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-   -   Should I charge my customer more? (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/taking-care-business/139147-should-i-charge-my-customer-more.html)

Kell Smith December 7th, 2008 11:37 PM

Should I charge my customer more?
I taped a lecture for someone who wanted a few 30 second clips for his website. We then sat down for about two hours, went through the tapes, and he identified certain clips he wanted and said he didn't want the rest. I logged the incues, outcues etc. Went home, captured them into my system, am in the process of getting him the clips so he can shorten one, yadda yadda yadda.
He just emailed me and said he would like to have the entire session on dvd as well. I have not captured that entire footage - it would be three tapes worth. It would involve some editing because there is camera movement, adjustment, some of the footage wasn't very good and I really don't want to burn it for him because of that. (Fortunately it wasn't on the clips he wanted).
It would involve considerable time to go in and do this. Should I (or how should I ) charge him for this? Or should I throw it in and eat the time? I don't think he realizes it would be a lot of extra work and I don't think having the whole lecture is that important to him or he would have wanted more of the clips or stressed it from the start.
How would you tactfully approach this if he were your customer?

Craig Seeman December 8th, 2008 01:43 AM

How are you charging him?

Charge him by the hour and tell him how many hours it'll take. Then he'll decide whether it's worth it or not.

There's NO REASON to give ANYTHING away.

You charge him for the shoot time, for the tape screening time, for input, compression and delivery (or upload).

He wants 3 hours input. You charge him. Charge him for compressing and authoring the DVD too. Give him the raw footage on DVD unless he specifically wants it edited. Raw footage is just that. If you were shooting with selects in mind and now he wants all the footage that a change in the job and you should give him the option to pay for editing or not.

He should pay for EVERYTHING though.

Kell Smith December 8th, 2008 01:59 AM

Well, he approached me for a few 30-45 second clips from shooting about a half hour of the lecture. He offered me two hundred bucks.
I told him I didn't mind shooting the whole lecture, it would give us more to pick from. I figured what the hey, I'll already be there, so it was no big deal.
However, I had clips in mind while shooting and not the entire thing as a whole, which is why there's some footage that just doesn't work.
So the deal was two hundred bucks, and several small clips.
I really would like to get out of giving him the whole thing just because there were problems with the camera work.

Craig Seeman December 8th, 2008 02:22 AM

OK. So here's some options. Since he didn't pay you for shooting the entire lecture you don't owe him that video at all.

If he does want it, you should consider it a "value added service." It's an additional thing he could buy because you had the forethought to tape it "just in case."

You could tell him that you focused on shooting for the "selects" so there's camera movement, etc. that needs to be edited out.

You could give him the option to buy the raw video on DVD and charge for both input and compression.

You could offer him the option for you to do a cleanup edit and add to the price of the above based on the time you think it'll take to edit it.

You could make it clear that you shot the whole lecture simply to give you a greater possibility for selects and offer to do more selects and charge him for it.

You could have him drop by to screen maybe 15 minutes of the tape to exemplify what the video looks like (did he see this when he screened the selects?). Then you could give him the above options and the price or the option to simply say no because the video isn't worth saving.

Do you feel you have a reputation at stake if you let the bad footage out the door?
Some people NEVER offer raw footage for that reason. That's why I mention the option of more selects. Then again he may not really care about the quality if the audio is usable.

If you don't offer him any option and simply say no you might lose the potential for future work. Of course if he's not someone you want to work with than you can simply say no.

You could say that you shot the lecture to increase the variety of selects to chose from. Then he MIGHT offer you more money and then you'd have to think about that.

Paul Doherty December 8th, 2008 05:25 AM

Do you have anything in writing (including email)?

If it is solely a verbal agreement then there could be problems. If your memory and his memory differ then clearly there is potential for serious disagreement (even if you both approach it in a perfectly reasonable manner).

My personal experience is that non-video people have no idea how time-consuming editing normally is. So I would agree that you should definitely charge for any extra editing, but perhaps give a brief explanation of the time involved so he doesn't think you are trying to rip him off.

Edward Phillips December 8th, 2008 09:43 AM

Exactly what is wrong with some of the shots you don't want to show? I've done plenty of one camera corporate meeting, lecture, boring stuff, etc and eventually you have to move the camera around and you don't have cutaway shots usually. This means some intervals of shaky camera work and adjust time to get the right shot set. I've gritted my teeth showing video sometimes because to me the video was bad as I hustled to find a way to shoot speakers who would stand behind columns while talking, or would sit down and stand up while talking or would go stand in some spot I could not follow them on so I'd be stuck shooting an empty podium or the back of an audience, but to the corporate guys they could care less and got what they needed. As long as audio is good and they can hear what they said video is often a secondary concern. Maybe this isn't your case, but you may be fretting over nothing.

Kell Smith December 8th, 2008 11:02 AM

Well, a lot of the zooms-in were shaky. I was trying to be steady, but for some reason it came out shaky. Some shots were quick zoom-in and adjustment shots also. To be honest I really don't want it out there.
As far as future work, we may actually shoot more - we talked about doing an introduction video to his website and possibly some graphic design, and he really liked the idea, but he hasn't followed up so I don't know if he's going to do either. It may just be the holiday thing also.

To be honest, it's lousy footage and I really don't want it out there. It was a very short notice job (he called while I was out of town and the job was the next morning after I got back). So I did the best I could to prepare, but had to work with the facility background which wasn't all that great. We fixed it as much as we could. At the last minute, they turned the lights down a bit more since he had a Power Point presentation. The camera handled that reasonably well.

I was not happy at all with my camera work. The clips were salvageable, but I really wouldn't want to put the whole thing out there. If I had known he wanted a copy of the entire lecture, I would have set the camera and not moved so much. I was cringing when he was reviewing it. Originally, I had planned to have him give me a list of the points he wanted from the lecture and I was going to pull them out myself rather than review the raw footage with him.

It wasn't written since it was last minute and done over the phone, out of town. Normally I do have a contract and planned to bring it that morning, but went to the facility early to set up, planned to leave and go get tapes, but got stuck there right up until the time he started and had to use what tapes I had.

I like the clips idea a lot. What if I said that since I was shooting for clips, there's so much movement there's no point in having the whole thing on DVD - but would he like more clips? He may have decided though that he wants the whole thing for his personal review.

BTW pricewise, was that about right?

Tim Polster December 9th, 2008 12:25 AM

Kell after reading the posts, I have a few opinions.

First, you would better off not letting the people you hire you determine how you shoot the event.

Non-video people think in their minds that shorter clips mean less money. And then they come to realize that an event covers a space in time, not just little blips, so they then want the entire day.

Meanwhile they just ran you around a flagpole.

Always charge in blocks of filming time, then charge for the editing time. If for no other reason than to give you the chance to meet the client's needs in case of a change in plan.

Always film a live event like every second is broadcasted. You never know when or if a portion will need to be used. It sounds tedious, but attention to detail is what separates good videographers.

If you think around these two points, $200 is too low.

If you think like the client, $200 is fine for a few clips :)

Craig Seeman December 9th, 2008 10:59 AM

As for shooting I agree with Tim about blocks of time. That's why shooters have a half day rates. What that rate is depends on your cost of living (business, etc), gear, skills. market conditions. The reason for this is that the time it takes to go to a location, set up, shoot x minutes, break down, head back to "base" basically prevents you from booking anything else for a good portion of the day.

As to shooting what the client asks for, it really depends on the client. Some clients know what the want and some have no idea what they want or what's entailed.

The client asked you to shoot for Clips and that's what you did. Although it's after the fact, you can certainly explain the difference between that and shooting straight through. Shooting for clips means moving the camera to vary the shots. The camera movement is not good video. He really may not care though if the audio is good. Often times I'll recommend two cameras to a client (at much higher price). You do your best sale job but they sign the check so ultimately it IS their decision whether it's smart or not.

You have an honest business motive and concern not to let footage you don't like, out the door . . . especially since this was not what the client asked for regarding technique.

If you want to cover yourself stick to the clips idea. If he wants more clips charge him for the editing. If he insists on the full video tell him nicely you that would have been a different shooting technique. You frequently repositioned the camera and reframed shots for clips and that means significant camera movement. If, AFTER that, he says he doesn't care THEN you have a decision to make.

As to what a fair price is:
My base math is you charge a price that can cover all your expenses with about 25 hours of paid work a week. It's simple to figure out.
Total all your expenses in a given month. This includes food housing, credit card bills for the gear, etc, EVERYTHING. Figure 100 working hours a month. Charge enough that it covers everything so you can put food on the table and pay all your bills. That's a BASE rate and it goes up as you get better. 25 paid hours is used because you're going to have lots of unpaid hours. Maintaining gear, learning new stuff, talking to potential clients, book keeping, etc.

You don't mention how many hours you shot or edited. You don't mention what you need to live on. So it's hard to judge if the price was fare. If you can cover everything on $25/hr and consider the shoot a 4 hour half day and the edit four hours then $200 is right for example. That's assuming you can make a living at $625 a week ($25 x 25 hours = $625). For me, I'd be homeless and bankrupt inside of 6 months at that rate but I live in high cost of living area and factors in the cost of my gear.

Kell Smith December 9th, 2008 04:22 PM

I like that formula, I"ll work on that. Thanks.
Will post back a reply on the other points in just a bit.

Adam Gold December 9th, 2008 04:58 PM

If you really don't want the footage out there -- and based on what you said i could understand why you wouldn't -- then draw up a new agreement showing your editing rate at $200 per hour (I'm not kidding) and make sure he knows you will be putting a watermark on the lower third just in case he wants to take the footage elsewhere for more editing. You own the footage, unless you specifically agreed to something else.

There is nothing "not tactful" about being paid appropriately for your work. Your client gets paid for what he does, and I'm guessing he doesn't say to his boss, "No, keep the money. I'll work for free."

Craig Seeman December 9th, 2008 07:50 PM

Adam if you tell the client something like $200/hr not only will you lose the client, something Kell may not want to do, but if word spreads that Kell said that, it could create creditability problems.

Watermarks can work in some cases and not in others. If the client just wants a screening copy you can just burn in time code. Then the client can give you the time code numbers for more clips at a future date. Watermarks and timecode numbers can be cropped though (to create a letterbox look for example) so that doesn't always work. In this case Kell may not want any ID on the shots (often a watermark is a company ID) because he doesn't like them and doesn't want anyone to see them.

I usually use the time code burn in for raw footage. The client gets something they can look at but probably won't want to show publicly. Another professional seeing it will know it's just raw footage. The client can then give Kell time code numbers if he wants more clips.

Of course Kell should charge for making a time code DVD but that be a way for the client to get the footage and Kell would know he's not likely to show it publicly. Kell could explain to the client that he'll sell him a time code dub so he can decide if he wants more clips and he can even pick them without having to come to Kell's "office."

Adam Gold December 9th, 2008 08:05 PM


Originally Posted by Craig Seeman (Post 975505)
Adam if you tell the client something like $200/hr not only will you lose the client, something Kell may not want to do, but if word spreads that Kell said that, it could create creditability problems.

Nonsense. That's my going rate and some people pay it and some people won't. But I never charge less unless it's pro bono or other really fun work, or there are other benefits. You don't lose clients by charging what you're worth -- not decent clients, anyway. Only the cheap ones who will cause you more trouble than they are worth, which Kell seems to have trouble with lately, based on his/her/its recent posts.

Kell, you should specify your gender so we can all use the proper pronouns. I've been assuming female, based on prior posts and all this worrying about being tactful and not offending anyone rather than running a business like a profesional. Sorry to be so un-PC.

Craig Seeman December 9th, 2008 08:22 PM

I think Kell is likely a beginner who only has modest income needs at the moment.
Kell charged $200 for the job and that's why I made the suggestions I made.

Kell asked what to charge. That's why I gave Kell a formula rather than an amount. It allows Kell to figure out a rate for Kell's cost of living and gear (not yours, not mine).

Kell did the entire job for $200. That might not be the rate you charge, nor me (I said I'd be homeless at that what may be his rate). That doesn't make his rate unreasonable. The formula allow one to figure out what one needs to charge for where one is at that point in one's career.

We're talking about Kell's job and Kell's rate, not yours or mine. And the rate we charge may not be the rate Kell should charge.

If you looked at Kell's profile, membership in DVInfo is almost 4 years and the camera listed is a Sony PD-170.

Adam Gold December 9th, 2008 08:34 PM

Yes, I suppose you're right. I think the bottom line is if there is more work required, it should be paid for at an appropriate rate. But if Kell doesn't want the footage out there, he/she/it should not allow it out under any circumstances. If it's really only a matter of money, than he/she/it should charge whatever he/she/it thinks is correct.

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