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


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Old September 9th, 2012, 05:31 PM   #1
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Clients and payment

How do you guys work re payment? Do you get full payment up front or when you deliver the finished product? I have a client who wants a screening before payment even though it was clear at the first meeting that payment was expected by the wedding day. Well, that didn't happen and the finished edit is ready but still with me. They live about 30 miles away so that would involve more petrol and time which is very short at the moment being the tail end of a busy season and still lots of editing for following clients to do.
I thought I'd ask the very people who work in this field.i.e. you.

I have never had a disatisfied client, quite the contrary but I can just see the current client asking for a change here, a change there and not that song because they are in 'media'... Any ideas welcome.
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Old September 9th, 2012, 06:05 PM   #2
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Re: Clients and payment

The mistake was made showing up to shoot in the first place. If you don't enforce the terms of your contract, no one else is going to either.

Sorry you have the situation, chalk it up to a learning experience.
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Old September 9th, 2012, 06:14 PM   #3
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Re: Clients and payment

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Originally Posted by Chris Hewitt View Post
I have a client who wants a screening before payment even though it was clear at the first meeting that payment was expected by the wedding day.
If that was the case, then they need to pay before the screening. Simple.

I payment in installments, but ALL is paid by the wedding date. If they don't remember on the wedding (or if I don't), no worries, I collect in the week or two after. But no product of any sort would come without the final payment.
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Old September 9th, 2012, 06:31 PM   #4
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Re: Clients and payment

Don't send them the copies!

If I was in your situation, I would start being very firm with them. Polite but firm.

Give them a screening at YOUR place. Being 'in media' they will obviously ask for a couple of annoyingly pedantic changes. Agree. (But charge them for editing time if you feel the changes are unreasonable). Then ask for immediate payment. Don't let them leave with a copy (unless they bring cash). Wait until bank transfer or cheque clears... do the changes, send it to them. Move on.

If they want to 'view the final copy with the changes' before making their final payment, say no. They are just being difficult then - they've seen the quality and what coverage you have and shouldn't have any reasonable concerns from that perspective.
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Old September 9th, 2012, 06:58 PM   #5
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Re: Clients and payment

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Originally Posted by Chris Hewitt View Post
I have a client who wants a screening before payment
Here it's not common to have the full amount payed at the wedding day, they do pay a deposit (about 20%) but almost everyone wants to see the final result first before they pay the remaining amount.

I give them 2 choices, 1. come to my place, see the video and then pay the remaining money in cash and then you get the dvd's. or 2. I send the dvd's to your place but then first pay by banctransfer and after I receive the money I send the dvd's.

95% of my clients comes to my place...

It's very rare I get re-edit requests after that "screening" at my place but if I do I give them a quote first which they have to send back signed for approval, same principle here, first they pay, then the get the dvd's.

I have had a few clients that "forgot" to go to the bank, or was too late at the bank to pick up the cash when they are at my place, I let them watch the movie anyway but they go home empty handed untill they pay.
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Old September 9th, 2012, 07:00 PM   #6
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Re: Clients and payment

Sad to say you should have enforced what was agreed upon. The best you can do is give them the screening, unfortunately they have the upper hand now. I walked away from a client who wanted to do a screening. I do not want the headache.

Despite my strict pay on wedding day policy, I got burned by a couple who paid me for a shoot a 5 minute highlight. After the wedding they said they wanted to put the extra money for me editing the video. It has been 10 months now and they have not picked-up their edited DVDs.
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Old September 9th, 2012, 08:34 PM   #7
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Re: Clients and payment

Hi Chris

Screenings and previews usually mean trouble! The fact that they are not looking at the screening to enjoy the day but simply think they need to find "mistakes" or things they don't like means that they WILL find something wrong and they probably would feel cheated if they didn't find something wrong!!

I have a clause in my contract that says all edit decisions are at my sole discretion so unless I make an obvious error ...you have to accept what I give you and like it!!

Otherwise your requested re-edits will go on for months and they will always find something more for you to do...I would stipulate that they don't get the DVD's until they pay AND any changes made that they request attract your normal edit fee of $XXX per hour. (The usual increase also applies ...like $120 per hour for re-edits.....$250 an hour if you want to watch me and $500 an hour if you want to tell me how to do my job)

My weddings are 1/3rd on booking, 1/3rd 2 weeks before the wedding and 1/3rd when I finish the DVD's BEFORE I deliver them!!

Chris
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Old September 9th, 2012, 11:43 PM   #8
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Re: Clients and payment

I'm paid in full 30 days before the event. If they don't pay, I don't showup. Simple. If they want a preview, great, they can preview all they want after I give them the finished product because I'm paid. Around here it's common practice to be paid before the day of.
Having been burned 2 times about 20 some years ago, I changed to the method I still use to this day. Retainer=50%, paid in full 30 days prior to the event. Now that doesn't mean I'm not somewhat flexible say for a wedding booked a year out but I've got it all by 30 days prior. No if's ands, or but's about it.
Burn me once shame on you...burn me twice shame on me...Live and learn.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 02:08 AM   #9
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Re: Clients and payment

We take a booking fee then full payment 30 days before the wedding.

Those of you who do a screening do you literally sit down with the client & watch the completed product ll the way through? It sounds to me like a terrible waste of a couple of hours & by the time the edit is complete we have normally seen quite enough of their wedding to last a lifetime!
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Old September 10th, 2012, 02:28 AM   #10
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Re: Clients and payment

This section is called Weddings and Events - I don't do weddings, but I do do events of all kinds and terms are 30 days after the invoice - when editing is complete and the client is happy and all required changes have been made. The terms of course are based on the length of time it takes to complete the project, so if they want new bits added, some extra shots, fine. It puts the price up. Wedding people seem to quote a fixed price and shoot very similar material that they know how long it takes to complete. I've never had a product accepted without a change or twenty. In fact - I often supply the project as sections for approval, and detail that changes after approval will require those section to be redone, repeating the process and adding to the price, so it's always their choice. It's common for industrial jobs to change during production, or even afterwards. I'm now redoing the sound track of one because they've moved to iPads to take the video to the clients rather than the net, and the available volume on the iPads means some sections are more difficult, so we'll have two versions of both branded products - same video but different branding for two different companies in two locations. So they'll be getting another invoice when it's complete and signed off. All my work requires client approval. Often it's graphics and animations, where they supply me a technical manual and I produce an animation - but perhaps get some critical features wrong, or gloss over something, so they have to be changed. Timescales are very elastic. I'd love to operate the wedding system, but it can't work for me. In a wedding you are technical, director and producer and your vision is what they get. When you get a client perhaps used to my way of working it causes problems. I do understand their point of view. Maybe they are skilled at it already, or incompetents who think they know what they want - but your rules are rules. Pay up front or don't attend - all written in black and white. I think accidentally you've applied my business model by not having a tight contract., Why not attempt what I do. Give them details of how much changes after the edit will cost. Be very willing to incorporate changes and requests but always be upfront on costs.

"We'd be pleased to add in the section where the unfortunate incident with the waitress occurred. Please be aware that the venue did not switch the lighting on in the bar area as it wouldn''t have been necessary so the images are not as clear as the properly lit shots, but we can add them in if you prefer. The charges for the extra editing not anticipated would be probably around 4 hours to re compile the edit, adding around $XXX to the quoted price. This also requires the re-rendering of the entire project, so please advise at your earliest convenience if you wish us to proceed as we need to block a day of studio time to allow the machines to complete the final edit and things are somewhat hectic at the moment.

We can also incorporate the material your friend shot if the quality is sufficient. As above, this will entail unplanned edit time and the charge will depend on the length of the material you have and any remidial work we have to do to it to match the colour and sound to the rest.

We're very happy to work with you on this, but are slightly concerned this may stretch your budget as we're doing a large amount of unplanned work. Once we have your detailed instructions we can quote you an exact price for the changes you request."

This is how I do it. I give the option, and detail rough prices. If they go for it, it's extra business. If the price is too much, they tend to become happy with the first one. Works well for me, but I can see it as a difficult work flow for a pure wedding specialist.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 02:48 AM   #11
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Re: Clients and payment

Hi Paul

Corporate/Business expect to pay on an invoice...brides, unlike business, have zero in the bank by the time the wedding is over so expecting them to shell out money after the wedding is like getting blood from a stone!!

I shoot Realty every week and it's all done on invoice and they are usually paid fairly promptly too...BUT I would never give a bride an invoice...you just wouldn't get your money in time. I tried it once and guess what ?? she still owes me $290 from here 2009 wedding...yes, it's not a fortune BUT that is what happens with weddings.

I'm happy to do corporate changes but not weddings....I learnt my lesson when I "agreed" (a long time ago) to make necessary changes where needed at no charge...the bride sat with me for 3 days (whole days too) wanting to "cut that out because I have a whisp of hair over my face"

Weddings are a different animal completely and the moment you offer changes...the couple will do their best to find as many as they can which, otherwise, they would have been happy with!!

Chris
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Old September 10th, 2012, 06:22 AM   #12
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Re: Clients and payment

Paul,
As Chris said, weddings and corporate stuff are 2 different things. For weddings and mitzvahs and retirement partys and sweet 16s, things like that, I get my money in advance. For corporate work it's an invoice system. Be it a seminar with 2000 people or a training video or a whatever for the company, it's invoiced on a 30 day payment.
Weddings and other personal social type events, different thing.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 11:31 AM   #13
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Re: Clients and payment

As most have said, we require a retainer up front to save the date, and then the balance in full 2 weeks before the wedding.

I'm not really sure what we would do if someone doesn't pay. I've had to politely remind people their balance is due when it was getting close to that due date and hadn't seen anything yet, and they've always paid.

I would like to think I would be firm and just not shoot the wedding if we weren't paid. But circumstances can vary and I would probably try to work out some sort of schedule with them first. "Pay me half of what you owe now, and pay the rest as soon as possible...but I will not be doing any sort of editing or work on it until we are payed in full, and your delivery time will start once we are paid in full, not from your wedding date." -- type of thing.

I would hate to be bad-mouthed and have an angry bride talk all over town about the fact that she gave us a deposit and we never showed up. I would also hate to turn down 5 other potential weddings, only to go shoot one and never get paid though too...it's a tricky two-sided coin.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 02:24 PM   #14
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Re: Clients and payment

Interesting points, all. I emailed the best man today and have had no reply yet. I reminded him that pre-payment was mentioned at the initial meeting, to date not a single penny has been paid and due to the volume of work on my plate at present, if he is so insistent on a screening, maybe sometime in January might be ok but paid clients, even though they may be after this particular wedding must come first. It's only fair to them. I finished off asking if they still want the product as my drives are getting full (!!!)...just a scare tactic.
Anyhow, they don't get anything till it's paid in full. That's my trump card. I don't know why I can't deal with the couple direct but it's been the best man all the way.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 02:51 PM   #15
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Re: Clients and payment

Chris, I have never not been paid in hundreds of weddings. The way I handle it is by giving no explanations at all.

I simply tell them they can view their video or have it after payment, in cash, or via paypal. I accept checks but the check will need to clear before I can release their video. I do make one explanation, and that is "this is just the way I do it, I cannot do it any other way.". I NEVER rush them to pay, because they will pay when they have the money, and not a minute before. I tell them I understand money is tight, and I tell them I will wait as long as necessary, no rush. Always works for me. That way it stays friendly.

You can try and scare them using various tactics, as you have done, and that might help, but in the end it is better to be short and to the point, but friendly. I did have one client who took two years, but we stayed friendly the whole time. I would check in with her about every six months or more, and we would chat about her family and things, and she said she would be in touch. I always told her it was no problem and I could wait as long as necessary. I understand things are tough for many people.

Two years after the wedding she brought me the cash, we hugged and she loved her video. Your customers are just being difficult. Just put the video away, leave the ball in their court, and one day they will bring the money. Just don't take a check and hand the video over at the same time. Good luck.
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