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

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Old November 18th, 2010, 11:44 AM   #1
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Clients Very Disappointed...

We just delivered what we thought was quite a good wedding video to some clients, but they have come back with a long list of complaints / changes. It's so frustrating because we spent way more time editing their video than other clients' videos due to problems with the ceremony (an Arabic ceremony - they kept bumping into us as we filmed, requiring us to smoothcam and edit down the ceremony in order to have smooth footage).

Anyway, the main problem seems to be that these clients' expectations do not match what was outlined in the contract.

The finished product in the contract is:
Three Edited Videos:
1 video covers the bride and groom morning preparations and the bride/groom/family meeting.
1 video covers the reception, from the couples' entrance at the reception to when they leave, though the video will not be quite as long as the time from when they arrive to when they leave because we will edit out idle moments, such as when people are eating, when speakers are walking up to the podium, when there's a break in the dances, etc.
1 artistically edited highlight video that draws on the best footage / moments from the day.

The couple loved their highlight video.
However, they had the following complaints about the other videos

1) " The formals are entirely missing- why have they not been included in the video? A few moments in the highlight video does not suffice. I believe they should be included near the end of the "Traditions" chapter, and should capture all the locations we shot in."

- We told them the formals are only used for the highlight video. The 1st video (preparations and family meeting) never mentions formals for that reason.

2) "We were under the impression that all the raw footage would be given to us"
- This is not our practice and not in our contract.

3) "During the ceremony / family meeting, some scenes are missing, such as when we first hugged each other"
- This is because we had just filmed the bride walk down the stairs, and then had to push our way through a crowd of 30 people in the family room in order to get to the front of the room, where the bride & the groom were. If the crowd had moved out of our way, as they did for the b&G, we would have had the shot. Instead we had to fight our way through since no one wanted to move out of our way!

4) "Add more footage of the decor"

5) "Add some more scenes of us travelling from the groom's family's house to the brides"

Now, to be fair, we also made some mistakes, which we'll definitely fix. 1) During the 2 1/2 hour reception dance video (a nightmare to edit!) one of our clips had a "tracking error" message come up. 2) We accidentally omitted to include the slideshow they asked us to put on the disc. 3) They claim much of the dancing / singing is synced to the wrong audio. I used Plural Eyes to sync it, and then double checked it, but we'll review it again. The issue is everything is in Arabic (and we don't speak Arabic). :(

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Old November 18th, 2010, 12:36 PM   #2
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Not to sound like a bad guy but it sounds to me like your service agreement (contract) might need to be tightened up and at the same time it sounds like there was some miscimmunication between you and your client when they signed up.

The fact that you might have been blocked out on certain shots is beyond your control but this is one thing that can be written out in your contract in the terms and conditions. The formals not being included can also be stated in your contract and like you while I cover it I don't use all of the shots I get from that session.

If the music is wrong then that's something that needs to be fixed but honestly this whole thing sounds like they simply either didn't understand what they were going to get OR they're simply the most picky people in town and are trying to work you for something that they THINK they should get when in fact they got what they were supposed to get.

Sometimes people have a completely different idea of what they are getting than what they are really going to get.

I say try to come to some sort of comprimise with them regarding what you will and will not fix or be reaponsible for and remember you can't please all the of the people all of the time. Sometimes you just gotta move on. (sigh)
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Old November 18th, 2010, 02:54 PM   #3
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Sorry to hear that Kevin. As Don have mentioned a solid signed agreement stating you have full creative control of the shoot and edit would have "saved" you from this horror. This is also why I am a big fan of not giving the clients a draft and if they want any changes. In a culture I am not familiar with I usually do research or ask one of the family members to tell me which parts are really important in the ceremony.

If you can't sync the audio for the dance, use the captured audio from the on camera microphone.

Good luck.
Noel Lising
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Old November 18th, 2010, 03:09 PM   #4
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2) "We were under the impression that all the raw footage would be given to us"
- This is not our practice and not in our contract.
No matter what else happens, stand firm on this one.

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Old November 18th, 2010, 05:18 PM   #5
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Hey Kevin....

I feel you pain a bit. I recently had a client tell me that she liked a trailer/highlight that I put together, but wanted it all to be changed. Ie, new music, more of this, less of that... The video had great reviews on her fb page and has over 215 views as well. Even-though I like working with her and her husband, I was a little taken back by her request.
Sometimes it's disappointing having that feeling that you let someone down by not meeting their vision. But it happens all the time with everyone at least a few times.
Until now I had a weak contract that would leave me meeting every demand of the customer. It honestly was taking a toll on my life. Investing so much time, creating a great video (imo), and then upon delivery having to make several minor adjustments. It really slows down my editing timeline as well when it comes to other clients.

Best of luck.

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Old November 18th, 2010, 05:36 PM   #6
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Hi Kevin

I feel for you too!! I had a bridezilla back in 2008 that spent 3 FULL days with me (at no cost!!)

Just make sure that your contract gives you full editing control and explain that to the bride. Also I insist on a meeting with the couple to make sure that they at least tell you want they want!! Just for interest my speeches start with the speaker at the podium and end there...and nobody complains!! It's pretty hard to follow people coming up to speak anyway.

Since adding my editorial control portion to the contract I have never had complaints like "but you missed that bit" Explain at the meeting what they will get and also show then some recent samples..that way they know what to expect!!

I find that if you encourage them to find stuff they want to change, then they will go "all out" to find something. I don't even offer changes now (except if I have made an error!!) and brides are more than happy with the final video. They cannot expect a minute by minute coverage of the entire event and that needs to be pointed out to them at the initial meeting!! For what they were asking for you needed a 6 camera team and probably a 6 DVD set so not a single moment was missed. (and a HUGE pile of money from them, of course)

On future jobs, stay tough and tell them what they will get and they usually will realise what they want is totally impractical and will compromise!!

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Old November 18th, 2010, 06:56 PM   #7
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Also change in your contract that packages don't include 'x' amount of hours of 'COVERAGE.'

Coverage to them means if you're there for 8 hours, they get 8 hours of footage.

Instead, packages include 8 hours of ATTENDANCE. Period.

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Old November 18th, 2010, 07:21 PM   #8
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Kevin, my approach is like yours in principle - satisfy the client, but as everybody has said there have to be limits and the place for these is in your contract.

But, expectations can vary widely and are one reason why we only take on Christian or Civil weddings.

This has nothing to do with the faiths themselves but everything to do with my knowledge of the mores, customs and expectations of those potential clients. I freely admit that I am culturally challenged when it comes to programmes for Asian or Jewish clients. For example, I'm told that typical Asian wedding videos often include a great deal of "Bangla" music. For me to pretend that I have any knowledge or appreciation of such music would be fatuous. I hate turning away business but my recommendation to such potential clients is always to seek a programme maker who's familiar with their part of the wedding video market. I'd rather lose a bit of business than a reputation.
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Old November 19th, 2010, 09:24 AM   #9
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A couple of thoughts-

1. Take a step back. There is nothing more frustrating than thinking you've checked a job off the list only to be knocked back to square one. Sometimes it takes me a day or two to take an objective look at the client's requests.

2. As a few people mentioned, customer service is important. But that doesn't always mean doing all the work they request. Sometimes it can be how you talk about their requests. For example, rather than stating that everyone got in your way when trying to get a shot, perhaps saying something like "I can understand that you would be disappointed not to see that moment. There are so many beautiful moments in a wedding, and we capture all that we can, of course we can't be everywhere at once. Did you see X fantastic moment we were able to capture?"

3. Do you read contracts? Most people don't. If there is something important included in your contract, it probably makes sense to be sure you talk about it with the client too. That way there will be no unpleasant surprises.

4. Having said all that, I feel for you! Some couples just won't be happy. For those of us who take pride in our creative work, that is very hard to accept.

Please let us know how this all works out.

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Old November 20th, 2010, 05:23 AM   #10
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I have a questionnaire that I send to brides and I've recently added this to the end of it (I had a similar problem). my contract includes all of this but I want to make it clear before they sign.

Things we need to prepare for your wedding:

1. the order of service for your ceremony
2. a schedule or timeline of events including speeches for your reception

Things we need to complete your project:

1. a copy of all songs/music you have selected for the day

Things you need to understand about your wedding video coverage

A wedding is a live event and we can't yell 'cut' and run the scene again if a mobile phone goes off or the photographer stands in front of our camera. We use multiple cameras and audio recorders but we can't be responsible for things outside our control.

The ceremony & reception are edited to be an accurate record of the event, we don't usually leave anything out.

The preparation & photo shoot are a summarised version of the day and we try to capture the feel of the day more than everything that happens.

The highlights are a stylistic summary of the day and while you are free to choose the music which will of course effect our edit, we retain creative control of our work.

Once you have received the finished product you have 7 days to nominate any changes. Any errors are fixed free of charge but stylistic/creative changes take time and will be charged at the going rate as per our contract.
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Old November 20th, 2010, 08:08 PM   #11
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Thank you, all. We took a few days to review our footage, and now we're doing what we can to accommodate the client's requests. In the future, I'm going to add a clause in our contract explaining that while we will film and edit to the very best of our abilities, because of the unpredictable nature of live events such as weddings, we cannot be liable if a particular moment is not filmed or not included in the finished video.
This clause may scare some clients away, but the peace of mind for us would be worth it.

Tomorrow we'll send a detailed response to the clients, explaining the changes that we can make. I'll definitely try to take Marion's advice and put a positive spin on things, since there *are* many great moments in the videos. Hopefully the e-mail and revised videos will be positively received. The editing is going to take at least 8 more hours (we've put 6 hours in today...), so we won't get the videos to them until at least a week from now.

I'll let you know how it goes.
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Old November 21st, 2010, 03:34 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Kevin Hill View Post
2) "We were under the impression that all the raw footage would be given to us"
Had an Indian bride some time ago with a similar response, she was "under the impression" that they would be able to get a re-edit free of charge, in my case my contract is clear about that but they sometimes try. Eventually she got her video re-edited but at a price, we did waste however a lot of time discussing it as she at first didn't want to pay for it.

I don't like these kind of clients, you can put all in a contract and tell them several times what you can or cannot do and when it's delivery time it's like they never heared you. Once you get into a discussion then they suddenly start complaining about other things which were not metioned before, I always try to find a solution but once in a while you meet people that are never satisfied. In such a case I always point to my contract and name my price for what they request.
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Old November 21st, 2010, 07:52 PM   #13
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I got burned a bit on a Hindu wedding a few years ago. I filmed about 20 hours worth of footage over 3 days at 3 different sites and in 2 different cities (30 miles apart) I spent over 80 hours putting it together.

In the end, the couple and family didn't like it because during the ceremony the wide shot of the stage, was too wide, and I didn't include the very last part of the dinner service. I fixed what I could and made some of their requested re-edits and burned 7 new DVD sets (2 discs each as it was about a 4.5 hour wedding video in the end).

Yeah, at that point I decided that I would only accept traditional Christian weddings from now on.LOL

Oh, and this was an old high school friend of mine whom I gave a mega price break too because she helped get the word out about our company back when we first started 10 years ago.

Anyways, I feel for the OP. It really does suck when you pour your heart and soul, and tons of effort into a project and it doesn't meet the clients expectations. Hopefully this won't happen to you again for a long time.

In 10 years, that was the first time I'd ever had someone who was NOT happy with their video.
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Old November 21st, 2010, 09:46 PM   #14
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For reasons like this I started choosing my clients. There was a time when I would just take any paying gig, but those days are long gone. I tell my clients that there is always someone out there that will fulfill every request on their list and probably for a lot less than me.... But they are paying for the product that I provide.... Not someone elses... My product. It seems to work... I get more respect from my clients, sure I have had a few get turned off by that, but I've had far more respect me more for it and in the end they love me. I don't even let my brides choose their music... If I did, it wouldn't be my product. People don't hire a high end interior decorator just to tell them what THEY want... The higher end the clientel gets the more they seem to just trust you.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 08:03 AM   #15
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The higher end the clientel gets the more they seem to just trust you
The indian wedding I did was a high end wedding which lasted 2 days and still they didn't trust me :)

I actually have the opposite experience, the "higher end" the wedding is the more "wishes they have how it should look according to them.

I don't even let my brides choose their music... If I did, it wouldn't be my product.
I see it different, it's not my product, it's theirs.If I put music on the dvd that they like, I know they will already like it just for that reason. You might have a couple that is into heavy metal and you might be a Beethoven fan, I don't see how that would work :)
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