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


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Old October 13th, 2006, 09:21 PM   #1
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Show us your contract...

We've recently updated our wedding videography contract which can be viewed here:
http://www.monstercrayons.com/consum...edding_tos.pdf

Some interesting clauses in there include:
- A creative commons license allowing them to make copies of their DVD's (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/)
- vendor meals must be provided
- not obligated to do video coverage for formal photography (i.e. after ceremony or table shots during reception)
- raw footage not available (mostly due to liability reasons, sometimes we capture audio from guests that client may find innappropriate)
- copyright violations (all music must be provided from clients personal collection, and they are responsible for any copyright violations) I doubt this protects us, but it promotes the clients to go out and get the music themselves.

Anyone have anything else in their contract that should be addressed?
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Old October 13th, 2006, 11:07 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arneil deVera
- copyright violations (all music must be provided from clients personal collection, and they are responsible for any copyright violations) I doubt this protects us, but it promotes the clients to go out and get the music themselves.
Hi Arneil,

It doesn't protect you...and it never will.

I don't mean to rain on your parade, but I think that you are making a huge mistake by even allowing any copyright violations within your videos. You are also responsible for what goes into your videos - not just your clients - and you could also get into a lot of serious trouble for using copyrighted music without obtaining permission and licensing, regardless of whatever may or may not be written within your contracts. Here's a link to an article that I found on here which will explain why. I think you should at least take a look and read it:

http://www.dvinfo.net/articles/busin...yrightfaq1.php

Personally, I prefer to use royalty-free music that I create using Soundtrack and/or songs that I can easily license from www.magnatune.com. This way, I can at least be certain that I won't ever have any legal problems.

But, hey, that's just me.

Adam
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 06:01 PM   #3
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I'm not going to go into detail about whether or not you should or should not use copywritten music. That's a whole other discussion.

But I was just curious for those who don't want to violate any copyright laws, what do you do for events such as the introduction of the bridal party, first dance, father daughter dance, cake cutting, bouquet toss, etc.. where there is copyrighted music playing in the background? Do you just make a montage of those sequences using royalty free music?
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 06:35 PM   #4
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"I'm not going to go into detail about whether or not you should or should not use copywritten music. That's a whole other discussion. "

Actually its not.. your advocating the use of copywritten music so long as its provided by the client to you. However you are foramt changing said owned material, hence you are in breach of copyright as a producer.
I dont know the laws where you are, but there are licensing avenues to protect you with regard to this matter.

As for contracts, there are many detailed variables which must be taken into consideration. I am in current talks with our department of fair trading in an attempt to standardise and regulate the video industry (considering client misinformation and misinterpretation, as well as to eradicte vendor negligence, which is whats ruining the industry here), but im not getting very far..

FYI, my contract is in 3 parts.
1) The actual package and final quote pricing
2) Client information (2 pages ) THis is a conditional requirement of teh full contract of service.
3) General Agreement (4 pages long), this is the "agreement" which details my service to the client, and my conditions of service and requirements to fulfil and complete said service.
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 06:43 PM   #5
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just going over your contract..

I noticed you mention your booking fee and refer to it as a deposit. Be aware that deposits are refundable if a client chooses to cancel.
I personally use the term "retainer"

I notice you charge for "backup" cameras..
what happens if youre shooting and your camera malfunctions? How wil u continue to fulfil your contractual obligation?
And even though your clause on electrical or equipemnt failure technically saves your ass, would it be fair to the client that you stop shooting?

Wouldnt this also mean that with a contract like this, you have the ability and freedom to attend a shoot, start shooting, feign technical problems, sttop shooting, keep the clients money (as youre not responsible right.. )and give them an edit of what was flmed..?? Because this is what youre saying to your client...
This is what your opening yourself up for.. and believe me, people DO think along these lines..

Good throughout IMO, a little vague and subject to haggling and arguing, but i would strongly recomend you go over your liability.

Legally, YOU are responsible for accidents, and even though early on ur nullify any liability, you then state that "no matter how caused except for injury or damages for which the Company is responsible"

Now which is it? Coz in a court of law, or in a civil court, if u are deemed responsible, youre liable.
Even with your disclaimer early on in the clause, youve jsut shot urself in teh foot.. .this clause is backflipping on itself.. be very careful with this...
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 06:50 PM   #6
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We didn't have a lawyer draft our contract. We sort of just modified sample contracts and added some of our own clauses.

Thanks for pointing out the discrepencies. That's exactly why we posted it on here. We'll have to review our contract further for more changes we need to make.

I don't expect the contract to save us from any liability. We have Liability Insurance for up to 1 million dollars for when we actually need it.
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 07:04 PM   #7
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understood, but the thing is, u shouldnt need to have to fall back on this, else ur premiums will skyrocket

IMO a contract should clearly state what you need from the client, this is the only real saviour for any liability.
A conditional requirement of my agreement is that the clietns provide their materials before the wedding. If this doesnt happen, editing wotn begin. Ive still got clients whove been married over a year, but who are yet to get off their asses, but with this, i cannot be held liable and i wont stop my work while i wait for them to wake up.
Thats jsut one element. I also have clients who choose the most obscure locations, with virtually no parking.. and when u cosndier 2 full camera rigs, tripds, dolly's lighting (if required) cranes (if required) etc etc.. it can put a massive strain on time. Parking to me, is far more important than a meal. I can always stop off at maccas if i need, but if i have to do laps to find a spot, and im late, then i cant be held responsible. Now in the realw orld if ur late, the client will assume YOU to be responsible.. but ou can only do what u can, so u must convey this in wiritng. If they know of the parking issues, they will advise you, IF they try to do a shifty on u and not inform you of parking conditions, then theyre liable to a potenntial delay, in turn a loss of coverage and filming time.

COntracts are very iffy, but theyre the only thing u have to protect you.
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 08:19 PM   #8
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Today we live in a very litigous society, so if you are going to go to the trouble of having a contract or as I call it a service agreement (a contract can be cancelled and as Peter said a deposit by law is refundable) make it tight AND legal. I pay my attorney a lot of money every year to update my service agreement to protect me but it also protects my clients as well. Based on what i read of yours if there were a situation that went to court I don't think you would be happy with the outcome based on the language of your contract. Write down the things you want covered, go to a lawyer or at least call the bar association in your area and get a referral to an attorney who specializes in contract law find out how much it would be to write a proper agreement and then somehow find the money to do it. I'm only telling you this because I know 2 guys who were put out of business because they thought they had tight contracts but the courts thought otherwise. Lousy way to end a career.
Just my $.03 worth (adjusted for inflation)
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 08:21 PM   #9
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In regards to the songs submissions from clients, we let them know that if they want their songs of choice in their video, they have to submit them to us before the wedding. Otherwise, we use our default songs.

http://monstercrayons.com/help/index..._Default_Songs

That way, if you have clients who don't submit music before the wedding, you can still work on their video and get it out of the way, free up your resources, and move on.
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 08:25 PM   #10
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We will most definitely have a professional update our contract. Putting a copy of our contract up here helps us to see what issues need to be addressed when we hire a lawyer.

Also, if you're new to videography, I'm hoping this will help you when you go to create your own contract.
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 11:36 PM   #11
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"Also, if you're new to videography, I'm hoping this will help you when you go to create your own contract"

Aneil, i understand your good intentions here, but in all honesty, if you want newbies to follow this model, i would strongly recomend against it. Nothing personal, but there needs a substantial amount of review here to clarify elements within this agreement.

I agree 100% with Don. Get some legal advice. Many people fear the inevitable multipage agreement, however i have found it works better to be clear, precise, detailed, but none to technical about the service itself. People neeed piece of mind and they need to know piece by piece which elements are covered within their agreement.

In this game, there is no room for error.

Don i would like to hear about the situation surrounding your 2 friends demise, if thats at all possible. Not out of morbid curiouslty, but as a learning tool as down here, the clientelle will do what they can do get the better of any situation, to a point of being ridiculous.
Its funny, because of all the clients who do not have an issue, it is the ones that do not fulfil their obligations who are the ones who are most likely to complain.
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Old October 24th, 2006, 02:03 AM   #12
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Does anyone have an airtight terms of service agreement written by a contract lawyer that they would like to share with the rest of us?

I'm sure it would help us all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Jefferson
...the clientelle will do what they can do get the better of any situation, to a point of being ridiculous.
Personally, I don't believe our clients are out to get us. And when situations arise when things don't go according to plan, it's how you react to it that prevents lawsuits not an airtight contract.
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Old October 24th, 2006, 08:13 AM   #13
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I beg to differ.
Many MANY situations hav arisen with clientelle whove "gone cheap" on photography, who end up with dissapointing results. In turn, the mentality of "If the photos are this crap, imagine the video"
This is just one example of how things can turn bad.
Another is when clients refuse to take responsibility for their own inactions. Mainly for a cleitn to not fulfil their conditional obligations, which are reqired for you to complete your work.
Other times, clients have nothing going on in their lives, and to them, this is all they have left of the day, so the emotional attachemnt to your work is intense

To date, ive never had an issue with clients who know the deal. Those that skip past the agreements and sign anything are the ones that cause some strife, but nothing to a point of warranting legal counteraction.

"Does anyone have an airtight terms of service agreement written by a contract lawyer that they would like to share with the rest of us?"

Each contract should be written with the business specifics in mind. Sure generic contracts are possible, but these can be vague, and in this line of work, vagueness is where the problems lay.
My contract was written by a Queens Council of corporate law (lucky my mates dad is a QC, so I didnt pay) but with teh base outlines i constructed pertainign to all elements of teh service, he drew up a basic understandable agreement, which ic an amend as i see fit.
In this day and age, nothign is airtight. As yoru dealing with peoples emotions, legalities really only take effect when YOU are wanting to get your way. In court, the magistrate will only consider the clients point of view, irrespective of the contract.. as theyre always percieved as the ones hard done by. Ther is also teh isuse if misinformation and pressure sales tactics (of which i ensure is NOT a part of my practices, but usually, the law leans toward the customer and not teh business.
Why?
Becuase the customer is the customer and they have more to lose than you do.

Thng to remember is that in most countries, monies exchanged does not bear any weight upon the agreement itself.
Ive had clients tell me "i paid you upfront, i want my video NOW"
These are the sme clients who take over a year to get you the music.. lol
Thing is, the timing of monies exchanged, does not bear any weight upon the contracted agreement anyway, so these arguements are nullified anyway.

"Personally, I don't believe our clients are out to get us."
Agreed, but when a client has multiple bad experiences with other professionals in the industry (perfect example.. bride found out her ring was a fake, her dress got burnt at teh dry cleaners after the wedding, her photgrpaher lost 3 rolls of film <ALL the family shots at the park>, her photographer <a prominant sydney photgrapher i might add> ditched the gig at 8pm and left his novice assistant there. Who in turn followed me around like a bad smell and walked into (and in front) of me numerous time, on their honeymoon they were robbed... now this is ONE bride experiencign al this.. the only thing that didnt go wrong, was the video... BUT, she still had the audacity to complain about delivery, when she knew full well that not only did i need her music, but as of the point of recieving said music, her wait time will begin...

No their not all out to get us.. lol but u must see it from their perspective that what we do is paramount to thier lives. Their perceptin of the industry as a whole, will affect their perception of you and your service. Its a sad but tru fact, that we canot stand on our own, without the rest of the industry standing with us. Im refering to the wedding industry, NOT the video industry.. however the wedding industry is very much a "boys club" affair with handshake deals and commisioned referals.
This is one reason i have been trying to regualte the industry here in aus.. but it wont happen as there are not that many "problems' recognised within the industry itself..

"And when situations arise when things don't go according to plan, it's how you react to it that prevents lawsuits not an airtight contract."

Ive never had a lawsuit against my company in 13 years. From my engineering and production days, through to my editing, and now with my filming and complete producitons..
And its not only becuase of my contract, but its also becuase i dont hide things from my clients. If they ask how their wedding video is going, and nothing has happened so far, ill tell them. They know im busy and they know im a one man band, which is why they only pay for MY wages, and they know it.
Ive never had an issue where ive lost something or somethign hasnt arisen, I did however have an issue with a shooter once, who arrived late, however you can always strike up a compromise when things like this occur. Its only happne donce, and the shooter was sacked. I leave enough room to compromise in a way to appease the client, but not so much as to give a refund. Reason i dont give refunds is because my work doesnt change.

Working out a solution for a client is obviously the best way to go, but heres another example.
Couple provides payment by cheque. It bounces.. client is advised that the cheque has bounced.
and tehyre also advised that there is a further $35 fee for this, as you have been charged for the bounced cheque.
Ok now, client says 'yeah wel take care of it.. "
come wedding day, and your not paid...
Do u hit record? or do u wait until the money is given?
Solution, would be to record, but to do nothing with the project until all monies are paid and cleared. Fairly simple yes? Clients dont understnad this though. Some assume that they will pay u after delivery. IMO, this is the worst move anyone can make. In the past ive done this, and half the clients would return from their honeymoons broke..
the other hald would haggle with this and that and try to fish themselves a discount "becuase it isnt what they thought it would be" <thats never happened to me, but ive seen it happen to at least 4 of my trainees>
Like i said, this payment optin <pay upon delivery> opens a pandoras box of problems. "satisfaction" being the main element.
Like i said, people will do what they can to get a freebie or a discount.. and this is jsut one method..

At the end of the day, the agreement should be there to protect you, and your client. Mine is constructed in a way where the client is given all opportunity to advise and direct the company, PRIOR to filming... however once the wedding is underway, all power is transfered to us.
Its the safest and simplest way to perform this line of business.

This way we acknowledge the clients requests, but use our discretion in production. works well and everyone is happy
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Old October 24th, 2006, 08:47 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Jefferson
... left his novice assistant there. Who in turn followed me around like a bad smell...
Peter,

I find your insight quite valuable. And your humor cracks me up.

Jeff
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Old October 24th, 2006, 09:09 AM   #15
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lol
if we didnt laugh at teh ridiculous, we'd all go insane ;)~
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