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Old April 28th, 2015, 02:38 PM   #1
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Uncomfortable situation with Client


I'm heading into a uncomfortable situation here where I believe I need to ask a client for additional compensation and I'd love to hear your thoughts. Post production is very tricky on the real low budge indie level, there's so many factors involved if you do a flat rate.

So, initially we agreed on an amount, no contract was signed (yes, first mistake) but we have an email agreement, stating that I would edit until picture lock for X amount, with designated pay periods. First the process took way too long to reach picture lock for what it was, this is due to a number of reasons, one being the quality of the footage, but even more so was the client's own workflow decisions and hiring inexperienced crew for other departments.

I've been paid most of my fee with a small percentage left.

I've edited the project until picture lock, and prepped and turned over the files to sound. I probably shouldn't have even done that and I never agreed to do any online editing for that rate, which now looks like they are expecting me to put it back together. Additionally, they want to put in a few more shots.

Worst of all the relationship between the client and I has been strained for some time now due to how long things took and our disagreements in workflow (Client's workflow caused me to have to do and re do more work). Unfortunately, I really don't think either one of us wants to work with each other again, so I don't think I would be further damaging a relationship, but I'd still like to finish amicably if possible.

Worst case scenario would be if I will only do the online editing for additional compensation, they won't pay me the remaining fee, and I won't give back the project. I really don't want to be in that nightmare situation, in that case I'd probably rather bite the bullet do the work and get out of the project asap.

However, I certainly want to at least give it an attempt to get paid for the additional work, so what is my best route at this point?
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Old April 28th, 2015, 02:53 PM   #2
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Re: Uncomfortable situation with Client

My $0.02 is that in uncomfortable conversations, they almost never go as bad as I thought they would go.

As you are finishing up work, I'd inquire about the final payment, and then ask who they're planning on having do their online editing.

You may receive shock that that isn't part of your rate. If you choose, you can then recommend an online editor or quote a rate to do it yourself.

I'm not familiar with "online" and "offline", I do it all in-house and we don't differentiate. If you're at picture lock and it's a matter of laying audio back in after it comes back, I'd potentially offer to do it at a good rate.

I sometimes finish a long project with that contentious feeling between the client and myself. Sure you could put a nail in the coffin, but in my experience six months or a year does a lot for those angry feelings, and someone who is not a big fan of you today may want to do another project in a year, may have learned a lot in that year, and you may be the only editor he knows, and get the job again.

IMHO I do some of my best work with people I initially (and sometimes still) get that contentious feeling with. Better than the head nodders who agree with whatever I suggest.
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Old April 28th, 2015, 03:54 PM   #3
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Re: Uncomfortable situation with Client

I once had client who squeezed me for years. I finally got fed up , politely declined any future work, and I've never been happier. That being said communication is an under valued skill. There's an excellent book with the same title "Difficult Conversations". It takes awareness and practice to understand others and to express oneself in a constructive manner. It's common in the course of business for misunderstandings to occur and animosity to grow if left unaddressed.
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Old April 28th, 2015, 06:16 PM   #4
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Re: Uncomfortable situation with Client

Ugh. I feel your pain, having been roped into similar situations on a smaller scale, having things not agreed to in original agreement added in last moment, not wanting to cause ill will by saying "but the quote was for THIS amount of work. . ."

It seems like a better and better idea to make a deal memo/contract for EVERY job no matter how small to have everything laid out, with the understanding that anything significant beyond what has been explicitly detailed will incur extra charges. You want that extra speech edited now? Sure, x dollars.

Anyone have a form/template they use for stuff like this?
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Old April 29th, 2015, 02:45 AM   #5
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Re: Uncomfortable situation with Client

I've been a in a similar situation.

Be firm, but polite.

They may even go as far as threatening you. What ever you respond with, respond politely, being clear about the terms and conditions. About how you feel in regards to the work you have ALREADY carried out and will HAVE TO still do. Justify the costs.

By doing that, you are making it clear where the extra money is going.

I know I would pay more if I received a breakdown of costs rather than a straight sum which left me wondering why that specific number.
James Manford is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 30th, 2015, 05:02 AM   #6
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Re: Uncomfortable situation with Client

If you tracked your hours, go in with numbers illuminating how much more time you've put in than what was expected and planned.
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