it's a good time to take your break too. Experience tells you that but if you have any doubt whether you're going to be surprised (and we always include this in our pre-wedding meetings) then ask. Explain that you're going to take a break unless there's something going to happen. I can't see why that should present any difficulty.

Nothing anyone has written so far addresses the point that it's unprofessional to expect to be fed, out of step with the real world of the self-employed and merely increases the clients' costs. A couple of packs of sandwiches, biscuits or a slice or cake and some fruit along with a bottled drink bought at your local supermarket or garage shouldn't cost you more than £40/$60 for a three man crew - whilst a typical wedding breakfast will be £60/$90-£100/$150 per head.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 09:41 AM   #17
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Things are different on this side of the pond, Philip. There is no official wedding breakfast. We often start early, say 9am, and go without pause (other than driving madly to the next spot) until we reach the reception at 6pm. Believe me, we are ready to sit down and take a break by then.

At events where we are not supplied a table, this is doubly difficult because we have to then forego a break in order to continue to cover what's happening, but with nowhere to sit. So yes, I think it is fair to expect that the client arrange a table for us.

I don't expect they have to feed us, but to repeat my point, here they usually do, knowing that it will keep us in the hall and get them a better video in the end.

Perhaps the scheduling where you are is more relaxed, and it makes sense that you feed yourself, etc. I don't know. I just know how it works here.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 09:54 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Philip Howells View Post
...What I do suggest is that the business should stop treating itself as some sort of pampered speciality, build the cost of its food and drink into the product price and behave like the professionals we all claim to be...
Wholeheartedly agree with this Philip.

Some clients email me to ask what would I like to eat, others don't bother, but to make this a stipulation in contract is real bad. To the ones who offer a meal, I graciously decline and tell them I bring water and sandwiches and often too focussed on the job in hand to worry about eating a three-course meal.

In documentary projects, do you sit down and get pally and break the frame with your subjects? Then don't do it at Wedding either.

It's a no no!

:)
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Old August 30th, 2010, 09:55 AM   #19
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Our agreement states that a courtesy meal be provided for the Videographer/Photographer (s) at the reception. We usually pack a sandwich for lunch and eat on the way to the park shoot. To me that is the most important meal of the day ( around 3pm for a 1:30 pm wedding). Some Brides would be kind enough to hand us a fastfood take-out at the park. This should last us until dinner is served at 7:30 pm or 8 pm
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Old August 30th, 2010, 09:57 AM   #20
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Vito, I'm sure you're right, that there are local differences but not a great as you might think. A typical start will be about the same time as yours, with either the groom or the bride. It is true that most wedding breakfasts are formal affairs and in truth most start earlier than 6pm unless the wedding is late in the afternoon - I believe church weddings still can't be later than 4.30pm by law.

We'd certainly expect to be able to sit down to eat our sandwiches but frankly I've never covered a wedding reception that wasn't in a hotel, civic hall, private premises that didn't have a spare table we could sit down at so that may well be different.

So yes, there may, of course, be differences but most video producers have taken their cues from photographers most of whom demand a meal. I've even had a toastmaster who insists on eating the same meal as the clients a table set alongside but at facing right angles to the top table. On the other hand, most toastmasters in the North bring their own sandwiches, not for professional reasons so much as because they couldn't stand another hotel meal if they were paid!
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Old August 30th, 2010, 10:17 AM   #21
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Philip, I may sound I like disagreeing with you, but I'm not. I also don't think it's right to demand to be fed. But much of how it works here also depends on the particular hall. Many of them are "Italian" halls, and the custom is to provide a table in the hall for the video/photo/dj team. We are fed the exact same 45 course meal as the guests. The amount of food is bizarre, and I'm always grateful for it. And when the guests start banging plates trying to get the bride and groom to kiss, I'm able to jump up and grab it on video because I'm not somewhere else.

Other halls provide a table in a separate room and we are fed either the same meal, or a different vendor meal. I'm again grateful, but nervous that I'm missing something going on in the other room, but that's life. It's also harder in these halls, because the meal break for us is timed with the band, but that's also when they tend to make speeches or do games. So there are times that I can't leave to eat cause I'm filming. But again, that's life and you deal with it.

Not once, in the hundreds of weddings I've shot in Montreal, have I been expected to leave the venue to buy myself supper, or have I been expected to bring my own food. That's just not the way it works here. It's not stipulated in our contract that they have to feed us, cause it's not necessary. I don't know why that's the custom here, but I'm sure happy about it.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 10:37 AM   #22
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Vito, I think you've put your finger right on the button - it's not part of your contract - and yes, you're also right that in a conventional UK reception there's not the variable events you describe - although I imagine in some traditional Italian communities they may well do the same as you.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 11:47 AM   #23
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I have never requested a meal but like many others here there have been numerous times when I have been offered and I use to accept but I could probably count on my fingers the number of times I've received the complete meal. On most occasions it would be a "bare bones - main course only" version though my clients had paid the full amount, or I am offered it just as the speeches are about to start and many times it would never appear at all. I don't like to chase round after hotel staff begging for my food.

It seems that like most of the UK members I'm happy with a packed lunch away from the main room. It gives me both a physical and mental break, time to take my shoes off for a while. I don't feel annoyed that the bride and groom have paid out £50, maybe more, for something I didn't get.

I prefer to have a business like professional relationship as a service provider not be treated like a surrogate guest, or someone they should feel honoured to have at their wedding.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 12:31 PM   #24
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When we meet with the bride and groom we ask if there's a public bar available for us to get some lunch. If, at that point, they suggest they will pay for it then fair enough - a nice bonus but we absolutely do not expect it. Once they've sat down for their meal we're glad to get away for a couple of hours. As for the idea of sitting down with the guests and having the same meal as they - I can't think of anything worse.

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Old August 30th, 2010, 02:50 PM   #25
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Well, things aren“t any different here in Mexico, at least on the cities I“ve lived. 15 years ago I lost faith in people“s willingnes to feed the videographer and its crew. (that mean us). So, nowadays I don“t expect any kind of special treatment but when everyone is eating, I aproach the couple and say them both the same Chris, Vitto and others state on their contracts. Sometimes they ask the caterer to take care of us and sometimes they are ok with us leaving for an hour. So no big deal.

But when we are working at a venue too far from a food joint, I discreetly slip a $100 pesos bill (like 7.5 USdlls) to one of the waiters and they more than happily accomodate us better than the other guests.

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Old August 30th, 2010, 03:25 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Philip Howells View Post
John, the operative word was "expect". If your good lady chooses to serve the delicious things you describe that's her business and very generous of her, but if you think you're getting a better job because of it I'd reconsider who I employ. Since I recognise the sarcasm in the rest of your message I also know that you don't do a better job if you're fed.
Nope - you've got that all wrong. If I come away from a wedding feeling valued and appreciated, I put much more effort into the edit and final product compared to a wedding where I am ignored, unfed and made to feel like hired help. I go the extra mile when I'm buzzed with generous & kind clients. We find the tradesmen we employ are the same - offering extra advice, throwing in extras for free, not cutting corners.

It's not in the rulebook. But it is reality. It pays to think of others.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 04:12 PM   #27
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Wow.I don't think I'd like to deal with anyone who based the quality /outcome of the work they did for me on whether or not I fed them. Very strange business model.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 06:57 PM   #28
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It's not a business model - it's human nature. We are not robots. We deal with people and emotions.

If you come home from a wedding after being treated like dirt, are you saying you would put just as much time and effort into the edit, as compared to a wedding where you were treated like royalty? Be honest.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 07:22 PM   #29
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Our contract states that we will be provided with a meal at the reception. We've had this in our contract for years and never had an issue. In fact, after seeing that in our contract, most couples now make it a point to encourage us to eat when they see us at the reception. Putting that clause in our contract has been one of the best things we've ever added.

Sure, we could just take off for an hour to go get food, but we feel it's important to be AT the reception. We also suggest that we are seated in the same room as the event, although we don't require it. The reason again is that we want to be there to keep an eye on things, and trust me it has helped us quite a few times.

The bottom line for us is that the clause is worded very plainly in our contract. If that doesn't sit well with a couple then they can find someone else to film and photograph their wedding. But after 5 or 6 years of having this in our contract we've NEVER had a single person voice the slightest complaint about it.

Phillip, I get what you're saying, but it's really a non-issue as far as I can see.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 07:31 PM   #30
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wow ..didn't know that this is a complex matter.....never had a problem with the B&G agreeing to provide meals for us eventhough its in the contract..could it be a cultural difference from across the pond? I doubt couples even really care about this matter, if they do then it is a red flag for me.

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