Unlimited editing fee.
This is a first...I just completed a proposal and got this response: How would you guys handle this?
"What is your fee for unlimited edits to the video? We understand this may be an expensive request; however, have a large university with several campuses and many decision-makers; we need the option of editing the video until all are satisfied. Please email me an additional item for these edits including the total cost."
Dump them, or else, when you'll be retired, with a nice hose and wife in your house and pina colladas, watching the beautiful sunset, you'll suddenly receive a phonecall from god knows what young secretary claiming she doesn't like that cut at minute 5:30 (they will only have VHS or DVD so they'll not be able to provide acurate timecode):)) .
Seriouslly now. This... "... many decision makers" stuff sounds pretty scary to me." You could charge them by the hour tho'.
I would charge normal hourly rates, and to make them wonder if the re-edit is worth it, give each session of re-edits a minimum time, maybe jsut an hour or two but be sure there are no 5 minute sessions. Be sure also that it is paid on an as used time period (weekly is nice) not when finished product is delivered.
I read a wonderful script writing book that covered this very occasion. They need a point person and they need to have agreed on the script coverage. Even with a committee (shudder) you can reach consensus much easier with an agreement on the treatment, then script, etc... In this case, the cows are out of the barn. If you don't show them the real cost issues of this path way versus a real decision you'll could be in this for a long time. I used to provide agency service to clients at material cost (tape, travel ie as close to free as you can imagine). Ever work two weeks on a simple slide to tape transfer? How about several re-edits after the fact when they weren't the decision makers? I sure didn't much care for it. My point is that you need to have agreements in place for such contigencies before you do a single edit. Charlie's idea is a good one if you want to keep these folks as clients later on. Your time for those simple changes could be spent on full days for other clients. I've been down that path and I lean towards colourblind's idea to dump them. My situation is different now though and I do bill hourly... =)
I flipped a coin... bill'em... good luck. Tell us how this plays out...
Fiddler's Ridge Productions
[Greg] "What is your fee for unlimited edits to the video? We understand this may be an expensive request; however, have a large university with several campuses and many decision-makers; we need the option of editing the video until all are satisfied. Please email me an additional item for these edits including the total cost."
How's about: "I'm sorry, but I can't afford to provide that type of service at a price that you can afford to pay. However, if you want to pay $xx,xxx up front, then I can allow you up to xx hours of revisions. After that, my regular hourly rates would apply."
Or: "Well, if you want to put me on a retainer, it's $X,XXX per week."
[Greg] "we need the option of editing the video until all are satisfied."
The customer is always right. As long as you price it right, insist on a payment schedule where you get paid as you go, and set a time limit, no problem.
The edits that Decision Maker #5 suggests may contradict the edits that Decision Maker #3 needs. So, propose a rough cut/first re-edit/final re-edit schedule. Explain that after the first re-edit, they have to resolve any conflicts over content internally, and (as already suggested) give you one point of contact for the final re-edit.
Eternal re-edits? I don't think they really want that.
[Greg] ""What is your fee for unlimited edits to the video? We understand this may be an expensive request; however, have a large university with several campuses and many decision-makers; we need the option of editing the video until all are satisfied. Please email me an additional item for these edits including the total cost.""
For large, long-term projects I go with day rates. So for a project like this, I would set up something like "Based on the project specs, I anticipate the project will take 10 days to edit and we'll allow 5 extra days for changes so this will be the rate for 15 full days. Anything beyond those 15 days will be billed at "x" per day." I also note whether this is an 8 hour or 10 hour day and that any partial day counts as a full day.
Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Creative Genius, Biscardi Creative Media
Now in Production, "The Rough Cut," http://www.theroughcutmovie.com
"I reject your reality and substitute my own!" - Adam Savage, Mythbusters
Wow. Just...wow. This could be a goldmine, or it could be a jail sentence.
You will have to weigh carefully the pros and cons. Let's make a short list, the rest of you can chip in items I missed:
Retainer means a steady cash flow, plus.
Retainer means contractually you might have to drop other, more fun and lucrative jobs that interfere, Minus.
Could lead to many other future gigs, a plus.
Many more future Gigs with idiots that are a pain in the tuchus, minus.
As you can see, we're like my good friend (who never calls anymore) Matt, equally divided.
Matt brings up a great point about the problem really being in how the entire production process is structured. Their's has no structure. probably somebody or bodies each wrote a "script" right off the top of their head, and they are confused and angry that it doesn't translate to an effective message. They want you to keep throwing stuff on the wall and they'll decide what sticks when and how much. They want to steer, but don't know how. This must not be a business school department at the university! Tell me it's something like the philosophy department!;-)
You could offer to consult for an extra fee to get them back on the right track, but this group already sounds like there's a big catfight going on within for control of the project, you jumping in like Roy Horn is not going to solve that part. You might, though, offer to come in for one meeting and lay out the right way to do it, the proper steps that will ensure everyone gets their input in but that the project eventually does have an ending that satisfies everyone. Then name your terms to work within this framework.
That process is very well outlined in the book Matt mentions. It starts with a needs analysis and research to define the exact communication problems the client wants solved, then once the problem is laid out, a creative treatment is developed that solves the communication problems point by point, and the academics can bash this thing around and modify it like a cat with a ball of string under the couch as long as they want, it should not interfere (much) with your other projects until it's approved.
The point to that process is, the changes made to the treatment cost nothing until they are implemented. You are shifting all this dartboard decisionmaking nonsense into a phase where it's all virtual, theoretical.
And this will save you later when the project is done, because you have taken away the subjective measures for the project's success - and your success is defined as meeting the *objective* list of criteria from the treatment process... Objectively, if it meets the goals outlined in the treatment, it is by definition an acceptible product, it's the exact product they signed off on before, now executed to exact order. No one can point to anything in the master tape and say they didn't know it was going to look like *that* or talk about *those*. If they don't like it at that point, you're free and clear.
Once the treatment is agreed upon, a script is written based on it, a budget and schedule are worked up based on it and a contract is signed off to execute it. Approval steps and progress payments occur at all those places.
It's not uncommon for a project to die somewhere in this development chain, but that should not lose you much if any money, if you are getting paid by the increment. Changes after that point are either just not accepted, or billed at outrageous fees. Just like architects and builders for buildings on the campus, as you explain to them: After the roof is put on is not the time to start adding more floor levels.
If I was desperate enough to try to take this on, I would insist on regular contractually agreed progress payments for each phase, as it's the only way to hold any real leverage on the process from your end, and it gives you discrete places to make a break if it flops too badly...
It would also be in my contract (yes, this must all be in writing) that the only person I accept change orders from is the one with check writing authority, named in the contract. In the final analysis, nobody else matters if the guy with the check book isn't happy, and moreover, a lot of the worst meddling middle-manager stuff goes away if they first have to get it past their own boss before it comes to you. Make their boss***YOUR***gatekeeper. Be firm on this point, and you will prosper.
If you went with a retainer and "AOL all you can eat for $29.95" approach, it will tend to push aside all your free time and other potential jobs, and you'll likely lose money. Also, once you're on retainer, you're a commodity to them, since they feel they bought you, you will not command respect in future dealings. If you remain the gunslinger, working case by case, you're on more equal footing. If you really don't give a hoot, make it an outrageous amount that will either scare them off or totally pay for the angst as well as the lost profit opportunities. "Be willing to walk away" is a key tool in negotiation. If they sense you can't/won't walk away, they will not capitulate.
If they refuse to follow the advice about the proper production process and your stipulations, walk, no; skip and cavort away, tra-la-la. You will not regret it. Let some other guy take the suicide mission. That's what it would be.
For what its worth, my ten cents worth
I've been (or my employers) in this situation many many times, usually the type of job where everyone in the clients organisation (sometimes pan countries) has to have a say.....bloody nightmare.
What we do is a bit of a mix of the advise on here. We:
Agree an outline budget that takes into account the initial job brief (as known at that time)
Meet with the point of contact from the client and outline what they want to achieve and how we will facilitate that
Agree that should the job run over a period of calender months we will invoice part in each month
inform them that once the point of contact is satisifed that we have checked all his/her check boxes with the edit (as per job brief) we will invoice the full value of the job.
The client then recieves a DVD or whatever to distribute to those with an opinion in their organisation, the client then has to collate all the feedback and filter that info to us. We then quote for the revision to the edit and it is dealt with as a new job, so no messy retainers etc, just as is sometimes the case two or three independent jobs covering the same thing that are invoiced and paid for with no hassles.
Just two things to remember: agree the invoice procedure from the outset and in any revision edits/jobs add a set fee for re-constitution of the edit lines etc, or if you dont wipe the media from the drives, charge them a standard fee for storage (by the day)
Hope that helps and good luck, never let the tail wag the dog!
Lots and lots of good advice in this thread! I wish I had this information a dozen years ago.
If you'll pardon my cynical generalization of your potential client, remember that spending many years at a university has the potential to inflate one's ego while diminishing the understanding of producing a profit in the business (what we know as the REAL) world. Clearly written, signed contracts are your friend.
If you MUST provide a price for a given time frame of "unlimited editing", make sure it's enough to live on with no other jobs during that time. But I'm not sure I'd get out of the electric chair for a client with a request like this.
Good luck dealing with the ONE check-writing "gatekeeper" who agrees to prompt progress payments, and your sanity will remain yours.