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Old November 10th, 2010, 04:09 AM   #1
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Discouraging clients from requesting changes

Next week we're going to be delivering wedding videos to two different clients, and, based on past experiences, I'm anticipating that after viewing the videos they're going to ask for creative changes to be made - which is something I really do not want because our 2010 contract doesn't stipulate that they'll be charged extra for these changes. [It does say, however: "Videographer is given full production and editorial control by Client regarding all aspects of the production and post-production services for this event"]

So I have a few questions for any who'd be interested to share their experiences.

My main question is this:
When you deliver your videos, do you say anything (a) to actively discourage clients from requesting changes &/or (b) to defend your videos from criticism re: imperfections that were out of your control?

But it really breaks down into a few smaller questions.

1) For those of you who don't offer proof disks and who discourage clients from requesting changes, what steps, if any, do you take when you DELIVER your videos to discourage them from asking for creative changes, e.g. "Can you add a shot of my aunt here, and of my cousin there..." "I don't like the background music you chose for the receiving line video, change it." etc.

(For example, perhaps you remind your clients of the contract stipulations or you say something more subtly that lets them know you're not expecting them to ask for changes)

2) What is your response to clients who complain that you missed part of a shot due to something out of your control. E.g. While setup in the aisle, filming the bride walking down it, the photographer or a guest steps right in front of your camera, causing you to miss part of her walk?
[Here's a recent example from one of our weddings: While we were set up at the front of the reception hall, filming the speeches, a group of hired dancers suddenly ran in the back of the hall (70 feet away, on the other side of all the guests' tables) and started performing. We were expecting them, but they decision to have them dance in the back of the hall was made last minute - they were supposed to be in the front - so we had no way of being in position.]

In both of these instances something out of our control caused us to miss part of a shot, and yet, when it comes time to deliver our video, it's not the photographer or the dancers that are going to look incompetent - it's us.
So is it best to tell the B&G about the problem and remind them of it when you deliver their videos, or is it better to say nothing and hope they don't notice / care? I always want to do the former, but my partner wants to do the latter.

3) What is your response to clients who seem to think that their wedding video should be hollywood quality and seem disappointed if / when it isn't? (That is, how do you deal with clients who don't understand the difficulties and limitations inherent in live event videography?)

Thanks

Last edited by Kevin Hill; November 10th, 2010 at 04:14 AM. Reason: Missed a section.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 05:53 AM   #2
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Hmmmm, this is becoming a very popular subject. Here's my take.

1) This is covered in my service agreement. I have the editorial control and I do not make editorial changes without getting paid. PERIOD! Plus I don't know who those people are they might be talking about and I am not about to spend hours searching thru the footage to see if I got 5 secoinds of Aunt Mary (you know the one in the red and grenn striped dress with the blue polka sots. Shes got gray hair with some brown highlights and wears glasses). Frankly this is not something that comes up often for me. A few times over the years but I shut it down pretty quickly by saying something like "sure IF there footage is there I can change it. It'll be $150 for the first hour and $75 per hour there after and since I have 2 hours or reception footage to look thru then the hour or so to re-edit then the 2 hours or so to re-render, author and burn the new DVDs, well I figure it'll be about $400-$500 to add aunt Mary. Can you describe her again?" That stops it right there.

2) Again this is covered by my service agreement which clearly states that in live event coverage my company is not responsible nor held liable for portions of the event not covered due to non-professionals getting in the way or last minute changes to the event that were not communicated to me. My lawyer did the legalise but trust me, it's the only way to cover yourself.

3) Never really came up-but keep in mind that H-wood pays more for one days lunch for the cast and crew than your client does for their wedding video. MEANING in H-wood there is complete 100% control over content and conditions. They can yell CUT lets do it again, they use cameras that cost as much as a car or more and if you wanted Spielberg to shoot your wedding, you couldn't afford him, This is simply a non issue in my 26 years experience.

Others will chime in with their experience, gather it all, throw out what you don't think will work for you, keep the rest.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 06:00 AM   #3
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Thanks Don! I really appreciate your thoughts, and have benefited from a number of your earlier posts too. (Searching for "reedit" brings up interesting results)
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Old November 10th, 2010, 07:20 AM   #4
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Kevin - I have the same issue as change requests seem to be the norm for me now. I'm thinking I need to do better at setting expectations. I think its fair to give the customer a chance to review the final DVD but in a manner that suggests " this is it - please confirm that everything is ok and I'll send you the additional copies" vs something like "review this and let me know what you think" Even the using the word proof conjures up the impression that its a work in progress. Most of the change requests I get are minor but as you know its a lot of work to make even small changes.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 08:03 AM   #5
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We used to have this problem a lot more, and asked ourselves how we can fix it. We found that every now and again we would get requests for changes, even though our contract clearly states that all creative and editing decisions are made by us and any changes will be billed at x amount. Now what we have done is adopted the following policy. We deliver all of the final copies in their final presentation cases along with little extras that we throw into the package. This seems to give people the sense that this is the FINAL product. We still have in our contract the part about changes costing extra but now prepare ourselves for a requested change. As long as the change is an easy one we will do it free of charge, though we will tell them that in order to have the change made they need to ship back their original copies and we just print up new ones and put them in plastic slimline cases and mail them out. If the change requested is a drastic one, then we cite the contract and an estimate for the amount it will cost. Our philosophy is that if we make a small change that takes us very little time we will have a happy client which over time may be worth a lot more in future bookings than the small amount of time the change actually took. We also base our willingness to make free changes based on a per couple basis. If the couple was just a real pain to work with, or made things more difficult before during or after the wedding, then we are much more likely to charge for changes no matter what. That is why we leave that clause in the contract. If we want to enforce it, it's there, and if we choose to ignore it, that is our prerogative.

I also agree with Art that setting realistic client expectations at meetings is crucial. If we over sensationalize what we do or what they get we are setting our clients up for disappointment.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 08:32 AM   #6
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You're walking into this assuming they're going to want everything free (which is probably accurate...) But the way I deal with clients is to assume they're going to pay.

Listen to what they want, then give a fair quote. Don't be apologetic, just be factual.

I have to deal with this in all aspects of my business with all kinds of clients. They ask "Can you just make this small change...?" and I reply with "Certainly I can, it will take X hours and cost $XXX." 90% of the time they say "never mind" but in 10% of the cases I get more paying work which is good.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 10:04 AM   #7
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I have produced hundreds of wedding videos and I can only think of one time I was asked to make a change.

The brides mother was a drunk and the bride did not want her to appear in the video at all. She showed up uninvited at the reception. I had no way of knowing that the bride and mom were not on speaking terms. The fix was easy so I made it free of charge.

I did how ever charge them for the copies since I had already delivered the final copies.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 12:10 PM   #8
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Kevin, we've only had a few times where a couple inquired about a revision. In our experience, simply letting them know that the revisions are going to cost about $XXX ends the conversation. The average couple has no idea what is involved in making changes, but once you associate a dollar amount with it they usually realize that the change isn't really worth it. Don is exactly right on with his response. Also, you already have it in your contract that you have complete creative control, right? So as far as I can tell (I'm not a lawyer) you're under no obligation to make any creative revisions for the couple. We do also have some text in our contract explaining that revisions will cost additional.

Regarding missed shots, you'll want to tread carefully here. You don't necessarily want to start throwing blame around because it can just make you look bad. You also need to consider that the couple might take what you said to the other vendors involved, and what you said to couple might not be what is said to the vendors. The best approach is to simply explain why you missed something and don't get into a lot of detail on it. If it wasn't your fault, make sure the couple understands this, but just try and avoid making someone else look bad. For example, if the wedding coordinator didn't tell you about the dancers shifting locations, let the couple know, but maybe mention that the coordinator was so busy with the dancers that she didn't have a chance to let you know.

Finally, regarding the 'Hollywood' situation, simply be frank with your couple. Let them know that shooting a live event is nothing at all like shooting a staged film. Explain to them that the real value of their film isn't in having every little shot coming out like a movie, it's in capturing the raw and real emotion and mood of the event. In Hollywood, the emotion and mood are completely manufactured. They wouldn't want that for their wedding. Don made an excellent point about the cost disparity between what we do and what they do in Hollywood, but I don't know that I would bring that up with a couple. You could end up with them feeling like money is the issue when really it's the nature of filming a live event that they need to understand.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 12:16 PM   #9
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Great advice Travis. It's good to have you back on the forum after your move. It must feel great to have it done, at least the 'big pieces'.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 01:41 PM   #10
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As for missing part of a shot because of a last minute change, someone blocking you off, or any other reason beyond your control...I agree that this should be discussed with the couple before the day of the shoot. A simple approach is to remind the couple beforehand that you and your camera are not omniscient. You can only capture the event from your "perspective." (Use this exact term with them.)

If the couple (A) understands that your perspective is limited and (B) trusts that you are a competent videographer, then complaints should be minimized for you. After the shoot though, they may forget this...which is where your question comes up.

When you deliver the film, you might consider lightly mentioning which part of the wedding was difficult to shoot and why. In the same breath, mention in some way how happy you are with what you were able to capture and do with the edit. If there were some conditions out of your control that disrupted your shot, then you really should be proud of how you adapted...so there is nothing wrong with sharing this with the client. I believe this sets the tone for them as well when they watch their film.

On the one hand, they will be on the lookout for that moment in the film where the problem occurred even though it may have flown under the radar had you not mentioned it at all. On the other hand, if it is a fairly noticeable disruption, you have prepared them for it and gotten them on your side by explaining how you were able to save their film from disaster...or something like that. The deciding line between mentioning or not mentioning particular rough patches will have to be your estimation of which will likely go unnoticed and which may raise eyebrows. Mention the bigger problems to your couples and let the small stuff go unnoticed.

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Old November 10th, 2010, 03:38 PM   #11
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Thanks to all of you for your replies. There is some very practical advice here.

I've summarized some of the main points / suggestions.

- Set realistic client expectations (i.e. the cameras are not omnipresent)
- Make sure your contract protects you if shots are missed
- If you miss an important shot because of something out of your control, explain this to the B&G but don't cast blame.
- Make sure the contract indicates that client will be billed for creative changes.
- Explain what is involved in making changes and associate a dollar amount with it. (Though sometimes you can give the client a break and do it for free, depending on the situation)
- When you deliver the product, present it in its finished packaging and let the client know that this is intended to be the finished product.

Since starting this thread, I've contacted a couple lawyers to get prices re: contract review / consultation. Two have agreed to tighten up my contract for $200. Sounds like money well spent.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 04:28 PM   #12
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Great advice Travis. It's good to have you back on the forum after your move. It must feel great to have it done, at least the 'big pieces'.
It's great to be back and finished with the cross-country relocation. We still have a lot to do but the last major step is finishing the build out and interior design of our studio, which should be done by the end of the month. Once that is done, I'm looking forward to sleeping again. d;-)

Hope all is well in Cali!
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Old November 10th, 2010, 08:38 PM   #13
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Kevin,
It's my opinion that a well and properly written "contract" (service agreement to me; ask my lawyer) will keep a whole lot of things for happening after the fact most of which are bad for you. Keep in mind that the agreement should not only protect YOU but the client as well. If some drunk takes a spill and tried to blame you then there is a good chance that should it ever get to a lawyer that the lawyer would include not only you but the venue and the bride and groom. After all it was their party held at the venue they rented for the party. Just something to think about. Keep it in perspective but keep yourself from facing the old "well I'm going to sue you" bit. I've had that a couple of time (if you haven't you probably will at some point-everyone does) and at that point I don't even try to reason with people. I just ask them to get pencil and paper to copy down my lawyers name and phone number and any further correspondence should be directed to him. Now that's pretty aggressive I admit but that's me. My service agreement protects me form most anything that can come up and here's how I did it many years ago with revisions along the way over the years. I sat down and wrote down everything I though I might need protection from, all the bad things that can happen, all the jerks out there that threaten to sue at the drop of a hat. EVERYTHING and I mean everything. My notes were 4 pages long. I gave that to my lawyer who not only revised it but put it into legalese. I can honestly say that in the last 10 years (going back further would be pointless) I have not had a single threat of suit, nor anyone asking for the impossible. I have had people ask for a re-edit which I then point out is covered in my Terms and Conditions and tell them where to find it. That ends the asking for re-edit.
Now having said ALL of that, please know that while I AM a grouchy old man (my kids term not mine) and a hard nosed businessman (I've survived 39 years of self employmeny) I am not a total a**hole. I might bend a bit depending on the particular client and what they are asking for so flexiblity is key but without a legal and properly written agreement you don't have a leg to stand on and they will sk for and probably get both arms ;-)
I'm glad to hear you're going to let a lawyer go over your paperwork. Thats a great first step to protecting yourself.
Good luck
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Old November 11th, 2010, 02:01 PM   #14
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This usually works...

Editing rate: $125 per hour
Editing rate while you watch: $225 per hour
Editing rate while you watch and make comments: $475 per hour
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Old November 11th, 2010, 02:07 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Blake Cavett View Post
This usually works...

Editing rate: $125 per hour
Editing rate while you watch: $225 per hour
Editing rate while you watch and make comments: $475 per hour
WOW, this really gave me a great laugh! In the time it would take me to edit a one hour piece alone, I can tak on an additional few hours based on the clients chirping in in the background lol! boy is this true.

sorry for that off topic! =)
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