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Cancellation Fees

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GregCancellation Fees
by on Mar 12, 2007 at 9:04:29 pm

How do you folks handle cancellation fees on a project. Let's say you have a project and you're hired your freelance crew. Your project is a 3 day shoot. When do you charge your clients, what do you charge them? Thanks.

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walter biscardiRe: Cancellation Fees
by on Mar 12, 2007 at 10:33:40 pm

How far out was it canceled? Generally anything two weeks or longer it's just a case of doing business. If they canceled with less than two weeks notice AND you had a contract in place stating that they would be charged "X" fees for cancellation, then you could charge them.

Basically when you book the gig, you need to have a contract in place with cancellation fees specified if you want to recoup anything lost. Without that, they can cancel the day before with no repercussions.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
HD Editorial & Animation for Food Network's "Good Eats"
HD Editorial for "Assignment Earth"

"I reject your reality and substitute my own!" - Adam Savage, Mythbusters

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Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.Re: Cancellation Fees
by on Mar 12, 2007 at 10:36:33 pm

I think it would depend on your project, how big of a shoot it is (is it just a two-man crew, or a 10-man crew with 15 actors, six horses and a zepplin), and who the particular client is.

We do mostly broadcast commercials and our average shoot is, oh, I'd say 3-6 hours in length. As a GENERAL rule we will charge a client for two-hours' worth of shoot time as a minimum ($600) if they cancel within 48 hours of the call time for the first shot. That's for a tiny shoot with just a three-man crew and no special circumstances or expenses that we won't recoup when it is rescheduled. If it ISN'T rescheduled, then of course we also bill for anything like props or wardrobe that we have already spent.


We generally do not have to hire extra crew or rent any equipment... our own employees and gear are usually sufficient. If I had to hire an additional crew member or say rent a lens that I didn't already own then I might make the cancellation penalties a little stiffer.


I always consider the client. If it's someone I've never worked with before, someone who just hired us out of the blue, I'm more inclined to hit them with a cancellation fee. However, if it is one of our "most favored" clients (say, an ad agency that we work with all the time and pays us many tens of thousands of dollars a year), I'll just excuse the cancellation and not penalize them at all... just for the sake of "playing nice" and keeping them happy.

Bottom line, I think it just depends on your particular job. In any event, make SURE that cancellation policies are stipulated in ADVANCE in your contract with the client... or legally you may not be able to enforce them at all.


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GregRe: Cancellation Fees
by on Mar 13, 2007 at 2:47:17 am

I tend to hire a full crew for every shoot. Most often it's 3 person crew and maybe make-up. Usually me gear. I usually specify 48 hours on a contract, which requires full payment if cancelled. is this too harsh?

The other question is weather. What about doing an outside shoot with a hired freelance crew, and it's raining that day? How do you specify cancellation in a contract due to weather. Again, I state that the clent is responsible for all crew fees resulting in cancellation due to weather. Is this reasonable?

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Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.Re: Cancellation Fees
by on Mar 13, 2007 at 3:17:50 pm

Basically you need to watch the skies very closely, and if you think there is likelihood that it might be inclimate, you make the call.

If it is iffy, you need to discuss that with your client and let THEM make the call. Then, if it IS raining they will be liable for some of the crew charges.

If it was supposed to be nice weather though, and you just happen to wake up and it's a monsoon on shoot day... then normally a producer just bites the bullet and eats the cost. Normally of course it's not going to cost YOU as much as you were going to charge the CLIENT, because you are in this to make money and obviously up-charging crew time, as well as charging for your own time and gear. So especially if you have agreements with your crew members that you only have to pay them, say, a half day minimum in event of cancellation, the pain shouldn't be too bad.

I've never ever heard of a client still being charged for a shoot that was cancelled by ANY third party circumstance.... weather included. If you did that I would suspect they would be a one-time client...and I can't imagine ever having a client willing to sign a contract that said they would still have to pay even if the shoot didn't come off for reasons other than their own.

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tony salgadoRe: Cancellation Fees
by on Apr 29, 2007 at 5:39:23 pm

Freelancers offer the following commodities for sale time, knowledge, and experience. The latter two affects the day rate charged, as it is the compensation for the time and efforts the freelancers spent to acquire such knowledge and experience. A professional freelancer never stops learning and is constantly re-educating and training themselves at their own expense to deal with on going rapid changes in technology and creative techniques.

Regardless of the circumstances when a freelancer shows up at a shoot which they have allocated their time and resources to that specific client and time period the freelancer(s) at the point have turned down all other sources of possible income for that day. If the shoot is cancelled, the freelancer(s) are entitled to be paid in full for the full day regardless if a single frame of tape is recorded.

It is paramount to understand a freelancer

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grinnerRe: Cancellation Fees
by on Mar 14, 2007 at 2:38:51 am

if it's within 24 hours, it's often hard not to bill for it. That said, my biggest client represents too much of my income to ever do this to. They do cancel on me from time to time. It happens. In the name of the relationship, I just eat it and they make up for it later. Thats the key. Will it be made up? If so, water off a ducks back. Enjoy the day. If they were a one-off client, I'd bill a half day with only one day's notice. If they cancelled that moring, I'd bill the whole day. I have never had to do this. Again, my only offender has enough quantity that these rare things can be overlooked.
so long as they are rare.

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GregRe: Cancellation Fees
by on Mar 15, 2007 at 2:27:32 pm

Thanks so much for the feedback. My situation is different in the way that typically I'll produce and direct a show, and hire a freelance crew. Sometimes I use their gear and sometimes my gear. If the project is cancelled, my freelance crew will still want to be paid. I'm not about to eat that cost. So how do you deal with cancellations with a new client and a freelance crew? Now what if it rains?

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Mark SuszkoRe: Cancellation Fees
by on Mar 16, 2007 at 2:45:37 pm

This is why i bill projects in thirds and get a down payment before work that covers any rentals or crew I need to hire. If the cancellation is under 24 hours and I am not getting stuck with any out of pocket costs, they skate. If I have already committed rental funds and myself and the crew have given up another moneymaking opportunity to do the now-cancelled gig, if we can't get something else to fill in for that day I would bill it. Rain-outs and policy for that should be built into the schedule in advance. Again, my guiding principle here is that I am not the client's bank.

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